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Hello everyone, one aspect of religion that's intrigued me is god's relationship to morality. Before we begin, I think it's important to note Euthyphro's dilemma, presented by Socrates:
Does God (or the gods) love what's good because it is good? Or is what's "good" good because it's loved by God?
This is a very interesting question to me because it asks what a deity's relationship to morality is and about the quality of goodness.
One compelling argument I've seen on this subject comes from Norman Kretzmann's "Abraham, Isaac, and Euthyphro: God and the Basis of Morality" in which Kretzmann analyzes the two questions presented in Euthyphro's dilemma:
Let's say there are two forms of morality, objective morality (OM) [in that God loves what is good because it is good,] and subjective morality (SM) [in that what is good is good because God loves it.]
To break some of his arguments down simply, in (OM), morality would exist independently from God, which is troublesome because it would trivialize God's role in morality. (He would not supersede morality. He would not be necessary for morality.)
For (SM), Kretzmann cites Mill's critiques of Mansel's views of subjective morality:
Mill argues that for something to be right, it must always have been and always will be right. If lying was morally permissible one day and impermissible the next, there would be no standard of constancy and it would be impossible to confirm whether or not a person does a truly right action out of goodness or fear of God's punishment.
It seems both forms of morality should be rejected; however, Kretzmann continues on to explain that this is a false dichotomy. God, he argues does not just love what's good because it's good, nor does he make good good by simply loving it. God, he argues, is good i.e. God embodies the qualities of goodness perfectly. Thus Kretzmann creates a third moral category which is an amalgamation of both Subjective Morality (SM) and Objective Morality (OM) that we'll call Perfect Morality (PM.)
In (PM), morality is objective and unchanging (in that God is unchanging) and subject to God (i.e. God is not inferior to morality; God is morality.) God also has the power to interpret morality and enforce it. In this sense, it is subjective. This seems to solve the inconsistencies of the previous moral frameworks, but it does not say much about what the qualities of goodness are. The best we can hope for is a tautology from God, in that what is good is good because it comes from God and that God is good because he is God and is good. In order for us to understand morality, God must report morality to us (through the Bible and 10 Commandments, I suppose,) but I don't believe there could ever be a sufficient answer as to why something is good.
One problem I have with (PM) is that if God is perfectly good, then he would not will to create anything "bad," and badness would not spring from anything God does or creates. One could argue that in this paradigm, badness does not, or should not exist. If that's the case, is it then morally permissible for a person to go on a killing spree? Most would argue no, but this paradigm suggests it would be permissible.
How then do we address the problems of "sins" or badness? Did God create sins? Did God create badness? Would a perfectly good god do so? Why? Or are these sins not actually bad? This, I feel is a fundamental problem for Christianity--the explanation for evil's existence in the face of a perfectly good God.
I would be interested to hear your perspective on any part of this topic but please don't just quote scripture. Offer your insight as well.