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  1. #1
    . Blank's Avatar
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    Default What is God's Relationship to Morality?

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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.
    Ti = 19 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Te = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ne = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fi = 15 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Si = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ni = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

    -----------------
    Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why;
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand

  2. #2
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blank View Post
    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.
    This is what I have always thought.

    I do not know about sin or evil though. I guess I'm not sure who/what God is beside what you describe of the embodiment of perfect goodness. I have no idea about creation or omnipotence or anything else. Someone said once that God may not be all-powerful in the sense that God can make anything happen even outside the laws of cause and effect, but that God is omnipotent in terms of the salvation of our souls: God is there as a source of goodness for healing and forgiveness and growth when we are ready/willing to put in the effort it takes to change (as well as lay our mistakes and sorrows down).

    So I guess that is how I see things.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    I ws reading about about the philosopher Hamelin today and it reminded me of these questions.

    "it is a primitive fact of thought that 'everything posited excludes an opposited, that every thesis leaves outside itself an antithesis, and that the two opposed factors have meaning only in so far as they are mutually exclusive'. To this primitive fact however we must add another which completes it. As opposed factors receive their meaning precisely through their mutual opposition, they for two parts of one whole. The synthesis is a relation"

    It made me think that perhaps the reason for the existence of evil/imperfection is to make creation possible. If a perfect creator ( holding the idea that God is goodness) were to make something equally perfect, what would distinguish creation from creator? Only by allowing for imperfection could God make something distinct from himself that he could then have a relation to. A counterpoint to make the full scope of his perfection apparent. Free will then would be the invention which would allow us to choose goodness while still being distinct creations (we have the option of being imperfect/drive towards sin whereas god does not).

    It's not that thought out. Just something I was throwing around in my brain.

  4. #4
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    IMO God is the anthropomorphization of the natural world. We had to learn to recognize fellow human allies, predators, prey, mates, children, etc. The genes that help in recognize human beings as "the same" are a form of pattern recognition. These patterns when they appear in nature become anthropomorphized. Ie the God of the volcano was angry with me and destroyed my home or loved me and gave rain for my crops. From there we began to develop richer pattern recognition capabilities. Deterministic science seems to imply we are no different from the patterns in nature. This can be dehumanizing and make people feel like robots. Perhaps we interpret determinism incorrectly. Perhaps it is not that we are "inanimate" like the rest of the universe, rather perhaps the universe is -animate- like we are and that pattern between us all is God. So then mortality becomes about relationships between ourSELVES and the outcomes they produce. I believe in PM which is the inherent sanctity of the universe and we create entropic life destroying patterns I believe it is a very evil thing. However, our own sentience requires the death of living matter so we are in a strange situation indeed. I believe the universe/God is trying to evolve a new way of being that removes the necessity for suffering that is a remnant of our evolutionary past.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  5. #5
    Ginkgo
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    God is good. God is also bad. God is fixed. God is also autonomous. God unites us. God peels us away. Even when we think we know better than God, this is God's plan for us. God is spirit. God is also flesh. The vaguest presence of God is seen from a perspective of non-dualism. We believe God is good when God heals us and gives us strength, and we believe we have been torn apart from God in suffering. I believe having a true relationship with God means reconciling with the life you are granted through mindfulness that God is unknown. A faithful and necessarily irrational sense of reconciliation. Even in the understanding of physics or quantum physics, we are faithful in an unknown variable or explanation yet to be seen, opening a door to the infinite. If the unknown is always infinite, then we are always back at square one in our understanding; the imagination that many of us embraced in childhood comes closer to a satisfactory understanding of the world, like we entertain every possibility that comes our way. Any other inkling of understanding we have only arises to sustain us long enough for us to bring it back to God, where it always has been and always will be.

  6. #6
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    Wow, whole post gone. Ugh..

    The gist of it.

    God is perfectly moral.
    Perfect is morally god.
    Moral is godly perfect.

    And the other two sets of three.

    The last two seem blasphemous.

  7. #7
    Senor Membrae Eugene Watson VIII's Avatar
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    On the thing about why god would make evil, it's argued that the devil causes it. Why he cant remove evil if he's all powerful, I don't know, but if he has created the devil, why did he make him and why does he bother testing us? Why would he want us condemned for wronging if he loves all? what I also wonder is why bother being tested on earth when the real living starts in heaven.
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  8. #8
    . Blank's Avatar
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    @Ginkgo, where are you getting the notion that God is bad? In my limited understanding, this should not be the case. I believe many Christians would disagree with you. Were you speaking of the Christian god, or a deity in general?

    Quote Originally Posted by xisnotx View Post
    Wow, whole post gone. Ugh..

    The gist of it.

    God is perfectly moral.
    Perfect is morally god.
    Moral is godly perfect.

    And the other two sets of three.

    The last two seem blasphemous.
    Kretzmann brings this up at the end of his essay, in which he argues that perfect power is perfectly good. To be perfectly good means being god and to be perfectly powerful also means being god. Take from that what you will. The argument behind your post leaves much to be desired though, so if this doesn't address your concerns, please elaborate on the thoughts behind your original post.
    Ti = 19 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Te = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ne = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fi = 15 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Si = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ni = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

    -----------------
    Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why;
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand

  9. #9
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    I do believe God is good in a very big picture way, but I think people tend to take a very simple approach in understanding this. It creates a whole lot of inconsitencies in Christian theology. I think that what makes God God is that God has created the potentialities of the experience of good and bad. If that was God's only act, that in itself is a Good thing.

  10. #10
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    I'll take Keirkegaard's path.. That faith in God is absurd. By believing in an absurd God, I don't have to torture myself with the "problem of evil". Maybe God transcends good and evil.

    Keirkegaard contrasted the ethical and religious. The religious in Keirkegaard's mind, is like Abraham, who would even kill his own son if God asked him. It's a completely absurd request that flies both in the face of morality and of even basic survival impulse. Yet, this was the demand of Abraham's God. Equally absurd is that Abraham believed God would bequeath him a nation of descendents, although at this point, he was an aging man, and had only this one son (the son he was asked to kill). If his God really exists, then this is a god who can not be understood. Just one that demands you do what he asks. You could take it or leave it.

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