Countering Euthyphro Dilemma

AGAINST MORAL THEISM or God-based ethics, non-theists usually submit the famous philosophical argument called “the Euthyphro Dilemma”.
 
The argument involves asking whether God loves the things that are moral because they are moral, or moral things are good because they were loved by God. Concerning God issuing decrees for humans, non-theists ask pertinently, “Does God command something because it is right, or is it right because He commands it?” If God commands something because it is right, then God Himself would be subject to a higher law and, therefore, not above all. But if something is right simply because God commands it, then He is arbitrary and His commands are without foundation. Moreover, it would appear that if God had commanded us to severely torture each other night and day, then the act becomes right and obligatory.
 
Theists reply
Some theists respond by saying that something is right not because God commands it, nor does God command it because it is right. Morality is said to necessarily flow from God’s own nature. That is, right is right because it reflects God’s character and wrong is wrong because it does not reflect God’s qualities but attacks it instead. This removes the arbitrariness in God without making Him subject to anything because the ground of morality is located in God Himself. The answer does not abandon but even affirms the contention that morality is grounded in God. The contention moreover explains morality’s objectivity. Since God is absolute, morality is, thus absolute.           
            Contemporary apologist Paul Copan explains this point in detail while exposing non-theists’ faults in using the Euthyphro Dilemma against moral theism (2007, pp. 90-91):
            “This dilemma ultimately derives from a confusion of knowing and being. Nontheists can know what is moral, but the question is how they came to be that way. The dilemma is ultimately resolved by rooting objective moral values in the nonarbitrary, essentially good character of God who has made us in His image. We would not know goodness without God’s endowing us with a moral constitution. We have rights, dignity, freedom, and responsibility because God has designed us this way. In this, we reflect God’s moral goodness as His image-bearers.’
            “We should also ponder these further points as well. First, if naturalists are correct, then they themselves cannot escape a similar dilemma: Are these moral values good simply because they are good, or is there an independent standard of goodness to which they conform? Naturalistic moral realism’s argument offers no actual advantage. Second, the naturalist’s query is pointless since we must eventually arrive at some self-sufficient and self-explanatory stopping point beyond which the discussion can go no further. Third, God, who is essentially perfect, does not have obligations to some external moral standard; God simply acts, and it is good. He naturally does what is good. Fourth, the idea that god could be evil or command evil is utterly contrary to the very definition of God; otherwise, such a being would not be God and would not be worthy of worship. The acceptance of objective values assumes a kind of ultimate goal or cosmic design plan for human beings, which would make no sense given naturalism; such goal-orientedness make much sense given theism (which presumes a design plan, which favors theism over naturalism).”
            Against naturalism, the worldview adhered to ny non-theists, Copan makes the following point in relation to Euthyphro dilemma (2007, p. 91):
            “For the sake of argument, even if some independent moral standard existed, this would hardly make God unnecessary or unimportant. After all, why think that humans—given their valueless, unguided, materialistic origins—evolved into morally valuable, rights-bearing, morally responsible persons who are duty bound to this standard? Even if the Euthyphro dilemma had some punch to it, it would still fail to show why intrinsically valuable, rights-bearing persons should emerge who are duty bound to some eternally pre-existent moral standard. Again God makes much better sense of this.”
 
Note:
Copan, Paul, and William Lane Craig. Passionate Conviction: Contemporary Discourses on Christian Apologetics. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2007. 90-91.
 
 
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