Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Logically Implausible God (Part 2)

If you are reading this for the first time, please first read part 1 of the The Logically Implausible God where I introduce the contradictions in the traditional concept of the monotheistic god being timeless.

For part 2 of The Logically Implausible God, I will focus on the belief by many that god is morally perfect. As I mentioned in part 1, there are so many differences in the characteristics of god between faiths and even among individuals of the same religious sect, that it will be impossible for me to address all these concepts. I cannot stress this enough. Rather, what I will do instead, is conflate the many concepts of god into one single entity that is an all powerful, omniscient, omnipotent, morally perfect, timeless being, who is essentially kind and compassionate, and who is the "first cause" in the creation of, at the very least, our universe.
That being said, I want to focus on the idea of the "morally perfect" god and how I think that this is not a characteristic of the god of Judaism, Christianity or Islam. I'm not even sure that a morally perfect being could exist in the first place.

The Euthyphro Dilemma

First of all, where does morality come from? Theists disagree tremendously on this concept. We are told by some theists that god is morally perfect, and that morality comes from him. If god is morally perfect, then his very nature must therefore also be morally perfect. Now this brings us to The Euthyphro Dilemma, from Plato's dialogue Euthyphro. It asks the question, "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?" I love this brilliant wisdom of the the ancient Greeks. Let's analyze this a little deeper. If god says stealing is wrong, is stealing wrong because god commanded it, or is it wrong independently of god's will and god agrees with it because so? If stealing is wrong only because god commands it, then morality is simply just determined by the opinion of god and can be arbitrarily decided, in other words, might makes right. But, if god said stealing is right, then it would therefore be right. I think the Islamic viewpoint has the biggest problem with this part of the Euthyphro dilemma, since it is a religion that is so dependent on gods commandments to believe what is right or wrong.

If what is morally good is commanded by God because it is morally good, then god is just a moral middleman, who is not needed in determining what is morally good. Meaning if god is taken out of the picture, the moral would still be just as moral. Christian theist William Lane Craig, who I cited in part 1, makes the third proposition that god's very nature is moral perfection and that whatever god happens to command must be morally perfect because of his very nature. This fails to refute the latter part of the Euhyphro dilemma, in that he is still falling into one of the two propositions. Even if god's very nature is that of moral perfection, if he were taken out of the picture, the morals would still be just as moral. I recently had an interesting conversation with professor of philosophy Massimo Pigliucci, about the argument from Plato's Euthyphro at a panel discussion on free will, where I gave him Dr. Craig's (who he debated twice) third proposition and he said no matter how you try to twist it, you are always going to fall into one of the two parts of it.

I haven't even expounded much on divine command theory, (the latter part of Euthyphro Dilemma) or reasons for and against objective morality here, although I have gone into greater depths in other blog postings, linked here and here.

Is God Morally Perfect?

Who dare say, that god is morally perfect? There exists a plethora of pretty solid philosophic arguments against god as a morally perfect being. I mean the commandments in the old testament to killing unruly children (Lev 20:19), homosexuals (Lev 20:13), adulterers (Lev 20:10), and for owning and beating slaves (Lev 25:44-46 & Exodus 21:20-21)are just a handful of the type of morals we consider illegal in the west today. If god is morally perfect, then why has he commanded us to do such things that we can clearly regard as immoral today? Furthermore, is god subject to the very same "objective" moral code that he has commanded to us? The answer differs depending on which theist you ask. I think most theists would say that no, god does not have to be held to the same moral commandments that he commands us to live by. But then, if god's commandments are morally good because of god's intrinsic morally good nature (Dr. Craig's argument) and if god is not subject to his own moral commandments himself, then isn't it impossible for god to be morally perfect, since he can defy his own commanded morals that are based on the will of a morally perfect being? It seems to me that if god is not held to his own standards of moral perfection, he cannot therefore be morally perfect.

For more information on the problems that arise from god and concepts or morality, please see the link here to "Discovering Religion", whose YouTube channel has dozens of finely edited and narrated videos on what religion and god are are really about, through a critical lens.

Further reading on arguments against god:

The Kalam Cosmological Argument
The Fine Tuning Argument
Objective Morality Without God
Refuting William Lane Craig: "Is Good from God?" A Debate Review
Refuting William Lane Craig: The Moral Argument
The Logically Implausible God
God, Time & Creation: More Problems For William Lane Craig
The Ontological Argument: Putting the Absurd Where it Belongs

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