Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Theist Responds To "How To Destroy Any Theist Making The Moral Argument For God"

A rather ill-informed and logically impaired theist responded to a recently post I made where I showed the proper use of the Euthyphro Dilemma against the moral argument for god. As I wrote in the post, you absolutely must respond to the most common objection that theists will give - that it's a false dilemma and that god is good.

I wrote, "If God is the standard of goodness, by what means can we know this to be true? So we can ask, why is God good?

The theist responds, "Because He is... Good, The only Good is, God(YHWH: The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit)"

He obviously is not aware of this thing in logic known as circular reasoning. "God is good because he is good" is a textbook example of circular reasoning. We hear this all the time as atheists dealing with logically impaired fundies. They'll say, "The Bible is true because the Bible says it's true." Same circular logic. You can't prove the Bible is true using the Bible, you can't define a word using the same word, and you can't demonstrate god is good by saying god is good, because then the word "good" becomes meaningless, something this theist apparently didn't register when I wrote it. It gets annoying dealing with so many bad arguments for god it's not even funny.

But I continued...

"The theist might say God is good because he is intrinsically loving, compassionate and fair. But then all we have to do is reformulate the Euthyphro Dilemma accordingly: Is God good because he is loving, compassionate and fair, or is being loving, compassionate and fair good because God is good?"

He responds, "This is easy to refute, YHWH is Good because that's His Nature, and He is Loving not because He's good but because that's His Nature, YHWH is Love(1 John 4:8), and He is Compassionate and Fair because that's who He is not based on another property."

So clearly the theist is taking the latter part of the reformulated Euthyphro: god is good because it's his "nature" and not because he is loving, compassionate and fair. But he misses the whole point and falls right into the trap. If god's nature is good, how can we know this? What characteristics about god make him good? He tries, like all Christians do, to conflate love with god. But he just asserts it. He never offers any evidence that love cannot exist independently of god and by asserting that god is good by nature, he degrades the word "good" until it is utterly meaningless. Saying god "is Compassionate and Fair because that's who He is" is doing the same thing with those adjectives as with the word good.

Finally, he fails to address the main problem when saying that god is good because he's good. Namely that goodness has to be justified descriptively, and in trying to do so, you will come to reasons independently of god.

Like I said, there's no way out of this dilemma. Merely asserting god's goodness is circular reasoning, and it fails to demonstrate that goodness cannot exist independently of god. Woe is to the theist who faces such a miserable predicament. 


  1. Of course you're right, but what so enrages me is that I'm fairly confident that the theist with whom you interacted was not persuaded by your argument. In my experience, theists who have heard of the ED have heard about it through an apologist (like WLC), and they trust that apologist's assessment that the ED is a false dilemma more than your argument.

    Which brings me back to my current state in these discussions. While I love trying to acquire the discipline of the philosophical mind, and I enjoy learning about the science, I can't help but notice that communicating this knowledge does very little productive work in changing the minds of the religious.

    There comes a point (well displayed through the ED) when logic and reason still do not persuade. And I find myself curious about what additional techniques and methods might be more productive.

    1. I still have hope that the more reasonable theists can be persuaded towards a more reasoned approach towards their faith - even if they never become atheists. I think the best way to do this is to debate and hammer away their fallacies both in person, and on the internet as much as possible (while remaining civil) and it will eventually drive the message home for all but the most ardent of the fundies.



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