The Euthyphro dilemma?

This is, and has been for centuries, considered by atheists and anti-moralists as the ultimate refutation of God. Specifically of Divine Command theory.

This dilemma basically goes as follows:

In Plato’s dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro, Socrates is attempting to understand the essence of piety and holiness:

Socrates: And what do you say of piety, Euthyphro? Is not piety, according to your definition, loved by all the gods?

Euthyphro: Certainly.

Socrates: Because it is pious or holy, or for some other reason?

Euthyphro: No, that is the reason.

Socrates: It is loved because it is holy, not holy because it is loved?

The dilemma Euthyphro faced is this: Is a thing good simply because the gods say it is? Or do the gods say a thing is good because of some other quality it has? If so, what is that quality? The problem stumped Euthyphro.

Russel put it this way:

If you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, you are then in this situation: Is that difference due to God’s fiat or is it not? If it is due to God’s fiat, then for God Himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong have some meaning which is independent of God’s fiat, because God’s fiats are good and not good independently of the mere fact that he made them. If you are going to say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God

First, I refer interested parties to the following sites: http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5236
and : http://www.charlesgfinney.com/1840skeletons/sk_lecture23.htm

These 2 sites offer or some good responses to this issue and teh Moral Law of in general. I will quote from one or the other in some small measure here.

Basically, no being can make law. But no law can exist without sanctions. And no sanctions can exist without a Ruling, conscious Magistrate to adiminster them…reason it farther – the ultimate conclusions are obvious enough – God’s existence is necessary to the existence of ultimates moral values.

However, nothing is easier than defining this *dilemma* out of existence. Why? Because there is no dilemma in the 1st place!

The pretended dilemma argues what it does not understand and founds it’s argument on a falsity, an incorrect presumption – that the moral Law and God are two separate things.

So, in one phrase it may be undone – “God is the Law and the Law is God.”

God is the inspirited, incarnate, Living Law – they are one. Not independant entities.

What is said of God is exactly what may be said of the Moral Law “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”. Every thing that one can discern of all true objective moral realities can also be said of God himself.

And of course, this is the view of the bible and Christianity. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because *God is love*.”

Love is good willing. It is benevolence. It is seeking the highest good. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

The Law is One. An indivisible unit all summed up in one word “love” – agape – disinterested, unselfish good willing. And that so describes who and what God is, that the two are inseparable, immutable, unchangeable and eternally, mutually existent – one in the other.

Thus no God = no law and no law = no God. And thus the existence of God = existence of Law vice versa. So the very existence of a real, objective Moral Law running everywhere where there are sentient, self-deteminingbeings, is evidence of the existence of God.

Just as both philosophers (check Kant on this) and theologians and simple everyday people have been saying from times immemorial.

Do as you would be done by” is the worlds oldest, most universal command. It describes love which describes the Moral Law which describes who God is and what he is like.

As for the so-called tautologies and contradictions involved with the infamous “dilemma”, they are the very well documented territory of Darwinism and atheism as any one know if they’d really done any proper homework on the issue.

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Objective moral foundations in atheism don’t exist

This is not to say that atheists have no moral values. Most do. Sometimes very good ones too. But they are borrowed values. Values usually taken from Judeo/Christian roots, or from simple conscience or some assumed value in collective cultural agreements.

The question is not, however, whether atheists have morals. The question is what is the foundation of those morals. Upon what grounds of logic or reason have these morals been founded?

In the end, they have none. At least, nothing objective. Nothing truly, solidly or binding. And of course they have, in their own heads, no one to whom they are ultimately accountable.

There are a great many atheists who attempt to find grounds for their moral values without reference to any absolute Moral Law. This is normal. They want to have moral values but, not believing in God or absolutes, they are forced to find their grounds in something else. Invariably this something ends up being untenable and sometimes very illogical.

Some invent “objective” values based on materialist evaluations of the material consequences of actions. Others become relativists who, of course, can’t really practice what they claim to believe.

Relativism is self-contradictory by nature.

In my experience in debating moral foundations with atheists I’ve found that people who persist in attempting to demonstrate that there are no objective moral values, invariably dig in further to proving there are.

Obviously these types of people believe they are objectively “right”. But then , if what they say is true, they cannot be “right” or “wrong” about anything if what they state is true!

Relativism cuts its own throat.

They will often try to debunk objective moral values by pointing, as usual, at religions and the differences between them as being being immense. They tend to completely ignore the universality of morals and the universality of belief in a higher authority throughout all ages and in all peoples tribes and nations. Instead, they will focus on generally insignificant details in differences between one religion’s set of morals and anothers. Almost always centering attention on the outward workings of the underlying principles instead of the underlying principles themselves.
They will say something like the following I heard recently, “And where it [religion based morality] differs, all claims to objective morality vanish, because the claims are dependent upon a subjective opinion as to which deity is correct.

Bad logic of course. This assumes that every specific religions deity is fundamentally different and opposite to every other. Another falsehood. They are in fact very similar in all fundamentals.
Moral values – their very existence – can easily lead us to conclude there must of necessity be some over-governing power to moral law. Atheists, of course, must deny this or become theists.
One of them said to me, “Like it or not, consensus response to material consequences is the way societies decide right from wrong.

Frankly this is very off the mark. The way humans judge of morality is not according to material consequence but according to reason and then every consequence, material of other. But material consequence alone can never be the rule of judgment. It also requires some objective rule of evaluation for determining what consequences or more important than others.

Now one thing that has always both bothered me and amused me is this – atheists will often invade Internet debate forums on the subject and squeal and whine like little pigs, profanities and insults included, trying to tell you that there are no objective values. And the funny thing about this is that they are all objectively sure! They claim there are no absolutes and they are at once absolutely sure!

Do they think they’re doing some objective “good” in the universe by attending forums and debates to denounce objective morals, absolute values and/or God? Of course they do otherwise why do they bother?!

But how strange is this since, according to their own dogma, they really cannot because they also claim that there is no fundamental right or wrong! No fundamental truth or moral standard external to man. Thus what possible real “good” can debating the matter accomplish? None. All views are relative and the universe has no meaning. (Of course they all believe their own life has some inherent meaning which they invent out nothingness for themselves regardless of the universe being meaningless)
So what’s the point? It’s all useless in the end, in their view, and all views will perish in short time.

So their very presence is indication enough that they do indeed perceive a real objective absolute “truth” to exist. Otherwise they would know they are wasting time trying to objectively prove there is none.

And worse is that, like I said before, they focus on external details – (usually minor; polygamy, sanctions, how women are treated amongst various religions and etc.) – in the actual out-workings of law, to find their arguments against objectivity.

But even in this they must assume an underlying rule over-riding all. Thus any persistence in focusing on outward details is clearly a wrong approach.

Why don’t they focus on child rape? Find me a religion that has approved of this besides satanism or its cousins! There is none and never has been – except of course certain atheistic or demon sex cults who believe there are no objective morals and so they need not answer to anyone – like the NAMBLA member who was so insulted in a TV interview when the host asked him about the moral legitimacy of men in “love” (ie sexual) relations with very young boys.

Atheists assume underlying values which they are use to argue against objective values! Very strange indeed.

One said to me, “It is the human response to results that is the basis of what we consider ‘right’ and ‘wrong’“.

But again, Reason is what brings the moral considerations, not human response to material consequences. And upon what basis would the mere human response be sufficient for establishing an objective rule? Is this the way they live every day? I don’t think so, nor could they – they’d end up in the cell block of the asylum.

The atheist claims that we are the results of billions of unlikely concurrent, conjunctive
accidents – random mutations + selection. (Darwinism is it’s science.) So where do they get off inventing objective morals for themselves, or any morals at all? Or, where can they find a solid rule of moral action since they themselves are nothing like “solid” or meaningful? It never adds up.

We are, in the materialist view, without soul, spirit, heart (let all the artists in the world weep). Without free will (see Dawkins or Provine). Without anything but bio-chem processes in our brains and nervous systems that dictate what we are and even what we believe (Dawkins’ memes), yet they boldly state the contrary — when it serves their own purpose of course.

Again I was told, “All such claims [to a real objective morality] are comprehensively dismantled by studying the basis for any specific set of claims, the irreconcilable contradictions between competing claims, and the fluidity of claims over time. Every religion has its own ‘objective’ morality, and they are, to significant extents, mutually exclusive. “

First, their own proofs of being objectively right, are thus dismantled by the same rule of logic!
But no, their moral values are nothing like significantly different. Rather significantly similar!!

Thankfully there are virtually no “irreconcilable contradictions” nor is there any significant “fluidity over time”. All the most basic, fundamental Moral values remain unchanged over millennia.

It’s rather surprising they can’t see how obvious this is.

CS Lewis gives a quick list of fundamental values amongst very different religions through the ages in his book, “The Abolition of Man” now on-line here :

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/lewis/abolition1.htm#1

and the comparative list is here : http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/lewis/abolition4.htm

a few short quotes :
“I have not slain men” – ancient Egyptian – confession of a righteous soul – book of the dead

“in Nastrond I saw murderers” – Old Norse – Volospa 38,39 (nastrond=hell)
“do no murder” – Hebrew -exodus 20

“Slander not” – ancient Babylonian – Hymn to Samas
“do not bring a false witness against your neighbour” – Hebrew exodus 20
“utter not a word by which anyone could be wounded” – Hindu
“never do to others what you would not like them to do to you” – ancient Chinese – Analects of Confucius

“speak kindness…show good will” – Hymn to Samas
“men were brought into existence for the sake of men that they might do one another good” – roman Cicero De Off.
“man is mans delight” – Old Norse Havamal 47
“what good man regards any misfortune as no concern of his?” – roman Juvenal15, 140

“love your wife studiously. gladden her heart all your life” – ancient Egyptian – ere
“has he appraoched his neighbour’s wife?” – babylonian – List of Sins
“you shall not commit adultery” – Hebrew
“In Nastrond I saw beguilers of others’ wives” – Old Norse Volospa

“take no vengeance though they do you wrong” – Old Norse Sigdrifumal, 22
“do not avenge yourselves” – christian Paul

“I have not stolen” – Egyptian – confessions… ibid.
“do not steal” – Hebrew
“to wrong, to rob, to cause to be robbed” – Babylonian List of Sins
It simply isn’t true that there are so many contradictions in the base principles of morality. There is always and universally an underlying belief in justice, goodness, mercy, truth, faithfulness, loyalty, kindness, patience, love, humility, candor, honesty, fair play, benevolence…..

No exceptions outside of satanism and it’s relatives. And even the “values” of satanism prove atheists wrong!

In summary, the atheist ought to re-think his life. Perhaps : “Oh God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul.” would be an adequate prayer for him.

You don’t have a soul, you ARE a soul, you have a body.