Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Euthyphro Dilemma: Solution

The solution to the dilemma I previously presented is quite simple really. In debating anything, you cannot allow your opponent to corner you. You absolutely must be alert enough to find a way out of the corner your being shoved into. The only way to accomplish this is to be well prepared. Since it's not possible to at all times be prepared to debate anything under the sun, you have to decide what is truly important to you. As Christians, it only makes sense to prepare our minds with a knowledge of the bible.It is our foundation for life. And as such, we should equip ourselves with an understanding of it's content.

This of course doesn't happen over night. You can spend every waking moment of your entire life studying the Bible and yet not fully comprehend the vast stores of wisdom it has to offer. So, you must pick what you will study. But there are somethings that are needed. One of the most frequently attacked aspects of Christianity is the nature of God. This means that knowing God's nature is of utmost importance.

For those with a decent understanding of God, Euthyphro's dilemma is really not to difficult to solve. The thing is, there are not two options, but three. Christians must reject the two options laid out for them. Neither is correct and therefore neither can be chosen. The only remaining question, after rejecting the two given, is, what is the third and correct answer. God's goodness is not a matter of His demanding what goodness is. If that was the case, He could have declared rape, or other physical abuses, as moral. Even mandatory. Goodness also does not come from some higher power above God. There is no one greater than God. Instead, goodness is in God's character. His commands are His expression of His character. So what He tells us is right/wrong is a direct reflection of His own self. Now of course, this all sounds good. But you can't leave things too 'sound good'. You must test everything against scripture.

To start, the idea of God's character being good/righteous must be backed up.

Ezra 9:15, Nehemiah 9:8, Psalm 4:1, 7:9, 7:11, 11:7, 116:5, 119:137, 129:4, 145:17,
Proverbs 21:12, Isaiah 41:10, 45:21, Jeremiah 12:1, Lamentations 1:18, Daniel 9:14,
Zephaniah 3:5, John 17:25, Acts 3:14, 7:52, 1 John 2:1

While these verses tell us of God's righteousness, there still could be confusion. After all, could God's nature not change and thus the paradigm for righteousness change? This is where a very important part of God's nature comes into play. Without His immutability, His goodness is meaningless.

Psalm 102:26-27, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17

So really, now you can almost say that the first of the two original options is in a way, correct. God does decree what is right and wrong. But it is based on His unchanging nature so it does not vary.
So a thing is good because God has said to to be so, but ALL that he says is based on His nature.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Euthyphro Dilemma

Quite some time ago, a question was posed to me. I have been really busy and therefore have not answered it until now. Well, I must admit, busyness was not all that stopped me. For the most part, I don't like answering questions such as this one rashly, without pondering and musing over the best way to effectively answer. I was also hindered by a fear that creeps up on me quite often. "What if I answer wrong? What if I word it wrong? What if, by something I say, I confuse someone?" So, I was hesitant to make this post. But, I knew I could not put it off much longer, so here I am, rather nervously hoping I can properly convey my thoughts.

"Tell me, is God good because he decides what the good is, or is He good because He is being measured to a standard other than Himself? If the first is the case, then Morality is simply an arbitration and has no objective stake in the truth. If the latter is the case, then God is no longer the basis for objective moral truth and we no longer require Him to fill such a role.

This is called the Euthyphro Dilemma, based on Plato's character of the same name, and is often given in response to the Moral Argument for the existence of God. Have fun with it."

This dilemma Euthyphro faced is used today as an attack against Christianity. An example of such attacks is that of Bertrand Russell in his argument against faith, Why I am Not a Christian.

"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."

Russell is endeavoring to undermine God, as portrayed in the Bible, by cornering believers and giving them only two options, both extremely inimical to Christian theism. The question is much like the well known, "Can God create a rock he cannot move?" These questions are enough to make you pull out your hair in despair! Which of course, is exactly their purpose. What better way to turn someone away from their faith than to give them the feeling of inferiority due to confusion and lack of answers to preposterous questions.

To choose the first option takes away God's holiness and righteousness. Though God told us that adultery and covetousness are wrong, He could have arbitrarily said otherwise. There would be no way to know if what we did was right or wrong because the concepts would be relative. God could chose at any time to change the moral standards He set up. We know that this is wrong, because the Bible makes it quite clear that God CANNOT sin. If He cannon sin, that leads us to the conclusion that He did not arbitrarily decide what was right, and what was wrong.

What then? We are left now with the second option. This too, like the first, is not in keeping with what we know from scripture. To state that God is held by a higher law is blasphemous. In the case of this being true, He loses His sovereignty and becomes no better than us. Dependent, secondary, and subject.

Christianity has now 'lost'. With only these two options, there is nowhere to turn. The God that we know and have put our faith in has seemingly been proven false. God is either not good, or He is not sovereign. Both claims refute the Bible. If the Bible is found to be untrue by any contradiction or fallacy of any kind, what is left of Christianity? It is no more. Totally and utterly made obsolete.

I am going to give the solution to this dilemma in a separate post. This is basically just to lay out the problem, let all of you think about it, and hopefully comment on it. Then in a few days (at most a week, all depending on busyness with school), I will post the follow up.