The Instigator
I_just_plant_the_seed
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Raumulus
Pro (for)
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3 Points

The Euthryphro Dilemma: Does it propose a challenge to Christianity?

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after 1 vote the winner is...
Raumulus
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 month ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 234 times Debate No: 105798
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)

 

I_just_plant_the_seed

Con





A popular challenge brought against theists is Euthyrphro's dilemma, which comes from the dialogue in Plato's "Euthyrphro". It essentially goes:

Is an act good because God commands it is good? or does God command it because it is good?

Obviously, this seems to present theists with a problem. After all, if what is right and wrong are based on God's opinion, then they aren't objectively good. In fact, whatever the Christian claims God has commanded is good, could just as easily been commanded to be bad if God so desired. On the other hand, if God commands them because they are good, then even God is appealing to a higher standard apart from himself.

But does this infamous dilemma pose a serious challenge to Christianity? Here I will argue that it fails.

I will raise two contentions in this debate. The first is that the Christian God is completely holy, and has
morally perfect nature. The second is that the Christian God is the ultimate reality. With both of these points firmly established, I will demonstrate that the dilemma given above does not pose a threat to Christianity.

Point 1: God is holy.

The term holy is one of the most common characteristics attributed to God in the bible.
Furthermore, it clearly shows that only He is completely holy, and that anything apart from His nature is unclean (Isaiah 6:3-5). In addition, we also know that because of his holiness, He cannot tolerate evil (Habukkuk 1:12), and cannot act contradictory to hist nature. For example, God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). So we know right off the bat that God indeed does have a nature, and it is completely holy. Secondly, he cannot tolerate sin and cannot himself sin.




Point 2: God is ultimate reality.

I will start by defining ultimate reality. For this I will use Webster’s definition as “Something that is the supreme, final, or fundamental power in all reality. Another term for this is prime reality. Now, the Christian believes that God is prime reality, and is sovereign over all things. Certainly, God transcends all things, and it transcended by nothing.


Conclusion:


So, we know that God has a perfectly holy nature, and is intrinsically good. In fact, He cannot even tolerate what is contradictory to His nature, and cannot Himself act as such. But we also know that Christians view God as prime reality, and therefore is transcendent and sovereign over all things. Now, when we apply these two points to the dilemma, we see that the Christian does not have to choose one or the other. For example, if God is the ultimate reality, then there is no moral standard independent of God can exist. But doesn’t that then force the Christian to accept the second horn of the dilemma? No. God provides a moral law according to His nature, and since we know that He cannot act contradictory to His nature, then it it becomes impossible for Him to command us to do the same. Note, that this does not mean that God is not sovereign, but rather that He has a holy nature and character. So as a result, since God’s nature is the ultimate reality, what is right and wrong is what is consistent with his nature. What is right and wrong is found in His nature, established in His holiness, and communicated through His commandments. He can neither command anything contradictory to His nature, nor can He act in contradiction to it. As Koukl puts it, God's commands are good because God is good.

Before I close, I will cite Greg Koukl on what could appear as a potential flaw with this thinking, which I believe He explains proficiently. Essentially, the issue is when I claim that God’s nature equates to goodness. Now when I say something like God is good, it would appear that I am saying God is God’s nature, and thus God is God. However, Greg points out that the statement God is good is not stating that God is identical to goodness. Instead, it is asserting that goodness is a characteristic which is intrinsic to God. Yes, God’s nature is still the measurement of Good, but that is just reinforced more when God is claimed to be good. It is not circular reasoning.


References:




https://www.str.org...








https://www.merriam-webster.com...








The bible.





Raumulus

Pro

Firstly, a few clarifications: are you making any distinction at all between "holy" and "good"? Your first point was to establish that biblically God is holy, and then you later assert that God is "intrinsically good." Do you mean separate things by these words or the same?

Also, I'd like you just to clarify what exactly you are saying Euthyphro's dilemma to be; that morality is relative? or that God is not supreme? I suspect that it is more the second. If so, I think you're not quite addressing the problem by saying that God is the "ultimate reality." (Which is only to say that he is the absolute sovereign correct?) This doesn't address the issue because the objection is that logically, if God is bound by goodness, then he is not supreme to it.

If you could expound upon how you're understanding God's relation to goodness, and in what way he is said to have a nature, I think we can move forward.
Debate Round No. 1
I_just_plant_the_seed

Con


Clarity:


There are a couple definitions I should have started with.

Sin: The Hebrew word for sin is chata, and literally means to go wrong, or miss the mark. It is an act of falling short of the divine characterof God.


Holy: The Hebrew word for holy is qadosh, which literally means set apart or sacred. When we say that God is holy, we mean that he is distinct from all creation and that he is transcendent; but, it also means that He is separate from sin in the sense that He cannot sin.


Note: When we say that God cannot sin, it does not mean that He is somehow bound by this reality. Remember, sin means to miss the mark or fall short of God’s divine character. If the mark is Himself, how can He miss it? Or how can He fall short of His own character?



The Dilemma:

I mostly agree with your interpretation of the dilemma, but I will add a few things. This is what we are dealing with:


Either morality is relative, and thus not important, or God is not supreme, and thus not important?


Now, this does not fly for the Christian, because she affirms that God is supreme and very important, but also that morality is objective and very important. So it looks as if she will immediately lose to the dilemma.


My Argument:

I do have to apologize for any confusion with my terms in my first post, but I hope I can clarify here.


Point 1: God is holy


-God is set apart from all creation: God is transcendent


-God is set apart from sin: God cannot sin (Not in the sense that he is impotent, but rather it is impossible since sin means to fall short of God’s character).


So when I establish God as holy, I mean that He is distinct from all things, including sin. It then follows that if God’s nature is sinless (because he is set apart from sin), then He will not be able to be in a relationship with someone who is sinful. Thus, God cannot tolerate sin.


Now to answer your question whether or not there is a distinction between goodness and holiness. Yes. We know evil in the bible is equivalent to sin, and that sin is the act of missing the mark, which is God’s character or nature. Thus, goodness can be defined as what is in concordance with God’s character or nature; this is not the same as saying he is set apart from all things, with a pure nature. I hope I was able to clarify any confusion with these terms.


Point 2: God is ultimate reality.


I do not believe there was any confusion here, but rather confusion in how I applied it to the dilemma, which I will address below.


Summary:

Now let me bring it all together. The dilemma is: “Either morality is relative, and thus unimportant, or God is not supreme, and thus unimportant”.


I begin answering the dilemma by declaring that God is ultimate reality, and puts in place an objective standard for morality. (This rejects the first option in the dilemma, which leaves me with only the second). For this, I stated that the objective standard was not external to God, but established in his character and nature, which is good. Now you made the point that God is bound by goodness, and not supreme over it. For this I will return to my clarification of goodness above. Goodness is essentially anything in concordance with God’s character or nature; so, when we say that God is good, we mean that He is in concordance with His own moral character. And we know that His moral character will be transcendent over all things because He is the ultimate reality. *

To be more succinct… God is ultimate reality, so His moral character is transcendent over all things. Whatever is good is what is in concordance with His moral character. As a result, since God is sovereign over all things, then His moral character is the supreme moral character, and whatever agrees with it is good. I hope this clears up any confusion that may have been had with my original statement, and I hope it is not a complete redundancy.



References:

http://biblehub.net...


http://biblehub.com...


http://biblehub.com...


*See the citation of Greg Koukl’s explanation for what looks like a tautology in my first post.
Raumulus

Pro

Now by "unimportant," I take you to mean irrelevant to human action. It seems to me that this may follow from what you've said:

Because sin--which we're now equating with evil--is defined as "missing the mark," and the mark, we've said, is "the divine character of God," it seems that everyone necessarily is always existing in a state of sin, that is, the state of being non-divine, human. And since we've asserted that God is "not able to be in a relationship with someone who is sinful," there is no way God can have any relation at all to any human.

What simply results from this is that if sin is simply evil, and the privation of sin--that is, evil--is good, and human nature can never be the same as divine nature, that is, to not miss the mark, that is, to be free of sin, that is, to be good, then human morality must be something entirely different than what we're referring to as sin. That is to say, the morality you're speaking of is irrelevant, or as you'd have it: unimportant.

Similarly, if human nature must always fall short of divine nature, that is, must always be sinful, and God can have no relation with the sinful, therefore God is in no way correlative with Man, that is to say, irrelevant, or as you'd have it: unimportant.

Therefore, what follows from your premises is exactly the opposite of what you set out to disprove, that both God and morality as you'd have them, are unimportant.
Debate Round No. 2
I_just_plant_the_seed

Con

Accept, all that I have done is define what is good, and what is evil; however, this is not the same as a moral law. You have to distinguish between is statements and ought statements. Sin is the act of falling short of God's divine character, and goodness is the act of agreeing with it. But these is statements do not make up the moral law. The moral law is revealed through God's divine commandments, and these are what establish a moral law by telling us what we ought to do. Obviously, humans can never live up to God's standard if they do not know what it looks like. But through divine commandments, He reveals what it looks like, and exactly what humans have to do to hit the mark.

However, as you cleverly pointed out, it is impossible. Humans simply are not holy, and will never perfectly "hit the mark". Paul clearly recognized this too when he wrote his epistles:

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace which came through Christ Jesus". Romans 3:23-24

It is obvious that humans will never measure up to the standard which God sets. But lucky for us, God saw it coming and decided to intervene by sending Jesus and making it possible to have a relationship. I do not want to get too off topic, but this was relevant to your contention.

Summary:

NOTE: I did bring up divine command theory, which is largely held to be refuted by the dilemma. However, I am not grounding the objective morality in God's divine commandments (as command theory states), but rather I am grounding it in God's holy character; and, only after it is grounded in such a way, is it then possible to provide people with the commandments for which they can live their life.


You brought up that my reasoning could lead to the conclusion that sinning is the same as not being divine. However, this is wrong. You do not need to be divine to act divine. God gives commandments on how to act that reflect the goodness of Hist nature, but that does not mean that if we follow all of them effortlessly, then we somehow have His same divine nature. Remember, Goodness is what is in concordance with His nature and character,it does not equate to it.

Now I will bring it back to the dilemma. It seems that I have confused your understanding of it. The additions I made to it where I called morality and god "unimportant", were merely to state the ramifications of each option of the dilemma. I only did this to show why it was of importance to Christians.

But I think your final point could have been summarized as such: Humans will always fall short of divine character, and since God cannot have relations with those who fall short, He is thus irrelevant. Perhaps this may work to refute other theistic religions, but certainly not Christianity. I will refer you to the above verse. The reason God can have relations with humans and is not irrelevant is because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. However, I will not get too deep into it. The bottom line is that this attempt does not work with the Christian worldview.
Raumulus

Pro

I think there is a way to escape this dilemma, but I don't think you've quite made the argument. Instead I think we've really arrived at a full confusion of terms and premises. Let me outline it:
Originally, the dilemma seemed to be that either morality is relative, or God is not supreme.
You replied to this by saying there is no problem, because God has a perfectly good nature, and commands man to act in accordance with that nature.
I asked you to clarify your terms and the dilemma itself, at which point the dilemma was taken a step further, claiming that with either horn of the dilemma accepted, Morality and God are made irrelevant. I pointed out an apparent undesired conclusion from your logic, namely that: "if human nature must always fall short of divine nature, that is, must always be sinful, and God can have no relation with the sinful, therefore God is in no way correlative with Man, that is to say, irrelevant, or as you'd have it: unimportant."
You've now responded to this by saying that this is true, but that "moral law is revealed through God's divine commandments, and these are what establish a moral law by telling us what we ought to do." You've now introduced a distinction between "is statements," and "ought statements," and established that morality has to do with what ought to be done. This is obvious, however, I think it confuses our other definitions. Again, we have sin as the falling short, and not-sin therefore is not-falling short, and we are not making any distinction between evil and sin, however, we have defined the good as that which "agrees" with God's nature. So it seems you are wanting to introduce the idea of agreement as a sort of non-contrary falling-short-of. That one can fall short of divine nature, but still be in agreement with it. I think this is exemplified in your statement: "You do not need to be divine to act divine." So then, despite what I think is a confusion of terms, morality inherently does address what ought to be done and what not, that is, what is good and bad, and therefore it must follow from what you have posited that God, the transcendent to all, must give the command that is transcendent to all, that is, his law is moral law. Simply, what he says to do, is good to do, according to no other concept of goodness.

In conclusion, I will demonstrate two things: that the ten commandments--which have been your prime example--do not instruct man concerning divine nature, and that to the God of the Old Testament, the only morality is obedience.

Firstly, concerning the ten, I'll go through each and speak a little on how they are incomparable with divine nature.

1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

The first four commandments are edicts concerning how to properly perform the human function of worship, they have no correlation to divine nature.

5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor"s house. You shall not covet your neighbor"s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

The fifth through sixth commandments are all concerning how to live in human society, they also have no correlation to divine nature. God has no father or mother, no equally innocent being to be able to murder, no wife to commit adultery upon, no un-owned property to steal, no court to offer false testimony in, no neighbor. The Ten Commandments do not in any way reveal divine nature to mankind, they simply command certain things as moral law by the justification of God's saying so. They instruct a man how to relate to the divine and to his fellow men in a way that is pleasing to his Lord. Now I say "pleasing" to God, rather than "agreeing with his nature," firstly, because of this is very biblical language, and secondly because the actions proscribed by the Ten Commandments cannot properly be said to agree with the divine nature, because they command human actions which are in no way relatable to divine action.

To drive the point home, the stories of Abraham and Job both seem to demonstrate that morality is nothing more than obedience. Now this will be a grievously brief analysis of both stories, but I think the point will be clear.

God gives Abraham a very simple command: "Take your son, your only son, whom you love"Isaac"and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you," (Genesis 22:2). Child sacrifice, we'd all agree, is far from moral, and is condemned as abominable multiple times in the books of Kings and Chronicles, but Abraham's willingness and intent to commit such an abomination is rewarded, and on account of it, Abraham is considered to have passed a test, and is blessed. An evil action is by definition evil, but the intention to do evil is also an evil action; despite this, Abraham's intention is rewarded, because he is obeying the divine mandate.

Job, is presented to us as an inherently good man, "blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil," but is thrown into misfortune by God in order to prove his utter faithfulness. In the course of his misfortunes, Job begins to accuse God of being unjust, because the law has established that evildoers should be punished, and the upright should be rewarded. God reprimands him in the end, by reminding Job of his utter superiority, as you were saying, his transcendence. That is to say, Job should never have questioned God, simply because of his divinity, despite apparent morality.

These two examples demonstrate that according to the Old Testament, the only morality is obedience.

Therefore, in final summary, God's commandments are not given in reflection of divine nature, and according to the Old testament, morality is simply nothing more than God should command at any given time.

Thanks for the delightful conversation.

V. V. V.
S. P. Q. R.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by whiteflame 1 month ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: TheMarketLibertarian // Mod action: NOT Removed<

3 points to Pro. Reasons for voting decision: The burden of proof in this debate was on Con to prove that Euthryphro's Dilema was false because he started the debate and the resolution was that Euthryphro's dilema is false. Instead he rephrased the dilema as 'God is good,' and pretended as if this were an answer. It isn't- you're still left with the same dilema- saying that God is good doesn't change anything with regards to why what he says is objectively moral. Its like if you claimed that everything you say comes true, and I asked 'do they come true because you say them, or do you say them because they will come true,' and you're response was that you're psychic.

[*Reason non-removal*] The voter provides sufficient reasoning to award the given points.
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Posted by whiteflame 1 month ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: TheMarketLibertarian// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Pro (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: The burden of proof in this debate was on Con to prove that Euthryphro's Dilema was false, and he failed to do this. The Dilema was that 'is an act good because God says it is Good or does God say it is good because it is good?' Con never refuted this but rather claimed that 'God is good,' as if that refuted the dilemma. Instead, it seems as though he simply answered it by claiming that an act God declares is good is good because God said so.

[*Reason removal*] The voter is required to either assess specific arguments from both sides of the debate or assess one side and examine that side"s burden of proof. The voter appears to be doing the latter, yet only states that Con has the burden of proof without explaining why he bears it. The voter is welcome to re-post his RFD with that information.

Note: Contrary to the report, this is not a "mean" vote, and, whether there is bias or not, the voter sufficiently examines the arguments presented by Con.
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheMarketLibertarian 1 month ago
TheMarketLibertarian
I_just_plant_the_seedRaumulusTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The burden of proof in this debate was on Con to prove that Euthryphro's Dilema was false because he started the debate and the resolution was that Euthryphro's dilema is false. Instead he rephrased the dilema as 'God is good,' and pretended as if this were an answer. It isn't- you're still left with the same dilema- saying that God is good doesn't change anything with regards to why what he says is objectively moral. Its like if you claimed that everything you say comes true, and I asked 'do they come true because you say them, or do you say them because they will come true,' and you're response was that you're psychic.