Euthyphro Is Dead!

By Timothy Fox

It’s the zombie argument. The objection that won’t stay down: the Euthyphro dilemma. Skeptics just can’t accept the fact that Euthyphro has been dead for centuries and keep dragging him out of his grave.

In case you don’t know who Euthyphro is, let me introduce you to him. Euthyphro is a character from one of Plato’s writings who has a discussion with Socrates about the gods and piety. His dilemma has been repurposed as an argument against the goodness of God and can be stated as follows:

Is something good because God commands it or does God command something because it is good? In the first option, God’s commands seem arbitrary, that he could have easily commanded murder and rape to be good and love and kindness to be evil. In the second option, God merely reports to us the commands of some other moral standard that even he is subject to. So we’re caught in a dilemma: either God’s commands are arbitrary or he is not the ultimate authority. This is the Euthyphro dilemma.

At first it seems like we’re stuck. Except, as mentioned earlier, this dilemma has been resolved for centuries: God is good. He is the source of goodness. Heis the moral standard. His commands are not arbitrary, nor do they come from some standard external to him. They are good because they flow from his innate goodness. Dilemma averted.

Euthyphro is dead.

Now I know this doesn’t settle the issue of God’s goodness. Since this article is only intended to discuss the Euthyphro dilemma, I’ll just briefly touch on two related objections:

1 – God is not good. This is typically in response to an action or command from God in the Old Testament. And I agree that there are some things that are hard to understand and need to be discussed. But generally speaking, if we question God’s goodness, what are we judging him against? Our own moral standard? Then it’s our opinion against God’s and, if he truly exists, I’m going to trust his judgment over any finite, fallible human’s.

2 – How do we know that God is good? This question completely misses the point of Euthyphro’s resolution: God is the standard of goodness. There is nothing to compare him against or judge him by. But let’s suppose there does exist some higher moral standard. By applying this objection’s logic, we should ask “How do we know that this standard is good?” See the problem? You’re forever asking “How do we know?” to any moral standard. But if there is an objective moral standard, that is the standard by which morality is measured. It simply is good.

The best you can do is try to find some kind of inconsistency in God’s moral character. But then you can still only judge him against himself, which would point you back to objection 1. And even if you feel that one (or both) of these objections has not been resolved, my broader point is that the Euthyphro dilemma fails as a dilemma since there’s a third possible option, whether you like it or not. Thus, it’s an invalid argument.

Euthyphro is dead.

Why do skeptics keep digging him up? You may as well as ask why zombies keeps coming back. Because they do. That’s what makes them zombies. Bad arguments will always come back into fashion. But you need to see Euthyphro for what he is: a dead, defeated argument. Yet unlike zombies from tv shows and movies, he has no bite. He doesn’t even have teeth. His dilemma has been resolved for centuries.

So if you’re looking for an argument against God’s goodness, Euthyphro is not your man.

Euthyphro is dead!

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26 replies
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    “They are good because they flow from his innate goodness.”

    Tim, I’m afraid you’ve not solved the dilemma. What makes his innate nature ‘good’? Did he create his own nature, or did he have no choice in what was ‘good’? What does it even mean to given the label ‘Good’ to God’s nature, if the only standard of ‘good’ is that nature? It becomes a meaningless label, as even William Lane Craig was last year forced to concede. What makes this standard ‘good’ and not ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ if you can only judge it against itself?

    Let’s look at some traits of God’s nature that are good: Loving, forgiveness, etc. The dilemma still applies to these traits: Is God good because he has those properties, or are those properties good because God has them? If they’re only good because they are traits God happens to have then their ‘goodness’ seems arbitrary – if God happened to have been hateful and unforgiving then THESE would have been good traits. If you say those traits could never have been the traits of a perfectly good God then you’re setting up an external standard by which any perfectly good God must align to. If not, then again, the goodness of love and forgiveness appear arbitrary.

    Euthyphro lives to fight another day!

    Reply
    • Timothy Fox says:

      Andy, I appreciate the interaction!

      The problem is that you’re talking about God like he’s a contingent being. He is necessary and self-existing and so he simply IS. He doesn’t choose his attributes and didn’t decide to be good; he simply IS the greatest good. So to ask “What if God was like THIS instead?” is logically incoherent. It’s like asking “What if a square had three sides?” Then it wouldn’t be a square!

      This is precisely why Euthyphro fails as a dilemma. God doesn’t look to some standard of goodness outside himself and he doesn’t arbitrarily make decisions between good and evil. He IS the self-existing, necessary standard of goodness.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Hi Tim, thanks for responding.

        You say: “The problem is that you’re talking about God like he’s a contingent being”

        No, Tim. None of the problems I pointed out rely on God being a contingent being.

        “He IS the self-existing, necessary standard of goodness.”

        I’ve already pointed out why this doesn’t solve the dilemma, and those points still stand..

        Out of interest, Tim, do you investigate the counter-apologetic responses to your arguments? ‘Rational Wiki’ is a good site, as is ‘Iron Chariots’, though the latter is less well-maintained. Both have answers to the particular argument you present above, so you’d probably find it useful to know what the counters to your argument are. Most importantly, have you read the Jeremy Koons paper that I linked to above? Even if you don’t agree with it, you really need to ANSWER it before you can claim to have an answer to Euthyphro, because at present your argument says nothing that Koons hasn’t taken into account and addressed.

        From the abstract:
        “Recent defenders of the divine command theory like Adams and Alston have confronted the Euthyphro dilemma by arguing that although God’s commands make right actions right, God is morally perfect and hence would never issue unjust or immoral commandments. On their view, God’s nature is the standard of moral goodness, and God’s commands are the source of all obligation. I argue that this view of divine goodness fails because it strips God’s nature of any features that would make His goodness intelligible. An adequate solution to the Euthyphro dilemma may require that God be constrained by a standard of goodness that is external to Himself – itself a problematic proposal for many theists.”

        Reply
    • James Hay says:

      I remember coming across this argument when a theology student studying philosophy as part of my theology degree. I was fortunate to be studying Christology at the time and being exposed to the history of trinitarian thought in the early church.
      My contribution, if it counts for anything, is this.
      Firstly, within the Godhead there is a trinity of persons, Father, Son, Spirit. But the relationships between these persons are not static, but rather, dynamic; it was the 3 great Cappadocian Fathers who came up with the idea, as far as I can recall, of the movement of love between the persons, the co-inherence, (perichoresis) that make up the essential nature, or, are an expressions of the flow between the persons. God is love in his essential nature and this love is dynamic, flowing from one person to the other.
      This flow of love between the persons is an eternal flow – God being an eternal being – and is expressed outwardly to creation as an outward flow of love. This love finds its expression as commandment, (morality, defining good and evil) because the whole law is summed up in this, ‘love’.
      Love is the beginning and end of the law and is an outward expression of the interrelatedness of love between each of the persons within this eternal, divine, and dynamic Godhead.
      So, far from being goodness external to God, and far from being an arbitrary choice of what is good, ‘goodness’ is an expression of the very nature of God, which is love and is the outflow of the flow within and among the divine persons. Goodness is neither arbitrary nor external to God, but an expression of his very nature, LOVE.
      “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

      Reply
    • Barrett says:

      Andy,

      I think your version of the Euthyphro Dilemma in this comment fails to disprove Theism. Here is why. Because Theism says that God simply is the goodness, your version of the Dilemma is actually asking something like this. Is goodness good because it has certain properties, or are certain properties good because goodness has them? Another example of this type of question would be, Is circularity circular because it has certain properties, or are certain properties circular because circularity has them? The way I see it is that the first horn of the dilemma still stands because if you say that circularity is circular because it has certain properties, then you’re setting up an external standard by which any perfectly circular circularity must align to. Likewise if you say that goodness is good because it has certain properties, then you’re setting up an external standard by which any perfectly good goodness must align to. But the second horn of the Dilemma is no longer a problem because it is impossible for circularity to be arbitrary because circularity cannot have the trait of being three sided. Likewise it is impossible for goodness to be arbitrary because goodness cannot have the trait of being murderous. So it seems to me that if God is the goodness then to say that certain properties are good because goodness has them, is the same as saying that certain properties are good because God has them? And it is not arbitrary because it is impossible for goodness/God to be arbitrary. But let us say I am wrong about the second horn of your version of the Dilemma and that it still stands. Your version of the dilemma can be used to attack anything. Which would lead to logical absurdities like infinite regresses or three sided circularity. So in order for you to be correct you you have to be wrong. Therefore from where I stand it seems to that Euthyphro is indeed dead.

      Reply
  2. Andy Ryan says:

    Jeremy Koons illustrates well why the dilemma still stands.
    http://faculty.georgetown.edu/koonsj/papers/Euthyphro.pdf

    William Lane Craig’s response to it was pretty much a capitulation – admitting that Koons had shown the so-called ‘third horn’ robbed the term ‘good’ or any meaning whatsoever.

    If you’re short of time, it’s discussion on the Reasonable Doubts podcast from around the 14 minute 20 second mark.
    http://doubtcast.org/podcast/rd139_whats_past_is_prologue.mp3

    At around 20 minutes and 15 seconds in they discuss/dissect William Lane Craig’s response.

    I’ve posted this all separately as I’m guessing the link will get this snarled up in moderation.

    Reply
  3. Luke says:

    I’ll confess to having never been able to wrap my head around the third horn solution. I’ll be smarter one day — I hope.

    That said, if this is true:

    Timothy Fox said:
    “[G-d’s] commands seem arbitrary, that [He] could have easily commanded murder and rape to be good and love and kindness to be evil.”

    Then I do not see why the following is not also true:

    “G-d’s innate goodness seems random, His nature could have easily categorized murder and rape to be good and love and kindness to be evil.”

    (In other words, if G-d has no input on what it good or bad, and no one else does either, then it’s just sort of an accident that ‘rape is bad’.)

    And if “[G-d’s] commands seem arbitrary, that [He] could have easily commanded murder and rape to be good and love and kindness to be evil.” is an undesirable thing (as the article suggests), then I don’t see how “G-d’s innate goodness seems random, His nature could have easily categorized murder and rape to be good and love and kindness to be evil.” is also not undesirable.

    On another note, this argument requires that G-d’s nature contains information (rape is bad; love is good; etc.). I have read here that information comes only from minds. Doesn’t this require that a mind bestowed this information on G-d? Who might this mind be?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Timothy Fox says:

      Luke, check out my response to Andy above. God is necessary and self-existent and so there is nothing random and arbitrary about his nature. God simply is loving and forgiving. It is not accidental; God is good by nature.

      It is true that information only comes from minds. But God IS a mind and not some impersonal force (think Star Wars!). And since Christians hold that God is all-knowing, he innately knows any and all things and so has never “learned” anything.

      Reply
  4. John Moore says:

    Yes, it seems like God’s goodness is still arbitrary if you simply state that God is good because he’s innately good. He’s good because he just is the good. That’s arbitrary.

    Why can’t Christians accept that God’s goodness is arbitrary? What’s so wrong about that? Sure God could have said murder and rape were good, but he did not. There you go. That’s a better solution to the Euthyphro dilemma.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      John, many Christian DO accept it – or they don’t question WHY murder and rape are bad, they just accept their badness as obvious and axiomatic. To them, it’s obvious that a good God would reject murder and rape, as those are obviously bad things.

      The problem for apologists, and the reason they keep trying and failing to find a loophole to Euthyphro, is that the above outlook leaves no requirement for God when it comes to morality. If those things just ARE bad, then they’d be bad with or without God. This seems self evident to me – if you’re making the badness of those actions dependent or conditional on the existence of God, you’re effectively saying there’s nothing INTRINSICALLY bad about them.

      Reply
      • Jeremy Legg says:

        Hi Andy. Hi John. Doesn’t your argument overlook some absolutes?

        Something that is absolute is hardly arbitrary. Indeed it is fundamental, rather than whimsical. E.g. the heaviness (due to the effect of gravity upon mass) of a mountain is not arbitrary. It is absolute, and trying to describe it as arbitrary (because it would be much lighter if both I and it were on the Moon) doesn’t make it any easier to move here on Earth if I feel it is spoiling the view.

        If God exists (which I, as a Christian, of course believe He does), then the question of “Does this moral evaluation exist only because God exists?” becomes a semantic irrelevancy. After all, the Bible states that “Without him [God/Jesus] nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:13)

        It’s a bit like trying to divorce sunlight from the sun. Just as there is no sunlight without its solar source, there is no goodness without God. Goodness, we are told, is in His nature, since “God is love” (1 John 4:8). “The LORD is upright; … and there is no wickedness in him”. (Psalm 92:15)

        One might add that it is fortuitous – at least for us as commenters upon the issue – that God has decided to reveal His goodness to us. Nevertheless if God *is*, and goodness is in his nature, then the two must be taken as co-existent fact.

        It may be a veil beyond which we cannot see – something whose workings we cannot explore because they are hidden from us (in the same way as the state of the universe prior to the Big Bang is hidden from us). Nevertheless, it has outworkings which we *can* explore.

        Thus we are invited in the Bible to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), and to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (through understanding God’s truth), so that we might “test” [i.e. know, experience, evaluate] and approve that God’s will is “good” (morally), “pleasing” (since we can see it produces good outcomes) and “perfect” (beyond reproach; higher and better than anything we could devise by ourselves) (all quotes, Romans 12:2) . Our own minds and consciences are able to do this evaluation – all the more so as they are renewed through redemptive relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

        In other words, we are created to understand and respond to God’s goodness. We may not be able to fully get behind its causes or reasons for existence. But we can test its effects, and both God and his goodness would appear to be something we cannot do away with.

        Reply
    • Timothy Fox says:

      John, I agree with your statement that God is “good because he just is the good” but it is not true that his nature is arbitrary. If something is arbitrary, it means it can be whatever you want, randomly or on a whim. But God is a necessary and self-existing being, so he simply is what he is and can’t be any different. (And if he was any different, he wouldn’t be God!) Basically, God is the exact opposite of arbitrary!

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “But God is a necessary and self-existing being, so he simply is what he is and can’t be any different”

        But as Luke points out, you’ve not shown that the individual TRAITS of God’s moral nature are ‘necessary’ and the Euthyphro Dilemma still apply to those traits.

        If you’re saying that being loving would HAVE to be a trait of a moral God, then really you’re saying that loving is a good trait apart from his nature. Thus ‘loving’ itself is a necessary good trait, and thus a good God would have to be loving. This is the opposite of what you’re trying to argue – that loving is ONLY a good trait BECAUSE of his nature.

        Note that even William Lane Craig seems to tacitly accept this – he once said that Allah couldn’t be the one true God because his nature lacked ‘great-making properties’ like loving and forgiveness. This is admitting that these are good traits APART from God. They are traits that a good God must embody, rather than being traits that just HAPPEN to be those possessed by the God that Craig believes in.

        Reply
        • Scottie Ralph says:

          Can you people not see that all these arguments are completely circular?

          The fundamental purpose for theism being to portray something perceived to be evil, i.e. death, to be “good” (not really death but eternal life which eternal life is assumed to be a “good” aspect of “god”? and by believing .. also available to the believer. But this assumes that death is “evil” But how can death be evil per se? Without death, none of us survives but we want to be exempt from death ourselves, curiously, even though we know we are not, as are parents were not, and their parents were not, and our children are not,and we are not.

          The first assumption being made that any god exists: or eternal..has not been shown to be valid.

          The rest is all a dog chasing its own tail.

          Reply
  5. Chris Bowers says:

    >The problem for apologists, and the reason they keep trying and failing to find a loophole to Euthyphro, is that the above outlook leaves no >requirement for God when it comes to morality. If those things just ARE bad, then they’d be bad with or without God. This seems self >evident to me – if you’re making the badness of those actions dependent or conditional on the existence of God, you’re effectively saying >there’s nothing INTRINSICALLY bad about them.

    I agree that divine command theory fails, but divine simplicity theory (according to Aquinas) does not. God and Good are the same thing. there is no difference between the two.

    Thus it is incoherent to say that God does something good, or God does something evil. God IS GOOD and to say “Good just did a bad thing” is incoherent and contradictory.

    The trouble comes in when you assert that God is different than good. Once you make a leap to that, the Euthyphro dilemma is a problem. If you start saying that God can command either good or bad things, or there is some difference between God and Good, that’s where the trouble starts.

    While God literally is good, and God literally is love, the set of God also includes other things (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence and so forth). God is many things, not JUST Good, but it’s still proper to say that God is good and good is God.

    For instance, Are the Cardinals a baseball team? Yes. “A baseball team is cardinals” But the Cardinals are also a corporation, a logo, etc. Something can be more than just one thing.

    Likewise God is good and good is God, but God is also other things (creator, etc.)

    >If those things just ARE bad, then they’d be bad with or without God. This seems self >evident to me – if you’re making the badness of >those actions dependent or conditional on the existence of God, you’re effectively saying >there’s nothing INTRINSICALLY bad about >them.

    According to Aquinas and divine simplicity there is no such thing as “Bad” or “Evil”, rather there is only privation of the good, That is, good, and a lack of that goodness.

    Without God would something be bad? No, without God nothing would be. Are you asking me to imagine a universe without God? Ok, in that instance good and evil don’t have the same meaning at all, I agree. If there’s no ultimate good, no ultimate standard, then all morality is subjectivism.

    Reply
  6. Wayward Skeptic says:

    God is the standard of goodness. There is nothing to compare him against or judge him by.

    So essentially are reducing God to the metre. Currently the definition of a metre is “The metre is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second.” as per bipm.org. Such distance has no metreness to it, it is merely a defined standard.

    But let’s suppose there does exist some higher moral standard. By applying this objection’s logic, we should ask “How do we know that this standard is good?

    It would be good as it would have goodness as a (non-natural) property. Of course, you can play the “How do we know game?” forever game on any topic, however, that’s an epistemic issue, not an ontological one. The standard for any fact is reality itself.

    Reply
  7. Luke says:

    Timothy,

    Thanks for the response.

    You said:“[G-d} is necessary and self-existent and so there is nothing random and arbitrary about [His] nature.”

    You make a jump here that I don’t find logically supported.

    Even if we accept the assumption that G-d must exist (is necessary), it does not follow that G-d having a nature that categorizes love as good is also necessary.

    It’s as if you said:

    “It is necessary for Swansea to have a goalkeeper, so there is nothing random or arbitrary about Lukasz Fabianski playing goalkeep for Swansea.”

    That’s quite a jump, it seems to me, and a completely unsubstantiated one.

    (In other words, how does a omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent (as defined by the being’s nature), and omniscient being, who sees rape as “good” not satisfy its necessity?)

    You said: “It is true that information only comes from minds. But [G-d} IS a mind.”

    Hmmm… it seems to me that the whole idea of the “third horn” is to separate the source of “what is good” away from G-d’s mind, and into some other part of Him (in other words, it doesn’t come from G-d mind, but G-d isn’t looking somewhere else for it. It’s still coming from G-d. It purports to defeat the dilemma because in addition to “morals come from G-d mind (making them arbitrary)” or “G-d is reporting rules that exist outside of Him (rendering Him unnecessary to morality)” it adds a third option: “G-d is not coming up with them, but is also not looking outside Himself”. Your answer undoes this completely.

    Maybe I’ve got this wrong. As I’ve said, the response is not one I’ve ever been able to wrap my head around.

    If I’m right though, then your response here seems to bring us right back to the dilemma.

    Per Webster, the mind is “the part of a [being] that thinks, reasons, feels, and remembers”. A mind takes in information and processes it. This information has to come from somewhere. (It can come from memory, but information in memory originally had to come into the mind. Processing (thinking) can create new information, but not without informational inputs. One must have information to think on, or one cannot think. The virtue of the third horn (I thought) was that “x is good” didn’t come out of G-d’s mind. Rather G-d’s mind could look to the information in His nature. He used it to issue His commands, control his decisions, behavior, etc. Again, this means G-d didn’t generate it in his mind, nor did he look outside of Himself. Dilemma solved! Yet here, you’ve unsolved it again with a few keystrokes.

    (It’s not usually stated this way, but I don’t think anyone can deny that “x is good” is indeed information. If it is G-d’s mind that generates that information, then we have the dilemma. The dilemma does not apply only if the information is not generated by G-d, but is also not outside G-d. . In other words, the idea behind the third horn is that G-d isn’t looking to some higher power outside of himself for the information “x is good”, but rather looking within Himself. The key is though, He is looking to something, not generating the information in His own mind.)

    Again, I could be totally misunderstanding, and I’d be glad if you or Andy wish to clarify.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  8. Brian Hunt says:

    What is “goodness”? That must be answered before we can even have an intelligent discussion.

    Philosophical theology has wrestled with this question across the ages. But is seems most, if not all, arguments wind their way to the nature of an ‘absolute perfect being’ (i.e. God).

    So it seems the validity of Koon’s argument rests on whether an absolute perfect being is necessary or contingent. If one can coherently argue that, if God exists, then “he” is contingent, then I think Koon’s argument makes sense. However, if God is a necessary being, then Koon’s argument fails, because given the necessity of God as an absolute perfect being, then what other set of characteristics would the nature of an absolute perfect being display that is coherent?

    Reply
  9. David says:

    I’m sorry Tim but I’m afraid you have committed the informal fallacy of “proof by repeated assertion”. You can claim “Euthyphro is dead” a thousand more times and it won’t make it true. I would argue that Euthyphro is as eternal as the Jesus you believe in, Plato’s insights having been recorded in print for us to access even today.

    I assume from your article that you would consider it inappropriate for one to attempt to assess the validity of the bible’s description of god by comparing the morality that gods expects of us with the morality that humans might expect of him. I believe that if we see things in the scriptures that seem immoral to us it should give us pause regarding the integrity of the scriptures.

    Let me give you an example. If I bred dogs, millions of litters, with the sole purpose of creating future companions for myself and then tortured forever any of the puppies from those litters that did not show a strong and loyal affinity and love for me I think any human would say that I was evil. The world would unanimously agree that I was the most evil of all creatures. Yet this is exactly what god, according to your scriptures, has done. He supposedly placed man in the garden, knowing he would fall (planning for him to fall according to many apologists so man would be capable of a free will choice of him) gave him access to the tree, gave the serpent access to tempt him, knowing that the fall would result in the vast majority of humans being condemned to an eternity of fiery torment. And he made this choice to create to satisfy a need that he, according the scriptures, does not have as he is said to be perfectly content and at peace within the trinity. How can you call such a being loving? I don’t get it. If we cannot look at god’s “biblical” standard of behavior for us and expect that he should behave in like manner then there is no way to even begin a conversation about what is good and evil. For apologists to exempt god from the standard of morality that he, according to the scriptures, has set for us is clearly a case of special pleading.

    Regarding the bible you state, “I agree that there are some things that are hard to understand and need to be discussed.” They are not “hard to understand” Tim. They are evil and they don’t need to be discussed (which is just your way of you saying “you unbelievers need to accept our apologetic harmonizations”), they need to be rejected.

    You also state that, “if we question God’s goodness, what are we judging him against? Our own moral standard?” We are not judging god by our own moral standard we are judging him by his moral standard. A standard that, if the scriptures are to be trusted, he violates repeatedly. I like the quote by John Stuart Mill, “To say that God’s goodness may be different in kind from man’s goodness, what is it but saying, with a slight change of phraseology, that God may possibly not be good?” If god exists and redemption is not universal, then the creation was an evil act and therefore god is evil. I chose to believe that the bible presents an inaccurate picture of the eternal being that created us all.

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      David:
      That is an interesting post. But, look what really occurred according to the bible. God created everything from nothing. All is all His and not ours, but He decided to share it. He imposed certain rules. Those rules were broken and we are living in the aftermath of that bad decision. I am not happy about any of it, but who am I to question the means and methods of the God who created everything? Only He knows the ins and outs of sin and life and satan and free beings and how it all comes together. I am chosing to be grateful that he even offers a path out! He could simply turn His back and let us all rot with no hope, and He’d be within His rights to do it since it is all His.

      Reply
      • luke says:

        Hi Louie,

        You said: “I am choosing to be grateful that he even offers a path out! He could simply turn His back and let us all rot with no hope, and He’d be within His rights to do it since it is all His.”

        As you know, many Christians don’t believe that G-d offers such a path, but places people on the path of His choosing (Rom 9:11). In other words, one has no choice nor any ability to control whether one will end up in heaven or hell — one’s path is predestined by G-d.

        Do you think such a G-d is equally good to yours?
        Do you think one who has been predestined for hell (most of us are) should be grateful to G-d, as you are?

        Thanks,

        Luke

        Reply
      • David says:

        Louie, What did you do to deserve to be born in a fallen state? Why are you held accountable for Eve’s affinity for fruit? Did you choose to be born? Why was the sin of Adam and Eve put on you? Do you agree that innocent people should suffer for the wrong doings of others? It’s all nonsense Louie. I know Paul tried to explain all of this but it falls short.

        Reply
  10. Tom Rafferty says:

    People are replying to this article with much philosophical verbiage, which never is a substitute for evidence. Just look around, our world has much human and natural evil. If one has a belief in an all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful god who made our world, how would our world be different if it was made by an evil god?.

    Reply
  11. Bob Enyart says:

    Thanks for this article! New Zealand’s Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, now living in the U.S., published this a few years back,
    http://creation.com/what-is-good-answering-euthyphro-dilemma and from there he linked to this, http://rsr.org/euthyphro which focuses on the eternal testimony of the three persons of the triune God as the reason why God Himself can know that He is good. (By contrast, a unitarian god, like Allah, even if he existed, could not know that he were good.) On a cruise to Alaska two years ago with a hundred believers including Dr. John Lennox, he graciously told me that he had read this RSR answer, just fyi!

    Reply
  12. seth hall says:

    I didn’t read all of the comments so something like this may have been said already, but think about it like this: In eternity past there was no such things as murder or rape….because there was no such thing as the body or physicality. In order to even have a concept like murder there must first has to be the invention of physical life, death, and a free will in order to choose to murder someone in the first place. Rape cannot eternally exist because sexuality had to first be invented along with the will to choose to rape or not to rape. Evil had to be created: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things”–Isaiah 45:7; “In the good day enjoy good things, and beware beforehand of the evil day: for God hath made both the one and the other, that man may not find against him any just complaint. “–Ecclesiastices 7:14; “Who has prescribed for him his way, or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’?”–Job 36:23…the way I understand the Kabbalistic concept of “Ain Soph Aur” (never ending light) is that in order to go from the transition from “Ain Soph” to “Ain Soph Aur” you have to first create darkness to contrast the Light, for how could you truly define the light if you have no darkness? God is self existent and He sees His character as the best there is in terms of goodness, for He has searched far and wide and found no other standard than the standard of His own goodness. This goodness is not arbitrary (choice wise) because God has already seen every possible outcome and He could have decided to change what is good according to how He perceived things (an arbitrary choice is an unreasonable act of the will…obviously God is not vain and has His reasons for choosing for good to be reinforced as good)…however, if you want to argue His actual perception as arbitrary then you must first understand the concept of self existence, which cannot be understood by finite minds like ours. If He is good enough to cause Himself to be self existent then He would feel that His natural character is superior. It is called trust…as well as reasonable judgement. For He cannot lose faith in His self, because He already knows just what is and just what isn’t because He is all knowing. Now, God did have the power to change His character (He’s All powerful) and then cause Himself to permantly forget His original character, but that would be delusion…and delusion is wrong…and what is wrong is contrary to God’s character. For all things are possible but not all things are probable. Everything God already had (characteristically) was infinitely good, but how could it actually be good if there was no evil to contrast and define it’s goodness? How can you be a hero if there is no villain? How can you define pleasure without pain? God did not create a standard of good, rather He indirectly created a standard of evil to contrast what actually already was good. Everything evil is contrary to His goodness, and everything good is only good because it directly extends from His Being. He did this (created true evil) through the creation of free will. Things are not good because He chose them to be good, but rather they are good because they indeed aren’t the things that were purposely made as total opposites of that same good, in order to actually define what is good. The standard of goodness was not outside of Himself because the Light is good and He is “never ending light” (infinite goodness) and “the Father of Lights”…the way, the reality, and the Life. The only reason there is a standard of good outside of evil is because He allowed evil to be (and the good will always be separate from the evil, because good is holiness and holiness is separateness), and yet who was above Him to judge Him on whether or not He should have done these things? Surely tiny, little, maggoty man cannot judge the Almighty Judge! He could have chose to make evil good (by deluding Himself) but why? God is logical and He can see what is actually good and He knows that His character is naturally good, so He stays true to His character because truth is good! So therefore He judges that what belongs directly to Him is good and what has been separated from Himself is evil. For He IS the standard…that is why the Law of God is called “the testimony”….because it is a testimony of His own character in relation to what He has created. Arbitrary to me would mean that He randomly chose things, but He chose things for specific reasons. What did He choose? To stay true to His character, which is good. Why is it good? Because it belongs to Him. Why is there true goodness? Because He made evil to point at what is not evil. Evil is evil because it is contrary to good. Good is self existent because true goodness IS God, because no one is good except for God alone. Evil is truly evil… so to make evil truly good would not be truth… and falsehood is contrary to God’s character! For He IS The Spirit of Truth. He is The way, Truth, and life. The problem lies in that people generally don’t understand that sin indeed has purposes. One is to glorify God by contrast: “But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?”–Romans 3:5-6…think about it. God made us with curious, reverse psychology natures. The fall was for a purpose. For how can you truly blame Adam and Eve if they did not actually have knowledge of good and evil at the time? How could they have truly known what evil was? How could they know the experience of death was one to be avoided if they had never seen death nor felt it? How could they fear if there was no evil or danger to fear? How could they have known that eating from the tree and disobeying God was actually truly evil if they had no true knowledge of evil or the contrast between good and evil? Given the same circumstance and naivity as them, any last one of us would have made the same exact choice…thus mankind was deemed sinners as a whole. Okay, so imagine you are God (not actually doable but BARE with me for a second). God is Love, but how can you Love if you have no one to love? So therefore you create spirits. These spirits are little peices of your own Spirit (A picture of asexual reproduction)…so by nature they love automatically (A picture of genetics) because that is their nature. So how do you have true love if these little love robots love you automatically? How is that truth? It is not…it is a delusion of love. True love must be a choice. So how does God separate these little guys from His own Being so as to make them truly different from Himself (without deluding Himself)? Well first He created a world separate from His own by taking His infinite power and condensing finite amounts of it to utimately create atoms (something from nothing is illogical). He then legislated physical laws and then enforced/enforces them (it is illogical to think that laws can write and enforce themselves). He then eventually disowns this physical reality (that is one of the purposes of the fall) and leaves it to the “god of this world”…much in the same manner that He disowned His “hand” of power to Satan in the book of Job (only to reclaim it later). The physical body is then used to separate humans (who are the image of God) from God’s Being. For how can God be holy (separate) if He has no one to be separated from? So the body was sown from the darkness (which is this fallen world, which was created in a void realm of darkness in which God created by logically allowing a transfinite string of darkness to manifest by creating an object to be placed in front of His absolute infinite Light; we are sown from dust in other words and the dust is a part of this physical realm of darkness), yet the spirit is sown in light. This created a living, breathing soul that is unique from God. This soul has a will and can choose to love or hate. This is a model of sexual reproduction. Opposites attract to create something different entirely. This soul has an intellect…it has the knowledge of good (spirit) and evil (flesh). God did not actually will for sin itself to be here, but He did will for the greater good of sin: true love. Any other way (besides allowing sin) would have been a delusion (according to His natural, self existent conscience)…which would have been direct immorality against God’s charater…which would have actually forfeited God’s truth and goodness. Sin is meant to serve one purpose: separate us from God…and even sin obeys God’s command to do so. The things is, we must turn from sin once it’s purpose of efficient separation has taken place (we must repent in other words). If we don’t return back to God, then sin therefore keeps dragging us farther and farther out until we eventually are brought out into eternal separation from God: infinite darkness and destrustion. I am not sure if this answered the question but I know it makes sense to me. But instead of trying to logically dismantle the existence of God by asking a circular “chicken or the egg” question like the Euthyphro dilemma, why don’t we question the finite logic of naturalism. Here is a question (or set of questions) that popped in my brain a couple of weeks ago that I have yet to hear a naturalist provide a logical answer to: “How can a creature’s nature be more intelligent than the actual creature itself? How is it that the brainless essence of a bird’s nature is apparently intelligent enough to decide which characteristics need to be imputed into the bird’s instincts in order for it to adapt to It’s surroundings? How is it that this non living, thoughtless, random force (that some how has the complex intelligence to mold the bird’s complex, blue-printed survival instincts) cannot impute the same kind of human intelligence–that this same evolutionary force of nature also eventually went on to develop–into this little bird (or any kind of complex intelligence for that matter…including The type of complex intelligence that it is obviously using to enable itself to make these provisions)?…especially considering the pseudoscience ‘fact’ that humans are apparently the entire goal of the evolutionary chain thus far. I will summarize my point by pointing out that even the term “natural selection” implies that an outside force is making selections. How can you select something if you have no consciousness in order to choose between the given choices? The ‘randomness’ of natural selection seems pretty played out to me. Of course, naturalists cannot actually answer these questions anyway, because their philosophy states that free will and therefore logical thinking is non existant because they are metaphysical qualities. Obviously God created creatures that can adapt to an ever changing environment (micro evolution)…but the only way anyone could ever justify something as illogical (and down right stupid and ludicrous) as macroevolution is to blame it on the fact that–according to naturalism–they were already predestined to believe such foolishness through some certain chain of events.

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