On the Euthyphro Dilemma
Posted by Cory Tucholski
Is it moral because God says so or does God say so because it’s moral? False dilemma. It’s moral because that’s the way God is. — William Lane Craig
I think that this an excellent and adequate response to the Euthyphro dilemma. I believe that the answer is rooted in the ontology of God as perfectly good.
However, I don’t think that the skeptic would ever be convinced by such an answer.
He’ll just ask how we know God is good, and when we way “the Bible,” he’ll mention that the Bible also says to sacrifice turtledoves to “clean” women during their menstrual cycles, confirms the existence of unicorns, and prohibits football.
Now, all of those things are hyper-literal readings of the text and have simple responses. My point here is that the skeptic doesn’t accept the Bible’s description of anything, let alone God.
To illustrate, archeologists give the benefit of the doubt to ancient documents when a site contradicts a document. The thought is that the ancient writer was closer to the events and probably knows better than we do thousands of years later. Not to mention that its possible that a site might have been altered, destroyed, rebuilt, or built upon between the composition of the document and our discovery of the site.
However, when that ancient document is the Bible, then the error is automatically assumed to be with the Bible, and not assumed to be one of a myriad of possibilities like the ones I just mentioned. To recap, random ancient document contradicts a site: “There’s probably an explanation. Let’s assume the document is right and find out the reason for the contradiction.” The Bible contradicts a site: “Bible’s wrong, it’s complete fiction, God doesn’t exist. Three cheers for freethought!”
While I think that the answer to the Euthyphro Dilemma lies in God’s ontology, I think that in order to get the skeptic to see that, he must be willing to step out in faith and trust the Bible. However, given all of the skeptical attacks on the Bible (despite it previously thought to have been very reliable), there’s a long way to go on that.
By the way, I’m not the only one that sees this. The Bible has yielded much good archeology in the past, and if we would continue to rely on it I have faith it will produce much more good in the future. However, there is a serious prejudice against the Bible not only in archeology, but in every academic discipline.
History and archeology aren’t my thing, but I hope that other apologists who feel called to that area work hard to counter some of this anti-Bible sentiment in those fields. If the Bible can be believed again as a reliable ancient source of history, then we will have taken a good step toward resolving some of the theological questions being raised as well.
About Cory TucholskiI'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!
Posted on August 11, 2011, in Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, God, Philosophy and tagged Divine Authority, Divine Command, divine justice, Euthyphro Dilemma, God, ontology. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
Cory Tucholski said: “However, when that ancient document is the Bible, then the error is automatically assumed to be with the Bible”
That depends on the prior probability of the specific claim within the bible (or other ancient document).
I agree with treating all ancient docuemnts on their merits, and not being biased towards, or biased against, the books in the bible (or other ancient document). This is the secular historic method.
Cory Tucholski said: “However, there is a serious prejudice against the Bible not only in archeology, but in every academic discipline”
How do you know that this is true? Can you argue on behalf of this assertion? This is quite a bold and far-reaching claim.
Héhéhé…my guess would be that a book that claims someone walked on water, survived in a den full of hungry lions, survived in a huge fish’s belly for 3 days, multiplied bread and fishes, turned water into wine, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, claims women were made from a male’s rib, that someone was born of a virgin, that the world was created in 6 days, that the rainbow first appeared well after humans did, that a donkey talked, that food fell from the sky, that a bush was burning without burning, etc, should at least not be believed blindly (I don’t think that many historians would believe what’s said in the Epic of Gilgamesh either). That said, I do think they take many biblical passages relatively seriously, feel there’s some truth in there, in spite of all that (there were many others anyway, and the backbone of the fairy tales in there might be based actual history)…
As for the morality part, it’s just semantics…let me put it like this: you can define proper moral conduct to be whatever God wants it to be (or to define it as “the way God is”), so let’s use another term…”morral”…2 “r” ‘s…means “conducive to the well being of conscious creatures” (as Sam Harris would put it), “not cruel”, “humane”, “kind”, “loving”, “caring”, “using all one’s capabilities to minimize suffering”…then the God of the Old Testament (and the One that would cast people into some Hell, or in your case know they’re going to Hell well beforehand and create them anyway) is very, very MORAL, but not MORRAL at all…
I mean “there were many AUTHORS anyway”…
Hyper-criticism is the case with the Bible constantly. Guilty until innocent is what is assumed in Biblical archaeology (and other fields of study), whereas nearly any other ancient historical document is innocent until proven guilty.
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