• Welcome to Christian Forums
  1. Welcome to Christian Forums, a forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to be able to join in fellowship with Christians all over the world.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless!

The Euthyphro dilemma

Discussion in 'Ethics & Morality' started by CrystalDragon, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. CrystalDragon

    CrystalDragon Well-Known Member

    +1,457
    Catholic
    Single
    For those who don't know what this dilemma is, it was proposed by Plato in his dialogue Euthyphro in which Socrates asks Euthyphro, "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?"

    Which basically means this to us now: "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"

    So, thoughts and responses on that question? And if the second half is what you subscribe to, if something that you consider wrong (like murdering those who don't follow your exact societal practices) was suddenly decided by God to be "morally good", would you do it?
     
  2. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +7,718
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    I think this can only be answered (as a Christian) by considering that God IS good, and that He is the creator, so that which was created was infused, in a sense, with Himself. Man was made in His image and likeness, and He has written His law on our hearts.

    For this cause we understand what is good, and those who love and seek good, even not knowing God, are reacting to His beneficient influence. This is true even if they reject God (though I would say in that case, they simply don't know Him - they are probably reacting to the bad charicature of God that Christians so often present, sadly).

    In a way, the question makes no sense. But I would say that BECAUSE GOD IS GOOD, He desires good, and so that is the basis of His commands to us.

    If God were otherwise, things would be even further from "good" than they are. But it is something to remember that the world and things that happen in it are no longer "good" by God's standard, because He is not a dictator. But I am sure He still desires good - and it will be restored to that, in His time.
     
  3. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member

    +2,893
    United States
    Lutheran
    Private
    From a Hebrew point of view, it's a false dilemma since righteousness, tsedeq, always involves concrete actions, not an abstract idea. It is not the same as the Greek concept of justice.

    From a classical theist point of view, it is also a false dilemma since God's nature is the standard for goodness, so it does not exist independently.

    The Euthyphro Dilemma only makes sense from within Socrates' and Plato's worldview, the idea of the Forms that exist independently of the world and the gods.
     
  4. CrystalDragon

    CrystalDragon Well-Known Member

    +1,457
    Catholic
    Single
    If God's nature is the standard for goodness, how do we know that? How did evil exist?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  5. CrystalDragon

    CrystalDragon Well-Known Member

    +1,457
    Catholic
    Single

    That doesn't really answer the question though: you're saying that if God asked you to do something you currently consider morally bad it would be good then because God declared it was then good?
     
  6. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +7,718
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    No, I'm not saying that.

    If "God" asked me to do something that was clearly morally bad, I would know it wasn't God I was "hearing."

    And the question I think you want an answer to, can't be answered. Because the simple truth is that God wouldn't do that.

    You speak of things being "currently considered morally bad" and while I don't believe that everything is completely relative, sometimes choices are forced that are essentially "the lesser of two evils" for example. That doesn't make the lesser evil, good.

    Someone in another thread asked if it was ok to kill a person in self-defense, or as a soldier. The answer is that no, it's not "ok" to kill someone in any situation, but it may be morally preferable to allowing that person to kill innocents, for example. So while it might be a choice we might make, and it might be the best choice available, it still isn't "good". If a soldier comes home from war having killed someone, we understand and he may even be considered a hero. But there is still a penance for taking life. (And normally Orthodox don't receive penances.) And he would still hopefully regret that it was necessary that he had to do such a terrible thing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  7. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member

    +2,893
    United States
    Lutheran
    Private
    It does beg the question of how we know God's nature, which is an issue of epistemology.
     
  8. Dave-W

    Dave-W Our six grandchildren Supporter

    +5,326
    Messianic
    Married
    US-Others
    So Abraham heard someone OTHER than God tell him to kill off Isaac?
     
  9. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member

    +2,893
    United States
    Lutheran
    Private
    Anastasia is not Abraham.

    This goes back to the thing I said about tsedeq being concrete actions. We want to generalize to universal ethical principles based on concrete actions of God in history, and sometimes that can be extremely messy.
     
  10. CrystalDragon

    CrystalDragon Well-Known Member

    +1,457
    Catholic
    Single
    Regarding the part I highlighted, there were times in the Bible where God did indeed appear to ask some to kill others of a tribe, unbelievers, those trying to lead the ones in his chosen tribe astray, etc. You can't say that "God wouldn't do that" when he did things quite like that in the Old Testament, unless it wasn't God who told the Israelites to go and kill everyone "man and woman, infant and suckling" (forget the exact wording but something like that), and killing everyone but the virgins in Numbers 31, or "killing brother and neighbor" in Exodus 32:26-28 (though in that case Moses said that God said that so it may not be as applicable), or stoning someone who just gathered wood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-25) They all are terrible things but they were apparently okay because God commanded it, so we can't just say "Oh, God would never do that" when apparently he did, unless they really weren't hearing God at all.

    I do agree about you last paragraph though, since killing someone in self-defense is protecting your own life against violence.
     
  11. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +7,718
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    Indeed, thank you.

    I'm not Abraham, and what God did to establish the nation of Israel is nothing to do with me.

    If I believed that, I'd need other help than just asking a pastor's advice. ;)
     
  12. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +7,718
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    And I figured this would come up, sooner or later in the question. But I didn't realize that was your purpose in asking.

    I can't tell you THE answer.

    What I do know is that Christ is God revealed to us. So in this day, we have an advantage that ancient Israel did not possess. God walked among us, taught directly in detail for years, and gave us His answer to many dilemmas.

    I almost wish someone had asked Him that question (maybe they did) but I also wish the answer had been written into the canon for us.

    I don't know.

    Would Christ have made that command? I'm borderline skeptical, because on the surface it doesn't sound like Him. So maybe there was a little problem of human interpretation finding its way in to what we read today. I don't actually think that's the case though, but for all I know, it could be.

    Or maybe it was a lesser of two evils? I know it sounds brutal, it does to me also. But we are talking about the establishment of the line through which Christ became Incarnate, and through Him, all men have the opportunity to be saved. If for some reason it was NECESSARY, then it might have been the only choice. And further, we read of Christ preaching while in the tomb ... in the end, how do we know those persons don't all end up "saved"? I know some more recent denominations might disagree with this possibility, but I don't agree with limiting God or His mercy.

    And if we understand the temporal vs. the eternal, those lives were cut short by some years on earth, but how does that compare to an eternity of true life?

    If those persons are redeemed in the end, or any of them who are, if you ask them in the age to come if they had rather lived out natural lives only to be kept eternally under a curse of death, or if they would rather have died sooner but experienced resurrection and eternal life, I'm willing to believe they would happily choose the outcome God apparently commanded as well.

    We don't see through the eyes of eternity, or into hearts. I understand your question, but if I step back and try to see it truly objectively in an eternal sense, it begins to seem much more "less evil" than the alternative.
     
  13. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member

    +2,893
    United States
    Lutheran
    Private
    God deals with people differently during different dispensations, according to his purposes. Since none of us are Israelites in the bronze age, I think the issue is moot.

    Or is the issue trying to justify God? I think that's a misguided exercise, but that's just my POV.
     
  14. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer

    +554
    Atheist
    What I get from this is that morality is relative to a dispensation. No guarantees what God may require in the next one.
     
  15. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +7,718
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    For my part, I would disagree for this reason.

    We (at least Orthodox, and I think by statement all the various groups agree?) ... but we believe God does not change.

    This is why the apparent disconnect between the "God of the Old Testament" and the Person of Christ, being that He is God revealed to us, was always a problem for me.
     
  16. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Zechariah 4:6 Supporter

    +1,815
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    We as Christians don't need to be concerned with what someone else contrives as to what God "might" ask us to do. Rather, we focus on what we realistically think God WILL ask us to do, in light of the advent of Jesus and of everything He brought to the table for our spiritual and moral consideration. (If the Church has taken a parable of two out of context over the years and implemented Crusades or Inquisitions, then that is their own fault and not something that was given clearly and distinctly by Jesus Himself ...)

    As far as I can tell, there isn't going to be anything in the way of Jesus showing up and saying, "OK, Folks! Y'know all that talk I gave you about how I wanted you to love your enemies and do good to them, well ... I'm drawing all that to a close now, so everyone strap on your holsters, 'cuz there's going to be a change in how we've been doing things around in this here town!"

    NO, ....that's not going to happen! :rolleyes: So, if that's not going to happen, what's the use of using Euthyphro type thinking to posit a hypothetical scenario? (Probably, little to none.) We worship Yahweh, through the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ... not Zeus, not Athena, not Apollo or Dionysius, not through Hercules, Aphrodite, Mercury or Hera, or any of the rest of the morally relative pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  17. CrystalDragon

    CrystalDragon Well-Known Member

    +1,457
    Catholic
    Single

    But God DID ask people to do those kind of things in the Old Testament. If he's supposed to be unchanging, who's to say he won't ask us to do it again? Whose to say a scenario like that wouldn't occur?
     
  18. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member

    +2,893
    United States
    Lutheran
    Private
    There's a new covenant with only one sacrifice: Jesus Christ.
     
  19. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Zechariah 4:6 Supporter

    +1,815
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    Crystal, as FireDragon already stated in a previous post, the essence of your hypothetical scenario is a misapplication of the Euthyphro argument, one that emerges out of a context of Grecian theological/philosophical sensibilities (that of Plato, maybe Socrates).

    God is the same, which is why He can and will STILL punish the world, but by way of using His enemies against other of His enemies. The Church won't be called on directly to Crusade or implement Inquisitions. Christians are not Muslim Jihadists and never will be. Only those who are confused as to what Christian faith is, or have no use for Christian faith, will be confused on this point. God is the same; so is Jesus.

    If Christians are to resort to some level of violence, it will only be for civic purposes, say...while employed as police officers or military personnel, or other legally authorized agents of order in an otherwise SECULAR society.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  20. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Zechariah 4:6 Supporter

    +1,815
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    I think you're a little confused as to what "unchanging" means and as to how this qualifier applies to God's person.

    First and foremost, God is HOLY. He always has been, and He still is. No change there.

    Secondly, God is also willing to give mercy and grace to people who sincerely reach out to Him, just as He always has. No change there.

    Third, God does not lie; God still gives us His truth and the injunction to love others. No change there.

    Fourth, God has given us His (New Covenant) Word through His Church, and He has given us insight into His future plans. So, we can already tell that Christians are to be socially wise and somewhat physically passive in the face of general social opposition, but they are also to protect their families and community from invasive evil(s). And we can tell from His Word that this won't change either.

    Fifth, God is Sovereign and as THE Sovereign, He can modify or update the parameters by which we live as we progress, or as we debilitate ourselves morally through successive eras; but He will only do so in consistent accordance with the previous four priorities listed above. So, no change should be expected here either that is out of the "ordinary" from what God has already established (and fulfilled) in the New Covenant of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Peace,
    2PhiloVoid
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
Loading...