F Y R E 13 R A N D
I think I see what you're saying, but I'm not sure why you're asking me which I want to know.
Actually, purely practical reasons to see how to weigh the detail of my answer.
I wanted to know which was the case -- it was to point out that it can't be both, and that either case presents major problems that (in my opinion) have no satisfactory answer.
To state the dilemma again: "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"
Actually, it CAN be both. Just like a dot can be a line, if you take it from the two-dimensional plane to the three-dimensional one. It can even prove to be more shapes, if you keep adding dimensions.
What I mean to say is, that in order to really answer this, you'd have to zoom out, so to speak, and ask another question: "Assuming that God created the world- whatever that means- and everything in it, do we accept that morality, thus morally good values, are also a construct or not?"
Because that will definitely lead you to get your answer in the conundrum you pose.
You will of course tell me that this is something you can't scientifically ascertain (whether God created the world) but actually its answer goes hand in hand with what you define God as. I won't go into belief, because then we'll move on to other planes in the discussion.
For example, is it wrong to kill others because killing is wrong? Or is it wrong because God condemns it?
Are you sure God condemns it in all cases? There's the rub! :D
Each case has different implications, which I'll briefly describe:
... Worship of God is, then, merely worship of a very powerful being who will eternally punish those who do not please him.
These thought processes strikes me as more of a justification as to why not believe in God rather than an issue on good vs evil and its objective or subjective existence.
I guess the point of me bringing this up was to get your response to the implications of either case. To me, God's supposed omnibenevolence illustrates the self-contradictory nature of God, in a similar way to his supposed omnipotence, omniscience, and omni-presence.
Well for one thing, allow me a theological statement in saying that God has allowed us free to experiment and see whether we need Him or not. You can go either way and won't be stopped.
Now, theology and beliefs aside, I could tell you that the good vs evil compass is within you anyway for as long as you live (and have a personality) and it's your choice to listen to it- and it would be anyone's claim or debate that this compass still is God telling you what is and isn't right to do, depending on how much you are willing/practiced to listen.
There is no implication as to the existence of God and whether you should worship him, based at least on these premises, because I think they are irrelevant to the general way things are. If God created the cosmos and everything in it, He also created morality, and thus one could argue nature more or less conforms to that morality (this said invery broad strokes) and hence your reality, including what you believe/think/ decide is good is so because He said so whether you recognise it or not, whether there exists one book or many on it or not, since He created this whole anyway.
I am not sure whether I am making good syntax here but I hope the message still gets through.
For example, if God is omnipotent, could he create a rock that was so heavy, even he could not lift it?
Ha ha ha! I like this! The wisest answer to that would be 'only God can answer you that' but it can be considered a cop-out so I'd say Yes and No. Because weight is a relative measure, and it's just a matter of gravitational pull. So in one dimension/setting in the cosmos you'd have a rock so heavy even He couldn't lift it without at least breaking His own natural rules, but in the sum of things he'd be able to lift it simply because in the sum of all of the dimensions, it's still a weightless rock.
Also, if God knows everything that ever was and ever will be, he knows exactly what it would take to convince me of his existence, and it's in his power to do so.
Yup. That's entirely correct. But I'd say that is not the point. It's to have you do it on your own. Which I think is directly linked to what I said to Abt-Nihil about power vs education.
Conundrums like these seem a little silly to me now, but when all these "omni" attributes are applied to a God figure, they do require some kind of response.
Of course. They are often very tough, but excellent avenues to getting to more answers.
There was a time, before I was an atheist, when I found the Euthyphro Dilemma to be actually quite troubling -- I thought the universe, literally, did not make any sense. Eventually, I came to realize that the mere existence of God, the things that he does, and his policies about how things work in the universe and in the afterlife, were illogical and impossible to reconcile without bending over backwards with a thousand and one excuses and concessions that I wouldn't have afforded any other claims of non-religious bearing. It's not the only reason I became an atheist, but it certainly helped.
Sounds to me like you are taking the path of many mathematicians: when in trouble, insert or detract a constant ;P
Was it ever considered that you may just not have the proper key to understanding all of it? After all, the relativity theory wasn't always known, nor quantum physics, but their existence is primordial. Should we have given up trying to understand them and pretend they didn't exist?
We'd still believe the earth is flat.
I find that denying without proof is just as much of a give-up as accepting something blind.
I didn't say that morality was something that existed without any frame of reference whatsoever. I just believe morality can exist -- and probably functions preferably -- outside of a religion.
I think, on the other hand, that whether morality functions or not is IRRELEVANT to religion.
Someone who wants to be moral will be whether within or outside a religion. Someone who doesn't want to be so, won't be, whether within or outside a religion. Morality doesn't function better or worse as a reference to that. It functions in the very same bell shaped curve because it still pertains to human behavior.
I don't doubt that religion has helped people adhere to certain moral standards throughout history. It's when I hear that a particular religion claims to have a copyright on morality, and that I cannot possibly be a good person without believing in that religion's god, and that regardless of my actions I deserve to be in hell for eternity if I don't believe in that god, then I have a problem.
And very well you should! Whoever says that is a bigot at least, who doesn't know the first thing about being a good person in the first place- and that is my professional opinion as a social scientist.
For sure, no religion has a copyright on morality in the way you say it. If you strip most religions down to the essential values, you'll see they all converge towards more or less the same ideals. It would be at least inane to claim otherwise, or underhanded and sly.
Also, I will never tire of saying this- whoever tells you that you'll burn in hell or whatever similar thing for not ascribing to any one foral religion, are at best fanatic ignorants or at worst the type I abhor, sacerdocical scoundrels.
Nobody can tell who will 'burn' or not. Nobody has the right to blackmail people with this over their head as a source of coercion. Nobody has the right to force-feed you dogma. You must find your own way and settle on your own conclusions as a free-thinking, fearless individual or it actually won't even matter if you are coerced into ascribing even in say, the 'real' religion. I speak earnestly and as a Christian. I'd fight for your right not to ascribe to Christianity by coercion, just as I'd fight for your right to declare being Christian if you really felt that was what you were.
And that, I have found to be the proper position based on the very scriptures others claim to go out there and wreak havoc on the lives of people.
I am not sure I got everything across, but I'll clarify anything necessary.
1) I don't believe that a person should be punished eternally for finite deeds, especially when those deeds could potentially be mostly good, with the only exception being the failure to believe in a fictional deity. Any god who would command such a thing isn't an authority on morality in any meaningful sense.
2) The supposed moral authority repeatedly behaves in atrocious, immoral, selfish ways, while claiming to be the ultimate source of good in the universe. For example, God kills everyone on Earth in a horrible flood. God kills a lot of people, supposedly, as listed in this video:
And when I object to the morality of such actions, I'm told that this is all part of some mysterious plan that I'm just too dense to understand.
That's because they don't know what to answer you, and like the self conscious but mean worthless teacher they tell you 'stop asking stupid questions'.
You should object, and then look to see what on earth this whole issue is/was about.
Provided of course, that you're interested in resolving this.
3) I have no good reason to believe that such a god exists at all.
Well said. That had been my own starting point.
... A book which, ultimately, was written by humans, so it doesn't even become a question of "Do you have faith in God?" but a question of "Do you think maybe it's possible that some people in the middle east thousands of years ago could have been lying, or got it wrong?"
Oh yeah, and several other religions also claiming to be the one path to morality also have books which are just as dubious.
All very sound thoughts. I don't have anything to tell you here, because I literally thought all those things myself quite a few years back. They are excellent questions for a start.
Right, but what I don't get is how you could possibly view a logical or practical justification for morality as necessary, or even remotely important if all morality stems from God. The only thing necessary would be to be a Christian and to follow God's commandments, and not fall into the trap of other religions.
haha! And what is to be a Christian? What does it mean to follow God's commands?
God wouldn't care if you found a logical justification for it.
how do you know?
What I also don't understand is, once one achieves that logical understanding of how and why to behave morally, what is the purpose of still adhering to Christianity? Does no one who belongs to another religion ever achieve a logical or practical understanding of morality?
Do you think that there's a finite amount of things within Christianity?
If it were clear, there would not be the multitude of denominations of Christianity we see today, let alone different religions. If it were clear, I wouldn't be able to point out instances where God lashes out in violent or immoral ways, and have those justified to me as God's "mysterious plan," or be told that I haven't "studied" the Bible enough to understand its depth.
No; if people were interested in it rather than using it to their own purpose, than all those things wouldn't take place. Plus you may have gotten an answer about the occasions where God lashes out.
You place far too much faith in those who present themselves as savants on religion, whoever they may be.
My only qualifications are that I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic elementary and secondary schools, and attended most Sunday church services (but gradually phased out of church towards the end).
Sunday services? Maybe sunday school too?? That sounds traumatic :/
Do I need to eat a whole barrel of rotten apples in order to realize how good they secretly are?
No; but how much scotch do you need to drink to appreciate it? How much must you cry out of pain in training before you can dance the perfect pas de deux or attain a great martial arts capacity?
Are any of these things easy? I don't think so. Rewarding? I believe so, if you see them through. (I have yet to appreciate scotch though, except with coke. ;P )
I think you see my point here.
Do I need to have a university degree in theology in order to criticize a collection of books that make incredible metaphysical and supernatural claims that don't hold water, and moral commandments that sometimes don't seem very moral?
I haven't studied the WHOLE of several religious texts, yet I still reject those, and I'm pretty sure you do as well.
Of course you don't. And... what I accept or reject is a whole different discussion. I definitely don't accept everything the way formal religion worship protocol does.
This kind of argument would have weight in, say, quantum mechanics, or some field of science that I really need to have in-depth knowledge and expertise in. To some degree, I can see your point, but there comes a time when I have to weigh my priorities: Sure, I should do a little research into what it is I'm talking about, but if I'm an atheist who generally sees the Bible as nothing more than a collection of fairy tales that aren't particularly good, there's only so much time I'm willing to spend on it, and I'm not going to accept that if I read more of it I'll eventually start believing it. Every religion in the world will make the same challenge, I'm sure.
Ah. This is entirely a matter of choice, my friend. Whether you want to INVEST in getting to know these answers or not, is entirely up to you, your personal opinion and not up for any objective discussion :)
But not every religion in the world offers the same challenges, from what I have studied anyway.
I guess my stance is that the Bible has not convinced me that it is so deep and full of secret meanings and contexts, that I can't understand a given passage without having read every page of the Bible. God has not demonstrated that his thinking is above and beyond that of a human being's, and I don't just grant that idea as a given when I have no reason to believe any of the Bible is accurate in the first place.
I disagree- there's plenty of evidence that God's thinking far exceeds human limitations.
You really should ask yourself one questions though: do you stand to be convinced, or do you expect someone to come and get you, meaning, yank you from your collar and drag you to all this?
Plus, the Bible's meanings and contexts aren't secret. All you need to do is to study the damn thing from a sociological point of view, and the rest comes very easy.
I am typing this really fast and haven't had time to read over it, so if anything needs clarification just ask :)