On Morality and the Euthyphro Dilemma

This ties into my post on the divine command theory in that if god is the sole judge and source of what is moral, then morality is ultimately subjective and arbitrary, which also ties into the Euthyphro dilemma which was outlined on that page. But if morality isn’t subjective, then by what objective criteria can we set to determine if an action is objectively moral or not?

That may seem like a hard question to ponder, but it really isn’t. Here is one way to determine if an action is objectively moral or not: An action is objectively moral if it serves to promote human flourishing, or if it minimizes needless harm and/or suffering, and an action is immoral if it promotes pain and suffering or harms human flourishing in some way.

Those are the criteria that Scott Clifton of soap opera fame, but who is also on Youtube under the handle “TheoreticalBullshit” put it, and I am inclined to agree with him on this. That way morality isn’t subjective and ultimately arbitrary, and also provides an answer to the Euthypro dilemma, in my eyes at least.

Divine command theory

According to the divine command theory of morality, morality comes from God, and anything God says or does is inherently moral. But that raises an important question, as Socrates put it so eloquently:

Is that which is pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is that which is pious pious because it is loved by the gods? –¬†Socrates, Euthyphro

That line is now known as the “Euthyphro dilemma”, and for good reason, it raises the issue of the ultimate nature of divine morality. Is divine morality objective or subjective? There are no easy answers to this, and I am afraid I cannot come up with any myself, but this dilemma does beg the ultimate question: If anything God does is inherently moral, does that mean that genocide is moral when God commits genocide? If so, would the Holocaust have been a moral action if it was God who perpetrated it rather than Hitler?

The Problem of Evil

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not
omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he
both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor
willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus

This is a fundamental problem that theists have grappled with for
millennia, if God is all good, then why is there evil in the world?
There has never been a satisfactory answer to the question. This doesn’t
affect all types of deities, since there are some literal gods of
evil, or for believers of misotheism, that God is actively malevolent.
But it does affect the Abrahamic God, who is perhaps the most worshiped
deity in the world today. The Abrahamic God is supposed to be
omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, but several of
those contradict each other. If God is omniscient, then he knew about
the Holocaust, and he knew that billions of people would be sentenced to
Hell for all eternity for crimes that aren’t infinite in nature, and
many of them had no way of knowing they had committed any damnable sins
in the first place.

Therefore, if God is omniscient, he is not omnibenevolent, and while
some will bring up that God gave people free will, then why punish
people for the sins they’ve committed if he gave them the means to
commit those sins in the first place, and knew about them committing
those sins. Shouldn’t God be held responsible? Furthermore, why is an
all-powerful being, so far above us mere mortals, so narcissistic as to
punish people for not believing in him? Is he that pretty?

If God is omnipotent, then he is not omnibenevolent, since he had the
means to stop evil from ever taking place. If God is omnipresent, then
he is not omnibenevolent, since he supposedly sees everything and is
everywhere at any given time, he would see evil taking place, and if he
is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, then he would stop those sins
from taking place, but he doesn’t.

God never answers the prayers of people praying that genocide wouldn’t
come onto them. Billions of people across the world are still living in
soul-crushing poverty, and God never helps them, even after they pray,
and pray, and pray for some relief. But God does give a shit where
your car keys are, or whether your local sports team wins the game, but
he doesn’t give a shit about nuclear disarmament, or preventing
nuclear war, or stopping climate change, or ending world hunger, or
ending poverty. Why?