An Analysis of The Euthyphro Dilemma: Understanding the Concept of God
The Euthyphro Dilemma
The concept of God is one that is extremely abstract with no definite definition of God. The Euthyphro dialogue challenges one to attempt to define the exact nature of God. By determining the source of morality, the precise nature of God is found, and yet the basic characteristics that are attributed to God are called into question. Specifically, his rationality, goodness, and role as creator. The majority of the tenets that we hold about God are based largely in the fact that we know nothing definitely about him, and this dilemma is one of the ways that we can see just how we have overestimated the nature of God.
The Divine Command Theory
To believe that God is the source of morality, is to challenge his goodness and rationality. If God chooses what is good and bad at will and is his own standard by which he judges himself, anything he does including genocide, allowing rape, destroying the world, etc., can be considered a morally justifiable act. Without a way to check God, anything is permissible and yet nothing can be logically explained.
This view of God is slightly disturbing as morality seems to hold the common tenet of preservation of the human race, and this might be used to preserve the idea that God is rational, but factoring this into the equation, bad things are justified as moral to serve the greater good. That is, with this understanding of God as the source of morality, anything is justifiable so long as it preserves the most people. At this point, it can be questioned if God is good, because he does things that are perceived as bad.
In any case, presenting a reason for God’s action, even the reason of serving the greater good, makes morality a tenet outside of God’s power to destroy or change. It is a rule, which he abides by and is a rejection of the theory.
Rejection of Divine Command Theory
To believe that God knows what is good and relays it to us is to deny that he created the moral code. If God refers to this established concept to guide us, then it holds a higher authority, or at the very least, predates him. This challenges the concept of God as the sole creator. This does not indicate that he is not creator of humanity but rather that there are things outside of the locus of his control and scope of creation. He is also not perfect by himself, as the established moral code is obviously the source of his “perfection” and is therefore perfect unto itself.
Under the Divine Command Theory, it is not necessary to believe in God to live a moral life. If God, is the source of morality, and you are intentially and purposefully living within the realms of his commands, then you have some belief in the validity of his commands and therefore him. However, with no knowledge that there are any commands, you can naturally live within them. That is to say, you can be living in the realms his moral code, with no knowledge that he exists at all. On the other hand, to reject the theory, you accept that there is morality outside of God. God’s word and morality are no longer mutually exclusive. You may live a moral life, and not believe in God. Either way, a belief in God is not necessary to live morally.
That being said, most of what we assume about God’s nature, is just that; assumptions. God does not have to be omniscient or perfect to have created us and the world we live in. He does not have to be the sole creator, as the question is then posed, what is the genesis of his state of being and did he “create” himself. If not, we have no point of reference for something that does not begin. We must revise our view of God if we hope to understand the role that he plays, if he exists to play one at all.
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