I read Plato’s Euthyphro earlier today and I can’t get the ideas out of my mind… “is something pious because it is loved by the gods, or is something loved by the gods because it is pious?”
Taking this question that was asked by Socrates and applying it to a modern theistic understanding of God is not too troublesome, because he later qualifies that he is talking about “what is loved by all the gods is pious, and what is hated by all the gods impious” thus making all of the gods (pantheism) into single-mindedness (theistic implications).
So I thought about it, and I agree with Socrates. Something is loved and deemed moral by God because it is pious.
(But Ryan, this removes the moral from God! You can’t accept that!)
Actually, I can. And I almost have to. Saying that what is pious is so because it is loved by God removes all moral distinctions. For whatever God proclaims “pious” is pious, regardless of whether it is right or not. Thus, we essentially become theistic nihilists, not believing in any true moral standard other than what God commands.
(But Ryan, this isn’t nihilistic, because obviously God is a loving God and He is the definition of what is good!)
Let’s deconstruct that. First, if you accept that what is pious is so because it is loved by God, than saying that God is a loving God makes no sense. How can He be “loving” when the quality of “love” is in no way outside of Him? Thus saying that God is loving is saying nonsense. It is like me saying, “I am me.”
If God is the definition of what is good, we are right back where we started, with a nihilistic dilemma. What do we do?
Well, I can follow Kierkegaard and say that my relationship with God inextricably leads me to moral belief, and not just that, but a “teleological suspension of the ethical.” Thus, you reject ethical boundaries found in the world, or even in Scripture, to follow the direct command of God a la Abraham sacrificing Isaac.
Another option is to trust in the goodness of God, regardless of the moral and logical dilemmas this causes. I, personally, am not willing to suspend thought, logic, and my intuitive sense of justice to simply accept what I am told.
So I am going to take the option that delineates an ethic that is beyond God, that God adheres to. This makes my God neither omnipotent, nor omniscient in some ways, but it makes Him both logically and morally consistent.
Final Objection: (But Ryan, God’s ways are so far above our ways, who are we to question His actions?)
I do not accept skepticism as an answer, only as a cop out. If we are made in the image of God and given the ability to know God, then we can indeed know what He is like. If there is no way to know Him, we are stuck with an agnostic reality that few Bible-believing Christians are willing to accept (although I could be convinced, towards a deist position).
Sorry for such a long post, but these thoughts will help form my paper on Euthyphro, and any criticism/commentary on these thoughts is more than welcome!
- tideofthought posted this