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God can Ground Objective Morality
#1

God can Ground Objective Morality
This is a philosophical discussion. I have no intentions whatsoever in discussing whether God exists or not. If you participate (at least in interactions with me), you grant that he does exist (as conceived by traditional orthodox Christianity) for the sake of the discussion.

Several have asked how I can ground objective morality in God. The following is my presentation to start the discussion.

Euthyphro Dilemma
First a dilemma is a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones. In the context of philosophy, ethics, and decision-making, dilemmas are particularly intriguing because they force individuals to confront the complexities and nuances of their values, beliefs, and principles.

The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro, "Is the pious (τὸ ὅσιον) loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" We will use the more modern form: Is the good good because God approves it, or does God approve it because it’s good? That statement means that goodness is either a result of God's decree of the "goodness" of an action or principle, or there is some measure of goodness apart from God.

If what is morally good is commanded by God because it is morally good, then it implies that morality is independent of God. This position suggests that moral truths exist independently of divine commands, which means that God does not define what is good or evil; rather, God recognizes and commands what is already morally good.

If something is morally good because it is commanded by God, then it implies that morality is arbitrary, dependent solely on God's will. If this is true, something is good merely because God commands it, and there would be no standard of goodness outside of what God decides.

Why are these two 'horns' undesirable to Christian?
Horn 1-Morality is independent of God: This option suggests that moral values exist independently of God's will or commands. For many Christians, this undermines the sovereignty and ultimate authority of God. If moral goodness exists independently of God, then God becomes subject to an external moral order, which conflicts with the belief in God as the supreme being who is the source of all moral law and order. This perspective diminishes God's omnipotence and supremacy by suggesting that God is bound by moral principles that exist outside of God's nature and decisions.

Horn 2-Morality is arbitrary, dependent solely on God's will: This option suggests that what is morally good is good simply because God commands it, and not because of any inherent moral value. This viewpoint can lead to the conclusion that moral values are arbitrary and could have been otherwise if God had decided differently.

Neither horn is desirable. Neither horn grounds morality in something objective.

The Solution
To break a dilemma (show it be a false dilemma), you need a third alternative that is more satisfactory. The defeater of the this dilemma is to point out that God's goodness is a necessary property. Goodness is not a property that God could have lacked (that's the definition of 'necessary'). As the greatest conceivable being, there is no possible world where God is not good.

NOTE: Concepts of necessary, contingent, and possible worlds refer to the modal logic which provides defined terms and framework to discussion what is possible and impossible. This will come up again so it helps to understand the concept.

The Formal Argument
P1: Objective morality is based on unchanging, inherent principles that are not dependent on personal opinions or preferences. (definitionally)

P2: God possesses an unchanging, inherent moral nature that is maximally morally good.

In support of Premise 2:
The premise is not intended to show that God is good. It is intended to simply state the normal, traditional conception of God: that it is his nature that is maximally good.  His nature/properties are who he is. Why is he maximally just? Because that is who he is. Why is he eternal? Because that is who he is. Why is he omnipotent? Why is he holy? Why is he omniscient? Because that is who he is. Goodness is in the same category as the rest of these things. There is no why. This is the conception of God.

Regarding whether God's eternal unchanging moral properties arbitrary, could they have been any other way? Perhaps, perhaps not (broadly logically speaking)--that is not clear. I don't think it matters however, because a defeater would need to show that God's nature is arbitrary not in the sense that it could have been different, but that it still can be different.

C1: Therefore, objective morality is grounded in God's nature and not in His personal opinions or preferences.

The traditional conception of God underscores the stability and immutability (does not change) of divine nature in general and maximal goodness specifically--it's as fixed and unchanging as God's existence and other divine attributes. This 'unchangingness' provides a solid foundation for objective morality, ensuring that moral truths are not subject to whims or potential alterations but are grounded in the constant and perfect nature of God. Therefore, the claim that objective morality is based on God's nature, rather than arbitrary decisions, is not just a theological assertion but a logical conclusion drawn from the understanding of divine consistency and perfection.

I think that should be sufficient to start the discussion.
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#2

God can Ground Objective Morality
Quote:Some theists have tried to escape from this trap by claiming that God’s own nature is the standard of goodness. Thus God would never command atrocities because it would not conform to his nature, which can properly be described as good.

But this is an obvious confusion. We can simply reformulate the question: Is something good because it is in conformance with God’s nature, or do we say God’s nature is good based on some other standard? If the good simply refers to God’s nature, then again we can say that whatever is in God’s nature happens to be good. Were it in his nature to command atrocities, then the commission of atrocities would be good. If his nature does not condone such things, we are, again, simply lucky.

https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/the-e...atonement/
Mountain-high though the difficulties appear, terrible and gloomy though all things seem, they are but Mâyâ.
Fear not — it is banished. Crush it, and it vanishes. Stamp upon it, and it dies.


Vivekananda
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#3

God can Ground Objective Morality
This presupposes goodness logically prior to the existence of God, so God cannot be the basis of goodness.
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#4

God can Ground Objective Morality
I think you left out 'A Belief in...' from the title. Or maybe 'A Belief in ... Without Evidence...' would work better. But then a belief without evidence is faith.

Not quite sure what 'Ground' is. Justify seems more appropriate.

Having this discussion with the provision that 'god exists' is not open to debate is just silly.

Enjoy your mental masturbation.
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#5

God can Ground Objective Morality
This argument seeks to draw a fundamental difference between God's nature to God's opinion of things. One's nature can be determined by one's deeply held opinion and behavior. That's why someone can say epronovost is mean; being mean is in his nature; it's a core trait of his personality. That being mean is in my nature doesn't make it any less of a behavior derived from my personal choices. I simply consistently make mean choices and actions.

Also this argument seems to commit the fallacies of definition since it's circular.
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#6

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-22-2024, 08:03 PM)SteveII Wrote: This is a philosophical discussion. I have no intentions whatsoever in discussing whether God exists or not. If you participate (at least in interactions with me), you grant that he does exist (as conceived by traditional orthodox Christianity) for the sake of the discussion.

Title: 'God can Ground Objective Morality'?

First line in proposition: 'I have no intentions whatsoever in discussing whether God exists or not.'

No doubt this will be another five pager.
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#7

God can Ground Objective Morality
By @SteveII's own count he's got 8 posters on ignore.  Who's he gonna "discuss" this with?

Rofl2
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#8

God can Ground Objective Morality
While I do like to read philosophical discussions, I’m not educated enough to engage them. This one, having to grant the existence of a god is a ridiculous starting point. He’s just going to define his god as xxx and then fill in his beliefs. Since I know what his beliefs are already, it just seems to be pointless waste of electrons. None of this matters if there is no Christian god.
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#9

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-22-2024, 08:03 PM)SteveII Wrote: The traditional conception of God underscores the stability and immutability (does not change) of divine nature in general and maximal goodness specifically--it's as fixed and unchanging as God's existence and other divine attributes. This 'unchangingness' provides a solid foundation for objective morality, ensuring that moral truths are not subject to whims or potential alterations but are grounded in the constant and perfect nature of God. Therefore, the claim that objective morality is based on God's nature, rather than arbitrary decisions, is not just a theological assertion but a logical conclusion drawn from the understanding of divine consistency and perfection.

This is an a priori argument for objective morality based on the existence of God as you define him.

A priori arguments reach conclusions without any appeal to experience, while a posteriori arguments rely on interpretations of evidence.

An important a priori theistic argument is the Ontological Argument, which was proposed by Anselm and promoted by Descartes. It defines “God” as “that than which no greater can be conceived.” Because existence is considered greater than nonexistence, the argument concludes that such a God must exist.

This is an attempt to derive a property from a definition, like saying all bachelors are necessarily unmarried. But philosophers from Immanuel Kant on have rightfully pointed out that existence is not a property at all, so you can’t simply define something into existence. As Kant wrote, “Supreme Being is a mere ideal, the objective reality of which can neither be proved nor disproved by pure reason.” For instance, you may imagine a perfect island, but just because that island is thought to be perfect doesn’t mean it actually exists. At best, you can only conclude what something must be like if it exists.

It is important to understand that any a priori argument can only be analytic and not synthetic, meaning it can only analyze something’s attributes, not determine whether it exists. This in turn means that for someone to claim they know God exists, they must present an a posteriori argument based on actual evidence of some sort. There is no a priori argument to establish matters of fact. So we are restricted to considering theistic arguments which are constructed around whatever is taken to be actual evidence that God exists.

So what you are really arguing is that if God does exist, he can and should establish an objective morality.  But without facing the question of whether God does exist through supplying evidence, you can't say an objective morality exists either.
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#10

God can Ground Objective Morality
No. Deadpan Coffee Drinker 

You've determined that in order for something to be God, it must have your presupposed attributes, which (by virtue of the attributes) would break the dilemma. You don't entertain that such qualities have to be demonstrated to be true in order for them to be accurately ascribed.

The Ontological argument is a crowd favorite of those who refuse to get out of their armchairs.

Quote: As the greatest conceivable being, there is no possible world where God is not good.

Dude must believe that Alexender the Great was good. If "greatness" necessitates "goodness" you have to prove it.

God *can* change by the way. Christianity proves it. God became flesh. He changed (by addition, not modification) his nature in the form of Jesus Christ. If God, *always* had a human nature to him, it goes against your claim that his human nature died, leaving God changed again (as he lost his human nature). If his nature can change (something you argue cannot happen), then his morals are subject to change.

If you argue, "Well, morality is grounded in God's Divine nature, rather than simply God, you have to establish that divinity = unchanging. Saying "it is what it is" is the definition of hitting bedrock.
Deadpan Coffee Drinker 
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#11

God can Ground Objective Morality
I also noticed that Steve made a simple error of logic in his syllogism.

P1: Objective morality is based on unchanging, inherent principles that are not dependent on personal opinions or preferences.
P2: God possesses an unchanging, inherent moral nature that is maximally morally good.
C1: Therefore, objective morality is grounded in God's nature and not in His personal opinions or preferences.

Note that P1 provides the "grounding for objective morality" via it's definition. If "Objective morality" is based on unchanging, inherent principles that are not dependent on personal opinions or preferences, said unchanging principles are the grounding of morality. God's nature is not a principle. As mentioned before by polymath this formulation literally makes morality and goodness metaphysically prior to the notion of God and thus God's nature cannot be used to explain or "ground" morality.

I would also like to note that Steve doesn't really use the term "objective morality" in it's most common usage, but seems to be referring what is most commonly called moral universalism.
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#12

God can Ground Objective Morality
P1:Beating someone up is an objective way to establish superiority over them.

P2: My dad is superior to everyone else in every aspect. 


In Support of P2: 

My dad is just built different.

C: My dad can beat up your dad.
Deadpan Coffee Drinker 
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#13

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-23-2024, 02:42 AM)epronovost Wrote: If "Objective morality" is based on unchanging, inherent principles that are not dependent on personal opinions or preferences, said unchanging principles are the grounding of morality. God's nature is not a principle. As mentioned before by polymath this formulation literally makes morality and goodness metaphysically prior to the notion of God and thus God's nature cannot be used to explain or "ground" morality.

I would also like to note that Steve doesn't really use the term "objective morality" in it's most common usage, but seems to be referring what is most commonly called moral universalism.

So the basis of moral universalism is truth or facts, not God per se?  I assume Steve does not understand why atheists therefore could also be moral universalists.  Such atheists would just disagree with him about what is factually true.
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#14

God can Ground Objective Morality
How does Mr God ground his ethics? How does he decide what is wrong?

And if you outsource your moral compass to a higher authority then how is that different to the Nuremberg defense of 'just following orders'?
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#15

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-22-2024, 10:35 PM)pattylt Wrote: While I do like to read philosophical discussions, I’m not educated enough to engage them.  This one, having to grant the existence of a god is a ridiculous starting point.  He’s just going to define his god as xxx and then fill in his beliefs.  Since I know what his beliefs are already, it just seems to be pointless waste of electrons.  None of this matters if there is no Christian god.

Steve level of "philosophical"* discussions is far, far below anyone who had even smattering of philosophical education in grade school. It's like Zeno of Elea Achilles and Tortoise paradox in that it might sound fancy but is obvious bullshit. Zeno also get bonus points for not trying to argue that genocidal tyrant depicted in the bible is any any way moral, good or just. So he towers above Steve like anyone with shred of decency towers over trump.

It's not like philosophical discussions require university level education. To use exaggerated example Socrates - wisest of men - might have been smart back then but didn't knew shit compared to today middle schooler. 


*parenthesis added cause philosophy means love of wisdom not love of spouting inane drivel
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.


Socrates.
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#16

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-23-2024, 09:11 AM)Mathilda Wrote: How does Mr God ground his ethics? How does he decide what is wrong?

And if you outsource your moral compass to a higher authority then how is that different to the Nuremberg defense of 'just following orders'?

It isn't but christianity is just nazism in disguise. Compare christian actions against jews to nazi ones:
- Synod of Elvira prohibited marriages between Jews and christians, nazis did the same ( Law for Protection of German Blood and German Honor, 1935)
- Synod of Clermont prohibited Jews from holding public offices, nazis did the same ( Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, 1933)
- Fourth Council of Lateran ordered Jews (and Muslims) to wear special clothes, nazis did the same (decree from 1. IX. 1941)
- Synod in Wrocław ordered Jews to live in ghettos, nazis did the same (Heydrich order from 21.IX.1939)
[Examples taken from Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of European Jews, volume I, p. 7-9 of polish 2014 edition]

Also their god ain't that much different from Hitler as both vere insane, genocidal tyrants though one at least had excuse of not being omnipotent.
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.


Socrates.
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#17

God can Ground Objective Morality
The lengths that Steve will go for belief validation I find mind boggling.
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#18

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-23-2024, 01:14 PM)brewerb Wrote: The lengths that Steve will go for belief validation I find mind boggling.

What's really mind boggling is that the dishonesty necessary to keep trying to legitimize the belief doesn't appear to raise questions.  I don't understand how an intelligent mind can continue to deliberately ignore cognitive dissonance.  It's like pretending to want to know how gravity works and believing gravity is demons pushing everything down, then discarding every evidence otherwise, undisturbed by the dishonesty.
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#19

God can Ground Objective Morality
Pure "what is word?" territory. Grounding morality in any subjects nature will not yield an objective morality.
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#20

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-23-2024, 08:28 AM)Alan V Wrote: So the basis of moral universalism is truth or facts, not God per se?  I assume Steve does not understand why atheists therefore could also be moral universalists.  Such atheists would just disagree with him about what is factually true.

According to Steve definition, it would indeed be the case. The debate between atheists who subscribe to this form of moral universalism would thus be epistemic; how do we discover and learn moral truths/facts. Steve goes, of course, for a mixture of religious dogma about divine revelation and for a bunch of naturalistic explanation based on observation, experimentation and application of human reason and logic in service to moral principles and human welfare.
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#21

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-23-2024, 09:11 AM)Mathilda Wrote: How does Mr God ground his ethics?

With #4 AWG green insulated bonding jumpers connected directly to a 3/4" 10' copper core grounding rod.
[Image: Bastard-Signature.jpg]
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#22

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-22-2024, 08:15 PM)Dānu Wrote:
Quote:Some theists have tried to escape from this trap by claiming that God’s own nature is the standard of goodness. Thus God would never command atrocities because it would not conform to his nature, which can properly be described as good.

But this is an obvious confusion. We can simply reformulate the question: Is something good because it is in conformance with God’s nature, or do we say God’s nature is good based on some other standard? If the good simply refers to God’s nature, then again we can say that whatever is in God’s nature happens to be good. Were it in his nature to command atrocities, then the commission of atrocities would be good. If his nature does not condone such things, we are, again, simply lucky.

https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/the-e...atonement/

Note the bold. How is this reformulation objectionable to me? This is exactly what I proposed.
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#23

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-22-2024, 08:36 PM)polymath257 Wrote: This presupposes goodness logically prior to the existence of God, so God cannot be the basis of goodness.

There is nothing logically prior to the existence of God. This is core to very concept of God.
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#24

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-25-2024, 02:27 PM)SteveII Wrote:
(03-22-2024, 08:36 PM)polymath257 Wrote: This presupposes goodness logically prior to the existence of God, so God cannot be the basis of goodness.

There is nothing logically prior to the existence of God. This is core to very concept of God.

So magic made god?

Thanks for acknowledging that god is a concept made by human minds. That means that any morality is also made by humans.
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#25

God can Ground Objective Morality
(03-22-2024, 11:45 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(03-22-2024, 08:03 PM)SteveII Wrote: The traditional conception of God underscores the stability and immutability (does not change) of divine nature in general and maximal goodness specifically--it's as fixed and unchanging as God's existence and other divine attributes. This 'unchangingness' provides a solid foundation for objective morality, ensuring that moral truths are not subject to whims or potential alterations but are grounded in the constant and perfect nature of God. Therefore, the claim that objective morality is based on God's nature, rather than arbitrary decisions, is not just a theological assertion but a logical conclusion drawn from the understanding of divine consistency and perfection.

This is an a priori argument for objective morality based on the existence of God as you define him.

A priori arguments reach conclusions without any appeal to experience, while a posteriori arguments rely on interpretations of evidence.

An important a priori theistic argument is the Ontological Argument, which was proposed by Anselm and promoted by Descartes. It defines “God” as “that than which no greater can be conceived.” Because existence is considered greater than nonexistence, the argument concludes that such a God must exist.

This is an attempt to derive a property from a definition, like saying all bachelors are necessarily unmarried. But philosophers from Immanuel Kant on have rightfully pointed out that existence is not a property at all, so you can’t simply define something into existence. As Kant wrote, “Supreme Being is a mere ideal, the objective reality of which can neither be proved nor disproved by pure reason.” For instance, you may imagine a perfect island, but just because that island is thought to be perfect doesn’t mean it actually exists. At best, you can only conclude what something must be like if it exists.

It is important to understand that any a priori argument can only be analytic and not synthetic, meaning it can only analyze something’s attributes, not determine whether it exists. This in turn means that for someone to claim they know God exists, they must present an a posteriori argument based on actual evidence of some sort. There is no a priori argument to establish matters of fact. So we are restricted to considering theistic arguments which are constructed around whatever is taken to be actual evidence that God exists.

So what you are really arguing is that if God does exist, he can and should establish an objective morality.  But without facing the question of whether God does exist through supplying evidence, you can't say an objective morality exists either.

That was a very good analysis. I'm entirely onboard with your concluding paragraph.

I of course was not trying to prove God's existence but rather to explore the implications of God's existence for the nature of morality, assuming God's existence as a premise for the sake of philosophical discussion.
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