wes

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« on: September 12, 2007, 09:20:47 am »

Well I have some more stuff from my philosophy class guys, that I'd love to get your opinions on. The argument is in part that of the Euthyphro Dilema.

Here is my argument:The dilemma is quickly dissolved when you split the horns of the dilemma by saying that the good is the very nature of God and that the commands of God flow necessarily out of his moral nature. Because God is just, He commands things that are for us just. So the good is nether arbitrary, nor is it something outside and above God. Rather the good is the moral nature of God himself, which is expressed necessarily in his moral commands, which become for us moral duties.

Here is his reply to my argument:
I will admit, however, that I think Socrates disatisfiction with the equivocation of God and Goodness is a profound idea.  This is because as far as I can tell the claim "God is good" can mean two things: God is identical to goodness in which case it seems to me all we are saying is that "God is God" or it can mean Goodness is a quality of God in which case it seems to me that we are judging God by a standard independent of God and declaring by that standard that God is good.  
Now, I have already thought about this somewhat and have some ideas. But any New ideas would be great. Please post your responses to his objection. Thanks!
Wes


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wes

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2007, 09:24:14 am »
I apologize this is the end of  my professors reply in regards to why God's commands are binding:
In regards to your second point, my goal was to explain how an atheist might respond to the Torah's laws.  Some of those laws might seem good on the grounds that they prevent harm.  Others, however, do not obvioiusly prevent harm and so would seem arbitrary.  The question, for religious believers (not atheists) however is why are those laws binding.  It seems to me that religious believers (in order to be consistent) need to hold that all the laws are binding whether the believer understands why God gave them or not.  This implies a kind of "Binding b/c I said so" and perhaps even a "Do not question the Lord your God."
Thanks in advance for all the wisdom!
Wes again

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Luke Martin

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2007, 09:47:33 am »
This issue will at least partly turn on your view of abstract objects.  If you are a Platonist (like me) or an Aristotelian, then it seems you will have to deny that God=the Good, for that would make God an abstract object.  Worse, whenever an action is good (say, I keep a promise), then that action exemplifies God, which is clearly not the case.  But suppose one wants to says instead that God's nature=the Good.  This doesn't help get out of the Euthyphro dilemma, for all this claim says is that goodness is essential to God (for God is not identical to his nature).  We would still have something independent of God (goodness) that God exemplifies.
It seems to me that one would have to be a nominalist of some sort in order to claim that the Good just is God's nature.  But I don't know what that sort of account will look like.

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Eric Stewart

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2007, 11:33:57 am »
Imagine that there is only God, and no creation at all.  Would God still be "good?"  Is light good if there is no one to see by it?

One person with God is a majority.
~ Billy Graham

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Charles

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2007, 01:46:22 pm »

Perhaps an Aristotilian/Thomistic reply is that God is good essentialy and actions are good by way of participation.


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wes

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2007, 02:05:21 pm »


Well I am glad that so far most responses have been oppostions! I realize people disagree, but is there anyone whos got a reasoned response to this better then mine?



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Luke Martin

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 03:34:46 pm »
What does it mean to say that anyone is good?  How about the following as a rough intuitive first pass:
(S is good)=df. S never violates a moral duty.  This isn't adequate to capture God's moral perfection, since I think we'd want to say that God often performs acts of supererogation, but it's good enough to start with.
Now, is God identical with the property of never-violating-a-duty?  Obviously not.  Is God's nature identical with that property?  Obviously not, since God has other essential properties, like love and power.  So, if one accepts the existence of abstract objects, it looks like one can't escape the Euthyphro dilemma, i.e., you'll be impaled on the horn that says goodness is something independent of God.

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Jason

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2007, 05:21:16 pm »

Wes,

God's goodness is rooted in His character (essentialism).  God says something is good or evil because it is either consistent or inconsistent with His perfectly good nature.

When we say “God is good” we are not saying God is identical to goodness, but that goodness is a quality of God’s character.  That doesn’t mean we are “judging God by a standard independent of God and declaring by that standard that God is good.”  Indeed, God’s character sets the standard.  It is internal, not external.

But how do we know that standard is a good standard?  Greg Koukl comments, “Regardless of how one grounds the concept of goodness, another could always ask, 'But what makes that notion good?' To avoid a vicious regress, one must eventually appeal to some irreducible, primitive concept known by intuition.”  So where do we stop?  Koukl argues that we know God is good through our own moral intuitions about goodness.  When we look at the moral qualities predicated of God, our moral intuition beholds those things and recognizes that they are good.  Based on the nature of intuition no deeper level of justification need be, nor can be provided.  

It should be noted that essentialism does not exclude voluntarism (the first horn of Euthyphro’s dilemma).  When we look at the spectrum of laws God has issued, clearly not all of them have to do with morality. Some commands are amoral in nature (e.g. the command to build a fence on one’s roof), and we are required to obey them on the basis that God said we should.  The Israelites would have been wrong to disobey God’s command to build a fence on their roof, even though the command was amoral in nature.  The wrongness of their act would not be due to the immoral nature of failing to build a fence on one’s roof, but from a rejection of God’s authority to command His creation.

Both essentialism and voluntarism are necessary to explain the spectrum of commands we find in Scripture.  But since amoral commands have nothing to do with goodness, voluntarism (the first horn) is irrelevant to the question of what makes something good.  Essentialism explains that.


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Jason

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2007, 05:29:52 pm »

Paul Copan has some interesting things to say on this topic:

Goodness is not independent of God but rather is part of God’s nature and depends upon him for its existence. On the other hand, God’s will operates according to a moral standard. That standard is God’s very nature. The essential perfection view maintains that God is necessarily good; he could never will evil, as this is a logical impossibility. This view avoids the arbitrariness charge, and it avoids the autonomy charge in that God does not consult a certain moral standard external to himself before acting. Moral justification ends with God, the absolute starting point for morality. So God’s goodness does not derive from his adhering to a certain moral standard.

Because God is necessarily good and thus acts in conformity to his nature, the standards by which he acts are descriptive of his own nature rather than somehow prescribed to him. As philosophers have done, we can draw a distinction between following a rule and merely acting in accordance with a rule. Although empirically indistinguishable, they are logically distinct. It seems that if we speak in terms of "God ought to do X," then it appears that there is at least a metaphysical possibility that he not do X. But if God is essentially good, then no such moral obligations attach to God as they do to human beings. After all, it appears that when moral laws are in force (i.e., "one ought to do X"), there is the possibility that they will be disobeyed.

So God’s goodness should not be viewed as his fulfilling moral obligations but as expressing the way he is. God does not "consult" ontologically independent moral principles before acting. No, he simply acts as he is inclined to--which is in accordance with his good character, and this will necessarily be the best. "No preliminary stage of checking the relevant principles is required." In this sense, God’s goodness should be thought of along axiological rather strictly moral lines.

In other words, although, morally speaking, God acts in the same manner that humans ought to act (or as the ideal moral agent would act), his goodness is not a matter of fulfilling moral duties as it is for us.

http://www.rzim.org/publications/essay_arttext.php?id=4


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wes

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2007, 09:28:56 am »
Hey thanks alot Jason, those were some slick responses. I have already molded them into my own words and used it as a response, which worked very nicely. I already had that exact idea in my had as you did, regarding God's commands being necessarily Moral, and that God is the foundation of Good. Just was looking for someone to put it into words I guess! Which you certainly did well.

Wes

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Eric

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2007, 12:09:28 am »
The Bible says, "God is Love." Everyone understands that love is the very essence of goodness.  Romans 13:10 says, "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
If God is love, then he is goodness.  Simple.  

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Drm970

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2007, 03:38:38 am »
Luke has a point, but I think there is a misstep here. If God is simple, as the idea of God's simplicity goes, there is no distinction between God and God's nature. In that case, the dilemma is avoided.

Whether simplicity makes sense or not is another topic, however!


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Eric Stewart

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Does God=Good, or is good a quality of God?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2007, 04:36:14 pm »

Drm970 wrote: Luke has a point, but I think there is a misstep here. If God is simple, as the idea of God's simplicity goes, there is no distinction between God and God's nature. In that case, the dilemma is avoided.

Whether simplicity makes sense or not is another topic, however!

I think you may have meant, "Eric has a point..." If you were addressing my post, I was not trying to say that God is simple, but that I think the answer to the issue is a simple one.  

1.) Everyone knows that love (of one kind or another) is the essence of goodness. A totally loveless world is a world devoid of goodness; it is a world with only selfishness, which would be hell.  

2.) God is love  

3.) Therefore, God is good

 
One person with God is a majority.
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Luke Martin

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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2007, 04:48:54 pm »

Simplicity, even if it made sense (it doesn't), wouldn't help.  If God just is identical with goodness, then whenever I keep a promise, since my action exemplifies goodness, it exemplifies God.  This is clearly false, so simplicity is if no help here.  What you've got to do is reject the existence of goodness and say that there are simply good actions and people but no single thing goodness that they all share.  In short, you've gotta be a nominalist.


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Eric Stewart

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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2007, 05:16:24 pm »
Luke wrote:

Simplicity, even if it made sense (it doesn't), wouldn't help.  If God just is identical with goodness, then whenever I keep a promise, since my action exemplifies goodness, it exemplifies God.  This is clearly false, so simplicity is if no help here.  What you've got to do is reject the existence of goodness and say that there are simply good actions and people but no single thing goodness that they all share.  In short, you've gotta be a nominalist.

How do you know that your keeping of a promise does not ultimately exemplify God?  If God is the Original Promise Keeper, and you, who are made in his image, are now keeping a promise, are you not reflecting his glory in that small way?  When the heavenly angels do a good thing, are they not reflecting God's goodness?  Isn't their beauty a reflection of God? Doesn't their goodness derive from God's Ultimate Goodness? And doesn't the beauty in Creation derive from the beauty of the God that made it?  Doesn't our human love derive from the Original Lover? Ok, you get the point.
 
One person with God is a majority.
~ Billy Graham