ChristianInvestigator

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Just something I was wondering about. The Cosmological Argument can show that God is immaterial, timeless, spaceless, eternal, powerful, transcendent, etc., but all those things are morally neutral. Ditto with Teleology, Consciousness, etc. Heck, the Problem of Evil seems to demonstrate that God is not all-good. Where do we get this idea that God is the "bedrock of absolute goodness," apart from specific revelation?
"This year, though I'm far from home
In Trench I'm not alone.
These faces facing me,
They know... what I mean."

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Harvey

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Re: Theists: Does Natural Theology demonstrate anything about God's goodness?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2020, 12:41:24 am »
I think there's a few ways to make this argument.

1) Omniscience: We can appeal to arguments that try to show God is omniscient, and as an omniscient being He would know that evil is self-defeating.

2),Consciousness: Similarly, we could appeal to God being maximally conscious which means being aware of how unnecessary pain and suffering is bad for conscious existence, thus God as maximally conscious would be maximally moral conscious.

3) Integrity: We could appeal to God's relation with truth, and argue that truthfulness would cross over with moral character which couldn't exist unless God was essentially good.

4) Consistency: We could argue that as a consistent being His nature is necessarily morally consistent if moral truths exist.

5) Goodness: We could treat goodness as a primitive and try to show that goodness is like logic in that it must exist necessarily.

Some of these arguments might be closely related.

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ChristianInvestigator

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Re: Theists: Does Natural Theology demonstrate anything about God's goodness?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2020, 10:18:51 am »
@ Harvey:

Okay, it's a good start!

1) You say that an omniscient being would know evil was self-defeating. But that seems to bring up issues, such as the Euthyphro Dilemma. If God recognizes good and evil outside of Himself, He is not the ultimate ground of goodness. If good and evil come from God's nature alone, why couldn't God's nature be completely different, to the point where evil is good and good is evil?

2) Similar problems as above. You're defining good and evil in Utilitarian terms, which is (I think) the best system of morality Atheists can come up with but isn't grounded in anything transcendent or binding. Consciousness may indeed prove that God is good, but not that He is the ground of goodness.
Another problem -- An evil god could be fully aware of what their evil actions were causing (maximally conscious), but persist anyway.

3) I'm interested. Can you elaborate on how we know God has a relation with truth apart from Scripture?

4) Interesting. I suppose it wouldn't be too hard to argue that God is consistent on the basis of Divine Simplicity.

5) How would you go about showing that goodness is necessary, like logic? There's definitely  something elegant about that idea.
"This year, though I'm far from home
In Trench I'm not alone.
These faces facing me,
They know... what I mean."

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Lucian

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Re: Theists: Does Natural Theology demonstrate anything about God's goodness?
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2020, 10:33:19 am »
Just something I was wondering about. The Cosmological Argument can show that God is immaterial, timeless, spaceless, eternal, powerful, transcendent, etc., but all those things are morally neutral. Ditto with Teleology, Consciousness, etc. Heck, the Problem of Evil seems to demonstrate that God is not all-good. Where do we get this idea that God is the "bedrock of absolute goodness," apart from specific revelation?

Usually it seems to be assumed that if such a being could be shown to exist, it would automatically possess moral perfection also. In terms of where that assumption comes from, that's a matter of scriptural or theological instruction, and perhaps the emotional situation of the believer, or their 'religious experience' (which, strikingly, can be relatively easily induced by others). There's also pre-Christian precedent for supposing that 'immoral' conduct is unbecoming of the gods, which is one of the reasons why Plato bans Homer from his ideal republic.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2020, 10:35:10 am by Lucian »

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wonderer

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Re: Theists: Does Natural Theology demonstrate anything about God's goodness?
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2020, 01:22:25 pm »
'religious experience' (which, strikingly, can be relatively easily induced by others). 

Including atheist others. 

Brilliant video.  I had to go back and watch the whole thing.
"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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Lucian

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Re: Theists: Does Natural Theology demonstrate anything about God's goodness?
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2020, 02:41:55 pm »
Indeed, and which seems an odd thing for God to permit, if he were real.

I think pretty much everything of Brown's is superb (I'm seeing him live for the first time next year), and the sort of thing philosophers of religion and theologians should consider once in a while.

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Harvey

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Re: Theists: Does Natural Theology demonstrate anything about God's goodness?
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2020, 04:24:50 pm »
1) You say that an omniscient being would know evil was self-defeating. But that seems to bring up issues, such as the Euthyphro Dilemma. If God recognizes good and evil outside of Himself, He is not the ultimate ground of goodness. If good and evil come from God's nature alone, why couldn't God's nature be completely different, to the point where evil is good and good is evil?

As God exists necessarily (as a necessary 3omni being or NOB), objective truths, including objective moral truths, can all be grounded in His necessary existence. Thus, it could just be true that a NOB would know that due to His necessary being evil is self-defeating, and being a NOB they would never choose a self-defeating set of behaviors. The Euthyphro Dilemma wouldn't be a problem since both 1 and 2 are both false:

1) If moral truths are willed by God because they are good, then what is good is independent of God.
2) If moral truths are good because they are willed by God, then God could choose evil to be good.
3) Thus, moral goodness is either independent of God or it is randomly chosen by God.

1 is false because moral truths are based on God's necessity so they are never independent of God's being, and 2 is false because God doesn't determine what the moral truths are.

Quote from: CI
2) Similar problems as above. You're defining good and evil in Utilitarian terms, which is (I think) the best system of morality Atheists can come up with but isn't grounded in anything transcendent or binding.

So, instead of God knowing evil is self-defeating by being omnisient enough to figure it out, here God is conscious enough to know it is morally wrong because as a conscious being he empathizes with inflicting harm on conscious entities and as a NOB there is no possible world where He accepts such unnecessary pain and suffering. The ED is avoided for the same reason above. An evil God couldn't be fully aware of what their evil actions were causing (maximally conscious), but as a NOB they are maximally conscious so that fact prevents the existence of an evil God.

Quote from: ,CI
3) I'm interested. Can you elaborate on how we know God has a relation with truth apart from Scripture?

Truth can be deflationary meaning that it is not a real property at all. To say the "sky is blue" is true is to mean nothing more than a sky exists and everything that is sky or part of the sky happens to be blue. "is true" adds nothing to this statement. The other option is that "is true" is a property of reality that if true adds ontological furniture to the world. Thus, what we're saying here is.that when God is satisfied with a proposition being true, God being satisfied moves that provision over to a different category (i.e., the set of things that God finds as true and therefore goes from some form of potentiality to some form of actuality). Thus, in order for God to fulfill His duty of reality to tend to the garden of truth He would need to be honest so that He doesn't lie when declaring something as true. From here we could build up all of God's nature based on the metaphysical impossibility of lying.

Quote from: CI
5) How would you go about showing that goodness is necessary, like logic? There's definitely  something elegant about that idea.

The relation between math and logic is like the relation in geometry of the X and Y plane. The Z plane could encompass moral logics. Just like Riemannian geometry tells us the geometrical possibilities for certain types of curved spaces, so likewise a moral framework tells us the goodness possibilities for certain types of moral agent possibilities. In this case the axioms of moral goodness would be holistically combined with God's NOB qualities.