Author Topic: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"  (Read 1026 times)

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Offline Philosopher_at_large

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A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« on: April 20, 2013, 04:40:19 AM »
Adler said: “A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else.”

Human beings are superficially unequal, we differ in many ways, but we are all alike in one critical respect: We all have the same needs. Natural needs = natural right, and Morality and Justice are the means of assuring that our rights are secured, and determining how best to secure them. This is the only definition and view of morality and justice that has ever made sense to me.

In stark contrast, so called “divine command theory” holds a, somewhat ridiculous position.
That morality can ‘only’ be objective is there is some kind of “source” or “author” of what is or is not moral. You hear this all the time, the ol’ “If there’s a moral law, there must be a moral law “GIVER!” (Which is the equivalent of saying, “If you’re studying for the bar, there must be a bar “TENDER!”)

Natural laws are not prescriptions like judicial laws are, they are a consequence of the natural world.

The irony is that, by omitting any facts about human nature, divine command theorists present one of the least objective and arbitrary moral theory that I can imagine. What would it mean to say that “what god commands is objectively moral”? As if right behavior is the act of following prescription. Far from objective, one would choose to follow the dictates of God not because they’re objectively good, but because of WHO is prescribing them.

They admit this themselves when, in response to the question of why anything at all is moral, the only answer they can give is “because god said it was”. That’s not objective, that’s dogmatic.

In short, (and to quote Adler again) “Justice is a rational principle, even if there were no God, and man were a purely natural thing, there would still be principles of justice.” 

I agree.
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

Offline Hierophant

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2013, 04:48:44 AM »
How can one be a Christian and not believe in DCT? Did God not create everything, and wouldn't everything include the laws of morality?

Of course, Euthyphro's dilemma destroys any logical possibility of an external creator of morality.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 04:51:08 AM by Hierophant »

Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2013, 05:08:26 AM »
How can one be a Christian and not believe in DCT? Did God not create everything, and wouldn't everything include the laws of morality?

Of course, Euthyphro's dilemma destroys any logical possibility of an external creator of morality.

Again, natural laws are not prescriptions, they are consequences of the natural word. Saying that "God created everything" doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as a “byproduct” of what God created. If there is a God and God created the cosmos then human beings exist as a consequence of what god created, and we are so constituted because of our evolution that we have pain receptors and thus have the ability to experience pain.

This is not the same as saying that God created pain, to say nothing about the notion that God created the toothache, and every other ache that we can experience individually.

In the case of Ethics, God himself, (if he exists) needed criteria. What would it mean to say that god “decided” what was good and evil? That what he considers good now he might have considered otherwise? Absurd. The whole of divine command theory is untenable.
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

Offline Hierophant

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2013, 05:37:16 AM »
If God created everything, then that necessarily includes any by-product. There is no by-product that is not a causal result of God's creation. And since God is omniscient, it would know what by-products would be created anyway. God did create pain, and the toothache, and every single ache experiences by any human being in the history of the universe. Yes, God did create every single one of them! Why do you even try to deny it? The Bible itself clearly states that God created a form of intergenerational pain as a punishment against Adam and Eve!

So what if moral laws are not prescriptions? A cosmos is not a prescription either. Your argument makes no sense whatsoever.

Offline Graybeard

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2013, 07:31:28 AM »
“A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition.”
JOSÉ BERGAMÍN, El cohete y la estrella
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 12:03:04 PM »
If God created everything, then that necessarily includes any by-product. There is no by-product that is not a causal result of God's creation.


That's true, but that's far form saying that "God created morality", indeed, if god created the cosmos then he created the conditions by which there is morality, but again, it wasn't "created" as such. 


And since God is omniscient, it would know what by-products would be created anyway. God did create pain, and the toothache, and every single ache experiences by any human being in the history of the universe. Yes, God did create every single one of them!


Again, creating the conditions by which these things can or even will be is not the same as saying that God created them "as such". 

Why do you even try to deny it? The Bible itself clearly states that God created a form of intergenerational pain as a punishment against Adam and Eve!

I wasn't talking about the bible

So what if moral laws are not prescriptions? A cosmos is not a prescription either. Your argument makes no sense whatsoever.

that is my argument. The "Moral law" needing a "moral law 'giver'" is a misnomer
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

Offline Hierophant

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2013, 05:03:04 PM »
Quote
That's true, but that's far form saying that "God created morality", indeed, if god created the cosmos then he created the conditions by which there is morality, but again, it wasn't "created" as such.

Why? Because you say so?
I unleash a nuclear bomb over New York- not only do I outright kill hundreds of thousands, but I also create the conditions for hundreds of thousands of other people to get cancer. But you claim I did not create these cancers? Poppycock! Flim-flam!


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I wasn't talking about the bible
So you deny the authority of the Bible in telling us what God is? Without the Bible, you have no God. Or did you draw it out of thin air?

Quote
that is my argument. The "Moral law" needing a "moral law 'giver'" is a misnomer
But if Christianity is true, then it is the absolute, ironclad truth!

Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2013, 05:23:28 PM »
That's true, but that's far form saying that "God created morality", indeed, if god created the cosmos then he created the conditions by which there is morality, but again, it wasn't "created" as such.


Why? Because you say so?

No, because there is a difference between creating a set of conditions and creating every individual consequence of those conditions.

I unleash a nuclear bomb over New York- not only do I outright kill hundreds of thousands, but I also create the conditions for hundreds of thousands of other people to get cancer. But you claim I did not create these cancers? Poppycock! Flim-flam!


You are responsible 'for' those people having gotten cancer: that is to say; but for the fact that you nuked New York, the people woulnd't have gotten cancer, but you did not "create" cancer, and you didn't bomb new york 'with' cancer, you bombed it with something that has the potential to cause it.

That being said, in the example you gavem you did not actually Exnihilate anything, as God, if he exists and created anything, did; so it’s not really a 1 to 1 analogy anyway.


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I wasn't talking about the bible
So you deny the authority of the Bible in telling us what God is? Without the Bible, you have no God. Or did you draw it out of thin air?[/quote]

I do deny it and i dont' thnk it's necessary or helpful to this discussion.

But if Christianity is true, then it is the absolute, ironclad truth!

First, forget christianity for the moment, we are only talking about the consequenses of the cosmos having come into being because of an exnihilator.

Second: How? divine revelation is, by definition, something the we are incapeable of fully understanding; how can that at the same time be ironclad truth?
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 05:25:07 PM by Philosopher_at_large »
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

Offline Hierophant

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2013, 02:18:27 AM »
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No, because there is a difference between creating a set of conditions and creating every individual consequence of those conditions.
Not for an omniscient being, no. And even excluding that parameter... (segue to the next quote)

Quote
You are responsible 'for' those people having gotten cancer: that is to say; but for the fact that you nuked New York, the people woulnd't have gotten cancer, but you did not "create" cancer, and you didn't bomb new york 'with' cancer, you bombed it with something that has the potential to cause it.
So I am the cause of the cancer, but I did not create it? You are plunging in the nonsensical. Define "create" in a way that makes your response make any sort of sense.

Quote
That being said, in the example you gavem you did not actually Exnihilate anything, as God, if he exists and created anything, did; so it’s not really a 1 to 1 analogy anyway.
No analogy is perfect. But you can't even come close to addressing it, so let's keep the criticisms for later...
 
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I do deny it and i dont' thnk it's necessary or helpful to this discussion.
The sole source of evidence for God's properties is not necessary or helpful to a discussion of God's properties?


Quote
Second: How? divine revelation is, by definition, something the we are incapeable of fully understanding; how can that at the same time be ironclad truth?
I do make some claims to understanding the religious mindset, but not that well.

Offline Graybeard

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2013, 06:23:09 AM »
How can one be a Christian and not believe in DCT? Did God not create everything, and wouldn't everything include the laws of morality?

Christians believe in what they want to believe in, I cannot recall one who agreed with their god 100% - however all of them believe that their god agrees with them 100%
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline wheels5894

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2013, 06:28:29 AM »
To deviate a little from the theme in hand, I am always puzzled but the way that the so called DCT never is able to come up with a list of permanent morals that don't change. A creator who was omniscient would have been able to prescribe the necessary morals that would cover everything that ever happens. So that, for example, slavery would have had an moral attached to it that would be permanent and not, as it turns out, rather temporary.  the thing is that the only access we have to the rules of a DCT is the holy books and they never go further than that which was common at the time of their writing.

Back to the main discussion, I agree that to nuke New York would mean the person who did it would be responsible for all the damage and illnesses that resulted from it, That is clear. However, I take the point made by PatL that the 'nuker' would not have created the conditions or illnesses that people suffered - that was in the hands of any creator who left people subject to these diseases in the way he planned the creation. This is the case even if the creator merely kick started the universe with a big bang and left it to evolve is that creator was omniscient. had the 'design' been different and people did not suffer from radiation-caused diseases then the effect of the nuke would be considerably lessened.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2013, 11:56:26 AM »
So I am the cause of the cancer, but I did not create it? You are plunging in the nonsensical. Define "create" in a way that makes your response make any sort of sense.

That's correct. Creating the conditions 'by which' X might come about is not the same as creating X 'as such'.

The sole source of evidence for God's properties is not necessary or helpful to a discussion of God's properties?

The Bible isn't the sould evidence for anything, it's an anthology of theological books.

 
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

Offline jdawg70

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2013, 04:42:08 PM »
So I am the cause of the cancer, but I did not create it? You are plunging in the nonsensical. Define "create" in a way that makes your response make any sort of sense.

That's correct. Creating the conditions 'by which' X might come about is not the same as creating X 'as such'.
Much of this argument is going to revolve around the characteristics of god.  I would actually agree with Hierophant in the case of god being omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, insofar that the situation of creating conditions 'by which' X might come about would be precisely synonymous with creating conditions 'by which' X necessarily comes about.

Barring omni-triple-threat, then the degree of responsibility that the entity creating the conditions 'by which' X might come about is proportional to the ability of the entity to discern the potential for that outcome.  If Hierophant dropped a nuclear bomb on New York and could not, in principle, reasonably determine the outcome of that action, then we would hold little responsibility to Hierophant (just like we do not ascribe responsibility to the 3-year old that causes a car accident).  Of course, Hierophant can, in principle, determine the outcome of the action (lots o' death and cancer), and, regardless of Hierophant's actual expectation of outcome, could be held to a high degree of responsibility for the ensuing calamity.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2013, 09:32:05 PM »
So I am the cause of the cancer, but I did not create it? You are plunging in the nonsensical. Define "create" in a way that makes your response make any sort of sense.

That's correct. Creating the conditions 'by which' X might come about is not the same as creating X 'as such'.
Much of this argument is going to revolve around the characteristics of god.  I would actually agree with Hierophant in the case of god being omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, insofar that the situation of creating conditions 'by which' X might come about would be precisely synonymous with creating conditions 'by which' X necessarily comes about.

Barring omni-triple-threat, then the degree of responsibility that the entity creating the conditions 'by which' X might come about is proportional to the ability of the entity to discern the potential for that outcome.  If Hierophant dropped a nuclear bomb on New York and could not, in principle, reasonably determine the outcome of that action, then we would hold little responsibility to Hierophant (just like we do not ascribe responsibility to the 3-year old that causes a car accident).  Of course, Hierophant can, in principle, determine the outcome of the action (lots o' death and cancer), and, regardless of Hierophant's actual expectation of outcome, could be held to a high degree of responsibility for the ensuing calamity.

One or both of you, please explain.
By which X might come about, and by which X necessarily comes about are two very different things.
Because every monotheistic sacred scripture expresses (on the part of God) a desire that… though the consequences of its creation would create the possibility of X, it desires that human beings refrain from X.
I can’t help but suggest that the problem lies not in the fact that X (being sin or eternal separation from God as a consequence) is not the problem, but the fact that God (if he/she/it exists) did not remove the possibility of X when he/she/it created human beings.
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

Offline Hierophant

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2013, 11:27:09 PM »
So I am the cause of the cancer, but I did not create it? You are plunging in the nonsensical. Define "create" in a way that makes your response make any sort of sense.

That's correct. Creating the conditions 'by which' X might come about is not the same as creating X 'as such'.

I asked you to explain why. You just repeated what you said before. Can you explain why you think this is the case?

Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2013, 12:14:22 AM »
I asked you to explain why. You just repeated what you said before. Can you explain why you think this is the case?


X = Horrible Death

If I create the conditions by which x might come about and: But for the fact that X might come about Y might not come about (Y = human beings that possess free will), and, that which I created had the ability to choose between the two and could discern between the two through reason alone: I am responsible for X and Y, and I admonish (as best I can), that which I created to choose Y and not X.

I am responsible for the fact that X and Y are possibilities, but I am not responsible for the fact that some people succumb to Y.


« Last Edit: April 22, 2013, 12:20:34 AM by Philosopher_at_large »
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

Offline Hierophant

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2013, 12:44:10 AM »
Quote
X = Horrible Death

If I create the conditions by which x might come about and: But for the fact that X might come about Y might not come about (Y = human beings that possess free will), and, that which I created had the ability to choose between the two and could discern between the two through reason alone: I am responsible for X and Y, and I admonish (as best I can), that which I created to choose Y and not X.

I am responsible for the fact that X and Y are possibilities, but I am not responsible for the fact that some people succumb to Y.

Yes you are. Why would you even think otherwise?

Offline jdawg70

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2013, 09:16:12 AM »
Much of this argument is going to revolve around the characteristics of god.  I would actually agree with Hierophant in the case of god being omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, insofar that the situation of creating conditions 'by which' X might come about would be precisely synonymous with creating conditions 'by which' X necessarily comes about.

Barring omni-triple-threat, then the degree of responsibility that the entity creating the conditions 'by which' X might come about is proportional to the ability of the entity to discern the potential for that outcome.  If Hierophant dropped a nuclear bomb on New York and could not, in principle, reasonably determine the outcome of that action, then we would hold little responsibility to Hierophant (just like we do not ascribe responsibility to the 3-year old that causes a car accident).  Of course, Hierophant can, in principle, determine the outcome of the action (lots o' death and cancer), and, regardless of Hierophant's actual expectation of outcome, could be held to a high degree of responsibility for the ensuing calamity.

One or both of you, please explain.
By which X might come about, and by which X necessarily comes about are two very different things.
Because every monotheistic sacred scripture expresses (on the part of God) a desire that… though the consequences of its creation would create the possibility of X, it desires that human beings refrain from X.
I can’t help but suggest that the problem lies not in the fact that X (being sin or eternal separation from God as a consequence) is not the problem, but the fact that God (if he/she/it exists) did not remove the possibility of X when he/she/it created human beings.
I've put the point of contention in bold.  The argument that I am putting forth is that for an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being, there is no difference between 'X might come about' and 'X will come about' for any action that entity would execute.  There is no 'might occur if I do this' for an entity that knows everything and can do anything.  Such an entity, by definition, knows the result of any given action that s/he/it would engage in.  Such an entity would be wholly responsible (in fact, maximally responsible) for the result of any action.

If the entity in question does not know everything (maybe just knows muchmuchmuch more than any other entity ever), or if the entity cannot do absolutely everything (maybe just has vastvastvast superduper powers, but can't, for example, make a rock so heavy that s/he/it cannot lift it, or cannot stop bullets midflight, etc.), then there would be some results from actions that the entity could not anticipate at all and wouldn't necessarily be responsible for.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline PaulGL

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2013, 03:06:13 PM »
*Cut and paste deleted by Ambassador Pony*
« Last Edit: May 20, 2013, 03:40:06 PM by Ambassador Pony »

Offline Mooby

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Re: A Christian against "Divine Command Theory"
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2013, 04:45:24 PM »
How can one be a Christian and not believe in DCT? Did God not create everything, and wouldn't everything include the laws of morality?
The Divine Command Theory asserts that something is moral solely because God says its moral.  In other words, the natural world and moral law are independent of each other, and any overlap between the two is coincidence.

Philosopher_at_large is talking about morality determined by natural law, which is an emergent property of the natural world.  In other words, moral law is fully dependent on the natural world.

One who follows DCT acts according to what they believe are moral imperatives because God's word is unquestionable and should be obeyed.  Those like Philosopher_at_large (and I) act according to what we believe is moral law because it brings us closer to the ideal state of the universe.
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