What makes god moral?

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by N4mddissent, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. N4mddissent
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    N4mddissent Active Member

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    What makes god moral? I hear the question put to non-believers frequently about the relativistic nature that our morality must (according to critics) be based upon. I hear how there is nothing objective- nothing above humanity to set the rules.

    Well, if god exists, what makes him moral. It seems that if god can only act in a moral way, then there must be some objective moral standard in the universe independent of god by which he could be judged. If that is the case, the god is not needed.

    If on the other hand, god's actions are considered moral by definition, then there is no objective morality in the universe, but indeed it is only the subjective whim of god. Furthermore, as it is relevant here on earth, it is only the subjective interpretation of the subjective whim of god that presents us with a moral basis.

    If these hold, then there is either an objectively morality even in the absence of god, or the morality suggested by religion is at least as relativistic if not more so than secular morals since it is doubly subjective.
     
  2. Cecilie1200
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    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

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    There's a serious glitch in your logic here. You're asking a question that assumes there is a moral standard independent of God - assuming that God exists - and then simply stating that there must be one because "God can only act in a moral way", something you ALSO simply asserted. You need to back up and take this more slowly.

    First of all, you are assuming a perspective on this that essentially ranks God as equivalent to humans and viewing the universe from the same vantage point as humans. Second, you don't seem entirely clear on the words "moral", "objective", and "subjective". "Moral" simply means "conforming to a standard of right behavior". Nowhere does it say that that standard necessarily has to be applied by an outside and/or superior force. People can and do have their own personal standards of moral behavior, so there's nothing to say that the standard God operates by had to have been created by someone other than Him.

    "Objective", in this case, would mean "having a reality independent of individual thought or perception, and perceptible to all observers" (I'm paraphrasing here a bit), where "subjective" would be "belonging to reality as individually perceived". The quality of having been created doesn't make a moral standard subjective in and of itself. The individual moral codes people create for themselves tend to be fuzzy and subjective because human perception is. If you are going to posit the existence of God, however, then it must follow that His perception is not. Otherwise, He isn't God, so why bother?
     
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  3. N4mddissent
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    N4mddissent Active Member

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    If you read carefully, I think you'll see that I did not assume there is an independent moral standard. I gave two possibilities. I did mention god's actions but it would perhaps since I am referring directly to the affect on humanity to refer to god's commands to humanity. The possibilities restated are:

    1) God's commands are moral judged against a standard independent of his existence- an objective standard outside of god. Or...

    2) God's commands are moral by definition. God's commands are moral because they are god's actions.

    If you are willing to concede god can give immoral commands, then this argument isn't really applicable, since the concession that god may give immoral commands denies religious argument that objective morality can only come from god. There is no reason to trust god if it is possible his commands are immoral.

    I understand the words. Perhaps I should not use subjective and relative as synonyms, but for the purposes of this discussion, I think they are similar enough. There is no doubt that each person decides for themselves what behavior they feel is appropriate, but the argument is more around the debate of whether there is an objective morality. Can god be immoral? Is there any action that god could hypothetically order of humanity that would be immoral? If god orders you to rape and murder, is rape and murder immoral (absent any divine plan for greater good argument)? If you feel rape and murder are still immoral actions, then you believe in an objective morality. If your view is that rape and murder would become moral actions by virtue of the fact that god said "thou shalt rape and murder", then you believe morality is subjective to god's will.

    Now the usual argument is that religion provides an independent, objective morality as given by god, while claiming that the morality of non-believers is essentially relativistic- it only exists as each person's subjective morality. In other words, the individual moral codes you mentioned earlier are all equally valid. Moral relativism would be a situation where for those who feel abortion is wrong, it is wrong. For those who feel is allowable, it would be allowable. And neither would be appropriate in judging the other's actions right or wrong.

    So the question I ask is: does religion provide an independent ultimate standard of right and wrong as they claim. I proposed that:

    1. If god's commands are not intrinsically moral, then there is some objective ultimate right or wrong independent of god by which we judge god's commands as moral. Thus, the benefit claimed by religion is shown false, since right and wrong exist independently of god rather than coming from god.

    or

    2. If god's commands are intrinsically moral, then they are subjective to god's whim, and additionally god's whim is subjectively interpreted by human beings. So the moral standards dictated by religion are both subjective to the capricious whims of god and the subjective interpretations of adherents, thus making them at least as subjective and in effect relativistic as the morals of non-believers.

    In essence, when religious people say there really is no reason why a non-believer should not feel it is perfectly acceptable to rape and murder, by the same logic there is no reason why a religious person should not feel it is perfectly acceptable to rape and murder- if the religious person's interpretation is such that he feels like god commands it.
     
  4. Coloradomtnman
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    Coloradomtnman Rational and proud of it.

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    Excellent thread, and I'm very interested in the answers you'll receive. Though I'm sure there will be some who'll accuse you of bait threading, or Christian-bashing, or some other such thing or who will completely misunderstand the motive, the language, or the ideas involved. Oh, wait, it already happened. Anyway, good luck. I'll back you up if you need it. Ha!
     
  5. Cecilie1200
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    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

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    Once again, you're assuming a strictly human perspective, and then trying to jam God into it. AND you are still confusing "objective" with "outside of oneself" in relation to God.

    If you think about it, your number two is a bit closer to the truth. "Moral" simply means "conforming to a standard of right and wrong". If God is that standard of right and wrong, then He is morality by definition.

    Which brings us back to my confusion as to why you're asking the question in the first place.

    Which still doesn't make the way you're using them correct.

    Actually, there's a lot of doubt about that statement. While there is a great deal of debate about how to apply morality to certain situations, it's striking how little disagreement there really is about the nature of morality itself. Take welfare payments as an example. The argument is essentially about what is the best and most effective way to help people who are poor get back on their feet. The argument is NEVER about whether or not it's moral to do so. That is simply understood and accepted.

    Use your head. If God exists, then by definition HE is the moral standard against which actions are judged. How can you judge God immoral against Himself? (This is assuming that you're silly and hubristic enough to try to judge God at all.)

    Again, use your head. WHY do you think rape and murder are immoral? Because God said they were (in this hypothetical where God exists, for those of you getting your atheistic panties in a ruffle out there). You're positing a situation where God contradicts His own nature and you then judge Him by applying His own moral standard to Him as a superior moral force yourself.

    You're going to make yourself trying to be Mr. Clever with all this pointless circular logic.

    Not quite. The argument is that religion expresses an objective morality, established by the Creator of the Universe as part of the integral fabric of that creation, and that any attempt to replace that with a different morality based in human perception is, by definition, subjective because it only applies to the person who holds that perspective.

    More like equally invalid at the point where they diverge from objective morality.

    Not quite. Moral relativism is where you try to make excuses why THIS situation shouldn't have the objective moral standard applied to it. Objectively, we all believe that killing innocent human beings is immoral. Moral relativism is trying to come up with reasons why it's okay to do so THIS time.

    If you assume that God exists, then yes. The moral standard they are presenting is, by definition, objective and ultimate.

    Except that that assumes that God exists but is really just like another human. You can't posit God's existence and then immediately negate it and expect to have any kind of logical discussion. Pick one.

    Okay, you're doing it again. God is not a human, so please stop attributing human traits to Him willy-nilly, like changing His mind about morals on a whim. He is either God, or He isn't. Pick one.

    Sounds to me like what you really want to argue is that you're not obligated to be moral. If that's the case, then just go be immoral and stop wasting time trying to justify it.

    Well, thank you SO MUCH for so neatly summing up exactly what you haven't bothered to understand about Christians.

    Seriously, why do you people insist on coming in here and positing threads based on stating your misconceptions as fact? Did it ever occur to you that before asking if God is moral, you should try actually asking what Christians believe about God and morality, instead of just assuming you know and running off half-cocked?
     
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  6. HUGGY
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    HUGGY I Post Because I Care Supporting Member

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    Maybe your god has a god that is even MORE invisible and keeps him/she/it on the up and up.
     
  7. Coloradomtnman
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    Coloradomtnman Rational and proud of it.

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    See, I told ya!
     
  8. HUGGY
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    HUGGY I Post Because I Care Supporting Member

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    You were like the kid that squeeled to mom on your siblings.... Right?

    Give it a rest. There is no god so all this speculation is no less rediculous than my offering.

    The question what color are Mickey Mouses turds? is equally important.
     
  9. Iriemon
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    Iriemon VIP Member

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    As we are already seeing, most fundamentalists I've spoken to about this issue will say that God being omnipotent gets to make the rules and therefore God is moral and just by definition, despite doing some very immoral things in the Bible if done by anything other than God (genocide, mass murder, slaughter of babies, that sort of stuff).

    It's a version of "might make right" or the golden rule - he who has the gold makes the rules.

    This concept is not novel, of course. One might suspect that less than scrupulous individuals, knowing this, would invoke God's authority for their actions or propositions because then it endows these actions or propositions with an unassailable moral authority. It's been going on from Moses (the genocidal mass murderer) to today's televangelists in invoke God for political purposes like abortion (even the Bible is pretty silent on the issue).
     
  10. Cecilie1200
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    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

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    Then go start yourself a thread on it, and stop wasting everyone's time.

    I've never understood why people think any thread about God is just desperately crying out for them to tell everyone how they don't think God exists, and everyone is stupid for talking about something that they don't personally believe. Who asked you?
     

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