God and Moral Absolutes

Consider the following statement often uttered by christians:

“God is good”

Now it is common knowledge that in all monotheistic (and some pantheistic) religions doctrines are laid down (let’s call these doctrines commandments).

So God lays down these commandments and thus by following them we are deemed Good and by disobeying them we are deemed Bad.

BUT if God is good independant of these judgements i.e. God is ontologically (externally judged), which is what can be infered from the statement “God is Good”, then all he is doing is relaying moral truth that exists elsewhere in the universe he is just a middleman.

It would be okay if he was a good middleman but lets face it he actually isn’t clear what these moral truths are they vary from religion to religion and cause arguments within religions regarding interpertation.

Many people have countered this argument by saying that God creates Good and Evil by creating the commandments.

But consider a twin universe where God is evil, an all powerful malevolant demon if you will, and he creates commandments like “Murder is good” and “Being nice is bad”. If we were to accept that by creating commandements God creates morals we would have to accept that these morals would be correct. This is of course falacious because it is confusing power with moral authority.

(p.s. as you may have guessed im an atheist)

This argument reflects more heavily on the nature of right and wrong than it does on God. That is, if things are good or bad because God says they are, then good and bad are really subjective, and it’s up to us to make the subjective choice of whether or not to agree with God. On the other hand, it may be that there are moral facts, and that God simply communicates them to us. In that case, it could be as you say, that moral truth exists outside of God, and that He is a sort of middleman relaying them to us. Or, it could be that Goodness is a part of God’s nature, and thus, co-enternal to Him. As far as I can tell, all of those scenarios are possible, so I’m not sure what you’re argument is.
In any event, I’m sure that when most people say “God is good”, they just mean to say that God is good as they themselves define goodness. The quality that God posseses in Himself is omnibenevolence, which is dependant on the existence of other beings for it’s expression- it’s a description of the relationship between Himself and his creation, as far as I can tell.

The only way that would be true is if God was merely [i]declaring[/i] what he thought was moral, and expecting us to follow. If, as you suppose here, God is actually [i]creating[/i] morality through His decrees, then yes, He would have moral authority in declaring that we need to follow the morals He designed. Without realizing it, you're assuming here that there could be [i]some other morals[/i] instead of the ones God creates. The only way a moral-creating God could exert power without moral authority would be if He created a set of morals, and then commanded us to do things [i]in conflict [/i]with them. 
 All of this is only relevant, of course, if you actually think God could create a moral truth.

People may call God good but what did God initially call good?

Genesis 1

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day.

What is the essence of light? This is the good. Where there is less of it, there is less good.

If people had access to “conscience” in the ancient meaning of the word, there would be no need for morals.

well, i’m dead tired tonite bc i’ve been reading st. thomas aquinas for far too long. so very boring. i’ve been reading a whole lot of st. augustine lately as well. i like to study the problems of good and evil in terms of a benevolent god. this is what i’ve learned about christianity in terms of these two theologians.

the argument for bad and evil is a privation of good. That is: there is only defection from good. not-god. no creation of evil. just the lack of good. --This is more Augustine than Aquinas.
Christians deny that god could ever logically create evil. for st. thomas aquinas everything that has being is good. this is totally bizarre, but “evil comes from nothingness” according to augustine and aquinas.
(yeah, i don’t know what that means, but thats what the theologians rely on).
This first sin is pride. adam apparently thought he could follow his own will and so, by doing so, sins.
bad isn’t a deeming of badness. bad is defection. god only makes for the potentiality of perfection to be realized. defection occurs, but doesn’t come from god. has nothing to do with god. (supposedly)
the first defection occured with adam and we are decendents of adam. this, of course, goes back to genesis. so we are all defected. how does one correct a defect? with a medicine or remedy of some sort. so the commandments are reactionary. the commandments come around because we are already the defective seed of adam. the middle man is the tablet itself.

god isn’t a middle man, god is the efficient cause, i.e. first cause. all that exists exists because of god. God existed to create good. good is what exists, and remember: evil and defection comes from…NOTHING!

misinterpretation and warfare makes sense considering we are all defective seeds. we all have to “cure” ourselves, i.e. redeem our souls.

Uhm…darkness is a naturally occuring phenomena…light requires a source to generate it. If darkness does not require a source, doesn’t that make it more pure than light? Afterall…black is the absence of color, the foundation of everything…

the reason why the ten commandments are what they are in this universe and not those evil ones is because certain things cause our brain to make us feel ‘good’ and certain things cause it to feel ‘bad.’ stroke your genitals, then stab them, than say that there is no such thing as objective good or evil.

stab anybody in the genitals and see what they say. maybe religion has indoctrinated that irrationality into us. or maybe god actually created a universe where some things actually are objectively good and it actually requires a sacrifice on the part of some people in order to create it. the pain of a billionaire can equal the pleasure of a million peasants. regardless of what god says.

there is clearly an objective good and evil, its right in your brain. some things hurt, some feel good. you cant say why it feels good other than “whatever made the universe caused my brain to tell me that this is objectively and undeniably good/bad.” the only problem of course is when it comes to interacting with other people. sometimes you have to cause your own pain in order to save somebody else from a greater pain.

its hard to judge what to do in these kinds of situations. you could just throw an ad hominem at god and forget about contributing to society. that sounds easy.

i believe there are some that were introduced to manipulate people. there are tribes in africa where everybody has sex with everybody, and everybody is the parent of all of the children. this sounds great to me, and without a doubt it ties this community together more than anything we can comprehend.

one of the main reasons why the billionaires who own america have been so easily getting away with murder is because americans dont organize. they sit at their tv, by themselves, and the tv tells them to be selfish. they might disagree, but the tv tells them that if they arent also selfish, they are weird. the only way that they will know that they arent weird is if they interact at a deep level with other people.

one thing that would certainly cause people to separate themselves into tiny households is to say that god mandated that they have only one wife forever. sure adultery is bad, but its not absolutely bad. either god never saw that african village, or christians lie.

if you only follow rules that directly lead to happiness, like ‘dont commit adultery if your wives arent ok with it’, then there is no problem with being perfectly righteous, until you are confronted with a certain level of your own insurmountable selfishness.

looks like with the possible exception of future man and a few others you all revert to your pathetic christian stand point of quoting bits of language from a random asortment of what are esentially at best parables and at worse novela and saying that these disprove hard and fast logical, scientific arguments.

You make me feel sick it’s like trying to convince a potato that it is going to become chips in about 30 minutes.

If “God is good” then “God is Evil.” You do not need the parallel universe because it is here. What is good for me can be bad for you. To assosiate God with only good is stupid. Remember when something is created the opposite is created along with it or else it would have no definition.(If you can find an example that contradicts this please respond!) God is not a middle man but a common median. God can appeal to anybody. God is a make believe character that people long ago needed to answer what they could not explain. They could not explain that it was wrong to kill so God said “thou shalt not kill” then they looked around their world and looked at what they saw as bad/evil and then they said God condems that. O well kinda forgot where I was going with that but I hope that helps.

Sagesound wrote

Darkness not requiring a source and not flowing from anything is just death itself. Life not only is connected to the life that creates it but also creates other life.

Black is the absence of color but what is color?

Light as used in Genesis 1 refers to conscious will and determination. It is bringing into existence divine plan; the manifestation of the laws of involution and evolution. As the initial light of conscious will moves out into creation it loses its quality and universal operation becomes more mechanical. These cycles and their suffering Goethe refers to as colors while Buddhism form example describes these cycles as samsara.

The pure white of divine consciousness and will is the potential of every-thing. Complete darkness is the absence of any potential and exists as nothing. Existence exists as gradations in-between these extremes. The difference between no-thing and nothing is really as obvious as well… black and white. :slight_smile:

Nick_A read my previous point about quoting pieces of language to defeat strong logical arguments.

easymoney conceptually that is not true.
The logical law of non-contradiction states: not: both p and not p. You cannot have a being that is good and not good(evil). But you are right, logically speaking, good and evil only make sense against a backdrop of one another and in order to learn these terms we must have been provided examples. Additionally I don’t think it’s necessary that these judgements are relative. Im sure we would agree on many Good vs Evil debates.

So does everyone who disagrees with you make you feel sick, or just Christians? Have you considered getting some sort of help for that? It must really get in the way of your philosophy, especially to the extent that you want to discuss religious matters.

stab any genitals in the world, ask its owner what he thinks. even on Stab Yourself in the Head Day with the shi-ites, even then, certain stabbing is always bad. even if your suicidal. i dont even think a masochist would want a knife carelessly thrust down there. stabbing genitals is always bad. if not, your brain is weird.

all humans should be expected to abide by the moral absolute: no stabbing genitals because that is always bad. maybe in the eye for an eye case if youre a jerk, but doing it first, always bad, never good. always.

or maybe everybody already knew that killing was bad and any artificially created god and artificial codes that include rules like “no eating pigs” would have to include the things that people already knew. if somebody tried to introduce a god who was indifferent towards murder and smote all who ate pigs, i dont think id buy it.

well, having your genitals stabbed only feels bad if you have ever experienced a moment where they arent being stabbed. considering that humans natural state is equilibrium, pretty much free from good or bad feelings, i dont see how this negates their absoluteness. we can take for granted that the natural state of humanity includes not being stabbed in the genitals, and being stabbed is always, for all humans, ‘a step down on the pleasure ladder’ and therefore always bad.

i mean, if there existed people who were born with a little knife constantly stabbing them, then stabbing them wouldnt really be such a big deal to them, unlike it would be for a person who was not born with such a problem. you could say that taking away video games from somebody who never played them isnt bad for him like it would be for me, but that doesnt mean video games arent good. the stuff is still good and bad, and we know exactly how to create good and bad experiences for people. the idea of good and bad isnt negated by the fact that some people slightly disagree on the degree of good/badness of specific incarnations, or the fact that being exposed to certain good/bad things makes them more good/bad.

only the stupid details. never the idea of selfishness and caring about your neighbor. if i try and get my jungle friend to play some video games, it will always be good because i like video games. if he fails to supply me with video games in return and instead builds a big tower and ties a vine to my foot so i can jump off, that will also be good because he thinks its good.

even if he hates video games and i hate prehistoric bungee jumping, we both did good because we thought we did. and in the future, if we are actually good and we listened to eachother, our actions will be different and most likely more benficial. its not hard. its actually very simple. maybe im missing something.

Uccisore it’s because I spend a lot of my time frustrarted by my attempts to save christians all those wasted sunday mornings :slight_smile:

Future man you seem to be unecessarily (and possibly falaciously) defining Good as Pleasure. This is of course very utilitarian of you but this is not what philosophers mean by Good not without some redefinition anyway.

well what is an example of something a philosopher would refer to as “good” that doesnt ultimately lead to some kind of pleasure?

pride and living up to responsibilities creates pleasure also.

Consider this, if absoulote freedom is good (in a social context) and in my utopian country I uphold this good even though terrorists blow the hell out of us, then this doesnt lead to pleasure.

Or another example if pacifism is always right and someone is trying to kill me, somebody who I could easily defeat, then if I dont act I get killed but I have been good.

For some strange reason, or other, we, i.e., our species, is in possession of the delusion that it sees the complete, or almost complete, picture of things. The truth is we are able to see only an aspect of things. Our eyes, our ears, our smell, taste, and touch, in a word, our senses, provide us with but a minimal picture of phenomena. Bats have a kind of radar: now what do things look like for them? There radar will show to their minds a somewhat different universe to that of ours. There must surely be an infinite number a ways of perceiving this universe whatever it actually is. For I have reason to believe that the universe, so called, is not what we see; rather we see an allegory, and we refer to it as the universe. Thus we see the universe only directly through the senses at second-hand, and it cannot be otherwise.

But it isn’t what we see or how we see that matters, or what bit of the spectrum our equipment is sensitive to, no, it’s what we do with that information, how we process it, how our minds understand it, that’s what counts. Thus, through our minds, we are able to create innumerable worlds, innumerable universes; we become able to see the universe as it is, but we are never able to know it when we do. We can only imagine the universe.

All our epistemologies are founded on the ways we, i.e., our conditioned minds, interpret phenomena. These interpretations themselves, are not what actually is; the only correlation between these interpretations and what actually is, is to be found in the realm of structural allegory. Thus, we are used to ‘seeing’ the human being as a two-legged rational mortal being, and one able to understand something of existence; but what we actually do ‘see’ is in fact ‘seen’ only very minimally and therefore as bare bones allegory. We cannot understand this two-legged rational mortal being in any fullness until the mind and the imagination are permitted to juggle with the allegorical information.

Now, there comes a realisation point when the knowing mind sees that it sees better than the senses ever can, and, in relation to such things as darkness and light it sees they are one and the same thing.


Between the Ultimate Reality or Mystery and Mankind there lies the concept of God as a kind of medium between the two. Because it is dependant upon Mankind understanding it is dependant upon the “Menschwerdung” - a human concept of something non-human, non-thing. Essentially all ideas of the Divine are human concepts rather than perception. The minimal insight is ephemeral and intuitive.

The problems we have with such concepts lead us to discuss Gods almightiness, his omnipresence and ability to do things, but we know none of these things. We have a concept of God, not God himself. We have an idea, a twinkling beam of light, an inspiration, a vision, a dream, a prophet, a saviour - but God remains the Ineffable.


Descartes would of course now say that due to the law of causaul adequacy God must exist, of course this is false because (a) we don’t really have an idea of God and (b) there is no law of causal adequacy.

I can imagine a utopian socialist society, I can even desire it. But that doesnt mean it exists just as God doesnt exist.

He is a pathetic human attempt to retain moral absoulotes in a world where the best we can do is agree on morals not have ontological truths external to us. I am not a relativist as such I rather believe that are morals are meaningless a kind of moral nihilism if you will - I think that morals have no ontological reference and thus only have as much meaning as we ascribe to them