Did G-d's establishment of laws of morality make them good, or did G-d establish these laws because they are good?

What is your view of this: did G-d’s establishment of laws of morality in itself make them good and virtuous, or did G-d establish these laws because they are good and virtuous? I believe the Christian viewpoint is largely the former, whereas the Jewish one is largely the latter; but there may be several intra-religious variations, as well as heresies, associated with this topic.

Sorry, I hadn’t realized that the Euthyphro dilemma was already a thread when I started this one. Well, let’s see how various religious beliefs handle it.

I would say…yes. :slight_smile:

God IS good. Nothing is good that doesn’t come from God…so I’d say both. God establishing a moral makes it good. Also, he established them because they are good.

As a side-bar, I was wondering about the "G-d"that I see sometimes. I understand it is done out of an attitude of respect towards the Lord…but do you see it as offensive or inappropriate if other group’s of people use the “o”? Just wondering, for the sake of learning culture. :slight_smile:

Garyjohn’s answer is actually pretty good. Both sides of the dichotomy seem to have a certain level of truth to them.

G-D’s revelation to us of the moral laws is in some sense a revelation of Himself. By learning the moral law, we can begin to understand who He is.

Likewise, by acting in accordance with the moral law, we are doing what G-D does. Therefore, we are becoming more like Him. This will prepare us for the time when we will be with Him.

Garyjohn, the omission of vowels in writing direct references to G-D has partly to do with reverence to Him and also partly because there are no vowels in Hebrew (I am uncertain which has greater influence on the practice). I follow suit in threads started by Meltzerboy and other Jews but I’m sure they understand those who don’t.

I agree.

There are a host of questions that arise from this:
-Is God a being of Laws or Laws are a creation of God.
-If God is a being of Laws, is it possible for him to have made moral laws opposite to what is placed in existence, (For example, Infidelity is good, marriage is not a covenant of God).
-If God cannot work outside of the nature of His existence, does that mean He is not omnipotent, or does omnipotence mean being able to do anything within the nature of God.
-If God can make His own rules for what is ‘morale’ and what is not, does that mean God has neither a good nor evil nature, or does he have both.

Gary John said, “God IS good. Nothing is good that doesn’t come from God…so I’d say both. God establishing a moral makes it good. Also, he established them because they are good”. God established a moral seems to imply God was before all, Yet if a ‘moral’ is ‘good’ because the moral is inherently good (also implying there are immoral and bad/evil laws), does that not seem to state the morality laws were prior to God?

Aquinas seems to associate will as one of the natural attributes of God. To will is assigned the moral laws. He also says the ‘good’ is an essence of God (Q5A3). If one were a cynic, one could say that it is fortuitous for us the essence of God is ‘good’ rather than otherwise.

Jesus said that Heaven and Earth will pass away, but his words will not. If one takes his words to be the establishment of Christian morality, then the words he used can be argued to pre exist mankind (Adam). (All he heard was from his father and he said nothing on his own). Thus the laws of morality come in time before the creation of man, but they were obviously intended for men.

If you then look at the creation stories of Genesis, we get phrases such as “G-d saw how good the light was. G-d then separated the light from the darkness.” It looks from the story like G-d is working in time. Even though we believe that he knew what He was doing, the narrative is slanted in the direction of surprise and awe, almost as if to cover up the possibility that like those people we call creative artists, he might have erased and redrawn. Take “The man gave names to all the cattle…but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.” Who needed the proof?

If G-d’s laws are creations for man, then they possibly came in time also as G-d watched things evolve and as people like Abraham, and later Jesus, advocated for man.

Incidentally, Jesus revelation that G-d’s laws existed before man reflects the Christian belief that G-d never made a mistake even when he began creating the universe we see. To anyone who has ever tried to create a story or paint something, that G-d did this with the whole universe without a single error is proof that he must be G-d.

whether you are jewish or christian, the answer is the same…the question almost implies that jews worship the law, while christians worship God…according to the new testament, Jesus sets us free from the law. It is much like asking did God create gravity because it brings distant objects together? It is not the law itself but rather the spirit of the law that is important. Anything God creates is good, they were not good before God created them, because they did not exist. The question is difficult b/c it conceals a fallacy.

If Gods wisdom is perfect, it seems He wouldn’t have to consider laws first as if they existed outside of Him, then recognize their value. Rather, their value would stem from His own goodness, who creates all things.

God is good. Therefor morality is based on the fact God is good. Morality existed before the law. In Christian philosophy the law did not create sin, but it brought the knowledge of sin to ‘light’ so to speak.

To phrase it another way, sin is to miss the mark, to do something contrary to the will of God. The will of God has always existed, therefore good has always existed. Writing it down the path to do good didn’t make the will of God spontaneously exist, rather it helped show men a glimpse of what God’s will was, and more importantly, how mankind is incapable of keeping the law apart from God’s guidance.

Neither. G-d did not establish the laws. “Establish” implies a process, and G-d is eternal.

The proper formulation is therefore: The Laws of Morality are those which correspond with G-d’s nature.

I think a standard Catholic answer would be that the moral law is rooted in the divine order of the universe, which flows from God’s reason. As such, the moral law is rational and reflects nature as created by God. The Catholic Church’s commitment to natural law theory, which argues that morality is rational and reflects the order of the universe, is well-known.

It is a false dilemma. God is Love, i.e. dynamic goodness…

The mainstream position within Catholicism is that God gave the 10 commandments because they were good; it was not the making of the tablets that created morality.

Moral law follows from human nature. Therefore, morality was a direct and necessary consequence of the creation of man. So, its origin was with Adam, not Moses or Abraham.

However, since the majority of people is corrupted and not very wise, God revealed the moral law in the 10 commandments, so that the people could have an easy guide in ethics: don’t kill, honor your parents, love God, etc.

God is the master of morality; but it is not an arbitrary creation of His. Morality follows necessarily from the existence of man. So God created morality when He created man. And the only way for Him to change morality (that is, to make ethical precepts like “drinking water is immoral, rape is virtuous” be true) would be to radically change human nature (that is, create some very different creatures, of which we can’t even conceive; supposing, of course, that they are a logical possibility).

Also my initial reaction. I’ll assert a (logically incomparable) claim: something is good if and only if God created it.

I say both. Morality becomes good and virtuous because God establishes it; and at the same time God establishes morality because it is good and virtuous. He is, afterall, the creator and morality comes from him. It becomes good because of him and is established because of its goodness.


Well, it’s complicated.

See, the ultimate standard of goodness is being.

A thing is good only insofar is it actually succeeds in being what it is: a “good meal” is one that’s tasty and delicious, a “good pen” is one that writes well, etc. The goodness of a particular thing is how well it exists according to its nature; but it’s nature is simply the mode of its being; so goodness, ultimately, is simply being.

But God is pure being – what the philosophers call “actus purus.” This is true as a matter of metaphysical necessity, since that which has potential can only be explained by reference to what is actual, and thus everything must be explained by that which is absolutely and substantially actual.

So God, if He is pure being, is pure goodness: He is the standard by which all goodness is ultimately measured.

So whatever God does is good.

This doesn’t mean “anything God could conceivably do would be good” – for there are clearly some things God simply could not do because it would be contrary to His nature. He could not, for instance, command men to hate and rebel against Him.

The answer is to be found in the answer to the question:

Are the laws of morality derived from goodness or is goodness derived from the laws of morality?

In other words the laws of morality emanate from God’s love…

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