God and morality--for deb1

I would be happy to believe so.

Because God, not us, is the basis of right and wrong, it is impossible for him to be evil. He can’t be.

Exactly. Which is to say, He can’t be the sort of being described by Jack Chick. In fact, He can’t be in any respect other than He is, though He could have chosen to do certain good things that He has not done (such as create unicorns, which, alas, appear to belong wholly to the world of secondary creation).

But because He defines the rules what ever he decided was right or wrong is what is right or wrong.

Morality stems from God’s nature. The moral law is an expression of the divine reason, not simply of the divine will (God’s will follows His reason).

No, we would not have any right to Judge God. How could we dare. He is God. He gets to decide it all.

Our reason participates in divine reason. It’s not “judging God” to make rational moral judgments–rather, it’s the highest form of worship way can pay the true and living God. You are positing an impossible state of affairs and then making an argument based on it. I probably should not have followed suit (with my omnipotent creative demon scenario), but the point I was trying to make is that it is God’s goodness that makes Him worthy of worship, rather than simply His power.

God is the creator. Demons don’t create.

I know that. Only goodness can create. The problem is that we are positing a different logical order. You seem to think that it’s conceivable for God to set up radically different moral rules. I don’t think this is conceivable. I think it’s a nonsensical scenario from the start (except in the sense that God could presumably have created different kinds of rational creatures–and maybe has for all we know–for whom some moral rules might have been a bit different owing to their different nature).

They are the opposite of God.

Actually no. God has no opposite. Or, in other words, the opposite of God is Nothing.

Whatever is noble is what God decides is noble.

You are right that “what is noble” and “what God decides is noble” are the same thing. But moral excellence is not something God “decides” in the way that He decided the color of grass. It is a participation in God’s *nature.

*Obviously the impossible omnipotent but evil being we are discussing would not be God, so I’m not talking about defying God.

He is the creator, he keeps your atoms from flying apart. He holds the protons in our nuclei together.

True, and that in the real world that goes along with goodness. But if it were possible to separate the attributes you describe from goodness (I’m very grateful that it isn’t, and no doubt it’s only our sinfulness that allows us to imagine it), then the ability-to-hold-my-protons-together would not in itself be worthy of worship.

I hate it when I disagree with you but let me explain my reasoning and maybe you will understand.:o Most of the time I agree with you on issues. Even when I disagree with you I still always understand your reasoning.

With all due respect, you don’t understand me this time.

God created the rules that we live by.

God created “divine law” (specific commands) but He did not create “eternal law” (basic moral principles). He is eternal law. You are taking an overly reductionistic view of law as “rules.” How familiar are you with St. Thomas Aquinas’s writings on this subject? (Aquinas is the primary source for the position I’m defending, though of course he never wrote hypothetically about omnipotent demons!) You can find his views in brief here.

What we view as good and evil is a direct result of God.

God’s nature, not just God’s will.

Good and evil do not exist apart from God, he transcends them. He is the one that is morality.

The latter sentence is true. I fail to see how it is compatible with the claim in your prior sentence that God “transcends” good and evil. If God “is” goodness God can’t “transcend” goodness. That’s like saying that I transcend humanity. Unless you are saying, with Aquinas, that Being is a more general and more fundamental way to describe God than even Goodness. I’d agree with that–God is goodness because God is Being, and in that sense I suppose He “transcends” goodness (i.e., goodness as Aquinas defines it is a narrower concept than Being and derives from it).

The only reason we have some concept of right and wrong is because he allows us to have that concept.

Or rather, because He created us as rational creatures. Our reason shares in the divine reason. That’s what it means to be a rational creature.

But it wouldn’t be good unless God decided that it was good to treat others as you wish to be treated.

God didn’t “decide” this. This is a consequence of God’s nature.

God isn’t good because of our rules but because that is what he is.

No disagreement there.

For people like Pullman to judge God is very silly.

I don’t think it’s silly in principle–I think it’s admirable. I think the particular judgments Pullman makes are silly, in that he doesn’t rightly understand the Christian concept of God. But frankly, I largely blame opinions such as those you’ve been expressing. When Christians say monstrous things like “God could have decided that it wasn’t good to treat people as you’d like to be treated,” no wonder reasonable and moral atheists think Christianity is evil.

The bible says that God put his rules on man’s heart(Romans can’t remember verse)

No, it doesn’t say that. In fact, I’m not aware of any English translation of the Bible that uses the word “rules.”

God could decide any rules he wanted to.

But He couldn’t want to decide anything that went against His nature. Do you think God is just this big Will hanging in the sky with no nature attached?

I guess what I am trying to express is that goodness is not something that we humans came up with on our own. Goodness, nobility and truth are God. He chose to let us have the ability to understand what truth, nobility and goodness is based on what he is.

Did that make better sense?

Yes, but I don’t see how it possibly goes along with what you have just been saying. If goodness is identical with God’s nature, God obviously couldn’t decide to set up completely different “rules.” He would have to be a different sort of Being altogether. And that’s impossible, because God isn’t a “sort of Being” at all–He is Being, period.

I am sorry to be so vehement, but I think this is one of the most basic issues of the past seven hundred years. Some Catholic scholars and theologians have claimed that the “voluntarist” views of Scotus and Ockham (essentially what you have been defending, though some would say that they didn’t really go that far) lie behind the Reformation, modern secularism, and just about everything that has happened intellectually in Western culture since 1300 (at least everything bad!). I’m not sure they’re right, but I’m not sure they’re wrong either. This is seriously bad stuff.

Nature is primary, not will. That’s the basic principle here. It’s all in Aquinas!


This was my thought process. God is the basis for all morality. He is the creator who decided what is right and wrong. I think right and wrong is basically determined by who/what God is. God is good but we see what is goodness based on what God has implanted on our hearts. My thoughts was that because God created the universe that he decided what is noble, good and true. Truth didn’t exist until God created it.

But reading your posts I do think that maybe my conclusion was wrong. I will mull over it. I probably made a jump in logic.:o Its time for Church and I have two daughters to get ready. But you are already making sense to me.

Thank you for taking the time to correct me.:slight_smile:

I just wanted to add this. This might be the shortest thread ever on Catholic Answers.

After all, admitting that the Edwin was right and I was wrong takes all the fun out of the debate for any one else.

Maybe he and I should argue on this thread over something silly like the type of font that we are using just to make the thread a bit longer.:stuck_out_tongue:

If you have the time some day, read Servais Pinckaers’ The Sources of Christian Ethics. It’s a great book (though I don’t think I ever quite finished it myself!) by a Dominican priest.

I completely agree that God is the source of morality. The point I’ve been trying to make is that God’s nature, not just God’s will, is the source of morality. God could have chosen many things to be other than they are, but not basic moral principles, because they reflect His eternal being.

Your gentle response to my acerbic post is really admirable! I need to learn some Christian humility and charity from you. . . .


Thank you very much for the book suggestion. My oldest son is leaving home for school in January. I will need a something to keep me busy.:crying:

You really didn’t come across as acerbic just passionate in your response. I can respect that. Surely fellow Christians should occasionally correct one another.:o

After having read many of your posts I have come to trust that you are very knowledgeable. So I didn’t think that you would be so adamant if I wasn’t making a serious mistake in my logic. You didn’t offend me, so it was easy to be charitable.:slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.