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Euthyphro’s extended dilemma

# The original dilemma

The classic Euthyphro’s dilemma asks whether an act is moral because God commands it (Divine command theory), or if God commands it because it is moral. Since both options are uncomfortable to theists, many theologians have sought a third option: morality is defined as that which conforms to God’s nature.

This framework attempts to allow God to conform to a moral standard, without being subject to an outside force. Here I call it the God’s Nature defense (GND).

I claim that the GND fails, because it entails a new dilemma more devastating than the first.

# The new dilemma

**Why does God have the moral nature that he has?**

For example, why is it in God’s nature to be loving?

If he himself chose to have his own nature, then we fall into the same problem of Divine Command Theory. It seems arbitrary and has no inherent value. God could have chosen a different nature, and if he had then that nature would have been the moral one. Morality is once again at God’s whim. God could have chosen to not be loving, and then being not-loving would have been moral.

If instead God did not choose his own nature, then his nature is how it is for reasons outside of his control.

Is God’s nature how it is for no reason? Then morality is truly arbitrary, for nothing decided it, not even God!

Is God’s nature how it is for a particular reason or purpose, but not chosen by God? This would be particularly disturbing, implying that some outside force decides God’s nature.

I think because of this new dilemma, the GND puts tri-omni theists in the same position and doesn’t actually solve Euthyphro’s dilemma.

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Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson
I have been reading and writing for over 20 years. My passion is reading and I would like to someday write a novel. I enjoy exercise and shopping.


  1. I don’t see any problem affirming that God does not choose his own nature. God does not choose to be the transcendent, unlimited, ground of being – that is just what God is. Since God does not change, how could we talk about God choosing to be something? God would first have to exist, then choose a nature, then change into that nature.

    God’s nature, however, is not something arbitrary, as though it were one of multiple possible divine natures. It is the nature of being itself. No more, no less.

  2. Tri-omni theism definitely isn’t able to answer this one adequately I think. In religions where the Gods are not all-good, all-knowing, or all-powerful it’s far more of an easy question.

    >The classic Euthyphro’s dilemma asks whether an act is moral because God commands it (Divine command theory), or if God commands it because it is moral.

    Neither. An action is neither moral or immoral on its own. The Gods each have that which they like and acting on those things can honor those Gods, but as these Gods are not universal neither are their standards.

    >or example, why is it in God’s nature to be loving?

    It is not within the nature of the Gods to be loving. Indeed depending on the spirit in question a God might be outright malignant towards humans, or more likely than not, simply neutral. What sets the Gods apart is that they are the spirits amongst these which have an interest in working with humans.

    >Is God’s nature how it is for no reason? Then morality is truly arbitrary, for nothing decided it, not even God!

    True. We see this on the global level as well. Different cultures and different Gods have different conceptions of what is pleasing to them some people’s interact heavily with a single set of deities, which creates a sense of a shared traditional morality, but such things can never be universal, as they are relational.

  3. > Why does God have the moral nature that he has?

    God is Who He says He is. And He does what He wills. That’s the only answer.

    Perhaps you imagine God exists within the physical universe or that there are physical and moral laws that God is subject to. But that’s incorrect.

    There’s really nothing besides God, no other god or gods, no laws of nature or morality external to God, absolutely nothing. He has existed since eternity and will exist for eternity. He is the ultimate reality from whom all else that exists originates from.

  4. One of the shortest verses in the Bible answers your question authoritatively: “God is love.”

    God is the essence of love. Love, from a human perspective, is just the mirroring of some of God’s aspects in us.

    The word Love shares a definition with the word God in Christianity, that’s all there is to it.

  5. The Buck stops at God. It seems like you’re rewording the Theist argument against “Big Bang Theory”, which is basically. “Where did the all the elements of nature come from to be able to create a bang?”

    The problem is that it doesn’t work against a Deity that is by definition ever present and eternal. Gods moral nature IS, because it always has been. Its incredibly hard to wrap our minds around but God always has been morally perfect; and always has BEEN.

  6. Moral are concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of **human** character.

    As the creator/developer(God) of human is it not what set these criteria or is there outside criteria that determine these factors?

    As a developer of game (that has choices) and playable character choice determines the good ending or bad ending. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the player thinks is moral within the game what matter is what the developer set for what leads to the character Good/bad ending.

    Now to the idea of morals. Do you think morals are based on subject matter?

    It would be because human are not standard of the universe. Can you prove that to be fact?

    Consider the below

    1. lion killing gazelle is it immoral for lion to kill gazelle. Does the moral of human apply to lion and is lion subject human moral?

    2. Hypothetical alien comes to earth and feast on humans is it immoral for the aliens to eat human? To the alien humans are merely food.

    1 and 2 human morals doesn’t seem to apply to other beings. Why would anyone it would be?

    3. Human kills billion of animal for their own nourishment. As long it doesn’t affect human it’s morally right is the view some human go with.

    Let say god is immoral based on human standard, but should God be judged using human standards? God is isn’t consider human.

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