Sunday, July 19, 2015

William Lane Craig on the Logical Basis of Morality

William Lane Craig maintains: "God's moral nature is the paradigm of goodness; what is good or bad is determined by conformity or lack thereof to His nature." Just as a live orchestra is the determinant of what constitutes "high fidelity," so God (his moral nature) is the standard for what constitutes good or bad. And since the divine one instantiates his nature by means of his divine commands, Craig reasons: "Things are right or wrong insofar as they are commanded or forbidden by God."


On the other hand, Craig believes that there can be valid reasons for divine commands. They aren't simply given willy-nilly or arbitrarily.


Sean Killackey said...

The scriptures plainly state, "by your light we see light." Further, just as God is love, holiness belongs to him. It is his nature. I wouldn't say that something is good because he says, but if I had to say it simply I'd say something is good because it is in line with God's nature and he commands things in line with the goodness of his nature.

Things are right because they are right and Jehovah's nature is right. Since he has always existed goodness has always existed as has righteousness. So his nature is not deemed righteous by a pre-existing standard, but rather the standard is from the nature of the sentient (more so than us) and wise and knowledgeable (infinitely more so than us) God. He measures goodness and he doesn't change what is good or what is bad, so even if he is the source of what is good or bad by his decreeing it, good and bad will forever be as they are, so they could still rightly be said to be good in of themselves.

If you have a measure tool and mark off a foot, did the length of a foot get determined from the measuring tool or did the length determine the tool? A ruler is a foot, and, though any future length is the same size, the ruler is still the source of such a length from its innate length, by which something is determined to be good or bad (although its nature is unchanged by examining it, for it is as it is regardless if we know about it). So too Jehovah is the measure of goodness and while perfect goodness is the same as his goodness it is not the measure of it (for apart from him it doesn't exist, while feet measurements exist outsider of rulers).

Another difference between the illustration and the reality is that someone had to create the ruler, but Jehovah and his nature have always existed and always will, but considering the difference between a creation and the Creator that is a minor point that doesn't affect my point.

My point is - Jehovah's nature has always been the same, one of goodness. You cannot separate Jehovah from His goodness and it is present in all he does and all he thinks. But because he only commanded things recently (compare to his existence), to say that something is good or bad because of a command from God is incorrect (the goodness of the commands can be determined from God's nature).

I agree that there are reasons to his commands; they cannot be arbitrary, for Jehovah never made up goodness or badness. It existed before Jehovah commanded Adam concerning the tree for example (for he made the tree "of the knowledge of good and bad" before he commanded Adam concerning it) and had to exist before Jesus was created for God to teach it to him.

Goodness is not arbitrary, nor is it decided by commands, but it comes from God's nature and he is the perfect measure of it. It is always reflected in God's commands and others can share it, but in lesser nature, for if they had it in the same measure he does then they would be equal to God. Further arbitrarily implies decision, but if Jehovah didn't decide it until a specific point in his eternal existence it didn't exist before then - however God does not change in nature, so it must always have existed and therefore cannot be arbitrary. So if goodness is not arbitrary then the commands which spring from it are not either, but serve good purposes.

Philip Fletcher said...

Yes that it correct, everything exist because of Jehovah, time exist because of him, eternity exist because of him, All of the positive qualities exist because of him, Jesus exist and came into exist because of him, but everything else came into existence thru Jesus. We contemplate the abstract because of Jehovah. People like Craig realize certain aspects of Jehovah personality, and they think, hmm I must be special, but they are not. Jehovah is special and we are his works, when we reach perfection then all of us his works will be very good. Genesis 1:31. I don't know if that will then make us special, but, even so, Jesus was specially fond of the sons of men. So we are important, that is we as mankind are. And we can be individually as well. So, it would seem that some abstracts that are the opposite of what Jehovah is can come into existence because of free will or the ability to make a choice. It is more difficult to make the right choice when we are imperfect, but even in perfection we can make the wrong choice, or at least desire wrongly.