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The Case Against Christianity A1: Divine Command Theory

07/13/2011

This appendix is pretty important. It looks at the metaethical theory that many Christians adopt. Martin makes an important point in showing that Divine Command Theory, at least in its extreme form, defines morality as being what God commands. This can be objected to by simply saying that there’s no good reason to define morality as such, or that people don’t understand morality as such.

As Luke Muehlhauser points out, this stuff really does not matter much. What really matters is whether what we are describing is an accurate depiction of reality, and if the relationship between the posited properties. Martin spends a few pages on conceptual analysis.

The biggest criticism Martin has against DCT is that the commands will be arbitrary. A God could just as easily command cruelty as love, and DCT would state that each is morally good.

Next, there is the epistemological problem. How do we find out what God commands? There are a ton of moral and religious traditions to choose from that are mutually exclusive. This erodes the claim that DCT can provide an objectivity that secular ethics cannot. The commands of God must be interpreted in a subjective manner.

This sounds like the same objection that Craig makes against utilitarianism, that in practice it is impossible to know whether or not one’s actions will ultimately lead to more or less happiness. Is there a good answer to that? Worth thinking about.

Martin makes the same point I do in addressing the idea of DCT coming from a loving God. He asks how we are to know that God is loving instead of cruel.

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