Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H

The Believer in God has a Dilemma regarding how Morality is truly Moral

Is what is immoral wrong simply because a God commands it to be or because it simply is bad even if God disagrees?  The choice is between divine command theory or objective morality.  Good is arbitrary or good is greater than God.  These are the only choices though good can be arbitrary and still greater than God.  We don't need to think about that for this study.


Pining for divine command


Divine command does not care about what God believes about morality or feels about it but about what he commands.  If a moral rule is merely God's belief then God cannot complain if we believe different for belief is never totally sure of what is believed in.  If it is based on feeling it is not morality at all.  You cannot make murder right by feeling it is right so neither can God.  The reason is that feelings and morality are separate things just like eyes and ears are separate.


Many say that any view of God that does not accept divine command is not a view of God at all.  They need God to be the same thing as morality otherwise morality ends up being more important than God and thus God is not really God or supreme.


Those who say they disagree usually say it is just their opinion that divine command is wrong. But that is too soft of a rejection and thus is immoral in itself or that reason.  If morality is real it needs to be recognised solidly as real.


Those who accept a God have to accept that if divine command is not true then it is a shame it cannot be. Those who reject divine command on logical and ethical grounds have to wish it were true for hypothetically, if God could make it love to kill a baby for fun then he should if he wishes and should not if he does not want to, and we should encourage him to make his choice and and be glad to obey if he commands us to kill. They then see the failure of divine command as a pity. They see whatever alternative to divine command they have as a necessary evil and not something to be happy about.


Even if God is not a God of divine command he necessarily commands us to wish he was. Thus we have to view all morality with that kind of regret. Our starting point is, ďIt really is wrong to hurt this baby. Pity you didnít have the option God of making it right should you wish.Ē


We have learned already that belief in God instead of grounding morality only grounds a faked version that can look like the real thing. 


We do not need arguments or God to see that morality is right


You give your dinner to a starving child.  Is this good in itself?  Is it moral in itself?  If it is not then what is it?  Is it immoral or does it have nothing do with morality at all - is it just there and neither right or wrong?  To say it is neither right or wrong morally is to call it both!  It is possible for an action to be as bad as it is good.  So you cannot get away from the question.  Is it right or wrong?  If it is neutral then it is both or neither.  Those who claim to believe in no morals are necessarily lying.


We don't need anything then to recognise that morality exists.  We don't need God or anybody or any religion or any ethical system.  We also cannot need them.


Religion tries to base morality on God.


Anything that tries to make you need a moral base that you don't need does not really care about morality at all.


It is cruel to create needs that are not needed.


It is manipulative. 


It is falsely accusing people of not having a true morality when they realise that they cannot need God.


Religion accuses Good of Being Morally Neutral


Religion teaches that nothing is morally good or morally bad in itself.


So helping the child is evil or neutral until God decrees that it will be good.  Thus morality is whatever God wants it to be and decrees it to be regardless of how much harm it does.


In fact a God who makes feeding a child out to be bad or neutral until he gives a command which makes it good is in fact worse than one who openly commands violence against children.  Why? 


First he opposes anything that in principle can reject violence.   A neutral act is still half bad and he is saying it is good and thus condoning and blessing the bad side.


Second there is no logical way that something neutral can be turned good simply by a command.  It is nonsense.


Third it enables evil scriptures and religions which are drunk with evil commands supposedly from God.


It would be stupid to call yourself a Bible believer and then ignore or reject the evil commands of God in the Bible.  The commands are evidence and proof that the Bible thinks that there is no morality unless God commands it.


Divine Command


The notion that God makes things good by commanding them is called Divine Command.


If God has no reason to command one to abstain from child molestation the result will be a morality that actually encourages us to abuse children. 


Despite itself the doctrine of divine command makes the individual live and act as if he or she is God and then he or she blames God for the commands.


More about ought and obligation


What gives morality authority and makes it obligatory? Religion "answers" God.
This study is not concerned about what system of ethics is good - eg Utilitarianism or Situationism or whatever. These systems do not deny that morality exists but they just disagree on how to work out what is moral.
We will use good as shorthand for moral good and evil as shorthand for moral evil.
God commands good.
There are two questions that arise.
First question. Does he command it because it is good and he recognises it as good? Some say yes. That view implies that good would be good whether God recognises it as such or not and whether he commands it or not. Commonsense supports this idea. We know what is enjoyable is good.  To say that you need God to decree that something is good implies that you cannot say a cake is nice unless God commands you to find it nice.  That is insane.


We all feel that there is more to morality than just obligation. We do not want to help a baby because it is the law of God or anybody's law but because it is better for the baby. We may go along with a law telling us to help the baby but we are not obeying the law in the sense that we are not helping the baby just because we are told.  Right and wrong are independent of God and are to be your God not him. Religion hates the notion that obligation is not everything. Why? Because it means you could have the right to disagree with its version of God. And disagree with it! So it tells us that God is everything and what he commands must be done.
Second question. Is good good because God commands it? Does something become right simply because God commands it? If the answer is yes then he invents it and has the power to make raping babies for no reason good. This view teaches that if God wanted a baby tortured to death for mere fun it would be right to please him and do so. That a person would even consider such a view and it is put forward for consideration by the religions speaks volumes! Anyway what is the view saying? It is saying that good has nothing to do with what is best but doing what God wants. This view, called the divine command theory, is against commonsense and if belief in God requires it, belief in God is evil.


Divine command has us holding that there is no real morality but we just pretend that Godís wishes are morality. This belief has been the prevailing view in Christianity. It is supported by the Bible which says God has the right to order us to stone homosexuals to death even for one harmless sin! And the Bible has Jesus being blamed by God for our sins and punished so we can go free. Many believers do not realise they accept it and others do but pretend they do not.
So is moral moral because God says it is or moral even if he says it is wrong?  That is two questions and two options!
Some Christians have started to say that both of the options, "God invents morality so evil is good if he says so" or "God is subject to right and wrong and does not invent the standards but obeys them himself", are unacceptable and bad (page 76, The Handbook of Christian Apologetics*). The first implies morality is just obedience and is nonsense in itself. Because of atheist criticism, some of the Christians have started to reject the view that the cruellest and most worthless act of hatred would be right if God commands that it be done. The second implies there is no need for God that we should care about morality more than him and can dispense with him entirely and let him worry about himself.
But if you had to choose one or the other then what? That question is a good way for weeding out the one that is less important or valuable. Obviously, it is better to adopt the view that right is right no matter about God or anybody else. Believers complain that it means dispensing with God! So what?! It is totally sick to put a religious theory and a person who might not exist above the belief that hurting a baby is just wrong no matter if there is a God or not. It is so wrong that God is irrelevant. God cannot come first because even if we are not forced to choose one or the other the fact remains that the notion of a moral standard that is independent of God is the important one.
If the notion of an independent standard being above God is the best one then God is not the best. If it is true that God did not create his moral character or nature but just has it then whatever is behind that is better than him so we are back where we started. The independent standard option is the best one but if you bring God into it you ruin morality as much as the notion that God can invent right and wrong arbitrarily ruins it. On its own, it is a guard against people who say morality is whatever they want it to be.
Is it worth it to reject the notion that morality is independent even of God and that even God cannot create it but merely discovers it for the sake of being able to believe in a God who grounds morality? If an independent standard condemns hurting a baby for fun then it is evil to reject that standard and then reinstate it by making it depend on God.  It is not really reinstating it at all but hiding your rejection of it.  It is adding fuel to the fire of evil and downgrading the baby and her suffering.


The contrived option: the so-called "third" option
Anyway that is two. The believers claim that it is wrong to think that we have to choose one or the other. So they have come up with a third "option" which they say is the only real one.
Despite the fact that there are only two options, religion schemes to make us think that this numbering is an oversimplification. It is not.


Anyway religion says that "God is goodness itself and goodness is his character so he does not invent good but is good and God is the objective standard of right and wrong and so he doesn't need to discover it. In other words, God is the source of objective morality. Thus we should value what he values and do what he commands.  God cannot make it moral to torture babies for fun for no reason.  He would never advise or command us to do that.  It is not a matter of command.  It is a matter of character.  He is not the KIND of God that destroys and wants destruction and pain.  It is not about God's commands but about how God expresses what he is like by telling us what to do.  The moral code he gives us communicates that kind of person God is.  Without realising this we can have morality and recognise it but we cannot make sense of morality or persuade others to be moral without God."


It says this is the solution to the problem of how morality and God relate. Its true aim is to avoid a God whose rules do not fit us very well or whose moral rules are arbitrary which is just as bad.


Something being God's character does not necessarily mean it is not arbitrary in itself. His character is irrelevant to the question. The question is morality decreed as a real or is it just something to be treated as real though it is not?
This third option ignores the fact that or hypothetically we have to choose one of the other two then we must choose the independent moral standard one. It is not really a moral option when it insults that principle.
The third option is that morality is based on the way God is (page 76). Morality is Godís character and it cannot change for God cannot change. To put it another way, somehow God and morality are one and the same - or morality is a person. This view contradicts the Christian idea that faith in God comes first for God alone matters because if God is morality then it follows that the atheist who behaves morally is having a relationship with God but just doesn't realise it. Faith then is not important. The doctrine that God always comes first implies the divine command theory which has caused so much hatred and division and bloodshed is true.
The idea that morality is God's character or is the person of God solves nothing at all and creates a whole new factory of problems and outright evils.
Morality cannot really be a person. It is ridiculous to say that saving a baby's life is a person. It is insulting and shows no idea of what morality really is.
And if morality is God's character, then is it God that is making it so or is it an independent standard?
It still takes us back to the other two options.
Worse, in a way it is just accepting both of them at the one time and disguising this and disguising the fact that they are irreconcilable. So if each one of them is bad this mock hybrid is worse. It is based on lies. The God of Christianity and Islam is a man-made idol.
To say morality is God's nature or character is saying morality is what God's nature makes it to be even if this is not voluntary. That is back to the problem of divine command. Here we have a God who does not freely command but is forced by his nature to command.  So in a way it is worse.  God could not be to blame if the way he is forces him to command the slaying of babies for fun. And we would not be to blame for obeying. 


Also, if God's character is good then is it good because he says so or because an independent standard says it? It takes us back to the dilemma. It does not deal with that question but ignores it which means it is not really any help to morality. It implies then that morality is an invention by God.
And to say God does not invent morality is to say he is the independent standard. But then it is not an independent standard. It is confused and contradictory but is accepting both. That is why it is so jumbled up.
So religion is saying these days that when God commands us to do good, we are doing it not just because he commands it but because he is good in his character. It says God being of good character and who never does evil, has the qualities of goodness and so he is goodness itself and makes it real. Religion says God does not invent the values about what is right and wrong. Religion says something is wrong because it is wrong and not just because God says it is wrong. Religion argues then that the doctrine saves you from the notion of a God who can arbitrarily command you to do great harm and who makes evil good merely by calling it good.
But their scheme gives you a God who will not command you to torture a baby for fun and for nothing but what if there is some mysterious reason why doing this evil is unavoidable? What if God who tolerates evil is forced to command you to torment a baby for a laugh for it somehow is the best thing under the circumstances? The "morality" does not help much. It is interesting that what God commands according to religion fairly well matches what they want to believe he commands!


Why must we do what God tells us to do? Is it because he discovers what is right? Or is something right just because he says so? There is no other alternative. One must choose one of them. Christians fudge by chanting, "What God commands must be obeyed because his nature is good." That is really evasion. It is like offering two options tea or coffee and somebody pretending that vodka is an option. The evasion is very insulting and manipulative. The issue is too serious and important to be defaced by such evasion.


Their "solution" fuses two positions both of which they consider evil! Both positions are about power. Those who say that morality is whatever God wants it to be regardless of how much misery it causes are looking for power. They want to control what you consider right and wrong. The view that morality has nothing to do with anybody's views but is about facts also grants power in the sense that it opposes an arbitrary morality. The "solution" tries to say that the only real moral rules come from God and the moral rules are not arbitrary. That way it tries to grab the power that both the other views have. That is the bottom line. It is the two "bad" solutions for both are about power. If they are bad it is because of power so it makes no sense to say that a third solution which is based on their power is really a third solution. The third solution is just the other two in disguise.
It is obvious to the Christians that God either does good because it is good whether he sees it as good or not or he does what he pretends is good. They know fine well that there is nothing else on the menu but the two options. To invent a third option that doesn't exist is just vicious and underhand and insulting to atheists. And it is intolerant for it expresses the view that you need to believe in God before you can really believe in morality or in right and wrong. Nobody in their right mind would expect you to tolerate somebody that holds views that threaten the whole fabric of decency. Tolerance has to have a limit. The teaching subtly incites to hatred against atheists and doubters. Believers do say that unbelievers can be good but they deny that unbelievers are being rational or consistent when they are good. But how can your good be really good if it makes people feel accepting of your unbelief - an unbelief that endangers and undermines morality? Praising fake good is toxic for then the person becomes unable to see how bad it is. It is worse than praising evil.
Divine Command is an evil doctrine
Divine command theory presumes that commanding is the greatest good and the only way to serve good. So being commanded to help a baby is better than any benefit the baby gets. Obeying is what you are to be praised for. A morality that is about commands not love is disgraceful. It offers you a mimic of love but not love. Also, it leads to the view that Godís rules are not to be discussed or criticised. That stops you having a moral conversation with the believer and stops people taking the morality seriously. Is it any wonder that Christians are only Christian when the public eye is on them?
It is evil to say that morality is just whatever God says it is no matter how much harm it does. All sane people agree. Even if God will never command genocide or mass murder, the fact remains that in principle it is being said to be okay if he does. Evil always starts small - with bad or irrational principles.
Christians hold that it is evil to say that morality is not God but above him and he cannot change it. That is ridiculous. It cannot really be called bad or evil to do that even if it is wrong. Christians call you evil for doing that so see that for the hate speech it is. For them it would be the ultimate sin for they regard failure to love God enough as the worst sin.
See morality as independent of what God wants or thinks and follow it not God.

There are two options - God makes moral moral or he doesn't and morality is independent of what he thinks - morality is morality regardless of what he thinks about it.

The first option means he can tell you to abuse a child for nothing and still be good. It makes no sense and is dangerous.

The second means we don't need God and have the right to disagree with him for morality would have to be followed whether there is a God or not.

Christians have contrived a third option. It however is irrelevant. It is not an option.

Anyway, the third option says that moral values such as kindness and justice and love are in God's nature. He did not make himself what he is - he is just kind and fair and loving. Thus morality gets its authority from God's nature. It is not invented by God nor is it independent of him. 

But the problem is that it has to be invented by God or something or not invented and that is that. The third option denies this so it is a cosmetic and not an argument. It is a lie - a morality that expresses a lie and that rests on the foundation of that lie is fake. It is an invention.

And a God who freely chooses the moral values is better than one who has no choice, one whose nature is the moral values. Your nature is that that makes you what you are and you cannot change it. A free God is a moral God. A God programmed to be moral is only possible if morality is independent of him.

And if you are moral if your nature makes you do evil as long as you cannot help it. The doctrine does not give us a God we can really trust.

And if we say we need God to believe in morality when we actually do not, that means morality can stand on its own feet. And if we fail to see that we are not moral inside no matter how moral our actions seem to be.
If we must not do good just because God commands it but because we want to have a character that mirrors God's character, why does hardly any Christian know of this doctrine? Why does nobody want to know? Why are the clergy so keen on inculcating false virtue in the people?

God ruins the moral leanings of the heart. And so do his followers.

* Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Monarch Publications, East Sussex, 1995