Sunday, 26 April 2009
Does absolute morality exist?
I don't know. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. What I do know is that many religious claim that it does and claim that it comes from god. But, is that the case?
Most Xians claim that god gives us our morality and that he has set up absolute morals for us to follow. god is further the absolute arbiter and perfectly moral. An easy rebuttal to this is Euthyphro's Dilemma, which points out that if morality is absolute, then why do we need god? And, if morality comes from god, then god could order that rape and torture are moral and we would have to abide. To bring this back to the idea of absolute morality, the first version would hold to it, while the second would not. Holding to absolute morality would mean that we can discern what it is independently of god, since it is an absolute that is outside of god.
For the Xian, however, this simply will not do. How can our morals not come from god? One potential answer has been given to Euthyphro's Dilemma in that morality is not from outside of god, but simply a part of his nature. This really only moves the question back one level and doesn't really answer the question, but let's explore one way in which it ultimately fails. Let's actually look at god's nature.
Is it really the case that god's nature conforms to an absolute morality? The answer is plainly no. Apologists try endlessly to come up with ways to apologize for god's evil deeds (genocide, ordering genocide, ordering rape, etc.) as us not having all the information, but we don't need all the information if morality is absolute. Further, after god wipes out almost all life on the planet in the Noachian flood, he basically says, "My bad." If he has not done anything morally wrong, then why does he feel repentant?
This is a serious blow to the apologists assertions to having an answer to Euthyphro and the existence of absolute morality given by god. If god can not even follow his own moral rules, then god can not be absolutely moral, and the only choice we have left is that absolute morality may exist, but it exists independently of god.