Millenia ago in a dialogue written by the Greek philosopher Plato; Socrates asks Euthyphro a rather profound question:
“Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?”
This is a devious question because it attacks the fundamental nature of what humans find moral. Who is the decider, what are the yardsticks and how do we decide. Think of it as:
“Is that which is good; good because it is good. Or is it good, because God says it is good”.
If you are an Abrahamic monotheist, you have now entered crime think territory. Now how do we answer this question?
Horn 1: That which is good is good because it is good.
Great. Of course. Good is good, and it is good to be good. But this tells us nothing about goodness. What is it? Killing is not good, certainly. But killing an invader? Go deeper. War is not good because of the loss of life. But the World Wars sparked off an intellectual revolution in order for each country to supersede the other. Saving a child drowning in a river is good. But what if the kid was Hitler?
I apologize for Godwin’s law, but you can see why I must. We do not understand goodness yet and we cannot without an arbiter. Who or what is this arbiter? Cry the monotheist: why God of course.
Horn 2: That which is good, is good because God says it is good.
Elegant, but the fevikwik wears off once we throw it around a bit. Can God moralize genocide? The short answer – yes.
The God of the Jews is the God of the Christians is the God of the Muslims. They are all the same and He wants his Chosen to slaughter. Well, he already made it so, don’t you know, he wants you to kill the boys and kill the women who have known men.
Now the monotheist is crying foul and the Dharmic wonders: am I being misled?
It must be a bad translation! It must be taken out of context! It must be for a different time.
It is very much real and it was very much commanded. Not that I like him very much, but Richard Dawkins puts it quite eloquently
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
If this is the case, then it is evident that ‘goodness’ supersedes the power of God wholly. Meaning that God is held up to a higher standard than himself when it comes to goodness. This means that God is not the authority on goodness, and goodness doesn’t come from Him. It (arguably?) means that without God we can be good, and without God good things can happen.
If this is the case, then goodness and morality are completely arbitrary. Goodness lies at the Will of God. Hypothetically speaking, if God told us to kill our mothers, it would be good because God has said that it is good.
Christian apologists have been able to answer the Dilemma by stating that there is a third horn to this dilemma making it a trilemma i.e that God’s nature is good.
However the Trilemma, again folds back into a Dilemma when we ask
“Is God’s nature good because God wills his nature to be good, or is God’s nature good because it is good.”
There does not appear to be an answer to this question, since it hasn’t been satisfactorily answered in the last 2500 years.
Ultimately all Abrahamic religions fail to provide a true basis for morality. Simply following a bunch of ‘laws’ God has read out will not make those things moral (we can intuitively see that). But then again, disobeying God is immoral in these types of faiths (which intuitively should feel wrong to us – what if something God commands in that context is immoral – like cutting off the hands of a beggar accused of stealing to survive from the harsh conditions of the world).
A popular philosopher YouTuber Sisyphus Redeemed has this video to explain it more clearly.
Islam/Christianity/Judaism may preach love and peace and happiness and such, but given it’s basis in morality is unsound, appealing to it to guide you to any higher truth is laughable.