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An essay donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys
About the "Euthyphro Dilemma,"
and why it matters, Part 2:
In my opinion, it isn’t one for those who understand the true nature of Power, Omnipotence, Will, and Ego!
In the first essay I explained the standard objections raised by this dilemma. There are, however, a couple of problems with those arguments.
Showing that this isn’t really a dilemma doesn’t prove that God exists. It also doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist. It simply shows that a case for either position can’t be built around the one issue: omnipotence.
As I stated in the earlier essay, omnipotence means to possess unlimited power. In the third point I made in that essay to explain the dilemma I said that if God:
“... is constrained for some reason ... then he isn’t omnipotent.”
This is the flaw in the thinking about Omnipotence.
What people don’t understand -- or they choose to ignore -- is that Omnipotence also includes the power of self-restraint and the power of self-control and self-discipline. It isn’t about what an Omnipotent God could do but what such a God would do.
The practitioners of Martial Arts and Yoga Masters teach us that TRUE POWER comes from self-discipline, self-restraint, self-control. In short: it comes from the mastery of one’s emotions and baser instincts and from the mastery of one’s Will and one’s Ego. A God that hasn’t mastered these things isn’t omnipotent! IF He/She -- just like you and I -- is at the mercy of the whims of his/her your/mine emotions or Ego and Will, then we and the God[s] really aren’t powerful beings.
An angry God isn’t an omnipotent God. An omnipotent God would be in full control of his/her emotions. Anger is an emotion that blots out our ability to think clearly and act wisely.
An omnipotent God would never harm innocents to teach some other recalcitrant schmuck an important life lesson -- or to save the lives of mankind. An omnipotent God would have never be angry and would never have turned away from mankind in the first place. God would never have required a blood sacrifice to appease his wounded pride.
An omnipotent God would never demand that he be worshipped. That is something an out of control Ego would demand. An omnipotent God would be in full control of his/her Ego.
A second problem with the Euthyphro Dilemma is this: In the beginning, when God is said to have created the heavens and the earth and all things, he declared it all was good. By making that initial declaration didn’t he endow all of these things with inherent goodness? Or if you follow the Euthyphro Dilemma reasoning, did he declare they were good because they were good?
IF you believe that God made everything, and IF you believe the Bible is the word of God then you have to accept that he endowed everything with inherent goodness. Whether that was intentional or accidental doesn’t matter. All created things now remain inherently good. This includes people, including homosexuals, transgender persons and illegal immigrants! We are are inherently good, not inherent sinners! And God, if there really is one, said this is so.
As I said, it isn’t what an Omnipotent God could do but what an Omnipotent God would do. A truly Omnipotent God with self-mastery of Ego and Will, with self-restraint, self-control and self-discipline would never do something bad, immoral, or unethical. He/she would never demand of us what he/she wasn’t willing to do his or herself. He/she would never attempt to deceive (such as declaring something bad to be good) just to justify or sanctify his/her action(s). A God that would behave immorally, unethically, unkindly, would be a God not in control of his Ego or Will, would not have self-restraint, self-control, or self-discipline, and thus would not be an Omnipotent God.
For the Theologian or Scholar that counters this argument with the standard:
“God works in mysterious ways;"
"There is a greater good we just can’t see it: and
"It isn’t for us to question his motives,”
there can be no greater good that comes from harming innocents.
This now raises a real dilemma, not a straw man dilemma! Where does badness lie? Where does badness come from? If God declared that everything created is inherently good where does Evil come from?
IF God is omnipotent and the creator of everything, then he also must have created Evil and bad things. Or, perhaps bad things and evil come, as some claim, from a fallen Angel, or the one called the Satan, the Devil, or Lucifer. BUT IF God couldn’t or wouldn’t control the fallen Angel, then God isn’t Omnipotent, or so the argument goes.
This is a real age-old dilemma. An entire field of Theology has developed to address it, it is called Theodicy. This is the Achilles Heel of all religions, especially Christianity. To this day, all the Theologians in the world haven’t come up with a “good” answer to the problem! -- at least in my opinion.
The dilemma is this: IF God created all things and all these things are good where do bad things and Evil come from? Does this omnipotent good God allow them to happen? Then how can he be considered good? Is he powerless to stop them? Then he isn’t omnipotent. Does he look the other way and chose to do nothing? How can a good God ignore the plight of starving children?
I have addressed this issue of Theodicy in many of my other essays. All the problems with Christian Theology lead back to this problem -- this real dilemma of Theodicy.
There are solutions to the problems of Theodicy, though they do create serious problems for theologians.
1. Accept that God isn’t Omnipotent.
2. Accept that God isn’t active in this world. This is the position Deists have taken. They teach that a God created the universe,
established its rules of behavior,
set it going, left, and hasn't been seen since.
3. Accept that the Bible is the work of men NOT the work of God, and that its authors set moral and ethical standards and concepts of right and wrong that were needed for their time, place, and conditions.
We are gradually increasing our understanding of the world and how it works, of people and how they work, and of societies and how they work. We are learning what it takes to create a just society -- one that works for everyone not just an elite few. Our society is not a homogenous, one-tribe group. We are a vibrant mix of cultures and ethnicities. Our understanding of morals, ethics, right and wrong, good and bad, and Evil must change and grow and mature as we do. They must be appropriate to our times and our place, our needs, our issues, and our understanding of scientific research.
4. There is one other solution to the problem of Theodicy and the Euthyphro Dilemma: accept that God, Gods, the Goddess, and Goddesses don’t exist.
This means that people must create the rules and the standards of behavior necessary to create a just, fair, and productive society that benefits all people AND cares for the health of our planet and all of it’s plants and animals.