Thursday, April 1, 2010

Euthyphro’s Dilemma

The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.  Socrates.

Is God good because God is good or is good good because it is what God is?  Me.

In a recent post at Thoughts from a Sandwich, Dagoods challenged theists to explain why God answers the prayers that he answers:
To claim there is a God who can cure cancer, but doesn’t, raises the huge question, “Why?” The fact the Christian cannot answer this very basic fact about God demonstrates why I reiterate any claim about God is unenforceable, because God is unobservable and unverifiable.
If you don’t know enough about your God-concept to explain why such a God wouldn’t cure cancer in a five-year-old, don’t tell me how it writes books, or provides you a parking space, or gave your child the winning shot in the J.V. basketball game.

Greg at . . . to fall in love with Jesus told Dagoods that his conception of prayer was wrong:

God doesn't exist so that we can get what we want... in fact, we exist so that God will get what he wants, in particular, glory and praise.

It might sound quite lame- a God who creates us to be worshipped? What kind of God is that? But the truth is, truth isn't determined by its lame-factor (how lame it is or isn't). I think it's lame that if i fall off a 400 foot cliff, my bones will quite likely fracture, or perhaps even explode and shatter all over the place. I may even die. As lame as it is that I have to suffer from falling off cliff, it doesn't take away from the truth that gravity exists, and rocks at the bottom of a cliff are usually hard. (By the way, I've come to experience that giving all to glorify God isn't lame at all. It's actually quite satisfying when I'm living according to my intended design).

I pray this would make sense to you someday: From a biblical perspective, Praying to God isn't about getting what we want. Prayer is about wanting what we get.

God is Sovereign. God's will is the goal of every believer, to align our desires with his, rather than trying to allign his desires with ours.

We need to start living according to God's words, and stop trying to get Him to live according to ours.
Even before I drifted fully into agnosticism, I wasn't comfortable with the idea that God created me so that we could tell him that he was doing a good job.  A God who was so concerned about my opinion hardly seemed like one who was worth worshiping.  The only thing I could figure was that God might want me to worship him because it did me some good to acknowledge his transcendence. 

Greg's attitude, however, seems positively nihilistic. God created me to praise him for his goodness. Unfortunately, I am incapable of determining whether or not anything he does is good because his actions cannot be judged by any notions I might have of what is good and what is evil. I am simply to accept on faith that whatever God does is good because it is what he he has done.

I have recently been reflecting the implications of the Parable of the Talents:

[I]t will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Matthew 25:14-30

If there is a God, he gave me a brain with which to try to figure out what is good and what is evil.  On top of that, he gave me a will with which I can choose that which I determine to be good.  The only God worth praising is one who would prefer my exercise of the talents he gave me even if they lead me away from him to my denying my reason and mindlessly chanting "hosannas." 

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