The Eurthyphro Dilemma: A False Dilemma for Christian Theism

By Mike Robinson

Expulsion-from-ParadiseGod has the right to command, because He is the Source and the End of all things… Since man is made in the moral image of God, moral obedience immediately becomes due, from such a creature to his Maker (John Barret, Treatise of the Covenant quoted in Ernest Keran’s The Grace of Law: A Study of Puritan).

The Euthyphro dilemma rests on a modernized version of the question asked by Socrates in the Euthyphro: “Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?” Each of these two possibilities, the argument runs, leads to consequences that the divine command theorist cannot accept. Whichever way the divine command theorist answers this question, then, it seems that his theory will be refuted (

The Eurthyphro dilemma asks the question: Is the law morally good because God affirms and loves it, or does God affirm and love it because it is good? These two questions can be asked of many false gods, but they are not relevant to the true and living God. The first question asks: Is a law is good because God says it is good? The question implies: if God says that killing and torturing little baby girls for entertainment is morally right, then it is. A god who has this nature and character cannot be the true and living God. This false god cannot exist as a good God. Since God is good His moral law forbids the evil and prescribes the good.

The second dilemma is: if God affirms a law because it’s good, then there is a ground of goodness that is outside and above God, which He is therein a submissive subject. This means that something would be over God, thus, God is not God. Nonetheless this dilemma is impossible to pin to the biblical God. The moral law depends on God because of His many-splendid perfect character. The moral law is good because a good God decrees and issues commands based on His nature and righteous will. Moral law doesn’t lie outside God. It comes from His very nature. Therefore, the law is not above God and this dilemma doesn’t relate to the true God.

The Mafia boss, who establishes iron-fisted control over a neighborhood through brutal force, teaches us that the success of thugs and wise guys cannot establish that they are morally right and ethically justified by might alone. The murdering and intimidating of shop owners, and the seizing control over a whole neighborhood is morally evil. Might doesn’t make right. The power to impose gangland rule over hard working citizens cannot morally justify the actions of the violent crooks. Thus God’s power cannot justify moral law alone. The moral law is righteous and good because it is grounded on the nature and character of the good and perfect God…


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