I having been having a discussion on my FB page about a Huffington Post article that says Rick Santorum is reading a different Bible than you and me. The Bible most people read is about loving your neighbor etc... I successfully argued so far with one individual who says that if you mandate helping the needy that this is the same as a a theocracy. BS, I know, right?
We have now come to the part of this debate where I asked, " Is what we consider morally good that way because God commands that which is morally good, or is whatever God commands morally good because he commands it?
His comment is as follows: If "good" is determined by people, then people are greater than God. If "good" exists outside of God, then "good" is greater than God. In neither of those cases can God really be God. "Good" is what God says is "good."
Any recommendation on how to respectfully shut that down in one brief answer?

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Thank you all for your help. My debate on fb has withered and ended. I am left to ponder all the valuable and philosophical points you have made here. In the end, I find myself contemplating the rather simple-minded thought that if the Christian God was all-powerful he would have smitten that pesky creator of evil, Satan, long ago and delivered all his beloved creatures from emotional turmoil and eternal fiery torment in the first place. That would have been a "good" thing to do if one was all-powerful.
Most Roman Catholics do not use the King James version of the bible. According to the catholic.org, “The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) is a Catholic translation of the Bible published in 1985. The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) has become the most widely used Roman Catholic Bible outside of the United States.” I think the New Living Bible is also an approved version.

Rick Santorum’s background is as an Evangelical Protestant. I don't know at what age he became Catholic, however, it appears no one informed him if something important about Catholics: the Church does not believe in the literal interpretation of the bible, specifically the Old Testament. He definitely doesn't demonstrate the values of most mainstream American Catholics. He is far more outspoken and extremist in his beliefs. But that doesn't lessen my worries about his viability as a valid candidate.

Hey Violet,

Is this an intellectual exercise or are you trying to deconvert others? My intellectual answer is that "good" is a public myth; i.e. it is a meaningless construct.

- kk

"Good" is meaningless? Hardly.

When you choose the apple fritter over the glazed donut, it's because in your judgment the one is better than the other.

Whenever someone chooses to give up a kidney to save another person, they are making a judgment based on some sort of concept of The Good.

I don't get what's so "intellectual" about your rather flip statement that the good is a public myth.


Hey Unseen,

It looks like I do need to explain. The term "good" as used here is contextually defined to be referring to "good" in a moral sense, not in some subjective perception of taste, smell, appearance or something like that. Taste for foods such as "glazed donuts" is irrelevant. Given that morality is a public myth, that necessarily makes any moral concept of "good" just part of that public myth.


Morality as a public myth has been discussed in other threads, but I can post on that again if you're interested. Basically, it came out of the discussion "Atheists cannot be moral" in which I concluded that "morality" was a fallacious and fictitious construct.


- kk

Well, my own view is that "morality" attaches to a prescriptive system and all one has to do is decide if one is following the prescribed behavior (The Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule). Ethics involves actually thinking about what the best thing to do is for oneself, and to the extent one is altruistic, for others. Weighing everything, and then making a choice. So we may largely agree.

I've no doubt, that with that assurance, Kir will sleep much better tonight.

I'm sure.

Hey Unseen,

I see ethics, as you've described it here, as a much more useful construct. It is definitely meaningful to talk about systems of decision-making. We all have one, in some form or another. A system where we all act in our own better interests and rely on civil institutions to enforce the boundaries between us works for me. For me crossing those boundaries would be anything that diminishes the rights of another. This is all just descriptive as I see it and makes no claim of universal truth or right or wrong.


Having said all this, I suppose we can say I am ensnared in moral issues if I bring up "rights". But at the end of the day I don't think we have to appeal to "morality": those of us who want a civilization that works can agree to certain rules that will allow society to work. That means respecting each other's "rights" in the sense that we do not interfere in their lives without their free consent.Those that disagree or who cannot accept the minimum amount of interference necessary for civilization to function we can exile. That is, we can kick them out. It's just pragmatic.


- kk

Ask him to tell you the "goodness" in Psalm 137:9, in the "New living translation:... that says...Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them on the rocks...", or Isaiah 13:16..."Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravaged..." 

Where's the GOOD in these Bible quotes...?? The Bible is FILLED with this kind of horror...!!

The problem is, those passages seem descriptive rather than prescriptive. They don't seem to be saying "Go thou and do likewise."

These answers are all very earnest and erudite but it seems to be all resting on the fact that God exists. Since we all know (we all know this don't we?) that God is a man-made construct created to fill in the gaps of unknowing and thereby stave off fear (to a degree) I just wonder why are we even entertaining this question.

God can do whatever the hell it wants depending on how it has been defined by the definers.

Good has nothing to do with God and apportioning 'good' to God and good being Godly or even God-like is just stupid and plays into the hands of the perpetrators of the hogwash that you seem to be wrestling with.

I am a bit confused why you would not dismiss this question out of hand. Socrates never saw planet Earth from outer space, he couldn't sample all the world's religions at the touch of a button. He might be clever, he might have been a genius, but he did not have the context we have today.


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