If something is moral because God wills it, why does God will it?

Does he have a reason? If he has a reason, then the moral exists independent of God.

If he has no reason, then the moral exists at the whim of God and is totally arbitrary. "Thou shalt not kill" could just as easily have been, "Thou shalt not cover your bodies", or "Thou shalt not eat after sundown".

Logically, theistic morality can ONLY be arbitrary and spurious.  True morality has its reasons -- independent of God.

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Nature and Reason speaks to us with no messings. The morality  is a dum show shooting past. 

Scott Clifton (on YouTube as TheoreticalBullshit) made, I think, a very similar point in his series on morality.

The first video is where he presents his views on what morality is and how that relates to the ideas of theistic morality:

Treatise on Morality


The next two are followups wherein he gets into a bit more detail, mainly be responding to one of his detractors:

God, Morality and Gratuitous Football Metaphors

Bears, Values, and Aluminium Rulers


Viewing time for all three is approx 45 minutes (from memory)

Yes, it's one of the most damning of arguments against God.  I've used it before but am puzzled by why it's not used more often.

I used to spend a lot of time on Yahoo Answers.  But over the last 2 years, I've only visited once or twice.

I thought this topic would make a great question to pose on Answers, so I did.


Here's the question and the answers . . .


Q U E S T I O N :  How can morality come from God?

I've heard people claim that, if God wills it, it is good.

That's a claim about morality.

If God willed it: why did he will it? Did he have a reason?

If God had a reason, then it was moral independent of God.

If God had NO reason, then it was moral for no reason. It was arbitrary and capricious.

Without reason, morality is baseless. "Thou shalt not kill." might just as easily have been "Thou shalt not cover your bodies." or "Thou shalt not eat after sundown."

Morality CAN'T come from God. Just arbitrary edicts. True morality always has its reasons . . . independent of God.

Perhaps you disagree AND have a logical argument. Do you? Let's hear it.


A N S W E R S :

ive read this before and it does intrigue me.


morality comes from self based on our own reasons based on our own experiences and learning.

TkA by TkA

God is Holy and God is love! That's how!

Internet for God by Internet for God

What did you do, put a bunch of logical arguments about a number of different topics and throw them in a blender? That is beyond "rough around the edges", it borders on the nonsensical.

Of course morality would come from God. If God created us in His image, wouldn't it make sense that a natural sense of right and wrong would be within us? God created us as moral creatures.

The laws just codify what we already know to be true.

MikeusCookus by MikeusCo...

I'm not sure I understand your argument. Why is it if God had a reason, then the reason was morally independent of God?

SaintCog by SaintCog

Morality is a product of social interaction. If there is no social interaction there is no reason at all to be moral. Even animals demonstrate morality within their own groups. Yes they fight to establish a pecking order in many cases, but once established every member of a herd, tribe, troop or flock knows its place and behavior within the group is morally predictable.

Now, it God is moral, where in the world would he have learned the behavior or even the concept. With whom would he have practiced. How in the world could he know moral from non moral while being a singularity that simply popped into existence. Saying God is moral is not any different than saying the Big Bang was moral. You simply ascribe morality to the subject with no evidence what so ever. It's a silly position to take.

Someone who cares by Someone who cares

Yes, God wills it and has reasons and they are not independent of him, they are his, therefore, they are his morals and come from him. It is neither arbitrary, nor capricious, nor random, but reasoned, thought out, planned and intentional. Therefore morality is reasoned and based, intentional and purposeful. You said if God has a reason, then it was independent of God, which it is not as that is a logical contradiction, God has a reason and it's his.

matt by matt

You claim that God doesn't have a reason for his morality. Clearly you and I know what is right and wrong, how much more does the God who made us know what morality is. Who are you to say that God has no reason for his morals, what gives you the right to say that?

axyder by axyder

The Bible is all about living a moral life--10 commandments, The Beatitudes, etc..

How do you think people's morality would be without absolute morality found in the Bible? The Bible convicts us, but if there is no Bible, we would depend on our relative morality.

Mr McKenzie- Tears of Joy by Mr McKenzie- Tears of Joy

We need to keep in mind both God's sovereignty and non-derivational goodness. God is both sovereign and good. So the character of God himself can assist as the authoritative rightness. God can ground his acknowledgment of rightness on himself. God's will is not arbitrary because his nature is unchangeable and altogether good.

Let's face it: We're talking about the Creator. That's why he's the eternal standard of goodness. A creature's rightness is determined by it's purpose. An uncomfortable couch is not a good couch because the purpose of the couch is to be comfortable, for example. A dull pair of scissors is not a good pair of scissors because the purpose of the pair of scissors is to cut. Sharpness is bad for a bed, however, for a good bed is one that is comfortable and supportive to a body.

The Creator determines every purpose of his creation, and whatever God has made has been made purposefully, and any sort of blockage that interrupts his purpose is bad. Molestation is atrocious because that's not what sex was made to be. Murder is evil because it's not our purpose for humans to determine when one ought to die. However, this doesn't vilify all deaths due to humans. In the end, a creature is good to the point it fills it's purpose. God is the creator of the universe. So according to his own righteous nature, he is the standard of rightness.

Even Plato himself saw the solution to this objection: You split the horns of the dilemma by formulating a third alternative, namely, God is the good. The good is the moral nature of God himself. That is to say, God is necessarily holy, loving, kind, just, and so on, and these attributes of God comprise the good. God's moral character expresses itself toward us in the form of certain commandments, which become for us our moral duties. Hence, God's commandments are not arbitrary but necessarily flow from his own nature. They are necessary expressions of the way God is.

Meklar by Meklar

Couldn't agree more. It still astounds me that so many theists are not able to see this.

Someone else posted a similar inquiry on Yahoo Answers 4 years ago.  He got better answers and less religious nonsense than you did.  One of the replies he got hit the nail on the head, I think:


"Because if morality "comes from god", then anyone who does not belong to that religion is immoral, or a criminal, or is someone deserving of a concentration camp.

Faith is how you treat "god". Morality is how you treat people.

Theists don't want to admit this because it means they can't rationalize or legalize their hate and violence."


Here is the url to that post:




I think you've described this aspect of theists very well.  Most of them DO know how to think (despite their penchant for compartmentalizing) and won't be rude to those with opposing views.

My kids go to Catholic school, where they're brainwashed more than you might think.  I tutor them, so I see the propaganda in their texts.  I do my best to undo the damage.  There's not a lot of options here . . . kids go to public schools or they go Christian schools.  Public schools are out of the question: poor standards and bad influences.  That leaves private, Christian, schools.

My wife is a devout Catholic, and the boys love her to death.  I doubt any of them will ever be an atheist . . . simply to please her.  But that's okay.  They're getting "both sides of the coin".  It's too late for the oldest son but the younger ones (9 and 15 years old) know the atheist point of view as well as the Catholic one.

Hi Scott,

That girl's points sound as if I made them!  I've said the same thing.

I know what hurts me -- so I know what hurts you.  Empathy is the beginning of morality.  The main premise is: Do no unnecessary harm.  The Golden Rule.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you . . . because we need each other to survive.

"Does he have a reason? If he has a reason, then the moral exists independent of God."


Excellent point!  Is this your own observation?

No, as I've already told Matt, above, it's not my brainchild.  It's something I heard years ago from somewhere.  I've posed the logic before but didn't get much of a response.  As Adriana said, the logic is impeccable, so I thought I'd give it another try.  I think it's one of the most damning arguments against the theistic view of God.

Good Group. Saw this recently http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-63cTYJDCA&feature=fvw

“Don’t swallow your moral code in tablet form”. Christopher Hitchens.

Great video.  I hadn't seen that one yet.  I'll have to put it on my website :-)

Another great case for the separation of God and morality.


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