Is it unbiblical that God grounds moral goodness?

Before posting the discussion below, I want to summarize my position:
There are countless verses in Scripture which testify to the goodness and perfection of God (sample: 1 John 1:5, 4:8; Galatians 5:22-23; Matthew 7:12; John 1:45, 5:39; Matthew 5:17; 2:37, 39, 40). Truth is that which corresponds to reality. If there is true goodness, there must be a being that is defined by it; there must be a being described by true goodness. There is no other candidate in reality besides God who fits this description.

The notion that God’s nature is the grounding of all goodness has no obvious support in scripture.

  1. There r countless verses on the goodness of God. Does ur idea of Good correspond to the same nothing that begat the universe? 😉 @doubtcast

  2. @doubtcast the author of james would disagree. james 1:17

  3. .@Ichthus77 Read the tweet again and drop the sarcasm.

  4. @in2caffeine The author is talking about good gifts there – that they are given from God. Doesn’t suggest ontological grounding.

  5. @doubtcast IF a single, uncreated, personal, being exists; it follows necessarily that such a being grounds morality. It goes w/out saying.

  6. @doubtcast To what always good being in reality does your idea of good correspond?

  7. @Ichthus77 can you not change the subject so quickly?

  8. @doubtcast God’s always-good nature (demonstrated in switching perspectives with us on the cross) grounds all goodness. What grounds it 4u?

  9. .@Ichthus77 not really, you cannot justify goodness being essential to god biblically.

  10. @Ichthus77 at best, you get a God who is Good BECAUSE he does X & Y. But, of course, that’s not God acting as a grounding.

  11. @doubtcast Biblically, he is unchanging, and he is good/love. There is no other candidate for “that to which the idea of Good corresponds”.

  12. @doubtcast His nature and actions are described by the Golden Rule, which is justified according to reasons, but true because he is/does it.

  13. @doubtcast if only one such being existed (personal and uncreated), then to what external standard should that being be obliged answer?

  14. @Ichthus77 not true. You need to stop imposing your modern apologetic onto the bible.

  15. @doubtcast You want the verses that talk about God’s good, loving, unchanging nature?

  16. @Ichthus77 it makes far more sense to say the bible advocates a kind of platonic moral realism.

  17. @doubtcast BTW…not meaning to be argumentative. Just a philosophical point. I am open to being shown to be wrong.

  18. @Ichthus77 lol, you can’t possibly justify that grounding assertion biblically. Are you even reading my responses?

  19. @Ichthus77 nope – I want verses saying that x is good merely because god’s nature is x. And that he is necessarily morally perfect…

  20. @Ichthus77 rather than being good BECAUSE he aligns with some abstract moral principle.

  21. @thejasonwisdom I understand, but there is nothing philosophical about an invalid inference.

  22. @doubtcast God is the good…not just an idea.

  23. @doubtcast Yes, I can biblically justify the assertion that God is the Golden Rule. Would you like to review the evidence, if I present it?

  24. @doubtcast Fair enough. I’m interested to know why it’s invalid, but perhaps filling our twitter feeds isn’t the best place. Thx 4 replying.

  25. @doubtcast 1. The Bible does not commit the is-ought fallacy (& see Euthyphro Dilemma) so it won’t say “x is good bcuz God is x”.

  26. @doubtcast 2. The Bible says God is unchanging, and says God is good, therefore it says he is will always be good.

  27. @doubtcast No he does not “align” with the good — he “is” the good. See Euthyphro Dilemma. Read this: http://www.christianapologeticsalliance.com/2012/10/16/resolving-euthyphros-dilemma …

  28. @doubtcast Here are a few for you to peruse: 1 John 1:5, 4:8; Galatians 5:22-23; Matthew 7:12; John 1:45, 5:39; Matthew 5:17; 2:37, 39, 40.

  29. @Ichthus77 ugh, never mind. The fact that you quoted those scriptures shows I am not expressing my criticism clearly.

  30. @thejasonwisdom @doubtcast Why couldn’t that uncreated personal being be infintely evil (a la @stephenlaw60‘s Evil God Challenge)?

  31. @AtheistMission @doubtcast @stephenlaw60 it presupposes an alt eternal standard of good/evil. I’d also argue evil is a negation/imperfection

  32. @AtheistMission @doubtcast @stephenlaw60 very hard to do this on twitter. But I genuinely appreciate the open interaction.

  33. @thejasonwisdom @doubtcast @stephenlaw60 Augustine would agree with you but what’s a tsunami a privation of?

  34. @AtheistMission Thats a “bigger than twitter” question. For this purpose, I was simply referring to objective grounding; pre-time, space etc

  35. @doubtcast sure,except you know in that whole first chapter of genesis.But yeah you’re spot on otherwise.not obvious at all.whats ur point?

  36. @doubtcast have you never read Plato? Socrates?their response wld be:is god good because good exists independently and he embodies it.or..

  37. @doubtcast because he defines it by his on volition? So before you speak comprehend what ur asking,

  38. @thejasonwisdom your premise that god must be a being is unsound.you fail to actually define god as is presented in the Torah.weak premise.

  39. @doubtcast easy.read genesis again.and do so in Hebrew of course.otherwise what’s the point?if you do you’ll get ur answer..ill explain..

  40. @doubtcast your premise is based on a western English translation interpreted by non Hebrews.so your def of good is irrelevant…

  41. @doubtcast ..they actually believe super the Midrash that god is both good/bad and neither.in fact their word is closest to ying/yang..

  42. @doubtcast his character as def as “good” was historically attributed to an English mon Hebrew audience.do your assertion is unsound…

  43. @doubtcast .. It’s a non issue given that the Torah depicts only creation as “good”,which as a moral POV is also a part of creation…

  44. @doubtcast god therefore does not need to be def by his own created morality.good/bad according to the Torah is like a magnets poles..

  45. @doubtcast you’re only asking this question because idiot non Hebrew non Torah literate ppl will fall for it.believing god=good/devil=bad..

  46. @doubtcast however according to the Hebrew tree of life this is not the def of god.to them “he’s” (it) more akin to an etheric energy source

  47. @doubtcast like what a new ager wld call the “universe”. It’s evoked but not a being.ref to it “talking” is due to bad interpretation…

  48. @doubtcast so unless you want an esoteric cosmological lesson on Kabbala you’re asking the wrong question to the wrong ppl.good luck tho…

  49. @doubtcast again the Torah is what’s actually ref when bible talks about “word of god”,cant ref itself before it was even compiled…

  50. @doubtcast .. Therefore your premise is unsound.the source of def of god is found not in the “bible” per se but in the Torah/Talmud/Midrash.

  51. @doubtcast since its been bastardized,you’ll be hard pressed to find ur answer.the fact is god is neither good/bad but both simultaneously..

  52. @doubtcast this is evident in the idea that god is not a being per se but a thing that may be conscious but not anthropomorphic…

  53. @doubtcast we interpreted it be that as we had no other understaffing of Torah. We had no access to Midrash/Talmud to help define god…

  54. @doubtcast he was anthropomorphized as a being by tradition not cosmologically according to Kabbala.the masses were not meant to know that..

  55. @doubtcast so no,god as grounding for good is technically not in the bible because god is not either good nor bad by its nature..

  56. @doubtcast its like water.it has no association to good/bad.you need it to survive but can also be killed by it.but it in itself is neutral

  57. @doubtcast according to Torah and Kabbala god is the same.and as a conscious entity(anthropomorphized or not)can be considered both…

  58. @Ichthus77 @doubtcast the golden rule? That’s not even in the bible!! How can u argue and not know that?

  59. @doubtcast a platonic moral realism? C’mon man don’t make up words to sound smart.

  60. @Ichthus77 no.the term the golden rule is not stated in the bible.the verse may suggest it,but the term was introduced in 1600’s…

  61. @Ichthus77 in fact as a philosophy it was stated in Buddhism centuries before bible.it is a universal philosophy.. @doubtcast

  62. @Ichthus77 and in the case of the argument at hand not a def of gods nature. Hindus/buddhists called it karma, @doubtcast

  63. @Concord143 More often than not, I refer to it as the GR. Not sure when that started, but…not finding it as such in the Bible is trivial.

  64. @Ichthus77 it is when it’s not an original concept of the bible.nor stated as such.

  65. @Concord143 @doubtcast I agree it is universal 🙂 However, it was stated in different words in the “royal law” in Leviticus 19:18 long ago.

  66. @Ichthus77 and its certainly not a def of gods nature.

  67. @Ichthus77 check ur timeline and Old Testament survey.the Babylonians had same edict before Leviticus…

  68. @Ichthus77 ..and Leviticus was meant for priesthood only.not the masses.ot was their rules to be considered clean to enter holy of holy.

  69. @Concord143 @doubtcast If you mean “what goes around comes around” — that’s not the Golden Rule. Grace and karma don’t mix.

  70. @Ichthus77 ppl need to stop relying on that book considering it was not meant to be used by anyone other than priests.

  71. @Ichthus77 you barely understand the bible don’t over step and try to understand Buddhism/Hinduism philosophy.

  72. @Concord143 I did not say it was original to the Bible. I just said the Golden Rule is not true unless there is a being it always describes.

  73. @Ichthus77 the masses were 2 achieve purification by sacrifice and ceremonies on days of atonement not by following edicts of tribe of Levi

  74. @Ichthus77 it doesn’t describe a being! It state a way to live.. And even then it doesn’t state to do good,just to repay in kind.

  75. @Concord143 Truth is that which corresponds to reality. To what in reality does it correspond?

  76. @Ichthus77 and god according to the actual Word of God (Torah) states that god is not def by his own creations (which include morality)..

  77. @Ichthus77 god is neither/both good/bad.but only his creation can be def in those terms.he is def by us according to our understanding.

  78. @Concord143 Funny how you will pick and choose what parts of the Bible you will accept. P.S. Agree God is not defined by humans…

  79. @Concord143 The GR is the sum of the Law and the Prophets, and he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, which testify about him.

  80. @Ichthus77 do you even know what you’re saying? Or just repeating stuff you heard.Seriously.who says truth corresponds to reality?

  81. @Ichthus77 again your premise is unsound.where is it stated the gr is that?you are asserting your own biased beliefs to it.

  82. @Concord143 I’m not sure you understand what “unsound” means. Anyway, the references are Matthew 5:17, 7:12; John 5:39.

  83. @Ichthus77 yeah Plato not the bible.so you believe in a non biblical philosophy? Great. You’re almost there.

  84. @Ichthus77 and his point was to show why one shouldn’t adhere to myths cuz they aren’t real!!

  85. @Ichthus77 the bible speaks of WOF(Torah)bible can’t ref itself before it was compiled can it?no.so I pick only that which is actual WOG

  86. @Ichthus77 the bible itself is not wog,nor sacred nor anything more than compilation of books canonized to a theme.actual wog is Torah.

  87. @Ichthus77 it’s unsound due to your conclusion not being accurately derived from premise.verses you quote are not wog so not accepted.

  88. @Ichthus77 to say GR is sum of law/prophets is a non deductive conclusion that the premises do not lead to. It’s invalid/unsound.

  89. @Ichthus77 you’re jumping to that conclusion only cuz it sounds right? Not that it is right.

  90. @Concord143 So stop adhering to the myth that the Golden Rule can be real without corresponding to reality.

  91. @Ichthus77 again not a biblical tenet just your sentimental notion.and technically god=truth.he(it) doesn’t posses/use it.

  92. @Concord143 So you’re a Bible-thumping theist, are you? 😉

  93. @Ichthus77 it’s only real as a way of living not as an actual truth.and only subject to be used by mankinds reality.

  94. @Concord143 …not as an actual truth. I see. So … it’s real…but it’s not true. Got it. Not mythical at all. Completely reasonable.

  95. @Ichthus77 angels dont adhere to this “truth” therefore only applicable to our “reality” not gods.therefore not really “real” but abstract

  96. @Ichthus77 ok..just tired of Xians not comprehending their own religion.i studied theology/ apologetics/hermeneutics/logic.wish they all did

  97. @Ichthus77 you keep asserting that reality and truth need to be correlated.its irrelevant if truths are only applicable to one reality.

  98. @Ichthus77 by actual truth I mean as a law/standard such as in physics.its a way or philosophy but not THE way or THE philosophy to abide by

  99. @Ichthus77 so it isn’t a truth in terms of the only way to live.but a truth in terms of an axiom.( if x,then z)

  100. @Ichthus77 you’re putting more onto the GR than is necessary.its not even the core tenet of Xianity..

  101. @Ichthus77 by truth Plato meant only that which exists IN reality. Abstract morals or myths and gods are not “real” according to him.

  102. @Ichthus77 it’s laughable you use a guy who’s whole massage was antithetical to religion as a whole. Very ironic actually.

  103. @Ichthus77 the bottom line is if god need not abide by the GR than its not a “truth” it’s an edict,command,principle,tenet…

  104. @Ichthus77 .And only applicable 2 our “reality” for us.not angels/god (another reality) therefore not a sound conclusion as per ur argument

  105. @Concord143 I didn’t argue that as a premise. I said IF such a being existed…etc. Also, in the Torah God is clearly singular and personal.

  106. @Concord143 It’s fair to say I didn’t prove God is such a being. However, the original post was talking about Him AS presented in the Bible.

  107. @Concord143 That was all I was getting at. There is a LOT more surrounding the issue and it would be fun to unpack. Just a lot for Twitter.

  108. @thejasonwisdom in the English translation it is given a masculine identity but it is not deemed that according to Kabbala.

  109. @thejasonwisdom which as a misnomer is an incorrect assertion and thus not sound argument.valid perhaps not sound tho.

  110. @thejasonwisdom the Talmud and Midrash associate god not as a personal being (that’s Jesus sort of),but as a source one “taps” into.

  111. @thejasonwisdom it’s channeled via ceremonies and meditation.it”speaks” to them in a possessed state or as a higher consciousness…

  112. @thejasonwisdom it’s only our interpretation:tradition of associating it as a He that now has confused the masses whilst the rabbis laugh

  113. @thejasonwisdom there is more to the Torahs def of god than would be readily accepted by metaphysical illiterate ppl and for good reason.

  114. @thejasonwisdom but no,god according to Kabbala tree of life is more like an energy source one can tap into represented anthropomorphically.

  115. @thejasonwisdom in fact most if not all “gods” were such a thing,only a representation of a Devine entity.nt a literal being..

  116. @thejasonwisdom and again bad premise considering only the Torah is considered to be the WoG,the bible was never that.couldnt have been..

  117. @thejasonwisdom any mention of WoG in new testmnt cant be referring to the “bible” as we know it-hadnt been compiled yet.its a ref to Torah.

  118. @thejasonwisdom so the premise of “found in bible” is misleading.and all conclusions based on that are unsound.

  119. @Concord143 Thanks. I will spend some time looking into what you have said.

  120. @Concord143 Exactly. I’m not speaking of “forms” which don’t connect/correspond–that’s why I asked you what being in reality is described.

  121. @Concord143 Why do you think Jesus said it is the sum of the Law & Prophets? It is “the” core & describes him & what he did on the cross.

  122. @Concord143 The GR (treat other as self) is how *all* moral beings should be/behave.

  123. @Concord143 I am interested. What is x and what is z?

  124. @Concord143 Are you familiar with “the god” who gave Socrates his “divine sign”?

  125. @Concord143 God is and does the Golden Rule. He commands what is always true to his nature and behavior. To what else is it always true?

  126. @Concord143 Why would it be true only for humans? If not true for all moral beings–why true for all humans?

  127. @Concord143 Moral truth is the sort of truth that, if it is not true in every possible world, then it is not true in any possible world.

  128. @Concord143 Can you please stick to reasons & skip the rhetoric? :0)

  129. @Concord143 In logic, ded. arguments can be unsound. Premises are either T or F. & simply stating a premise is false does not make it so.

  130. @Concord143 What makes you so certain? Sound pretty biased.

  131. @Concord143 U say it’s ok to use the WoG (u restrict to the Torah) but not Leviticus, as it was only intended for priests. U believe in God?

  132. @Concord143 I reject the false understanding u want to limit me to and wonder why u would advise me *against* understanding…

  133. @Concord143 The GR does not say to repay “in kind” — then it would say “Treat others as you *have* been treated” rather than *would be*.

  134. @Concord143 And yet Leviticus is only for priests and contains no universal truths? Do you believe in the Torah & God?

  135. @Concord143 What is the fallacy? Show a premise to be false.

  136. @Concord143 Such a way can only ever be descriptive. To be descriptive *and* prescriptive, it must be *the* Way–in every possible world.

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About Maryann

Maryann Spikes is the past President of the Christian Apologetics Alliance. She blogs at Ichthus77, and loves apologetics and philosophy. In particular she loves to study all things Euthyphro Dilemma and Golden Rule. A para-educator (autism) for five years, she holds a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, an AA in Humanities via Modesto Junior College, and moonlights as a freelancer. You can follow her on Twitter @Ichthus77, connect with the Ichthus77 community on Facebook, or look her up on Google+.

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