Atheism, Humanities, and Personal Reflections from the Failing Mediocracy
Assuming that I knew for certain God was commanding me to kill her, that God is omniscient and omni-benevolent, and that I “know” she’s innocent only in sense that I don’t know why God wants me to kill her, then I would have to bow to God’s superior knowledge. To answer your question, yes.Is that the right answer? ;)
What if by killing the child I know she is going to heaven directly, in which case wouldn't killing her be justified?I reckon since morality comes from God, anything God says to do is moral and anything otherwise is amoral
Anonymous, hello to you too.Tell me, if you were hiding with a group of people from those who wanted to kill you, and you were holding a small child who started to cry, would you kill the child to silence her or let her cry and allow the group to be discovered, condemning all of you to death?Morality is more complicated than, “Oh my, how can you ever harm a child!”Hypothetically, if an omniscient, omni-benevolent Being tells you to do something, you can be sure there is a good reason and it is in your best interests and even in the best interests of the little girl. The problem, of course, is how to be certain that you’re receiving instructions from such a Being, but that’s not really the point.
the 'hiding from a group' example is off-topic. besides, the question as asked is whether you 'think' G*d is commanding you to commit murder.what about this: what if G*d's command goes to your friend and the small child belongs to you?
Maybe. A powerful god could torture both me and the child if I disobey for eternity. It seems it makes sense to obey under such circumstances. I know there might be circumstances where I could contemplate killing a child even without god. Even they have some horrible disease that makes life a living hell. Surely you could imagine helping them die.
G*3: "The problem, of course, is how to be certain that you’re receiving instructions from such a Being, but that’s not really the point."It's exactly the point: how can we know? Are the phrases "evil God" or "somewhat good god" just logically inconsistent, and that's that, or what? The claim that God isOMNI-benevolent is an extremely strong claim, far beyond mere claims of "I know so-and-so, she's a good person." Especially if you're trusting this God to revive your murdered progeny, something He's not managed or chosen to do once in… ever.I wonder, how do we know terrorists aren't omnibenevolent? Technically, it's possible that our universe is such that suicide bombing is vital to prevent the gruesome, painful end of reality as we know it; maybe there's a wild backstory involving aliens and wizardry and it all justifies the merely apparent evil of terrorism. How do we know bin Laden isn't a mouthpiece of God, trapped by circumstances? Because he commands such evil things? But that's exactly the point of the original problem.Indeed, even though I'm an atheist, I would find that an acceptable solution — if I hear a voice commanding the death of a child, it is ipso facto not God. The "problem" with that answer is that it falls on the non-divine-command side of the Euthyphro problem — it allows morality to precede God.An omnipotent being can by definition never, ever have a good reason for a child to be murdered. Only beings with limits can have an excuse. What's God going to say after the fact — "You don't know the kind of pressure I was getting from my boss/enemies!"As for G*3's bizarre insinuation that the evidence that one's child is undeserving of death might be more suspect (worth putting "know" in scare quotes) than the evidence that one is communicating with a Perfect Being… the less said, the better.Shalmo: "What if by killing the child I know she is going to heaven directly, in which case wouldn't killing her be justified?"If the binary-afterlife proposition is true, then all children go to heaven — another classic unsolved problem of theism (what exactly is wrong with sending children to heaven?).
The question is bogus. God would never make commandment like that.
"The question is bogus. God would never make commandment like that."In Euthyphro terms, that's putting the horse before the cart: We can deduce that a being is not God if its commands are immoral.That's just fine — in fact, it's great! But for some reason, the idea that morality exists independent of God gives most theists the willies, so they resort to meaningless things like "Morality flows inexorably from God's unchanging nature". This is meaningless because it fails to address the question of whether God could have, at the beginning of Creation, made child murder, in and of itself, moral.Oh, and of course, by the standard that God would never order the death of children, the Bible is obviously not remotely divinely inspired (at least, not the parts where God explicitly orders or brings about the murders of thousands of children).I suppose one could always ask a question like "If you had to kill your child in order to prevent the rest of the world from dying horribly, would you do it?"; the "correct" answer would be yes, although a legitimate answer would also be "I wouldn't be capable of it". But in any case, such a situation would call for extraordinary evidence. And if God isn't even explaining why the death is necessary, that standard is simply not being met. Even God can't know that he is omniscient — just like any other being, he has no way of knowing that he's not a brain in a vat. And an omnipotent God can always come up with a solution that doesn't involve one of his creation killing another — so in that sense, sure, he "wouldn't make a commandment like that", also.
I'd go and see a psychiatrist and ask him to lock me up.
Some posters need to rationalize with 'if' and 'what if' scenarios. You are dodging the significant fact: does any being's command/will trump your own sense of morality? Surely the answer must be 'no.'
> Anonymous said... > the 'hiding from a group' example is off-topic.Not at all. The point is that there are situations where killing a small child may be the right thing to do, and one should not automatically assume it is always wrong.> what about this: what if G*d's command goes to your friend and the small child belongs to you?I would of course assume that my friend is mistaken and try to stop him, as I would expect anyone else to try to stop me. > Lenoxus said... > It's exactly the point: how can we know?This is all hypothetical and assuming I have some magical way of knowing I’m receiving commands from God and not just nuts.> As for G*3's bizarre insinuation that the evidence that one's child is undeserving of death might be more suspect (worth putting "know" in scare quotes) than the evidence that one is communicating with a Perfect Being… the less said, the better.Know is in quotes because I was quoting the post. Sorry if that was unclear.> Anonymous said... > You are dodging the significant fact: does any being's command/will trump your own sense of morality? Surely the answer must be 'no.'Don’t make so much of our sense of morality. It’s just an evolved set of instincts and behaviors that happen to help perpetuate the species, not some metaphysical imperative. Our values aren’t objective truth, they’re merely useful.
I suppose there's a sense in which the question could be restated as "If it were morally necessary to kill your child, would you do it?", cutting out God as the middleman. But then, there goes DCT.If DCT is true, then God's commands should trump any contrary evidence, including the apparent innocence of the child, and logical questions like "Why does an all-powerful being need me to kill someone?" If, on the other hand, God's commands are always in harmony with non-theistic morality anyway, then what's the point of DCT?
No. If He's omnipotent, He can probably whack the child without my assistance.By the way, G*3, you'd make a really fantastic suicide bomber.
Read the Bible Larry. The story of Abraham & his son which he made an idol (Isaac). If you understand it, you will get your answer.
Anonymous,But you did not answer the question.
if you answered yes - then I think you are no better than a terrorist who blows themselves up in the name of a god.... as they think they have been told to do by a god.as for the idiot who said he would kill a child to silence them to save a group - you are a sick individual with a warped imagination and obviously no experience of life outside of the very small box you hide yourself in.
While I am an atheist, I have no idea if the universe is a brute fact or there is some other plane of reality that causes or necessitates the universe. I therefore consider a sort of minimalistic deism to be essentially rational, although totally irrelevant to our actual lives and choices.So when you say "God", I see that comments have conditioned their responses on omniscience and omni-bevelonce (omnipotence would seem to be irrelevant), not just the universes being contingent on that entity alone.This begs an important question. Even if we know God exists, how do we know that doing what he tells us is sensible? Theists answer this in the affirmative, based on the omniscience and benevolence, but I see no reason to believe that the cause of the universe, should he exist, have either quality. Therefore, if the baby question was the only thing I knew about this God other than the fact he was a legit supernatural being, I would say NO.Even if God has a purpose for us, who says that purpose is better than our own? I see just as much reason to believe God intends to exploit us as to benefit us. Even if I saw God kill 100 babies after the last guy refused to kill one, I wouldn't do it. The idea that a person can be 'trustworthy' or expected to be consistent with their previously espoused beliefs and actions is relevant to people, not supernatural entities.It is a subtle thing how Theists jump from metaphysical causes to Man In The Sky. I would have just as much reason to believe that God is testing my humanitarian compassion as he is testing my obedience to him, i.e. zero for either case.I like the question and I think it underscores what many modern day Atheist writers have noticed, there is nothing inherently moral about "God said so".
Feel free to comment if you have something substantial and substantiated to say.