In order to understand divine command theory we must first understand the nature of God and Morality. So we will start by taking a look at what makes an action moral. Once we understand what makes an action moral, we can then try to understand the author's’ viewpoint on the divine command theory of ethics. Understanding the viewpoint will allow us to dissect the author’s viewpoints and come up with counter-arguments that the author must then contend with.
Divine command ethics is a theory that states, that an action's moral content is equivalent to if it was commanded by God. It states that if God is all powerful, then he must also be all good. It then follows that if God is all good, everything He commands must be moral. It uses God as the only basis of determining if a particular action is moral. Moreover it states that an action cannot be moral if, God did not expressly command the action to be ...view middle of the document...
The author of God and Morality, Stephen M Cahn, used the examples of the evil monk, Torque-mada and the morally upright, Buddha.
In “The Basis of Christian Ethics”, Oswin Craton seems to buy into the theory of divine command ethics, hook, line and sinker. From the beginning of the passage, the author opens with explaining that we cannot look, at what is good without first understanding what is going to make God happy. He makes sure we know that this includes all of our metrics for if a behavior is or is not ethical. He goes on to explain that there is no greater, good then the good that is God. Also that there cannot be anything that is god, outside of his own goodness. He finishes by saying that he is the only source of ethical behavior.
The passage seems to be an endorsement of divine command ethics theory. However, it is difficult to discern if the author agrees only with some or all aspects of the theory. One objection that the author may have to contend with is that even if God’s command has relevancy in this particular world it may not have relevancy in other possible worlds. This theory requires that God be all knowing and all good in all realms, and this incompatibility renders the theory, at least partly incorrect. In addition to the possible introduction of parallel worlds, the author may run into the problem that divine command theory, is very hard to rectify with the idea of moral autonomy, or that God has given us the ability to act on our own. Also if God is all knowing and all good, how can he allow bad things to happen? If god allows bad things to happen, he cannot be both all-knowing and all good.
To summarize the divine command theory, has been proposed, and ripped apart, many times throughout history. Since the beginning of human civilization, the concept of god and morality has been central to our understanding of the universe. The search to find moral order, in the universe is as much a part of human existence as the need for food and water. For as long as we continue to be human we will continue to search for the answers to this and other questions.