Divine Command Theory. Are people's moral standards right because God commands them, or does God command them because they are right?

Topics: Morality, God, Ethics Pages: 5 (1618 words) Published: March 27, 2003
There are millions of people who believe in God, but among these people the differences lie in to what extent each believes that God has control over what is right and wrong. Are people's moral standards right because God commands them, or does God command them because they are right? The Divine Command Theory most simply states that God's commands are what is morally right, and what God forbids is morally wrong. This means that loving one another is right because God commands humans to do so. Advocates of the Divine Command Theory believe this, and believe that morality is the same as that which God commands. Things are good because God created them and/or willed them.

Divine Command Theorists believe that there are objective moral standard that are the same for everyone and are independent of individual beliefs. These moral standards are true for everyone regardless of whether or not they believe them or know of them. These ultimate moral standards exist in commands given by God. God commands only things that are good, and he would never command a person to act immorally. God is all-powerful, all knowing, and all loving. God commands these things in order to do what is good for us as humans, and his commands are automatically morally right.

The opponents of the Divine Command Theory do not believe that God has that much control over the earth and what is morally just and unjust. They believe that morality is subjective, and that even if there is a God morality would still be subjective. What does it matter anyway what God commands or thinks since it is just another subjective opinion? One of the only reasons that people obey God's commands is that they fear that they will be punished in someway if they do not. They fear that they will go to hell if they do not obey, or that something bad will happen to them. This would mean that their motives are merely self-interested. But, a Divine Command Theory advocate would argue that God created us, and it is our obligation as his creation to obey Him just as a child would obey its parents. Is it even possible though to compare one's parents with the divine?

Opponent's say that it is not possible to compare the divine with a child's parents. However, to continue with the comparison, if a child were to want to do something and the parent told them "no, because I said so", then, like God, the rationale for the action being wrong is simply because it is commanded. If the command were to change to ordering the child to kill, then the right thing to do would be changed to killing. Likewise, if God's commands are automatically what is right, then if God were to command humans to kill, killing would be a morally just action.

Supporters would argue that the situation with God is different. They would also argue that God would not command something that is immoral. But, why wouldn't God command something immoral? The only answers would be because it is wrong or because God only commands that which is right. But saying this would therefore disprove the Divine Command Theory entirely. This states that what is right and wrong is independent of God, and that what God commands and condemns is subject to these independent standards of what is right and what is wrong. This also proves that a supporter could not say that God is good because "God" and "good" do not have the same definition. In order to state this, one must concede that in order for this to be true God must be independent of the standards of goodness that the definition of "good" entails. There are only two possibilities for the existence of God and moral standards: 1. God creates the moral standards, or 2. God is subject to the moral standards that are independent of him.

If God is independent of what is right and wrong and commands what is right and wrong, then God becomes another rational being who decides from these standards of right and wrong what to command. The moral values are accepted by God and therefore...
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