Euthyphro Dilemma, Trilemma…

The Euthyphro Dilemma usually comes up in refutation of the objective morality argument.
The Dilemma:
Is something moral because God commands it, or God commands it because it is moral? That is, are things intrinsically moral, or God assigns morality to them?
The problem for the theists is that it does not matter which option they choose, their argument for objective morality is defeated.
If they choose that something is moral, because God commands it. Then morality becomes arbitrary. As God, without any reason, wills things to be moral and immoral. Further more, God can change his mind and what was moral, can become immoral on the caprice of God. So there is no way to know what is moral or immoral, unless you have immediate access to God’s mind. This is not objective morality, but subjective, as it is subject to God’s mind.
On the other hand, if God commands something because it is moral. The morality of that thing is outside of God. God only recognises its morality, and that is why God commands it. God becomes a middle man and we can cut the middle man out, and still have access to morality without God. In this case objective morality exists, but God has nothing to do with it. In fact things could be and would be objectively moral without God.
The claim of the false dilemma:
In a seemingly brilliant move, theologians like William Lane Craig, claim that it is a false dilemma, as there is a third option. That is, morality is based in God’s nature. So it is not outside of God, nor it is arbitrary! It seems that you can have your cake and eat it too. But things are not what they are seem to be. In fact, the dilemma did not disappeared, at best, it became a trilemma. As now, theists have to show, that God’s nature is not subject to the same dilemma.
The dilemma of God’s nature:
Can God choose or change His nature, or God’s nature is set? Well, if God could choose his nature or God can change His nature, than God could and can change what is moral and morality is not objective. It depends on the caprice of God. If God cannot choose or change His nature. Than what is moral is not subject to God but subject to something else, or it is completely arbitrary. God just happened to have the nature what He has for no rime or reason.
To demonstrate this lets see God before the creation of anything. Here we have this God assigning morality to murder. If God have control over His nature, he could make murder moral or immoral. Remember nothing outside of God exist at this stage. So nothing can be examined or compared. So, God just on a whim makes murder moral or immoral. This is not objective at all. On the other hand, if God’s nature is set, in the way that murder is immoral. Than, it is something apart from God, which sets the immorality of murder, or murder arbitrary set to be immoral, without any reason or explanation. If we look at other “moral truths” like lying, cheating, stealing … etc. We can see that we could ended up with wast different combinations of there moral truths. In one instance, murder is immoral, but cheating is moral and stealing is moral or any other combination of these.
In summary, we can see that the Euthyphro Dilemma is not resolved, but pushed back one stage. The dilemma is still there, not only concerning the moral nature/attribute of God, but with all the other nature/attributes of God. In fact, the theist cannot account for why God is the way God is. The theist cannot account for why God exists, instead of not exists. Why God powerful instead of not powerful. Why God is effective instead of ineffective. Why God is good instead of evil. … etc.

2 thoughts on “Euthyphro Dilemma, Trilemma…

  1. Hi,

    I actually registered with “Reasonable Faith” for the express purpose of presenting W. L. Craig with a question about the trilemma (a couple of days ago – he is yet to get back to me). The question that I posed was different though, it being “Are mathematical facts true because they are inherently so, or are they true because God made them so?”

    The very same problem is encountered as with the goodness question that is raised in the original dilemma, and in order to prevent him from resorting to the usual answer that is so typical of theists (i.e. it is an aspect of God’s nature to be good), I included the follow-up objection about whether or not God has any control over his nature; that is, I turned the dilemma into the trilemma you mention here.

    I felt I had to do this because I searched in vain for an adequate and convincing response to this aspect of the problem. Another devotee of his sent in a question about Euthyphro’s Dilemma, and his response was the profoundly disappointing, but entirely predictable, “it is a part of what it means to be God to be good” which, of course, is an avoidance of the issue raised, not an answer.

    Maybe he is at this point in time trying to come up with a clever way to respond, but in all honesty, and without meaning to sound immodest, I really do believe that this argument is the one that will finally skewer the God hypothesis once and for all. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. God would have to be one of the worst, if not THE worst, ideas mankind has ever come up with. Just observe those I.S.I.S. barbarians, or the Catholic Church’s interminable abuse scandals.

    It’s time for us to move on, grow up, and ditch our need for a reality that happily caters to our apparent need for purpose, meaning and a comforting parent to guide and reward us. Only weak minds need God; the rest of us just get on with living.


    1. Hi,
      This is a brilliant move on your part to take it up with WLC. And, yes you can apply the trilemma to any aspect of God’s nature. Also, congratulation for choosing mathematics, which is more solid and concrete than morality as the subject of the trilemma. Let me know the outcome.


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