I am sure many in this forum know Euthyphro's Dilemma which can be stated as follows :
"Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?"
I would like to explore the implications of this dilemma with specifically Christian theists. In this thread, we will address the dilemma to Christians who subscribe to the notion that what is moral or immoral is so because God says so. We can move onto the second part of the dilemma in another thread (if everyone is still interested).
OK then. The worldview that "that which is moral is moral because it is commanded by God" is also known as the Divine Command Theory.
This implies the following :
1. It is futile for humans to attempt to intelligently learn what is good and bad, moral or immoral. Because only God can decide.
2. The whole concept of the goodness of God is meaningless since there is no standard above God for us to refer to in order to agree and decide that God is indeed good. Good is just what God says.
Now consider the following :
A Christian meets God and God tells him that he is to go to hell despite the fact that he has accepted Jesus as his saviour, he has to say that it is good and moral. Why ? Simply because God says so. Good and bad are just what God decides. What is moral is so because God says so.
However, Christians may then quip that this will not happen. Why ? Because this is against God's nature (God has promised salvation through Christ and he will not change his mind about that).
Ok then, God has a nature to which one can refer in order to know what God would consider moral and immoral. In order for a Christian to be confident of his salvation, surely this nature of God must be knowable. How can one know this nature of God ? Let's refer to the Bible :
1. Exodus 7:1-5
Here, God deliberately makes Pharoah hard-hearted so that God can have an excuse to show how powerful he is.
2. Leviticus 26:27-29
This can be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
3. Judges 1:30-39
I think this ridiculous story shows that God can demand anything from you. Even if it means it will completely devastate you.
4. Numbers 15:32-36
Self-evident injustice. How does picking up sticks on a Sabbath justify the death penalty ?
5. Numbers 31:1-18
Self-evident excessiveness. By the way, how does one go about determining whether a female was a virgin or not ?
6. 1 Samuel 6
Goes to show that even if one wants to please God, one single mistake can negate all good intensions. The mistake that the men of Bethshemesh made was to look into the ark. This is apparently more important to God than their adoration of him (verses 13 - 15). Would a loving father slap a child for spilling some beer that the child lovingly brings to him ?
Instead of being given the reason for his suffering, he was asked who he was to question God ? I guess might makes right.
If these were the characteristics of a human ruler (king, emperor, governor, etc), this person is best described as a capricious neurotic. For a full description, see Richard Dawkin's opening line in chapter 2 "The God Hypothesis" of his book "The God Delusion".
It strikes me as a little contradictory that despite all these self-evident atrocities, verses like Jeremiah 2:5, Micah 6:3 exist (wherein God himself challenges people to indict against him).
My question to Christians now is whether God's nature allows them to be confident of their salvation through Jesus Christ, despite the above list of awful verses (and that is a short list). I guess they will still say yes they are confident.
But my gut feel is that the nature of the Biblical God leaves one plenty of room to doubt whether eternity spent in the company of such a deity is truly safe. Who knows, even if a Christian made it into the book of life, 5 trillion years down eternity, he may be told to go to hell for reasons which only his God knows.