James has written a comment on his blog to clear any questions I might have with DCT. Unfortunately, I find his attempt unsuccessful and if you can bear with me, I will explain in a minute. In order that he doesn’t claim I have misrepresented him, I will use his definition of DCT and work from there.
The Divine Command Theory (DCT) essentially teaches that a thing (i.e., action, behavior, choice, etc.) is good because God commands it to be done or evil because God forbids it from being done. Thus, to say that it is good to love our neighbors is semantically equivalent to saying God commands us to love our neighbors. Similarly, it is evil to commit murder because God forbids murder.
My contention is that man doesn’t conceive his god as good or bad. The god idea, originating from our primitive past and from people mainly practical isn’t conceived as good or bad. The primitive person has her/ his god answering to a particular purpose. Either it is the community preserver, avenger among others but never as a good or bad god. The idea that god is good is, I contend, a recent idea. I think it is a christian idea.
The god of the Jews, the one we find in the old testament is not anything close to good but is practical. If the Israelites want to grab land, they have him support it with Thus says the lord.. when Joshua wants to justify rapine, he has his god endorse it. When Abraham wanted to sacrifice his son, he had his god command it. There is nowhere in this instances god being conceived as a moral agent.
It seems to James is ignoring the very basis of morality, human association. To keep insisting god this or that doesn’t bring us any closer to resolving how it is we should act. Our only guide is reason and not revelation.
The rest of his post is what I can only describe as balderdash, an attempt to make sense of the absurd. And if there is any difference between TB’s position and James, it is one of degree not of kind. They both believe, god is good. God commands good. They both have no way of showing what god has commanded isn’t good. TB is consistent and honest.