Divine command theory


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.

He writes

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.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

48 thoughts on “Divine command theory

  1. Again, I’m lost. Is it Jesus and Yahweh who we’re referring to in DCT or is it a more realistic deity like Allah? I must first know which deity, and why that deity or deities and not another, or these arguments are impotent and meaningless. would the devout Muslim agree in DCT as it is described by the christian apologist? I think not. So, which god or gods are real, and why?

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  2. john zande says:

    Our only guide is reason and not revelation.

    I like that!

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  3. Linuxgal says:

    King Saul thought he was obeying a divine command when he refrained from murdering a captive King Agag of the Amalekites, but Samuel soon corrected Saul’s error by killing Agag himself. Apparently a thing is right or wrong depending on what the prophet says that God said today, and there are no objective, eternal moral principles. This is in 1 Samuel 15.

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  4. Veracious Poet says:

    Primitive men do conceive of good and evil gods. Gods, even evil to their own subjects. But the actions of such a god serves as a deterrent.
    An example is the god of bountiful harvest and that of drought of the Fon, Baluba or Bakongo tribes.

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    • makagutu says:

      no you are wrong, they conceive of gods attending to different needs, not as good and evil gods. They appease the god of drought not because it is a bad god but because they don’t want drought

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      • Veracious Poet says:

        I maintain that there are evil gods, gods that are feared in most primitive societies. People appease such gods because they are in every way evil and punish evil doers.

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        • makagutu says:

          You can maintain that all you wish, but it is this time I would ask you to offer support for it. Evil spirits were not conceived as gods but demons. A god who can bring vengeance is not conceived as an evil god.

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          • Veracious Poet says:

            Gods were classified into good and evil according to their actions. There are gods of thunder and lightening and all they do is to strike. Undoubtedly, everyone avoids them. You can call them demons, evil spirits, warlocks etc. they are still malevolent.

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          • makagutu says:

            Is the god of war a good god or a bad god?

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          • How bout the one that tells fathers to murder their sons, just to fuck with them? That’s the definition of a major douche-bag asshole of a god.

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          • makagutu says:

            Or the one that sends his son to commute suicide by centurion and blame it on mortals. Is that a bad god? Or is it just a god?

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  5. “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.”

    Hmmm, seems like “DCT” is nothing more than situational ethics. For if it is good as long as this god says it’s good, murder is fine since this god has commanded murder. It seems that many Christians think that no one has read the bible.

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  6. fojap says:

    Three posts in one day. How do you expect us to keep up? 🙂

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  7. ejwinner says:

    Do these DCT idiots not understand that, were their theory to be true, the words ‘good’ and ‘evil would be absolutely meaningless, sense there could be no objective definition of either term?

    And think of the chaos of universe where everyone walks around doing all sorts of murder, rape, incest (all commanded at one point or another in the Old T), and when they’re asked why, they say, “god told me to,” and of course in that universe, that’s all they need say, and everyone else goes, “well, that’s all right then,” because, after all, there is no agreed upon value of right or wrong, it all comes down to ‘god told me to.’

    Fortunately we don’t live in such a universe. Most of us, anyway….

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