Thought on the Euthyphro Dilemma

What is the Euthyphro Dilemma you ask? It is the question “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” Often expanded or simplified to “Is it good because God says so, or does God say so because it is good?” Now there are many essays dedicated to answering this, all dealing with various paradigms and religious views. For philosophy Tuesday though, I’m going to muse on it from a Christian perspective. One which answers the question very elegantly.

How does it answer it? Let us think a moment to our childhood. How did you distinguish between an arbitrary rule your parents just made up, and one that went beyond them? The answer: the ones they followed as well. Thus, as kids we grumble about a “8 o’clock” bedtime because we know our parents do not go to sleep at 8 pm themselves (well, at least until they are over 60 ;-). But their exhortation to not steal, takes on extra meaning to us because we can see that they do not steal themselves.

Indeed, any rule becomes “more than arbitrary” when the arbiter practices the rule himself. Especially if he/she doesn’t have to. (think of Aragorn banning men from the Shire and then never setting foot within it himself) Thus, the dilemma is solved by taking out the “or” and replacing it with an “and”. Therefore, the true beauty of the Bible verse “the Son of Man came not to destroy the Law, but fulfill it”. By becoming man, God proves to us that He Himself believes in the rules He laid down for us. And what is more real than what God believes in?


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