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If God does not exist, everything is permitted

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  • If God does not exist, everything is permitted

    I'm looking for arguments for or against Dostoyevski's claim: “If God does not exist, everything is permitted”. Some may find it easier to think in terms of this injunction's contrapositive: “If some things are not permitted, God exists.”

    This is a follow-up for nojoum's thread.
    Last edited by John West; 05-23-2019, 05:35 AM. Reason: To change "Dostoyevski's injunction" to "Dostoyevski's claim".

  • #2
    I'll just point out that I think the moral argument (including Dostoyevski's injunction) is a lot stronger in abductive form (can also be defended in inductive form, too). So even if we somehow can come up with some naturalist explanations or groundings of morality and obligations, these will not be as good an explanation as theism is; or, to put it differently, morality in all its details fit much better in a theistic worldview than in an atheistic worldview. Moral absolutes, values, obligations, transgressions, forgiveness, moral transformation, moral experience, knowledge, hope, confluence between righteousness and happiness, and so on are a much better fit in a theistic cosmos. I think the shift to an abductive form makes the case a lot stronger. A nice book on that would be "God and Cosmos" by David Baggett and Jerry Walls.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by John West View Post
      I'm looking for arguments for or against Dostoyevski's claim: “If God does not exist, everything is permitted”. Some may find it easier to think in terms of this injunction's contrapositive: “If some things are not permitted, God exists.”

      This is a follow-up for nojoum's thread.
      I'm not sure if you expect some contribution from me. I have already made all the contributions that I could in the previous thread and I think that before having more discussion, I need to do some research on my own. But probably you already know my current answer that I don't find the theistic account convincing. At the moment, I actually don't see any convincing answer to the questions of morality.

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      • #4
        First, I wouldn't say that all theistic moral thoeries are created equal. For example, divine command theory is far weaker, I find, than grounding morality in God as goodness itself.

        Second, it seems concievable to me that there me some moral "third realm". Like a moral platonism.

        Finally, I think that someone could believe in God (or a god), and not believe that he is goodess; One could accept theism, but not accept moral objectivism.
        Last edited by ClassicalLiberal.Theist; 05-23-2019, 02:49 PM.

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        • #5
          I think without a proper eschatological framework morality devolves into a product of the fortuity of nature. I suppose to spur further discussion we should ask what does it mean for something to be morally impermissible?
          Last edited by RomanJoe; 05-23-2019, 06:19 PM.

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          • #6
            RomanJoe “morally impermissible” is “morally not permitted” modalized, i.e. “can't be morally permitted”, but you're right to suggest that “morally not permitted” is a bit loaded. I take it that “If some things are wrong, God exists” is more neutral.

            @Everyone A reminder that I'm looking for arguments for and against D.'s proposition. I see a couple posts that can be construed as containing arguments, but the rest can't.
            Last edited by John West; 05-26-2019, 01:33 PM.

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            • #7
              A couple of distinctions which might be helpful:

              1. Moral ontology as an argument for God = the existence of objective moral properties, values et cetera is better fitted to a theistic universe than a naturalistic one. These arguments do not commit us to a specific ethical theory or require that said theory itself need make direct reference to God.

              2. Deontology as an argument for God = certain ethical facts i.e. duties are best explained in relation to some transcendent all good being.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
                First, I wouldn't say that all theistic moral thoeries are created equal. For example, divine command theory is far weaker, I find, than grounding morality in God as goodness itself.
                Divine command theorists like Adams try to bridge that gap by grounding God's capacity as command giver in His all-loving nature (and by this bridging the is/ought gap).


                Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
                Finally, I think that someone could believe in God (or a god), and not believe that he is goodess; One could accept theism, but not accept moral objectivism.
                One could have an omnipotent necessary being on which the existence of all contingent beings depend. This would not be God though, at least not if one requires that God be ens perfectissimum.

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