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Where does "good" come from?


Mudcat

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From my evangelical perspective, goodness is ultimately rooted in the divine nature of God.

So when I say something like, "God is good". I mean that "good" is actually grounded in God and without God then there would be nothing good.

From past discussions with LDS about "evil". From what I have gathered LDS seem to think that "evil" exists independently of God. Something like evil just exists and will always exist and is part of reason we have free will and so forth.

I am wondering what is the LDS perspective on God and his relation to "good"?

There is something called a Euthyphro dillema, that Plato posited at one point. Put in more modern terms the dillema is something to this effect.

"Does God command the good because it is good, or is it good because it is commanded by God?"

I would like to know what LDS think about this sort of thing.

Regards,

Mudcat

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Don't know if I know much about what Plato was talking about but the following may give some perspective of what LDS believe:

(Moroni 7:12-26) "Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night. For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged. Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ. And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing? And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing. For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing. And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come. And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them. Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ. And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you."
Hope this helps.
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You are right that Mormon theology is susceptible to the problem introduced in the Euthyphro. However, I don't think traditional Christians like yourself are just off the hook. You seem to be saying that Good is just whatever God wills it to be. Buy why does he will it to be Good? Are you suggesting it is completely arbitrary? If not, why does God recognize it to be good?

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Don't know if I know much about what Plato was talking about but the following may give some perspective of what LDS believe:

(Moroni 7:12-26) "Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the quote Lightbearer. I bolded the portions that seemed most relevant.

Here it seems that in Moroni 7, Moroni is saying God is the source of good and that the devil is the source of evil.

I am wondering if this statement is made relative to Earthly humanity... God is our source of good and the devil is our source of evil.

As I read it, it doesn't seem that way. Seem more absolute, like God is the source of all good and the devil is the source of all evil. But given past discussion about the existence of evil.. it seems a bit inconsistent, at least in an absolute sense.. and only regarding evil, actually.

What do you think?

Kind Regards,

Mudcat

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You are right that Mormon theology is susceptible to the problem introduced in the Euthyphro.

Hey John,

Always good to hear from you. I agree that LDS are susceptible to Euthyphro.. I think any theist must likely be. However, I assumed that LDS might actually take a different horn on the dillema, based on what I have heard discussed in the past. I was wondering how that would flesh out. However, based on Lightbearer's quotation I may have been mistaken there.

However, I don't think traditional Christians like yourself are just off the hook.

Certainly. Seems Euthyphro has 2 hooks and the theist gets to pick which hook he likes the best I suppose.

You seem to be saying that Good is just whatever God wills it to be. Buy why does he will it to be Good?

Well I am saying that God's nature is good. He will's it to be good because goodness is his nature. Now this merely pushes the dilemma back to why is God's nature good.. or what does that mean in the first place.

Are you suggesting it is completely arbitrary?

I am afraid I would have to say that it actually is a bit arbitrary in a broad respect. I suppose one could posit that the greatest good was the creation of bacteria, lot's of that stuff about. Human's might be a neccessary byproduct of such thing. So it might be arguable in a silly way.

However, I have no evidence that God has done anything special for bacteria.. Like sending Christ to die for them, answering their prayers. Certainly not by creating a species that seems to hate them in some respects... Lysol being proof of that.

Don't want to try to build up to much of a straw man here, just saying is all. Seems to me that if it was completely arbitrary, it wouldn't make much sense. But it actually does make sense.

Have you got a case that what God determines is good, also doesn't make sense?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

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God became a God by choosing good over evil. Therefore, neither concept of good or evil originate from God. Good and evil (results) themselves come, imho, simply as the result of our choices. In that senario, notice that much good comes from God because of His choices, surpassing by far all the good that comes from our choices. Nevertheless, it is a sign that, as per Gen 3:22 and Ps 82:6, we too are gods.

Of course the rules for identifying what is good and what is evil had to come from somewhere. I say they evolved over time; the process of finding out what works and what doesn't. Viola! I think I have solved or at least significantly mitigated the infinite regression of Gods problem without resorting to pleading the fifth because we don't know.

:P

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Vox Day's "The Irrational Atheist" has a fictional dialog with Euthyphro (sp?) in an appendix. In it, he purports to demonstrate the flaws of the argument. (I don't do philosophy, so I don't know if it actually does demonstrate them, but he did show some logic errors, IMO.)

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Vox Day's "The Irrational Atheist" has a fictional dialog with Euthyphro (sp?) in an appendix. In it, he purports to demonstrate the flaws of the argument. (I don't do philosophy, so I don't know if it actually does demonstrate them, but he did show some logic errors, IMO.)

I knew I guy once who read that book, and he said that the demonstrations weren't good.

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I knew I guy once who read that book, and he said that the demonstrations weren't good.

I've actually read the book. Which gives me equal footing with "a guy I once knew". And I disagree.

I also read Vox's blog off and on (search on "vox popoli")...I've seen several people try to take on and disprove his book chapter by chapter...and they all sort of peter out at about chapter 4-ish. It's weird. It's almost like there are actual arguments and facts in the book that can't be just waved away by mystical references to mysterious guys that random people know. Shocking. How dare that be.

People can read the book for themselves and see if it's any good. Which is, oddly enough, why I referred to it. (And I knew someone would attempt to dismiss it with a wave of their hand. Atheists tend to not like the book. Not that they seem to be able to disprove it...)

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"Does God command the good because it is good, or is it good because it is commanded by God?"

I don't quite follow.

Do you mean commend? And commended?

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Thanks for the quote Lightbearer. I bolded the portions that seemed most relevant.

Here it seems that in Moroni 7, Moroni is saying God is the source of good and that the devil is the source of evil.

I am wondering if this statement is made relative to Earthly humanity... God is our source of good and the devil is our source of evil.

As I read it, it doesn't seem that way. Seem more absolute, like God is the source of all good and the devil is the source of all evil. But given past discussion about the existence of evil.. it seems a bit inconsistent, at least in an absolute sense.. and only regarding evil, actually.

What do you think?

Kind Regards,

Mudcat

I think that God is the source of good, because that is His nature. From an LDS perspective, He has overcome evil and chosen the good. Thus He has become the source of infinite goodness. Now the ultimate source or the beginning of good is similar to asking where or when is the beginning of God. Where did He begin? I am not sure we could understand that answer if it were given to us. Our mortal minds are finite, because of the veil placed over it at birth. We are like horses wearing blinders. Yet we are infinite beings, our spirits are eternal and we have the potential to become infinite resurrected beings in whom all the fullness of good comes. We also have the potential of becoming as the devil is. His purpose is to be the "father of lies" and the source of evil (at least as far as we are concerned on this earth)and the opposite of what God is. God through His spirit tries to influence us to do good, whereas Satan tries to influence us to do evil. God's reason for doing this is because of His love for us. Satan's reason for influencing us for evil,and using the spirit of evil, is because of his hatred for us and his desire to spite us and God. This earth was not the beginning of his evil, it was manifest in the Grand council in heaven and just as God manifested His great love for us and the desire for us to advance in goodness to the point we could attain His fullness, so Lucifer wanted to dethrown God and make slaves of us all. His contempt for us was born of his arrogance and desire to excel over us, not for us to be join heirs, but to rule over us. Apparently the capacity for good and evil is co-existant with God and in all of us, thus the reason for our coming here was to be tested and tried to see if we would love the good and reject the evil. If we could learn to love what God loves or desire the good, then He would allow us to become as He is. If we could not, then we would fall short, some to a greater degree than others. Our life experiences are fashioned for that very purpose, to tutor us in the love of God and in a love of His goodness. He wants us to become holy as He is holy. He wants us to love as He loves. So ultimately the source of good is really a mystery, yet God is the embodiment of that ultimate good and desires us to seek it. Just as He is the light of the world, He wants us to become that light as well, while our light is dimmer, it can become brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

Regards,

Lightbearer

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He doesn't exist.

Siddhartha Gautama is generally accepted as a real historical figure.

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"Does God command the good because it is good, or is it good because it is commanded by God?"

This is not a dilemma at all because both statements coexist.

D&C 88:40, 41:

For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.

Good conforms to the moral order of the universe. It advances well being in accordance thereof. It has utility and satisfies want. It is all the attributes of godliness.

God is good.

It might be an artificial dilemma, because in truth "God commands good for the benefit of those who are not good so they can become good, so anything commanded by God is good." God stops commanding good to the prospective beneficiaries once they have become one with Him.

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Then why do we need a God, let alone worship him?

God is essentially a shortcut.

Given infinite time, perhaps we could eventually arrive at the same truths about existence that He did and attain a similar status on our own.

Then again, maybe we wouldn't. He has given us an option to short-circuit the process and benefit from his experience.

Plus, He's a pretty nice guy who loves us as a father.

God commands the good because it is good. What God commands is not good just because He commands it, but because it is good.

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God is essentially a shortcut.

Given infinite time, perhaps we could eventually arrive at the same truths about existence that He did and attain a similar status on our own.

Then again, maybe we wouldn't. He has given us an option to short-circuit the process and benefit from his experience.

Plus, He's a pretty nice guy who loves us as a father.

God commands the good because it is good. What God commands is not good just because He commands it, but because it is good.

It seems to me if God really loved you, he would have killed you before you were 8 years old. Now that's a shortcut.

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I think the LDS concept of "good" has to take into account something that trancends the being given the title "God". See Alma 42 for example.

20 And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin.

21 And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?

22 But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.

23 But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.

24 For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.

25 What, do ye suppose that amercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.

Follow that back to it's core thoughts. Actually, one should read the entire chapter.

Anyway, there are things that must be "good", under the Moroni 7 definition, that pre-existed the state of God being "God".

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John you quoted me as saying, "Well I am saying that God's nature is good."

You replied,

How do you know? You wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

John,

Let's assume the opposite for a moment. Essentially that "Good's nature is God."

Think about it, Good would be God and the only God that could actually be God would be that he was consistent with Good's nature. IOW, God's godliness hangs upon Good for its meaning.

Let's set aside for the moment, because there is absolutely no Scriptural precedent for such an equivocation. Rather let's look at the issue at hand.

If God has to be sanctioned by Good, for God to be God. Then I think we could safely assume that God's authority is given by Good. This statement is fairly problematic... Good actually asserts authority over God in such a case. So God isn't really omni-anything. God's authority hangs upon his agreement with Good.

If God were to disagree with Good, well he would lose such priveledge of being God. Because Good is God.

You asked me how I would know the difference. The difference would be that I worship a God who is good, because that is what he is. Rather than a God who has to be good to be God. IMO, the God that has to meet a standard to be God.. falls a bit short.

If such is the case and God does have an existential standard he must meet, then I would be better served worshiping the standard than him, because God's merit of Godliness is based upon his observance of it, not him.

Regards,

Mudcat

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