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Divine Command Theory



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    According to the Divine Command Theory morality depends upon religion in the following sense: Morally right actions are morally right because God commands us to perform them, and morally wrong actions are morally wrong because God forbids us from performing them. In other words, the Divine command theory is the view that morality is somehow dependent upon God, and that moral obligation consists in obedience to God’s commands. My goal is to prove that the Divine Command Theory is false because of the belief argument and the Euthyphro dilemma.

    The first problem that stands out to me is the belief argument. This argument says that if DCT is true, then morality exists only if God exists. If morality exists only if God exists then it’s impossible to believe in morality without believing in God, hence DCT is false. This brings up the question if God really exists or not. Therefore, for atheists this statement makes it difficult. Since there are non-believers out there, does that simply mean that morality does no exist for them?

    Another problem with Divine Command Theory is if there is no standard of “being morally right” apart from God’s commands, then God could literally command us to do anything and it would be right for us to do it by definition. Whatever God commands becomes the standard of moral rightness, and there are no moral values external to God to limit what he would or would not command. So if God commanded one person to rape another, DCT entails that rape would be moral because “doing the right thing” is logically equivalent to “doing what God commands. A highly implausible implication is that it is impossible to even imagine God commanding a wrong act. What counts as moral or immoral behavior on DCT is completely subjective and solely dependent upon God and thus can be seen as arbitrary. The next question is: “Does God command us to do actions because they are morally right, or are actions morally right because God command them? ” This addresses the Euthyphro dilemma. The Euthyphro argument says that either God has reasons for His commands, or he doesn’t. If he does, then those reasons are what make actions right or wrong in which Divine Command Theory is false.

    If He doesn’t, then His commands are arbitrary, in which case He is imperfect. God is not imperfect. So therefore Divine Command Theory is false. The divine command theory answers our new question by confirming that actions are morally right just because God insists that we perform them. Prior to God’s commands, nothing was right or wrong. Morality simply did not exist. The first option says that God commands actions because they are right. This implies that God did not invent morality, but rather recognized an existing moral law and then commanded us to obey it. But God created everything.

    Therefore, he created morality. So, this makes the first option impossible. The second option, that God commands something because it is right and that is obvious to Him in His infinite wisdom, avoids the arbitrariness of the previous option, but introduces a new problem which takes us back to the beginning: if God commands something because it is right, then in accepting that argument you have abandoned a theological concept of right and wrong, that it would be right whether or not God commands it. Each of these cases will lead the believer in the divine command theory into morally uncomfortable territory.

    On the other hand, because morality represents a collection of norms; which are standards that we ought to live up to, there must be someone with the authority to create them. However, there is no authority to make up the moral law with out God. As human beings we are limited in understanding and bound to make mistakes. A morality built upon our imperfections would lack credibility without God. So therefore this idea argues that the Divine Command Theory is true in the sense that without any belief of a authority figure, being God, then morality or purpose in life seems invisible.

    Additionally, as well acknowledged, God is ultimately perfect. That makes creating a moral code fairly easy when perfection by one being is met. In addition, picture a universe with out the idea of a God and divine purpose. Where would the idea of morality come from? If we were just here without any imposed aims or purposes to live up to, then it is difficult to see how there can be moral duties at all. In order to understand our moral requirements we must have someone with the authority to impose those duties on us. And in this case, only God could possibly qualify.

    Find somewhere else to place this paragraph…Another problem with the divine command theory that isn’t as logically addressable, but is still a sticking point, is that what God “says” is mired in issues of accuracy and human error. What if a person claims God has said something to them, and another person claims God has said something different? Whom should you believe? The answer is, of course, the right one, but that does not get you anywhere. Now think of this in larger terms of the chief document of Judeo-Christian faith, the Bible, and millennia of time and generations of translations multiply the problems.

    Within the Christian faith, different denominations accept different parts of the Bible, and exclude others from the very inclusion in printing; a Catholic bible will be textually different from a Baptist bible. Furthermore, in teaching their particular texts, different parts are emphasized and deemphasized, lending an entirely different interpretation of what is thought by each to be God’s word. One response in defending the Euthyphro dilemma is to avoid portraying God as arbitrary and assume that He issues commands based on the best possible reasons.

    Lets suppose that God really did forbid us from torturing others. God must have had very good reasons for doing so. Assuming that God based His decision on the fact that torture is extremely painful is humiliating, and so on are what make torture immoral. Since God knows everything, God knows what is vile about torture and, in His love for us, orders us not to attempt such actions. God sees that an action such as torture is immoral. God also sees perfectly that such things as kindness and compassion are good, and then issues the divine commands on the basis of this flaw-less insight.

    This depiction preserves God’s truthfulness and it proves God’s authorship of the moral law. The Divine Command Theory represents all ‘God-given’ moral truths such as, as God is unchanging, so moral truth will never change, God’s commands must be treated as the Ultimate source of authority for what is considered ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ even if we do not agree with this or do not understand why this has to be the case, and finally the more knowledge we have of how God wants us to live, the better our lives will be.

    We can simply say that the Divine Command theory is true because of the proof represented in the bible. If God is the creator literally all things, then he created morality. If God rules over all Creation, then we ought to do what he tells us to do. The consistent message of the Bible is that we should obey God’s commands.

    Shafer-Landau, Russ. (2010). The Fundamentals of Ethics. New York, New York. Oxford University Press, Inc. Austin W., Michael. (2006, August 21). Divine Command Theory. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 3, 2011 from Byrne, Peter. (2007, December 4). Moral Arguments for the Existence of God. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 1, 2011 from

    Divine Command Theory. (2017, Mar 03). Retrieved from

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