Someone in the philosophy club at my university posted this on the club’s Facebook page for all to see. Of course, 80% of the members are either atheists or some sort of pantheist following in the shoes of Spinoza (Why Spinoza? I have no clue. Especially when I think most of his stuff was garbage. But that’s another topic).
Anyways, I found this satirical video somewhat entertaining, although I disagree with the amount of force behind the euthyphro dilemma. I think the video is persuasive if and only if the person watching the video was your average village atheist who doesn’t keep up with the literature in philosophy of religion.
Nonetheless, the video is satirical and is aiming to make a point. What is that point? For one, Mr. Diety (who is obviously representing God) is just some babbling, ignorant, unintelligent fool who cowers away from the questions and responds mediocrely. I won’t lie, the visual rhetoric is effective. Here you have this calm, collected, and articulate philosopher making Mr.Deity squirm in his chair as he struggles, with a confused look on his face, to give a sufficient answer to the philosopher’s questions.
The philosopher presents Mr. Deity with the classic Euthyphro Dilemma: Is something good because it has the characteristics of being good and therefore [God] declares it good or is something good simply because [God] declares it good?
Mr. Deity essentially responds that goodness is whatever he says is good because the goodness is the “essentiality of [him]“. The Philosophy then retorts, “how do we know?” Mr. Deity claims that goodness is one of his characteristics to which the philosopher shoots back and asks, “according to whom?” According to Mr. Deity, that would be Thomas Aquinas. This doesn’t really sit well with the Philosopher. He responds, “Sir, you can’t really define as one of your essential characteristics the very thing you’re attempting to establish.”
So, how is the dilemma escaped? Many theists appeal to the fact that the dilemma is a false one and God is good by nature.
The philosopher in Mr. Diety asks why must God be good? Or in his words, “according to whom?” Why can’t God be evil? Why must we pick this definition instead of that one? Of course, I think this misses the point of who God is, and God is, by definition, the greatest conceivable being. But doesn’t that beg the question? That is, the philosopher asks “according to whom?” and we can reformulate that question to, “Why must that be the definition and not this? According to whom is that the definition of God?” I think this objection fails though since an argument from definition is being offered, a stipulative definition, and this type of argument is completely valid and the definition cannot be true or false. Many atheists would say this begs the question and this is what the philosopher tries to point out–namely, that one cannot define one of the things that is trying to be established, i.e., goodness.
If we start with the definition of God as the greatest conceivable being, we can easily say that Being X that has goodness is greater than being Y that has evil or less goodness, and being Z that has the greatest level of goodness is obviously greater than X and Y. Given this definition, we have a being that is the greatest in every way and the euthyphro dilemma crumbles as a false one.
But then again, many don’t seem to understand what stipulative definitions are and what an argument from definition is. Hence, why so many village atheists get hung up on these satirical videos and chuckle, “Derp, derp, why is God good, eh? Why is it part of His nature? See, you beg duh question, and thus God doesn’t exist.” So, as always, the village atheist goes away with the idea that theism is completely untenable and idiotic while his video is so intellectually rigorous. (As a side note, I love how pro-atheistic videos have 242842894829342 likes and 3 dislikes, then we head on over to the theist videos and see 3 likes and 242842894829342 dislikes. It’s just always amusing how theists are hated on)