The Doctrine Of The Divine Command Theory

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The divine command theory states that “An act is morally required just because it is commanded by God and immoral just because God forbids it” (Shafer-Landau, The Fundamentals of Ethics, p.67). In interviewing an Elder of a local Jehovah’s Witness congregation on the ethics involved in religion, he agreed that the divine command theory is correct, and that there are many commands and things that are forbidden in the bible that are considered to be God’s standards for the way we live our lives. But, when asked the modified version of the Euthyphro Question: is an action morally right because God commands it, or does God command an action because it is morally right, (Shafer-Landau, The Ethical Life, p.57) he picked the latter. Despite agreeing with the statement that the divine command theory makes, picking the latter is not uncommon even if the first affirms the theory. The statement that God commands an action because it is morally right, “implies that God did not invent morality, but rather recognized an existing moral law and then commanded us to obey it” (Shafer-Landau, The Fundamentals of Ethics, p.67-68). This does not make the Elder’s message wrong, in fact most theists don’t follow the divine command theory. This is based on the fact that if the theory were true, whatever God says is a command, and therefore morally right, but God could have said that rape, murder, and stealing is morally right if that was the line of thinking.
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