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Argument Regarding The Divine Command Theory Essay

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The divine command theory is an ethical theory relating to God and how his commandments should guide the morality of humankind. Objections to this theory include objections to the nature or existence of God or to the nature of his character or commands. For the purposes of this paper, I will present the divine command theory, introduce a serious objection evident in Genesis 22, propose and explain an alternative to the divine command theory that is the divine will theory, explain why this theory avoids the objection, and critique and respond from the perspective of a divine will theorist.
Broadly, the divine command theory is a religious moral code in which God’s commands determine what human beings should or should not do. As such, it is expected for theists to subscribe to the divine command theory of morality. The deontological interpretation of the divine command theory separates actions into one of the following categories: mandatory for human beings to perform, prohibited for human beings to perform, or optional for human beings to perform. Those actions that are mandatory to perform are ones which have been expressly commanded by God. Failing to commit a mandatory action would be defying God’s commands, and thus, according to the divine command theory of morality, immoral. Actions that are prohibited are ones that God expressly commands human beings do not perform. Consequently, to perform a prohibited action would be immoral. Finally, those actions that God does not expressly command that human beings should perform or should avoid performing are optional; there are no moral implications to performing or not performing such acts. The rightness or wrongness of an action is inherently and wholly dependent upon th...


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...eradicating the element of fear. It would always be reasonable to maintain the typical conception of an omnibenevolent God who would never intend for moral wrongs to be done.
The divine command theorist’s presumed critique of the divine will theory is twofold: first, what would happen in an instance in which the command and the will of God are not expressing the same thing? If God’s commands are his only way of communicating intent, but his commands are not perfect reflections of his intention, then how can human beings possibly know what actions are morally mandatory or prohibited? Second, in such an instance, what is the point of a command if not to communicate God’s will? The divine command theorist would charge that the point of a command under the divine will theory becomes arbitrary, and theists altogether reject the notion that God ever acts arbitrarily.


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