Euthyphro's dilemma is a famous philosophical question first posited by a character, called Euthyphro, in Plato's 'socratic dialogue' on goodness. The question is as follows: is a thing good because God says it is good? Or does God say it's good because it is good? The question raises two subsequent questions that are apparently contradictory. First, if goodness is defined by God, we can assume that God can arbitrarily define anything He wants as good. This could include things we know are evil. Because we don't want an arbitrary morality, based on the whim of a deity, we reject the idea that goodness is defined by God. Second, if God is simply noticing the goodness of a thing, He does not provide the standard for goodness, meaning that there is a standard which is outside and above God. Since God is omnipotent and omniscient, it is irrational to postulate a standard that exists outside of Him.
What is the solution to Euthyphro's Dilemma?
If God defines goodness, we can never be sure if goodness and evil are not arbitrary. If goodness exists outside of God, we question His power. This is Euthyphro's dilemma. Thankfully, the Bible provides a third option to which Christians assent. God's nature, His divine character, serves as the standard of goodness, which He follows. Since He is pointing to His own nature as the standard, that standard does not exist above or outside Himself. And since He is immutable and perfect, He will not be whimsical or arbitrary in His declaration of good and evil. He will always tell us the truth.
Furthermore, we can provide a proof for God's character being the standard of goodness. We define the goodness of a given object by its ability to fulfill the purpose for which it was made. A good dog is a dog that does doggy things well: it is loyal, it plays fetch, and it protects you from robbers. The purpose of a game is for entertainment, thus, a good game is a game that is both challenging and fun. God is a creator, and as such, He determines the purposes of all things. If He makes a thing for a certain purpose, and it does not fulfill its purpose, we have a definition of evil. Pride is evil because man's purpose is to worship God, not himself. Adultery is evil because a spouse's purpose is to support and love and be loyal, not to betray and cause emotional harm. Evil is a negation of good, that is, a negation of purpose and meaning.
God can and does define good and evil by the standard of His own good character. This solves Euthyprho's Dilemma.
The attributes of God, what are they?
Who or what is God?
Is God omnipresent? What does it mean to be omnipresent?
Is God omniscient? What does it mean to be omniscient?
Is God omnipotent? What does it mean to be omnipotent?
Truth about Theology