Psalms 102: The Unchanging God
I was in a little discussion with a guy on the Internet the other day discussing objective morality, and he decided to bring up a little thing called Euthyphro’s dilemma. I don’t know if you have heard of it, but it is basically from the writings of Plato and generally goes like this.
“Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods.”
Extend this to a discussion of morality concerning the Christian God, and it becomes something like this.
“Is morality loved by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is loved by God.”
You can see the dilemma here. The first part of the dilemma is proposing that morality is perhaps something outside of God, but God likes it because He understands that it is moral. Under this premise, God would not have created morality, so for those of us who are Christians, we have a hard time with this one.
The other part is not much better because we now have a moral system where something is moral only of God prefers it at the time. I feel like this part is closer than the other part, but it is still wrong because it is subjective. We believe that morality is based on more than just the whim of God. There is something more to it than simply what God feels like on a given day.
You might wonder why I brought you here in a discussion of Psalms 102, but I have finally gotten there.
Psa 102:24 I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.
Psa 102:25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
Psa 102:26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
Psa 102:27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.
Psa 102:28 The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.
The two important facts to draw from this passage is that God is eternal and unchanging. That is why we have a hard time with that second premise. God doesn’t change who He is, so we as Christians can’t accept this system.
However, it seems as if we have to choose one. It seems that we have dilemma and that no other options. That is what they want you to think. In reality, I would argue that this is a false dilemma.
Let me try to explain this.
As Christians, we affirm that morality is part of the character of God. This handles both of the dilemmas presented above. On one hand, it is certainly not external to God. On the other hand, if God is unchanging is this verse from Psalms indicates, then it is not something based on a whim. Whatever was right for God yesterday is still right today. It is based on who God is rather than what God subjectively feels.
Do see how that works? This kind of false dilemma can be a powerful tactic because if you do not recognize that it is a false one, you are going to be stuck affirming a position that you don’t believe. In a debate, you really don’t want to do that. Recognize that there is a third option.