Dr. Nadler Against Theistic Ethics
The Euthyphro Problem
First, many argue that making God the source of objective value solves nothing because it creates a dilemma fatal to theism. First raised by Plato in The Euthyphro, this argument claims that (1) If something is good because God wills it good, God could will anything (even murder) and it would be, ipso facto, good. But this is absurd. (2) If God’s will is not the source of the good, goodness lies outside of God’s being and this robs him of his moral supremacy (an essential attribute of deity).
This dilemma is in fact a chimera, since the theist can escape between the horns uninjured. The Euthyphro argument trades on a straw man (or straw god) that creates a false dilemma. Biblical theism—Islam is another matter that we will address later—claims God as the source of all goodness on the basis of both God’s character and God’s will. God’s moral will is based on God’s changeless nature. The triune God, who has existed from eternity in a relationship of threefold love between the Father, the Son and the Spirit, cannot, for example, morally mandate rape. God’s disposition forbids it. God’s integrity abhors it. Objective moral values, according to the Bible, are not created in the sense that the contingent universe was created out of nothing (Genesis 1:1 John 1:1). Objective moral values have their source in the eternal character, nature and substance of a loving, just, and self-sufficient God. Just as God does not create himself, so he does not create moral values, which are eternally constituent of his being. For that reason, when God creates humans in his own image and likeness, they need to know objective moral value and they must treat each other accordingly.
To hark back to Arthur Leff, to say that God’s moral utterances are “performative” does not mean that God brings something into being at a particular time that did not exist previously—as when a minister declares a couple now married as “husband and wife.” Rather, God’s character is eternally, changelessly good, so when God performs a moral utterance—as in the Ten Commandments or through the life and teachings of Jesus—he is speaking according to the eternal nature of his being. Herein is the warrant to declare the divine utterance unchallengeable and final. God’s commands are not arbitrary, either in their relation to the divine character or in their relation to the divine creation, since the creation bears the mark of the Creator. Therefore, it is impossible for God to sanction adultery, steeling, murder, false witness, and so on.
 See chapter 26.
 For a very illuminating treatment of this issue, see James Hanink and Gary R. Marr, “What Euthyphro Couldn’t Have Said,” Faith and Philosophy, vol. 4, no. 3. (July 1987): 241-261. This also addresses the objection that God demanded murder when he commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. See also William Alston, “What Euthryphro Should Have Said,” William Lane Craig, ed., Philosophy of Religion: A Reader and Guide (