Divine command theory holds that, actions are quantifiable to God’s commands. It argues that human beings are directed by the God’s command to distinguish what is wrong and right. However, critics have argued out the validity of this theory. Their question is what is considered morally upright is commanded by God because it is morally good or it is morally upright because it comes from God? This question has aroused concerns from philosophers. Some have defended it, while some have criticized this famous Euthyphro question.
Defenders of this theory have argued that, morality greatly depends on God. It is him who defines what the society views as right and wrong. Actions that are considered morally right are what God commands people. There is no difference between morality and God commands. For example he doesn’t want human beings to inflict pain upon others, when viewed in moral perspective, it is the right thing. Defenders of this theory observe that, once God commands an action, it is definitely moral upright. He never commands what is wrong to people, in fact his commands create a gap between what people view as wrong and right. He is the founder of morality and he dictates what is evil and good.
However, divine command theory has its own limitations. It states that God is the founder of morals yet some morals are just natural laws and ethics. This theory reduces God from being the founder and guardian of morals, to an overseer. Some ethics are not dependent on God, they are just real and human conscience can judge them as right and wrong. Critics argued that, morality is like a law. One can judge by themselves their actions by relating them to how the society perceives them. Moreover, this theory is not relevant when looking into the notion of morality deeply.
For example, people do not steal because it is a command by God. Meaning if God commanded us to steal then it would have been morally right. This theory dictates and obligates certain aspects of life which when viewed critically they are absurd. It portrays God as a dictator and we are his subjects. Whatever, he refers to us as right and wrong, so it is to us. It is quite difficult to consider being mercy because it is good rather than considering it because it comes from God. Philosophers argued that, if God chose to command right actions because they were right, then there is no point of considering right actions as divine. In fact, God only commanded this act is right and this is wrong without substantiating his argument.
Ethical relativism states that, choices on what is right and wrong mainly depend on individuals. This theory augments rejection of Divine Command theory. It considers morality as a choice not an obligation. What the society considers right and wrong, greatly influence individual’s actions. There is no absolute conclusion on truth because each society and person views it differently. For example, some actions might be considered unethical in a certain community yet morally upright in another.
This argument suppresses the belief that, God is the custodian of morals. Instead natural law has taken control to define morals in different environments. One can judge themselves not according to Gods commands, but depending on the society code of conduct. It doesn’t depend on what God has commanded, instead it is what the society expects and refutes. This theory argues that, God is good because he possesses traits of goodness. Since these traits make him perfect, we can as well think of him without them. This clearly refutes the argument of Divine theory that God is the standard of goodness.