I guess we should not be surprised that theological arguments often fall back on authority – after all they have invented the biggest authority ever. The answer to everything (and you don’t have to be able to count to 42 – 3 will do).
But it does provide them a useful cop-out whenever they run into problems during discussion with others – especially non-theists. Appeal to authority!
Usually they are savvy enough to use a more worldly authority – often themselves but usually other theologians, or philosophers of religion, who have “destroyed” the argument presented many times over. And because it is an appeal to authority you must take their word for it. Your argument has been destroyed, and so thoroughly they are not going to bother with the details.
So it was nice to see another philosopher dealing them some of their own medicine (see God fails triple morality test). And on a specific argument I referred to previously in my post The argument from authority (or lack thereof). In that I mentioned how a local blogger advocating a religious divine command morality had “destroyed” the Euthyphro Dilemma:
“Applied to this situation the dilemma for “divine command” ethicists is – are “moral truths” ” good and just because God wills it.” Or does “God wills it because it is good and just.” Inevitably in any real situation such an ethicist is making her moral decision for her god by appealing to some other outside source of morality. Or they talk themselves into the silly position the apologist W. L. Craig did recently when he ended up justifying biblical infanticide, genocide and ethnic cleansing – because it was commanded by his god (see Concern over William Lane Craig’s justification of biblical genocide).”
The blogger resorted to an argument from authority by declaring “Euthyphro Dilemma has been well and truly dealt with by divine command meta-ethics. This has been done so many times I find it incredible that anyone still brings it up!” As far as he was concerned that was the end of it. No details were going to be discussed under his watch.”
Well, here is what Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York, thinks of such “destruction.” Referring to the “popular idea that morality comes from God” he says:
That was soundly refuted by Plato in the Euthyphro, and despite thousands of years of desperate theological pretzel twisting the refutation stands.
I must remember that term – “pretzel twisting.”