1. How should we understand the category of morally wrong actions? These are acts (and sometimes omissions or failures to act) where if you commit them, then you are deserving of moral blame and even punishment. Agents have a moral obligation to refrain from doing these. And people, the would-be victims, have a right to not have these acts committed deliberately against them. Murder, rape, child abuse, etc. fall into the morally wrong category, for example.God, it is alleged, is good. He is morally just, infinitely good, or morally perfect. How can we understand this description in the light of the distinctions above? We typically have the highest moral praise for those individuals who make the greatest personal sacrifices in order to perform morally supererogatory acts. Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and many others are praised widely for their morally supererogatory acts.
2. What acts are morally permissible? these are acts that a moral agent may do or may refrain from doing without violating any duties. Committing them, or not, does not warrant any moral praise or blame. Having toast for breakfast is morally neutral this way, unless perhaps you killed someone for the toast.
3. Which acts are morally obligatory? These are acts that an agent has a moral obligation or duty to perform. If he fails to do them, then he deserves moral blame. Failing to feed your kids, or ignoring a drowning person while there's a life preserver there on the dock that you could toss to him are examples. People have a right to receive these things from you.
4. Which acts are morally supererogatory? These are acts that you do not have a moral obligation to perform. But if you do them, you deserve moral praise. People don't have a right to expect these of you. You violate no moral duty by doing them or refraining. But we hold them in high moral esteem. When someone runs into a burning building to save a child, they are going above and beyond the call of duty. We praise them as heroes, but if he had not done the act, we would not find moral fault.
God is alleged to be all powerful and all knowing too. So there will be no opportunities for supererogatory action that are unknown to him, or that are beyond his power to perform. Does God perform all of the supererogatory acts that we might expect from an infinitely good, all powerful, and all knowing being? The short answer appears to be no. There are countless supererogatory acts that God could have done that he has not done. There are countless supererogatory acts that God could have performed but he did not, but if a human had done them we would hold them in the highest moral esteem.
Does God perform all of those acts which we ordinarily hold to be morally obligatory for moral agents? Again, the simple answer appears to be no. There have been countless opportunities to perform actions that we would consider to be morally obligatory for moral agents, but the action was not performed by God. Again, God would not be limited by his power or knowledge in these cases.
Has God committed morally wrong actions? If God is the almighty creator of the universe, then there are countless instances where there was an event that God was either directly or indirectly causally responsible for that we would ordinarily identify as morally wrong. Consider the class of actions or omissions that we would identify as morally wrong if a moral agent had been present and had committed them or allowed them to happen. A person drowns by herself near a dock on a lake where a life vest sits on the dock. If a person had been standing next to the life vest and saw her drowning in the lake, but refrained from tossing the life vest to her, we would think of that failure to act as morally abhorrent. There are countless other events like these where it does not appear that God did what we would ordinarily have identified as the morally obligatory act. Therefore, it would appear that God has committed (or by omission allowed to happen) countless morally wrong acts.
So it appears that God has failed to perform countless supererogatory acts that we would otherwise identify as morally praiseworthy. And God has apparently failed to do many of the actions that we would ordinarily consider to be morally obligatory and good. And God has apparently committed (or by omission allowed to happen) countless morally wrong actions or events.
The implication may be that we cannot accept the claim that God is good unless some suitable and sensible way to cash out what that means is forthcoming. We might ask, given how things appear, what is the difference between a world that has an infinitely good God in it and one without? That is, what sense can we make of the claim that God is good? In what regard is he deserving of the attribution? And a related question is, what sorts of behaviors would God have to engage in for us to reasonably attribute moral evilness to him (if it is not the behaviors we have seen)?
In our ordinary, daily affairs, we invoke a set of straight-forward and clear criteria for what sorts of things are wrong, which things are heroic, which things are morally good, and which are morally wrong. But God, it would appear, is either not good, or has goodness that doesn’t manifest in any of the familiar ways.
Department of Philosophy