If I thought of God as another being like myself, outside myself, only infinitely more powerful, then I would regard it as my duty to defy him.
— Ludwig Wittgenstein
Is god moral? To contemplate this question, we must have some agreement on the meaning of the words “morality” and of “God”. For simplicity, I will usually use the classical “He” to reference God since I lose track of the present fad of grammatically cycling between “She” and “He” and because “It” seems to lessen the seriousness of my contemplation. Personally, I do not care whether God is a He, She, or Whatever.
I submit the meaning of the word “God” is probably easier to agree upon existentially. We have to contemplate this question in the same way one would contemplate the ontological proof of God: from the perspective of the word “God”, that is of our definition and understanding of the existential meaning of the word “God”. Whatever meaning that word has for anyone regardless of whether they are a theist or an atheist or anything in between, its one necessary and universal attribute would be that the word “God” by definition means the reason for their being something instead of nothing — this is true even of a pantheistic version of God in which the universe and its existence occurs by necessity or simply by luck through the workings of universal scientific empirical laws and thus these laws are your God. Agnosticism is not rational; since this is a rational contemplation, I am not dealing with agnosticism. I am therefore I think — I think in particular and especially about my existence. If I think then I think of the reason for there being something instead of nothing including there being me. It is irrational, delusional, and cowardly to fail to take a position on the reason I or anything exists.
For morality, the only attribute for its meaning that is universally agreed upon is that it is an act of will. It is an act of will giving meaning to a meaningless universe. That we “will” may be an illusion and the choices we make pre-destined or pre-determined by empirical material reality but even if such is true, all moral, immoral, and amoral choices would still be called and are acts of will or choices — free or not. Morally, immorally, and even amorally, even if I am pre-determined or pre-destined to be something, I can still reject that something. If there is no free will other than the illusion of freedom, such rejection will only be nominal and a fight I cannot ever hope to win but it is still there as a choice and a powerful one at least existentially if not for anything else. It is a choice that will define me and give meaning to the meaninglessness of my life even if it is a predestined or predetermined life because morality as the absurd hero Meursault of Albert Camus’s The Stranger finally realized as he faced the gallows is “opening [one’s] heart to the benign indifference of the universe” and willing to give its meaninglessness meaning. There is a large existential difference between accepting one’s fate and fighting against it — even if the fight is destined to end in loss. Remember the last words of Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus; as Sisyphus looked down and contemplated his meaningless task and became conscious of his wretched condition, in this tragic moment he realized “[t]he struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”. (For a more detailed analytic contemplation of the meaning of the words “free will”, please see Wittgenstein on the ‘Illusion’ of Free Will.)
As contemplated earlier, ethics, good, and evil are meaningless when discussing God. But what about morality? Despite His necessary nature, does it make sense to talk about God making moral, immoral, or amoral choices? Or, as Socrates asked, is something moral because God wants it or does She want it because it is moral? If the reason for there being something instead of nothing is simply the universe and you are an atheist or your God is pantheistic, it makes no sense to apply any concept of morality to God — the universe simply is, its meaning is to exist. Its existence precedes its essence and precedes language and thus any wordgame of morality. What if you have a personal God such as the Christian God Who is a Being? He is an infinite, omnipresent, and all-powerful Being but still a Being. As a Being, is He able to will the universe to have meaning and thus have a morality? At first impression, it appears that the concept of morality should apply to a personal God. However, in reaching this first impression, we forget what morality is: willing to give meaning to a meaningless universe. Even a personal God does not need to will anything nor does He need meaning; His existence is its own meaning. She is complete and whole, infinitely and completely in Himself or Herself or whatever your personal God may be and Existence is the meaning of God. Therefore, God is not moral or immoral but the best way to describe even a personal theistic God is to say He is completely amoral. I must say the “best way” or seems because as with the pantheistic God, this existence that is the essence of God also precedes language and thus logically and strictly speaking is something “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”.
God being amoral or the wordgame of morality not applying to God makes perfect sense as Wittgenstein’s famous quote above brings out. If God were really just another moral busybody or even the most powerful moral busybody of all telling me how I should be living my life in the short span I have in life, He is no better than any other moral busy body except in degree not in substance or essence. He is no better in quality than any other existentially created morality that makes my life simply a mascot for its sense of morality; I might as well create my own morality and enjoy being a god myself.
That should answer the question as to whether God is moral for all concepts of God, except for Christianity and its Trinity or any equivalent form of theism or polytheism. I suggest that the theologians of the early Church came up with the Trinity concept as a way around the amoral nature of God. As always, the ancients were a lot smarter than what we give them credit for being. Since the Trinity includes a person who is human, Jesus Christ, the question of His morality must continue. Given that Jesus Christ — the Jesus Christ Person in the Christian God — is human, is Jesus Christ moral? Regardless of what one might think of Him, there can be no dispute that He is moral. According to the Christian concept of what Jesus Christ is and then on to the Beatitudes and on to anything that can be ascribed to him, this Christ Person does want to give meaning to life and does not exist simply as having the power of His Existence be its own meaning and an end in itself. According to the Trinity dogma, there is a Third Person, the Holy Spirit, that is the relationship between God the Father and the Christ Person. So for a Christian with Faith, the answer is that God, through Jesus Christ, is moral. God loves us, wants us to be happy, will reward us in heaven for following his morality, so on, and so forth. At this point, we are leaving rationality and getting into Kierkegaard’s existential Leap to Faith and of Pascal’s Gamble that are beyond this essay.
However, the Trinity problem does not solve the initial question we are asking. So far, there is no problem with the use of words. Like the ontological proof, we are dealing with logically subtle and abstract but sound and valid reasoning derived from the very meaning of the words and concepts used. Morality is an act of the will, not of reason. Morality is an individual willing meaning into the world. And thus, evil is the opposite of whatever this good the individual defines to be. God, in the non-Christian sense is amoral because God just is. The Christian option seems to be that in exchange for accepting as a necessary part of God’s amoral nature all the suffering that has been, is, and will be part of humanity — in exchange for accepting that — we will be rewarded with happiness in heaven by the human person in God: Jesus Christ. By accepting the massacre of the innocents, I will be happy. Such beliefs do give meaning to life and thus are a morality.
But it is not one with which I want to be involved. Or, morally should be involved? Why not? Because it is unfair and unjust — it is not a fair and just way of getting results. So what? Again, it is God’s universe. He can do with it as He or She pleases. Why do I not want to be involved in it? Is it altruism on my part or arrogance and conceit? Is it because I want to have greater power than God? Since God is amoral, is He also unjust and unfair? I will consider these questions next.