Major theistic religions see God as a lawgiver who creates laws for us to obey. This notion, later elaborated upon and coined the Divine Command Theory, was once pondered by the Greek philosopher Socrates. In a recorded dialogue, he posed what is considered to be one of the greatest philosophical questions in history: Is conduct right because God commands it or does God command it because it is right? This question has created a very large philosophical puzzle.
This question presents a major dilemma if we accept the theological conception of right and wrong. .
Say we are to take the former option of Socrates question and assume that the right conduct is right because God commands it. For example, God commands that truthfulness is right. According to this, the only reason to be truthful is that God requires it of us. Aside from God's divine command, truthfulness is neither right nor wrong. God's command justifies and dictates that truthfulness is right. .
Taking this view leads us straight for trouble though; it designates God's commands as arbitrary. God could have, on a different day, given entirely different commands. Had God commanded us to be liars and never tell the truth, then lying would be right and truthfulness wrong. One might say that "God would never command us to lie; that would be wrong and why would God wish us to act wrongly?" However, we must remember that had God commanded lying, it would in fact be right. This view dictates that honesty was not always right; it only became right when God commanded it. Therefore, God had no more reason to command truthfulness then it's opposite. Morally speaking, this renders God's commands as arbitrary. .
A second problem arises with this view. Religious people feel quite strongly that God is not only all-powerful and all knowing but all good as well. Accepting the notion that right and wrong are defined by God's will, we reduce the previous notion on God's qualities to something devoid of meaning.