It is perhaps the central philosophical/theological question of all: Is Something Good Because God Says So? Or is Something Good Because it Makes the World a Better Place?
What do YOU believe?
The perpetrator (I will not repeat his name here) of the horrific killings in Orlando, Florida earlier today, June 12, 2016, probably believed the following; that gays were an abomination and that God (the one that he believed in, not the one YOU might believe in) endorsed the killing of gays and their sympathizers.
From the Koran (7:80 - 7:84) "And (We sent) Lot when he said to his people: What! do you commit an indecency which any one in the world has not done before you? Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people. And the answer of his people was no other than that they said: Turn them out of your town, surely they are a people who seek to purify (themselves). So We delivered him and his followers, except his wife; she was of those who remained behind. And We rained upon them a rain; consider then what was the end of the guilty."
The "rain" referred to above is probably something like "brimstone" which would lead to the death or "the end of the guilty."
This is not much different than the following from the Old Testament which is actually more clear in its viciousness: (Leviticus 20:13, New International Version) "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
One would think that since the source of belief in the Christian God and the Muslim God (and Jewish God) are the Holy Books quoted above, that opposition to homosexuality would be common among Christian and Muslims. One would be correct in thinking that. It is only very recently in the history of Christian society that homosexuality has approached majority acceptance and indeed not nearly all American or other Christians are on board with that opinion just yet. Ted Cruz was infamously endorsed for President by a Pastor this year who prefaced his endorsement with his reminder that homosexuals should be executed according to his infallible Bible. Ted was pleased with the endorsement. (Go to "Why Is the Media Ignoring Ted Cruz’s Embrace of ‘Kill the Gays’ Pastor?"" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelangelo-signorile/post_10496_b_8544540.html .)
So I ask you again; what do YOU believe? Is Something Good Because God Says So? Or is Something Good Because it Makes the World a Better Place?
Of course I can hear you objecting by saying that the "True God" would NEVER tell you to do something that is wrong. The problem is that the perpetrator of the horror in Orlando would agree. Yes, ISIS would agree. Bin Laden would have agreed. ALL the terrorist fanatics would agree. That is the problem - if God says to do it, it becomes the RIGHT thing to do. It becomes the thing you MUST do. This argument is of no use.
This leaves basically the final feeble argument against where we are inevitably heading; the objection that the perpetrator did not believe in the one "True God." His God was a "false" God and the answer/solution is to believe in the "True God."
What is a "false" God? Answer: Basically a "false" God is what the other guy believes in. What you believe in is the "True God." And what your "True God" says to do is, of course, "good."
And, of course, the perpetrator believed he worshiped the one and only "True God." That was his opinion and your opinion is no more than that - an opinion. As much as you'd like to transform your opinion on the nature of the "True God" into a fact, you cannot do it anymore than the perpetrator could do it. At the very best all you can do is present the evidence for the one "True God" and test your conclusion.
Unfortunately even believers often admit that their God cannot be tested. The Book of Job reminds us "who are we to question God?" The evidence for which God is the "True God" is not evidence at all; instead belief in the "True God" is built upon faith - and faith is supposedly a gift from very the same True God whom we are trying to test and by no definition of the word can "faith" be considered reasonable evidence. Furthermore I have never heard a rational process for determining which faith is a "True Faith" and which faith is not. To claim that there are many contrary "True Faiths" is to accept that sometimes 2 = 3. Is a God that is Jesus the same as a God that is not Jesus?
Is your faith the "True Faith"? Is your Holy Book the "True Holy Book"? Is your God the one "True God." For all of these questions the perpetrator of this act of terror and all other religiously inspired acts of terror, would answer "yes". These fallible humans all elevate their fallible opinions to indisputable facts. Conversely, reasonable persons understand that the "facts" they believe are true are conditional and probable - not certain and taken on faith. Reasonable persons use evidence, logic, and science and accept that "facts" can be tested and subject to disproof.
Those who instead rely on faith for determining their absolute truths all uniformly and conveniently claim that reason, evidence and science cannot answer the deepest questions of human existence while implying that their personal opinions CAN answer them in an absolute manner. This certainty on the part of the faithful in knowing the Truth is seen as a virtue by them as opposed to the incredible danger and arrogance it actually presents. The scientific viewpoint is uncertain, conditional, testable and ultimately far more humble.
If you have managed to read this to this point, I will ask one final time: Is Something Good Because God Says So? Or is Something Good Because it Makes the World a Better Place?