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God Is Good?


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Hey all...sorry I haven't been here in awhile. I've been meaning to post more, but I've been busy with other stuff.

 

The following is something I posted on my blog site and got several comments from my Christian friends. Not a lot of them read that anymore, apparently, so I decided to also post it on Facebook. Oh my God, did so many people rip me a new asshole! Some of them commented on it directly, some of them sent me messages, some of them even IMed me and tried to slap some sense into me that way. I just wanted to get some opinions from people who were actually more open-minded about this sort of stuff and wouldn't rip me to shreds for questioning God. So here it is.

 

 

One thing that Christians (and even many theists) tout from time to time is how good God is. They get a good job and say that God is good. Someone gets saved, and they say God is good. Someone "miraculously" is cured and they say God is good. You can go to a church service and hear it said probably a hundred times before you leave the building. One of the biggest things they like to say is that God is good because he provided a way out of Hell. But is God really good? Is it really appropriate to even affix such labels to God?

 

For argument's sake, I am going to discuss solely the God of the Bible, since that is the most popular God in our country. That is also the God that I no longer believe in, so it only makes sense.

 

I'm sure many of you have heard time and time again my rants about how evil God is. I talk about how God killed many billions of people in the Old Testament, just because they didn't worship him or weren't his "chosen people." The comeback is always, "Well, those people turned their backs on God and got what they deserved." But how many children were killed during those events? The Flood wiped out the entire population of the Earth save for a few, and I am sure that there were just a few children on the planet. While the Israelites were in Egypt, God sent a plague killing the firstborn children of Egypt. In several cities in the Promised Land God told the Israelites to kill everyone and everything, even specifically mentioning children. Little children who had never even had a chance to accept or reject God, yet they were killed simply because God had them be born in the wrong place. In the case of Egypt, Pharaoh was the one who refused to let the Israelites go, yet it wasn't Pharaoh who was punished; it was the children, and not just his children. After the Israelites left, the Bible says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart so he sent his chariots after them. In that case, Pharaoh didn't even choose to disobey God; God made him disobey just so he could kill some more and receive glory. David has an affair with Bathsheba and kills her husband, yet God doesn't punish David, he punishes David's child (and the child suffered for seven days). After reading things like this, one really has to wonder at the justness of God. The people responsible are not punished; rather it is the people they love who are punished, people who didn't do anything wrong. In the case of the Flood, God doesn't even bother to sort out the good from the bad; he just tells Noah to build a boat and kills everyone, guilty and innocent.

 

If God is all-knowing then he should have been able to foresee these things before they happened, and if he is all-powerful then he should have been able to prevent it. At the very least, one would think that an all-knowing, all-powerful God could have found a way to "cleanse" the planet without killing, or at least just weed out the bad seeds. This would seem to indicate that either the "all-knowing" or the "all-powerful" aspects of God are not true. One also has to wonder if God just isn't good, and just wants to use his power for his own gain. Perhaps he is some sadistic freak that just likes to watch people suffer. Or perhaps God has (or had) flaws. He might be omnipotent now, but may not have always been so. Perhaps he looked at everything and saw the one solution, and it turned out to be the wrong one. However, Christianity also holds to the idea that God exists outside of time. If that is the case, and God is omnipotent and omnipresent, then God should be able to go back in time and impose a better solution. Perhaps God just said, "To Hell with it, what's done is done," and just decided to leave it alone. Or perhaps the reason why the "solutions" seem so flawed is because God really wasn't doing anything at all. Perhaps he just created the Earth, saw everything in advance, and just decided it wasn't worth the effort trying to intervene. Plus, since he gave us free will, intervention might interfere with that. One then has to wonder why he created us at all. It surely seems it would have caused him less headaches. Or maybe there is no Creator at all.

 

Back to the point at hand (I got off on a tangent there), whenever I say these things about God being evil, about why God seems to love killing so much, I always get certain replies. Many people will try to find some way to justify the killing, but the ones who are honest will usually come right out and say that it doesn't make sense to them either why God would kill so much. Some will even rebuke me by asking how I can have the audacity to question God, and will even tell me I am condemned to Hell for doing so. The most popular one seems to be that God works in mysterious ways, and we can't understand his will. They say that we can't label God's actions as bad because we don't know all the facts and can't possibly understand the will of an infinite being. This is usually where Romans 8:28 comes in, where people say something along the lines of "God works all things together for good."

 

Here is my major problem with that last one. First of all, it assumes God is good simply because the Bible says so. Therefore, you look at everything from the perspective that God is good, and see whatever you want to see that makes you believe that. What drives me nuts is when people will try to say that I can't say God is evil because something bad happens, yet when something good happens they use it as evidence that God is good. It works both ways. If bad things aren't evidence that God is bad, then good things are not evidence that God is good. If we don't know all the facts and can't understand the will of God, then how can we automatically assume that God's will is good? The Bible? Just because a book says it doesn't mean it is true. Besides, if God is evil and God "wrote" the Bible, then wouldn't he try to paint himself in as good of light as possible?

 

If you really want to get into it, putting labels of any kind (like "good" or "bad") on God is defining him by the standards of those labels. In order to say that God is good, you are holding God to a standard, the standard of "good." A standard is not a standard unless it appeals to something "above" the individual in question. If you are holding God to such a standard, then it means that you are putting "good" above God. If God is the creator of all things, and created good and evil, then he is above them. God existed before good or evil existed, and so what was he then? So to boil it down, if you call God "good," you are saying that there is a greater power than God ("Good"). Personally, I believe that if God exists, then he/she/it isn't perfect and should be held to that standard. Just because the being created the universe doesn't mean it is all-powerful. All of us have a conscience, which is our only obvious window into higher things, and since it helps us determine right and wrong I have no problem with putting "good" in the highest place.

 

To summarize, if God truly is the highest power, then he cannot be labeled as good or bad, because there are so many variables that we can't understand. People will see what they want to see, and so if they want to see God as "good," then they will. But since there are so many variables that we cannot know, then you can never really have an objective view of God. Either you have to say that God is not the highest power, or you have to hold to a morally-neutral view of God..

 

 

So what do you all think?

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Personally, I believe that if God exists, then he/she/it isn't perfect and should be held to that standard. Just because the being created the universe doesn't mean it is all-powerful. All of us have a conscience, which is our only obvious window into higher things, and since it helps us determine right and wrong I have no problem with putting "good" in the highest place.

 

You've got some interesting ideas here. The Christian god is definitely not good, if judged by normal human standards.

 

 

To summarize, if God truly is the highest power, then he cannot be labeled as good or bad, because there are so many variables that we can't understand. People will see what they want to see, and so if they want to see God as "good," then they will. But since there are so many variables that we cannot know, then you can never really have an objective view of God. Either you have to say that God is not the highest power, or you have to hold to a morally-neutral view of God..

 

 

So what do you all think?

 

You're absolutely right--people see God exactly as they want to see him. I just got done reading a fundy thread on another forum on what can and cannot do. Such a violation of personal privacy. No human would allow him or herself to be subjected to such degradation. Yet the faithfully pious do it all the time. I think that god is used a great deal to allow these people to vicariously live out their wishes by imagining that "god" said this or that; they are inventing and reinventing god in their own image. And no, for the most part, this God is every bit as vengeful as the people who invent him. The stories of the OT can be mild in comparison. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but I'd like to think not much.

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The only label I'd apply to gawd is "imaginary" and as imaginary friends go, he's a complex one. People have been trying to analyize his imaginary doings for ages, and his imaginary wrath is legendary.

Just as soon as he accepts my invite for tea and scones, I'll reconsider his imaginariness. As long as he brings the scones.

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Par is right again, of course.

 

God is whatever people can imagine him to be. The Christian god gets credit for good, but never blame for evil, even though that god claims to be in complete charge and has created everything that exists.

 

My god is good with pasta - for which I thank Him - but I don't blame Him for sushi.

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My favorite quote about the Christian God comes from Richard Dawkins:

 

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

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As I've been hammering home on another thread, the God of the Bible is actually evil in that he ordered the killing of innocent babies (for example in the Book of Joshua and the 1st Book of Samuel). If a human military officer were to do the same, he would be brought up on charges of war crimes. So even if the God of the Bible actually exists, He would not be worth worshiping.

 

While atheists should admit--just for the sake of argument--that God's morality does not have to correspond exactly to human standards, there's no explanation as to why God's morality would be so different than human morality.

 

For me and some others on this site, the blatant immorality of the Biblical God is the most convincing reason for atheism.

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They all like to say that God created man in his own image except when we point out how evil biblegawd seems to be.

Maybe that's the explanation to why mankind is also evil? I think this is the foundation to why Gnostics believe YHWH to be an evil demigod.

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There was an interesting post on Catholic Answers recently about God killing people. Someone who teaches catechism started it. They said they were wondering what they should tell a little girl who was horrified by the fact that God allowed all first-born in Egypt to be killed. There were some interesting responses. Some I had heard before, others not. Here are some examples:

"It is His right to deal with His creation as He sees fit. This type of question is usually asked by atheists. My response is that most do not study theology and need to to see the total picture."

 

"Second, tell me this --can God murder? What is murder, anyway? Does God have the power of life and death over what He creates? Can a Creator murder a creation?"

 

"Exactly right. While it is possible for God to kill, it is impossible for God to murder, since all life is his to give and take as he sees fit."

 

"Well, God disciplined the Old Testament people as well, in the manner they best understood." (This one really stuck with me. Pretty sure if God struck people dead today, he would get people's attention pretty quickly)

 

"Yes, as it is said, "The good Lord giveth and the good Lord taketh away.""

 

"But God does take drastic steps to get us to pay attention. Especially when we harden our hearts and resist God. the more we Resist the more pain there will be. That does not mean that God will let us do what we want, but when he needs us to do something he pokes and prods till we do it. With Pharaoh it was the only way God could get him to relent and let them go."

 

"Wasn't it Pharaoh who said the bit about the first born? And Moses had said the next plague, much worse, would be of the Pharaoh's own making? So really, God was expressing his power by showing the Pharaoh the power of his ill words and thus turning it against him?"

Someone with some sense said: "Just because you make life does not give you the right to take it away nor to make it suffer. It's just horrible if you think you do."

To which they got the reply: "This restriction applies to man (who does not make life in the first place), not to God, who owns all creation and has the complete right to dispose of it as he sees fit. God has indeed the right to take your life away at his pleasure."

And another reply: "You see it that way because you do not know history or theology well. But, we all have a chance to learn , don't we."

"I believe everything God does is to achieve His ends (his ends being to lead all men to Himself and to save their souls.)"

 

"I don't have an answer to your question. I have tried to skirt around it when I am dealing with children. I do try to keep in mind however that God created the sun, stars, the moon and black holes. He is not a warm soft fuzzy. Besides time, death, and eternity from the God's position is different than ours. Children do relate to that story and to the Egyptian first born. I remember as a child it affected me also. Perhaps that is why I can't give you a straight answer."

 

"This is a good time to discuss with your class that sin is not a private thing. The sin of one person impacts the entire community. Using the sin of Achan in Joshua 7 helps to teach this lesson.

Think of all humanity like a spider web. If you touch one part, the entire web feels the wave - same for sin. One sin ripples over all humanity."

 

"God communicates with us in a way that we understand. As we have evolved as a people and a society God can communicate with us in subtle ways, through prayer and reflection, through His works.

Back when people were more savage and didn't understand God's subtle language, God had to use a form of communication that they would understand. He had to be more cut and dry about things, because the people were not evolved enough to understand. The only way for God to get His message across in those times was to be drastic and to wipe out a couple thousand people. Otherwise they wouldn't get the message. He did what He had to do. To suggest that God is mean or vengeful isn't right. God just uses the most effective communication tools at His disposal."

 

"Sin is worse than death. Death is only the end of the body. Sin is infinite offense to God unpunished, and so there is Hell. Therefor, not only is God right and able to do everything and anything to human beings because they are His creation and everything they have belongs to Him, but because of the misuse of what they have, He has all the more right to inflict any punishment He desires whatsoever and to whatever degree. For God is infinite goodness, whom the slightest sin against is infinitely evil -- and that cannot be left uncorrected. It must either be repented and redeemed, or punished. The death of the body is nothing at all, it is a sentence passed on every single person and will happen to all sooner or later -- at God's time and decision. He is the one who decides. There is no one better. We after all, do not own our selves. He does. And He is good, we are not."

 

 

 

You get the point. There was something like 187 responses last I checked.

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YHWH is not evil. Not to YHWH.

 

I squish insects on a regular basis and I am not evil. Perhaps from the point of view of the insect I am but what do I care what insects think? If they have somehow gotten into their little insect heads that I care for them, perhaps even love them and maybe some of them have even decided that they're my most favorite insects of all it means nothing to me. I don't care for them. At all. This doesn't make me evil on any level. None that matters anyway. Nor doesn't make me loving. So I don't care that a few insects may find me evil. And I could care less that others have figured out a way to find me all-loving. So loving that it doesn't even make sense but they adhere to it anyhow. The fact remains that they're insects and simply don't matter to me in any meaningful way.

 

So YHWH, or any "god" for that matter, I imagine could simply care less. When in the presence of an equal then it the question becomes relevant. Is YHWH good or evil compared to another "god?" That matters. Compared to us? Who cares. It's apples and oranges. An entirely different league. The funny thing is that as a monotheistic deity this YHWH has grown in scope that to even notice us borders on the absurd and to actually consist only of the emotion that we call "love" is beyond ridiculous.

 

mwc

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I squish insects on a regular basis and I am not evil.

 

When I was a little girl, one of my favourite summer evening pass-times was to go out to my front yard and catch the little white moths that flew around and landed on the damp grass. I would throw all captured moths into a spider web and watch intently as the spider wrapped the moth up and ate it.

 

Yup. And I still like to throw insects into spider webs when the opportunity presents itself. It is best when the spider is big.

 

Bet you would never guess that while I am fascinated by spiders and love to watch them eat bugs, I am TERRIFIED by the thought of a spider crawling on my body.

 

Oh yeah,..and I am not evil either :)

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