Perhaps because Christians portray Yahweh as "The God of Love" and prayers with lines like "God so loved the world that he gave his only son...," atheists spend a lot of time presenting evidence that the God of the Holy Bible is not good."

But let's set that all aside and ask a purely theological question: Does God HAVE to be good? Do terms like good and bad even apply to God?

Tags: Bible, Christianity, God, Good, The, ethics

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I'd like to quote Russell here.

Kant, as I say, invented a new moral argument for the existence of God, and that in varying forms was extremely popular during the nineteenth century. It has all sorts of forms. One form is to say there would be no right or wrong unless God existed. I am not for the moment concerned with whether there is a difference between right and wrong, or whether there is not: that is another question. The point I am concerned with is that, if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, then you are in this situation: Is that difference due to God's fiat or is it not? If it is due to God's fiat, then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong have some meaning which is independent of God's fiat, because God's fiats are good and not bad independently of the mere fact that he made them. If you are going to say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God. You could, of course, if you liked, say that there was a superior deity who gave orders to the God that made this world, or could take up the line that some of the gnostics took up -- a line which I often thought was a very plausible one -- that as a matter of fact this world that we know was made by the devil at a moment when God was not looking. There is a good deal to be said for that, and I am not concerned to refute it.

So in this sense the terms shouldn't even apply to the three monotheists' "God." It's used as a platitude, often without being questioned at all, people just go along with it.

God is so nice, he is our lord, our creator, he does so much for us, he must be good. It's Stockholm syndrome.

Let me play the role of The Mad Theologian here and argue this way: God is large and in charge and isn't subject to ethics as the subjects of his creation understand ethics. What he says goes because he says so.

According to this view there is no Devil in terms of one being good and the other being bad. Rather, the Devil is wrong by being in defiance of God.

What he says goes because he says so.

But that's exactly what Russell argued against. If something "good" is "good" only because of God's whim, then there is no "good."

I guess theologians haven't figured out how to unravel that bit of circular logic yet.

Theists subject their God to their code of ethics ALL the time. If anything that God does is "good" by definition merely because he did it, then we cannot say God is good. He's just God, it doesn't matter what he does is ok by our standards, but then why do many people try to ass-interpret and defend passages that have God calling for murder, rape and slavery? Since God's above us, we have to obey. But people choose to manipulate those things, and lie to themselves, so they can somehow still fit God under their umbrella of ethics. So they can still go to bed at night saying "God is good. He doesn't kill. He's nice." If what God says goes only because he's God, they wouldn't need to argue about his "goodness." Just as I wouldn't need to argue about the goodness of Ted Bundy or Hitler. What he did to those people goes because he's Hitler and he was head of the nation.

They subject God to their ethics because they NEED him to be good by human definitions, otherwise they could never win enough converts. Who'd be convinced if you argued for a dictator in the sky you have to accept unconditionally?

You can't just tell people to kill other people and leave it there. You have to pretend like it's God's will, and then you have to make them believe that his will is good, because otherwise not as many people would buy it.

And I think the reason that many atheists argue about God's evil rather than pointing out the impossibility of us judging him good or bad, is that it's much easier to point to a verse and show them that God's a death-hungry psycho.

KOrsan, I SPECIFICALLY did not write "What he says is good = good because he says so," I wrote "What he says goes because he says so."

I'm not talking about God as the source of ethics but as God The Boss. You do what he says because he says so and because a lake of fire awaits you if you don't.

I know what you meant, I was talking about what they often mean. If anything goes because he says so, then there would be no need to argue for good or bad, but merely his Godliness. But theists always do, because even they know that people wouldn't buy into unquestionable authority if you don't sprinkle some sugar on top of it in the form of "but he's good!"

Of course I know that if God were real, anything he says WOULD go. We could call him good or bad all we want to comfort ourselves, but in the end we're nothing but slaves.

"What he says goes because he says so."

Thats seems to be it because the only thing Lucifer did to be expelled from heaven was to disobey God. (according to the babble)

Vanity maybe ...

Lucifer was created perfect in all his ways, but iniquity was found in him. It was not put there by God. Lucifer created it.
( this is found in Ezekiel 28:15 )

I dont understand the use of the words perfect - but ....

God is perfect but ...

But then this isn't so much 'doing as he says because he says so' - Or because of it's 'godliness' - It's more of blind obedience because you know that there is punishment that awaits you if do not follow the commands. 

So then one would have to ask if you follow the commands because it's god or because of the punishment that awaits.  

I remember one theologian in a debate that argued that we have an obligation to follow Gods laws because he created us.  And because he created us, he 'owns' us and can dictate to us what he wishes - And nothing God says is 'good' or 'bad' - It just 'is'.  It may have been one with Hitchens but I can't remember the guys name.  Sad, sad argument it was...

It all hinges on one's interpretation of the definitions involved.

Well, of course, because words have meanings. Which words are you talking about. Please discuss the impact of the various definitions.

 

Words are important to me ... maddening too ...

 I obsess about them sometimes.

The Xians define god as "omnibenevolent" so their god must by definition be good.  (There are of course tons of arguments to show that if god exists it cannot be something or someone benevolent--which just shows me that the Xian god does not exist.  As in demonstrably does not exist, not just "there's no evidence so default to no.")

A more generalized version of god could be good, bad, sadistic, indifferent, whatever.

I suppose my overall point is that if God were to exist, human concepts of good and bad would be beside the point. I'm not sure what evidence the Christian theologians have for God being omnibenevolent. Perhaps in terms of himself. Anything he commands mankind to do is for his benefit. Perhaps that is the source of his purported omnibenevolence. There is ample information in the Bible (Old and New Testaments taken together) that, at least by human standards, with almost the one sole exception of giving his only son to save mankind from hellfire, he's not overall very good.

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