Among all of the other things that I do not understand about God is this: I do not understand what God is like.
I’m pretty sure that one of the things that God is supposed to be is good. One of my uncertainties is exactly how we know that God is good. My thought was this (and I remember hearing this somewhere a long time ago and thinking that it made sense to me, so I can’t claim any originality here): we claim that God is good, but supposedly God Himself defines what is good. If that’s true, then what is good is an arbitrary choice by God. Today, God might decide that genocide is not good and it would not be good. It might even be a sin. Tomorrow, though, God might decide that a little genocide is just fine. That isn’t, I think, what most of us mean by good. Good was good in the past, it’s good today, and will still be good tomorrow.
It seems to me that in order for us to say that God is good, good must exist apart from God, so that we can hold up good and see what it looks like and then hold up God and see what He (or She or It) looks like. If they look the same, well, then, God is good. If not…
And you might be thinking, but God is good and is the very definition of good. God would never do something like decide that “a little genocide is just fine.” As I recall, though, God on more than one occasion allowed, condoned, or ordered genocide. See, for just a few examples, Exodus 17:13, Numbers 21:3, Deuteronomy 2:33-34, and Deuteronomy 3:6.
It was at about this point that I was starting to feel confused and like I was missing something or possibly misrepresenting something. So, I Googled “Is God good?”
One of the hits was this site: https://answersingenesis.org/who-is-god/god-is-good/is-god-really-good/
I’m going to ignore the author’s misrepresentation of Darwin and focus on my question. The site’s author simply asserts that God is good and that there is no conception of good without God. The author states, “Again, from where do you get your definition of ‘good’? Only the Bible provides an absolute moral standard by which we can measure what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’”
Well, as I noted above, that means that genocide is bad – or good – depending on the mood God’s in. I’m not sure that works for me.
So, I checked out this YouTube video: http://www.everystudent.com/videos/isGodgood.html
Right on its opening screen it promised to answer my question.
But, it didn’t. The narrator asked the question, then discussed the notion of human freedom of choice, and then simply asserted that God is good.
So, no help from a quick Google search. The video, however, did touch on another area in which I lack understanding. The narrator pointed out that God is omnipotent, that God can do anything that’s logically possible (thus, no square circles). She then pointed out that God created people. When He did so, though, He didn’t want robots. He wanted real people and that meant giving them freedom. According to the author, humans have used their freedom to make bad choices.
I’ve heard sermons in a number of churches over the years and listened to a number of Christians discuss this issue and all of them seemed to agree on this next point: humans are sinners and cannot help but be sinners. No matter how well-intentioned a person is, no matter how strong that person’s convictions might be, no matter how devoutly that person believes, that person cannot help but to sin.
And, for me, that’s the rub. If God is truly omnipotent, could He not create beings with the freedom to choose and the strength of will to live up to that choice?
I could go on, but I think I’ve maybe made my point. I have no idea what God’s like and many of the answers I get to that question give a picture of a God (like the nasty feudal king of a God described in the first Web site I talked about) that I could simply never follow.