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Is G-d good?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I have this theory that gets me in trouble a lot with my friends, who tend to be more lovey-dovey than I about G-d.

I don't think G-d is good. I think that good is an ethnocentric value that we've placed upon G-d, and has no relevance to G-d. Neutrality is probably the best word for what I'm thinking about, but still doesn't cut it. If G-d was neutral, there would be no point to prayer, which I think is VERY important.

Maybe far-sighted is a better word? I think that G-d does both good things and bad things because first, those concepts are human, not divine, and second because we have no concept of the bigger picture of G-d's plan for the universe. This deeply offends friends of mine who would refuse to worship such a G-d.

Anyone care to debate or commiserate?
post #2 of 29
I agree, although our faiths are different, i believe in the universal mind, or collective unconsiousness, so similar to God/Goddess. I dont think a being or energy of that magnitude can be expected to be put in a box of good or bad, they just are, they are beyond all human concepts.
post #3 of 29
Sara, I would use the term "just". Gd is Just. What we view as good, bad, fair, unfair...you're right. It's all there to show HIS Glory. Any blessings we receive are by HIS Grace to us. But we can count on HIM being Just.

(that's how my faith would view it anyhow )
post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommaduck View Post
Sara, I would use the term "just". Gd is Just. What we view as good, bad, fair, unfair...you're right. It's all there to show HIS Glory. Any blessings we receive are by HIS Grace to us. But we can count on HIM being Just.

(that's how my faith would view it anyhow )
i don't think is believe is g-d particularly... but if i did.. i think i agree with mamaduck
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Ok, so I think here's where we differ. I don't think G-d is just, either. Not by any of the definitions of it I could find, anyways.

I don't think G-d is fair, reasonable, or that he gives things as they are deserved.

Maybe I think that G-d is right (because, duh, he's G-d). But that's where it stops, I think.
post #6 of 29
Answer A: G_d is like lightning. Is lightning good? No, nor is it bad. But it is very powerful and can cause either light to illuminate things, or a forest fire to burn everything to the ground. BUT the forest fire could then in turn encourage new growth, in the long-term view of things. Get my drift?

Answer B: Yes, G_d is *the definition* of good.

___

But then again I also do not belong to a tradition that holds any scripture to be literal. So I don't really have to grapple with the idea of G_d "smiting" people in various ways or hardening hearts or dealing personally with various historical figures or causing bloodshed or whatever. Or allowing the adversary to test his faithful, take away everything... but then give a "replacement" family and such... No disrespect meant. It's just not a part of my path to take the stories literally. I can imagine it would be morally disturbing to try to make G_d's "personalities" all fit together and make sense logically... A matter of faith, I suppose?
post #7 of 29
Interesting topic.
Certainly, human categories of good and bad are too simple and limited to apply to God. He is beyond human morality. In a larger way, and according to my church's interpretation, God is absolute good, because he is infinite love, which is good by definition.

One way I heard it explained by a priest is by a comparison with heat and cold. Some people see good and evil as two forces in the universe, maybe working together, maybe constantly in conflict with each other. But there is no such thing as cold; there is only the absence of heat. (I am not sure if this is scientifically true, but it works as an analogy.) Heat is the real thing; "cold" only means the absence of heat. Cold does not exist on its own.
In the same way, everything God creates is good. It can only be made "bad" by twisting it, misusing it, or perverting it from its original purpose. Even then, the thing itself is still good. Even things which are sometimes thrown into the "bad" category, like food and drink, sex, or just the material world, are good things, created by God and good like the rest of His creation, unless used in an "un-Godly" way. So, in this interpretation, a loving God does what is good for us, and we are free to accept the gift, reject it, or abuse it.

There is a conflict between my church and some Christian denominations over whether God punishes or turns away from people who do wrong. We do not believe that God ever punishes, or that He created Hell, so this results in a different perspective on God's actions and their justice or fairness. One of our theology books includes this discussion of the subject:
Quote:
God is good, dispassionate, and immutable. Now someone who thinks it reasonable and true to affirm that God does not change, may well ask how, in that case, it is possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good and showing mercy to those who honor Him, and as turning away from the wicked and being angry with sinners. To this it must be answered that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, for to rejoice and to be offended are passions; nor is He won over by the gifts of those who honor Him, for that would mean He is swayed by pleasure. It is not right that the Divinity feel pleasure or displeasure from human conditions. He is good, and He only bestows blessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we remain good through resembling God, are united to Him, but if we become evil through not resembling God, we are separated from Him. By living in holiness we cleave to God; but by becoming wicked we make Him our enemy. It is not that He grows angry with us in an arbitrary way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us and expose us to demons who torture us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him to change, but that through our actions and our turning to the Divinity, we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of God's goodness. Thus to say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind.
post #8 of 29
Wow, mamabadger. That is eerily like our version too!!

My turn to quote: :

Quote:
We believe God is wholly Good. In our belief system, evil is not an entity of its own. Evil is the lack of Good-ness, just as (in scientific terms) darkness is the absence of light, and cold is the absence of heat. When people act in ways not in accordance with nature or when they act without love for their fellow creatures and the Earth, that is "evil".

There are times when we act without regard to our fellow creatures and Creation. If we are truly repentant and learn from our mistakes, vow not to do the action again, and realize how our negative actions harmed others and took us away from God, we can ask for forgiveness. We still have to deal with the earthly consequences of our actions and make any reparations we can to those whom we wronged, but we can also ask God to restore peace to our soul. We learn to accept responsibility for our actions but we also move back closer to God and learn to be at peace with our pasts.

We believe that the afterlife is the ultimate act of justice. When we die, our eyes will be opened to the sum of our lives. Whether we lived good lives or evil ones, we will see how our actions affected others. Then we will either be at peace, or we will be consumed with regret and sorrow, according to the judgment we receive. In a sense, we create the judgments for ourselves; they are more a natural consequence than rewards or punishments.
Eerily similar. P.S. - I love the quote about the sun and the blind!
post #9 of 29
I'm guessing you're talking about Yahweh? I have no opinion of Yahweh or how he is depicted in the Hebrew text -- in terms of him being real.

I'm certain the question of whether "God" is good depends on one's particular god. From some of the ancient text I've read I'd say the God depicted in the Gathas is a benevolent god, among many other things.

As another poster brought up a universal mind or what I'd view as a natural intelligence that could possibly be pantheistic or panentheistic. That entity can't be tied to human concepts. It would transcend them and it being abstract and not anthropomorphic and omnimax like classical theism's gods then I'd gather it's incapable of being "good" or "bad" which are tied to human behavior and understandings.
post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Semper Gumby View Post
I'm guessing you're talking about Yahweh? I have no opinion of Yahweh or how he is depicted in the Hebrew text -- in terms of him being real.

I'm certain the question of whether "God" is good depends on one's particular god. From some of the ancient text I've read I'd say the God depicted in the Gathas is a benevolent god, among many other things.

As another poster brought up a universal mind or what I'd view as a natural intelligence that could possibly be pantheistic or panentheistic. That entity can't be tied to human concepts. It would transcend them and it being abstract and not anthropomorphic and omnimax like classical theism's gods then I'd gather it's incapable of being "good" or "bad" which are tied to human behavior and understandings.
I'm not Christian, if that's what you're asking. I'm Jewish, and I believe that there is one G-d. It's my personal belief that pantheists are seeing different facets of the one G-d I understand, so it's much closer to a concept of "universal mind" or "brahman."

ITA with your last paragraph, and that's what I believe about my G-d.

ETA: mamabadger and Alpine, I disagree that G-d is loving or good. I think that's where we diverge on the topic.
post #11 of 29
No.*

*The God I was taught about is the Judeo-Christian god. I lost any faith I had when I could not reconcile the fact that God was supposed to be (a) loving, (b) omnipotent, and (c) omniscient. I think he could be maybe two of the three, but a loving, all-powerful god doesn't jive with the conditions in the world today. If we are made in His image and we find tremendous wrong with the things that occur (children dying horribly, the Holocaust, starving people), and God allows those things to happen, then I will not worship Him.

That is not a good god, IMO.
post #12 of 29
Is the G-d of your question the Creator of the Universe?

If so, the beauty of the Universe inclines me towards thinking the Creator of it must be good, because I associate beauty with goodness.

However, there's is also a lot of ugliness in our planet, so that's a stumbling block there!
post #13 of 29
I tend to think of "neutrality" and "balance" as dynamic states. Rather than saying that God is not good, I would say that God is simultaneously good and evil, just and unjust, loving and hating. This is where I diverge from most-- lots of people have no trouble saying "God is good" or "God is not good" but saying "God is evil" throws them into fits. It's the way I see it, though-- if it's one, it's got to be *everything*. The end result is neutrality, but again... neutrality is a dynamic state.
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murihiku View Post
Is the G-d of your question the Creator of the Universe?

If so, the beauty of the Universe inclines me towards thinking the Creator of it must be good, because I associate beauty with goodness.

However, there's is also a lot of ugliness in our planet, so that's a stumbling block there!
Yes, G-d is the Creator. Ah, but have you seen the truly beautiful things that are created by things we call "evil"? If beauty = goodness, you should watch Beauty and the Beast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
I tend to think of "neutrality" and "balance" as dynamic states. Rather than saying that God is not good, I would say that God is simultaneously good and evil, just and unjust, loving and hating. This is where I diverge from most-- lots of people have no trouble saying "God is good" or "God is not good" but saying "God is evil" throws them into fits. It's the way I see it, though-- if it's one, it's got to be *everything*. The end result is neutrality, but again... neutrality is a dynamic state.
I'll agree with that.
post #15 of 29
I've been reading this and trying to collect my thoughts before posting because it's complicated and I hope I can explain my thoughts--

smeisnotapirate- I know what you mean when you say "I think that G-d does both good things and bad things because first, those concepts are human, not divine, and second because we have no concept of the bigger picture of G-d's plan for the universe." but I think that I see it differently than you.

I believe that as humans, we are used to judging everything ourselves. We determine what is good and what is bad. We don't always look to God for truth because we think we KNOW what is good and bad-we are being the judge. When we do that the lines get blurred and calling God "good" may not seem like the truth because humans are defining what "good/bad" is and not leaving that up to God. Does that make sense?

smeisnotapirate- You said "Ah, but have you seen the truly beautiful things that are created by things we call "evil"?" I think the problem is that we humans are the ones defining good/evil. I think People define "good" by what makes them feel good and "evil" but what causes them pain and it's pretty subjective and not necessarily God's truth.

I just finished reading "The Shack" and here is a quote from the book:
(God speaking to the main character)

"Broken humans center their lives around things that seem good to them, but that will neither fill them or free them. They are addicted to power, or the illusion of security that power offers. When a disaster happens, those same people will turn against the false powers they trusted. In their disappointment, they either become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence. If you could only see how all of this ends and what we will achieve without the violation of one human will- then you would understand. One day you will."

Here is another quote from The Shack (again God speaking to the main character) "Then it is YOU who determines good and evil. You become the judge. And to make things more confusing, that which you determine to be good will change over time and circumstance. And then beyond that and even worse, there are billions of you each determining what is good and what is evil. So when your good and evil clashes with your neighbor's fights and arguments insue and even wars break out....You must give up your right to decide what is good and evil on your own terms. That is a hard pill to swallow, choosing only to live in me. To do that you must know me enough to trust me and learn to rest in my inherent goodness."

Those quotes pretty much express how I feel on the subject.
post #16 of 29
I can't really post right now, and I'm not sure I will, but this is one of the most interesting discussions I've seen over here. I'm really enjoying reading the replies
post #17 of 29
ok I skipped ahead ot post so sorry if this topic has taken a change at any point... but I completely get what you are saying.

however I think I would see it more like this: God is good. our interpetation of what is good are flawed. God is good b/c He is God, not b/c we approve. God is love, b/c He IS, not b/c of how we feel love or feel love from or for him etc etc etc...

I have this big issue with people who try to say we obey god b/c He is trying to protect us, or b/c he is watching out for us. Sure, I do think he is trying to protect us and watch out for us to some extent... but we can't measure god in our humanity. We obey because He is GOD, not b/c we agree with or understand His commands and principles.

God is God. we try to find words to describe him and we use the most glorious words we can find... but the issue of it is that it brings it down to human level. good and bad are so subjective to humans. it isn't to God.

God is awesome. In that I am in awe of Him. (not in that he is so rad and great!) I don't understand Him. I don't get it. I don't know how to judge Him. my mind is in awe, wonder and confusion when I try to think of the attributes of God.

granted I know I'm coming at this from a slightly different angle than you were... but anyhow. I liked this topic =) So often god is talked about as if he's a person. with human character. but he has the character of God. how can one describe it? it is powerful... that's the best word i can think up.
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
Maybe I think that G-d is right (because, duh, he's G-d). But that's where it stops, I think.

I would say that you are right, that God is Truth. And in a way those other words are human ones.

But, I think that we see them as belonging to God because we see Truth as good, and real justice IS truth - it is things being how they ought to be.

So I guess I don't think it's us putting our ideas on God, so much as we look to his nature to derive them. What is truth, well, it must be these qualities we think we see in God. And many people see other things like love and mercy in god's nature, or experience their effects, either from him directly or in his creation.

But I do think we have a tendency to imagine god's love and mercy as too lovey-dovey soft and squishy. Yes, God's love can be soft and comforting, but it can also be harsh and strange - after all, the cross is an example of God's love. It's like the difference between those cute fat little cherubs and the scary angels that actually appear in the Bible.

.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post

But there is no such thing as cold; there is only the absence of heat. (I am not sure if this is scientifically true, but it works as an analogy.) Heat is the real thing; "cold" only means the absence of heat. Cold does not exist on its own.I:
Yes, it is true. Heat is a form of energy, cold things are lacking that sort of energy. In hot things the molecules are screaming around, which is why they are liquid or gas; in cold things they are slow or unmoving.
post #20 of 29
I definitely think God is good... but I don't necessarily think that means that God will do what we think is right and good.... or do it on our time-table.

In Islam, traditionally God has 99 names... and these are used to help us know God.

http://www.sufism.org/society/asma/

None of those is "the Good"... but there are qualities that are associated with being good... the Most Merciful, the Most Kind, Source of Peace, etc.
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