Is it coherent to say that the Biblical God is not perfectly good?
a) The Biblical God does not exist. Another God may exist, but not the Biblical God.
b) The Biblical God exists and people misinterpret/misunderstand scripture when they believe it shows He is not perfectly good.
c) The Biblical God exists and is perfectly good, but He let the Bible describe Him in a genuinely negative light.
d) The Biblical God exists and is morally flawed, either partly or entirely.
A lot of skeptics will say that if Christianity is true then (d) is the case. But does that make sense?
Consider these verses:
Ex 23.6: "Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.
Deut 16.19: Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Deut 24.17: Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.
Deut 27.19: "Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"
Isa 5.22: Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, 23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.
Mat 5:44: But I say to you, Have love for those who are against you, and make prayer for those who are cruel to you; 45 So that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven; for his sun gives light to the evil and to the good, and he sends rain on the upright man and on the sinner.
1Jn 2:9: He who says that he is in the light, and has hate in his heart for his brother, is still in the dark. 10 He who has love for his brother is in the light, and there is no cause of error in him. 11 But he who has hate for his brother is in the dark, walking in the dark with no knowledge of where he is going, unable to see because of the dark.
There are lots more where those came from.
Say that the God of the Bible is morally flawed, why would the God of the Bible go to such great, enormous troubles to say such nice things? Isn't it more likely that if the God of the Bible is real, that people are either a) misinterpreting the Bible when they accuse Him of being flawed, or b) the Bible inconsistently describes Him?
OK, well maybe a person could say that the Biblical God, if real, is 'talking Himself up', making Himself appear better than He really is. But why?
If God is completely evil, like a psychopath or a sociopath, then how does He have any idea of goodness at all? Psychopaths and sociopaths have almost no idea of the right thing. Yet the Bible is overflowing with verses encouraging people to do the right thing.
If God is partly evil, like 50% evil, then what determines the level of evil of God? Why is God 50% evil and not 70% evil, or 30% evil? The level of God's evil needs to be accounted for otherwise this is just puzzling.
People argue there's a hell, and so God does take revenge on His opponents like an annoyed dictator. But consider this: have they ever looked at what Christian theologians say about hell? Hell is merely being conscious and not being perfectly good. If you're not perfectly good, then you're in hell, because hell is merely life continuing on as a sinner (I think the world is a kind of hell, an unjust hell, as opposed to the hell on Judgement Day which will be just) - Rev 7:14-17. Being a sinner = suffering = unavoidable. God cannot annihilate people as people are made in His image and He is necessarily eternal, so we are necessarily eternal as well (Ecc 3:11). So it does not work to say that hell shows that God is evil.
A fair thing to do is to apply this reasoning to other religions as well. Unless you can construct a system where a God would have reason to a) advocate that people should follow perfect standards, while b) being in reality evil, then you have to say that other religions believe in a good God(s) as well.
Labels: character of God