Is God Good?

I found this quote over at Life & Otherwise….

We can ask, is God good because to be good just is to be whatever God is; or is God good because God has all the properties of goodness?

If we choose the former answer we again find that goodness is arbitrary, since it would be whatever God happened to be, even if God were a sadist. So we must choose the second option: God is good because he has all the properties of goodness.

But this means the properties of goodness can be specified independently of God, and so the idea of goodness does not in any way depend upon the existence of God. Hence there is no reason why a denial of God’s existence would necessarily entail a denial of the existence of goodness.

—Julian Baggini

I have two reactions.

First, if you’ve read the Bible, you know that God is a sadist.

Second, fundies like to say that without God, there can be no morality. Morality is derived from the laws set down by God. This quote argues that goodness is independent of God. By extension, morality is independent of God.

In fact, this is borne out by evidence which suggests that things such as altruism have an evolutionary advantage. Furthermore, societies would not long endure if they tolerated “badness”. Good behavior promotes the survival of the group. Bad behavior tears the group apart. Morality evolved for the benefit of society. Morality is independent of God.

3 Responses to “Is God Good?”

  1. Glenda Says:

    True. Morality can be often be derailed by organized religion. How else does one explain Pat Robertson?

  2. James McGrath Says:

    Aren’t you simply granting the fundamentalists’ assumption that the Bible actually tells what God says God is like, as opposed to what ancient people thought God was like?

  3. Ron Britton Says:

    Why is a theology professor reading my crappy blog?!

    Anyway, I guess I don’t follow your question. The Bible attributes some pretty nasty behavior to God. If God is good, doesn’t that mean that all of his behavior is good? Since his behavior clearly isn’t good, then the definition of goodness exists outside of God.

    Are you saying that the Bible is a highly suspect document, considering its age and provenance? Therefore, we don’t really know what God is like? If that’s what you mean, I would agree with you. In that case, the quotation I presented and my comments upon it really only discredit the notion that the Bible is an accurate description of God.

    I’m really only here to show the flaws in fundie behavior and thinking, not to discredit religion as a whole.