The God of the Bible, especially the one of the Old Testament, seems to do horrible things to people (see my post Following God’s example). I ask this question because apologists spend a great deal of energy defending the biblical actions of the Christian God; they would never consider him evil, despite what he has done.
My last post, Dear Father, highlighted the difficulties in reconciling the idea of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God with the existence of suffering. The argument that God has to shoulder some, if not all, of the responsibility for evil in the world is an argument that many apologists tackle in earnest. No apologist would consider God evil for allowing the existence of evil, despite the fact that they believe he created everything, and that he knew beforehand the suffering that evil would cause.
I could be wrong, but it seems apologists believe that God is good, despite what we read in the Bible or experience in the world. If this is the case, then doesn’t the very statement ‘God is good’ loose all meaning?
George H. Smith, in Atheism: The Case Against God, writes on page 85:
. . . by what standard does the Christian claim that God is good? What criterion is the Christian using? If man cannot pass correct moral judgments, he cannot validly praise or condemn anything--including the Christian God. To exclude God from the judgment of evil is to exclude him from the judgment of good as well.
In other words, by defending the Christian God, apologists have created a situation in which we are unable to discern a good God from a bad God; because, whatever God does or whatever he allows – no matter how shocking it might be to human sensibilities – the apologist would still consider God as being good.
If there are no criteria to judge God’s actions, to discern good from bad – or if there are no conceivable actions of God that would count as contrary evidence of his goodness – then doesn’t the very concept of good become meaningless?