The Goodness of God

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The Goodness of God

In the Bible, it says that God is good, with actions mentioned that reflect God's goodness

  • Samuel 1:10-11 and 20 - story of Hannah, prays to God for a child who she'll dedicate to God. She makes a prayer to God which he answers - shows God's goodness as he accepts prayers and benefits people 

Hence, we see 2 key ideas in the Bible - 1. God is good 2. God's actions are good 

  • God is good and morally perfect, his goodness and care is shown through his activity in the world as creation shows. 
  • God's creation is said to be good and reveals the goodness of God (i.e. it is visable in the creation)
  • Moreover, commands of God (including carrying them out) are also seen as good. 
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The Goodness of God

But, the story of Abraham, where God tells him to sacrifcie his son, seems to question the goodness of God as why is God telling Abraham to do such an immoral thing?

Some Christians say goodness is shown through Jesus

  • Jesus is meant to be God incarnate (God in flesh) and Jesus' life and death shows God's love to the people through intervening to save them form their sins 

The 10 Commandments show that God's goodness is also a matter of moral action - meaning that God intervenes in the world in good ways. 

  • Keeping up good actions is part of God's goodness 

Maintaining the covenant between the Israelities and God is part of God's goodness, the fact that God kept up his covenant with the Jews after they broke it shows his goodness too. 

  • This shows God can forgive - God is good as he forgives people 
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Problem's raised by God's goodness

  • Can there be a good God despite all the evil and suffering in the world?
  • Some question whether God does intervene in the world because they haven't experience miracles in their own lives but they've happened in others. It seems God loves some and hates others - does this show he is good?
  • Many say God is really good? Because he has let destruction happen in the past like the city of Ai (Joshua 8) and the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22:1-19)
  • Some say we can't comprehend God's goodness as He is not like us. So to describe God's actions as good isn't the same as saying David Cameron's actions are good. We can assess Cameron's goodness by comparng it to the 10 Commandments but for God we can't (Via Negativa) 
  • God acting within a world would be a problem for those who say God is immutable. Surely if He is to act in the world he will change somehow to perform goodness? 
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Lawgiver, Judge and Morally Perfect

God is morally perfect, hence he is the source of all goodness in the universe and it filters down through all creation. This is similar to Plato's idea of the Form of the Good

  • But a different from Plato is that the Form of the Good does not act in the world, whereas the God of the Bible does. 

God is perfectly good - he lacks nothing and is the ultimate standard of goodness 

God is a lawgiver and judge, giving the law shows his compassion for humanity, therefore it shows his goodness 

  • God is said sometimes to get angry and punish when we break laws and this is seen as good.
  • e.g. if a parent doesn't punish an unruly child then they'll hardly be seen as a good loving parent. So just like the good parent punishes the child so they can learn from their mistakes, God works the same way.  
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The Euthyphro Dilemma

This considers whether:

God causes things to be good by giving comands or 

whether God commands good because they are already good. 

  • Choose the first - then it would mean that if God commanded that "**** is not wrong" then there would be nothing morally wrong with ****. Some dislike this as it makes God seem to be like a divine dictator 
  • If you choose the other option, there are problems - goodness does not originate from God, bu its independent of God. This is not supported in traditional theism, which says that goodness comes from God. 
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