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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

Is god good?

If we’re going to ask that question, the first thing that has to be established is: whose “good” are we using as a standard?  If human good is to be the benchmark, then the task is relatively easy.  Whatever good god recognizes, however, will introduce a degree of vagary which may be insuperable.

Regardless of which deity is supervising this reality, he/she/it cannot be said to be good by human standards in the slightest measure, and one need look no further than the world’s children for evidence.  Entirely too much of the young population of this planet are subjected to the kinds of deprivation, indifference, abuse, torture, and resultant loss of life which the average adult of the US would find abhorrent and intolerable.  Children starve in Darfur and Bangladesh; they are used as sexual playthings in the Orient and elsewhere; they are collateral damage on the battlefields of Syria and conscripted into renegade armies to be used as cannon fodder in Africa by uncaring warlords such as Joseph Kony and others like him.  The utter lack of protection rendered by any form of supreme being and indeed the complete indifference held toward the youngest and most vulnerable may be summarized as follows:

If I could stop a man from raping a child, I would. That's the difference between me and your God.
-- Tracie Harris

Man’s inhumanity to man, whether minor or adult, and the failure by any god to defend against it is well documented here, but what of the deity’s own sins against those least able to manage against that being’s onslaught?  Childhood diseases and disorders, whether genetic or of bacterial or viral origin, pose as much of a threat to their existence as those created by humankind.  Afflictions such as mumps, rubella, and chicken pox are bad enough, but these only scratch the surface.  Polio, assorted cancers, autism, diabetes and too many others daily rob a child of any opportunity to live his or her life frequently even as their lives have started.  If that’s not enough, genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome or spina bifida can start them with a severe disadvantage before they’ve even left the uterus.  If, as the song says, Jesus loves all the little children of the world, he could show his devotion a bit better than to saddle them with such weight.

Of course, now the believers have to retort with such zingers as: “The world is fallen and this is the penalty for the sin of Adam,” and “Who are we to judge god?” and “God’s ways are not our ways.”  My responses to each, respectively, are: “Where is the evidence of the fall of this world outside of the bible?”, “Who do I HAVE to be to judge your precious god?” and finally, “Okay – What ARE his ways?!?”  Ask that last of a hundred people who style themselves as biblical scholars and I suspect you’d get 101 different answers, amusing considering the repeated declaration we have heard that “no one can know the mind of god.”  In theory, what we’re supposed to do is observe the dictate of the lord’s prayer: “Thy will be done,” and live in submission to something unknown and unknowable. 

Or … we can assert ourselves for our children’s sake and our own against a world which, for all appearances and evidence, has neither god nor interest in our continued existence and make our own way by our own devices.  I vote for Door No. 2, myself.

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Comment was by Stephen Brodie on March 16, 2022 at 5:04pm

Zeus is said to have ended the bronze age with the Deluge or the Great flood. His reasons behind such action were in people of bronze who were very warlike and cherished the works of destructive Ares. The main reason, which finally tipped the king of the gods over the edge, was disrespect for gods and fellow human beings. Sound familiar 

Comment was by Loren Miller on March 16, 2022 at 11:07am

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
-- Hanlon's Razor

Probably a LOT of psychopaths out there, then, masquerading as Christians, Andy ... no, not really. Of course, they're not ALL psychopaths. Most of 'em are just ignorant of their own bible, and mostly because it's been fed to them in convenient bite-sized portions which are designed NEVER to offend anyone. These are the people who have no idea of the horrid depredations their putative deity is recorded as doing or ordering. Worse, they take things like The Flood and treat it as a GOOD thing, since EVERYTHING Yahweh does is GOOD, isn't it?!? [he shakes his head and groans]

The worst part of the whole business is that a great number of such people simply don't want to know otherwise. They're happy in their ignorance (it IS supposed to be bliss, right?), and they get VERY upset when confronted with some of the less savory passages of that benighted book. They'll insist that their god IS good, because that's been drilled into their heads long before they had the intellectual capacity to understand otherwise or that they have effectively been indoctrinated.

And very darn few of them will yield to the fact that the god of the Old Testament IS, as Richard Dawkins put it, "the most unpleasant character in all fiction."

Comment was by Andy Stout on March 16, 2022 at 9:44am

Is an imaginary, GENOCIDAL god, who threatens to burn is alive unless we worship him, good???

Anyone who says "yes" is a psychopath.

Comment was by Stephen Brodie on March 2, 2022 at 2:44pm

 Loren the term patience running thin is appropriate when it comes to The "Elohim are good" statement. I've warned RichardtheRaelian about preaching and he insists he's an Atheist, how that can be whilst believing in utter nonsense like raelianism I'll never understand. As you say the trashcan is the best place for such nonsense. Of course he can believe in whatever he likes, but he must show proof on this Atheist website at least.  

Comment was by Loren Miller on March 2, 2022 at 7:08am

Oh ... are they, REALLY?

Richard, one thing you will discover about me rather quickly is that I have a vanishingly minimal tolerance of woo, baloney (not the cold cut), or bullshit.  Your “Elohim” are without demonstration, evidence, or proof in any meaningful fashion, and as such qualify under all three of the above-mentioned descriptors.  That said, you can either provide some hard, testable data on these alleged beings, or any subsequent comment on this blog by you regarding Elohim will find its way to File 13 before you can blink.  As my man has said:

If you've got the truth, you can demonstrate it. Talking doesn't prove it. Show people.
-- Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Nota bene.

Comment was by RichardtheRaelian on March 2, 2022 at 12:30am

Hi! The Elohim are good.

Comment was by Grinning Cat on February 20, 2022 at 9:16pm

Thinking about Sam Harris highlighting how, given the massive suffering in the world, any god that might exist is necessarily impotent or evil (and we recognize that "divine command theory", the idea that things are "good" just because "God said so", is utter useless bullcrap) --

Occasionally I've actually engaged with a street evangelist to say that if the God he's talking about is real, and all-powerful and omni­every­god­damned­thing™, then GOD needs to get down on his knees and repent and beg OUR forgiveness for the great evils and suffering in the world, and then actually make things right. A few billion resurrections and healings and enlightenments should be a piece of cake.

One book that helped me move past traditional God ideas is Rabbi Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People. After personal tragedy, he came to believe in a very limited, not really powerful to speak of (but still benevolent) invisible friend (rather than a powerful but uncaring or evil god; suffering in the name of a "mysterious plan" or a later reward still hurts and is still unconscionable if a good god could prevent it), a limited God who might give comfort and inspire the people who help with dealing with tragedies and injustices. He wrote a few more books, including Who Needs God (he does, and hopes we do too).

I found that I'm "good without God", fine without the vaguely defined, amorphous, untestable, useless, logically inconsistent invisible friend, and without traditions and rituals that use that sort of language.

(Slight tangent: nontheistic, humanistic rabbi Judith Seid's book God-Optional Judaism got a five-star review from a Hasidic rabbi who couldn't disagree more with her "theology" [if that's even the right word for it], but thoroughly agrees that Judaism and Jewishness are not just a religion [or family of religions].)

(Minor tech grumble: just like on Atheist Nexus, the Ning platform annoyingly replaces spaces with non-breaking spaces before or after formatting changes like italics or bold. So if you see messed-up line breaking in someone's post, that's probably why. In my own comments I usually remember to go into the HTML Editor and change the offending   codes back to spaces.)

Comment was by Loren Miller on February 19, 2022 at 8:52am

Of course, it's nonsense, Ruth ... to US.  We recognize the utter lack of evidence for any form of deity, as well as the absurdities of those putative "gods" with which we are frequently confronted and conduct our lives accordingly.  Sadly, there still remain those who will insist that the god of the bible or the quran or some other misguided holy book actually occupies reality.  My blog here is one rebuttal regarding one aspect of those alleged gods, among a forest of retorts to the blind assertions of one or another deity's existence.

But you knew that!

Comment was by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on February 18, 2022 at 11:18pm

The question, "is God good?" is nonsense. It's the equivalent of seriously asking, "Is Homer Simpson good?" On might ask about the benefits and costs of the assorted god memes throughout history. Religions performed various social functions, many worthy and many not so much.

Comment was by Loren Miller on February 9, 2022 at 8:03am

@Mohamed Agnostic Uh, oh, we got a Book of Mormon fan here, eh? [chuckle]

As for any allegation of god being good, here's a statement in support:

Any god who would allow children by the millions to suffer and die in this way and their parents to grieve in this way either can do nothing to help them or doesn't care to.  He is therefore impotent or evil.
-- Sam Harris

Which sorta leaves out "good" just a bit!

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