It appears that many people don't believe in God due to the problem of theodicy. My question, however, becomes- what has one to do with the other?
That is, why must God be good?
Say God appeared evil to human beings. Or say that he really was evil, a cruel, tyrannical, jealous ruler. These attributes don't negate the fact that he is still God, creator of the world and the universe! How can one definitively decide that if God doesn't appear to rule the world in a just way, that is, if he appears evil, he doesn't exist? I don't understand the correlation.
Suppose you lived within a faith structure that suggests that God is good. Suppose that you don't see the evidence for that. Well then, why not dismiss the part that seems to be untrue- the goodness factor- while keeping the God factor?
Incidentally, I realized tonight that nowhere in the Torah (if I am correct) is the word "good," as in the Hebrew word tov, ever used to describe God. God does good things; he creates the universe and his creations are pronounced "very good." He gives the Jews a "good land." He knows "good and evil." He makes "good promises." He does what is "good in his sight." But He himself is not termed good.
Please read the 2nd comment (Yair's) for places outside the Torah proper (that is, the 5 books of Moses) that reference God as good.
In fact, the only place I could find where God actually claims goodness for himself (rather than having it ascribed to him by mortals) is in the New Testament. The verse is repeated in each of the Gospels; here's one place.
- 17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
18Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
(Perhaps Christians, then, are justified in saying that if God is not good, there is no God.)The Old Testament God is described as possessing 13 Attributes of Mercy (incidentally, for those of you reading the translation, hesed is generally translated as kindness, not goodness), but they describe just that- God's merciful side. To whom does He show mercy? Well, that is implied, but not clearly stated. The verse itself does not state that only penitents are the recipients of this mercy.
Thus it seems to me that the following reasoning, for example, is faulty:
- 1. God made a law that forbids men to lie with one another in the way that they would lie with a woman.
2. This law causes much suffering for people who are homosexual. Potentially, they suffer, are humiliated, hurt, ostracized and cannot have a sexually fulfilling life, or if they do, are sinners.
3. A just or good God could not make such a law.
4. Therefore, God does not exist.
Of course, in such a scenario, one could, while still believing in God, argue that it is morally impermissible to serve such a God, that is, that a cruel God does not deserve one's dedication or worship. And perhaps one would be justified in arguing this. But this still does not negate God's existence.
Thus, it seems to me that saying that God does not exist because of the problem of theodicy is untenable. To claim that God does not exist due to other reasons, whether they be admittedly emotional, historical, scientific, etc, might perhaps be logical. But how can one claim that "there's so much bad stuff going on in the world- there can't be a God?"
Now, since I very much doubt that it's possible for me to have demonstrated a flaw in an argument that so many people use as to why there is no God, I'm really curious as to what the answer is. How does it flow from the statement that "good things happen to bad people" that God can't exist? Or is it simply that claiming theodicy as the reason that God can't exist is an irrational emotional argument, rather than a rational one?