The real answer for this is that God is perfect and everything he does is perfect the rules are in place for humans not God. If God created the natural order then he created death is that murder? No. For the sake of natural law analogy God created the universe but God is not affected by gravity and other rule of the universe.
How do you know that God is perfect? Does perfection include committing evil? Would a god that does not commit evil be more 'perfect' than one that does?
whoa whoa whoa, a response to this could be, God did not commit evil he gave the COMMAND to commit this evil against the Amalekites. just sayin' is all.
I'm not saying that God is perfect I'm just bring up an important part of the argument. this is an issue i have with both sides of these debates. When a person of faith does not know what to say they go to "God did it" or makes some value of faith argument. When atheists are put into the same position they go to "but you can't prove God exists". To argue the consistencies of the logic paradox about God you need to identify the god. The one in question is the Christian God. Who is described as perfect. If we were talking about a Hindu God this would not even be a debate.
"How do you know that God is perfect?"- If we don't assume God is perfect then there is no problem with him doing evil and there would be no point in this debate. I don't mean to be inflammatory here but that's like me saying "Bush was a bad president" and getting the response well who said he had to be a good one.
"Does perfection include committing evil?" - this is addressed (it depends on if the rules are applied or not)
"Would a god that does not commit evil be more 'perfect' than one that does?" The point of the argument is that a God that commits evils is not as powerful as a God that does not because the first God would be subject to earthy rules
"Who are we to judge God?" would seem to be the knee-jerk retort for this one.
I believe one of the problems in having a God that is capable (and as shown has done) evil is that evil does not stem from "the good side" or "the bad side" it is inherent in all creatures God and man. This is called free will, we do not judge a person of our God biased on what they are capable of, but by what they have done. Now I am not saying that God has not done some horrible things (old testament stuff). But we now judge him based off of his most current actions, like giving his only son to die for our sins. However there is still a hiccup in this. How do we know that God exists, how do we know that he killed hundreds of thousands of people, how do we know that Jesus was his son? Simple, we don't know. We have faith and faith is belief without proof.
There is one serious problem with articles like this one - they only serve the purpose of mental masturbation for atheists.
You cannot use logic and reason to deal with theists. You can only impress your other atheist friends with reasoning like this. I know from personal experience...
Are you arguing that it is impossible that I was once a theist who was convinced through logic and reason of the irrationality of my beliefs? It better not be, because that's the case.
Now, you were probably making a smaller claim: that the people YOU talk to are never convinced of whatever position you are arguing. I buy that claim entirely.
Your personal experience must be extremely limited.
I think the point is that arguments have to be carried in a certain way in order to be effective on a theist. A mocking argument, an argument that's too directly confrontational, an argument that starts by claiming things that require abandoning faith in order to follow the rest, are all futile on anyone other than someone that's on the verge already.
I agree with the "masturbation for atheists" tagging for most of these arguments, and even for most of the works by Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris, however great masturbation material they might be.
In order to convince a real veleiver an argument has to start in a completely different way. It must be subtle. It must make the beleivers realize that they actually don't beleive what they thing they beleive. It must make them see from within their religious beliefs that they are fooling themselves by thinking they buy everything in their religions, and that beleiving only part of it makes no sense whatsoever.
These arguments seem week to me, and I am a Christian. I believe God is good and perfect and moral by definition. I am not the one to judge God. Also, by definition, the moral thing to do in a scenario is whatever God chooses. Thus some old testament examples are not immoral, and God is not doing something bad just because you don't like what he did. As long as you can't agree with someone on what is moral, then your arguments break down into ad hominem attacks on their view of morality or you just ignore them altogether(which happens in this article).
If Christians are told murder is a sin in one story and commanded to kill in another, what is one to do? Try and compare the situations to the real life decision of whether or not to kill?
If someone is told by God to commit murder, how are they to know the message is from God? It may have come from any number of sources and appear to be divine for any number of reasons. A command to murder is too serious to allow all these ambiguities.
Just a heads up....One of the ten commandments is "Thou shalt not murder". Murder and killing someone are two different things. Also you have to take into consideration were these commands in old test. or new test.? If you are going to "compare" two scriptures in the bible then you MUST analyze each one individually and to the fullest.
The old testament also ordered some of its moral models to kill everyone (men, women and children, though in some cases women could be just raped and children taken as property) in a city just because those in the city were from a different race, clan or religion. But according to you those killings were not murders because God ordered them?
The other point is that if anon defines Moral as whatever God says, then there's no point in arguing, because you are using a different language than the rest of us. Something is moral or not independently from who is saying it. There are many things in the old testament (and a few ones in the new one) that are indefensible morally. If you say "they are moral because God told them" then you are not using logic, reason or even English so arguing is futile.
"I believe God is good and perfect and moral by definition." - From your comment.
"One way that a theist may try to dig out of this conundrum is to argue that whatever God does is the definition of Good. So He is unlimited in whatever He does, He’s just limited in what the things He does are called. If the theist wants to go this route, then he has to admit that for God there is no difference between a moral and immoral action. This means that God created an absolutely arbitrary set of rules for people to follow. If this situation described reality, a theist would obey God because He is a capricious tyrant setting down arbitrary rules — not because God is praiseworthy or the rules uncover some basic moral truth." - from the article.
Either you didn't read the article, or you totally missed the point.
War atrocities happen whether it's recorded or not. If they are recorded, we humans demand---and accordingly provide---the reason(s) why. One reason that people cite is: "the command of God", "I was commanded by God to kill everyone including babies", just like the passage you quote.
But with God or no God, atrocities happen. Written down or not, they happen. If the command had not been given, would atrocities have happened? Yes it would have, as it still is happening today, and will be happening in the future. And because all this evil happens, do we blame it on God? Yes we do. (Epicurus argument). But could we be wrong?
Your question is good, as long as we insist that we do understand and know how to tell the difference between good and evil, moral and immoral. But what is our standard of morality? What do we turn to for our most basic questions like these? Is it "whatever we feel is right"? Or is it "logic & the philosophers"? Or is it "the majority voice"? Do we really have an all-encompassing standard within ourselves, amongst ourselves (New Age)? What if our standard is wrong? Is it possible that we do not have, and will never have, a standard that is all-inclusive (because it will exclude people who love a God who supposedly commands atrocities)? But if we acknowledge that our standard is relative, then it is practically impossible to answer your question with fairness.
Take the Bible as an example. What if the God of the Bible truly exists? What if the Bible is really the True Standard of Morality, only we have not yet discovered its "higher morality"? Then aren't we just like blind people, or people in the dark, who have not yet been given the light to see it? Aren't we just fooling ourselves, that we know what is good and evil, when in fact we really don't? What if this is THE reason why some people, even with all the atrocities recorded in it or not, choose to love its God, because they HAVE been given this light?
What if God exists and all this time, instead of being mean to us, he is actually being very patient and gracious to keep us alive? What if God chose to let his name be blamed for something that would happen anyway, and endure with patience those who rebel against him, in order that he can show his chosen people, those he loves and who love him, how great is his goodness? and how precious is his "higher morality"?
When I think about these things, your question "Can God do evil?" becomes something more than just a philosophical question, where I can just lightly treat it, and with aloofness consider the possibilities in my mind. It becomes a HORRIBLY terrifying question, because the Bible says yes of course he can and HE WILL. He threatens evil and destruction to those who reject him. He promises a lake of fire that burns forever and ever. But isn't this hatred and evil? Isn't God supposed to be "Love"?
Isn't God supposed to be "Love"?
----I am VERY strict with my children and guide them in ways that they would think were "mean". How could a mother who loves her child so much spank them when they act out? Because thanks to God's word we can look past that moment of spanking and know that sparing a child of discipline is truly hatred toward the child. Therefore apply this to your comment about isn't God supposed to be love? Yes, he is and he is merciful, full of grace and glory and is also a Just God!!
Very true! I agree with you completely!
Though probably I wouldn't say that being thrown into the lake of fire that burns forever is another form of "discipline", you know? And that was my original intent for the question, because I continued it in the next comment below.
Because God didn't send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save the world. John 3:14-21 ...as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God...
Ex 4:11 - "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?"
I've copied your post and inserted comments. The full version that's easier to read can be found on my blog:
And thank you for sincerely raising these questions which are often very easy to misunderstand.
A response to "Tough Questions: "Can God do evil?"
First of all, supposing that a human is a better judge of morality than the One who created humans along with the rest of the universe has its problems. Furthermore, our notions of right and wrong are based upon what we consider convenient to our lifestyles. Eg. Dying is bad for business; killing people makes their relatives upset. One of the most common claims that accompany belief in a God is belief in a Hereafter. If we suddenly discovered that killing people really, measurably, undeniably sends them to a never-ending Candy Mountain (~CANDY MOUNTAIN, CHARLIE!~) then that bit of added knowledge would change our moral code. So human notions of morality are based on limited knowledge and can easily be changed, whereas Divine knowledge of morality is based on the non-limited knowledge of the One who designed the entire universe to begin with.
Really, God would know better about these things than we do. We just don’t have enough information (outside of Divine Revelation, of course) to make an informed judgment on our own.
A third possible reply would be, "how do you suppose you have absolute knowledge of what 'evil' is?"
Summary: The Islamic creed of Imam Al-Tahawi includes belief in complete predestination, that pleasant and unpleasant fortune is all from God, and that the wisdom behind the reasons is entirely beyond human comprehension, but that it is reconciled with total fairness in the end.
"Really, God would know better about these things than we do. We just don’t have enough information (outside of Divine Revelation, of course) to make an informed judgment on our own."
Yes. We do.
A god that commands the slaughter of infants is immoral. Declaring god to be moral by definition is ridiculous.
@MDJ - "To argue the consistencies of the logic paradox about God you need to identify the god. The one in question is the Christian God. Who is described as perfect. If we were talking about a Hindu God this would not even be a debate."
I believe your correct, but you're kind of missing the point. Christians don't believe in Hindu gods, the idea that we would even start talking about hindu gods isn't even an option to them. And at least here in America, the christians make up the vast majority of people in the country, who elect people and pass laws based on a moral code given to them by God. The question here is (besides the fact that he probably doesn't even exist) if he does exist, why should we trust his morality. Just because he tells us to?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure thats what the real argument is here.
HOLD UP, with what objective ruler do you measure what is moral? "Encoded ability" through natural selection and evolution and what is best for the "whole"? This then becomes a subjective and relative view not an objective law of morality, so what then is "good" or moraly good? Qualify and quantify please.
Secondly we must understand the Bible and its teachings and the unity of its message and not be limited by the view that the law of man is the law of God. I am always curious as to why the atheist jumps so quick on this bandwagon when I first question what is the basis of their moral compass, how can one make the statement " God is immoral " when in reality to an aethiest morality is either purely made up by some "encoded ability " or entirely subjective by the "need" of the collective survival of man?
I want pure reasoning and critical thinking please.
"HOLD UP, with what objective ruler do you measure what is moral? "Encoded ability" through natural selection and evolution and what is best for the "whole"?"
Words that do not appear in my essay: encoded, ability, natural, selection, evolution, best, whole.
How's this for a generous debate partner: evil is your conception of evil. If you do not think that God can do evil because "evil" is not an objective law, then that's your answer. If you think that evil is something objective and real, then, the question stands: Can God do evil? If you don't believe in God, then... obviously your answer is something like, 'no, an imaginary creature cannot 'do' anything.'
"I am always curious as to why the atheist jumps so quick on this bandwagon when I first question what is the basis of their moral compass, how can one make the statement " God is immoral " when in reality to an aethiest morality is either purely made up by some "encoded ability " or entirely subjective by the "need" of the collective survival of man?"
I hate when people make people run off and read something long and far away as a justification, but I respond to this essential argument here: http://conversationalatheist.com/challenges/respo...
and it's short, I promise.
First we have to come up with a "True" definition of "EVIL"??
Okay, let's get everybody fired up here. First my God is a vengeful God. I think He has a right to be that way since He created us. I read where people went on about this and imposing their definetions on Gods acts. You are forgetting we can only see to the past but God can see toward the future. So we don't know if something, that could be called evil, is evil. If a child is hit by a car and is confined to a wheel chair for the rest of their life evil? What if that child that is wheel chair bound becomes a scientist and finds an alternative fuel souce that not only pollution free but actually cleans the air it uses?
Yes, my God is a vengeful God, but He is also a loving God.
"So we don't know if something, that could be called evil, is evil. If a child is hit by a car and is confined to a wheel chair for the rest of their life evil?"
Interesting. So, can Yahweh do evil? Or are you saying that "Since Yahweh told us that what He does is good, no matter how evil it looks like Yahweh is acting, not even if Yahweh orders his followers to kill children with swords, Yahweh must have a good reason for appearing to act so evil."?
If you heard someone use that exact same logic, but instead of Yahweh, they said Lucifer, would you have a problem with their reasoning? If the person said, "Since Lucifer told us that what He does is good, no matter how evil it looks like Lucifer is acting, not even if Lucifer orders his followers to kill children with swords, Lucifer must have a good reason for appearing to act so evil."
Are they making a mistake somewhere in their reasoning that you aren't?
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The proposed has created a false premise from the start.
The author has established his own definition of God which is essentially that God can only be God if he isn’t God.
If we argue that he is God, then he MUST BE SUCH THAT HE IS NOT GOD. Well, then he isn’t God then is he?
If we argue that he is God and so he can’t be not God, then his not being NOT GOD means he fails to be God. If he fails to be God then he isn’t God.
God has defined himself as righteous and holy. The premise proposed here is that he must be evil in order to be God (or exactly the opposite of what God has defined as being God). But, that requirement established by this premise—to be evil-- doesn’t serve as evidence of being God as is being put forth in the argument, but rather robs Him of being God. That is why the conclusions must arrive at a negation of being God no matter which way you argue.
What the author here really has done is to prove that his concept of God diverges to falsehood, and thus he has a false god. He actually proves himself to be false or his concept anyway, and not God.
So, where does evil come from then? The answer put simply is from the negation of God, of which God has actually created the condition by which this could come about in the establishment of free will and choice. Thereby, establishing he is God. I could expound on this but it would take several pages to bring the point home and it is late for me.
God is the morality, if not then he isn’t God. We have the choice to have a God of morality or not.
Now, you might take issue with certain things as being immoral such as the referenced 1 Samuel 15:2-3. But, again you are judging from your reference point and not God’s.
You have declared those creations as innocent. You see the surface (child) and declare pure and innocence but you aren’t seeing context. You yourself would violate what you propose as innocence as defined in this reference and yet would declare your actions moral. Give you an example you ask?
You discover a pit of viper snakes in your vents of your house and they are crawling out and your family is at risk. Now, are you just going to exterminate the adult vipers because well the offspring they are just babies? No! You’ll kill the whole lot; and, you would be just to do so. In the context here you don’t see baby or child but rather you see threat, danger: something to a greater level of association rather than just babies. You see beyond the surface condition of their being.
Foreknowledge sucks if you are the only one who has it because everyone will judge you and your actions based on THEIR own knowledge and not from your perspective of understanding.
This is the core of why we have so many problems in our relations with one another. What is the saying, we judge ourselves based on our motivations but others on their actions taken out of context. When we speed it is because we need to get somewhere and thus justify it. When we see others doing it, then they are jerks. No?
Here you’ve made God a jerk or evil because he demanded the killing of these “babies.” Unknowingly you have judged Him out of context and to a moral standard of your own creation, and in the process created a false god that you expect to live up to. As, per my opening point, eventually this will diverge to a falsehood for you.
Any way blessing. I need to get to bed.
There could be no choice between good and evil unless they both exist. We see God as the antithesis of all that is evil. If there were no evil how would God be morally different from than any of us? God must have the ability to choose to do evil if he is the personification of all that is good. All of us have the choice to do many evil things but we choose not to carry out most of those choices. If God did choose to do evil he would cease to be God. The fact that He continually chooses to do good separates him from any evil influence.