Can God be described as “good”?

(Cindy) #61

I’m not sure that one follows the other. If God does not define good; what is the definition of good?

(Mitchell W McKain) #62

I am sure. The logic is rather simple.

The definitions are many and those who do not believe in God have no trouble whatsoever with the word. Personally, I define it as putting a high enough priority on the well being of others that you do not pursue desires at such an expense. Most dictionaries make no reference to God whatsoever because God has no part of the meaning of this word. Here is what google gives…


  1. to be desired or approved of.
    “we live at peace with each other, which is good”
    synonyms: healthy, fine, sound, tip-top, hale and hearty, fit, robust, sturdy, strong, vigorous More
  2. having the qualities required for a particular role.
    “the schools here are good”
    synonyms: fine, superior, quality; More
  3. that which is morally right; righteousness.
    “a mysterious balance of good and evil”
    synonyms: virtue, righteousness, goodness, morality, integrity, rectitude; More
  4. benefit or advantage to someone or something.
    “he convinces his father to use his genius for the good of mankind”
    synonyms: benefit, advantage, profit, gain, interest, welfare, well-being; More

To be sure many religions have tried to equate good with the dictates of their religion and the result is endless conflict where good people do evil things in the name of their religious abstractions. It is enough to make the atheists declare that religion is evil. I don’t agree with them but I also do not agree with those who are causing this problem by equating good with the dictates of their religion.

(Cindy) #63

No, it really isn’t. God having facts in no why effects the definition of good.

I did not equate “good” with the dictates of my religion. I equated it with God which is the source of everything good. The fact that what is good for me might be bad for someone else means that ultimately good can only be fully known by the one person with all the facts. (God) Thus He is the one to define it.

(Mitchell W McKain) #64

I certainly believe that God exists and that He is certainly the ultimate authority on what is good. But I do not believe these are arbitrary determinations of whim but are all derived from very good reasons. Thus logic makes it clear that the answer to Euthyphro’s dilemma is that God commands these things BECAUSE they are good and not that they are good because God commands them. The latter is the formula for exactly what the atheists complain about – good people doing evil things because their religion commands them to do such things. AND the examples of this are LEGION: human sacrifices, the slaughter, rape, and torture of other religious and ethnic minorities, even the abuse of children… the list is really endless.

(Cindy) #65

I think that this is where I will paraphrase C.S. Lewis and say that those that do evil in the name of God are liars. God has written his law on our “hearts”; we know good from evil when it comes to the atrocities that you speak of. That is why there are always people that work to stop these atrocities.

(Mitchell W McKain) #66

It is God’s dearest desire that His law be written on our hearts. If He were to achieve that then it would be kingdom of heaven on earth. Though, often people have seen this realized in part among various people’s (like Paul saw among the Gentiles in Romans chapter 2) to a degree which has caused astonishment among Christians who had been struggling for this goal in their own life. But when we sin, we show that our desire is not for what is good and the law of God is not written quite so clearly on our heart in that area. And then we might see atheists doing what is right for its own sake, shaking their head at the odd things religious people do in order to manufacture a pretense at righteousness all in order to hide a great deal of depravity. Such is what made God completely fed up with religion in Isaiah chapter 1.

I don’t think it is nearly that simple, but an ongoing process of human history. And sometimes it is ten steps forward then nine steps backward such as when Americans resurrected slavery after it had been abolished in Europe!

(Cindy) #68

I think that God’s law is quite simple; it’s just that man’s greed is also quite powerful. Our lust to be “superior” to others outweighs our conscious (or God’s law). Whether it is a matter of self-deception, not caring about God’s law, or some combination is debatable I suppose.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #69

That which is morally right is the right relationship between people, or love.

Since God is Love, the Holy Spirit, God is Good.

(Mitchell W McKain) #70


God is good.

And these are not meaningless words!

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #71


Have a great 2019!

(Patrick moore) #72

How could you, or anyone else, tell the difference?

If we start from the assumption that God is an all powerful creator, and if we take the word of scripture that we are created in God’s likeness, then I would be fascinated to see how “logically” you are able to make this distinction.

(Mitchell W McKain) #73

How can we tell the difference between anything? The fact is, that seeing this particular difference dates from 399 BC. And I can only give one as the correct answer because I see the difference. But of course I cannot speak to whether you see the difference.

Can we measure the difference objectively? Yes, we can – we do this every time we find objective scientific evidence that something is bad for human human health or for childhood psychological development. Then we know that such things should be prohibited for a reason and not just because somebody says so.

I don’t see what relevance the power of God has for any of this.

That is not the word of scripture. We are not created in God’s likeness. We grow up from a single cell learning how to do everything we are capable of. We are not omnipotent. And we are limited to physical body, while God is an omnipresent spirit. That we are made in the image of God clearly means something else. I think it means that God’s infinite actuality is mirrored by our infinite potentiality, so that we can receive all the infinite things which God has to give in a relationship which is eternal – and this is eternal life.

I don’t see how those assumptions have any bearing on this distinction in Euthyphro’s dilemma, except that because we see the distinction then it is like that God sees the distinction also. It certainly seems to be the case that God repeatedly wishes that we would do things because we know they are right rather than simply because we want to curry favor with God by doing what He commands.

(Patrick moore) #74

So you start by saying that “logic” answers the promblem,
Then when I ask you to describe the logical arguement that makes the distinction YOU described, youvreply by saying:

How can we tell the difference between anything? The fact is, that seeing this particular difference dates from 399 BC. And I can only give one as the correct answer because I see the difference. But of course I cannot speak to whether you see the difference.

But you said that logic demonstrates the difference!

So if logic can ineluctably lead us, step by step, to the inbevitable conclusion that you are able to see, then by sharing the logical arguement with the rest of us, then we shall also be able to see what you can see.

So Mitchell, I ask you again, please lay out for us the logical steps that make this distinction clear

(Patrick moore) #75

The fact that God is an all powerful creator who makes us in his image;

Genesis 1 v 27

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Is relevant to this discussion as God is the creator and we are part of his creation, so it is hard to see how we could discern the difference you highlight. It is rather like asking “is the sea wet because it is watery or watery because it is wet”.

We have no frame of reference outside of God’s creation or greater than God which we can use to discern the distinction, which is I believe a discrinction without a difference.

I am not surprised that you have not been able to offer a “logical” arguement that proves your point - for the very reason I outline in this reply.

When you refer to “scientific facts” about what is “good” for mankind or child development what you are actually talking about is subjective opinions.

In the last 100 years we have seen hundreds of millions of people forced to live under various totalitarian regimes - and in each instance the regime In Question was vociferously supported by different groups of scientists.

As a society we can’t even agree “scientifically” if abortion (otherwise known as child sacrifice - 48million babies killed in 2017), is a good thing or an evil thing.

We can not discern good from evil rationally, and any attempt to do so will lead inevitably to some dystopian nightmare that costs millions of lives.

Mitchell, you seem to have a rather unorthodox view of Christianity. As interesting as your opinions are, I am interested in interrogating Christian belief and not that interested in interrogating some other belief system or a straw man version of Christianity. To achieve a genuine engagement with Christianity it seems obvious to me that we should give primacy to scripture, without editing or adding to it, and that we should also be very rigorous in testing “revelation” or church tradition, or recieved theology, for consistency with Scripture.

(Mitchell W McKain) #76

Yes, now you have the words correct. It is created in His image, not created in His likeness. Just as I said.

That is the way of logic, you can discover its truths regardless of superficialities. Circumstances are irrelevant. The identification of something as wet has more to do with its liquid content than its water content. Yes there is a difference and those who bother with a little discernment can see the difference. Frankly, the only one with trouble making such distinctions are ideologues who habitually force square pegs into round wholes. They don’t discern because they don’t want to.

That may have some relevance to some issues but it does not necessarily apply to all issues. But even then, the fact that we are a part of God’s creation does not stop us from imagining other worlds and thus expanding our consciousness outside those limits to come to conclusions about what logic tells us apart from the limits of our experience in the world as it is.

LOL I am not surprised that you do not see that which you refuse to hear. It is like I have said that hammers can force nails into wood, and then after staring at the hammer sitting on a table respond that you don’t see it doing any such thing. Logic is no different. It is a tool and it does nothing by itself. In fact, logic can ONLY take us from premises to equivalent conclusions. Thus in some sense, it doesn’t take us anywhere – not outside the ream of our presumptions. It only lets us see more of the world built from those presumptions. And if you are unable to let go of your own then you will refuse to see what logic tells someone who accepts a different set of presumptions.

You can likewise say that we cannot even agree that the world is round rather than flat, just because some group of nutters dissent. That is just ridiculous. The fact is that the consensus DOES agree that the greater evil here is taking away a woman’s freedom to recover her own life from men who have taken her choices away from her. We have no objective evidence that a fetus before the brain activity in the 20th week of pregnancy is anything more of a human being than a tumor.

We cannot ALWAYS determine the difference between good and evil rationally, but you are quite wrong because most of the time we can. It is forcing an ideology without discernment which lead to the nightmares you talk about, but calling what they do an example of “rationality” is a bit absurd. We are wise to recognize the limits of logic and rationality but the far greater foolishness here is to discard logic and rationality completely.

No. Christianity is a spectrum. Choosing one tiny sector of that spectrum which is convenient and easy to demolish is a classic strawman argument. There is no such thing as self-interpreting scripture. So your attempt to justify ignoring the rest of the spectrum of Christianity is a failure.

(Patrick moore) #77


Are you able to give us your logical Explanation of this paradox or not?

If so, then just state it, otherwise we can all safely assume that you do not have a “logical” explanation at all.

(Mitchell W McKain) #78

Paradox??? The only paradox mentioned in this thread was by Randy regarding whether God can be good if we are created inherently evil. I haven’t spoken to this before because the premise does not interest me, since we are not created inherently evil.

Or are you speaking of Euthyphro’s dilemma, and the following comment.

I certainly believe that God exists and that He is certainly the ultimate authority on what is good. But I do not believe these are arbitrary determinations of whim but are all derived from very good reasons. Thus logic makes it clear that the answer to Euthyphro’s dilemma is that God commands these things BECAUSE they are good and not that they are good because God commands them.

If you require this in syllogism form here it is…
Premise 1. The difference between good and eivl is based on sound reasons rather than upon whim.
Premise 2. Euthyphro’s dilemma challenged divine command theory by pointing out that you must choose between a whimsical God who has no good reason for what He commands, and the conclusion that God commands them because they are good.
Conclusion. The answer to Euthyphro’s dilemma is that God commands things because they are good and not that they are good because God commands them. The only exception is when you need to draw arbitrary lines as a matter of convention and it is not so important where the lines are actually drawn.

To be sure you can refuse the first premise and insist much like evil people tend to do that there are no reasons for the difference between good and evil and that these are just a product of people throwing their weight around and trying to manipulate and control others to their own liking. But I gave examples of how objective scientific evidence can establish how some things are bad for human health or bad for psychological development of a child. To this you made the objection that scientists have supported all kinds of political agendas. But this is irrelevant. No claim was made about the reliability of scientists in politics, but about the fact that objective evidence has been found regarding what is good and bad.

(Patrick moore) #79

You certainly can reject premise 1. What does “good” mean in this context? What do you mean by “good reasons”? Why should we assume a causal link between the achievement of “the good” from “good reasons”?

One does not have to be evil to reject your first premise on logical grounds,

Premise 2, frames our question as a false choice between a Gid who makes decisions for no good reason and a God who makes choices based on the good (I am taking your word for it that this is the arguement advances for this).

You can assume the existence of a god without having to assume either of those competing versions of a God.

This is not a logical arguement, it is vague, jumps from one statement to another non Sequitur statement as it fumbles around in ill defined woolly thinking. This is not “logic” at all

To quote a famous politician, this is “an inverted pyramid of piffle.”

(Mitchell W McKain) #80

And yet you will never convince me or the majority of people in the world to abandon this premise. Atheism is preferable to a theistic worldview that has to resort to such, just so it can justify a moral argument for shoving its theism onto other people. A morality founded on nothing more than authoritarian dictation is utterly inadequate for mature rational human beings, who have to make decisions on how to handle the ethical challenges of a changing world. That requires a means to figure things out based on the premise that there are reasons why some things are good and others are bad. A list of ancient rules based on the circumstances of a society which no longer exists is utterly inadequate.

Euthyphro’s dilemma has been around for 2400 years and your dismissal does not impress me in the least. All it manages to do is to convince me to stay as far away from you and your endeavors as possible. “An inverted pyramid of piffle” and “wooly thinking” are complements by comparison to what I would say to your comments, but this forum is place for gracious dialogue not the trading of inventive insults.

(Patrick moore) #81

Earlier in this thread you said

And yet my rejection of your illogical and idiotic reasoning leads you to comment:

“Your dismissal does not impress me in the least. All it does is convince me to stay as far away from you and your endeavours as possible”.

All I can say in response Mitchell is that “By their fruits shall you know them.”

If asking you to answer clearly and with reasoned arguement (rather than an essay of random comment) has produced such an angry response from you then all i can say is that I will try to bear the burden of your absence with courage and cheerfulness.

Cheerio Mitchell.