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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Why is God 'good'?

Monotheism explains order, but is mystified by evil. Dualism explains evil, but is puzzled by order. There is one logical way of solving the riddle: to argue that there is a single omnipotent God who created the universe – and He’s evil. But nobody in history has had the stomach for such a belief.
- Dr Yuval Noah Harari; Sapiens: a brief history of humankind

A few years ago I was interviewed at King’s College, Cambridge, to read a Philosophy degree. I made a friend who was also applying to do Philosophy (neither of us got in). This friend I had once said something interesting whilst we were discussing the existence of God, both of us being atheists. He said that if there were a god, then it would be more likely for that god to be Satan, i.e. evil, due to the suffering and evil that happens in the world. People often say ‘why would God allow such evil in the world!’ Answer a: god isn’t real. Or perhaps the answer is answer b: god is evil.

Religions teach that God is fundamentally good, and that the evil in the world is caused by the devil. But why? Surely if God is so good and powerful, he would be able to zap Satan away in one second. He wouldn’t allow Satan to get away with all the world’s evils.

Why is it assumed that God is this moral being? What if God is immoral? Or, to take one step further; what if ‘God’ is in fact amoral? What if the Higher Being or Higher Force that governs the universe is simply one that is neither good nor bad? Morality is a human-made concept. Our definitions of right and wrong come from ourselves, not from some external force. If we were to say that there was a God/Creator/Higher Being, why should they be good? It would make no sense. But for all the bad in the world, there is also good. So wouldn’t it be most logical to conclude that God is amoral?

For atheists reading this, you’ll be thinking ‘who cares? God isn’t real anyway’. For believers reading this, you’ll be thinking – well I don’t know what you’ll be thinking because you all have different and conflicting views. I never really bought into the Satan idea. I believed in God until I was about 15, but I always thought the idea of Satan made no sense because surely God was powerful enough to rule everything by himself.

Our world is not full of sunshine and roses. Terrorist attacks are happening constantly. Little kids have cancer. Your boyfriend died even though he was the nicest person on the planet. Additionally, good happens too, and good cannot happen without bad. If there’s a unifying force that is the causal drive behind the universe, then it doesn’t care what you think. It doesn’t care about right and wrong. It doesn’t care about making you happy or unhappy, because it doesn’t have any morals. It just does what the next pragmatic thing is to do. It drives everything in accordance with each other. I believe in the multiverse theory; maybe there is a parallel universe in which everyone is happy all the time and life is perfect. Maybe not. Perhaps humans just aren’t designed that way.

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