Kevin asked:

I read the following. “If God is good and God made everything, then everything God made is good.”

It has been a long time since my philosophy class in college. I am not wanting to debate the statements, I am just trying to determine if the logic being used is appropriate. It looks like the sentence is saying if A=B and A=C, then B=C. Is that appropriate logic?

Answer by Geoffrey Klempner

The logic of identity or equivalence would be valid in this case if one takes ‘God’ to refer to the Universe, and ‘good’ to refer to Goodness (as such). If God is Goodness and God is the Universe then the Universe is Goodness. QED.

Speaking as an atheist — not having a particularly strong stake in this debate — the statement is heresy (I forget which one) and a few hundred years ago you would be burned at the stake for it. In any case, it’s obvious that the heretical interpretation is not the one intended.

Let’s start from the beginning. I am holding a potato. God made this potato. Therefore this potato is good. However, looking at the potato, feeling it, smelling it, it is clear that this potato is bad. When I cut it open, the inside is black and slimy. This potato is good for nothing except throwing in the garbage bin or waste disposal.

Does that contradict the statement, ‘Everything God made is good’? Only if you are a simpleton. It is good that potatoes go bad, because that means they are able to decompose. If potatoes were not capable of decomposition then they could not be cooked and eaten. They’d be like plastic. Is that what you want, a God who makes plastic potatoes?

The same can be said of a human being. This man is bad. Would it be better if men and women were immune to badness? Then they would have characters that were immune to development, progress or change. They would be like robots. And that would not be so good.

— If you are a theologian, games like this are second nature. You are never going to convince a ‘true believer’ that anything in creation is not as it should be. Equally, no-one, except a simpleton or a true believer, looking at the facts with a cool eye, could find inspiration for belief in the continuous, needless, slaughter of innocents splashing across our TV screens on a daily basis.