As I’ve said a number of times on this blog, I’m not really into philosophical questions about the existence or non-existence of a god. To me, they’re a waste of time. The very process of arguing seriously against a silly thesis imbues that thesis with a gravitas it doesn’t deserve.
I also hate quoting from the bible, unless I’m discussing ancient literatures. To ask Jews or Christians to justify random thoughts written in their vast collection of non-wisdom seems, to me, a tacit acceptance that somewhere in their screeds there’s a core of truth. I don’t see it: not in a historical sense, not in a scientific sense, certainly not in a philosophical sense, not in any kind of sense that is sense.
But today, I’m going to ask a philosophical question, and I’m going to base that question on quotes from the bible. To be as ecumenical as I can, I’ll use the King James Version as my source.
OK. On the third day of creation, as related in Genesis 1, the character named God creates the dry land and the seas ... and God saw that it was good (verse 10). Later on that same day, the guy works his magic with grass and herbs and fruit trees ... and God saw that it was good (verse 12). On the fourth day, the master magician cobbles together the sun, moon, and stars, and sticks them where he thinks they’ll work best, just the same way you or I would change a light bulb ... and God saw that it was good (verse 17). Next day, he made himself an aquarium and an aviary, and — you guessed it — he saw that it was good (verse 21). On the sixth day, he invented land animals, patent pending. Can you guess what he saw? ... that it was good (verse 25).
This self-satisfied tinkerer was able to distinguish whether or not something was good, and was clearly pleased with himself to have created good stuff rather than non-good stuff.
Fair enough. Let's concede for the time being that the creations were good. Oh, if it had been up to me, I might have made more Carolina parakeets (now extinct) and fewer mosquitoes (now not), but no one asked. If the god of Genesis thought that his workmanship was good, then, because he's god, he must have been right.
But wait a minute. The concept of “good” must be outside his control, apart from him, a quality he recognizes when he sees it.
So here’s my question for believers: What being conceived the difference between good and bad?