According to Google Analytics – don’t ask me how they know this – about a quarter of the visitors to this website are under 25, half are 25-44, and the final quarter are 45 and over.  Over the years I’ve received hundreds of letters about my books, articles, and online writing from undergraduate and graduate students around the country -- some friendly, some hostile, all interesting.  Topics run the gamut from abstract and philosophical to concrete and personal.  I’ve run letters on the blog from time to time before, and I’ve been considering running one every Monday.  Would that be interesting or uninteresting?  Let me know.

Actual query:

You say that God is good, but what makes Him good?  You say that we have been ruined by trying to be good without God, but by whose standard?  God’s?  Of course if we break away from Him we will be ruined by His standard, but what makes His standard better than yours, mine, or my cat’s?  All I really want to know is what makes this Being better and more morally right.


Your mistake is thinking of God as something separate from Good:  He may be in accord with it, He may not.  That’s not how it is.  God and Good aren’t two things; they are one.  He simply is the Good, and good things short of Him are good because He made them.  It’s His goodness that these thousand goods reflect, as white light refracted through a prism gleams in a thousand brilliant colors  -- love, joy, wisdom, beauty, strength, and all the rest.  Now God cannot be at odds with Himself.  It is because He is the Good, and with infinite wisdom knows Himself, that He knows what Good is.  To think that you, or I, or your cat might know Good better than Good knows Himself is pretty silly.

Another way to answer was suggested by C.S.  Lewis.  God is the source of our ability to know about Good.  He gave us our minds; He gave us our conscience; it was He who gave us the knowledge that evil and good are different, He who polarized our souls to fear the one and long for the other.  The very power to ask questions and form judgments about the matter comes from Him and depends on Him.  So to set this power against Him is like sawing off the branch that we are sitting on.

That answers your question; in fact it answers it twice.  But here is something else to think about.  One of our names for God is the Desire of Nations.  The reason for this title is that if He Himself is the Good, then whether or not we know it, to long for the Good is ultimately to long for Him.  Turning the same thought around, to seek good things apart from the One from whom their goodness flows is ultimately to stuff our mouths with dust and ashes.  There will come a day when you wonder why you can’t swallow.  Come to the Fountain instead.