The atheists or some parts inside you protests: «How can you love a god who is so cruel that he let 250 men be punished in that way? Is this what they call a good god?»
This is a question about who has the power to define what is cruel or not.
If it is true that God created us out of nothing, then He is the one who decides what is cruel or not. Wether you like it or not, if it is true that God created man, then we can say that it is Him, not his creatures, who defines what is good and evil.
If he created us, you can of course turn you back at Him and say that you don't want him, but what good does that do to you? You have two choices, 1) to believe in God and follow his will, 2) to decide that you dont' like God and don't want to follow his will. The first choice place you on the road to heaven. The other choice place you at the beginning of the way that ends in hell if you decide to walk that path to the end. These are the only two choices that you have.
The Catechism defines God like this: «God is infinitely good and all his works are good» (CCC 385).
God is infinitely good! That's what the paragraph said. Infinitely good!
CCC 385 continues like this: «Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? "I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution", said St. Augustine, and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For "the mystery of lawlessness" is clarified only in the light of the "mystery of our religion". The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace. We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror».
What was origin of evil? Did God create it? No, he didn't. His creation was perfect. Still he didn't want to force somebody to be close to Him if they didn't want to. Satan and his angels didn't. (See blog post #6 and #7 -2012 for some reflections about Satan if you want to).
After the fall (Genesis) we get glimpses at the the evilness of man. Cain murdered his brother Able because he was jealous about how much God liked Able's sacrifice. The evil traits in men continued to spread and one day God found only one righteous man, Noah. The flood destroyed everything and only Noah, his family and the animals in the ark survived and was ready to start anew.
Let us jump seven generations forward. Abram (Abraham) is called to be a blessing for humankind.
We know that evilness still lurked around the corners. Lots city, Sodom, was destroyed – Ishmael had to be sent away. Jacob had to flee from his brother after steeling his blessing, Joseph's brothers sold him to slave traders ....
In spite of all this God was with the mankind he had created. He had promised Abraham to be a great nation («And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and magnify thy name, and thou shalt be blessed.» [Genesis 12:2]) and a blessing for all nations («And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.» [Genesis 22:18]).
Here we se the catholic «principle»: When humans work together with God (obedience), good things happen, not always at once, but they happen).
We also see how God can make good out of evil. Joseph's stay in Egypt becomes a blessing for the whole family. Later on with a new Pharaoh, the Israelites become slaves in Egypt (like we all are «slaves» in one way or another). God led them out of Egypt as he through Jesus leads us all out of our private Egypt's to safe ground if we want to be led that way. Our safe ground is in Christendom, our Catholic Church, the sacraments, the word of God (the Bible) and the teachings of the Church.
Perhaps you don't feel that I have answered your question, if you are among them whom find God to be described as evil? I have said that if God is the creator, it is him, not us who define the content in the word 'evil'. I have showed you that the catechism defines God as infinitely good (CCC385). If you cannot accept that, may be there is something wrong with your understanding of the concept 'evil'?
Who has taught you what is good and evil? Your grandparents, your parents, your parish priest, your friends, the media, the modern world? Please be honest with yourself? Were did you learn that God is cruel (if that is what you think) and is to be addressed 'god' (with the little 'g')?
May be you don't remember? Well I can give you some of my thoughts. If a biological father killed his children because he found out that they had done something that didn't please him, that would be written as evil in all papers. People would look scared and angry at each other and say: «What a father! He ought to have the hardest punishment that is possible for doing this cruel thing!»
I agree about that! Be sure, I really agree! And now you think that I have come to the conclusion that God really was cruel in the Old Testament?
No, I don’t!
Let us look more at that in the next blog post:
«Is it because others have pointed out to you that they don't like the «cruel god» in the OT? (Part 2).»