Alright, there's too much in the thread to respond to all of it and I'd be rehashing too much trying to do so anyway, so just three things. First, @the OP:
...I don't even NEED to be religious or even read the freakin' Bible to get this one :/ What do you think would happen if God started reading Superman comics and got it in his head to duplicate into endless copies of himself so that he could swoop down and save every single puppy that falls in a storm drain, cure every instance of brain cancer, stop every bus full of kids from careening off a bridge? He'd be making a big mistake. Coddled children always end up screwed later in life, because they never faced hardship and never had to rely on themselves. So what happens when God babies us and then we go ahead to split the first atom, hmm? Without the tragedies of the past to learn from, what do you think we'd do with a nuke? We're spoilt, immature children with an overprotective father figure and a world ending weapon we are not ready to use.
And even so, if there is a Heaven, wouldn't making the mortal world free of pain and sadness completely defeat the purpose? Heaven would be rendered redundant!
There is a difference between permitting hardships to exist - what you described above - and creating
those hardships. Depending on how omnipotent and omniscient a God we're talking about, the former cannot occur without the latter: he's not just allowing that busload of kids to go off a cliff, he personally chucked them off.
Rather different situation, ne?
But Shjade, you say, God gave us free will and said, "Go to it," ages ago. There's no way he's directly responsible for a schoolbus skidding off a cliff to doom thirty some-odd people, most of them under age 14, millenia later!
Well, if he's all-powerful and all-knowing, yes, yes he is. It doesn't matter how far ahead in time these events took place and how many decisions were made between the creation of humanity's free will and that bus manufacturer's decision to use inferior brake lines, God already knew everything. Even before he created free will he knew everything that would happen after doing so. He may not have technically made the decisions that led to the event, but he was aware of what decisions would be made and enabled them. He is, therefore, directly responsible. For everything. Good and bad.
"What about the Devil?"
Who do you think made him, knowing full well what would follow?
God is everything good. That characteristic in no way disqualifies him from also being everything evil. He has to be, really: everything requires balance. God is a total dick at least as often as he's life-changing for the better, and he can be awesome in both respects.
The thing is, colossal dick moves tend to be more obvious and get more press. Everyone remembers the time you accidentally set the carpet on fire - they tell that story every Thanksgiving. How often do they talk about when you installed it overnight as a Christmas present seven years earlier? Maybe as an anecdote to give context to your setting it on fire, but the fire story's going to be the headline from then on, isn't it? Silly comparison, I know, but what can I say, sometimes I'm silly.
I'm rambling. The point I'm trying to make is that the "if God is so good etc." argument isn't really an argument against the existence of God. It is
a somewhat persuasive (depending on how well-argued it is) point against the existence of a strictly all-good God. I mean, sure, you can argue the whole "mysterious ways" thing and maybe in hindsight at the end of existence it will all make sense (or not - who knows), but it's still pretty hard to justify infant deaths, genocide, etc. as not being cruel on some level attributable to God, especially with some of the tried and true justifications like the aforementioned "mysterious ways" or, my favorite, "he is testing us." Okay, sure, he's testing us
with the trial of that baby's death, maybe I can accept that...but how does being abruptly dead "test" the baby? What's he/she supposed to learn from being killed that early? It's practically justifying live sacrifice for the sake of faith in God, a practice I'm pretty sure the majority of his worshipers would be hard-pressed to support these days. Maybe some can, I don't know, but it seems like a difficult position to defend.
Honestly, from where I look at it, it just seems sensible to accept that God is everything
rather than only the good, but that's just me.
2) merely because God knows the outcome doesn't mean that it's predetermined. I may know the outcome of the result of the Cote d'Ivoire election, but that does't mean I rigged it.
You might not have rigged it yourself, no, but given you set in motion the creation of the persons who are responsible for the outcome of the election it's difficult to claim the outcome wasn't predetermined. The winner was decided ages before the government running that election even existed. It wasn't forced
- those voters still chose to vote the way that they did - but the choices were made well in advance of their respective births.
In other words, yes, you have free will...but you have also already made all of your choices (in that the choices you will make in the past, present and future are already known, thus already made), meaning your life is
predetermined. It just wasn't predetermined for
you - you made all your choices the moment God conceived of creating humanity and giving them free will (which was, theoretically speaking, the beginning of the universe).
I'm sure this sounds contradictory, but it isn't: free will and predetermination aren't technically exclusive to one another, though I suppose it depends on your point of view to some extent.
There is no situation in which rape or sexual assault is good. I find arguments based on karma to be deeply unconvincing - 'you deserve it'.
how it works...eh. I think in this case an examination of dharma
might be even more relevant and interesting. Specifically: looking at this from the perspective of the victim rape, murder, theft, etc. are all clearly "bad things," but in some systems of belief it's possible not only that there is a specific reason the victim is on the receiving end of these actions, but that the perpetrator is the person enacting them. It's possible that committing this heinous act is the only way for the rapist (and, bizarre as this may sound, for their victim
) to progress toward a higher state of existence, though it is likely a step taken backward in order to later move forward.
Really, if you're going to get into the whole karmic cycle conversation, that gets real complicated real fast. It's not really on the same page as the "is God good" question at all - it's an entirely different system of beliefs from an extremely different perspective toward life and existence as a whole. Trying to combine them is a mistake; it's just going to lead to confusion and frustration for everyone involved eventually. I suspect this is why people started getting irritable: it's not that the argument was becoming too complex, it was incorporating ideas from other systems of belief that aren't compatible.
It would be like having a discussion about the merits of car safety in various models based on their size, handling, etc. and having someone point out that airplanes are safer than any of them. It might be true, and they are both types of vehicles, but it's not really comparing the same things, is it?