John Stuart Mill's God Is Good

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John Stuart Mill wrote that we cannot call God good for he is a perfect being and the word ‘good’ is a word that describes the highest form of human morality. I believe this statement to be true in a sense. Good is a term that has a relative meaning when describing things. Good is from a perspective of the individual. In this paper I will be arguing that the word ‘good’ in the phrase “God is good” is in relation to the opinion of the person describing God, and that it cannot be known to our reality if God is objectively good.
First, I think we need to identify the context of the word good in the phrase “God is good.” The word good in this statement means more than just fine. When I say that the movie was good, I am really saying that the
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The phrase could be an attempt at alliteration, both God and good start with the letter G. The phrase is short, easy to say, and since good is a relative word the phrase can be universally used. Both party 1 and party 2 could say God is good, if the phrase is simply poetic, because they would be using the phrase as a metaphor to reflect what they deem as good on their own lives. But if God truly exist, and the phrase is not just poetic, then both party1 and party 2 cannot say that God is good because there is no way of objectively identify the goodness of God. God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son in order to prove his devotion to God, and God only stops Abraham when God sees that Abraham is fully willing to kill his own son. Even after that, Abraham and others still call God good. If we were to replace God with Abraham’s wife, and Abraham’s wife commanded Abraham to sacrifice their son in order to prove his devotion to her, would Abraham and others call his wife good? I would think not. And even though good is a relative word, it is used to describe things that we declare as good. While God and Abraham’s wife made the same request only God would be called good. Good is used to describe things that we know and understand as good. So, we cannot call God good for doing an action that if someone else did the same action would be considered not…show more content…
Thomas Aquinas’s essay The Doctrine of Analogy he states that words should be take analogously when referring to God, just as the word ‘healthy’ can be used to describe medicine or urine; medicine being the cause of a healthy man, and urine being a sign of a healthy animal. According to St. Tomas Aquinas, “Nothing can be predicated of a creature and of God univocally, For when a term is used univocally of more than one thing, what the term signifies is common to each of the things of which it is univocally predicated.” But the word good can have more than one meaning, whereas healthy cannot. Healthy can be related to two different things as can good. In both the urine example and the medicine example the word ‘healthy’ is used to mean the same thing but to imply to different things; urinating as a sign an animal is healthy and taking medicine to become healthy, but healthy in both sayings are pointing to things that mean to be in reasonable health. Health can be scientifically measured and is not an opinion, whereas good describing something as good is an opinion. In the Three Essays on Religion, John Stuart Mill wrote “If I know nothing about what the attribute is, I cannot tell that it is a proper object of veneration.” He argued that words like good do not mean the same when describing people as it does when describing God. I think this a good point, for if we think that God is a perfect ineffable being, then none of our conceivable words like good would be able to
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