Saintly Thoughts

God is Good?

To my mind, it appears that one of the major issues that Christianity is constantly creating for itself is the sense that it knows something about God and from that knowledge can thus deduce quite a bit about the world.  The ultimate example of this systematizing is, of course, the elaborate cosmologies of the scholastics, but we can imagine such pretensions in our own time under the  guise of creation science and intelligent design.  We often like to laugh at their efforts now, but one cannot deny that the cosmology of the crystal spheres, arranged along neo-platonic and musicological lines, provided an internally consistent system, which fit the appearances of the universe as man was then able to perceive it, and (appeared) to delightfully reinforce the sense of man's own special place in God's creation while at the same time being properly majestic.  Was it any wonder that the Church reacted against the astronomers when they successfully began their process of disassembling the system based on new cosmologies derived from empirical observation (I am not suggesting that it was "right" that the Church should do so; just that I can understand the impulse)?  What was the Church's fundamental error (besides the obvious one of being stubborn and tyrannical when challenged)?  Why, the sin of hubris built out of that ultimate of human emotions: terror concerning our own lack of knowledge when faced with the universe!  The Church is always trying to build system's based on what it knows (or thinks it knows) of God; I suppose a not illogical premise given that it believes in the true revelation of God by mean's of the Bible and the Incarnation (amongst other sources).  But have they ever considered that one aspect of God, perhaps the most prevalent aspect (though I suppose to say this we would have to somehow connect it to the concept of agape if we wish to consider it Christian), is that His ways are mysterious and will never appear to us as we expect them to?  God may not change, but our conceptualization of God surely does, and is constantly interacting with the world; thus, our conceptualization of God must change, it cannot remain static (paradigm shift).  How can an infinite God ever fully reveal Himself to us in our finitude?  I doubt most religious believers would disagree with such a statement, but they may disagree with this one: a constant dialectic with the Divine means that any positive content we apply to God may always be changeable as applied to our experience of God (though not to the Being of God Himself).  Thus, we can say that God is Good; I have no problem with such a statement.  But, do we know what goodness is?  We probably need to say we have (at least analogically) an "idea" of what goodness is, but the moment we try to absolutely apply goodness as a category to anything in creation (insofar as we have applied goodness as a quality of God) we are like to find that we have to give up a sense of the description as applied either to the one or to the other.  Thus, either we can say God is Good or something else is good (in some sense if not absolutely) but then such a term as "goodness" is now useless as applied to God.  And if something else (than God), then by what standard have we determined it to be good?