I just thought this exchange between Damion and myself would be helpful for others.
what we consider good, such as the “infinite bliss and happiness”
We might indeed usually speak of it that way, but that's not what I'm after here. On atheism, does it make sense that ANYthing be called good? Whether it makes sense doesn't necessarily touch on whether people will believe it, as I'm sure you'd agree. Proof is not the same as persuasion.
on your theological premises, God would still be perfectly good if only one person (say, um, Enoch) enjoyed infinite bliss
You are right. Further, God would be perfectly good if NOONE enjoyed infinite bliss.
Compared with how it really is, one could say that He'd have shown less mercy and compassion that way, but one would not have a useful or reasonable way to judge that, or to judge God as wrong.
billions of souls suffering eternally counts for exactly nothing in the overall calculus of good and evil in the universe
No, I wouldn't say that. That's not a good thing, not at all. It's so distasteful and wrong, in fact, that it cost Jesus Christ His very life.
Does God acts in good ways because He embodies goodness, or does He embody goodness because he acts in good ways?
It's the former.
what precisely do you mean when you say that goodness is an ontological attribute?
I can't guarantee that my language is the most strictly correct and proper, philosophically speaking. What I'm trying to say is that God has revealed Himself as being good and there is every reason to trust Him. Further, there is no viable alternative for defining good in any useful way.
but on your terms no conceivable amount of harm (even the eternal harm of billions of souls) is unjustified so long as it is divinely ordained. Can you think of any harm which is unjustified, and in what sense is it so?
Former sentence is correct. For one thing, as I said before, we don't know the full plan of God and so have insuff information to judge. On atheism, I don't see any way to ground "justification", so that's another problem.
You asked for "any harm", in general, so I'd say that any and all evil committed by a created being, be it human or angel, would be unjustified harm. Sorry if that's not what you were asking for - elucidate the question and I'll be happy to respond to it.
it is only wrong to murder because God specifically forbade it?
I would say that, yes.
As I understand natural law theology (which is not all that well), I think a proponent thereof would disagree and say that it's also forbidden by natural law. I am not sufficiently versed in that to say either way.
you would say God just had to punish someone because He is perfectly just, so much so that ordinary outright forgiveness is logically impossible for Him
I guess you could say that, yes. The way that the law and justice are set up, wrongdoing must be punished.
justice (as we usually use the term) requires that the punishment for a given criminal fit his own crimes, God’s justice allows Him a loophole -- punish an innocent volunteer instead of the guilty party
Oh, I guess that wording, while a bit irreverent, fits, yes. The alternative is that, indeed, every criminal pay for his crimes, and his crimes are of infinite evil b/c they offend an infinitely holy God's holy law. God does not tolerate impurity in His presence, so we'd all be doomed forever to separation from Him. The only "candidate" for acting as substitute for mankind is God Himself.
Once again, it seems, you’ve run so far afoul or ordinary usage that you would actually be better off using antonyms.
And that would be a problem if I cared much about "ordinary usage". We do not judge God by man, but rather man by God.
Is God also being unjust in allowing sinners into heaven?
This is an excellent question, and speaks to the untruth of Islam. It's a major chink in the Islamic armor - Allah allows some sinful people into Paradise and the virgins and all that. And on what basis? Allah just --poof-- forgives the offenders.
The God of the Bible does no such thing. Take me as an example. All the times I've lied, been unjustifiably angry, looked with lust at a pretty girl, etc, these things have been fully punished. All the just punishment has been poured out on Christ on the Cross. My sin has been reckoned/imputed to Him and His perfect righteousness has been reckoned/imputed to me. Think of it as swapping bank accounts. At the Cross, I told Jesus I was sorry for all the 50% APR credit card debt I'd racked up and meant it. I asked Him for His Swiss bank acct containing €100 million. He agreed and did the switch.
Sounds crazy, right? To me too, but that's the reality. Christianity is too good to be true, only it really is true.
For those who reject the bank acct swap, they justly go to "debtor's prison". For those who accept the acct swap, they justly receive the money, since the guy who receives the bad debt has the resources to pay it. It's just that He's generous enough to share His incredible wealth with whomever might ask.
If they are non-believers, then by definition they *cannot* turn to God since they do not know God is really there.
God says that they DO know He exists - Romans 1:18-22. Further, that His law is written on their hearts, so that they have no excuse - Romans 2:10-15.
OTOH, it's true that they can't turn to God. For a person to turn to God, it requires a supernatural work on His part in their life.
I understand that you believe God is loving, but would not the hypothetical deity (affirmed by universalists) be far more loving than the one that you believe in?
How loving is it to refuse to punish all the evil done in the world? To arrive in Heaven and find an unrepentant Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot hanging out on the clouds with you? Especially since your last thought was "curse Hitler" as the SS guards threw the switch to flood your shower stall with sarin gas?
To arrive in Heaven and find the man who just finished raping and messily murdering you and your family there beside you?
I think this series of articles is very useful and illustrative of my meaning, for real.
I am *NOT* criticizing God but merely a man-made concept...
Fair enough, but you really do need to incorporate the idea of internal vs external critique into your argument. From my end, your viewpoint is man-made, and TGOTB really does exist.
So I ask myself - can atheism provide any grounding for making such moral critiques as I find here? So far I've not seen one, but I could be surprised someday.
But in this case you must give up on Anselm, because it becomes trivially easy to conceive of a greater being than the one you claim to worship.
Oh, that's a very interesting thought, actually!
I'll have to chew on that for a while, but I think you may very well have a great point WRT Anselm's ontological argument...