The following is an excerpt from something I wrote nearly eight years ago. I was more of a believer back then…
… Yet despite all this, there is no real evidence that Hashem is good. He told us He's good, but according to His own rules one cannot bring aidus on himself. Before we can really discuss whether or not He's good, though, we have to establish what "good" is.
One very problematic definition of good is that whatever Hashem does or tells us to do is good. It is good because Hashem is the ultimate good in the universe. How do we know this? Because everything He does is good. Why is everything He does good? Because He is the ultimate good in the universe. And how do we know this? Because everything He does is good. . . This is circular reasoning, and as such is simply ridiculous.
A major problem with defining what good really is is that it is very subjective. If there are two stores competing for business, and a customer chooses store A, that is good for store A, but is bad for store B. Thus when Hashem says that He is good, He may be telling the truth from His point of view, but what is good for Him is not necessarily good for humanity. We assume that He means that He is good for us, and this is what we need proof for.
To determine what is classified as good we must establish a baseline of what is normal. Anything above the baseline is good; anything below it is bad. For example, when it comes to food, having enough to eat is the baseline. Having extra food or especially tasty food is good, not having enough food or having unappetizing food (moldy, etc.) is bad. Establishing such a baseline is absolutely necessary. Without a baseline, a person may be tempted to claim that merely having enough to eat is good. Yet, because good is generally accepted as something better than normal, this would mean that not having enough to eat was normal. A world were this is the case is horrific. (The world actually was like that for the majority of the population for millennia, but we'll discuss that later.) So we will establish the baseline as being reasonably comfortable (healthy, fed, clothed, etc.).
When discussing whether or not Hashem is good, most people tend to glorify what appears to be good and discount what appears to be bad because it was done by Hashem. This is unacceptable. Although He is not human, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not He is good we must hold Him accountable as one. Thus if He afflicts someone with a fatal illness and then cures the person, instead of praising Hashem that the person got well we should look at the situation as it really is. It is much like someone purposely burning down a house and then paying the owner. Not only wouldn't we praise him for paying, we would say he is a terrible person. It is no great thing that Hashem cures a sick person. After all, it is His fault the person got sick in the first place.
We have established that for something to be defined as "good," it must be above the baseline, be something that would be called good regardless of the being responsible, and can not be merely a fix for something bad perpetrated earlier. Let us now examine the evidence regarding Hashem's nature in regard to His goodness. In doing so, we start with the assumption that He is perfectly neutral, then determine His level of goodness based on the evidence.
Let's begin at the beginning. Hashem creates Adam and Chava. A few hours later they have eaten from the eitz hadas and are expelled from Gan Aden. Less then a day after the world's creation, and the first murder occurs. After a millennia and a half, the situation has gotten so bad that Hashem decides to wipe the world clean. The only survivors are Noach and his family. After a year, the water goes down and they can finally leave the taevah. Immediately, Noach, the tzaddik of his generation, gets drunk and passes out on his bed. His grandson comes along and castrates him.
This is, I'm sure you'll agree, a horrible record. Most people would place the blame on the humans. Such consistent failure to follow even basic laws, though, seems to indicate a terrible flaw in humanity. The flaws in a product can only be blamed on the maker of that product, in this case Hashem. This being the case, why are humans so horribly flawed? Only two possibilities present themselves. Either the flaw was accidental or intentional. If the flaw is accidental, that implies that Hashem is incompetent. If it is intentional, that means that Hashem is a sadist who wants His creations to fail so that He can blame then for that failure then punish them accordingly.
A few years go by, and we come to Mitzrayim. The most wonderful thing Hashem has ever done for us, supposedly, is to take us out of slavery. But Who's fault is it we were slaves? Hashem told Avraham that his children would be slaves in Mitzrayim, and we know that had Yaakov and his sons not come willingly, Hashem would have arranged to have them dragged there in chains. That is the justification for allowing Yosef to be taken to Mitzrayim; so that he would be in a position to make his extended family comfortable when they arrived. What is more, the Jewish people hadn't committed any aveiros that this slavery could be blamed on. So what we really have here is Hashem putting the Yiden through almost a century of torture so that when He came to take them out, they would be extremely grateful. Yet apparently this didn't work out, because four fifths of the Jews didn't want to leave Mitzrayim. The Nazis murdered six million Jews over the course of five years and we revile them as monsters. Hashem murdered twice as many in five days, yet the three million Jews who left Mitzrayim extolled His kindness and mercy.
What follows is a bloodbath as the nations who had lived in what would become Eretz Yisroel more or less forever were systematically driven away or butchered. The one nation which managed to trick the Jews into allowing them to stay in their homes is reviled as sneaky and underhanded. Granted, Hashem created the world and so may have the right to allocate it as He chooses, but being G-d He could certainly have done so in a less brutal manner. He can't even use the excuse that He doesn't like to perform overt miracles, because he performed a miracle when He caused the walls of Yericho to sink into the ground.
There were then several hundred years of relative peace, culminating in Dovid HaMelech's expansion wars and the prosperity of Shlomo HaMelech's reign. Then the Babylonians sack Yerushalayim and destroy the Bais HaMikdash. What did the Jews of the time do to deserve such a tragedy? They followed only the letter of the law and didn't go lifnim mishuras hadin. Such a reason could only be given by a sadist looking for any reason to punish.
Except for a short time after the Chashmonaim drove out the Greeks, from that time on for nearly two thousand years Eretz Yisroel was a province of one empire or another, none of which were very kind to Jews. The Jews were scattered over the Earth, ending up in hostile countries. There isn't a square inch of Europe or Asia that the Jews haven't been expelled from at one time or another. When we were allowed to live somewhere, it was under heavy taxation and with the constant fear of pogroms. True, we are nonetheless ridiculously prominent in world affairs relative to our small numbers, but that hardly makes up for two millennia of suffering.
Perhaps one could argue that the Jews, being Hashem's nation, have stringent standards and these standards were violated in some way severe enough to justify the horrors visited upon us. But then what of the rest of humanity? From the fall of Rome until well into the Renaissance, the majority of the population were starving, lived in tiny, filthy accommodations, were constantly swept with diseases, and worked from dawn to dusk trying to grow enough food to live on. The majority of children died before they reached adulthood. Women died in childbirth as often as not.
Then there are the incidents that stand out as being particularly horrible, such as the Black Death that wiped out a third of the population of Europe. Not to mention the repercussions to the Jews. How can such wanton murder be justified?
Even today, arguably the best age the world has ever known, the majority of humanity lives in abject poverty. The AIDs virus is an epidemic in Africa. Cancer cases are on the rise. . .