Those that believe tend to believe in a God that is good. Why?
Well, the Bible and tradition have said that God is good. God created us, why would he hate his creation? God loved the world enough to send his son to die for our sins.
I’m sure there are other answers. But they all reveal a troubling lack of imagination. Of course the Bible says that God is good; because the Bible was inspired by an evil God who wants us to believe that he is good. Of course the Holy Spirit inspired the Church fathers with an image of divine love, because God wanted them to transmit a false message. His only interest was to get people to believe in God to bring about the inevitable power struggles and wars that would be fought over the correct characterization of this belief. He knew that people would be reached by a message of divine love and redemption. Once the ball got going, he could just sit back and enjoy the chaos.
Of course he sent a man to earth who preached a revolutionary message of love and forgiveness and of course he wanted this man to die. He made sure that people would believe that this man was their savior and the their sins could be forgiven so long as they believed in him. Isn’t it so obvious that this emphasis on belief as the defining element or religious faith would facilitate the coming battles between groups that had different understanding of what that belief must consist in? -“We believe that Jesus is both the son of God and also identical to God.” -“But that’s not possible. We believe that Jesus is God’s son but then he can’t literally be God.” -“Well, you’re a heretic.” And God knows what we do with heretics.
A good God would not make it a condition for avoiding eternal torment that we believe that a man born 2000 years ago was both the son of God and also God and that he died for our sins. This is just too much to ask of a person who could not possible know any of these things directly. It is much more likely that this is the work of a divine troublemaker.
Alright. This is only partially facetious. I do believe that positing an evil God who has been systematically deceiving humanity since the beginning is at least as consistent with the facts as the supposition of a good God. So what decides the matter? Why believe in the good God rather than the bad one?