Devout people often attempt to address the Problem of Evil, or specific instances thereof (e.g., the manifold cases of cruel and inhuman violence advocated in the Bible) by claiming that their god's actions are above human judgment. Since a god's actions are above human judgment, our judgment that these actions are evil holds no weight: the actions are just and good, even though our judgment declares them not to be.
Obviously, this belief is socially toxic. Once convinced that your own moral judgment can be overridden by a higher authority --- not through moral persuasion, but by simple invocation of the fact that the speaker possesses greater authority than you do --- it becomes all too easy for you to defer similarly to worldly figures in positions of authority.
But that's not why I'm writing. I'm writing to point out, for the record, a flaw in this argument that has always seemed utterly obvious to me, but which I rarely (never?) hear said explicitly, and which doesn't seem to occur to most religious believers.
Let us grant, for the sake of argument only, that all the humanly observable events in the Bible occurred in reality, rather than in fiction. How would you know that your god had better moral judgment than you do?
More concretely: How do you know that your god is not, in fact, a demonic superpowerful alien who gets off on tormenting and deceiving people, but who merely claims to be good?
Once you contemplate this question for about ten seconds, it becomes obvious that the only way to distinguish between a righteous deity and a malevolent, deceitful one is to exercise one's own intellect and moral judgment. If tomorrow, a mysterious, brilliantly shining light appeared over Manhattan, performed a number of miracles, and then ordered everyone, in a profoundly booming voice, to abduct and rape children, then I dearly hope that you would not follow its orders, because you would know that you were right and the shining light was wrong.
In short, no being can demand that you defer to its moral judgment. In fact, once you become an adult, you are morally obligated to refuse to defer to someone else's moral judgment. If you permitted yourself to defer to someone else's moral judgment, it would also be possible for you to be deceived into deferring to an evil or amoral being, which is unacceptable.
Here are some bogus counterarguments, and their refutations:
"God created the universe, and therefore has authority to make moral judgments within it."
First of all, the denizens of the Bible have only God's word that he is responsible for creating the universe. This could be a lie. Second, the power to create something does not imply higher moral judgment with respect to that creation, as the many children of abusive parents know. God could be an abusive parent. The only way to distinguish between an abusive creator and a benevolent one is to exercise one's own moral judgment.
"God is all-powerful, and has the authority to make moral judgments."
This is just a generalization of the previous point. First, it could be a lie that God is all-powerful. Second, being all-powerful (or "X-powerful" for any X) indicates only that God possesses an ability that you do not. It says nothing about whether that power is being exercised for good or evil, which one can only determine by exercising one's own moral judgment.
"God is all-powerful. Formally, for all X, God can do X. Instantiating, let X = 'determine the rules of morality'. Therefore, God can determine the rules of morality."
A clever twist on the above, but flawed in nearly the same way. Let Alice be an omnipotent God, for whom the above holds true. Now consider Bob, the "almost-omnipotent God" for whom the following statement holds: for all X, where X is not 'determine the rules of morality', Bob can do X. Now, how do you distinguish Alice from Bob? It's impossible in general, because "determining the rules of morality" is not an operation that has any observable effects. If you have evidence that some deity is Alice, then you have equal evidence that it is Bob. Therefore, you have no basis for believing that you should defer to this being. Only your own moral judgment remains.
"God is all-knowing, and must have higher moral judgment than you."
First, again, you only have God's word for this; it could be a lie. Second, even if this fact is true, knowing what is good is vastly different from doing what is good. It is possible for an omniscient being to know what's good, but prefer to do evil. And, once again, one can only distinguish between a good omniscient being and an evil omniscient being by exercising one's moral judgment.
"God can send you to Hell, and therefore is the final arbiter of good and evil."
Stalin could send people to the gulag, but that didn't make him moral. If a being possesses the power to damn people to eternal suffering, and that being is evil, then the morally right action is to defy that being, and the highest act of heroism is going to Hell.
(I would also claim that willingness to damn people to eternal suffering for acts committed in a finite lifetime amply demonstrates that the being is evil, but that's independent of this argument.)
"God did [insert good thing here], therefore God cannot be evil."
First, one can easily do a mixture of good and evil, and still be evil or amoral. I bet many evil dictators in history have been kind to their pets. Second, even raising this argument essentially proves my point that one must exercise one's own moral judgment. If you really believed that God's moral judgment overruled your own, then it wouldn't really matter what you think is good. The fact that you feel obligated to bring up an example that you judge to be good shows that you believe in your own moral reasoning more than any authority.
Now, again, in all of the above, I am granting arguendo the reality of some subset of the fictions in the Bible. I don't actually believe in these fictions, so I don't really have to consider the problem. But religious people who endorse the evil in the Bible (or any fraction thereof), even as a matter of allegory, do have this problem. All religious people suffer from unjustified belief, which is an intellectual failing. However, over and above that, I will always regard their refusal to judge their gods as a moral failing.