Skip to comments.On seeking 'a better God'
Posted on 08/22/2009 6:43:08 PM PDT by TBP
"The questions [people are asking] have changed quite significantly in the past 30 years," he told me. "It used to be, 'Is there a God?' and now it's 'What I know about God I don't like.' Their biggest complaint is that God acts in morally inferior ways compared to us."
Not only that, but the God who appears in the Bible is especially offensive.
The God who gets communicated to the young sounds vengeful and angry and over-anxious to consign people to hell, plus he gets all wrought up about divorce, homosexuality and whether people sleep together before marriage -- which are non-issues to them.
Plus, the typical Gospel presentation of God becoming a human and dying for the sins of the world does not reach these students. No court of law would punish an innocent person for the sins of the guilty, they reason. Why kill off an innocent man for the trespasses of a world that didn't ask to be saved in the first place?
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...
I dare anyone to post their position on that.
There is no good answer.
Why allow “thousands of years of human suffering to go on and on and on”?
Only suffering? No joy, love, peace, happiness. Only suffering? No watching your family grow and learn. No learning yourself.
I have gone through some years of suffering. There were times when I wished I was gone. But that is when I found out who God was. I learned what comfort and peace was. I don’t think a person can experience unbelievable peace until they’ve suffered.
A guy gets falling down drunk and wanders out into traffic. A car hits him and kills him. Did God cause this to happen? AIDS virus came and killed thousands of people. Is it Gods fault that men have forbidden sex with other men and or animals? To tell you the truth, I wouldn't blame God if he did cause a lot of pain. After all we kicked Him out of our schools, courts, government functions and just about every thing else.
If we are made in the image and likeness of God, we must be born with free will.
If that is so, then the suffering that comes into our lives is the product of the choices we make. The good news is that we can always make new choices.
We have freedom of choice, but not of consequence.
Things don’t always show up in the way we imagine when we ask for them, either consciously or subconsciously. But they do show up.
C.S. Lewis and Malcolm Muggeridge were two giant intellectuals who were staunch Christians. They wrote exhaustively about modern man’s penchant for the idolatry of self-worship. Interesting reading from men who could both think and write.
Yes, and all those times, he was standing right next to you. All you need to do is ask him to come into your heart. As you did.
Ever since God created man in his own image and likeness, man has been trying to create God in his image and likeness. God’s ways are not our ways, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. What people are actually saying is, “If I were God, I would do a better job.”
God could make human beings without a free will. We would be no different than any other machine. Without free will, we can’t love either God or our neighbor. The problem with free will is that it is also capable of great wickedness. God is not the cause of human suffering, but it is the will of sinful human beings. Suffering can also produce great good.
There is a different way of looking at the Bible and God’s covenants with man, that explains things in a different light.
Pagan gods were all about punishing what they disapproved of, and rewarding what they approved of. Pagan gods were totally involved, from a flip of a coin to the victory or defeat of armies. They spent all their time intimately concerned with every petty thing people do.
And in that way, people controlled them, and assigned juvenile and erratic emotional behavior to them. They were petty and fickle. Because, in the final analysis, reward or punishment were based on what people thought. And being petty and fickle themselves, that is how they imagined their pagan gods to be.
But the commandments of God, by another interpretation, were not demands, but warnings. Just as a mother tells her child not to touch a hot stove, if the child does and burns their finger, do they assume that their mother is punishing them by burning their finger?
So the covenants amounted to the same thing, warnings not to do things or we would harm ourselves. And like the child who ignores the warning, because they do not understand that a hot stove will injure them if they touch it, people do not see the connection between a commandment and the harm that befalls them if they violate it.
And they go back to assuming that God is fickle. That He rewards and punishes out of immature motives. But there is more.
While people are commanded to not touch that hot stove, this is not inclusive to the world. Just because the mother doesn’t tell the child not to stick their hand into a red anthill, doesn’t mean it won’t get them in trouble if they do.
But for the most part, God lets us deal with cause and effect on our own. Make mistakes and learn from them, or not. But He has given us some extra special warnings about stuff that isn’t obvious, but can severely hurt us.
Not that it is Him doing the hurting, or Him rewarding us for not doing it by not hurting us.
And strangely enough, this is not an agnostic view, just a respectful one. Not assuming that God behaves in a petty, fickle and immature way, like we used to think pagan gods behaved.
The answer comes from Christ. First requirement for any to 'see' the kingdom of God is to be born from above. You would not want to deny those not yet born that opportunity now would you. Now it is NOT the Heavenly Father's fault that humans seem to never learn from history.
There is a good answer but its not found in typical, secular Christianity. If a man is hypnotized to believe a dragon is about to eat him, you would not try to save him by trying to kill the dragon. Instaed, you would try to awaken him from his hypnotic state. The dragon is an illusion just like all suffering. Jesus and the other great teachers all taught. In other words, if God is love and perfection and God is all there is, there is no room or place or actual existence for suffering or evil.
I dare anyone to post their position on that.
There is no good answer."
Because God did not create automatons.
The whole point of the Genesis story about Eden and the expulsion of Adam and Eve had to do with God giving man the ability to grow on his own. It was when man decided to make himself God (the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) where human suffering was first introduced.
This is seen again and again, where Cain slays Abel, the Babylonian kings enslaving Jews, the period of slavery in Egypt, and so on. Even within the time of Jesus on Earth, the Pharisees exerted a sort of tyranny over the people in the name of following the Law of Moses, forgetting that the purpose of the Law was to constrain that darker portion of human nature (all roads point to pride, see Eden).
The symbolism of the crucifixition aside (fulfilling, but not replacing, the Law of Moses), the primary law of love for another took place in the form of the ultimate sacrifice.
Let's look at it from another angle. Noah and family were the only ones spared the Flood. Whether this is viewed as allegory or literal truth, the pre-flood world is described as a place where suffering and depravity were rampant. The same is seen with Sodom, where Lot prevails upon God (who agrees) to spare the entire city if only ten people of good will could be found.
The point is, as long as man lives on earth, he is going to suffer the baser aspects of human nature--thus suffering. However, it is God's grace, and his word written upon the human soul that allows people to grow and rise above their baser nature. Thus, while men who deem themselves gods slay millions (Nazi Germany, for example), others rise above and do not give in, or provide aid, thus bringing forth Angelo Roncalli (John XXIII, who used his office to save the lives of thousands of Jews) or Maximilian Kolbe, who gave his life to save that of another in Auschwitz.
But, there is a final answer to your question. That 'allowance for thousands of years of human suffering' does eventually reach its limit. Anyone who reads the last book in the Bible sees how that pans out.
To the author of the article--having faith in God and (most importantly) living it is not easy. And those who do it from abject fear of punishment have a weak faith--although the reality exists. If looked at solely from the context of the world, faith makes no sense. But from conscience and reason (yes, you pseudo-intellectual secular snobs, REASON), faith makes a lot of sense, even to those who do not ascribe to a particular religion.
The fact that there are questions that you cannot answer does not mean a logical answer does not exist. Perhaps the explanation lies somewhere in God’s granting of free will to humanity.
The simplest failure of atheism is the errant assumption that the human brain is capable of comprehending all things. The atheist demand for absolute proof to precede belief is nothing more ridiculous faith in the capacity of human understanding.
It seems to me, however, that a God that was so eager to condemn humanity to Hell would not have voluntarily sacrificed His son for their Salvation.
Of course they can.
Pleasure does not need pain to exist.
Love does not need hate to exist.
Good does not need evil to exist.
Those are two opposite categories.
The question at hand is why the lack of intervention in the second category.
Much suffering happens to individuals which is not attributable to their personal choices.
How quickly so many surrender Earth to that which you label the prince.
That’s a fairly adept advocacy of Christianity, but it doesn’t address the question at hand.
But if you could save a toddler from being hit by a train, would you?
Extrapolate that to a cosmic level and you get an excellent view of what needs to happen.
What is wrong is real, and not an illusion.
The premise of a time limit on a poor approach doesn't make the approach any less poor.
I'm not an atheist.
But the path has to be reasonable.
But God has promised there will come a day when He will bring peace and justice and an end of suffering - for those who are his. Belong to God, and one day, you will experience an eternity with no suffering, no hatred, no sin, no violence, no death, no tears, no pain. That is HIS promise to His beloveds. He is the sovereign ruler of the Universe, He is its creator. Therefore His rule is righteous and just and good.
Evil is called in the Bible a “mystery”. We simply do not know all there is to know about “why” bad things happen.
If God had left man alone, had not come to this earth as the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who bore our sins in His body on that cruel cross, so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life (with God - free from the pain and suffering you mention), then you would have a case for a cruel and uncaring God.
Instead, Jesus did come, the Messiah, promised for thousands of years did come, and did take upon Himself the punishment for OUR iniquities, giving to those who believe on Him - HIS righteousness (what an exchange) - because God so loved this mean old world.
Man was created a truly free moral agent and man chose rebellion against God - leading to the entry of sin in to the world. God did not leave us orphans but sent His dear Son to be our Savior, our deliverer, our healer, our friend, and our Lord.
Hallelujah, Praise His Name forever!
Obviously, allowing evil is not good.
Nice try, but I said nothing about a 'time limit'. Although you imply such in your statement, creating the seed of a strawman.
I merely pointed out there was a point at which tolerance of man's willfull rejection would result in a rather rough end. When or why is anyone's guess. Rather than using the baser phrase I would use to describe it, I would rather use humor and say that the 'idiot' watches the theologians/scientists argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, then says, "You're missing the point."
From my reading of your post, you make the mistake of casting God through a human lens. It doesn't work.
If God got involved with every little thing in life, people would bitch that they had no freedom and God controlled everything. You would not like that, I would bet. If you don’t like the government controlling most of your life, and they do, why would anyone want God to be involved in everything? He gives us “volition”. The right to screw up but also the right to fix it and to do good. Mankind is sinful, everyone must know that by now. Don’t blame God for our shortcomings.
But anyone with the power to replace evil with good should do so to the full extent of their capability.
Life on Earth is very non-moot.
Come now, that’s a bumper sticker, not a cogently developed contention.
And the choice by which Person A finds themselves adversely affected may very well have been made by Person B.
You seem serious in your discussion. I would recommend that you talk directly to God about this in your own privacy.
Saying something does not make it so. Unless you can offer some argument for your answer, it is meaningless.
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame...” (Romans 5:3)
But of course I would do whatever I could to 'save' a toddler from being hit by a train.
However, 'saving' that flesh body has nothing to do with the ultimate 'salvation' no matter the age of that flesh body. Now if we are to discuss in terms of a 'cosmic' level, we are talking in a dimension that humans - flesh cannot literally see. The Heavenly Father says that all souls belong to Him. Soul is the breath of life that comes from above at the instant of conception. So even those that make that choice and through some kind of disease of the flesh, accident, or that so called 'woman's choice' and the flesh body never draws a breath that soul returns back to the Maker that sent it.
The Maker sent an instruction manual filled with His promises IF His children would pay attention. And once all His children have opportunity to pass through this flesh age there is going to be a time to 'clean up' the mess His children have made upon this earth. However, that flesh body is not going to get in our way when that day comes.
I believe that all 'souls' were created at the same time and all 'souls' will received perfect judgment, which means our Heavenly Father has taken perfect notes as to who has done what.
Speaking on the 'cosmic level' why do you suppose that the US became the super power of super powers and have generously looked after the other peoples on this globe in their times of need? It certainly is not because we collectively speaking are perfect peoples, as we can read in any newspaper every day of the week of those who using your toddler example allowed that toddler to get on the train tracks to be in danger of getting hit by that train.
And yet toooo many of US went to sleep, ignored and turned up our noses at what it is that separates US from the rest of the world. We have never 'enforced' our 'system' of freedom for each individual around this globe, and whatever we went and broke we have restored fully and yet allowed those peoples to choose what system they wanted to govern themselves. And yet all those we have given of our lives, blood, and treasury, plot and plan to destroy US.
And yet this nation has not paid attention through the last century to those among US whose ideology is to destroy US from within. IT should be most telling the majority of the American peoples got seduced by the image of a man who flat out said his purpose was to redistribute the wealth of this nation. And that is exactly what he has done and is doing. It ought to be most alarming this man claims a 'moral' authority quoting Cain's words as giving him the moral authority. But how many Sunday morning preachers really know enough about what that instruction manual says to warn their congregation about what direction this nation has taken.
He is replacing evil with good - just not on YOUR timetable. And are you God? Were you there when He created the world, the universe, and everything in it? Read the book of Job for a good understanding of suffering, and of God.
Also, note this quotation from G.K. Chesterton, former Atheist who became a Christian:
For the Christian, joy is central and suffering is peripheral. For the nonbeliever, suffering is central and joy is peripheral.
Read also C.S. Lewis book, “Surprised by Joy”.
Another former nonbeliever turned Christian.
God bless you by the way and may He lead you into a relationship with the one true source of joy in the midst of suffering - namely Jesus Christ, His Son, who loves you so much that he came and SUFFERED shame, disgrace, rejection, ridicule, pain, and death for you so that you might have life eternal with Him in heaven where there is no pain and no suffering - forever.
Life on Earth is temporal. Eternity is forever. You might consider meditating on that inescapable truth and where you wish to fit into that equation.
That's easy. I want both. And on Earth it is the responsibility of Christians to do all that they can to alleviate the suffering of the innocent.
That includes retaining the recognition that the suffering of the innocent is wrong, and merits all possible intervention, per the question at hand.
Pleasure does not need pain to exist.
Love does not need hate to exist.
Good does not need evil to exist. “
Let me rephrase that. We all experience joy, peace, pleasure,.....
When you are suffering and turn to God for comfort, the peace, joy, comfort you feel is ....the only words I can think to describe it is, a totally new experience, a new beginning and a rightness and a feeling of complete contentment and a peace, as they say, that passes all understanding. When God brings you through the hardest thing in your life the joy that God, God himself, is getting you though and is with almost scary. You know FOR SURE, there is a God and He knows me and cares and loves me.
There are scars and will be for the rest of my life, but this is only earth & those scars will be gone in heaven. But that pain let me to the knowledge that God was really with me and helped me and cares about me even though, in this world I am no one important or special.
It’s actually a fundamntal principle.
They want a God who doesn’t care if a terrorist saws the head off a child using a rusty knife.
“The atheist demand for absolute proof to precede belief is nothing more ridiculous faith in the capacity of human understanding.”
If you have never been an atheist then you can’t understand. It doesn’t work that way. An atheist cannot believe in a deity simply because the universe is vast. You need a really good reason to believe in the existence of any particular deity or anything well beyond the scope of common experience.
>> If you have never been an atheist then you cant understand. It doesnt work that way. An atheist cannot believe in a deity simply because the universe is vast. You need a really good reason to believe in the existence of any particular deity or anything well beyond the scope of common experience.
Then it seems I do understand. First, I have a “really good reason” to believe as I do. Second, I refuse to limit my understanding of the universe to the limited capacity of the human mind.
The bottom line is, everyone has faith. You either believe in something higher than yourself, or you believe enough in yourself to trust your ability to discount the existence of a higher power. In either case, you’re making an assumption which is beyond the possiblity of proof ...
(1) that God exists, or
(2) that you would necessarily be able to prove it if He did.
Unjustifiable self-importance is not a virtue.