Today’s Irreconcilable Religious Factoid: Evil

23 05 2008

This might turn into a new series of questions and maybe the faithful out there will bring some answers to the table. To begin this series then I didn’t want to throw out some recent or obscure scientific question that nobody has researched. No, to be fair I thought I’d give them an easy question that’s been around for a while. Something they should have had time to work out by now.

Today I ask the faithful the question, why is there evil in the world? Of course the Greek philosopher Epicurus asked this question over two thousand years ago:

“If God is willing to prevent evil, but not able…then He is impotent.

If He is able, but not willing…then He is malevolent.

If He is both able and willing…then whence cometh evil?”

Two thousand years is a long time and yet I have yet to hear a good answer to such a basic question. I do hope someone out there can clear this up for me once and for all.

Evangelically yours (in a completely heterosexual way),

Super J.

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117 responses

23 05 2008
adopted

Is not the creator allowed to do as He pleases with His creation? shall you question Him?

God allows evil and always uses it to work something good in the process. One small example is the “thorn” that God allowed “Satan’s messenger” to give to apostle Paul.

satan is on a leash.

and so are you and i.

God’s domain, God’s providence, God’s pleasure, God’s plan. like it or lump it.

23 05 2008
SuperJesus

So your answer is that I should not question God? He obviously gave me doubt and He gave me the ability to reason so it is clearly in his divine plan that I should ask these questions. If it was not in His plan how else could it be so? Who are you to question God’s will?

Apparently He did not give you the ability to answer my question intelligently. He did not will it. Lump it.

PS: Be careful, you accidentally capitalized “Is” correctly.

23 05 2008
Elvis Dingeldein

Yeah, it’s best not to ask big questions like that, Super J, you end up hurting your brainpan and/or smoking from the ears before self-destructing like the hot femmebots in that Star Trek episode. The God enjoys allowing Evil because it gives us pointless humans a ruler upon which to measure His super-duperness. If all were Goodness and Light, we’d have nothing to compare His deliciousness to, and so He’d be no better or worse than, say, a really good tomato or a backseat handjob. It’s all a matter of degrees, really.

23 05 2008
irishanglican

You can only question so far…then you either turn and look for faith..or fall off into nothing! An intelligent nothing, is still nothing!

Fr. Robert

23 05 2008
baba

LMFAO Super J! But i’m afraid i’m on your side at this. Definitely for sure not because i ain’t no christian but, rather, because i have what you see in my avatar! — which i doubt Adopted to have; i mean the size.

Anyway, to me the concept of trinity shouldn’t be attached to god in whatsoever being he could be. It is humans’ attribute for nature’s sake! Therefore, not to question God’s will is near kin to satanic will or simply just plain irrespondsibly dull STUPID. As far as i reckon, evil comes from nowhere but ourselves; from blood and flesh constructing our shape, desires (read: evil infants) make their ways out from. Is God able and willing to prevent evil? Go start ask yourself instead of God.

Regards,
BabaliciouS

23 05 2008
SuperJesus

@irishanglican: It is only because you don’t like the obvious answer to the question that you do not want to try to answer it. Apparently some faithful would rather put their heads in the sand faith rather than confront the void their religion shields them from.

If there is something out there, fine. If there is nothing out there, fine. Either way I’d prefer the intelligence of understanding the hard truth to the willful ignorance faith demands regardless how comforting such fanciful stories of God might be.

23 05 2008
baba

Like i belong to the faithfuls…hell, whatever. I believe in Jesus — only as much as i believe i’m god either. Laugh at me for saying the solid truth of fact could endorse ;-).

23 05 2008
USA! USA! USA!

Read in Genesis about the fall of man there is your answer. Because of our sinful nature there is evil. Evil is a result of you and I corrupting God’s perfect creation. Plain and simple evil is around because people are sinful. Our free will is why there is evil. It is not God’s doing but ours and the devils.

23 05 2008
SuperJesus

@USA! (x3): Yeah, we’ve all heard that one, but it doesn’t make any sense. If God’s perfect and everything he makes is perfect then how is it that his very best (by definition his most perfect) angel goes bad and becomes Satan?

Heck, forget Satan, how is it that he didn’t see the “fall” coming in the first place and said “Woah there, I think we need a fence around that tree there or there’s going to be all kinds of problems for a long time”. What kind of negligent father leaves his kids in a garden with a tree of dangerous fruit (that he made and put there) and then leaves them there with a snake…and not just any snake but a freaking EVIL satanic talking snake! That’s world class negligence for an omnipotent being don’t you think? Shit, you just know the government of Texas would swoop in and take his children away from him if they found out about that.

C’mon, you have to do better than that.

23 05 2008
baba

To be moderative…or corrective…whatever, the dangerous fruit (which is not a pandora box of knowledge as being widely doctrinated for centuries) here refers to that of between man’s thigh — there you’ll find the snake, too! I’m not tryin to throw a joke, i’m dead serious :-|. The fall of man denotes the birth of our kinds and yes, we are the sinful ones. Sinful for being crowned ‘the children of God’ since Jesus Christ had never delivered any human babies and couldn’t spare a time to get sex with any human females (and he’s not transex either)!

Take your time to think of what i said, no rush, then decide whether or not i’m uttering the truth of human origins.

23 05 2008
Zacharias

The question comes down to free will. I’ll try to answer from an Orthodox Christian standpoint.

Vladimir Lossky in “The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church” states:

“In this glory, uniquely proper to Himself, God dwells in perfect felicity above all glory, without having need of any witness, without admitting of any dividion. But as in His mercy and His infinite love He desires to communicate His blessedness, to create for Himself beings capable in sharing int he jhoyfulness of His glory, He calls forth His infinite perfections and they disclose themselves in His creatures; His glory is manifested in the celestial powers, is reflected in man, and puts on the splendour of the visible world…”

Now, if we were not created with free will, then our sharing in his eternal glory would be fake. It’d be like filming yourself saying “I love you.” and playing it over and over again.

With free will comes the ability to against the will of others. While we cannot know for certain the exact circumstances of the fall of Lucifer (Morning Star), it is generally understood that it was a result of free will, and in the realm of Christianity we understand it as Lucifer refusing bow to God’s newest creations: us. (In Orthodox theology humans are above angels in a way due to the fact that in addition to having a Soul and Free Will we are also Material… I think.. not -entirely sure but I’m sure you could research it if you felt like it.)

Being cast from Heaven, Satan became prideful and arrogant and purseuded, as the story goes, Eve to eat of the forbidden tree. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree they went against the will of God who banished them from the Garden of Eden. (I see this as an allegory of us being seperated from Uncreated Energies of God.) The result of this ‘original sin’ was that our nature was corrupted and death was introduced into the world along with our various passions.

Evil then is a result of these passions (egoism, greed, lust, etc. etc.) acting on we created beings through our corrupted nature.

Is that a better answer?

23 05 2008
Zacharias

Typos typos typos!

Besides the obvious spelling mistakes I meant to say that “within the realm of Christianity some of us understand it as Lucifer…”

This view of Lucifer refusing to bow to men is also found in Islam, Satan being called Iblis.

23 05 2008
baba

Btw, the link i provide down here might be stretching your brain at ease. Here’s the man who found his religion:

http://canweevolvenow.wordpress.com/

23 05 2008
baba

If you happened to have clicked the link yet so still having problem with your christianity and spiritual thirst, Lou (the author) will be happily assisting. He should thank me for spreading his site, though, as well. Should you want some other perspectives please feel free to drop by my site. I’ll do my best to help.

Shalom

23 05 2008
irishanglican

Truth, is always and only found as Christ said, “in spirit and truth”, but one needs his/her own spirit athirst… and this is certainly not happening here!

23 05 2008
poppies

How would you define a “good” answer to this question?

23 05 2008
SuperJesus

@poppies: I’m looking for an answer that makes just a little logical sense.

Everything I’ve heard thus far is either “You shouldn’t ask such questions, it’s all about faith” or the convoluted and contradictory “Sure He’s all powerful, but He’s also vain and needed someone to worship him hence he gave us the knowledge of good and evil so that’s why there is senseless evil and suffering in the world…but he loves you.”

I don’t really expect a “good” answer I’m more interested in seeing the variety of answers people come up with for such a basic question. I don’t understand how people rationalize away what I would consider irreconcilable contradictions.

23 05 2008
baba

@irish
truth is a very subjective concern. When Jesus Christ spoke ‘in spirit and truth’ he meant ‘find the truth with the spirit within you’ — like Jesus always did. It is widely acceptabe in any religion and so science (philosophy, to say the least) that every man possesses distinct spirit among others. In other words, it requires deep thought evolving spirit, mind (conciousness), and heart to find and define what so-called ‘truth’ — which is, consequently, resulting subjectivities toward certain thing. One can call Jesus a ‘GOD’ or ‘King of Israel’ whatever he wants and accept it as the ultimate truth in life while i find Jesus cried out for the help of his God on the day he was crucified — denoting the fact that he was a human like me instead of a god. So becareful of what you believe in as ‘truth’, it’s very subjective indeed.

@poppies
please be more specific :-(! Which question and to whom it is directed, me or Super J. You’re welcome to click my name up there to go to my site.

23 05 2008
SuperJesus

@ Zacharias: I appreciate the effort you put into your response. I’m not trying to be snarky here but I don’t quite understand the logic behind the Lucifer fall from grace story. It seems that God must have given Lucifer free will as well otherwise he would never have been able to rebel or become prideful and arrogant in the first place. Besides, if he had this free will then he would have had less to resent humans for don’t you think? Alas, to blame the Devil for the origins of evil still skirts the fact that God created him in the first place…once again bringing me back to my original question.

As I noted before, there are so many points at which a truly omnipotent and omniscient God would be aware of the problem of evil (even today) and he could nip it out of existence with just a thought. But he obviously hasn’t. The idea that he keeps evil around so he can really appreciate being worshiped sincerely seems so vain of a God as to be laughable. Were God to be that truly vain then I hardly think he deserves the worship he craves, especially given that he would threaten us with hell and suffering for denying him such a petty offering.

Again, none of it makes any sense and sounds like a primitive man made manipulation to me. I appreciate your thoughtful and respectful reply just the same.

Super J.

23 05 2008
irishanglican

First, I have great affinity with our Orthodox friend, I am half way there myself. The Orthodox Church has got the doctrine and nature of God down into both creed and the interior life. I can but speak feeble words to their sprituality and life! I look to one Fr. Serguis Bulgakov often to theology and spiritual answers.

And here @baba, is both the objective and the subjective bound together! The Christology of Christ is both…incarnational and yet historical past and present. As I can only speak as St. Paul said, “I know in Whom I have believed, and am persuaded…” (2 Tim. 1:12) This “persuasion” is a spiritual truth and needs no other place but my heart and faith, both gifts of God!

24 05 2008
Moshellie

Honest answer — we don’t give two fucks about our fellow man. Lack of compassion is what leads to “evil”; it has nothing to do with gods or the lack thereof.

If we were to pull our heads out and extend a bit of kindness and empathy to those around us, life would be a whole hell of a lot less fucked.

24 05 2008
irishanglican

I was a Royal Marine, and we would extend life and limb for our mates…and we did! But yes, God was always with us..in life and death! But we also gave life and not death to some of our enemies. Ya had to be there!

25 05 2008
Aslynn

I’ve asked such a question many times, of many people, from many walks of life. I’ve never received a satisfactory answer.

My own OPINION it is very simple. IF there were a God, there would be no evil.
IF there were a Satan, there would be no mankind.

25 05 2008
Barbara

Aslynn
“My own OPINION it is very simple. IF there were a God, there would be no evil.”
My thought:
Or if there were no “belief in God” there would be no evil.

I happen to like what Plato said about evil:
“that which we call evil is merely ignorance and that good is that which everyone desires.”

25 05 2008
SuperJesus

@Barbara: I don’t think the elimination of “belief in God” would also eliminate evil, but it might ratchet back how willing the masses would be to perform evil as supposedly sanctioned by God’s with such certainty and enthusiasm. That said, it would still be a good start in at least reducing the effective range and impact small pockets of evil could project.

25 05 2008
Barbara

I meant the extent of what “evil” is viewed as in this world. No, it wouldn’t eliminate Plato’s evil of ignorance, but it would definitely reach the “traditional” role of evil as anything that is bad that can’t be immediately explained.
When we brand “evil” as those in the middle east that fly planes in buildings it’s our ignorance that didn’t look at the complexity of what was behind the action. To merely label that as evil is disingenuous. And the roots of those actions go back to religious belief.
Is that better? 🙂

25 05 2008
irishanglican

Evil will always be the forte of the real Church to know and define! It is not a mere absence. It is precisely “presence”: the presence of something dark, irrational and very real.

25 05 2008
irishanglican

However evil is not ontologically real or lasting, but is fulfilled in negation, hated and rebellion.

25 05 2008
Barbara

irishanglican
“Evil will always be the forte of the real Church to know and define!”

Okay, I’ll bite. I don’t know why, but here goes. Do tell me, what is the “real Church”?

25 05 2008
irishanglican

That would be the historic church, the Church of the Incarnate Christ: one, holy, catholic & apostolic church. But though I am an Anglican priest, I have one foot in the Eastern Orthodox Church. They have proven to be, at least to my mind, the most active and the reality in all things CHRIST and sacramental! But the High Church Catholic is also very real, all other historic and real apostolic churches.

25 05 2008
Barbara

Well, I guess that does explain why you stated evil is their forte. Makes perfect sense to me, and I wonder if you’ve thought about the irony of it.

25 05 2008
irishanglican

There is no sarcastic or clever irony here, to you perhaps? But not to me. This is one of the problems with the west…the feigning of so many things!

25 05 2008
Barbara

*sigh*

25 05 2008
irishanglican

I think your last post makes my point, also.

25 05 2008
Barbara

Yes, point made. The fact that you’ve totally missed the idea or thought of questioning that which you’ve learned to believe without any thought to what it’s actually perpetrated is beyond that point. The fact that good or evil is given status based on biblical ideology, beyond any other reasoning as to why good or evil exists outside of those tenants. The fact that to do good does not require any belief in the existence of god, but to do evil is the true tenants of what the church would clearly like it’s followers to believe.

Without evil I don’t know that their would be a necessity of a god. Now don’t get me wrong, clearly there is bad that exists in this world. However, even at it’s worst, bad is clearly a symptom of what is learned. And Christ does not necessitate good any more than the lack of belief necessitates bad.

How would you define evil? What would you consider evil in this world? By standards of the church my lack of belief is evil. I wouldn’t consider myself good or bad by any definite terms, but evil? I am not cruel thought I suppose as anyone I could be, I suppose I could be considered selfish at times, but selfish isn’t something I aspire to. As far as unjust, I would be less likely to judge another’s actions then lets say the church. So therefor, as I see it you would probably be just as guilty of “evil” as let’s say, ME.

So is evil really something that is defined by anyone, is it a real force, or is it as everything else to do with religious belief, a way to inhibit the intelligent reasoning of humans? Can we exist without it, yes. However, the church would no longer have a grasp over the fear of humans about their mortality. Without evil you would not fear Satan, without Satan you would not need or desire to believe in Christ(or God), without Christ there would be no thoughts to eternal life beyond what we are living. Believers would come to the same conclusion as I that there is nothing more or better than the existence of the life which I am living.

25 05 2008
irishanglican

Barbara… First I have not called your person into question. The nature of evil though, cannot really be fully understood without the Church is my point. Your whole suppositions are in some kind of argument and anger with the Church it seems?

As to the nature of evil, did you not read what I said? God and the devil are not equals, God is not dualism…good verses evil. And evil does not have any lasting ontology, and true being, in the sense of true personhood. God is sovereign over all. But He is also moral and loving, as in fact all good, right and loving acts come from His love power and providence. Without God you would cease to be and exist. In other words theism is the only place any Judeo-Christian ethic can be or exist.

I am not sure what your presuppositions are? Nor why you seem to be in anger with God and His church? And the actions of Christ and his death on the cross are certainly central to any discussions about the nature and reality of evil also. Unless youare telling me that you simply don’t believe no matter what, etc.?

26 05 2008
SuperJesus

To suggest “evil cannot really be fully understood without the Church” sounds like a cop out to answering my original question. Either you can do it or you can’t but to hide behind the skirt of the church or church doctrine is simply intellectual cowardice. If “the actions of Christ and his death on the cross are certainly central to any discussions about the nature and reality of evil” then you should expand on this evidence and make your case.

Be aware that I’m looking for a logical answer to my “whence cometh evil” question. Biblical references are fine but the answer I seek should make sense and not just fold impenetrably in on itself with biblical references that prove other biblical references. In such a conversation as this the unchallenged authority of the Bible is not respected since the Bible carries as much authority as the Koran, the Torah or any other religious text…which is to say none.

26 05 2008
irishanglican

S/J You are showing great western arrogance here. If you are not going to listen to the teaching nature of the Church or Scripture, what can be said? You look for mere human answers and faulty wisdom. As I have said, the eastern church at least does not believe in the ontology of evil. Hell for the Orthodox is not so much a punishment, as God allows the soul’s inability to particiapte in God’s profound love. Thus the soul made for God suffers its own loss and judgment, as long as it rejects or pushes God’s great grace and love away. As CS Lewis said, many will choose hell, or separation from God, rather than come into His light. Finally, in the end evil has no logic..and finds itself, alone and fufilled only in negation, hatred and rebellion.

Fr. Robert … I am on the fly here sorry

26 05 2008
baba

People…people, chill out for once! If y’all could spare a minute or two to read my feedbacks up there, you’ll find a way outta this useless debate.

Lemme make it clear, evil comes from nowhere but ourselves! From blood and flesh constructing our shapes there come desires–from which evils originate and manifest themselves into various acts of violence. Religious scripts give you all words in allegorical meanings instead of factual terms only to make you think and interpret it freely. Therefore it requires all potentials (trinity: body–including brain, soul/spirit, and heart–sensing trait) within you to find the divine truths in life. That’s what any religion all about; it helps you finding ways to answer what bothers you in life instead of gives you explicitly blunt direct answer to all of your problems.

FYI, i’m agnostic not because i don’t believe in supreme energy of the universe (you call it God here) but, rather, i had been adhering several religions which led myself to this solid conclusion: “i am nothing but filthy animal that is eagerly trying to be a completely divine human being like that of Jesus, Mohammed, or Budha Gautama (Homo Primera Sanctus)”.

So again, evil comes from nowhere but ourseleves’ carriage. Click here for further reference.

Shalom

26 05 2008
baba

Sorry for the link, i meant Human being vs animal: in between?.

26 05 2008
irishanglican

Your right this is useless for me at least. Not sure how I got on this blog? lol Gone and no doubt forgotten.

26 05 2008
SuperJesus

@baba: I understand your position and I concur with parts of it. I mean no disrespect but understand that my main question is not really directed at atheists or agnostics but the more devout out there, you know, like Anglican Priests. Speaking of which

@irish: I certainly hope I’m not looking for faulty wisdom, that would be a silly thing to look for. I’m not debating about heaven and hell that’s a topic for another day, but rather the horrible bad stuff that happens day in and day out. Childhood cancer, holocausts, disasters, in general I’m talking about explaining the really bad things that happen to really good people stuff. If you don’t have any answers to explain how your loving god just sits by and lets terrible things happen then I understand, but let’s stay on topic here. The obvious point of this blog was to point out that I have yet to hear a reasonable answer to that, and so while I appreciate your efforts to make the case you were taught to make so far you have only helped to prove my point. Thanks in any case.

Happy Memorial Day,
Super J.

26 05 2008
baba

@Super J
I know exactly where’s you directing your question at from the very first time i joined the discussion, i was just trying to be … moderator or simply dull participant may be? I’m a new big fan of yours if you wouldn’t mind being put at my blogroll, btw.

@irish
Living in a nutshell (read: anglican church) has certainly made you loosing what’s displayed in my avatar. No offense but to be blunt, you are made of a single dogmatic perspective which most people regard as scientifically unintelligent. Happy R.I.P. anyway ;-).

26 05 2008
Barbara

@irishanglican
Unfortunately you choose as most believers do to bail out on the issue and fail to answer questions. What I see is that you ask more and assume much.
This is quite typical and if you see that as sarcasm then it is sarcasm of which you’ve created by never directly answering anything.

I truly hope that you haven’t bailed out before answering SJ’s last question. It seems as though if your God has dominion over all, good and evil, then he is one sadistic god indeed.

26 05 2008
irishanglican

I am not a hard blogger, I have a real life and real people to deal with and try to help. I use to blog mostly for people with open minds and hearts! And you people are simply not in that category.

Fr. Robert

26 05 2008
Barbara

@irishanglican
Hmmm…yet you’ve come back several times to leave short replies that answer nothing. I guess that your help falls short when the subject matter has left you without any answer other than the divine which would come directly from your religious text and beliefs. Too bad really.

As far as we people, I think this is about as open minded as you get, short of believing something that you believe in. Asking difficult questions, being willing to answer difficult questions. As far as the heart of any of us, it’s unfortunate that you don’t see the hearts that exist.

I really hadn’t expected you to be so arrogant.

Peace to you.

26 05 2008
irishanglican

I am a hard-headed Irishman…for real! lol

Bye

26 05 2008
SuperJesus

To all, I appreciate the spirited and respectful debate. I did not anticipate that we would really answer this question, but my intention was to inspire some readers to think more seriously about the question itself and the implications such a difficult question suggests.

I appreciate the audience. Let’s do it again sometime.

Super J.

26 05 2008
irishanglican

Just another typical agnostic western blog. I just don’t have time for the lack of depth and loss of reverence. Sorry but that is my call. But what the heck, I just was a seminary professor in Jerusalem for several years. (D. Phil.,Th.D.)

26 05 2008
SuperJesus

What precisely in your comments merits any reverence, your claims to high titles and professorships? With all that theological education and experience I would have expected a more thoughtful or reasoned answer addressing my question instead of you trying to change the subject, and then feigning insult so you can then toss off a petulant dismissal and run away.

Your condescension and lack of seriousness in discussing what should be a core question to your faith either speaks volumes of the weakness of your position or your lack of real introspection. If these are the best arguments your religion provides then it clearly merits no reverence from me.

And for the record, agnostics have no spine…this is the blog of an atheist.
Super J.

26 05 2008
irishanglican

I knew that you were perhaps an atheist. And this proves my point even more. I cannot argue you into belief! It is a moral and spiritual element. I don’t see or hear a mind or open heart at all. I have learned one think with people like you, and that is to give you very little time. Only when the heart and mind open, can light even begin to shine in!

26 05 2008
irishanglican

And if there was any feigning..as there was it came from you. And not me! You did not fool me one bit!

26 05 2008
irishanglican

As I wrote, evil has no real ontology. It is fulfilled in negation, hatred and rebellion…as I can see in yours! Super Jesus, see what a joke! The only reason I came into this blog was I thought you were prehaps real. Now I know you are not, and are really nothing…

26 05 2008
irishanglican

Finally, what really bothers you is that I would not dialog with you, nor listen to your bs. Because I knew talking or chatting with you would really be worthless, and unreal..as is your loss of ontological reality! Thus again, you are really nothing but negation.

27 05 2008
baba

@irish
Oh my Self! Thank goodness you are not an Indonesian. At least you have no chance to join those dull politicians as i wrote HERE. Help yourself to read it ;).

27 05 2008
SuperJesus

@irishanglican: To simply say “evil has no real ontology” is a weak attempt to skirt the issue by pretending your strict definition of “evil” doesn’t exist. I thought we were all adults here so I wouldn’t need to explicitly define common philosophical shorthand, but you continue to surprise me with your persistent avoidance of the question.

Fair enough. For this I would make the over simplified definition for evil as “Bad things happening to good people”. In that list of “evil” things I would include childhood cancer, genocide, natural disasters, priests and clergy who rape children, etc. So how is it that the loving god defined in the Bible would stand by and allow such horrific things to happen if he is able to prevent it unless he is in fact impotent and/or sadistic?

Epicurus’s riddle remains as you are apparently unwilling or unable to answer it.

27 05 2008
irishanglican

Now you are mixing up the acts of evil, verses the principal and nature. Typical for someone who does not really understand definition and theory.

27 05 2008
Chris

A more important question is:
Why did editors of the Bible see fit to eliminate “the” before the word “Satan?”
Satan was a word that describes someone who behaves opposite of what god intends. Why did the translators decide to create “Satan” with a capital S as a man, rather than the original intent of satan as a metaphor?

27 05 2008
Chris

Now you are mixing up the acts of evil, verses the principal and nature. Typical for someone who does not really understand definition and theory.

And you seem to be ignoring the idea that if god created the universe and everything in it, he also created mudslides, sinkholes, earthquakes, tornadoes and Rush Limbaugh. So, in essence, Super is asking why a benevolent, nay omni-benevolent, god would create disasters on such a monumental scale? What do apples have to do with 100,000 people being sucked into the ocean?

27 05 2008
irishanglican

Chris, as to your first question. I would recommend that you invest in the new Orthodox Study Bible. I think you will be very surpised to find out that satan and evil are not cut from the typical western mode.

As to the second, whether we like it or not God is and must be sovereign! It goes with being GOD! Read the Book of Job!!!

27 05 2008
irishanglican

*surprised

27 05 2008
Barbara

“As to the second, whether we like it or not God is and must be sovereign! It goes with being GOD! Read the Book of Job!!!”

Initially you chose to avoid a real answer to the question “whence commeth evil”.
Yet, by all accounts you’ve just said that your God is one sadistic son of a bitch and you don’t even get that.

I certainly am glad that I am one of those close minded, heartless atheists. I certainly wouldn’t want to be as “open minded” as you and your God are.

27 05 2008
irishanglican

Barbara… I guess you will have to take that up with the Almighty when you stand before Him! You can then call Him again, to His face..the SSOB. I am just an old Irishman, and onetime Royal Marine Recon officer, who has seen mates, and the enemy die before my eyes. So I have my own presuppositions.

27 05 2008
Chris

As to the second, whether we like it or not God is and must be sovereign! It goes with being GOD! Read the Book of Job!!!

Isn’t that akin to saying, “The Bible is correct because it says so in the Bible”?

As for the Book of Job, that translates (to me) as the devil getting 1-up on God. And I don’t see how a benevolent god would do the horrible things to one person in the name of proving himself to an inferior being.

Just so you know, I respect you and your beliefs, but I find too many contradictions in the Bible to share those beliefs. And I simply cannot accept the posit “God is immense because he is” as valid.

27 05 2008
irishanglican

Chris… Thank you for your sincere words. And by the way, I respect true agnosticism, the view that some proposition is not known, and perhaps cannot be known to be true or false. There are simply many theological doctrines that the Christian cannot grasp completely, but his/her so-called agnosticism moves from mere mind or just mental, to that leap of faith that we all must take really. I am very mental and even intellectual, but I am also feeble and often weak in this broken and fallen world, so I look up to God who I believe historically came down into this place of sorrow and sufferings and tasted all of it in Himself…and finally on the cross called Calvary met and defeated both the evil of man or humanity, but also He somehow fully and completely satisfied the demands of God’s holy will. I must take take this all by faith! If you cannot? Then you cannot. We all have to deal with this reality ourselves. But, in reality also we are not alone. The ontology of love is greater than the negation of hate and even death. For those that believe Christ cruicified and risen is Victor!

29 05 2008
Zacharias

Super Jesus,

Sorry it took so long to respond.

I think your stumbling block might be that you’re giving the concept of evil a positive existance. This line of thought was combated by the early Church and named the heresy of Manichaeism. Unfortunatly St. Augustine, on who’s theology Western Christianity is based on, was a Manichean before converting to Christianity resulting in Western Christianity being influenced by the group’s philosophy. This is where the image of the forces of Good, God and His Angels, waging a war against the forces of Evil, Satan and his demons, that will streatch on indefinately until the time when Christ comes in Glory a second time comes from.

Eastern Christinity was never swayed by the scholasticism of Augustine however, and thus doesn’t view evil in the same way. Evil doesn’t not have a positive existance, rather it is a negation. Evil is simply the lack of good, in the same way as cold is the lack of heat. You cannot -add- cold to something, instead you remove the thing’s heat. So, evil is not viewed as a capital “E” Evil which God allows to remain in existance: it never has an existance at all!

Evil is also a human concept, meaning its definition is only valid when taken in the light human experiance. We don’t say that trees are evil nor do we say that a piece of clothing is evil etc. Evil is always used in some anthropocentric context. Plainly saying, ‘evil’ is a human problem (and in Christian belief also and Angelic one). This is because evil is a product of sin. Understood in the Greek language (which the New Testament was written in) sin, or αμαρτία, literally translates into “missing the mark.” Properly understood then, a sin is anything which makes us “miss the mark” of focus on God. The original sin, as told in the story of Adam and Eve, was the act of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God had previously forbidden. It was the the fact that they went against the will of God that made it a sin. Once the ate the fruit of that particular tree, they gained the knoweldge of what the concept ‘evil’ was. This is illustrated by them covering themselves in shame when the heard God was coming after eating from the tree. Adam and Eve were created in perfection, so before committing the act of disobediance they would have no idea what the concept of the opposite of Good was: it had never happened.

I mentioned too that Evil is also an Angelic problem. You said:

“It seems that God must have given Lucifer free will as well otherwise he would never have been able to rebel or become prideful and arrogant in the first place. Besides, if he had this free will then he would have had less to resent humans for don’t you think?”

To answer, yes, Lucifer and the Angels also have free will. The Angels lack materiality though. They are simply spirit. This is what in a sense places them below us, but also above us. Being without matieral bodies they are not subject the same passions of the flesh as we humans, though they did have to grapple with things like pride. However, lacking flesh, they also cannot enjoy the same pleasures such as taste and scent etc. as well. Of course this is all speculation (though based in revelation) but it is important for the foundations of Christian theology. Lucifer, because of free will, and as a result of it pride, refused to acknowledge the fact that he might be imcomplete in the sense of not being material. He instead maintained his superiority and again driven by pride rebelled against God, taking a number of Angels with him. These Angels, of whom Lucifer was chief, in their prideful arrogance and anger try lead humans away from God, as illustrated by it being the Devil tempting Eve.

So, evil is not something God can somehow just wish away, unless it was to wish away our free will, which would reduce humanity to nothing but slaves and at which point I would agree that it would not be a deity worth worshipping. That is why “evil” still “exists” in the world. From a Christian perspective, as long as we continue to focus on fulfilling our own will and heeding to our passions and causing evil, instead of aligning our will with God’s will, evil will continue to occur.

And @Chris about the story of Job:

In Eastern Orthodoxy we call the person in the book of Job, “Job the Long-Suffering.” If the story is read in a fundamentalist sense, then I agree, it is rather barbaric. However, the fact that it is written as a conversation between God and the Devil should be enough to prove that it wasn’t written in a literal sense, as if some guy was sitting in the background recording the conversation.

What the story of Job the Long-Suffering teaches Christians (and the Israelites before them) is to persevere through suffering, that it won’t last, and that in the end you will prosper. Righteous Job patiently endured every hardship that came to him, losing his house, his family… everything. But in the end of the story Job ends up with more than what he started with.

It also demonstrates that some sufferings are unavoidable. This is especially true for a Christian trying to live a true Christian life. It is a constant struggle to sublimate one’s own will to the will of God, and to ignore the passions of the flesh and instead focus on the spiritual.

Lastley, it is a story which demonstates that God can put the Devil to shame. The Devil, in his spiteful arrogance, claims that the only reason Job is such a righteous person is because his life is good. He got everything he needs, so he’s no reason to complain about anything. To show the Devil that he’s basically, to put it crudely, just talking out of his ass, God sends afflictions Job’s way, and through out it all he remains faithful to God.

29 05 2008
Zacharias

Oops! I said:

“Evil doesn’t not have a positive existance, rather it is a negation.”

How’s that for a grammatical negation? -laugh-

29 05 2008
irishanglican

Nice post Zacharias! You have more patience than I do with these people. At least with this S/J. Who claims to be an a-theist.

Fr. Robert

30 05 2008
SuperJesus

@Zacharias: Clearly it’s my fault for not being more explicit about my intended definition of “evil” at the very beginning of the blog. I was trying to use the word evil in the more philosophical (albeit over simplified) shorthand definition of “Bad things happening to good people”. In that list I would include childhood cancer, genocide, natural disasters, priests and clergy who rape children, etc. It’s my fault for not making that distinction crystal clear especially once people started muddying up the definition of evil as “distance from God”, “lack of good”, “a product of sin”, “a product of free will”, or something to do with Satan. These kinds of fabricated and odd definitions of evil only serve to give the church a straw-man that they can easily knock down with some arcane and convoluted logic.

And the Job story makes no sense because if god is omnipresent and omniscient then he would already know that Job was devoted without the need for some kind of sadistic game. But it does bring me back to my point. How is it that a benevolent, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and loving god would stand by and just allow terrible and horrible things to happen if he is able to prevent it?

40,000 children under the age of five die each day from malnutrition and vaccine preventable disease. 10.6 million kids under the age of five die every year. We’re talking little kids and babies here. 20 have died just while you have been reading this post. Please, what possible point is He trying to make? Is he testing all their parent’s faith perhaps?

People suggest sometimes that they believe in God because it brings them comfort, but I find no comfort in imagining a god so sadistic or incompetent that he would allow something this tragic to happen on an ongoing basis. And to suggest that all these kids are killed in the name of original sin just makes you seem as sadistic and callous as the god you grovel to. No, I’d rather use the time you spend praying for forgiveness from your imagined god and work so that I can instead tithe to the Red Cross and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in the hopes that some of these deaths could be prevented.

Maybe you’re right, but if you are either prayer isn’t doing the job, or your god just doesn’t care about you and your pleas.

PS: Irish, thanks again for adding nothing of value to the conversation. You continue to meet my expectations.

30 05 2008
irishanglican

S/J Perhaps you will get nothing in your understanding of God, until part of your “expectations” include your own sinfulness before Him?

30 05 2008
Chris

“What the story of Job the Long-Suffering teaches Christians (and the Israelites before them) is to persevere through suffering, that it won’t last, and that in the end you will prosper. Righteous Job patiently endured every hardship that came to him, losing his house, his family… everything. But in the end of the story Job ends up with more than what he started with.”

That’s fine. But why would the chosen people choose to make their God so malicious? Couldn’t he have suffered from some natural phenomenon?

30 05 2008
SuperJesus

@Irish: Gee, I never thought of it that way. I can completely see your point now, thanks for taking the time to craft such a compelling and understanding response. It’s all so clear and I can feel God entering my heart anew right now and he is saving me from my sinful ways all because of your intelligent arguments.

Or not…troll.

30 05 2008
irishanglican

lol S/J You amaze me with your “hard” heart! It is not about just an intelligent argument, but your moral, black heart…SIN! And Christian conversion is not just some mental decision, but it is the power of God’s Spirit upon you called “regeneration”! Repentance (metanoia) by the way, means quite literally “a transformation of the mind”! We can see that you are not there yet!!!

30 05 2008
Chris

Speaking of sin, I don’t believe in that word. To me, sin is just human nature. It is in our nature to “sin” or it wouldn’t be so hard not to.

God purposefully put sin in our hearts, if you believe god created the universe and everything in it. Illustrated by Zacharius’ point:
Once the ate the fruit of that particular tree, they gained the knoweldge of what the concept ‘evil’ was…Adam and Eve were created in perfection, so before committing the act of disobediance they would have no idea what the concept of the opposite of Good was: it had never happened.
God gave them the temptation, then punished them for using what god made.

Also, I have a hard time with this, so if you could help, that’d be cool:
“This is illustrated by them covering themselves in shame when the heard God was coming after eating from the tree. Adam and Eve were created in perfection”

If Adam and Eve were created in perfection, what were they ashamed of?

30 05 2008
Zacharias

Now now Super J! I thought we were going to have a nice dispassionate debate! I was hoping you wouldn’t reduce yourself to answering with malicious cynisism! Oh well.

Before I came into this thread I knew that I wouldn’t be able to convince you, because you’re not really looking to be convinced of anything. You’ve made up your mind and once a person does that it’s very difficult to sway them. You did ask for someone to explain it to you though and that’s what I’ve done.

I’ve explained to you the problem of evil from the Orthodox viewpoint. However as with any question of religion, there has to be some assumed given, and in Orthodox theology that given is the existance of God. Without taking this as a foundation first, then of course you’ll never be able to understand the answers.

With the right turning of words it’s possible for the sophist to counter any argument. That’s the fun with philosophy: it asks a lot of questions without ever giving a definate answer. If it’s concrete evidence that you’re looking for then you won’t find it philosophy.

The skepticism of philosophy can also be applied to science. How do you know that you can trust your senses? Especially when it’s so very easy to deceive them. Think about mirages, or optical illusions: your sight is telling you that you’re seeing something that you’re really not! Given this I believe it would be foolish to determine everything you consider ‘real’ simply based on the senses.

As far as events like kids dying from disease, you’re trying to place the blame and responsibility on God. The real questions to address are why these people aren’t getting the food they need, and why they are not getting treatment. You ask: “Please, what possible point is He trying to make? Is he testing all their parent’s faith perhaps?” What makes you think there is a point to be made? This instance is an example of human activity. Yes, it’s sad, it’s tragic, but we can’t seek a scapegoat: it’s our own fault.

And using your same logic then I would say that probably every single one of us here is malevolent. You and I both have the ability to aide, but do we? Are you sending money every opportunity you get to these aide organizations? Why not?

Of course you come back with a “well I’m not omnipotent” etc. but as I said above, any argument can be countered so I wouldn’t be surprised.

You can ask as many “whys” as you like, but remember you’re asking it about an infinite being. You might not believe that, but your question directly relates to this idea of him. In that light you can ask why why why as much as you like, but human logic will never have all the answers to an infinite being.

Cop-out answer or not, that belief is central to the idea of a God in the Judeo-Christian definition of the word. That is why an atheist cannot argue against a theist and expect a concrete answer either way. Each has a different world-view.

@Chris, you said:

“That’s fine. But why would the chosen people choose to make their God so malicious? Couldn’t he have suffered from some natural phenomenon?”

Please re-read my post concerning this. The story of Job is just that, a -story-. And the definition of ‘malicious’ is having the nature of or resulting from malice. The definition of malice is feeling a need to see others suffer. According to the defintion what was done in the story is not attributed to some “need” of God to see Job suffer.

And as for your question about suffering from natural phenomenon:

The first affliction to befall Job was the theft of his animals by the Sabeans. Nothing supernatural here.

Then lightning struck and killed some more of his animals. Slightly more dramatic, but again, lighting is natural.

Then the Chaldeans stole all his camels. More human cause of suffering.

Then a strong wind came and knocked down his house, killing some of his family.

Then, after that, Job was afflicted by a disease.

While one might attribute the fact that they all happened together as being “supernatural” there was nothing that happened to him that couldn’t be cause from natural causes. What is happening is not what is important in this story, but rather how Job the Long-Suffering responded. It is not used to describe how God acts or anything like that.

30 05 2008
Chris

The skepticism of philosophy can also be applied to science. How do you know that you can trust your senses? Especially when it’s so very easy to deceive them. Think about mirages, or optical illusions: your sight is telling you that you’re seeing something that you’re really not!

This is why scientists test, then re-test, then test again any posits they are researching. C’mon, that one was too easy.

30 05 2008
Chris

Please re-read my post concerning this. The story of Job is just that, a -story-. And the definition of ‘malicious’ is having the nature of or resulting from malice. The definition of malice is feeling a need to see others suffer. According to the defintion what was done in the story is not attributed to some “need” of God to see Job suffer.

I see you must re-read MY post. I asked why “the chosen people” told the story the way they did. It was their story, yet they chose to portray god as malicious, using the very definition you provided. But where you went astray is to suggest god needed to see Job suffer, whereas I suggest god needed to prove something to the devil through the suffering of Job.

30 05 2008
SuperJesus

@Zacharias: My dispassionate demeanor is difficult to maintain when it seems nobody will really try to address my question. while I do appreciate your last effort to more closely address it I fear that theological slight of hand doth not an answer make.

re: dying children, I would agree with you that we are all malevolent if we were all omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent…but we’re not. As humans we of course do what we can, but you use that sort of misdirection to skirt my point. When such suffering exists is it not fair to wonder what kind of loving god allows such suffering when he could easily relieve it were he so inclined?

Those of faith always fall back on the basic “God works in mysterious ways” argument when they cannot resolve any inconsistency in their theology. Perhaps the whole point of this post was to bring the conversation to this very point, that there is no acceptable religious answer to such a question unless the respondent is willing to concede that perhaps (just perhaps) a loving, all powerful, all knowing is ultimately might not be logically possible. It has been suggested that I am close minded, that I am the one who needs to open up his heart. I would ask the same favor but I would instead ask the faithful to open up their minds and consider the questions I ask with a truly critical, skeptical and open mind.

Given all the acts and miracles attributed to God it is reasonable to ask for even a little proof. Incredible claims require incredible evidence. Alas, if there is no evidence found one can only be left with doubt in the veracity of the claims being made.

Zacharias, your comments are and remain appreciated.

30 05 2008
irishanglican

Zacharias…You have spoken well, but sadly as our Lord has said: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt.12: 38-39)

Fr. Robert

31 05 2008
SuperJesus

Irish, I know you don’t have any evidence to support any of your religious assertions but to respond by citing Jonah and the whale just further confirms my suspicions that the Bible is little more than a collection of fairy tales and that people who take such stories seriously are fools incapable of critical thought. I’m sure there are exceptions to that second suspicion, but I somehow doubt you’re one of them.

31 05 2008
Zacharias

I’ve said what I came to say, and explained everything to you from the Orthodox viewpoint. I just have one more comment for the topic before I can be done.

You said, Super J, “perhaps (just perhaps) a loving, all powerful, all knowing is ultimately might not be logically possible.”

With this I whole-heartedly agree. An all loving, all powerful, all knowing God IS logically impossible. Though, I will qualify the statement by adding because all of our logic, all of knowledge, is based on human conceptions.

We are here.————————————— God is here.

If you ever feel like it, look into St. Gregory Palamas’ distinction between the Energy and Essence of God. Orthodoxy admits, and is not ashamed to admit, that God in His Essence is entirely unknowable. Neither humans nor Angels will ever come close to knowing God in His Essence. This is because if God created everything, then everything is necessarily outside of God, seperate from Him, distinct and different. It his Energy that we can experiance, but this Energy, this “God in the material world” is not “God as He is within Himself.” (You might also want to take a look at the book “The Cloud of Unknowing.”)

This is why the Orthodox theologians take the apophatic approach to God, rather than the cataphatic. We don’t say that God is love. We say that God is not love. But, we take it a step farther and say that God is -more- than love. Love, Wisdom, Mercy, whatever attributes we humans assign to God simply fall short. They are anthropocentric. We know what love is as it relates to humans. But God is above humans, therefore it is incorrect to assign strict human concepts to an infinite God. To say that God is love, in the human use of the term, would limit His inifinite-ness.

I know this isn’t going to satisfy you, and honestly, I don’t really care. But surely using the logic you so love to wield you can follow and recognize the end result of something being infinite: there is no end, there is no conclusion, there is no limit, and there is no ulitimate understanding. And once you can wrap your mind around that, you’ll realize that at it’s core this is not some attempt to dismiss “inconsistancy in theology” but rather the end result of believing in a God which is infinite.

And yes, this means that there will always be doubt. Doubt never goes away, that’s why we’re called the “faithful.” While we might occassionaly have doubt, we have faith that what we believe is true. If any Christian came to me and said they have never ever doubted, then I would call them a liar and not a true Christian.

And to touch just once more on your original question about evil: God does not just let suffereing exist as if He were ignoring it or something. He allows us the option of doing something about it. That is God’s involvement. And frankly, I’ll take a God who gives US the option of acting how we will over one who forces it any day. A God who allows us freedom of choice is more loving (in my understanding of the human concept) than a God who forces us to act in one way, or who doesn’t allow us to act at all.

FIN

31 05 2008
Zacharias

Eh… I figure since I responded one last time to SJ, I’d go ahead and do the same for Chris.

“This is why scientists test, then re-test, then test again any posits they are researching. ”

Sure, they can test and re-test all they want, but there is always the possibility of some unknown variable. Always the -possiblity,- thus, never any absolute certainty.

“Ah! Atoms are the fundamental building blocks of everything! We’ve figured it out!”

Later…

“Hey, WTF is a quark?”

There will ALWAYS be the possibility of the unknown.

C’mon, that one was too easy.

“I asked why “the chosen people” told the story the way they did. It was their story, yet they chose to portray god as malicious, using the very definition you provided. But where you went astray is to suggest god needed to see Job suffer, whereas I suggest god needed to prove something to the devil through the suffering of Job.”

No, I did not suggest God needed to see Job suffer (my exact words were: According to the defintion what was done in the story is not attributed to some “need” of God to see Job suffer.). In fact, in the story it was the Devil who wanted Job to suffer. And actually, I think I agreed with you God was proving something to the Devil, but not that He needed to. Have you read the story recently? There’s nothing in it to even suggest that anything in the story was ‘needed.’ So, again, using the definition of malicious that I provided, the word does not apply to God in this instance (and please don’t try to expand on my “this instance.” It’s there because we’re focusing on this one story, remember?). However God’s or the Devil’s characteristics are portrayed in this story is not important. What is important is how Job is portrayed. As far as at least the first two points of the story I mentioned, it could be ANYONE who issued the challenge. It wouldn’t make a bit of differnce to the first two points if, say, some atheist was saying to another that the only reason Job believes is because he’s never had any misfortune.

Earlier you said:

“Speaking of sin, I don’t believe in that word. To me, sin is just human nature. It is in our nature to “sin” or it wouldn’t be so hard not to.”

Again, I think I’ve already stated that yes, sin is a part of our nature…. after the original one. Our natures were originally in state of perfection (or more importantly, in a state where there were no barriers between us and achieving the state of Theosis. We weren’t originally already in that state, but rather had the potential to reach it.) However, after that first act of disobediance the way to theosis was closed, and sin became a part of our nature. Sin, like I’ve said with evil, is not some objective thing that has always existed. It is a “missing of the mark.” At the very beginning we’ve always had the potential (potential due to free will) to sin, it just had not occured yet.

“If Adam and Eve were created in perfection, what were they ashamed of?”

RE: prefection, see above. What were they ashamed of? The fact that had disobeyed. Hence why I said it was AFTER they had eaten the fruit that they were ashamed.

Anyways, this argument can go on forever, so I’m just going to step out of it now.

2 06 2008
Chris

“Ah! Atoms are the fundamental building blocks of everything! We’ve figured it out!”
Later…
“Hey, WTF is a quark?”
There will ALWAYS be the possibility of the unknown.
C’mon, that one was too easy.

Do quarks change the nature of the atom? Are atoms no longer the fundamental building blocks of everything?

If I say “buildings laid together in a close proximity are the basis for villages and towns” is that no longer true if we then say, “buildings are made up of mortar, brick and steel”?

Religious people often confuse constant revisions to a known science as proof that science is wrong. Please don’t be one of those people, or I will be forced to ask which translation of the Bible is the correct one.

2 06 2008
Chris

RE: prefection, see above. What were they ashamed of? The fact that had disobeyed. Hence why I said it was AFTER they had eaten the fruit that they were ashamed.

I fail to see the connection between being ashamed they disobeyed their authority figure and covering up their nakedness. Unless their nakedness had something to do with why they disobeyed, this arguement makes no sense.

It’s like saying my 6-year old son hit his 5-year old sister after I told them not to, so he put his shoes on out of guilt.

2 06 2008
SuperJesus

@Zacharias: You’re apparently very well versed on religious doctrine. No offense, but I can tell because the logic you apply makes no sense at all.

How is it that if God himself is “entirely unknowable” that any religion can then pretend to not only assert that they know he exists but that they know what he thinks and how he wants us to behave? Am I to believe that God, in his great all knowing wisdom, opted to best convey information about the origins of the universe as well as his rules about how we should behave (so we can get into heaven and avoid eternal suffering) to a handful of illiterate men a few thousand years ago? So important was his message that it was part of his divine plan that none of his perfect words and holy thoughts would be written down right away but would instead be conveyed through hundreds of years oral tradition and story telling by primitive cultures? Really? You’re suggesting that God thought such important information should be delivered using methods that are well known to have exceptionally poor fidelity for preserving the accuracy of the original message? Talking to shepherds through flaming shrubbery and sending his son to be a messenger and human sacrifice makes more sense than (off the top of my head) showing up on Letterman and dropping off a memo or even just sending an email. You may mock my ideas as me just being silly and cynical but they arguably make far more sense if you want to convey an accurate message than the way your religion asserts it was done.

As for the argument that “God does not just let suffereing exist…He allows us the option of doing something about it. That is God’s involvement.” I don’t even know where to start. The fact that you don’t see that line of reasoning as at least a complete cop and at worst utterly ridiculous is simply astonishing. How does it make any sense to say God is involved by letting someone else handle it? You’re kidding, right? What’s the point of claiming an omniscient and omnipotent God if you then prove your claim by asserting that he is, for all intensive purposes, functionally impotent (or infinitely lazy)?

Finally you make the claim that your God, the same one who threatens you with eternal suffering and damnation if you don’t worship him exclusively and do as he says in his commandments, is somehow “loving” because he gives you the free will to act as you wish. When did coercion and blackmail involving threats of violence come to be classified as “loving” attributes?

As always I sincerely appreciate the effort you’re putting into your posts so please correct me if I’m misunderstanding what you’ve said here. As I’m reading your response I cannot help but to find it difficult to take such strained logic seriously.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

S/J It is not only hard but really mentally impossible to arrive at positions of truth and ontology when one is religiously and spiritually bankrupt. This is not just a shot at you, but really true of all of us human beings, when we are steeped down into ourselves, and just thinking that we can alone reason our way by ourselves. This is just that good old pride, and it clings to us like a garment. ” Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy upon me a sinner.”

2 06 2008
SuperJesus

@Irish: You are correct. Ontological arguments rely so heavily on a priori premises that the “logic” they employ is only convincing (or even interesting) to those who are predisposed to believe the conclusion of such arguments in the first place.

Put differently, I doubt anybody has ever been convinced that the existence of God was true after hearing an ontological argument unless they were already convinced of such a presupposition to begin with.

I can take nearly any ontological argument and replace the word God with Zeus or Santa Clause and the statements are all as valid as the original. If circular wordplay is the best proof you have for God then yours is a weak case indeed.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

S/J You missed my whole point mate! This is not some St. Anselm use of the word alone. In fact forget Anslem, he conjectures up your whole problem, at least mentally. And that is, this approach to God is not a systematic thing, so much as it is a mystical reality. As our Orthodox friend has so nicely and beautifully pointed out. You should re-read his, if I can call it mystical logic, for from behind it is the God, who to use a western idea (for you) is both “transcendent” and “immanent.” God is a Person, to meet but his presence is totally OTHER! And this happens on His terms and power, etc.

2 06 2008
SuperJesus

“transcendent”, “immanent”, or “OTHER”…I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I think my last response to Zacharias raised reasonable questions to his last response.

Much like ontological arguments church doctrine is self referencing and therefore irrelevant unless one believes in the premises used to construct the argument in the first place. Seeing as I don’t regard the Bible as authoritative or true it is likely that church doctrine will probably be unable to provide a satisfactory answer for me.

2 06 2008
Chris

this approach to God is not a systematic thing, so much as it is a mystical reality.

Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

God is a Person

Where is he? Where does he live? Why can’t we see him? No, I have to disagree here. It seems that you are assigning human attributes to an idea/essence/entity that can’t be defined, according to our Orthodox friend that has so nicely and beautifully pointed out.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

S/J My point was and is also that the experience of meeting the person of God can be based on the primary principle of God’s own authority, and that is: God in His own self-disclosure! In this meeting there is not you and your mere mental acceptance, but God’s own power & purpose! This rapture and experience is rare, but none the less real! But happens more than you think, and with common so-called people! Watch out, you might run smack into GOD! And this could be a fearful, even overwhelming reality! Fearful however in the deep power, love and presence of God In Christ!

2 06 2008
Barbara

@irishanglican
I ran smack into god the other day and I wasn’t frightened. It was actually a rather funny coincidence, he showed up at a meeting of atheists to confirm he didn’t believe in himself either, especially based on the religious texts that you keep citing. 😉

Sorry SJ, just couldn’t help myself.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

Chris, Note I said, “so much as”, the mental and systematic is not ruled out but transcended and taken higher. Again these are mystical and spiritual realities. And only faith can touch and handle this. St. Paul says this is a “gift”! I can only really myself speak in the realities of God! (Though feebly) My own is by faith too, the gift of God! But, I have found this more real than myself! Very strange I know. Indeed real “faith” is so very profound! As again St. Paul says, “Faith, hope and love.” Do you think love is but a human category, without any transcendent quality?

2 06 2008
irishanglican

Barbara – Now maybe you can see why I had not chosen to go into this with you all? When you meet God as I have by at least given in definition, it will be no joke!

Fr. Robert

2 06 2008
Barbara

@irishanglican

Admittedly I use my humor in the face of conversations like these, because eventually my head hurts from pounding it against the wall.

The very essence of what you and others suggests sadly lacks any fortitude. Were I to believe in an existence beyond this it certainly wouldn’t be based on any text that is currently known to man. And man always has a way of destroying the validity of much through the narrow interpretations of a few.

I find it amazing that you in any way can defend the biblical texts and hold them in such esteem above all others. And to hold your “god” to such a mighty degree. Sadly, while viewing the world through a narrow scope of knowledge, you don’t even recognize that you’ve explained nothing while saying much.

Faith is something we can all have, it doesn’t rely on a god it’s just been abused. But I would most definitely put my faith on that which is provable and evidenced. And I would expect if there were an almighty something that it would matter. I don’t expect that anything that would be found of the supernatural variety would be doing anything short of laughing at ALL human ignorance.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

Barbara – Thank you for a more human and perhaps existential post. I know I too do some head-pounding on the wall (metaphorically). My point was as you say, too, often the experience of God is like a “dark night of the soul”! But then all of a sudden the interior bright light of love and revelation breaks! But no walk near God is constant “light”, but very often doubt comes, but as St. Paul says “we walk by faith not by sight”- or feeling. The Text of scripture is like a beating heart for me, but sometimes I have palpitations! lol

2 06 2008
Chris

Do you think love is but a human category, without any transcendent quality?

No, I think love is a complex chemical reaction that ensures the survival of the species. Our ability to take that emotion and confer upon it anthropomorphic qualities and/or origins is a human category, without any transcendent qualities.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

Chris – My Father who was a physicist was still an Einstein type theist. Plenty of mystery and transcendent qualities. But was an RAF squadron leader in WW2, and this I know pushed him toward finding his God. We both had seen death and dying in combat, and this strangely kept us closer. Another story. See from my point we can never escape the human but transcendent story! Think of life without narrative and poetry? Indeed scripture is full of both, human & divine!

2 06 2008
SuperJesus

Um, not to upset your memory of your father but Einstein thought religion was “Childish Superstition”. See https://thesuperjesus.wordpress.com/2008/05/13/einstein-considered-religion-childish-superstition for more details on that.

And while scripture may be full of narrative and poetry, so does many other works of fiction.

2 06 2008
Chris

Zacharius and Irish:

Do you believe the bible is the inerrant word of god?

2 06 2008
irishanglican

S/J I have read almost every Einstein bio in existence. He was a theist plain and simple! Not so much a religious Jew, but still a theist.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

Yes, but the Apostolic Church is the true interpreter…Chris are you male or female? Your definition of love sounded kinda male like?

2 06 2008
SuperJesus

Gotcha there chief. I guess you’re the Einstein expert then and this hand written letter from Einstein himself (*) wouldn’t make any kind of impression on you because you know better than Einstein himself. You cling to your beliefs despite plain and reasonable evidence to the contrary…at least you’re consistent in your behavior.

* – as reported in the guardian in the UK
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/may/12/peopleinscience.religion

2 06 2008
irishanglican

S/J One letter doth not make the man! I have read lots of books and other essay type things on Einstein, which say lots of other theist elements. But my faith does not stand or fall on Einstein! It is obvious that you will believe nothing but “your” own fallen heart and mind! But we already know that, I am a Christian, who are an a-theist. Though in the end no man or person will be so! My presupposition.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

*you

2 06 2008
SuperJesus

Okay, help me understand this. You think that a bunch of books and essays written by other men about Einstein are more authoritative than a hand written letter specifically addressing the issue of religion written by Einstein himself?

I’ve tried to remain polite throughout this thread, but seriously, you’re clearly a fucking idiot.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

Eh there’s that true nature and spirit coming out! I knew ya had it in ya! The old ad hom, plus! Why now after all this does your spirit seethe? Just an old Irishman? lol

2 06 2008
irishanglican

Your own mouth have proven my point!!!

2 06 2008
irishanglican

S/J There is a text of scripture that says: “Out of the mouth the heart speaks!”

2 06 2008
SuperJesus

Well if I believed scripture then it would be sad to report that your heart is apparently ignorant as well. Luckily for you I don’t.

You have yet to make any sense about the Einstein letter and you have not responded directly or clearly to any of the other points I’ve made throughout the rest of this thread. I wasn’t making an ad hominem attack as much as asserting a succinct statement of fact. Perhaps the f-bomb was gratuitous but I stand by my assessment given the dialog we’ve exchanged here. You could always prove me wrong by making a rational and well reasoned argument that uses evidence and facts. Alas, that might serve as proof of miracles.

2 06 2008
irishanglican

S/J After seeing what you said to our Orthodox friend (and his work at writing on the level of intellect and logic), nothing I can could say really would make any difference to you at all, I am convinced of that. As I have tried to say, this is a spiritual issue, and not really so much a rational one.

As to Einstein, the letter is still under dispute. Ya think I had not heard of it already? Hardly mate.

I am not really a hard blogger, I look and dialog with people who have open hearts and able minds. I am not sure about either of yours? Thus I have not fully engaged with you. I fear you will have to wait to stand before Christ Himself perhaps? But, that is your choice if so? I am not your judge, but I am a priest and pastor in the Anglican Church and Communion.

Fr. Robert

3 06 2008
SuperJesus

Funny thing, I did a search and there is no reputable site indicating there is any controversy over the authenticity of the letter. I did see from the Guardian that the it shattered all records for an Einstein letter and sold for approximately $400,000 (*). I’m pretty naive, but given all the attention surrounding the letter and given the price paid I’m willing to bet that someone knowlegable might have checked to see if it was real. I’d even be willing to go out on a limb and speculate that two experts could have been brought in to check it. Gosh, do you think maybe more people looked at it?

Sorry, just because you say the authenticity is in dispute doesn’t make it so. That said, I suspect that that if the letter said Einstein was not only God fearing but he was also secretly an Anglican Archbishop you would have no problem accepting that as true since it would fit (albeit a little awkwardly) into your preconceived narrative. Like every other aspect of your life you’ll fabricate “facts” to fit your fairytale and ignore anything that contradicts it.

Silly Christian.

* – http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/may/15/peopleinscience.controversiesinscience

3 06 2008
Chris

Okay, first, yes, I am a male.
Secondly, if the bible is the innerant word of god, I’ve got another question you can (possibly) answer:

The bible makes it quite clear in Genesis KJV that god destroyed every living thing:
7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
7:21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man
7:23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

So where did the people that married Noah’s grandchildren come from? How did genetic drift not propagate in all the species?
How can I accept that the bible is true, when such a glaring impossibility is shown? Is this one of those times when god works in mysterious ways?

3 06 2008
SuperJesus

I think I need to start a new blog entry for that one Chris. This comment thread is far too long as it is.

3 06 2008
Chris

Don’t worry, I won’t get a response that doesn’t involve undocumented miracles from God. Is that a triple-negative?

3 06 2008
irishanglican

Boys you seem to have all the answers. I have spoken my last on this blog. I will end this as I said before with a quote as Christ spoke to the Jewish Pharisees: “Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying Master/Teacher, we would (want) see a sign from you. But He answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great-fish, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (St. Matt. 12:39-40)
But in the next verse, which I will not quote, Christ speaks of The Judgment to come, in eternity!

This path into the “heart of the earth” was none other than Christ’s death on the cross and His burial. But He rose again from this great death and lives as I type these keys! HE sees into the depth of all of us, and will so always!

Fr. Robert

3 06 2008
SuperJesus

Christ was to be dead for three days because a man supposedly lived inside a fish for three days. True story.

Um, why no that doesn’t sound batshit crazy, why would anyone think that? Of course there had to be a good logical reason for God to keep him dead for three days, and obviously it would be the well established expected longevity of a man living in the belly of a whale. Duh.

It all makes perfect sense now! How could I have ever doubted you Fr.?

Seriously, thanks for ending this with a good laugh. You’re the best!
Super J.




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