Need help with answers (about God's will and law)

(Shaun) #21

I share your thoughts. Every time when I see someone try to explain religion in a scientific way or explain nature in a religious way, I am more than just puzzled.

But both science and religion share one thing in common, they do not give any human being the authority or status to make laws as they want for another human being. That’s super important to the relationship between people. We need God’s law, or natural law, not any human being’s law, at least when some human beings are trusted by others to make laws, they should not make laws as they want.

(Shaun) #22

Mitchell, Thank you! I’ve read every word you said carefully, and try to reply carefully.

It seems you treated free will as a thing that exists independently and has its own characteristics. Could you please tell me more about it?

(Mitchell W McKain) #23

Actually I keep mentioning life and free will together because I think they are pretty much the same thing. For physical entities at least, there is no life without free will and no free will without life, so this is not something added separately. However, both life and free will are highly quantitative rather than either/or. In other words, both people and viruses are alive but hardly to the same degree or measure. The life and free will of a virus is rather minuscule compared to our own.

But still, we certainly can discuss free will as a philosophical concept apart from life and when we do so it is a concept with very difficult logical problems in the context of the modern understanding of causality in science, namely time-ordered causality. The idea of free will is that we can make choices which are not determined by pre-existing conditions, particularly not the conditions outside of ourselves. So if free will exists then that suggests that some of the causes for what we choose do not come before the choice, and this requires us to accept ideas of causality other than the time-ordered variety.

This is not purely something of my own invention, by the way, but was originally a suggestion of Aristotle’s, who proposed that there were four different kinds of causality of which the time-ordered or “effective causality” was only one. The others include, “material causality” which can be associated with the more modern idea of reductionism, “formal causality” which can be associated with the more modern idea of emergentism, and “final causality” which is a time-reversed causality.

If free will and nonstandard causality exists, then what would it look like in a world view which only acknowledges time-ordered causality? It would mean there are events in this world view which do not seem to have any cause at all, events which would appear to be completely random. As it happens, quantum physics has demonstrated that such events do exist and has proven that there are no hidden variables which determine their outcome (at least not within the assumption of local causality, i.e. relativity version of time-ordered causality).

(Randy) #24

I think I was really tired and did lousy at writing. The question, I thought, was whether God would just leave the wind, other natural laws, etc without intervention. I thought that since He was a person, and saw needs, He could change the wind, etc to intervene–that would be the difference (changing the natural laws) one saw in a person rather than an impersonal force.

Regarding the Byzantine allusion–I think I was tired and not addressing the right question. Sorry! I just meant that I could get bogged down in details. Thanks

(Paul Allen) #25

All people have questions. We are inquisitive by nature. And in this age of pluralism, atheism, and skepticism, many people are searching for truth and the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

We know that God is real because He has revealed Himself to us in three ways: in creation, in His Word, and in His Son, Jesus Christ.

The most basic proof of God’s existence is simply what He has made. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” ([Romans 1:20]

Not only has God made an intricate and finely tuned physical world; He has also instilled a sense of eternity in the heart of every person ([Ecclesiastes 3:11]. We have an innate perception that there is more to life than meets the eye, that there is an existence higher than this earthly routine. Our sense of eternity manifests itself in at least two ways: law-making and worship.

People all over the world, regardless of culture, have always cultivated a system of worship. The object of worship may vary, but the sense of a “higher power” is an undeniable part of being human. Our propensity to worship accords with the fact that God created us “in His own image” ([Genesis 1:27]

God has also revealed Himself to us through His Word, the Bible. Throughout Scripture, the existence of God is treated as a self-evident fact. God revealed Himself is through His Son, In Jesus’ amazing life, He kept the entire Old Testament law perfectly and fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Messiah ([Matthew 5:17]. He performed countless acts of compassion and public miracles to authenticate His message and bear witness to His deity ([John 21:24-25]. Then, three days after His crucifixion, He rose from the dead, a fact affirmed by hundreds of eyewitnesses ([1 Corinthians 15:6] The historical record abounds with “proof” of who Jesus is. As the Apostle Paul said, this thing “was not done in a corner” ([Acts 26:26]

(Shaun) #26

Hi Paul,


But does God’s domain have its boundary or limit?

(Paul Allen) #27

If God’s domain means God’s sovereignty than no.

The ‘Sovereignty of God’ is the Christian teaching that ‘God’ is the supreme authority and all things are under His control.

Sovereignty is an Attribute of God based upon the premise that God as the creator of heaven and earth has absolute right and full authority to do or allow whatever He desires. “God is in control.”

These words can be a wonderful comfort to people struggling with common phobias, natural fears, or even deep-seated terrors. The reminder that God is in control often brings great relief.

But there are times when the words “God is in control” might make matters worse. A terrified Christian may have already wrestled with the fact that God is sovereign, and come to the misguided conclusion that God is punishing him, or worse, that God has abandoned him.

At the root of such fear and anxiety is not likely the issue of whether God is in control (a doctrine most Christians readily accept), but why God would allow Christians to feel uncertainty and dread. The awareness of God’s sovereignty may not be a source of relief in every case—only another source of doubt, frustration, and fear. Fear can do this to people, even Christians.

God knows when a sparrow falls from the sky, and if He cares for them, how much more does He care for us? Matt. 6:26. God does not tempt us (or cause us to be afraid), He gives us all good things, and He promises to turn everything (even our fears) to our good. Does this help?

(Shaun) #28

That’s why I asked the two questions in my opening post. So far it seems miracle is the only way we could explain God’s law and His will.

(Randy) #29


Very good insight.

(Shaun) #30

May I translate it into “free will is self-serving motivation”?

If yes, then free will is part of a life serving life itself. For this reason, it’s not free, though sometimes it looks random or not correct.

(Mitchell W McKain) #31

You may, but I certainly will not. Such ways of thinking, along with how self-serving you are, is a matter of choice and habit. Just because we have free will doesn’t mean we are always free. We are self-programming (i.e. habitual) entities and it is in the creation of these habits where our choices are primarily employed. However, none of this means that everyone originally had the same free will. Free will is both very fragile and highly variable, depending on a great many things like awareness. How can you be free to make choices when you are not even aware of the alternatives. This is just another reason why judging others is foolish, and why we can only be blind guides. Only God can save us, not because of some divine magic but because only God sees the truth of our situation and who we really are.

I do not doubt that many people simply cannot see any alternative to being self-serving, and what many others call serving others is really nothing but a relabeling of what amounts to no more than serving themselves (sometimes they are the most self-serving of all). But I do not believe the sophistry that there is no alternative to being self-serving. I don’t even think truly serving others is all that rare, but however rare it may be, I frankly think these denials are a poor excuse and self deception. I see no need for wallowing in self-contempt but I would really much prefer an honest evaluation and facing the facts about myself.

(Shaun) #32

Sounds like self-serving is bad.
Could you please tell the difference between “serving others” and slavery?
Are people morally good when they demand or expect others to serve them (not let others serve themselves because self-serving is, at least not good)?

(Mitchell W McKain) #33

Nope. Self-serving is rather natural. In an infant, it is perfectly righteous. Not only is it their one responsibility but it is the only thing they can do. My objection was only to this rather self-serving rhetoric that this is the only alternative ever. It is not.

Easy peasy! Slavery is when somebody makes you serve others whether you want to or not. But people can also serve others because that is what they want to do. Most likely because they love those they serve. The God I believe in is like that.

No. And the God I believe in is not like that. Moreover, when the god your religion is teaching sounds like this, it is most likely because this religion is the creation of those using god and religion as a tool of power, control, and manipulation.

(Shaun) #34

Thank you!
I have heard a lot of people say it’s immoral, it’s wrong, it’s selfish not to serve people when they demand you to serve them. They could be religious people and atheists. Usually they are communists, socialists, or cult operating people.
I understand why they make such type of morals. Their morals give their victims no moral ground to defend.

(Christy Hemphill) #35

Come again? If I heard someone say that I would tell that person they sound like a big jerk, and I hope whatever co-dependent victim they have roped into any such arrangement gets counseling for spiritual abuse and learns proper boundaries. Ew.

(Christy Hemphill) #36

There are a series of commands Jesus gives people in the Gospels that have been misapplied throughout history to try to keep people content being subservient.

Jesus did say that if someone strikes you, you should offer him the other cheek.
Or if someone forces you to walk a mile, you should offer to walk an extra mile.
Or if someone takes your coat, you should give him your tunic as well.

(I am not double checking any of this with commentaries, just going on memory, so I may not have every detail exactly right) In the context in which he was speaking these referred to things that Roman soldiers (detested occupiers of the Jewish homeland) could legally demand from Jews. They could strike them once without retribution. They could demand Jews carry their stuff for them, but for no longer than a mile. They could requisition coats without compensating the owners, but they couldn’t take anything else.

Jesus was encouraging a form of passive resistance that resisted oppression with responses that highlighted the injustice of the situation. These passages were appropriated and used to great effect by non-violent civil rights workers in America. These were things that happened with an audience and the goal was changing the relationship between oppressor and oppressed. By turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, or giving the tunic too, the oppressed person reclaimed agency in the situation, because the choice was theirs. It was intended to be a flipping of the power dynamic, not a further debasing. Roman soldiers were not legally allowed to demand two miles, two strikes, or a coat and a tunic.

But when people misappropriate these concepts and take them out of context to tell abused wives and children they need to stay in dangerous situations and “turn the other cheek” to abusers, or that you can never stand up to people who are taking advantage of you, that’s wrong.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #37

I think the proper question would be, Who is God? Is God someOne Who will take care of all of my problems if I just believe in God?, or Is God some One Who will help me if I will help God?

God is not the slave of those who believe in God. God helps those who need God’s help to do God’s Will. There was a old man who was a sheep herder in the dessert. One day he saw a strange sight on the mountain.

When he went to check it out, he found out that God had a job for him. God wanted him to go to Pharaoh to tell the God/King to release the Hebrew slaves from slavery and let they go to Israel.

After much hesitation Moses said yes and a close relationship with God/YHWH was born. What does God want you to do for God and for others?

(Shaun) #38

There are a lot of people saying something like that explicitly or implicitly. For example, they may redefine moral, call good evil and evil good to justify their aggression and leave their victims no moral grounds to defend. And some people may invent ideologies like communism and socialism to cover or justify their aggression.

(Shaun) #39

My first serious Bible teacher said God didn’t want believers’ obedience or service. God’s will was to help people. God would reward those who believed in Him and followed His rules or commandments. In other words, God takes care of people by demanding people to believe in Him and follow His rules.

I think his teaching is pretty easy to be accepted.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #40

That not what Jesus taught. The Pharisees and the Sadducees believed in God and followed God’s Rules, but they crucified Jesus.

Jesus calls us, as He called His disciples, to trust and obey, to have faith in Him as the Messiah and to follow in His footsteps of loving and serving.