Some disturbing challenges :/


(Jason) #1
  • Did God set the parameters way back in the mists of time, knowing how things would turn out, and is just sitting back watching it all unfold? But how can this be, seeing as what we see in the fossil record is exactly what we’d expect to see if evolution were an entirely natural process, proceeding one generation at a time with no intervention.

  • And if God is so non-interventionist that He’s entirely indistinguishable from physical cause and effect – what reason do you have to think He exists?

  • Biologos seems to argue for a Deist God, rather than the Christian God. Biologos causes theological problems for Christianity that Francis Collins, at least, has avoided answering by simply claiming he is ‘not a theologian’.

  • Answers to life’s questions once answered by invoking God are systematically and consistently shown to be false via evidence to the contrary. Christian belief is consistently having to be re-written in order to keep up with scientific discoveries.

  • If God guided or had anything to do with evolution, how come these things exist?
    Sinuses. Blind spots. External testicles. Backs and knees and feet shoddily warped into service for bipedal animals. Human birth canals barely wide enough to let the baby’s skull pass – and human babies born essentially premature, because if they stayed in utero any longer they’d kill their mothers coming out (which they sometimes do anyway). Wind pipes and food pipes in close proximity, leading to a great risk of choking to death when we eat. Impacted wisdom teeth, because our jaws are too small
    for all our teeth. Eyes wired backwards and upside-down. Brains wired with imprecise language, flawed memory, fragile mental health. Birth defects. 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies ending in miscarriage (and that’s just confirmed pegnancies – about 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and as many as 75% of all conceptions miscarry).

I am no atheist but I must admit, this is some pretty convincing and damning evidence against God. What say the community here? These challenges come from this article: http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-you-cant-reconcile-god-and-evolution


#2

I would recommend numbering your points so that they are far easier to discuss.

And what is the problem what that?

What’s wrong with saying that God’s methodologies are the ones we see operating in the universe? Why must the universe God created operate differently from how God operates?

The Bible states that the “reason” is the call of the Holy Spirit operating within those called. Faith is a gift of God. So I don’t expect the universe to “tell” us everything.

Personally, I’ve not noticed Biologos arguing for a “Deist God”, but then I’m also an academic who often complains that the “pop definition” of Deism is quite different from the Deism discussed in religious studies tomes. (I also get annoyed when so many people speak of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers being “deists” but not noticing that Deism had a far different different definition in 1776 than the definition people tend to use today.)

Again, I hadn’t noticed, so I’m probably not a good source of answers.

There too, I don’t really give much thought to what Francis Collins thinks about it. And I know very very few Christians who can address these sorts of topics, which are basically related to the Theodicy Problem and the hidden-ness of God. In fact, when I used to teach home Bible studies for young parents, I often began the series with the question, “Someday your babies are going to get old enough to ask you: Mom/Dad, why does God hide from us? Why can’t we see and hear God when we talk to him and need his help?” I can assure you that most of those young couples said something along the lines: “I don’t know. I’m not a theologian.” (And yes, I answered the question for them. Hopefully most people have learned the answer in Sunday School along the way.)

That’s true of some questions, I suppose. But there are plenty of “life’s questions” which are still answering by invoking God. (Where did the world ULTIMATELY come from?) If you are saying that just because lots of people have erred in their answers to various questions does NOT mean that ALL questions which invoke God will thereby eventually be shown to be wrong. That would be an induction fallacy.

Perhaps you are pointing out that Christians used to answer virtually every “Why?” question with “God did it” or “God wanted it that way.” When the scientific method was developed, many of those questions began to be answered with scientific explanations. But it sounds like you might be confusing Ultimate Explanation (God) with Proximate Explanation (Science)—or more traditionally known as Ultimate Causation versus Proximate Causation. Yet, it was never a matter of Proximate causation REPLACING Ultimate Causation. They are simply different kinds of questions asked from different perspectives.

Why do the planets move as they do? For centuries theologians-philosophers said, “God commanded angels to push the planets through the heavens.” Eventually science explained the movements of planets according to gravitational forces. Yet, that didn’t CONTRADICT the idea that God willed the planets to move as they do. No, theological questions ask about Ultimate Causation and science asks about Proximate Causation, the natural processes which explain what we see happening.

If your child asks, “Who made me?”, you could answer with Ultimate Causation and say: “God made you.” But a non-ultimate causation answer would be “Your parents made you.” Yet, you could keep going to another level of explanation and the answer would still be correct: “Ovum and sperm united to form a new individual that grew from that single cell.” The “scientific answer” never needs to be seen as trumping the theological answer. It is like arguing over an alleged contradiction because “I come from Chicago” and “I come from Illinois.” are different answers.

(1) If God created the world, why does sin and bad stuff exist? Isn’t it basically the same question? Is God obligated to only create “good” or “complete” or “perfect” things? If yes, why?

(2) In philosophy there are finely defined terms distinguishing “necessary conditions” and “contingent conditions” and a lot of other classifications which William Lane Craig regularly discusses in response to such questions----but I’ve forgotten so much of that stuff since grad school philosophy classes. (I’ve taught some philosophy long ago but it’s “use it or lose it” and I’m quite willing to blame old age for my forgetting.) OK, I’ll try: Craig speaks of how God may have chosen the very best POSSIBLE UNIVERSE that fits a particular set of criteria—such as one in which natural evolutionary processes lead to humans. So considering the particular set of “design objectives” which fit God’s will, the status quo is the best that could be done under those constraints, so external testicles and blind spots were part of the package. To ask for something else is like saying, “I prefer that Pi, e, and all other mathematical constants be round numbers.” No. To produce the universe which fit God’s objectives, e^(Pi*i)= -1 MUST APPLY! The fact that it is complex and unweildy is not a good reason for complaining about it. It is a necessary condition for this universe, like it or not.

Why did God allow for sin and the massive damages caused by sin? Many would say that sin comes with the turf whenever free will is valued. If you want free will, then sin is bound to come with it and there’s no way around it. [Of course, those who don’t understand “God can do anything!” as erroneous theology will be confused. But “God can do anything” isn’t in the Bible. No, the doctrine of Divine Omnipotence is that “God never lacks the ability to do that which he wills to do.” Thus, as Bill Craig emphasizes, there’s lots of things God can’t do. “For example, God can’t make a married bachelor.” Likewise, perhaps it is equally true that “God can’t make a universe with free will without sin inevitably coming along with it.” And if you want a biosphere where life is inevitable under the laws of physics and evolutionary processes adapt life to new environments and diversify life on earth, then sinuses, blind spots, and external testicles are inevitable. You can’t have one without the other. It is simply a mathematical fact.

Indeed, why should evolutionary processes produce a biosphere without all of the “bad things” Jason listed? I suggest that their absence would be impossible (i.e., illogical) if evolutionary processes operate as they must. To expect God to make a evolved biosphere but not include those “bad” things may be like expecting God to make a married bachelor or a Pi that is a nice round number.

Sorry. That makes absolutely no sense to me. So I wonder if you are misunderstanding the Sovereignty and Omnipotence of God. Just as God is under no obligation (i.e., neither an ethical obligation nor a by-definition omnipotence obligation) to make a sinless world, God is not obligated to make sure that evolutionary processes produce “perfection.”

I also think of it this way: When a programmer used evolutionary algorithm to solve problems he/she doesn’t know how to solve----or even use them to design amazing new machines—it is impossible to make the “best solution” without also generating the mediocre and “bad” solutions on the route to getting there. It is simply a fact of the mathematics. The processes are powerful but the algorithm inevitably makes a lot of “junk” on the way to the non-junk. Evolution is much the same.

It is much like complaining "I don’t like the mathematical constant Pi because it is really hard to deal with an unruly number like 3.1415926… when I would far prefer something simply like 3.14 or even 3.1. God chose to make a universe where Pi is as it is now. Why not assume that of all of the possible universes, the universe which God declared to be “very TOV/good” sets Pi at 3.1415926… -----and that is as good as it can be.

Of all of the possible universes, this one best conforms to the will of God. Yes, it is a frustrating and often miserable world----but this is the best possible choice.

It is nearly 5am and I"m toast. Goodnight. (Sorry for what are likely to be missing words and lots of typos.)

P.S. The fact that the universe doesn’t live up to my expectations doesn’t bother me. Perhaps this is the best possible universe among the entire set of universes which allowed fallible me.


#3

Before I crash for the night, I’ll go for broke and boil it all down to a trivial illustration:

A child might ask a parent “Why didn’t God make a world where everything that’s good for me tastes like candy?” We laugh at such a naive question.

I think questions like “Why can’t God give us a world where we have free will but there is no suffering that comes as a result of people’s sin?” and “Why can’t a biosphere of evolutionary processes be free of external testicles and Sickle Cell Anemia?” are very much the same kinds of questions—along with “Why can’t God make me fully like Christ now so that I never sin any more?” God has plans that are beyond our understanding----just as parents have plans for their children that children don’t understand. That “solution” is not a cop out. No, it is exactly what we would expect if God’s mind is that far above ours, exactly what we would expect of an omniscient and omnipotent God. If God is truly as far above us as the Bible explains, I would EXPECT much of the world to be beyond my understanding. If it all made sense to me, I would question the greatness of God.

Pi CANNOT be 3.1 just because I want the math calculations to be simpler. Likewise, the biosphere must be as it is even if I don’t like the messiness of evolutionary processes.

I find the entire scheme of evolutionary processes to produce a world of adapted organisms to changing environments and a world of amazing diversification of life absolutely dazzling in how it glorifies God. The fact that it is “messy” and even painful doesn’t change that fact.


(George Brooks) #4

@Burning_to_Know

If you look at the BioLogos statement of belief, it makes its official position pretty clear:

The mission statement supports the common view, that the Christian God communicates to Christians even today.

Points 6, 7 and 8.

[6] We believe that God typically sustains the world using faithful, consistent processes that humans describe as “natural laws.” Yet we also affirm that God works outside of natural law in supernatural events, including the miracles described in Scripture. In both natural and supernatural ways, God continues to be directly involved in creation and in human history.

[7] We believe that the methods of science are an important and reliable means to investigate and describe the world God has made. In this, we stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom Christian faith and science are mutually hospitable. Therefore, we reject ideologies such as Materialism and Scientism that claim science is the sole source of knowledge and truth, that science has debunked God and religion, or that the physical world constitutes the whole of reality.

[8] We believe that God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. God continues to sustain the existence and functioning of the natural world . . . . we reject ideologies such as Deism that claim the universe is self-sustaining, that God is no longer active in the natural world, or that God is not active in human history.


(Jon) #5

This is from something I wrote which is a lot longer, but I’ve just taken out the key points. We have a clearly stated Biblical principle that God’s power is perfected in weakness, which encourages us to accept the Scriptural evidence that a sub-optimal world inhabited by imperfect creatures, was not only the divine plan from the beginning but was precisely the world which God brought into being. The humble ostrich instructs us powerfully on this subject.

God deprived her of wisdom

Among the descriptions of the mighty and powerful creatures with which Job is contrasted ignominiously, is the ostrich. Given what God starts by saying about the ostrich, it would seem to be a curious choice.

Job 39:
13 “The wings of the ostrich flap with joy, but are they the pinions and plumage of a stork?
14 For she leaves her eggs on the ground, and lets them be warmed on the soil.
15 She forgets that a foot might crush them, or that a wild animal might trample them.
16 She is harsh with her young, as if they were not hers; she is unconcerned about the uselessness of her labor.
17 For God deprived her of wisdom, and did not impart understanding to her.
18 But as soon as she springs up, she laughs at the horse and its rider.

Unlike all the other descriptions, God first spends several sentences describing the ostrich’s weaknesses, and the least noble aspects of its character. Yet He points out to Job that despite all this the ostrich still bests him; the speed and agility of the ostrich outstrip even the horse and its rider.

What is remarkable about this description is the strength of language with which God criticizes His own creation; she has wings which flap but don’t fly, she carelessly leaves her eggs in harm’s way, she is forgetful, she is ‘harsh with her young’ as if they weren’t even hers, her work is useless and she doesn’t care, and she lacks intelligence because God deliberately didn’t give her any.

It may seem incongruous for the very creator of the humble ostrich to critique her in such scathing terms, saying she is forgetful, careless, harsh with her young, her work is useless, and she’s unintelligent. Yet God is not only fully aware of her shortcomings but brings them to our attention with extremely forceful language.

Were a human writer to pen such words of one of God’s creatures we may consider them ill-advised to say the least, but God is clearly unconcerned by the strength of the description; the ostrich is far from perfect, and God Himself has listed its weakest features. Why would God describe one of His own creatures in such a negative manner, singling out almost every aspect of it for criticism? Although the answer is not given explicitly in this passage, it is clear that God is telling us that His creatures are not perfect, and He is unconcerned by this; it is all part of His plan.

Not only gold and silver vessels, but also wood and clay

2 Timothy 2:
20 Now in a wealthy home there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also ones made of wood and of clay, and some are for honorable use, but others for ignoble use.

Of all God’s creation, humans are uniquely gifted in our capacity to comprehend and appreciate the beauty, complexity, and wonder of His creatures. The horse has no concept of its majesty in our eyes, nor does the elephant feel our awe at its immense strength.

And yet we are prudently selective in our appreciation. The eyesight of the eagle is so extraordinary that it has become proverbial, due to its 340 degree field of vision, a retina with five times as many detail detection cells (foveal cells), as the human retina, and its ability to see objects at 100 metres which only become detectable to us at 20 metres.

But other animals are not so gifted; some have eyes which cannot detect colour or which have very low visual acuity, some have ears which are very poor at hearing, while others are totally blind or totally deaf. We do not praise the deafness of the squid, or the blindness of the blind mole rat; we see these as weaknesses rather than strengths, and instead comment favourably on what we might refer to as their more comely parts.

Nevertheless, neither do we pretend the less favourable features of these animals do not exist; we do not deny the squid cannot hear, or that the blind mole rat cannot see. We understand that this arrangement is in some way part of God’s overall plan, and we do not consider it does Him any disservice to describe them honestly; it is no assault on God’s character to note that almost no bird species have any sense of smell, and that all marine mammals are colourblind.

To some extent, this challenging issue can be addressed by what could be called the ‘cost of creation’. In simple terms, the making of any mortal creature is necessarily an exercise in compromise. The ability to fly or swim places limitations on the physical size of an animal, its shape, and its anatomy. The larger an animal is, the slower its metabolism. The larger and more complex the brain, the more oxygen it requires (the human brain requires a massive 25% of the body’s oxygen budget), and the less oxygen is available for other parts of the body (human lungs could not support both our brain and the muscles required to fly). The nerves must share space in the body with veins, arteries tendons, and ligaments resulting in multiple independent bundles of electrical wiring, plumbing, and cabling which cannot all be positioned with 100% efficiency; the path each system takes is limited by the space required by all the other systems.

However, this argument cannot account for specific examples such as those described here; the position of the recurrent laryngeal nerve is not due to space restrictions, and there is no constraint requiring the spotted hyena to have such a destructive and lethal birth canal. Nor does it explain why the parents of so many species eat their own young (such as various species of birds and monkeys, as well as mice, gerbils, and lions), or are eaten alive by their young (some species of spider), or regularly practice cannibalism, and murder members of their own species (especially various species of monkey), or regularly practice rape of their own species (dolphins, orangutans, fruit bats, and various species of bird).

My power is made perfect in weakness

Nevertheless, Genesis 1 itself shows us that although God is directly responsible for initiating the creative process, He is not directly responsible for the animals resulting from that process. They are the product of an earthly process resulting in an extremely broad range of creatures with numerous different features, and since that process is earthly it is imperfect and its results are sub-optimal. There is divine law and order behind the process, but there is no specific divine guidance, planning, and design of each individual creature; they are of the earth, earthy, and bear the image of that which is made from dust.

Their sub-optimal features and imperfections are product of the earthly process which made them; God is not the one responsible. In the same way, a human baby born with a hole in its heart, or with additional fingers, or missing a limb, is not the direct creation of God, although He was responsible for initiating the creative process from which the child came. No one would claim God designed this child with a hole in its heart, and then attempt to find ways to justify why He did so; they would accept that the process by which the child was born is earthly, imperfect, and prone to error, though it was instituted by God, and that sub-optimal results are occasionally the product of this process.

Instead of trying to deny the existence of sub-optimal features in the natural world, and attempting lengthy and complicated arguments to defend them, we should acknowledge God’s own comment on creatures such as the ostrich, and accept that the natural creation is neither perfect nor completely optimal. God has made the natural creation in a specific manner for His purposes, and we would be wise to accept that.


(Jon) #6

The “cost of creation” argument covers a lot of the challenge of theodicy.


God doesn't make New Trees with Old Tree Rings
God doesn't make New Trees with Old Tree Rings
Creation, Redemption, and the purpose of the Incarnation
(GJDS) #7

I read the link given by Burning, and I had to chuckle. Many of the points made there, were used in debates during my college days almost in reverse- at that time, faults in creatures were evidence of a continuous selection process that inevitably yielded an improved species. I notice now that “evolution does not care if they live or die” is the new dogma.

Evolution as it is now presented (and there have been many versions) seems at times, to directly contradict the relatively new branch, studies of the ecology. We are slowly beginning to learn that nothing in nature is isolated and can be studied in isolation - and the great variety we observe is essentially “pieces” of a vast network on inter-relating species and spaces, systems within systems. The various aspects that are seen as good or bad in species, be they animal or vegetable, are in fact, essential features needed to sustain the magnificent planet we inhabit.

Yet both views, the glorification by TE of the inadequate theory of evolution, or the blind belief by atheist evolutionists, seem equally wrong in their assessment of purpose or lack of purpose, random or directed-random, and any other rationalisation used to uphold ToE.


(Jay Johnson) #8

Fascinating! First time I’ve heard of this argument. (Whether this is because of its newness or my oldness, I cannot say.)


#9

Thanks for posting a great collection of examples. I’m going to read through those later tonight—but I can already see some which remind me of a Dr. Hugh Ross (ReasonsToBelieve.org) who likes to talk about those phenomena in nature which have “good” and “bad” implications.

I don’t know if Dr. Ross ever mentions weather, but that is the first additional example which popped into my head. I was thinking about how the presence of a fairly dense atmosphere allows for temperature equalizations which prevents the earth from having the kind of radical contrasts one finds on the moon—where the temperature plunges perhaps 200 degrees if one steps behind a big rock into the shadows, or just beyond the shadow marking the extent of the “daytime sun”. (The moment the rotation of the moon exchanges the sun’s daylight for darkness, the temperate change is immediate.)

Yet, the presence of that heat-exchanging atmosphere on earth sets the stage for hurricanes and tornadoes. Can we really expect God to give us one without the other when the laws of thermodynamics must apply to both the water cycle and storms?

Some of those demands from people who think God should have given us the “good” without the unpleasant if not all out terrible ramifications reminds me of attorney Johnnie Cochran filing a lawsuit against fertilizer companies after the Oklahoma City bombing of that federal building. Cochran was “outraged” that agribusinesses were manufacturing and selling to farmers Ammonium Nitrate to put on their fields—but which could also be used by terrorists to combine with diesel oil to make barrel-sized bombs. It was as if he was objecting to basic high school chemistry and that fact that the ammonium component and the nitrate compound were both good sources of nitrogen which plants need to build proteins and other structures!

So when people complain about evolution because it entails phenomena and characteristics which a lot of people don’t like, they might as well complain about gravity—because even though it conveniently keeps us anchored on the ground so that we don’t blow away, it also makes dangerous falls and deadly aerial bombing sources of great misery!

I also find it interesting that William Lane Craig says that even though the theodicy problem is a big deal to many anti-theists, philosophers dealt with it and basically dismissed it generations ago. According to Craig, even atheist philosophers agree that the Theodicy Problem is not a problem at all. Now I am not sufficiently trained as a philosopher to evaluate Craig’s claim, but I find it very interesting and certainly believable. (I know from my own fields of study that there are many issues which outrage a lot of people which simply don’t upset anyone who is knowledgeable in the relevant academic fields.)


(Jason) #10

I’m rather impressed by your response here. I’ve copied it to a document I’ve made of helpful quotes and tid-bits.

It would seem to make more, or at least equal sense though to say that a God just wasn’t involved right? Evolution seems a HORRIBLE way for God to create life and Man… Surely God could have thought of a better way and still met His desires? A less cruel and unusual way? The means and result do not seem to reflect a perfect being at all.

Unless, that scientist was outside of time or at least spread throughout the entirety of time, so that they could know the best way to go without having to generate the bad solutions. Could God not recognize the junk solutions present in a possible future and prevent them from ever being?

Doesn’t this put limits on God? Isn’t God limitless? But if He was limitless, He would be able to achieve His will without the majority of the bad right, at least the bad that was not the result of free will? Therefore one would be better off assuming God simply wasn’t involved wouldn’t they?


(Jason) #11

Of course. But that comes with a LOT of reasoning and twisting and changes in interpreting Scripture… This very forum is a testament to that fact. The position of Biologos certainly excludes the layman or any basic mind from comprehending and believing in the Christian God. It takes years of study and re-interpretations to refute the average atheists most basic challenges. A more simple man would simply agree with the atheist. It is far easier.


(Jason) #12

Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who talks about his children like this though? Are you and I, therefore not more compassionate and caring than God?

For the basic design of animals, this is fine. But there are Humans that do not even function the way the rest of their species do. Blind Humans. Deaf Humans… How can we reconcile this to a God who’s plan we should accept and who we should love with all our hearts and minds? These people often prefer they were never born.

The ‘cost of creation’ argument still doesn’t explain God’s complete absence in our lives. There may be undesired side-effects of a World in which we can exist, but there is no comfort or warning regarding them. A child suffering from cancer receives no explanation of what is happening to him from God. No comfort either. Any comfort and explanation comes from loving parents or the scientist. God is utterly absent. Therefore is it still not reasonable to suggest He simply doesn’t exist? Especially when the natural World is able to be explained so far without Him?

Instead of arguing from atheism then, the conversation might take an interesting turn if we introduce Misotheism? Afterall, the misery we see in the World certainly exists. Evolution is certainly flawed and causes suffering. And if God also exists, and is the one who set it all in motion, then He is ultimately responsible right?

If God is the author of this flawed reality. If He knew the cost but went ahead with it anyway, then hating and denying Him praise is justified. For the disregard He shows for His creation, the example of which can be found in Job, is abhorrent. With suffering and death being the result of what basically amounts to a chess game between God and Satan. A game where our lives and feelings and well-being are the pieces. The description of the Ostrich is a prime example of God’s disregard and lack of care.

Like-wise, the baby born blind and deaf, or without limbs, denied the basic joys all innocent children deserve, has every right to curse and hate the name of the LORD for thinking their suffering an acceptable result in the fulfilment of His will. It would seem so selfish of God to bother with creation, knowing how bad and nightmarish it would end up being for some. With this view, the idea behind the fall becomes more clear too. The fall occurred because Man saw this and thought he deserved better, had a right to more than what God allowed. And so man tried to become like God. Instead of submitting to Him and realizing we have no rights in His eyes. For who would exist in a blind, mute and deaf state rather than never existing at all? I am sure people that wish they were never born are out there.

So let’s say the atheist has it wrong and God does exist, only He is not worth worshipping.

Perhaps the atheist isn’t so much an atheist because of the non-existence of God, but because of the possible existence of such a careless and selfish God?


(George Brooks) #13

@Burning_to_Know

Rom 9:20 - 22

But …who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour [for Temple grain], and another unto dishonour [for offal] ? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction? …


(George Brooks) #14

Actually, @Burning_to_Know, I think laymen are the happiest supporters of BioLogos.

They don’t get hung up on the technicalities… they simply nod their head and affirm that the BioLogos position makes the most sense … compared to the alternatives.


#15

Absolutely.

No. That’s popular misunderstanding. People love to explore hyperbole and it’s produced claims like “God can do anything!” which simply cannot be found in the Bible.

There are lots of things that God cannot do because they represent things like the irrational, the logically impossible, or things that are contrary to the holiness and nature of God.

I like the examples that William Lane Craig often cites:

(1) God cannot do anything which is not consistent with his holiness. Therefore, God cannot sin.

(2) God can’t make a married bachelor. So like to build from that and say that we can’t assume that God is able to make a universe where Pi=2e. Such a universe would make no sense.

Could God have devised a plan of salvation that didn’t involve the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross? I would say that to do so would lead to the problem of #1 above.

Sorry. I just don’t follow that thinking. (I’m NOT saying that my thoughts on this topic are unassailable or that your all wrong. I’m simply saying that these are difficult topics and at this point in my life this is my thinking. As I learn more, I may change my positions considerably. And I congratulate you for bringing up a great topic and things implications to discuss.)

I don’t see it that way. I find it spectacular. Perhaps my background and what I know of the tremendous suffering and struggle for survival for most of this world makes me more open to accepting what I observe in the evolutionary world of organisms. I don’t know. But I do know that LOTS of “real things” are quite horrendous and disturbingly stark.

I can see how you and I would want to think that. (Yes, it greatly appeals to me!) Yet, the Bible tells me that God’s ways are not at all my ways.

Again, if my feelings are my guide, I understand completely! Yet, I ask myself: "How much experience do I have perfection? How much do I know about perfect beings? How much do I know as to what reality does and doesn’t allow? Indeed, I used to look at the “mathematical proof challenges” in Donald Knuths Art of Computer Programming and wonder “How can I possibly know if these ‘unsolved problems’ are even POSSIBLE to be solved?” Are the hard problems Knuth assigned even in harmony with our universe of reality? I didn’t know then and I don’t know now.

Likewise, although I want to think that a better “reality” is possible than the one which God apparently chose, I have absolutely no reason to claim that such was/is possible. So I fall back on one of my favorite scriptures: “Shall not the Lord of the universe do right?” I have decided to trust God that the reality he chose for the universe is the best of his possible choices.

But why does God need to do that? And is it possible that just as children are confounded by their parents choices, we are baffled by our Heavenly Father’s choices?

It sounds like you are saying that you prefer a weak God who was overwhelmed by the bad rather than a wise and strong God who chose the reality path which best glorifies him and produces the “very TOV” result. I hope that doesn’t sound like a rhetorical put-down because I don’t mean it that way. Indeed, I think what you are describing and preferring is very honorable in its own way. You prefer to think about a deity who “lacks success of a sort” rather than a deity who “lacks goodness”. But I’m suggesting that among what it means for humans to be finite, flawed, and uninformed is the limitation of being clueless and in the dark. Accordingly, we are basically stumped by the conundrum you are asking about. Yet, if we are just earth bound vertebrates who live for three score and ten and never do figure out everything, then we can expect to be perplexed by the amazing things the God of the Bible does. If God is truly far superior in intellect and goodness to me, I expect him to make decisions which completely baffle me.

That’s where I am. And I could be very very far from understanding these matters.

I hope that my reply at least helps someone explore new possibilities. Someone else can probably do a much better job of enlightening this topic. Those with a lot of experience in philosophy have probably done a lot of reading about this from generations of great thinkers.


(Jason) #16

This would only lead one to Misotheism.


(Jason) #17

But does it? I am currently trying to figure the answer to that out.


(George Brooks) #18

If you are so grounded in the natural order that you just can’t fathom God speaking to you … or to your neigbors… or to the clergy that built this nation …

… how can you believe in completely unnatural deeds like creating the earth in 6 days? … in a flood that shoulld have wiped out the entire Egyptian civilization … and yet we find blessed continuity from one dynasty to the next …

You really sound like a man testing BioLogos… not exploring it.


#19

Perhaps some have gone in that direction. I don’t know. Yet I do know that those scriptures did not make me a misotheist.

I think any rational person who is prone to deep thinking must wrestle with these questions at some point in their life----or even continuously. So I am entirely in favor of your probing, questioning, and imagining. This is a very worthwhile topic. I grate at the fact that in many churches and religious traditions within American evangelicalism, this kind of exploring and serious questioning is strongly discouraged and virtually beaten out of anyone who dares ask aloud.

So I say: Good for you!


(Jason) #20

I am testing reality. To find the truth. Where I end up is not my choice. Were I to have a choice in the result, I would end up a dedicated and strong Christian.