RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

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RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:50 am

“The Reason for God” (Keller) Book DiscussionPart 1: The Leap of Doubt
TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?


From now on, along with my own observations and questions, I will be including discussion questions written by Penguin and found here, if you’d like to look ahead:
http://download.redeemer.com/sermons/Penguin%20Reader%20Guide.pdf
Keller talks right on the front page of his book’s website, plus there’s other talks to download:
http://www.thereasonforgod.com / http://www.thereasonforgod.com/media.php
I don’t have time to listen to all of it, but I thought I’d pass it along anyway.

As always, feel free to comment on any part of the chapter not mentioned here (not that you need my permission!).

“In chapter 2, Keller responds to the contention that a loving God could not allow suffering. He states: ‘Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one’ (p. 23). Do you buy the argument that the absence of a clear answer doesn’t rule out the possibility that a plausible — but hidden — explanation exists? Why or why not? Do you feel that claiming that God has reasons for his actions that are beyond human reasoning is a cop-out? Or is this a valid argument when the topic is God and his transcendent ways of doing things?” -- Penguin

“As he continues to examine the problem of pain, Keller writes: ‘… though Christianity does not provide the reason for each experience of pain, it provides deep resources for actually facing suffering with hope and courage rather than bitterness and despair’ (pp. 27-28). Have you ever experienced the hope and/or courage that he refers to? If so, describe your experience to others in the group.” -- Penguin

“Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, the author states: ‘… modern objections to God are based on a sense of fair-play and justice. People, we believe, ought not to suffer, be excluded, die of hunger or oppression. But the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection depends on death, destruction, and violence of the strong against the weak — these things are all perfectly natural. On what basis, then, does the atheist judge the natural world to be horribly wrong, unfair, and unjust’ (p. 26). How would you respond to Keller’s question? Does an allegiance to the laws of natural selection and survival of the fittest contradict human values that oppose suffering, discrimination, and the victimization of the poor and powerless? Why or why not?” – Penguin

And my own contribution to the discussion: It wasn’t mentioned in the chapter, but I think a lot of (but certainly not all) suffering is the natural, direct consequences of sin. It is not evidence against God, but against our being God, and in favor of the fact that God, like a good father, allows us to learn from our mistakes, rather than dysfunctionaly protecting us from them by a) preventing us from making them, or b) preventing us from experiencing the consequences. Agree, disagree? Pick one: prevent suffering and prevent free will (love), or allow free will (love) and allow suffering.
http://jesuschristsonofgodsavior.blogspot.com/2008/01/problem-of-evil.html
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Jayson » Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:26 am

Two cents worth is to simply step one step back and ask, is an Pantheistic God (as Keller is discussing) only a God of good and love?
The concept negates itself. A Pantheistic God cannot be the God of only some things.

So, if God is a Pantheistic God then God cannot be only a God of good, but a God of everything and governing everything.

Oh hurray, this means God is unfair right?

Not inherently. It just means that God governs everything; it doesn't mean anything about how that governance is needed to be carried out, or what "everything" exactly is in totality by relation to what we perceive to be "everything".
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby alyoshka » Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:38 pm

It's impossible to reconcile a God of love AND power with suffering.

If God is loving and omnipotent, then suffering would be an affront to God. In other words, the existence of suffering means either 1. God can't be omnipotent or 2. God isn't loving. There is no "hidden reason" that resolves this issue but rather this issue is the result of a misunderstanding of God's nature...

The problem could easily be solved if we remove ONE of the qualifiers of God above. If we make God simply omnipotent, then suffering is fine since God is not necessarily loving. If we make God simply loving, then suffering is also fine since God is not necessarily capable of stopping it.

I think the Bible pushes us to the latter, i.e., God as a loving God. In other words, God is not omnipotent. To say otherwise, IMO, is a tragic misreading of the Bible. Tragic in the sense it leads to endless inconsistency and ultimately ruins God's good name.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:33 pm

Quick question: Stumps, what makes you think Keller is a pantheist? He isn't. He's a Christian monotheist. I don't want to derail the thread, but that needs to be very clear.

Alyoshka, thanks for replying. I'll be back.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Jayson » Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:04 am

Ichthus wrote:Quick question: Stumps, what makes you think Keller is a pantheist? He isn't. He's a Christian monotheist. I don't want to derail the thread, but that needs to be very clear.

It still runs the same thought logic, even without pantheism.

If God is the only God, and God is a God of everything (christian monotheism) then God cannot only be a God of good.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Xunzian » Wed Dec 03, 2008 2:26 am

As a non-Christian, I actually thought that this thread on ILP presented a very clear picture of the dilemma described in this book. So much so that it caused me to re-evaluate my stance on Christianity and realize that it is not entirely without worth. Though the chapter presented (as well as Ichthus' contributions to that thread) show a clear disagreement with the thought presented there. From my position I am unable to see which represents a more orthodox Christian position, inasmuch as orthodoxy exists between Protestants (an issue that occasionally confounds me).

Though I will say that I found it interesting that Keller posed the notions of love and anger/hatred/disappointment as opposites. He discussed how an individual can manifest them at the same time without suggesting that they all come from the same root. After all, it is very difficult for me to be truly disappointed in a total stranger -- I don't know them so I can't know their agency. Maybe they robbed my house to feed their crack addictions (in which case anger/hatred/disappointment would be a valid response) but maybe they robbed my house to feed their family and I simply needed the money/things less than they did. In that case, I don't think "disappointment" works at all, nor anger and hatred.

Given the revealed universalism he established in the first chapter, much of what he said follows. But given my disagreement there, well . . .
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Bob » Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:48 pm

Hi Ichtus,
“In chapter 2, Keller responds to the contention that a loving God could not allow suffering. He states: ‘Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one’ (p. 23). Do you buy the argument that the absence of a clear answer doesn’t rule out the possibility that a plausible — but hidden — explanation exists? Why or why not? Do you feel that claiming that God has reasons for his actions that are beyond human reasoning is a cop-out? Or is this a valid argument when the topic is God and his transcendent ways of doing things?” – Penguin

We are here because certain Christians have a view of God that obviously has problems being affirmed against the backdrop of suffering as an overwhelming human experience. The thought that God allows suffering or worst, causes suffering, is something that seems to contradict all we have been told about God. I would think that the first thing we have to clear up is, whether what we have been told is in actual fact accurate. Jumping onto the given discussion assumes that there must be a way of reconciling these apparently contrary ideas.

The first argument would run: God is a loving Father. Loving fathers don’t mistreat their children. Ergo: God doesn’t mistreat his children. But what is a “loving Father” in such a context? Are we to understand God from the idea of a loving Father – or rather loving Fathers from the idea of God? There are so many aspects of this argument that just are not known. We have the Bible which gives us a very mottled description of God. We have our experience of life, which is also different to the romantic idea that God does everything to prevent suffering.

There are many people who support the idea that to live means to suffer and that we must inevitably endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death. We also have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression – but we also experience those things in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness. Life as we experience it seems to be imperfect and incomplete, and our world is transient and temporary, which means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

The question arises, if this is a valid experience of life, then what constitutes “suffering”? Why can’t we just accept the way it is and go along? Why can’t we just be thankful for the experience of having lived and then die? Why can’t we understand God as the One who poses the problem and the solution is our growth? Could it be that we make prerequisites for ease, comfort and happiness? Could it be that we say, “I will only be happy if I have this or that experience”? That is, we reject one side of experience and cling to the other side. We say the “good” experiences are what God did, and the “bad” experiences are from the Devil. Is it not rather, just as the myth of the Garden of Eden tells us, the “knowledge of good and evil” that causes us pain? Is it not that duality, which is an illusion, and which deludes us?

Shalom
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:38 am

Thanks for your replies. I will be back to discuss them as soon as possible, sometime within the next couple of weeks.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:53 am

TheStumps wrote:Two cents worth is to simply step one step back and ask, is an Pantheistic God (as Keller is discussing) only a God of good and love?
The concept negates itself. A Pantheistic God cannot be the God of only some things.

So, if God is a Pantheistic God then God cannot be only a God of good, but a God of everything and governing everything.

Oh hurray, this means God is unfair right?

Not inherently. It just means that God governs everything; it doesn't mean anything about how that governance is needed to be carried out, or what "everything" exactly is in totality by relation to what we perceive to be "everything".


God doesn't fit the pantheist mold. I don't get the 'unfair' question. Putting those things aside.

God does not make our evil choices. Evil is not a thing, but a privation--absence of good, degeneration from good. This implies the default of "good" -- otherwise, there is nothing from which to diverge. God is that good, that love. In Him there is no privation, no absence, no degeneration. There are two types of being--the eternal and the temporal (the eternal is within the temporal and also transcends it). When the temporal began, it was without defect, and was created so that we could enjoy the eternal (His love). Only in the temporal can there be any divergence from good. Without the possibility of divergence, there can be no possibility of willfully choosing the eternal (His love). Showing us that His love is eternal and unchanging (and making all things right) has been part of the plan from beyond the beginning.

It's impossible to reconcile a God of love AND power with suffering.

If God is loving and omnipotent, then suffering would be an affront to God. In other words, the existence of suffering means either 1. God can't be omnipotent or 2. God isn't loving. There is no "hidden reason" that resolves this issue but rather this issue is the result of a misunderstanding of God's nature...

The problem could easily be solved if we remove ONE of the qualifiers of God above. If we make God simply omnipotent, then suffering is fine since God is not necessarily loving. If we make God simply loving, then suffering is also fine since God is not necessarily capable of stopping it.

I think the Bible pushes us to the latter, i.e., God as a loving God. In other words, God is not omnipotent. To say otherwise, IMO, is a tragic misreading of the Bible. Tragic in the sense it leads to endless inconsistency and ultimately ruins God's good name.
-- Alyoshka

If you remove any of God's attributes, He ceases being God, ceases being worthy of worship (this is an impossibility) (see RFG THREE for how He can adjust to us and remain God). God is capable of stopping suffering (omnipotent) except that His love (omnibenevolence) is perfected in our weakness... transcends all circumstances, good or bad. To prevent all perceived suffering would be to prevent the highest heights and deepest depths of love. I like the song "Held" in my Message thread in the Creative Writing forum, on that note. Besides, changing God's nature, in essence removing God from the question, does not take care of the 'problem' -- because...

The Stumps and Alyoshka... what did you think of this:

the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection depends on death, destruction, and violence of the strong against the weak — these things are all perfectly natural. On what basis, then, does the atheist judge the natural world to be horribly wrong, unfair, and unjust’ (p. 26).


Since you want to blame God for suffering, (implied in attempting to excuse Him from it), on what do you base your judgment that there "should not" be suffering?

I'll reply to Xunzian and Bob at a later time.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:10 am

Xunzian, I vaguelly remember Ned Flanders saying God's love was only universal during the time He was being crucified. Before and after that... no universal love. That's very wrong. I enjoyed studying the Word about God's love... for that I am glad I participated in that thread. I can't relate to you (and Ned Flanders) finding that sort of God worthy of respect/worship.

Though I will say that I found it interesting that Keller posed the notions of love and anger/hatred/disappointment as opposites. He discussed how an individual can manifest them at the same time without suggesting that they all come from the same root.
-- Xunzian

Will you quote the book, please? I'm not seeing it, and if you point it out (which I'm doubting you'll be able to), I'll likely disagree.

Do you sort of feel like you are just humoring me? 'Cause that's a terrible reason to stay in a discussion. I hope you are not here by some feeling of obligation, of keeping your word. If that is the reason, consider yourself released, if I in any way have any influence over your release. You are welcome here (if you honestly get anything from the discussion, I wholeheartedly hope you stay), but I don't want you to feel obliged to participate.

Given the revealed universalism he established in the first chapter, much of what he said follows. But given my disagreement there, well . . .
-- Xunzian

Universal love, you mean? 'Cause Keller doesn't think everyone is saved (universal salvation)... only those who accept it (universal love). Why do you disagree with that?

Is it not rather, ... the “knowledge of good and evil” that causes us pain? Is it not that duality, which is an illusion, and which deludes us?
-- Bob

I would not call it a duality, because evil is (as mentioned earlier) the privation of good (good being the default). However, evil is real. You would have us believe the evil of the Jewish holocaust was an illusion? The 17-year-old boy that recently escaped torture -- that torture wasn't really "bad"? The sex-slave trade ... not actually evil? What causes us pain is to part from God, from love. Before that, we only know good. This is real--not just ideas and concepts we toss around in our minds. People (including ourselves) really suffer from the evil of others (even we ourselves) who part from God. Is it not rather that we fall back on "evil is an illusion" to rationalize (delude ourselves about) our own evil behavior? What do you think?
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Bob » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:44 pm

Hi Ichthus,
I would not call it a duality, because evil is (as mentioned earlier) the privation of good (good being the default). However, evil is real. You would have us believe the evil of the Jewish holocaust was an illusion? The 17-year-old boy that recently escaped torture -- that torture wasn't really "bad"? The sex-slave trade ... not actually evil?

There you go again, jumping to conclusions without really thinking about it. The problem with duality is that everybody is caught up in it. The Nazis were caught up in it as were the Jews, also the torturer and his victim, and the sex-slave and the “master”. In dualism, we all cling to one side of reality, for reasons that may seem rational, but which have adverse results for ourselves or others. A holistic view, on the other hand, offers a completely different view, and could even lead to conflicts not occurring on the outset.

You see, non-duality is not morality, under which the question of which behaviour is “right” is asked. The holistic view perceives the surroundings as a necessary part of the entity in question, as well as the air it breathes, the food it eats, the fluid it drinks, the sunlight on its skin, etc. Clinging to “right” things means that you immediately create the wrong things. In the case of the Nazis, they created the scapegoat “Jew” based on earlier Christian prejudices. The torturer has a deranged moral perspective that allows him to see some reason for doing what he did, but as C.S. Lewis also pointed out, the “evil” we do can seem the right thing to do, if we only the perspective from which it looks right. Nobody is evil for evils sake – there is always a reason which, even if it sounds mad, appeals to some moral codex to reason away what they did.

The attitude of Christ is to stop morality and learn to love our neighbour as ourselves. That is to realise that our neighbour isn’t an-other, but, like me, a further expression of Gods creation. He even tells us to love our enemies, because enemies are regarded (or regard themselves) as “other” to us, but they are not. We share so many of the things we consume, that when we fail to realise that we are all in fact interconnected in the task of creating wellbeing for Mankind, we become the equivalence of an cancer-growth, which doesn’t take on its role in nature, or in the human body, and begins to merely sap the natural resources.

This is why Jesus’ Way enters at the wicker gate that is hard to find and narrow. This is why the lily is given as a natural example for not worrying, and it is why we should offer our peace, but shake the sand out of our sandals if it is not accepted. It is also why Jesus says that our righteousness must be greater than the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees, because we must be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect – the word for “perfect” means literally “whole”. The knowledge of good and evil and the resulting morality isn’t, regardless of how important it seems to be today, the prime means of perfection, but holism, or wholesomeness.

Shalom
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Uccisore » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:02 am

alyoshka wrote:It's impossible to reconcile a God of love AND power with suffering.

If God is loving and omnipotent, then suffering would be an affront to God. In other words, the existence of suffering means either 1. God can't be omnipotent or 2. God isn't loving. There is no "hidden reason" that resolves this issue but rather this issue is the result of a misunderstanding of God's nature...


If you take the narrow view that God + Suffering = Contradiction, then you're left in a position where you have to admit that a loving, all powerful God would prefer to create nothing at all than to create an extremely awesome world full of near-infinite quantities of [whatever God wants] if it contains the slightest amount of [something God doesn't want]. That clearly isn't true- or if it is true, it's clearly not logically necessary in any event. Now, you might want to argue that if God were really Omnipotent, he could create a world in which He gets an infinite amount of what He wants, and nothing that He doesn't want...but, that all depends on what he wants, and the properties of that may be much more complex or limiting than the 1, 2, 3, of Omni-this-and-that.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby d0rkyd00d » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:23 am

Where the hell have you been hiding Uccisore....
"We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years." -Robert Ingersoll

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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Uccisore » Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:07 am

I took a break, posted as you for a while. Didn't we have a swell time?
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Xunzian » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:22 pm

To me, Ned's solution seems to be the only reasonable solution to the problem of an eternal hell. You are right, I had confused Keller with the critics he was refuting in that chapter (I read ahead and stuck with my impressions, sometimes those can get jumbled). Though I do find his emphasis on justice to be rather dire. In Korea, there is a sect of nuns who pray everyday for the Japanese soldiers who committed warcrimes. Most of the women in that sect were conscripted as pleasure women during the Japanese occupation. So when Keller appeals to our base emotions, "If you have seen your house burnt down and your relatives killed and raped, such talk is laughable" he appeals to the base aspect of humanity as opposed to its noble aspects. He allows for his religion of love to enable those things which are wholly bad. He talks of these things disturbing God's peace but merely offers Volf's paltry solution as to how this peace comes about while embracing old saws like Nazism (which, for the record, embraced positive Christianity not atheism. I point that out merely because Keller doesn't seem aware) as counterexamples. So my impression largely holds even if I was wrong in the means.

And, no, I'm not doing this out of obligation. I am interested.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Sat Dec 13, 2008 5:33 am

I don't have time to reply right now, but forgot to ask what you guys thought about the reference to palengenesia. Here's the quote:

In Greek (specifically Stoic) philosophy there was a belief that history was an endless cycle. Every so often the universe would wind down and burn up in a great conflagration called a palengenesia, after which history, having been purified, started over. But in Matthew 19:28 Jesus spoke of his return to earth as the palingenesis. "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things (Greek palingenesis), the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne." This was a radically new concept. Jesus insisted that his return will be with such power that the very material world and universe will be purged of all decay and brokenness. All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be.


There're two different spellings... don't know which is the correct one.

After that Keller makes a Lord of the Rings reference (reading that with my boys, btw). Then, after that, Dostoevsky. I love this book!
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Bob » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:32 am

Mat 19:28-30
And Jesus said to them, truly I say to you, you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for the sake of my name, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
But many first shall be last, and last first.

Jesus is talking to his disciples about the young man who had many possessions but parted from Jesus sorrowfully, an Jesus was saying, “Verily I say to you, that hardly shall a rich man enter into the reign of the heavens; and again I say to you, it is easier for a camel through the eye of a needle to go, than for a rich man to enter into the reign of God.”

This is clearly a problem that many spiritual traditions know and warn against. Clinging to things make us unable to “enter into the reign of God”. The disciples are violently overwhelmed by these words and ask, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus “looks at them”, apparently very clear in his mind that his statement had swamped them with doubt and reservation and says, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

But Peter isn’t finished, “Behold, we left all things and followed you. What then shall be to us?” He is pressing the point that Jesus had made as a commentary of his exchange with the rich young man and asking, “Where are you taking us?” It is at this point that the statement about “palinggenesia” is made. If you realise that the word could also be applied to reincarnation, and that there is something karmic in these words, you could ask whether the resurrection, in the very precise way it is related today, has much to do with Jesus’ “palinggenesia”.

Παλιγγενεσία (palinggenesia)
From πάλιν (palin)
Probably from the same as πάλη (palē) to vibrate; wrestling: - + wrestle (through the idea of oscillatory repetition); (adverbially) anew, that is, (of place) back, (of time) once more, or (conjugationally) furthermore or on the other hand: - again.
and γένεσις (genesis)
From the same as γενεά (genea) a generation; by implication an age (the period or the persons): - age, generation, nation, time; nativity; figuratively nature: - generation, nature (-ral).

The combination meaning (spiritual) rebirth (the state or the act), that is, (figuratively) spiritual renovation; specifically Messianic restoration: - regeneration.

Shalom
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:57 am

Woah... I knew I was overlooking something! Yeesh! I'm sorry... I'll get back here soon.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:14 am

Bob wrote:Hi Ichthus,
I would not call it a duality, because evil is (as mentioned earlier) the privation of good (good being the default). However, evil is real. You would have us believe the evil of the Jewish holocaust was an illusion? The 17-year-old boy that recently escaped torture -- that torture wasn't really "bad"? The sex-slave trade ... not actually evil?


The attitude of Christ is to ... learn to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Shalom


Bob, I have cut out most of your reply and want to zero in on these questions: Are you saying that the questions in the original post are pointless, because you feel good-evil is an illusory duality? Do you think that loving our neighbor (other) as ourselves is "good" and to fall short of that is "evil" (and so evil is a falling short, rather than good-evil being dualistic)? Were the Jews loved, or was genocide evil? Was the 17-year-old boy loved, or was his torture evil? Are those sold as sex-slaves loved, or is that evil?

Uccisore, you were talking to alyoshka (whom I also replied to) and I didn't really understand what you were saying, so I'm going to leave that alone. Did you find my reply to alyoshka to be deficient?

Xunzian,

To me, Ned's solution seems to be the only reasonable solution to the problem of an eternal hell. You are right, I had confused Keller with the critics he was refuting in that chapter (I read ahead and stuck with my impressions, sometimes those can get jumbled). Though I do find his emphasis on justice to be rather dire. In Korea, there is a sect of nuns who pray everyday for the Japanese soldiers who committed warcrimes. Most of the women in that sect were conscripted as pleasure women during the Japanese occupation. So when Keller appeals to our base emotions, "If you have seen your house burnt down and your relatives killed and raped, such talk is laughable" he appeals to the base aspect of humanity as opposed to its noble aspects. He allows for his religion of love to enable those things which are wholly bad. He talks of these things disturbing God's peace but merely offers Volf's paltry solution as to how this peace comes about while embracing old saws like Nazism (which, for the record, embraced positive Christianity not atheism. I point that out merely because Keller doesn't seem aware) as counterexamples. So my impression largely holds even if I was wrong in the means.


You should've put this in chapter five's thread. I'll paste it there.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Bob » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:57 pm

Bob, I have cut out most of your reply and want to zero in on these questions: Are you saying that the questions in the original post are pointless, because you feel good-evil is an illusory duality? Do you think that loving our neighbor (other) as ourselves is "good" and to fall short of that is "evil" (and so evil is a falling short, rather than good-evil being dualistic)? Were the Jews loved, or was genocide evil? Was the 17-year-old boy loved, or was his torture evil? Are those sold as sex-slaves loved, or is that evil?

Can you be sure about good? Jesus wasn’t and said that only God was good! If you believe that you know what goodness is, you immediately know what evil is. What do you do, if you notice that your goodness isn’t quite what you had hoped it was? Do you assume that the degree of evil in you has risen? What if these two forces are always there in varying intensity?

If what we call “evil” is inappropriate behaviour, brought on by the ego assuming that it has to assert itself because it feels it is threatened, it may be that the degree of “evil” in our lives has an equivalent in the degree of danger felt. The question then would be, “What is causing this insecurity, fear, phobic mayhem and such psychiatric disorders as we see in our society?”

The love of others is closely connected with loving ourselves because we don’t love others because they are special, but because they resemble us. It isn’t that we like others, but we love them, because we can identify with them more than anything else in creation. It is good in the sense of being appropriate, but not good in being something that is praiseworthy.

Your questions are asking whether this or that is condemnable or praiseworthy, but it is a question instead of whether it is appropriate or not. In many cases it was not appropriate, but the same behaviour is in other circumstances strangely regarded appropriate. Therefore, good and evil seems to be arbitrary and suitable to sweep us of in a swirl of prejudice and conceitedness.

Since the aim must be to promote appropriate behaviour, we would have to ask whether we are clear about what that is – and never accept the opposite. Can we do that?

Shalom
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Ichthus » Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:37 am

[This is a recording, please stay on the line; do not hang up.] Thank you TheStumps, alyoshka, Xunzian, Bob, and Uccisore for participating in this chapter of the book discussion. All are invited to continue discussion of the chapter, but this reply concludes my participation in this chapter, as I must now turn my attention to the remaining chapters of the discussion. Thanks again.

Bob, I have cut out most of your reply and want to zero in on these questions: Are you saying that the questions in the original post are pointless, because you feel good-evil is an illusory duality? Do you think that loving our neighbor (other) as ourselves is "good" and to fall short of that is "evil" (and so evil is a falling short, rather than good-evil being dualistic)? Were the Jews loved, or was genocide evil? Was the 17-year-old boy loved, or was his torture evil? Are those sold as sex-slaves loved, or is that evil?
--Ichthus

Can you be sure about good? Jesus wasn’t and said that only God was good!
-- Bob

He was very sure of it, and the reason He said that was to make the person seriously consider who he was talking to.

If you believe that you know what goodness is, you immediately know what evil is. What do you do, if you notice that your goodness isn’t quite what you had hoped it was? Do you assume that the degree of evil in you has risen? What if these two forces are always there in varying intensity?

No. You can know good without ever knowing evil. If you don’t feel close to God, trust what He has revealed of Himself, just like if your wife was visiting her family without you, you would trust that your marriage still holds. Evil never comes into the question if you stay focused on God.

If what we call “evil” is inappropriate behaviour, brought on by the ego assuming that it has to assert itself because it feels it is threatened, it may be that the degree of “evil” in our lives has an equivalent in the degree of danger felt. The question then would be, “What is causing this insecurity, fear, phobic mayhem and such psychiatric disorders as we see in our society?”

Without a self, we cannot love. God created selves so that we can love. Often evil is committed in a state of comfort, of thinking we need nothing. The cure is to accept the hand He is holding out to you.

The love of others is closely connected with loving ourselves because we don’t love others because they are special, but because they resemble us. It isn’t that we like others, but we love them, because we can identify with them more than anything else in creation. It is good in the sense of being appropriate, but not good in being something that is praiseworthy.

Self and others are all made in the same image. Identifying with someone does not always motivate love—sometimes it motivates resentment… especially if they remind us of parts of ourselves that we hate. We don’t love because we want praise, love is its own reward.

Your questions are asking whether this or that is condemnable or praiseworthy, but it is a question instead of whether it is appropriate or not. In many cases it was not appropriate, but the same behaviour is in other circumstances strangely regarded appropriate.

Strange, indeed. Were the Jews loved, or was genocide evil (when would it ever be appropriate?)? Was the 17-year-old boy loved, or was his torture evil (when would it ever be appropriate?)? Are those sold as sex-slaves loved, or is that evil (when would it ever be appropriate?)? Why not, instead of inappropriate, just say "evil"?

Since the aim must be to promote appropriate behaviour, we would have to ask whether we are clear about what that is – and never accept the opposite. Can we do that?

Can you love God as He Is and let Him love through you? [Edit for clarification: Again, good and evil are not a duality, if your use of the word 'opposite' was a reference to that. There is much common ground between various civilizations as far as what is considered acceptable behavior, but do you share that common ground, and do you see that the 'aim' is God's love--not mere 'moral improvement'?]

[This is a recording, please stay on the line; do not hang up.] Thank you TheStumps, alyoshka, Xunzian, Bob, and Uccisore for participating in this chapter of the book discussion. All are invited to continue discussion of the chapter, but this reply concludes my participation in this chapter, as I must now turn my attention to the remaining chapters of the discussion. Thanks again.

Bob, I am interested in your answers to my questions, but it would be easier for me if you paste them into an active, relevant thread, and provide a link to that thread in a reply to this one.
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Re: RFG: TWO: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?

Postby Bob » Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:19 am

Bob, I am interested in your answers to my questions, but it would be easier for me if you paste them into an active, relevant thread, and provide a link to that thread in a reply to this one.


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The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
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