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By Mike Edwards

Confession. I write about the same topic often by asking some version of the question: What Is God Really Like? Open discussions as to what a perfect Creator is like are important; an imperfect Creator is not worth believing in. People may stop believing or never start believing in God if they accept everything they hear about God!

People when describing God often quote the Bible. Isn’t that where we discover what God is like? It may be if you have a Bible unlike the majority of people born into this world. So, there must be other ways to know God. The problem is scholars who respect Scriptures don’t agree on the meaning of the same passages. Interpretations aren’t infallible. We have every right to question interpretations that suggest a Creator doesn’t love how we were seemingly created to love others.

Who wants to follow a God who is antiscience, antiwoman, antigay, etc.? Many only believe or claim the following because of what they think a Book declares about God:

  • How could a God who teaches forgiveness seventy times seven possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. I am convinced even if you believe every word of the Bible is inspired by God, the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. See Here
  • How could a loving God demand only Christians go to heaven so all other Religions can go to Hell? The majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Also, most rebel or adhere to the religion where born. If born into a Buddhist family, one is likely to become a nominal or devoted Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?
  • How could a loving God condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can? If you think there is a 1% possibility that science proves that sexual orientation isn’t a choice, then let’s error on the non-judgmental side. Who chooses homosexuality when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? See Here
  • How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. The Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Women don’t need male leadership in marriage; women need men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).
  • Why would God insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis which seemingly denies the possibility of evolution? Scientists, who believe in the authority of Scriptures, have provided overwhelming genetic evidence that the human race couldn’t have originated from a single couple but through a population of some thousands of individuals. People don’t need to lose their faith because they believe in evolution. See https://biologos.org/
  • Why would God create or even allow evil? When we say God allows evil, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!
  • I have just begun.

What is God really like? Extremists insist on their interpretation of a Book. Anyway, we can’t prove every word of the Bible was inspired by God unless you argue a biblical writer making such a claim is definitive evidence. Writers may have needed to grow in their understanding of God. Listen to your moral inner voice what God is like. You may be right! God surely created us with intuitions how we ought to love others perfectly like God. Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions.

 

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By Mike Edwards

We don’t know all the factors as to why some are inclined to believe and desire a relationship with their Creator and others aren’t. Believing in or not believing in God are both rational beliefs. The reasons many leave their faith in God may be why many don’t pursue God initially though desiring a relationship. I will end by suggesting advantages of a relationship with God based on experience.

First, let’s debunk the myth that those who don’t believe in God are simply rebellious.

The first chapter of Romans in the Bible is used to suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true. Actually, the writer refers to those who don’t doubt but ignore God and morality to justify their evil ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being wicked and ignorant of their feelings. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if doubt God in tough times.

A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Does God really judge them? Some are open or desperately want to believe in God but can’t get their head around why a loving God doesn’t intervene more with so much evil in the world. Does God really judge them? Why would a gay person believe in a God who supposedly condemn them for sexuality choices they no more choose than straights.

We are better off without God if the Bible is declared infallible and not questioned.

Christians according to the Bible condemn same-sex relationships, women are denied equal roles as men, and it is said only Christians go to heaven so all other religions can go to Hell. The idea of an infallible Book often leads to inferring interpretations are infallible. Literature, including the Bible, requires interpretation. Every view above is debated among biblical scholars who respect Scriptures. Don’t be dogmatic! God can speak for themselves to individuals. Now, if you think it is right to behead people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God, you are wrong!

We may be better off without God if God declared a mysterious, moral hypocrite.

Some declare God mysterious when their interpretation of the Bible makes God appear immoral, but how can we have a relationship with a God we can’t understand with the brain God gave us? Is evil good sometimes? The Bible assumes we can understand God when challenging us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). It is only natural to think that God and human perfect love are the same. Human love suggests a perfect God is not a sexist, homophobe, hellish sadist, hothead, egomaniac. A Creator surely love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. 

We may be better off without God if declared a prayer genie.

Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can make one’s suffering worse. Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power.

We maybe be better off without God if declared God causes or allows evil.

The problem of evil and suffering is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. If evil is some grand scheme God can control or allows, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much? When we say God allows evil, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!

It doesn’t help when God-followers have hidden agendas in relationships.

I confess I use to think God wanted me to change people’s beliefs to avoid hell and go to heaven. Then, I discovered the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. A loving God surely only wishes we consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help in our journey of becoming the person deep down we want to become. God simply encourages loving others as yourself since a self-centered life hurts yourself and others. True friends don’t seek to change one’s beliefs but to openly encourage one another in a life that leads to true freedom. 

When are we better off with God?

  • If a Creator exists they may know a thing or two about life and purpose for living
  • Life sometimes sucks and suffering is inevitable in a world where people have the freedom to bring joy or cause pain. A Creator can help navigate through such a world where we often face undeserved suffering. Bottom line – I need a companion
  • I am not the man I want to be. I have desires and thoughts that I know are wrong. I need guidance and encouragement in refusing them and knowing they are not in my best interests

Parents and friends often don’t love us for who we are but what they want us to be. God can often fill a void that humans can’t. Do you want to know God better? Find someone who seems to have an open relationship with their Creator and ask for help. If they want to give a lot of advice and act like they speak for God all the time – run! Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions. Seek a rational view of God rather than some pie in the sky God.

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

The problem of evil is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. How we think God and suffering co-exist in the midst of personal suffering can cause us to wonder if God truly exist. I suggest HERE how we can decide what God is really like. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others? 

Why is freedom so important?  

The majority of evil results from the freedom to be kind or cruel toward others. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. There is not some divine or “greater purpose” in the suffering of innocent people. But authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even an almighty God can force true love. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or to create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power.

God can’t!!!

Saying God can’t may seem sacrilegious, but a God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Are you dissatisfied with conventional answers such as: “It’s all part of God’s plan;” “God wants to make you stronger;” “God’s ways are not our ways;” “You didn’t have enough faith;” “Everything happens for a reason” (Thomas Oord, God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils, p.11). If evil is some grand scheme God can control, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much? 

God doesn’t cause or allow evil!  

Most agree God doesn’t cause evil but some say God allows evil to bring about a greater good. Oord reminds us greater good doesn’t always come about. A surgeon may have to break open your chest to save your life, but what purpose is served from rape, torture, betrayal, murder, deception, corruption, incest, and genocide as if part of some good plan? From this twisted perspective, evil is good! When we say God allows, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. No one respects those who stand by in the name of freedom while individual rights are being violated. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others so to not violate freedom. Or not create freedom! 

What about miracles if God can’t supposedly control?  

It may be easier to explain God’s uncontrolling nature if miracles could be refuted. Miracles happen as many attest, but miracles don’t happen because people grovel at the feet of an arbitrary God who has to be begged to love more. A good God surely is always working to heal, but so many biological and environmental factors are involved. Maybe it is not a stretch to say God can’t control human freedom as well as non-human factors. I am convinced God will intervene by all means when circumstances allow. Miracles can happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known.

It matters if God supposedly knows the future.

A young woman may ask God for wisdom in marrying their partner. All think it is a match made in heaven, but the husband becomes abusive and the children suffer. What kind of God doesn’t warn if God knew this was going to happen? Evil is the result of current and unknown future human free decisions. Not even an all-powerful God can create and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle and yet there be free will necessary for genuine relationships. 

God is not a magic prayer genie! 

A good God surely doesn’t cause or want us to suffer. Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Jesus’ prayer to avoid the Cross may be the best model in times of suffering. Jesus asked God to intervene but God if you are unable please stay close to me. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Did I not pray enough? Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It isn’t that we didn’t pray enough with the right words so God will answer. 

Is God a mystery and we can’t understand evil and suffering?

Some appeal to mystery by declaring God ways are not our ways to rationalize their interpretation of the Bible, but how can we have a relationship with a God we can’t understand with the brain God gave us? How we are supposed to know and love like God if God is mysterious? The Bible says to be perfect like God, but we can’t know what this means if we can’t know what perfect love is. God’s love surely is like perfect human love. If God calls favoritism evil but plays favorites, this plainly makes a supposedly loving God evil.

Why did God even create?

God knew the risks of freedom as do human parents. Are we wrong to bring children into a world hoping they will want to reciprocate our love but knowing our children could cause suffering or suffer at the hands of others? Suffering is avoidable only if God had not created or allowed freedom. Few argue that no freedom is better than freedom. God and parents risk creating which can lead to great joy or great pain. One is not possible without the other.

What is God doing?

God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. Hitler may have been stopped if others had gotten involved in his life as a child or when plotting his evils early on. Perhaps the only way to defeat evil in us, other than destroying at the first hint, is for us to persevere and overcome evil. Also, suffering can enable us to be of use to others in a world where suffering is inevitable if any freedom is present. Martin Luther King’s suffering moved the scales from the eyes of many how they tolerated bigotry.

 

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD IS ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

Why I Doubt God Is A Prayer Genie

 

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

     It is more difficult to discuss why God doesn’t intervene more with natural disasters since nature doesn’t have a human soul. Why doesn’t God like any good parent intervene more in such evils, since human freedom isn’t involved? We can at least suggest human evil that accounts for a great deal of human suffering is because of bad choice made by cruel and lawless people.  Evil resulting from nature is much more complicated. It is important to at least begin the discussion.

     Freedom is necessary for authentic relationships. “Controlling love” is an oxymoron and not love at all. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or to create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. It is impossible for God to lovingly create and control. What God’s love can do is influence in all the appropriate ways, but divine love limits divine power. Yet, natural disasters don’t involve living beings where freedom is necessary for authentic love.

     I do not wish to suggest physical evils such as disasters of nature, diseases, or accidents can always be traced directly to a human’s freedom to inflict pain upon themselves or others. It does seem human accumulated mismanagement of the earth over thousands of years has brought some destruction through hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and earthquakes. I read that the earth is constructed of tectonic plates and when they collide, what is atop them can be destroyed.  I doubt the shifting of these plates underground is related to the changing mood of God! When tectonic plates under the earth collide, atop them may be a particularly densely populated, poorly constructed city where authorities only sought to make money out of greed. Could money have been spent otherwise to put a better warning system in place?

     Human mismanagement hardly explains all the causes of natural disasters. Claiming natural disasters are always God’s judgment is nonsense. Furthermore, if God can but doesn’t intervene sometimes doesn’t that suggests God’s love is arbitrary and lead to guessing which disasters are God’s judgment. It is possible that it was necessary for God to set up freedom when creating humans and nature. Love requires freedom. The “butterfly effect” suggests that the flap of a butterfly wing in one part of the world can influence weather in another part of the world at some time in the future. Can God no more control butterfly wings than humans to be loving? Freedom may be necessary for a creation act to be loving. If God cannot take away your freedom, maybe it is not a stretch to say God can’t control cells, organisms, etc. (Please see: God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils by Thomas Jay Oord)

     What we do know is that God never wants us to suffer undeservingly, but God has constraints because of freedom. When God doesn’t perform a miracle or when God’s doesn’t answer our prayers, we can’t know all the factors involved why God acts the way God does.  What I am convinced of is that God feels our pain and hurts as much as humans when they suffer. God is committed to bringing as much good as possible out of evil. Our demands for an all-powerful, invulnerable God comes at the expense of trusting God know best how to create a free universe and influence as many lives as possible through their own volition.

See HERE my Book God, Evil, And Suffering – Does God Really Care for further discussion.

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By Mike Edwards

Thomas Oord’s book GOD CAN’T is for those who have suffered and have trouble understanding why a supposedly good, all-powerful God did nothing. Maybe you have just questioned why such a God allows so much evil in this world or at least doesn’t intervene more. We know God doesn’t cause evil but why doesn’t a loving God, if truly powerful, at least stop certain evils? Oord offers the best solution I have read so far.

A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Are you dissatisfied with conventional answers such as: “It’s all part of God’s plan;” “God wants to make you stronger;” “God’s ways are not our ways;” “You didn’t have enough faith;” “Everything happens for a reason.” (P. 11) If evil is some grand scheme God can control, why then does the Bible says God hates evil so much?

Thankfully, GOD CAN’T doesn’t appeal to “God is a mystery” as an explanation. How we are supposed to know and love like God if God is mysterious? We are told to be perfect like God, but how can we know what this means if we can’t know what perfect love is.  God’s love surely is like perfect human love. Oord offers rational answers to the biggest questions of our lives.

Some say God doesn’t cause evil, but allows it, to bring about a greater good. Oord reminds us greater good doesn’t always come about. A surgeon may have to break open your chest to save your life, but what purpose is served from rape, torture, betrayal, murder, deception, corruption, incest, and genocide as if part of some good plan? From this twisted perspective, evil is good! (P.14)

Thomas Oord offers an alternative to the idea that God either causes or allows evil for some grand purpose. God can’t is actually in the Bible. God can’t lie (Titus 1:2), God can’t be tempted (Jm. 1:13), etc. (P.25) It is also logical that a good God can’t be unloving, God can’t change the past, God can’t deny freedom, God can’t be truly loving if controlling. See also Oord’s Book – THE UNCONTROLLING LOVE OF GOD.

GOD CAN’T suggests that God can’t prevent evil singlehandedly (Chapter 1). The book concludes that God needs our cooperation in intervening in evil (Chapter 5). Believing God can’t prevent evil moves us past thinking God causes or allows pain, tragedy, and abuse. We shouldn’t blame God for the evil God can’t prevent. If you accept this you can move on to believing God feels our pain (Chapter 2), God works to heal (Chapter 3), and God squeezes every bit of good from bad (Chapter 4).

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=god+cant+oord&sprefix=God+cant%2Caps%2C183&crid=1QGZX4WJB8XWR&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Agod+cant+oord&ajr=0

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(Romans 16:19 ….but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil)

The word innocent is described in the dictionary as free from moral wrong; without sin; pure.

Sometimes we read this verse and think we aren’t supposed to know much about evil. Obviously we aren’t to participate in evil, but to be able to be wise in what is good, we do need to know about evil.

Jeremiah 4:22 says “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.”.

To me this says that it is more natural for us to do evil. We were born into a world of sin and our natural man will more times than not go for evil over good. Through Christ, we are new creatures in Him, but our old evil nature never disappears during this life on earth.

In the military, the enemy is studied so that proper plans can be made to overcome and defeat them. It’s the same in the spiritual world, we need to know how the enemy moves and works against us.

We need to remember that the evil nature is still within us and we need to be constantly aware of where that can lead. We need to understand our enemy and plan ahead on what we need to do to overcome the temptations when they come.

God’s words tell us in Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell (think) on these things.

I truly think our biggest battles and obstacles are fought in our mind. We need to be aware of evil and what it can do, but we need to focus our thoughts on the good.

Only through Christ can we overcome, only through Christ can we do good. By spending time in God’s presence, praying and reading His words can we learn what is good and have the power to overcome evil.

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1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB – Be not deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.

Have you noticed that you never read ‘good company produces good morals’? It’s always bad company corrupts good morals. Seems like in this world, evil easily wins over good. Why is that? Could it be because during the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, satan was given authority of this world? Now it’s more natural to do evil than to do good.

This isn’t saying that evil wins out over God, but over good morals. Morals are the distinction between right and wrong, or the rules of right conduct. Unfortunately in our world, evil is more easily done than good.

This also is not to say we should avoid bad company. Jesus was known as the friend of sinners. How will people see and feel the love of God if we stay away from them.

As Christians, we need to constantly be in close fellowship with our Father and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work in us and produce good morals in our lives. Not that good morals save us or make us better than others, but they help us to live in a way that is more becoming as a representative of Christ.

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