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Posts Tagged ‘Suffering’

By Mike Edwards

I understand many may not think about or find all that relevant whether God knows the future or not. It may sound sacrilegious or odd to suggest an all-powerful God doesn’t know the future. But, even an all-powerful God may not being able to do the impossible such as change the past, force true love, or know an undetermined future until it happens.

It matters if God can know possible future suffering.  

A woman asks 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. It is hard to imagine God wouldn’t warn if God knew this was going to happen. Much of suffering is the result of current and future human free decisions. God and parents risk creating knowing this can lead to great joy or great pain. Not even an all-powerful God can create free will necessary for genuine relationships and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle.

Decisions and our relationship with God are less complicated if the future is open.  

The greatest freedom perhaps in believing God doesn’t know the future is realizing God isn’t failing to communicate or we may disappoint God with decisions. God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God supports us in making decisions that make our lives and the lives of others better. There isn’t one correct decision to make in a free world. Joy and good can be achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths. God wants us to feel free without strings attached, unlike what we may feel from human parents when making decisions.

It matters relationally if freedom is real.

Most agree love must be freely chosen, or we are simply robots than humans. How am I truly free to make decisions if the future has already supposedly happened? A determined future contradicts that God created us with the freedom to make our own choices. We don’t have to rationalize God created freedom but somehow future decisions are predetermined.

A God who doesn’t knows the future is more relatable. When the Bible says God grieves with us in our suffering, we can know God agonizes with us each step of the way and deters any suffering possible without violating freedoms. God is not aloof as if simply gazing into a future crystal ball. God’s uncontrolling nature doesn’t mean God isn’t active in making for a better world. God constantly seeks to inspire us to shun evil and strive for a better world.

What about the Bible or prophecy? 

Hundreds of biblical passages could be cited to defend either God does or doesn’t know the future. The Bible speaks about God sometimes regretting certain decisions (i.e. Gen. 6:6). If God knew the outcome of certain decisions by knowing the future, why would God make such regrettable decisions? Does God really know what decisions are made ahead of time but pretending otherwise? The Bible often speaks as if God thought the future was open, thus undetermined and unknown.

Prophecies aren’t peering into the future but can serve as warnings. Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him three times but Jesus also prayed Peter’s faith would not fail (Lk. 22: 32-34). Predictions by God can be conditional. A professor may observe a student and warn they will fail their class but hoping the student avoids such failure. Keep in mind the future is not totally unpredictable for humans much less God. A skilled physician can predict the death of a seemingly healthy individual because of symptoms that escaped the untrained eye. Remember, God’s Spirit is present everywhere, thus God’s knowledge is unimaginably extensive.

God is loving not controlling.

God can’t control the future if God is to act uncontrolling and respect freedom. God can’t make someone truly love others and not harm others. If God can create, God can fulfill a promise to provide eternal life after life here on earth for those who desire to be with their Creator. Meanwhile, God seeks to partner with us to make for a better world.

 

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

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

Why I Doubt God Controls Evil And Suffering

 

 

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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

Beliefs about God can lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I suggest HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

God can’t be a controlling lover.  

Controlling love is an oxymoron. Besides, not even an all-powerful God can give us free will and not give us free will at the same time. Genuine freedom must involve the right to do as much harm in proportion to how much good one can do. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. It’s that God can’t. God can’t control evil here on earth if God respects freedom. 

Is God to blame for suffering?  

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. Why did God heal them and not me? 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 and behaviors so God will answer. God is already doing all God can.

Why bother to even pray then?  

Maybe prayer is more talking and sharing with God then asking for things and for God to override freedom. Maybe prayer is meant to help us not feel alone in a chaotic world. Prayer is more talking to gain support than manipulating for gain. God is always available to talk about anything on our heart, but we best leave running the universe to a loving God who has the interest of all in mind. 

Don’t miracles prove God can control what God wants?

One must admit miracles aren’t that frequent. The Old Testament reveals amazing miracles don’t always lead to inspired living. Jesus’ miracles turned heads but Jesus’ suffering turned hearts of billions of followers. We can pray for others but God is already doing all they can. Are we? Miracles can happen as many can attest to, but miracles don’t happen because people grovel at the feet of an arbitrary God who has to be begged to love more. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known.

Prayer is not a substitute for action.

It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take supportive actions which is the most common way that God answers prayers. Rather than praying your friend’s spouse stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their spouse. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God always desire our permission to use our lives to help others.

The Bible says you can ask for anything you want in God’s name! 

Our interpretations much account for what a loving, uncontrolling God can do. Passages such as Mathew 7:7 are lifted out of context to support the false prosperity gospel: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Isn’t this passage in context simply saying that if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always give good gifts. First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for any request. The Apostle Paul expects followers would face persecution for their beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus God obviously is not a blank check.

How can we pray?

We might replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” We can talk to God for many reasons including pursuing a closer relationship with our Creator to be more like God, for self-examination, for sharing our concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. Maybe prayer is to motivate us to be more loving like God toward others. God is not a Genie in a bottle who can singlehandedly all by themselves make things instantly happen. God is surely doing all they can to influence for good and seeks our help to change the world for good.

See Mark Karris, Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer With the Uncontrolling Love Of God

 MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

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

 

 

 

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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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