Some fleeting thoughts around the question of evil
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Some fleeting thoughts around the question of evil
First off, this was taken from my side of a conversation on Google+. I tried to edit it to make sense. I hope that it does.I have heard this question many times.
“There is no way an omniscient and omnipotent god would have to kill people to do away with evil.”
There is some bad theology you there and you address it well, however, there is good theology that gives good answers to your points. The sad thing is most people tend toward the bad theology and miss the big picture that the Bible is showing. Most of the issues you bring out are humans being religious instead of seeking a relationship with God. Instead, they desired to serve God by keeping Laws that were designed to separate believers in the One True God from pagan and idolatrous beliefs.
The story of the bible is often the retelling of the same story of the unfaithfulness of humanity and the faithfulness of the One True God. Often, if the scripture is read for what it states instead of what someone says it say, it tells a very fascinating story of God allowing man to choose to be god-like in the quest of good and evil while faithfully stating that the only true way of knowing is to know the One True God. Again, sadly, many misread and misapply passages and in the end misunderstand what the Bible is showing us.
I do not believe I will change an atheist /agnostic’s mind in any way and do appreciate someone who can have an actual discussion about God without invoking fairies and elves. I do get what they are saying as to things in the bible that may not match up with history, as we understand it. Believe me, when the bible is understood only as morality is becomes arbitrary. Morality is arbitrary as it depends on the cultural ideas. The bible however is not based on morality, but ethics. The difference is like this, “Do not lie.” That is a moral issue. So normally, you or I will not tell a lie. However, you or I have Jews (or other humans) in our house and someone knocks on the door asking if you have Jews. I would lie and say no as that is a higher law of loving others (Jews or others), and holds to the holding others higher than myself. I did learn this from the Bible.
Historians may not look at a “religious book” for sources, but a good historian will look to understand culture. While the Roman gods may have been fiction, they help historians understand how the Roman Empire worked. So, one cannot have a complete disconnect with history and mythology. If you understand the purpose and reasons, some stories are told as they were. I do not have to believe in actual events to learn the truth the story contains. However, historically, there is a story of a Noah before the biblical record. The retelling of this story is a story pointing to the One True God.
The story of Noah is a perfect example of what I am stating. What if there is a story that shows the One True God in a bad way. However, what if you know that same God in a relational way? You found in your relationship that the idea that the One True God was not out to harm people but to do away with evil. While one Noah story had the One True God as evil, the Hebrew version shares a story of grace and mercy given to a chosen family while evil is wiped from the earth. I might mention that arguments seem circular for some unbelievers. On one hand, an all-powerful God who can stop evil and does not is not all-powerful or loving. One the other a God that wipes out evil and kills people does not love and is therefore evil. This is a catch-22 argument that seems not to recognize it is one way or the other.
In addition, while some archeological digs do not back up the biblical text many do. However, whether the text was written before or after the event does not mean it was not accurate. I might add that there are many historians that do believe the bible as historical accurate (I know that is contrary to whomever you are listening to, but it is true). Whether the walls of Jericho fell before the Hebrews came or after, does not negate the walls of Jericho fell.
The idea in the bible is always, this god is this way; our God is that way and superior (a side note here is that I found atheists use this same argument about truth… I just refer to Truth as a Person named Jesus.) I may also mention that anyone historically who would mention Jesus, Tacitus, or anyone Jewish writer for example, especially in a negative way, as living, seems very contrary to the idea that Jesus never existed.
You have to ask yourself. Does the question of good versus evil even mean anything without a Supreme Being who is good or loving? Better yet, as the question of good and evil is a false dichotomy as we find out with the biblical text, and a better question is whether it is of wisdom or folly? Without a God, these questions are meaningless, unless one believes himself to be God. However, then we must as of ourselves, if we are gods, are we all knowing and all-powerful?
While we are powerful in many ways, while using our own limited power, can we restrain from using all our power? If we hold a small animal, we have the power to crush it, but do we still restrain from doing so? Cannot an all-powerful God have the knowing power not to crush something weaker?
In addition, if there is being a creature, and a state of being that is outside of creation, then do you really think a creature can fully understand a Being that is beyond and outside creation? However, what if God in some way limited Himself in a way that was relational… such as allowing Himself to partake in human suffering to show us He understands and desires us to come out of our collective insanity. Being all-powerful means knowing how to restrain as well as being all knowing means understanding that not all will understand that knowing in and of itself must be limited. It is like the saying, “It is not what is said that makes a conversation, but what is understood.”
Now being that humans are a limited finite being how would we know what an omniscient and omnipotent God knows as to what is best? In addition, a person may be limited in a type of theology. I am an open theist of sorts, so see God as allowing humanity to make free will choices and while knowing all the possibilities, will work with the choice humanity makes. Meaning, evil is what man does and God works out the best solution for us... even if it seems cruel. The real question really is; is God through with a New Creation? Maybe we are in process and not finished yet and we cannot understand until we see the finished product.