Is anyone here willing to take the step from ‘God is responsible for evil’ to ‘God is guilty’? Is it possible to avoid that conclusion?
I am not willing to concede any guilt to God whatsoever, and I’m doing some work on the phrase ‘is responsible for’ as well. I think we’ve gone a bit off the rails here, but I need to do some more thinking about it before I try to make a case.
I know you don’t like this concept but the gist of this is that God does love us, God is good, but God knows a hell of a lot more then we do. So i think that God can use things (like evil) in a different way then we do. For us “evil” is sinful but if God uses it as a tool to help shape us up , and the end result is a good result, isn’t that a good thing?
IMHO God created us and he knew evil would be necessary and he uses it for our ultimate benefit, that makes him responsible, but he takes responsibility, and that justifies Christian Universalism. At least that’s how it seems to me! BTW he is responsible because he could stop it but then we would remain as spoiled babies unfit for the journey. So yes God is guilty for the salvation of mankind!
Steve - thanks for having stated your thoughts clearly throughout this thread. I’m not saying that those thoughts are unreasonable, or have no merit. I do think that there is ambiguity in the language of ‘responsibility’ that has lead you and others off-track. Calvinists are fond of saying that God preordained everything, even evil, but in such a way that He has no guilt, no taint of evil Himself. IMO they are wildlyt unsuccessful and in fact unreasonable in trying to thread that particular needle’s eye.
There are 3 main threads within this thread.
God does not create evil.
God does not commit evil.
God does not allow evil.
But of course we do know that:
4) Evil does happen and that ,according to scripture -
5) Mankind chooses the evil.
I myself agree with (1) and (2). As to (3), I don’t -yet- know how to avoid saying that God does allow evil. I’m working on it.
As to (1) - of course, if God had not created anything, or had created in such a way that choosing evil was not an option - there would be no evil. It is imo a huge and unwarranted extension of that to further say that because He did create, and moreover create free beings, that He is ‘responsible’ for, or has the ‘guilt of responsibility for’ - evil that those free beings freely chose.
Another way of saying that - I don’t believe the Father sent His son to save us from the evil the Father is responsible for. Just sayin’ - that makes no sense.
The other arguments - that evil is no thing, has no existence and is just a privation of the Good etc. - have a long history but I don’t find them interesting as anything other than sophistry.
Well, carry on my wayward -----uh, carry on, my friends.
I myself agree with (1) and (2). As to (3), I don’t -yet- know how to avoid saying that God does allow evil. I’m working on it.
As to (1) - of course, if God had not created anything, or had created in such a way that choosing evil was not an option - there would be no evil.
Dave i think you are a very smart guy but you can’t quite fathom the idea that evil can actually have a noble purpose. Evil must only be bad,bad, and badder. But evil sometimes can have an ultimate good purpose in the hands of an infinitely wise God who can see the end from the beginning whereas we only see things in a temporal way.
To me it’s obvious God allows evil. God is omnipotent, evil is real yet God does not usually destroy evil. Why not? Richard Murray says God is Love therefore he allows unfettered free will to man and to Satan and He also takes the rap for evil that Satan commits. One of the problems is that Jesus apparently is unaware of any of this and never hints that Moses misunderstood anything about God. Also why wouldn’t God stamp out evil since He is “Love.” Did God make a sacred pact with us and with Satan to allow unlimited free will? Do we find this anywhere in the bible?
James said that if we know to do good but we don’t then it’s akin to sin. (Sin of omission) Wouldn’t this apply to God and the problem of evil unless evil can be used by God for something greater then the pain it causes in our temporal life.
Steve, I certainly do agree with you that God can bring good out of evil; yes, He can ‘use’ it. But - there is the distinction between 1) ‘using’ an evil that has already been accomplished by the free will of men and 2) committing or causing to be committed, that evil in the first place.
As a thought experiment - could we replace the term ‘evil’ with the term ‘sin’? Our three threads then would read:
God did not create sin.
God does not commit sin.
God does not allow sin.
That is the focus of Hermano’s OP and this thread, I think.
So again, I want to say that God did not/does not create ‘sin’. The whole weight of scripture and the example of His Son are behind that. Once again, if we take the step of saying that He created the situation where free beings can choose to sin, I see no problem unless the unwarranted step to follow say that creating the situation is the same as committing the act, either by withholding the Good by (God forbid) direct acts of sin by God, which would make HIm guilty of sin and and rob the Universe and Christian Hope of any meaning whatsoever.
(3) is tougher to weigh in on, but Hermano’s links are well chosen and worth pondering imo.
Steve, I do grasp what you think I am missing. I just think that what you are saying, at least as expressed thus far, is not true.
We all have a lot to learn, and I’m thinking it through just as we all are.
Davo, it is true that “ὅτι” occurs in the Greek Septuagint translation of Genesis 18:19, but you seem to be applying it to a translation of a HEBREW text.Your translation of the Hebrew text reads, "For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him…" where “that” means “in order that.”
However, "ὅτι"does not mean “in order that” in any translation of the Septuagint GREEK text. Rather it is: “For I know that he will order his sons, and his house after him,…”
In this case, as well as all others I have encountered the translation of “ὅτι” means “that” but the meaning IS NOT “in order that.”
If you know of any true exception, I would like to know where it is found.
I want to share something I discovered only today about pdf files. I wondered whether it is possible to have bookmarks so that you can go back to the point at which you are reading. You can’t have book marks per se, but you can have something almost as good. You can set the file so that whenever you close it and open it again, it will display the last page you were reading.
Some of you may already know how to do this, but for those who don’t here’s how.
With the pdf file open, hold down CTRL and press K
A menu will appear. Click on “documents.”
Another menu will appear. You will see an unchecked item “Restore last view setting when reopening document.”
Check that item. Every time you open the pdf file thereafter, it will display the page you were last reading.
Are you guys picking on me? And yes, I noticed Randy was involved as well. Actually this type of double negative is considered grammatically correct and perfectly acceptable. A double negative that emphasizes a positive is called a litote. In this case, I am saying that I do have a conscience.
*To all: This will be my last post for a while because my next semester of college has begun. I am pursuing a Certification in Technical Writing. Please know that I have much enjoyed our interactions during this Christmas break and I thank all of you for the challenges you brought to me. Responsibilities kept me busy and I could not reply as much as I wished, nor to everyone I wished, but I did gain a lot to contemplate as I read through everyone’s replies - and I read everyone’s replies. I thank all of you for the splendid experience! I’ll be hoping to type some more during Spring Break.
Keep on being good to each other!
In the name of our Saviour, Jesus, The [size=85]LORD[/size], I am,
Thanks for the reply.
Yes, indeed we do learn to be good by having to suffer consequences for the wrong choices we make, what you called contrast.
Well, most of us can, anyway.
And yes, if any one of us gets to have everything their heart’s desire, without the hardship necessary to acquire his or her desire, a human being is made who causes a lot of other human beings to experience Pain and Suffering, to experience Evil.
Of these, whether child or adult, we say: “They can get away with murder.”
And isn’t murder the definite evil that any one of us can inflict on another?
So, why do we know that murder is the definite Evil one human being can inflict on another?
Because we have a conscience.
From where, then, or how, did we get this conscience - this knowledge of the difference between good and evil?
And, for having this conscience, why are we unable to realize the ideal that this knowledge of the difference between good and evil creates in us?
Shouldn’t our conscience be able to regulate our interactions with others? Indeed, what is the purpose of a conscience if there are no other human beings to interact with? And, isn’t it true that, for many of us, our conscience does regulate our interactions with others, however imperfectly, so that we don’t cause too much Pain and Suffering, that is to say, Evil?
And isn’t it true that as we grow into our sentience - into a being who is self-aware, capable of communicating with language and able to comprehend abstracts such as love and beauty, hatred and vengeance - that we loose our innocence?
Do you agree that our conscience is what regulates our behavior as we interact with others?
Do you agree that, as we grow into sentience, we loose our innocence because we have a conscience passed on to us?
If so, then how did we come to be the kind of people we are; the kind of people who know of the difference between good and evil, and yet are unable to realize the ideals this creates in us?
The answer I found is in Genesis.
The first two human beings were different from us in several unique ways, for one they didn’t have belly buttons!
For another they were sentient and they were innocent - if we define innocence as not knowing of the difference between good and evil.
In other words they didn’t have a conscience. That is why we say that they were truly innocent.
Can you imagine being a human being who is sentient, but yet innocent?
No, I can’t either.
So, if it is proper to define our conscience as our knowledge of the difference between good and evil, could we not call that unusual tree with the similar name - the one they were forbidden to eat from - the tree of conscience?
Think about it.
Now, we know that something radical changed in the first two when they ate the fruit of this tree, and we note that they did not immediately die a physical death, as Ishsha believed they would if they even touched its fruit. So, physical death cannot mean what Jehovah Elohim meant when He said, “In the day you eat of it, in dying, you will die.”
Instead, their eyes were opened (a euphemism for being made aware) and the words of The Nacash came true when they became “wise,” like the elohim.
So, given the report of what happened after they ate the fruit, and given that we can rightly call the tree that produced the fruit, the tree of conscience, it is logical to conclude that it was the fruit that either activated or infused a conscience in them. Thus, I have concluded that they were not created with a conscience either in them, or activated in them.
In other words, they were created to be simultaneously sentient and innocent.
So, if this logic accurately reflects the reality of that time, the question that needs to be answered is why did Jehovah Elohim do all this, why did He go through all this trouble?
That was the pondering of many a year, until I realized that there is a link between virtue and righteousness.
Righteousness is simply doing what is right, when given a choice to do what is wrong. So, to be righteous, you have to first know of the difference between what is right and what is wrong to do.
Virtue, then, is choosing righteousness, consistently.
That is why we say that Jehovah is virtuous, that He is good, exactly because we believe that He knows of the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and He always does what is right and good to do.
Now, it seems pretty obvious that the command not to eat from the tree of conscience is some kind of set up.
If the Calvinist are right, and Jehovah knew, as a fact, that the first human beings were going to turn before He created them, then the closest thing we can compare His actions to is a sting operation.
This set-up, then, must have been intended to entrap them and make them fall.
Just like a DA, with the fore-knowledge that a person is a drug dealer, can set up a situation that will result in the drug dealer being caught doing what he is prone to do, buy and sell illegal drugs, despite the drug dealer knowing that, “the command,” is that he should not buy and sell illegal drugs.
This means, logically, that if Jehovah knew of their fall as a fact before He created them, then the first two of us were no more free to choose than the drug dealer would be free to choose, even for being aware that he will pay a steep price for disobeying the command.
So, Augustine of Hippo was right to conclude that the fall came within the first thirty minutes of their creation. “Get on with it, already!”
Have you ever thought of their fall this way? What rebuttal can be brought against this way of thinking?
Still, the command was given to innocent human beings, and that is where the above analogy takes a serious turn.
Now, I had already concluded from my studies that Jehovah Elohim could not possibly have known, as a fact, that the first two were going to turn before He created them.
This, then, is where possibility comes into play, for either they would choose to trust Jehovah when tested and resist The Nacash’s words or they would not. Either choice then puts into play the direction of our future.
I say this because I have come to perceive that omniscience is not knowing everything, rather it is knowing every thing that is knowable.
What could not be known, then, is the choice these two would make between trust and distrust for being both sentient and innocent.
Trust. That was all that was required of them. And Isn’t that what everything with which we have to do with our Creator is all about?
So, if Jehovah did not fore-know their fall as a fact, then the command creates a set up - not to fail - but to succeed.
That is why I call their failure, The Turning, because that is what they did. They turned from Jehovah because, at the least Ishsha, if not Ish as well, had come to believe that Jehovah was, “holding out on them.” After all, they had been in the garden for quite some time by now, witnessing the times when the Divine Council met on earth, in the garden - for The Nacash was an elohim.
This is how I have come to see this historic scene in my mind’s eye
One day, The Nacash walks up to Ish and Ishsha with a sense of purpose. Now, for being an elohim and possibly being on Jehovah’s Divine Council, it may have been that Ish and Ishsha were acquainted with It. It then asks a question that sounds like It is asking them for clarification, as if It had heard something odd. “Indeed! Is it true that you are allowed to eat the fruit from every tree in the garden?” Ishsha then replies with what she thinks is a correction to The Nacash’s question, "We may eat from every tree in the garden, except from the tree in the middle of the garden; from that tree Elohim has said that we may not eat it, nor are we allowed to even touch it, or we will die. The Nacash then replies with a pleased question of both surprise and acknowledgment. “Not, ‘in dying you will die?’” (Which was the exact phrase Jehovah Elohim spoke). It then quickly strikes at the heart of the distrust It heard in her reply and said, “It is that Elohim knows that when you eat of it, you will become aware and be wise like all the elohim.”
These words spoken, they part company.
After consideration of these words, she and Ish wandered over and lingered around the tree, just looking at it. Suddenly, Ishsha, overcoming her fear by believing her own distrust in Jehovah Elohim, a distrust fueled to flame by the words of The Nacash, reaches up, tears off a fruit and bites into it. Standing there, chewing it and not dropping down dead for having both touched it and biting into it, she finishes her bite and swallows. Then, she takes another as she holds the rest of the fruit out to Ish while still chewing. Ish takes it and watches as Ishsha swallows the second bite. She is still standing upright, imploring him with her eyes and a satisfied smile to join with her. He then eats of it and, swallowing the bite, he takes another, feeling his love for her overcoming his own fears and fueling his own distrust. Then, as they are eating, they begin to feel something happening inside of them. They feel awareness dawning on them and they know, now, why Jehovah Elohim told them not to eat from it. But, it’s too late, for they now know why they can’t go back: the change is permanent and they know it because now they know of the difference between good and evil. However, it is not pleasant to feel these new feelings dawning in them because they are uncomfortable feelings that will come to be called guilt and shame. They look at each other and they see that each is no longer wearing a covering of light, a covering of glory that emanated from within. They see that they are naked. As they look with shock on the revealing of each other, there is a powerful new feeling rising - and, reaching down, they cover their genitals with their hands.
Soon enough, they come to sew fig leaves together to form a girdle they can wear around their waists. Their sexuality was never the same again.
(This idea of a covering of glory is borrowed from Jewish tradition: it has its basis only in that tradition and in the fact that celestial beings effuse light.)
But, what if they had resisted, what if they had decided to trust Jehovah?
First of all, it had to be a very real possibility that they could have turned away and not have eaten. To that possibility, this is what I have to offer concerning why Jehovah did things this way.
Remember, I wrote about virtue that it requires the virtuous one to have the knowledge of the difference between good and evil. But, virtue requires something else, also. That something else is a temptation to not choose righteousness. In other words, virtue that is not tested is not virtue because without the temptation to choose wrongly, virtue cannot be demonstrated!
And that is the key to understanding why Jehovah did things the way he did - He was giving the first two human beings a chance to acquire virtue, first, before they acquired a conscience!
Therefore, they must have had a very real ability to choose to retain trust in Jehovah, rather than harboring the notion that Jehovah was untrustworthy, that He was withholding something of value from them.
Then, after the temptation, as they walked and talked with Jehovah, telling Him of their adventure, Jehovah would have given them permission to eat from that tree! Their trust in Him would have produced a different effect in them as the fruit did what it was created to do, because now it would be mingled with trust and joy for their having passed the time of testing, thus acquiring virtue!
And the Tree of Life would continue to serve them well as the regenerative properties of its twelve fruits kept them, and all those who would follow, healthy and vibrant for the eons of time.
And the world would be a better place as Jehovah enabled Ishsha to conceive. Her new name, Chava, "Mother of the Living, would be a name associated with celebrations of joy, instead of being associated with pain and sorrow, as she brought forth human beings who knew of the difference between right and wrong and always did what was right for having a powerful conscience that led them to be virtuous; human beings who could interact with each other to the benefit of all; human beings who did not inflict Pain and Suffering ; human beings who would be complete, even as their Father in heaven is complete.
Human beings dwelling on an Earth that was not hostile to them; an Earth that did not provide its own Pain and Suffering; an Earth that was not sacrificed to their redemption; an Earth that provided everything any would ever needed to live fulfilled lives of creativity and adventure into ages and ages of time.
One more thing to ponder concerning the Tree of Life. If Jehovah knew of their turning as a fact before He created them, then the creation of this tree is a superfluous act of creation at best, and a deliberately misleading act at worst, because, for His knowing as a fact of their turning, He would also know that He would have to ban them from eating its fruits! So, why create it in the first place, unless He always intended for them to have access to it? This idea then makes the creation of this tree an act of optimism that their trust in Him would prevail! Thus, it is indicated that He could not have fore-known their turning when He created them, exactly because He created this tree alongside the other one.
John wrote that Jesus came to annul the work of the Adversary.
Jehovah’s plan then, from that time when the world He intended for us to know was disrupted, right on into this age, is to restore each and every one of us, one by one, either in this age, or after death, to be what we were always intended to be completed, and therefore, good.
Again, much depends on definitions - as I have hammered away at here. Let’s view the short answer and commentary:
I really like this professor (R. C. Sproul) , talking on evil and suffering. Dry as dust, like reading Aristotle…But full of good points and methodologies. He’s also a very good speaker and entertaining. Am I the only one, who heard the whole talk
There are “good” answers and “answers that come close”, to the problem of evil and suffering, Davo. They are both from historical and contemporary perspectives, by professional theologians and philosophers. I’m sure someone of your caliber, would pick one of these “good” answers. We will have to wait for the “DEFINITIVE” answer, when God reveals it to everyone. The good answers are like picking 5 (out of 6 numbers), in a big lottery drawing. The “DEFINITIVE” answer, is having all 6 winning numbers.
And some answers (not named and perhaps given on this forum). reflect the good professor’s (R. C. Sproul) dad’s words.