Plausibility


#1

Actually, it has more to do with my mother, her suffering here, and my peace of mind regarding her (and the existence of God Himself.)

If life begins at conception (as my mother believed, and as I’ve long believed), and if a world like ours is necessary, there must be some way that infants who die at birth can still benefit from human history, experience, and embodiment (in this world, or a future post-resurrection world.)

You yourself (and your friend, Greg Boyd) seem to argue much the same thing, and without a plausible scenario as to how this is possible, infant mortality is a strong argument against the existence of God (and for a random universe.)

If I take the word of Christians who insist there is no plausible scenario, I see myself rapidly becoming an atheist (and perhaps a dead atheist, as I have no desire to live in a world without God, where my mother’s suffering was meaningless, and where I can have no hope of ever seeing her again.)

Does that answer your “why” question?

You’ve asked it repeatedly, so I can only assume you wanted me to post my doubts concerning the existence of God here.

(I didn’t think they would be particularly edifying to anyone, but there they are.)

I’ve asked you your thoughts on the resurrection too (unless that’s included in what you mean by “the other side”?)

You replied

I believe I then asked you to define what you mean by “the wicked” (and received no answer.)

My sister wasn’t “wicked,” but she wasn’t “righteous” (in the sense of having done anything righteous) either.

Do you consider it PLAUSIBLE that she will be raised mortal (with the unjust), and judged (in the sense of being tried, taught, or perfected)?

If you do nothing else, could you please answer that question?

Also, we may have different definitions of “PLAUSIBLE.”

To me, more than one scenario might be plausible (the more the better with a question like this), but to you, it seems to imply some certainty.

I’m not asking for certainty.

The only thing I am certain about is that this world would be unecessary (and my mother’s suffering meaningless) if my sister
went straight to heaven (and we agree on that–you’ve argued the point as strongly as I have here.)

What I’m asking you for are thoughts as to how she gets there in any way similar to our own (or requiring experiences in any way resembling or connected to our experiences here.)

The options we’ve discussed are:

1.) The reincarnation of still-born infants (which Prof. Talbott has told me he wouldn’t rule out as quickly as you do.)

2.) A metephysical connection between those who die at birth, and this world here (either while in the intermediate state, or when viewed at the last judgement–a concept which Allan S likened to Church’s teaching regarding “the Communion of Saints.”)

3.) A mortal (or “qusi-glorified”) resurrection, on an earth not wholly unlike the one we live in now (something you stated “must be true” of the wicked, “if UR is true.”)

If you want to strengthen my faith in God, please tell me which (if any) of these scenarios you consider PLAUSIBLE (or offer one or more of your own.)


#2

Michael,

I appreciate that you’re going through painful contemplation. I’m sure God has a resolution to your questions even if nobody here comes up with that answer. In my case, I don’t see the Bible teaching that any free will creature ever becomes as perfect as God, while all free will creatures may forever develop more into the glorious image of God. Likewise, I suppose that we’ve different views of postmortem glorification.

I wish to ask you for more background so I can better understand you. Have you ever experienced the presence of God?

I ask this because in my case I believe that I’ve had numerous experiences with the eternal God and I expect to not immediately know the answer to every question that I’ve about good and evil in the universe. But I also know that not all Christians perceive the same experiences, so I ask where you’re at with experiencing God.


#3

Thank you Jim.

I wasn’t speaking of God’s perfection, I was speaking of gaining whatever knowledge or expereince (or whatever) we;re presumably supposed to gain from a life on earth (if life here means anything.)

I don’t think my sister got that.

I think the unjust will be (initially) raised in an embodied state much like ours here, and I think the saints will be raised with glorified bodies (“like unto His glorious body.”)

(And unless they’re able to pick up something from this world in the intermediate state, it seems to me that souls who never lived outside the womb would have to be raised more like we are now, then like Christ is now.)

Are our views on perfection and post-mortem glorification that different?

I don’t know,

I’d like to believe you have.

Could you share some of those experiences with me here?


#4

Michael: You yourself (and your friend, Greg Boyd) seem to argue much the same thing…

Tom: We do. No doubt, if this world doesn’t add something unique and necessary to what God finally gets (because, say, God could produce the same final product immediately by divine fiat—poof, there it is—then this world is unnecessary to the final product and we have a huge theodicy problem.

Michael: …and without a plausible scenario as to how this is possible, infant mortality is a strong argument against the existence of God (and for a random universe).

Tom: I would never try to minimize the conviction with which you express your view here, Michael, but I couldn’t disagree more.

Michael: If I take the word of Christians who insist there is no plausible scenario, I see myself rapidly becoming an atheist…

Tom: Maybe you should just tell me what you think “plausible” means. To me it describes probability. A claim is plausible if there are good reasons for believing it to be true other than mere metaphysical possibility and logical consistency. The plausible connects with a wider scope of other claims within a field and offers more explanatory value within that ‘fit’.

But as to becoming an atheist in the absence of a ‘plausible’ scenario of post-mortem human development, again, I don’t want to ignore or talk past the seriousness of your own predicament. I totally respect where you’re talking from. But let me suggest that such scenarios are the LAST place one ought to look for reasons for being a theist. Surely, Michael, there are OTHER convincing reasons to believe in God that easily trump the absence of a plausible post-mortem scenario. Imagine, Mike, the reality of our ignorance on the question of what the afterlife is like. Do you really want to make your faith depend upon the plausibility of some explanation of what human existence is like AFTER we die?

Michael: …and perhaps a dead atheist, as I have no desire to live in a world without God, where my mother’s suffering was meaningless, and where I can have no hope of ever seeing her again…

Tom: I would never suggest that your mother’s suffering was meaningless. And I don’t see how my (or your) ignorance regarding the nature of the afterlife means your Mom’s suffering was meaningless. Mike, try to hear what I’m saying. I’m definitely NOT saying that we can’t reasonably or justifiably conclude that the pre-glorified afterlife will in fact be the sort of place where persons are made capable of responsibly determining themselves relative to God’s love. I’m as sure of this as I am sure that God exists at all. What I’m NOT sure about is how to gauge competing scenarios that describe what that post-mortem context will look like and just what it is about THIS life that is ‘necessary’ and which continues to be available and active in the afterlife. I just don’t know. I don’t see how any of us can know. But we can know THAT some such context will provide the appropriate space in which the necessary features are present.

What doesn’t make sense to me at all is why your belief in God as such should depend upon what cannot be known about the afterlife (re: the plausibility of competing post-mortem scenarios). Really? We have to come up with some plausible description of the afterlife OR abandon our belief in God? Are your reasons for believing in God no greater than the greatest plausible description of how humans develop in the afterlife? Why should plausibility on such matters have ANYTHING to do with whether or not we are thesits?

Michael: Does that answer your “why” question? You’ve asked it repeatedly, so I can only assume you wanted me to post my doubts concerning the existence of God.

Tom: I never thought it had anything to do with your doubts about the existence of God. I suspected (because of how you introduced the questions originally) that what drove you was the need for emotional closure regarding the fate and meaningfulness of your sister’s existence (and to a lesser degree your Mom’s suffering).

I only asked repeatedly because it makes sense to me that if ‘closure’ is what you’re looking for, the plausibility of post-mortem scenarios isn’t the place to look. You’ll only be disappointed. How much closure can you get from the sheer ‘possibility’ or minimal ‘plausibility’ of some particular scenario anyhow when we already know that their fate is secure in Christ?

I’m not talking from an armchair, Michael. I have loved ones (my Mom too, and a lovely niece whose nine years on earth were a painful and losing battle with cancer from her first moment to her last, stillbirths, et. al.) who suffered deeply and for some time. But NOT knowing what the most plausible/likely post-mortem scenario is for these situations has N-O-T-H-I-N-G to do with whether or not I believe in God and that he is infinitely loving and redeeming. I get that conviction from God’s hanging on the Cross. And I can tell you that if we don’t get it there, we are likely not to maintain it long at all, wherever else we might think the ground is firm beneath our feet.


Michael: Do you consider it PLAUSIBLE that [my sister] will be raised mortal (with the unjust), and judged (tried, taught, or perfected)?

Tom: That’s more plausible (to me) than her being re-incarnated or her floating around THIS world like a ghost taking notes and learning what she wasn’t able to learn in this life. Slightly more plausible (to my mind) is that God graciously qualifies her (grows her up) to be able to sufficiently comprehend the ABCs of love and choice and responsibility and that she self-determines relative to this and subsequently (along with other dead believers) awaits the resurrection (in whatever state believers consciously await the resurrection).

Michael: The options we’ve discussed are: (1) The reincarnation of still-born infants (which Prof. Talbott has told me he wouldn’t rule out as quickly as you do).

Tom: Talbott has forgotten more than I’ll ever know. If HE thinks reincarnation is a live option for Christian eschatology, and you’re comfortable with that, then keep it on the table as a plausible option and move on. I don’t know how to FALSIFY the ‘possibility’ of reincarnation. But I don’t especially NEED it on MY table.

Michael: (2) A metephysical connection between those who die at birth, and this world here (either while in the intermediate state, or when viewed at the last judgement–a concept which Allan S likened to Church’s teaching regarding “the Communion of Saints.”)

Tom: I think this world and the afterlife are more alike than we think. In other words, Mike, when we say someone dies and exits this world and enters the afterlife, you and I keep thinking of this in terms of their no longer being in the context (world) whose necessity we’re trying to explicate. In other words, the afterlife IS STILL THIS WORLD. It’s still one and the same fundamental ‘creation’ that functions on the same metaphysical rules. At least that’s how I see it. BUT that’s not to say there isn’t some finality to physical death.

Michael: (3) A mortal (or “qusi-glorified”) resurrection, on an earth not wholly unlike the one we live in now (something you stated “must be true” of the wicked, “if UR is true.”)

Tom: Forget quasi- entities. Okhams razor. Don’t multiply explanations needlessly. I’m sorry I mentioned a quasi- anything.

Michael: If you want to strengthen my faith in God, please tell me which (if any) of these scenarios you consider PLAUSIBLE (or offer one or more of your own.)

Tom: I hope the above comments helped. But since I do care about strengthening your faith in God, let me tell you that plausibility in this instance is the last place you ought to look for reasons to keep believing in God and trusting him regarding your sister and Mom. If it’s strength your faith needs in the face of suffering and premature death—the answer is hanging on the Cross, not in eschatology.

The Cross or bust,
Tom


#5

Not sure what you mean by “The plausible connects with a wider scope of other claims within a field and offers more explanatory value within that 'fit.”

To me, a plausible “Christian” answer to the specific problem of infant mortality would be any answer that is metephysically possible, is logically consistent with a loving personal God who has a purpose for this world, and can fit within Christian eschatology.

That’s what I mean by plausible.

To me, saying no conceivable scenario is “plausible” implies more than ignorence, it implies the Christian Faith is irrational.

I think that’s part of the problem here.

You’re talking about the relative plausibility of competing post-mortem scenrios, I’m interested in ANY plausible scenarios.

From a purely scriptural point of view, I think that’s probibly the most plausible scenario.

Thank you.

And perhaps there’s more of a connection than we realize?

It doesn’t seem to me that a ghost taking notes (at least if it were that of an infant with no experience outside the womb) would really learn anything about the physical or emotional content of our world, unless they were able to feel some of what was happening.

You seem to agree (here) that some real connection like that is PLAUSIBLE?

Thank you,

The closest I’ve been to the foot of the cross was at my mom’s bedside in ICU.

I wasn’t at Calvary, I didn’t see the three hours of darkness, and I wasn’t with the Apostles on that first Easter morning.

All I personally have to go on is reason, scripture, tradition, and whatever faith I can muster (if I’m to go on at all.)


#6

Michael,

Here are some experiences of mine from 1984-85 that I wrote in an online memoir:

*I tried going to a county college that fall. After one week of classes, I twice left my car on campus and walked twelve miles to my home. And my head hurt as if I had a clamp on my head. And I would strike my head with the palm of my hand, which would temporarily take the pain away from my head. And I did not sleep for two days. My family had deep concern about my lack of sleep, the way I would repetitively strike my head, and that I couldn’t remember that I drove my car to classes. They encouraged me to go to another hospital, and I went to a hospital in September of 1984. Again, the doctors diagnosed me with substance abuse and psychotic delusions with audio and visual hallucinations

I want to summarize that both times when I went to a hospital, I heard voices and had strong mental ideas that encouraged me to pray to demon spirits. And this praying to demon spirits is a form of witchcraft. And around the time of my mental hospitalizations, I was convinced that I needed to pray to demons for help.

On the other hand, during my second hospitalization, I tried to read the Bible, which I had tried for about six months. Sometimes I read the Bible to see what I supposedly wrote in past existences. Other times I thought Bible reading might help me. About a week into this hospital stay, I read a verse an aunt of mine highlighted for me in a King James Bible, 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given you a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. I typically prefer modern translations of the Bible, but that passage worked for me in the King James. From then on, I developed a growing conviction that God would deliver me from my fears and anxieties, and that he would give me strength, the ability to love, and sanity.

Later one Sunday, a sister of mine took me from the hospital to visit an independent Pentecostal church. Because of my medication, I walked as if I wore an invisible straight jacket and my eyes were glossy and half shut. The pastor, a Marine vet, prayed for me. He looked into my eyes and placed his hand on my shoulder. He said, “Lord Jesus, deliver Jim from demonic spirits, generational curses, and drugs.” After a few minutes of praying, I felt something inside my neck break off, drop to my feet, and go outside of me. I felt freedom as I never had before, but I soon feared that whatever left me was an important part of me. I asked all the spirits to come back inside me. Fortunately, dozens of people at the church began to pray for my healing.

I went back to the hospital and experienced a vision while lying in my bed. In my vision, I sat as the skipper of a sailboat during a race while I controlled the rudder and mainsail. This was a familiar setting for me. I sailed in over a hundred races and was the skipper for a couple. The first leg of every race points directly into the wind. Buoys, called marks, determined the course of the race. The sailboats zigzag upwind at roughly forty-five degree angles toward the first mark.

This race in my vision had a strong wind, about thirty to forty miles per hour. Sometimes during a race with strong winds, inexperienced sailors gain little ground upwind. It once happened to me when I crewed in a race, and I felt both frustrated and humiliated. In my vision, other sailboats surrounded me. I periodically changed my tack from the right side of the boat facing the wind to the left side of the boat facing the wind, while trying to zigzag toward the upwind mark. Other racing boats always surrounded me, and I noticed that I never got closer to the mark. I kept misinterpreting the wind shifts, failing to gain ground. After a while, I felt so frustrated that I gave up and yelled, “God, I missed the mark.”

Immediately after my yell, the boat transported passed the first mark. Instead of holding the mainsail and the rudder, I sat as a crew. I looked at the mainsail and rudder and sensed an invisible being–God–took control. I don’t know how I knew that he was God, but I just knew. Soothing warmth traveled through my body, and I knew that everything would be okay. The sails looked perfectly trimmed, and the boat balanced at a perfect keel. I thought: oh great, all I have to do is keep the boat in balance. However, I floundered and tripped all over the place while the boat kept its perfect keel. Finally, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. After the trance-like vision, I knew that God would eventually heal me.

A couple of years later, I learned more about the vision while studying theology. I was reading my class assignment about the doctrine of sin. One New Testament Greek word for sin is hamartia, which compares the idea of sin to an archer that misses the mark. While reading my textbook, I felt ecstatic as I remembered the vision from a couple of years earlier. Before I knew anything about Greek, I confessed to God with a yell in a vision that I sinned by missing the mark. I did not hit the purpose of my life. After I acknowledged my failure to God, he put my life back together better than I could imagine.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital I felt inspired by my Bible reading. I said to some of my fellow patients, “This is not the way I am going to live. No, I’m not going to have one breakdown after another. God will heal me, take away my fears, and give me a sound mind according to the verse in the Bible. I just have to figure out how to get his Spirit. I know it has something to do with faith in Jesus and him dying on the cross, but I’m not sure.”

Sometime in early October, my psychiatrist thought I was well enough to go home from the hospital. I sensed that I would soon convert to Christianity, but a couple of days after I left the hospital I wanted one more night of heavy drinking while carousing New Jersey go-go bars where I had a few dancing girlfriends that purchased me drinks.

The following Sunday, I went back to church. The pastor prayed for me again, and in a one-on-one conversation he talked to me about my condition. He said to me, “Jim, Jesus died to give you spiritual and physical healing. However, your rebellion is separating you from God and his healing. You need to acknowledge your sins, commit yourself to obeying him, and trust that God will forgive you, give you his Spirit, restore your life, and bring you to heaven when you die.”

I thought about what he said for a couple of days. Later that week I read my Bible in the basement of my house. A strong impression came to my mind. The strong impression said that if I didn’t turn from my rebellion and ask Jesus to forgive me, I would have another breakdown every year for the rest of life, then die, and go to hell. However, if I would turn to Jesus and ask him to forgive me and be my God, he would heal me.

I prayed from the depths of my heart. I said, “Jesus, I know you are God and became a human to die, taking the punishment for my sins. You rose from the dead to show your power over death. Please pardon me of my sins: spiritism, drugs, self-centeredness, manipulation, premarital sex…. Deliver me from the evil spirits that came inside me. Thank you that I’m beginning a father-child relationship with God, and I’ll live in heaven forever.”

Before this prayer, I felt as if a clamp pressed on my brain. Afterwards, I felt as if the clamp fell off and warm oil soothed the wounds of my heart and mind.

Then I went to church every Sunday, every Wednesday night for a prayer meeting, and every Saturday night for a young adult fellowship. My friends at church spent much time with me going to restaurants, the beach, and just shooting the breeze. They loved and accepted me with all of my problems while continuously prayed for my recovery.

Every day after my conversion, my family, friends, and doctors said I looked better than ever. I was free from witchcraft, drugs, drunkenness, sleeping around, and psychosis. I even quit tobacco after three months. After six months, my psychiatrist said I no longer needed therapy or medication–I never relapsed.*

theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2008/02/freedom-from-witchcraft.html


#7

That explains a lot. To you ‘possible’ and ‘plausible’ are equivalent terms (within “Christian” parameters). To me they are not.

That explains a lot too. It seems to me that to say no conceivable scenario is ‘possible’ would be the problematic claim. But to say of all the conceivably possible scenarios that we don’t know enough to judge their plausibility implies no irrationality whatsoever. It just means we don’t know enough to adjudicate the plausibility (as I am using the term) of all the possibilities. But for you all possibilities are equally plausible, since ‘possibility’ and ‘plausibility’ are synonymous. But in that case what threat is there to your faith, Michael? For ANY logically consistent post-mortem scenario that doesn’t contradict core Christian doctrines should keep your faith alive. And you have several such scenarios to choose from, right?

Michael, you read the Bible, so you know the stories are there (of Samuel rising from the grave and addressing Saul [Witch of Endor], of the dead being raised, etc.). So it’s more than plausible that this world and the afterlife share a certain fundamental continuity. But (a) these are rare events, and (b) what evidence do we have for concluding that the prematurely deceased roam about the earth involved in what goes on as a matter of human development? None.

None of us were around 2,000 years ago. But you said it yourself, you have Scripture. And the Scripture narrates this event. So it IS available to you. You ARE there, and it IS here with you. There is never any REAL distance between you and the truth and healing power of Christ’s death and life. The power of his reality and presence is mediated to you when you believe and trust that in the Cross the love of God embraced all that’s wrong and broken with the world.

Tom


#8

“Plausible” means “likely.”

To say that no conceivable scenario whereby still-born infants could benefit from this world is “likely” to be true within Christian parameters is to suggest (by your own repeated logic, and the logic of your friend, Greg Boyd) that Christian paremeters impose a huge Theodicy problem on human reason (i.e. that the Christian faith is irrational.)

Is that what you mean to imply when you evaluate every proposed scenary as “implausible”?

Not if all the scenarios we’ve discussed are implausible (i.e. unlikely to be true.)

Is that your opinion Tom?

The dead being raised has nothing to do with the conditions of a dis-embodied intermediate state.

Samuel’s appearence to the witch of Endor, and his communication with Saul, might be called a ghost story, and such two-way communication between this world and the intermediate state would appear to be rare (though when they first saw Christ after His resurrection, the disciples seem to have thought that they saw a ghost, and Christ didn’t say such things don’t exist, only that they don’t have flesh and bones, as He had.)

But there is nothing to suggest that one way communication, from this world to the intermediate state in rare.

Bulgakov suggested that disembodied souls have an enhanced communion with other disembodied souls, AND EVERY HUMAN SOUL.

Also, such a connection between this world and their’s wouldn’t necessarily involve “roaming about as a ghost.”

The naration of the event is there.

The question of how plausible the Chritian revelation is, and whether it leaves room for the solution of Theodicy problems like infant mortality is there too.

That you and Greg Boyd recognize the problem we’ve been discussing here (and on other threads) might be a step in the right direction, but to do so without suggesting any plausibe solutions isn’t helpful.


#9

That’s my view. But that’s not what I get from this:

“To me, a plausible ‘Christian’ answer to the specific problem of infant mortality would be any answer that is metaphysically possible, is logically consistent with a loving personal God who has a purpose for this world, and can fit within Christian eschatology.”

Of course, that last “can fit with Christian eschatology” is out of place since what you’re seeking to establish as plausible IS a particular eschatology. So, it looks to me like you just say that what counts as ‘plausible’ is “any answer that is metaphysically possible and logically consistent” (with a loving God, yes). That looks like plausibility = possibility (given theism) to me.

I disagree. What you seem to be saying is that if I have several possible explanations of some problem but I can’t adjudicate their competing plausibilities, I’m being irrational. That’s not true. And there’s no theodicy problem created by there being several possible scenarios whose plausibility visa-a-vie each other we simply cannot determine (given what we know).

To say some view is “implausible” is not the same as saying, “I know enough about X to say it’s possible; but I don’t know enough to say how plausible X is.”

My opinion is that nothing of great consequence depends upon the plausibility of these ‘scenaios’ we’re discussing IF we already have convincing reasons to conclude that UR is true. If I know that everybody leaving New York arrives safely to LA, I am not REQUIRED on threat of irrationality to venture an opinion on the nature of the routes they take.

The dead were not raised in the case of which I spoke. Samuel’s ‘ghost’ or ‘apparition’ (unembodied) rose to speak and interacted with people. You asked about the plausibility of deceased spirits interacting and observing what goes on in the physical world. I thought this biblical story established that. That’s all.

If you think that’s sufficient to fulfil what you think is “necessary” about this world, then you have another plausible scenario to encourage you. I’m happy for you.

The narration mediates the reality and power of the event where faith is present. That’s what it means to experience Christ via the text.

I’m sorry. The only real help I can offer you regarding these questions is the help I get from the Cross and the eventual UR it entails.

Tom


#10

It’s not out of place, because what I’m seeking to establish as plausible is NOT one "particular eschatology."

Is that what you’re “seeking to establish” here Tom?

Is that why we can’t communicate on something as simple as the proper use of the word “plausible”?

Is it plausible to you that Christ will return to earth in the next 20 years?

1oo years?

2,000 years?

Given the parameters of Christian eschatology, are not all these senarios “PLAUSIBLE”?

No–I’m saying that if you have several possible solutions to what you’ve called “a huge Theodicy problem,” and you insist that they’re all implausible (i.e. unlikely solutions), you’re being logically inconsistent (and re-enforcing the idea that the Christian faith has a huge, unsolvable Theodicy problem–and is therefore irrational.)

Why are you always thinking in terms of compitition?

Why are you talking about “competing plausibilities” when I’m not?

But you’re the only one talking about “visa-a-vie each other.”

That’s never been the question.

I thought you were saying that you knew enough about scripture and tradition to say that X, Y, and Z are all IMPLAUSIBLE (given the parameters of Christian eschatology.)

Is that not what you were saying?

It would be totally irrational to maintain that all would get there safely, some are unable to get there via the normal route, and all possible alternate routes are implausible (unlikely to get them there at all.)

That would be TOTALLY irrational Tom.

If you believed that all leaving New York would reach L.A. safely, you might believe that some alternate routes were more likely to be taken by those unable to take the normal route, but you could not (logically, and consistently) believe that no alternate routes could plausibly get anyone from New York to L.A.

That would be a contradiction in terms.

You spoke of at least two cases.

Samuel’s apparition, AND the dead rising.

See your own post…

Moving on.

Thank you.

So do you think there’s more than one plausible explantion here?


#11

Jim:

Thank you.

It seems you got a lot from that Church and it’s Pastor.

What Church was it?

Might there be one in my area?

How open are they to UR?

Are you still welcomed there given your current beliefs?

Have you had any visions, or positive spiritual experiences/experience of God’s presense since coming to believe in UR?


#12

I don’t even know what we’re debating anymore. This has morphed into something else.

Tom


#13

I haven’t been debating anything here (is “debate” the only purpose of this forum?)

I’ve been looking for possible/plausible answers to questions that have bothered me since my mother died, and I’ve found your use of “PLAUSIBLE/IMPLAUSIBLE” confussing.

(Is searching out possible/plausible answers to troubling questions not one of the purposes of Christian fellowship and dialogue, or must every topic heading be a competitive debate?)


#14

I withdraw the word “debate.”

I don’t know what it is we’re supposed to be “discussing” or what problem it is we’re supposed to be trying to fix. I’m just offering my points of view as best I can understand what’s going on here. Looks like I’m frustrating you, Michael, and I don’t wish to do that. Perhaps other people have some light to shed on things.

Tom


#15

We’re discussing whether there are (for a Christian) ANY plausible solutions to the Theodicy problem possed by infant mortality?

Would you say that there are, or there aren’t?

(And please note that I’m speaking in the plural–I’m not asking you about the liklihood of any one solution, or the relative plausibility of “competing scenarios.”)


#16

Michael: We’re discussing whether there are (for a Christian) ANY plausible solutions to the Theodicy problem possed by infant mortality? Would you say that there are, or there aren’t?

Tom: So I don’t trip into misunderstanding, tell me again what theodicy problem you believe is created by infant mortality.

Tom


#17

The church I went to then was an independent Pentecostal church in Plainfield, NJ called First Christian Assembly. Since I live several hours away from there and have little vacation time, I haven’t been there in over a decade. I also don’t know how that pastor will respond to my beliefs in universalism, but I might find out after my book gets published.

When I need to look for a church, I primarily look for churches in the charismatic/Pentecostal movement that can tolerate my eschatology. I like to focus on churches that have a strong focus on the Spirit of God, the canonical word of God, and God’s love. I’m welcome in several churches like this regardless that we’ve strong differences in eschatology.

One of the biggest concerns of pastors is that somebody with a different doctrine would try to use church membership or leadership as a platform to spread their particular doctrine. I work hard at avoiding that, and I get a long with many people. I’m also not offended when the pastor teaches about the Western Christian traditional view of hell while I don’t need the pastor to support my view that God’s offer of salvation will never end for the most recalcitrant person.

I still frequently experience God’s presence, sometimes during church services, private devotionals, other spontaneous times. Such dreams of vision are much less common than fresh experiences of God’s Spirit, but I had dream this past 3/7 that I wrote in facebook:

"I awoke to dreams many times during my early adulthood in the 1980s, but such memories of dreams somehow waned. Nonetheless, this Monday morning (3/7/11) I awoke to a dream:

"I felt in great athletic shape while I wore New York Yankees pinstripes and a baseball glove. I suddenly understood that the Yankees picked me to replace Derek Jeter at shortstop. I decided that I needed to intensely work on my throws to second base and first base. After a short while, I started to question to myself why they picked me because I was forty-seven years old, almost ten years older than the supposedly aging Jeter. I also started to literally hear my wife asking me a question while I began to awake. I wanted to go back to finish my dream, but I still awoke.

“I believe dreams have various sources while some dreams come from God. I suppose this might have been a dream from God, regardless that I no longer have athletic aspirations comparable to replacing Jeter as the Yankees shortstop. If this was a dream from God, then it was a symbolic dream with inherent conditions. Regardless of the unknown elements of this dream, I look forward to seeing the fulfillment of this dream.”

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#18

The Theodicy problem of a physical world (Shakespere’s “vale of tears”) that presumably serves some purpose, and human beings who don’t live in it long enough to feel a doctor smack their bottoms.

The Theodicy problem of human souls who neither make any embodied choices, or experience anything of good and evil from their brief stay here (in this necessary world.)

That problem.

Do you think the Christian Faith allows for any plausible solutions to that problem, or not?


#19

But what if they have a written doctrinal statement that says they believe hell is eternal?

Can you attend (should you attend) if you don’t believe that?

And if the Church is truly charismatic (gifted, anointed, led by the Spirit), how could they teach ECT (if you’re right in believing UR?)


#20

Michael: The Theodicy problem of a physical world (Shakespere’s “vale of tears”) that presumably serves some purpose, and human beings who don’t live in it long enough to feel a doctor smack their bottoms. Do you think the Christian Faith allows for any plausible solutions to that problem, or not?

Tom: I do think there is a plausible solution to this problem, but I don’t think you will like it or think it is a solution at all, since you seem to have rejected its having anything to do with addressing this problem from the beginning. And that solution is the infinite love of God on the Cross. In THIS event is guaranteed all God’s resources for pursuing the redemption of us all. In this love inhere the creative powers responsible for the cosmos in the first place as well as the commitment to supply whatever creatures genuinely require to become what God intends. Like I said, if I know (independently of the routes that they take) that all those who leave New York arrive safely to LA, I don’t need to venture an opinion on the nature of the routes they take. They obvious take SOME route. The necessity of ‘traveling by some means’ is ASSUMED in the fact of their arriving safely.

IF, however, our believing in UR depended upon knowing the plausibility of this or that route (which it doesn’t), then we’d be required to say something about specific scenarios—and you’ve named a few. They’re possible. They don’t obviously contradict core Christian doctrines. And they shed light on the ‘how’ of postmortem human development which you feel you need. If I needed such scenarios I’d use them. But I don’t feel like I need them, and the theodicy problem you mentioned doesn’t require them either. But as it is you’re doubly secure. You have the greatest possible assurance and basis for trust in Christ’s death and resurrection and you also have the gratuitous plausibility of several post-mortem scenarios that explain more about ‘how’ humans navigate the postmortem journey.

I pretty much don’t think that in the afterlife persons in fact ‘depart this world’ (a world capable of serving as a minimally appropriate context for our development). So the whole premise of the supposed problem (that babies “leave this world” without getting to have experiences and grow) is flawed I think. No human being can ever be in a context absolutely void of the necessary means of choice and Godward movement. This may be difficult for us to PERCEIVE given our limitations at present, but it seems a necessary conclusion to more fundamental beliefs we have about God as a loving and competent creator and architect of life.

But anyhow, why believe that “this world” is fundamentally a different world than the afterlife? It’s different to be sure. But if there is conscious experience and persons are able on some minimal level to exercise their volition vis-a-vie themselves and God, then I honestly don’t see a problem. Are they embodied for such development? IF they need to be, they will be. Will they be connected enough to this world to observe it? IF they need to be, they will be. Will they relate to other persons in the afterlife? IF they need to be so related, they will be.

Michael, seek enough of an answer to satisfy the question. And the question is, are the preborn who never get to experience this world able as we are to experience what is necessary to human development in order to be fitted for relationship with God? And the answer to that is ‘yes’. But FOR ME, that yes comes fundamentally in the larger case for UR based on God’s love and consideration of the end state. If all is well in the end, then I have to conclude that what is necessary about this world is part of the experience of deceased pre-borns in the afterlife. For you it seems this argument is “not very helpful.” I can’t help that. But as it is, you have the gratuitous (in my view; necessary in yours) satisfaction of plausible post-mortem scenarios to boot!

Tom