This topic is continued from the previous essay.
I define exist as something that has substance, occupies space (nothing else can be in that same space at the same time), and exerts a force on something else.
Back to the Catch 22 argument. A simple example: if you and I walk down a street and see a house on fire and do nothing, if we pretend we don’t see the fire, we are too busy to get involved and do something, people would think that there is a flaw, an imperfection in our character. The least we could do is scream “fire” or pull out our cell phones and dial 911 to report a fire, or run up to the neighboring house and bang on their door to ask them to call 911 and to tell them to get out of their house in case it catches on fire.
So how can God, if he exists, and if he is perfect, do nothing when he sees children being blown to bits in the Middle East? The least he could do is yell “stop it”, “no more”, “enough of this nonsense, no more hate”. YET, he does nothing. This is the problem of Theodicy I mentioned above, that has stumped Theologians for centuries.
Every time a Christian uses the argument that they know God exists because he has helped them they are in essence saying that they consider themselves more important than all those suffering children, that he/she is better than others because God had the time to answer their prayers when he couldn’t be bothered. He turned his back on all those suffering kids. By making this statement they are actually saying that God is NOT a perfect Being because God has favorites. He likes some people more than others so he helps them and ignores the even more desperate please of innocent children.
IF God only loves certain people, heterosexuals or Christians, or people who wear the right clothing or headdress, or who eat the right foods, or practice the right rituals, are Baptized in the right way or Baptized at all then God isn’t a Perfect Being. A Perfect Being would love everyone equally and unconditionally!
Theologians have addressed the dilemma we call Theodicy with the statement:
“God works in mysterious ways, it is not ours to know or even question his motives or reasons.”
That isn’t an argument. That is a way of side stepping the problem. Because……?
Because God if he is a Perfect Being, wouldn’t have to cause suffering in some innocent in order to teach some other recalcitrant schmuck a life lesson. God IF he is all knowing, all seeing, loving, PERFECT would be able to find some other way to teach people what they need to be taught without harming them or others.
ONLY an imperfect God would resort to violence in a fit of anger, or to teach some lesson!
That leaves people with three options.
One option is what the Deists have selected. They believe that God is perfect, all knowing, all seeing, loving, powerful BUT that for some reason, He chooses NOT to interfere in the affairs of men. Theists believe God has the same basic characteristics but they believe that God does interfere in the affairs of men.
One of the arguments Deists make to explain why God doesn’t interfere in the affairs of men is over the concept of Free Will. Either we have it or we don’t. If God interferes in Men’s affairs than we don’t have Free Will, everything is predetermined, our destiny’s defined from birth (some Christian religious groups have accepted this argument and take this position). Why bother to pray or go to church or do the right things? God will save you if he wants, you can’t influence him. Therefore how can anyone be condemned for their bad behavior, they can always argue they are simply doing what God has determined they should do. There would be no need for churches or mosques, ministers, priest or popes. They’d all be out of business! So many religious folk reject the idea that we do NOT have Free Will.
There is another problem with the Deists option, voicing an opinion about something is not interfering in the affairs of men, does not interfere with Free Will. God can still say “no, I don’t like what you are doing”, people are still free to ignore His words and do what they want. His silence is proof He isn’t Perfect.
Some try to insist that the Bible is God’s expression of what he wants us to do, and his expression of His displeasure of our actions. But to accept that argument you have to pretend that the Bible is consistent in its message, that it doesn’t give conflicting advice and that it is God’s word not man’s!
There are too many conflicts in the Bible to accept this argument! If you don’t believe me than you need to google “errors and contradictions in the Bible”. Again you can find a wealth of information on the subject. Some of the sites side step the problems and offer platitudes. Some will list the Biblical passages and a full discussion of the errors and contradictions.
We also know, though many refuse to admit it, that the Bible is the work of men. It was written by, transcribed by, translated by, edited by and compiled by men. If any bits or pieces originally came from God it is impossible to tell. If God ever tried to say something in the Bible his words have long since been corrupted, distorted, and drowned out by the Ego’s of men.
A second option is one that early Gnostic Christians accepted. It is that the God of this world is a lesser, imperfect Being. AND there is support in the Bible for this option since God supposedly admits that there are other Gods, “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other Gods before me.”
But then they are still stuck trying to prove that a greater God, the one they believe in, exists! AND that always leaves them open to the claims of others that “their God is greater than your God”! AND this results in many of the unholy Holy wars that have and continue to tear our world apart.
A third option is to accept that God doesn’t exist. He may have existed at one time, long enough to set off the Big Bang, maybe God is what went BANG in the Big Bang, God exploded and it is all his little blown up particles that seeded the earth.
This in essence is what some other religious groups have accepted, they are the ones that see God in all matter, rocks, streams, mountains, living things, people. I think this is in many ways a healthier way to view God, these folks see the world and all living things as holy and treat them as such.
Many modern Theists have no respect for the planet or other living things or other people (those people that aren’t just like them).
Or there is another reason that God doesn’t exist, that is that God is simply a metaphor, a “word” for the concept of Good as the Devil is a metaphor for the opposite, the concept of Evil.
Concepts, ideas, metaphors exist ONLY in our minds, in our imaginations. Concepts are NOT living Beings. This brings us back to the opening argument about “forms” of the ancient Greeks. Since those times some folks have tried to turn abstract ideas into concrete realities creating problems for themselves and others.
Here is the concept I prefer.
There is good and evil and a whole range in between, in all people. This idea fits in with the concept of Yin and Yang from ancient Chinese philosophy. In all things good there is an element that is bad just as in all things bad there is an element of good. All assets have an element that is a liability just as all liabilities have an element that is an asset. I think the old saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” comes from this philosophy. We can choose to develop and nurture the goodly (Godly) side of our nature or we can choose to develop and nurture the Evil (Devilish) side of our nature. The choice is ours.
If more people would work on the goodly side of their nature, we could create “Gods heaven on earth”. Unfortunately, too many people don’t and there is a great deal of suffering and Evil in this world as the consequence.
There is support for this concept in the Bible, when you read it metaphorically, and there is support for this idea in the teachings of many of the other world religions and in the teachings of many of our world’s great thinkers, philosophers and theologians!
As I said earlier the problem is that people have tried to turn abstract concepts/ideas into concrete realities and when they do they create all sorts of inconsistencies and problems for themselves and in their Theology.
The problem of EVIL, “why bad things happen to good people” and the opposite “why good things happen to bad people” , this problem we call Theodicy is a very ancient problem. But I think that is only because the Theologians refuse to accept that the problem of Theodicy proves that a perfect God can’t exist!
IF God isn’t Perfect than how can he do all the things that the Theologians and Believers claim He has done and can do and how can all of these things be Good? If they aren’t Good then he isn’t Perfect. A Perfect God can do no Evil. How can the Priests and the Popes, the Ministers and the Mullahs justify and sanctify their actions (past and present, their bad behavior) IF God isn’t a Perfect, all powerful BEING? They can’t.
This topic continues in the next essay.
Originally published: 2015-FEB-20
Last updated 2015-FEB-20
Author: Susan Humphreys