Wednesday, November 14, 2012

God, "God's will", and the "problem of evil" Part 1

"Andromeda Perseus: I'll have to blog about this in more detail, but my thinking is this: God didn't vote for Obama, we did. Some may pray for Romney to win (and honestly, I did), *but others are also prays for Obama to win. So who is God going to please? Some of the people, anyway. However, I think these things happen for a reason. Let's say it was indeed God's will that Obama won. However, it could be said that it's not for the reason that Obama supporters think. It could be that God is saying "You think society's messed up? Then fix it. You learn nothing if I did everything for you. Look, you want motivation? Obama is president again, and if you think the damage he's done so far is bad, what do you think will happen now, now that he no longer has to worry about re-election? There's your motivation. Now go do something about it."

Again, I'll discuss this more on my blog, but the writer of the meme above does not understand God the way believers do. He's not our genie, granting wishes left and right. If the God-genie is his idea of God, then it's no wonder he doesn't believe in him. I wouldn't either."

This sentence should read: "but others prayed for Obama to win".  That's what I get for typing in a hurry!  LOL


The meme above was posted on one of my FB friend's wall.  I had to respond to it, because I think I'm in a position to discuss the topic of God, "God's will", and the question of evil.  I say this because I'm a believer in God that was born to and raised by Marxist baby boomer parents, so as you can see, I've run the gamut on this issue. 

The important thing to mention here though, is that my parents didn't go out of their way to make sure that I didn't even know about God.  It was not at all their intent to indoctrinate me into their way of thinking, but to expose me to all points of view so that I would arrive at their thinking on my own.  They really believed that, after I examined all the facts (as they knew them) for myself, I would arrive at no other conclusion but what they themselves concluded: That a belief in God is for weak-minded people who need a crutch to get along in life, and that society is too stupid and corrupt to allow control to be dictated by "the people" (via democracy), so the masses have to be controlled by the government by specialized government workers via socialism.  

No, of course they didn't phrase it that way, but that's essentially what socialists believe.  Socialists (which includes Communists and Marxists) ultimately believe in totalitarianism, whether overt (such as in the old Soviet Russia) or benign (as it is being tried to be implemented in our country).  The reason I am setting this all up is to give you an idea of what I started out with, which is basically that I wasn't brought up to believe in God.  So to go from that starting point to being a God-believing Christian, I had to start from scratch.  My point here is that those who call themselves atheists probably started out much further ahead in their own upbringing about the belief in God than I ever did. 

What follows is my own take about the issue of God, his will, and the question of evil.  This is the result of many discussions with lots of people of various levels of a belief in God, from outright denial to total unquestioned belief in his existence.  I make no claims to being a theologian or expert on this topic, these are all my own musings and observations.  I also must be a bit insane to try to tackle in a few blog posts a topic that has vexed greater minds than mine for centuries.  But hey, I admit to being a bit insane, so ride with me the rest of the way at your own risk.  You have been warned.  ;-)

First, yes I do believe in God.  I do believe that there's a higher form of intelligence "out there" that most people refer to as God.  While I do believe in evolution, I don't think evolution explains how self-aware creatures like us came into existence.  What trips most people up is thinking of God existing only in physical space like we do.  That's why atheists often talk derisively of "the magic man in the sky." 

Here I had to mentally work this over as well.  If God is not someone physical, then what is he? Describing God as this being you can't see, touch, smell, etc but is somehow "out there" could also fit describing unicorns - as the more snide detractors of God that I've come across have said to me more than once.  But the vast majority of us don't go looking for unicorns for the bigger questions in life; questions such as "Why are we here?", and "What's it all about?", and the classic "What's the meaning of life?"

On top of that is the question of evil.  There are many ways to define evil, but its most basic definition is that of selfishness.  It's not just coincidence that those who are evil are also very, very selfish people.  I know some of you are thinking, "Is she saying that babies are evil?"  :-)
There is a difference between a baby and someone like Adolf Hitler.  A baby is not intentionally selfish - that's just a survival mechanism.  "Selfish" in the way I'm describing it is the willful act of satisfying one's own needs at the expense of others, and by that I mean that one of the intents of the evil act IS to take from someone else (for selfish reasons) in such a way as to deprive them in a harmful and even fatal way. 

Having set the stage, here goes. 

As I just said, I believe God is a being; a higher intelligence that is the creator of all.  I believe this because the order of the universe suggests a beginning.  That is, everything came from something else (which is pretty much what evolution is about) - but there had to be a starting point.  The "Big Bang" would be what most people would call the starting point of it all, and the continued expansion of the universe is evidence of a cosmic-sized explosion indeed having occurred.  But why did this "big bang" occur?  Science has no answer for that; nor does evolution, for that matter. 

Back in my college days, I remember something called the "God-sized hole", which has two interpretations, depending on who is bringing up this phrase.  For atheists, this means basically that whenever there's gaps in knowledge or information, then "God" fills that gap.  It's meant to be a derisive term (atheists have no lack of ways to define and describe God and his believers in derisive ways, it seems) to suggest that those who believe in God use him as a substitute for actually learning the truth. 

For believers in God, the "God-sized hole" refers to the inner longing for something beyond ourselves - an undefined absence that ultimately only God can fill.  Being raised in an atheist Marxist family, I got to know both interpretations, and in all honesty, I can see both sides on this.  That is, I can see some people using God as an excuse to not learn more about the world, and I can see God as the final answer to the larger questions in life.

Scientists try to answer the "how" of existence.  That's their job.  They look at the evidence, make speculations (aka theories, but ultimately all theories are speculation, since there's no way we can totally know everything about anything), and adjust accordingly when facts seem to conflict with the current speculations.  What scientists don't do is to ask the "why" of existence.

That is, scientists can create their speculations as to how the universe came into existence (currently that would be the big bang) - but they can't answer "why".  To ask "why" would imply that there was an intelligence behind the sparking of the big bang, and such thinking belongs to the realm of philosophers and theologians.

Now, there's all kinds of thoughts and ideas that can be entertained out, but that would take much more space on this blog post than I think would be helpful for my discussion.  So for the sake of brevity, I'll take on only the issue of our existence as to how it relates to my discussion next time.

End Part 1

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