Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Taking a break ...

I will be taking an indefinite break from blogging. If it is true, as it has been reported here and elsewhere, that 200 million bloggers have quit blogging (more than twice the number of active bloggers), you may count me among them, at least for the moment.

I started this blog with hopes of creating an on-going dialogue with my friends about some possibilities in theology that I thought worth exploration. While many of those friends report that they are regular readers, hardly any have commented. So, in terms of dialogue, blogging has proven to be a disappointment.

This is not to say that I do not appreciate my new fellow blogging friends. I do appreciate your support, your ideas and comments, and your friendship. To Steve, Gordon, Jac, Stephen, and my non-believing friends Tom and Psiloiordinary, I say thank you. I have enjoyed conversing with you, and will likely continue to do so over on your sites.

But my purpose of engaging my own friends has been unsuccessful, and the time commitment is just too great to justify such results. And in fact, these posts have only succeeded in ticking off a number of those friends. So, I will give it a rest.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

POST #11: Theodicy, Q & A

My last post on theodicy, in which I propose that this cosmos exists as God’s answer to evil, and as his means of exterminating evil, has caused some consternation (as I expected). Mine is hardly a traditional concept. It is admittedly “outside the box”. Maybe a bit too far outside for some! But as these posts continue, I hope to demonstrate how well it fits Biblical theology, even as it flies in the face of traditional theology. My friend Steve, host of An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution has raised some excellent questions. As I typed out my response, the comment grew to the size of a full post. Here are excerpts from Steve’s comments and questions (italicized), followed by my answers. Steve begins by responding to some comments from Jac. If you want the full context of this discussion, it can be found in the comments section of Post #10.


Hi Jac:

I admit that when Cliff first started discussing these ideas a few months back, I thought it smacked very much of dualism. I don’t think that anymore since I believe Cliff has carefully addressed that concern a number of times. There is a difference in not be able to do something, and choosing not to do it. God is not limited in any way UNLESS he limits himself.... I’m not sure I’d put it in the same language as Cliff, that evil is “difficult for God to eliminate”. I think a more appropriate way of phrasing it is that the ramifications of eliminating evil in one swift blow are worse than allowing it to continue. (i.e. what Jesus said about wheat and chaff) But Cliff & I might be saying the same thing.

So I don’t think dualism is a problem, but I see two other challenges.

1) Where did evil come in the first place? ... Doesn’t the existence of evil outside of the space-time of our universe just push the issue back in “time” (if we can speak of time prior to the big bang)? Don’t we just end up needing the same argument again - i.e. a free-will / free-process argument? What is the benefit to theodicy of having the origin of evil outside of our universe? My questions don’t in anyway address whether your argument is consistent/good (and I know even you say it is speculative), I’m just not sure what the point or benefit is to theodicy. Maybe I'm missing something.

2) I’m really uncomfortable with the implication that the purpose of the universe is the destruction of evil. Maybe you aren’t saying “only purpose”, but it seems to be “primary purpose”. Is this what you are saying? To me this seems very much like we are being “used” by God. And I know we ARE “used” by God (we are his “hands”, “feet”, “eyes”, “ears” on earth helping to bring in the kingdom of God) – but that is different. I think the overriding theme in the bible is the redemption of creation, not the destruction of evil.



• In your response to Jac, your framing of the choice God made comes close to my own thinking. We’re going way beyond anything we could know when we talk about the pre-cosmos mind of God. But I conceive of it as something like this: when evil rose up, God might have chosen to snuff it out, maybe only to have it recur again and again ... but that perhaps he devised a plan involving us and this universe which would purge it forever. Whatever he is doing here with us is going to set the whole of the angelic hosts into awe at his wisdom (Eph. 3:10). That verse has always set me on a search for something more dramatic than Jesus dying for my sins and admitting me to heaven (as wonderful as that is!). I mean that these angels have known God intimately for billions of years, and he is doing something through the church (I understand church in this verse to refer to believing mankind of all time) that will demonstrate facets of his wisdom they have never witnessed before! Something very big is happening in the cosmos. My details may be sketchy. They may be all wrong. But I have to believe that we are in the midst of a drama that is beyond anything we have ever imagined! Evil may be a thing difficult to purge forever, but God has devised a plan -- long and involved -- that will do just that. Clearly any theology that sees evil as being once-and-for-all annihilated could hardly be called dualism.

Should it surprise us that God opted not to use his “Iron Fist” to stomp out evil? Is the concept that he would utilize a more “passive” tactic to overcome evil really so startlingly new? Is this not the manner in which we are instructed to overcome evil? Does he tell us to overpower evil? or to turn the other cheek. Does he tell us to use force against evil? or to go the extra mile. He says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) Why should we think that a cosmic battle with evil changes the rules of divine engagement? Is it not at least possible that God tells us to war against evil through nonresistance because that is precisely how he does so? And might it be that this is actually the best way? to let evil run its course, and actually die under the influence of divine goodness, love, and nonresistance ... even a nonresistance that cost the blood of Jesus? Or are these just the wistful notions of a Sermon on the Mount idealism that could have no practical role on a cosmic scale?

• You say Where did evil come from in the first place? and doesn’t this problem just put us right back at square one, with no real theodicy solution other than free-will?

Those are very insightful questions. I have excluded events outside of time and space from my posts, because we have no way of discerning anything about them. But that is a too easy cop-out, and your questions are valid. One possibility, I suppose, is that prior to the drama of this cosmos, there was some kind of balance-of-power dualism, one that will after this cosmic battle come to its final end. But I doubt it. The Bible does tell us about a war in heaven, a rebellion against God’s authority led by Lucifer. But imagine with me that that is exactly what happened, and this cosmos and its process was God’s answer. (The following logic gets very complicated, but stay with me.) We do not need a new free-will theodicy to explain this eruption of evil. In fact, if we surmise that angels do have an inherent power of self-determination, and that Lucifer simply made a horrible choice, note that he did so without a backdrop of evil going on around him. This angelic “free-will” did not require a context filled with natural evil and moral evil, did it? In other words, if your argument is valid (that I have just pushed the “free-will” theodicy argument back 13 billions years) then our present day free-will theodicy arguments make no sense. Why should unthinkably horrible events be a necessary backdrop to ensure genuine free-will, as free-will theodicy implies? If Satan had genuine free will without tsunamis and earthquakes and unthinkable suffering of millions of innocents, why would such manifestations be deemed necessary to validate our free-will?

So no, I do not think I just pushed the problem back to an earlier free-will argument. Or if I did, then the nature of that earlier free-will argument is completely different from the one I have rejected. Still, I have not answered your question, and that is because I believe no answer exists. Our problem of evil is limited to events within our cosmos. We know evil exists. It’s ultimate cause is a mystery, for now. But theodicy attempts to answer the question, “why does it persist? why does God just look on, and take no action?” My thoughts are limited to these questions.

• You say, I’m really uncomfortable with the implication that the purpose of the universe is the destruction of evil. Maybe you aren’t saying “only purpose”, but it seems to be “primary purpose”. Is this what you are saying?

Yep, that is what I am saying. Shocking? But it may make more sense to you after I have posted more thoughts about how death, resurrection, evolution, nonresistance, the theology of suffering and glory all interconnect to this framework. In my mind, a goal to destroy evil does not exclude nor minimize the stories of the redemption of creation, and our personal redemption, etc. Rather, it adds a layer of purpose and meaning on top of these themes, enriching them and contextualizing them.

Are we just being “used” in this scheme? I certainly don’t conceive of it that way. I see that we are called into a significant and meaningful partnership with God, and with Jesus. It is our choice whether to accept this call. Its a volunteer army!* Part of this calling may be an invitation to suffer for his cause. But God, through our captain Jesus, has already led the way in suffering. We are called to join in with him. And if we do, we are granted to share in the glory of the Kingdom! This is the teaching of 1 Peter, and Romans 8. This certainly elevates our role in the cosmic scheme of things. Traditional theology has taught us to see ourselves as of little count. Pawns being acted upon. A false humility. What I am seeing is that God has given us significance beyond our imaginations. Can he get the job done without me? Yes. But I have (we all have) the amazing potential of actually speeding up the process! (2 Peter 3:3-14). A God who adopts me as his own child, calls me into high service, asks me to join in his suffering, makes me a co-heir with his Son, sharing in his glory ... such a God can scarcely be seen as “using” me.

* An exception might be those innocents who suffer at the hand of evil, and unwittingly play a role in this battle. When they experience the glory that goes hand in hand with their suffering (Romans 8:17-18), I have no doubt they will in retrospect happily accept the role they were given to play out, and not object that they were “used”.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

POST #10: Theodicy, a New Approach (Part Two)

In this post, I briefly describe some personal conclusions as to how entropy relates to evil, and thus to theodicy. This post is the most significant of any of my posts to date, and lays a groundwork for many future posts. To my knowledge, these ideas have not been widely tested. I invite you to offer a response, or to question these ideas, and I hope you will do so.

As typical Christian theology would have it, God created a pristine universe and world. From there, story usually goes something like this: at a point in time, evil invades the scene, and corrupts the cosmos, necessitating corrective actions by the Creator, which in turn leads to a judgment of evil at the end of the age. As we bring together current understandings of entropy with Biblical truths, the possibility of a quite different picture begins to emerge.

In part one of this post, we traveled to the end of time, and established a linkage between the fates of evil and entropy in this cosmos. We suggested that this linkage may help us to understand the purposes of a Creator who intentionally created an entropic cosmos, even though it is clear that he considered entropy a provisional aspect of his creation, one from which he hoped (divine hope, of course, is more like certainty!) it would be delivered (Romans 8:18-23). Now I invite you to journey back with me to the dawn of time.

From the still resounding echos of creation (including cosmic microwave background radiation), physicists are today able to piece together a remarkable amount of information about the first second of cosmic history. For example, we are told that entropy began at 10 to the power of -43 seconds after the big bang (for non-math majors, this is an extremely small fraction of a second). For our purposes, we could simply say that God created the cosmos to be entropic at its very outset.

Why would the Creator intentionally subject his new creation to a physical law of decay and death? If the entropic cosmos is as we described in Post #4 , driven at every level by a principle of death and decay, why would a God of Life choose to create a cosmos governed by the law entropy from the very beginning? Why would he build into creation the seeds of its own demise, such that all creation would groan in pain, experience frustration, be bound to decay; and then express that his will from the beginning was to see it delivered from its inevitable entropic end? Considering the linkage between entropy and evil, can we not reasonably deduce that God created this cosmos as he did because of evil, in response to evil, as a way of dealing with evil?

This deduction would suggest that the rebellion of Lucifer and his expulsion from heaven occurred prior to, or commensurate with the Creation Moment, and that this cosmos, driven by death and decay would have been created to house him, and ultimately destroy him and the evil that arose within him. In this scenario, this cosmos would be God’s response to evil, and his plan to contain it and bring it to a final end.

Of the ultimate origin of evil, how it came to express itself in Lucifer, we can say nothing. This occurred outside of our cosmos, outside of our space/time dimensions, and must remain a mystery. But if we can deduce from the time line of entropy that the entire cosmos is in some way a response to evil, a complete paradigm shift ensues. The ramifications of such an understanding profoundly impact our understanding of the purpose of creation, the purpose of man, the role of evolution, the role of suffering, and, germane to our present discussion, the problem of evil. It effectively resets the table for the theodicy discussion.

The underlying presumption of Free Will theodicy, the most commonly advanced Christian solution to evil’s riddle, is that man was created by God to glorify him, to obey him and enter into fellowship with him. I have always loved that oft-quoted Westminster Shorter Catechism which suggests that the chief purpose of man is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” But this presumption is, in part, responsible for the difficulty of resolving the problem of evil. C.S. Lewis suggests that the persistent existence of evil is a price God considers “worth paying” for free will. But what if the ultimate prize was not having free will spirit beings choose to love their Creator? What if, instead, the prize was the ultimate destruction of evil? And what if the true purpose of man is to co-venture with God in the pursuit of this prize?

We might then see all expressions of evil in a different light. If, in the interplay of spiritual and natural process, it is necessary to let evil run its own course, to be overcome by goodness rather than subdued by a greater power, we could surmise that God’s hand must be restrained. Yes, he allows evil to persist. But the prize is not free will. The prize is evil’s complete undoing. This turns the whole theodicy issue upside down. If it is true that evil must be allowed full expression, and that it must ultimately be overcome not by force, but by the greater power of goodness, we can then begin to see that the best thing a good God can do is to let evil run its course. Of course, we must deal with the fact that evil claims millions of innocent victims in full view of God. But as we will see in a future post, the experience of even these victims of evil is cast in an entirely new light when their sufferings are viewed as a part of the necessary process of destroying the cause of all suffering.

All theories begin with a presumption. Mine begins with this one: evil has posed a more difficult problem for God than we have allowed ourselves to imagine. This will undoubtedly be a troubling concept for many. Christians might find it unthinkable that an omnipotent God could find any task “difficult”. But I am asking you to consider the following possibilities, and to respond with your comments.

I am suggesting that all of Creation exists as God’s answer to evil. I am suggesting that the purpose of God in creating the cosmos was to house and ultimately destroy evil. I am suggesting that God knew from the beginning that evil could not be dealt a final death blow without much suffering under its hand. I am suggesting that God is asking all of Creation to join in paying this price. I am suggesting that, from the beginning, God knew that he would lead the way in suffering, that no one would suffer more. But I am suggesting that even the sufferings of Christ would be incomplete; that the price of evil’s ultimate undoing would include the sufferings of many innocent victims. (The Biblical theme of non-resistance overcoming evil in the end plays into this scenario.)

In fact, many of these suggestions have strong Biblical support. Some have inferential support. But I will not be building the Biblical case for these concepts in this post as 1) this post is already too long! and 2) I would like to hear first from my readers.

I want to finish this post by reemphasizing what I am not saying. I am not saying that entropy is evil. I am suggesting that it is a piece of God’s plan to annihilate evil. And as such it is good. Genesis 1 tells us that God was pleased with every step of his creative work. Five times we read his assessment: “God saw that is was good.” I understand that God’s inclusion of death and decay in his original blueprint was provisional, but purposeful, and that it suited his plans perfectly. (It does appear from Scripture that entropy, death and decay, are tools available to the forces of evil ... that death itself is under the controlling influence of evil in the person of Satan.)

I am not promoting a new brand of dualism, in which good and evil are locked into an eternal “balance of power”. I am not saying that the power of evil is equal to the power of God. Evil, together with death and decay, will be vanquished. Its doom is certain. I am suggesting that the manner in which evil must be dealt with is far more complex and involved than we have thought. I am suggesting that the demise of evil has so far been a 13.7 billion year process, one that we cannot yet fully understand. And I am suggesting that all the out-workings of evil in this cosmos are a necessary part of its ultimate undoing.

Please comment.

Monday, October 15, 2007

POST #9: Theodicy, a New Approach (Part One)

The problem of evil presupposes that God is 1) good, and 2) all-powerful. When set against the backdrop of natural and moral evil in a cosmos he created and over which he rules, these two presuppositions set up an incongruence that deeply troubles thoughtful believers, and bars the pathway to belief for the skeptic. In earlier posts, I described this problem, and tested standard Christian answers to the problem and found them to be incomplete, or unsatisfying.

Perhaps our theodicies have failed to adequately answer the questions raised by evil because we have failed to ask the right questions:

The problem of evil assumes:
• God exercises unrestrained sovereignty ~ Does He?
• God is responsible for all events ~ Is He?
• God can end evil any moment he chooses ~ Can He?

The problem of evil exists, in part, because most Christians believe that the abolishing of evil would be a simple task for an Almighty God. Ask most Christians if God could crush evil, and they will respond “Sure, he could crush it under his little finger this very instant.” Christians profess that the power of God is much greater than the forces of evil; and most Christian theodicies presume therefore that God is “permitting” evil to persist for some higher purpose. Perhaps we need to take a step back and recast the drama of this cosmos, with some help from physics coupled with the teachings of the Bible. Take a journey with me to the end of time, and then follow (in part two) as we journey backwards to the very dawn of time, the first instant of the Creation Moment (aka the Big Bang).

But before we take these journeys, let me be clear about what I am not suggesting. Many have attempted to solve evil’s riddle by minimizing God’s power, or suggesting that the power of evil is equal to the power of God. There is a category of theodicies which deal with the problem of evil in this way, many embracing various forms of Dualism. I reject these views. The questions I am asking, and the answer I will be proposing, have nothing to do with lowering our view of God’s omnipotence, nor will they impact the free exercise of his sovereignty. Dualism, which sets Good and Evil into a kind of eternal balancing act, is not Scriptural. John assures us, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4), and all of biblical revelation points to a coming climactic victory over all God’s enemies.

I will suggest, however, that when evil arose in God’s presence, he was confronted with a formidable challenge. I will suggest that the annihilation of evil is the overriding purpose of the cosmos. I will suggest the destruction of evil was not a simple task, but one that required a 13.7 billion year process and a vast entropic universe to accomplish; and that it would involve untold suffering. I will suggest that in this suffering he himself would lead the way, but that he would also call upon creation, including man, to suffer with him. And I will suggest that, after the dust settles, angelic hosts who will have observed the entire process, will drop their jaws in utter amazement at the multi-faceted wisdom of God displayed through what he accomplished, in part, through people of faith (Ephesians 3:10).

It is necessary to return to the earlier posts on entropy, particularly third and final installment. In those posts, we established the timeline of entropy both from the sciences of cosmology and physics, and from the Scriptures. Let us now revisit those concepts.

First, we will move forward in time to the end of this present age. Here we will discover that entropy ends. The need for the sun as an energy source will cease (Isaiah 60:19, Revelation 7:16, 21:23; 22:5). Natural pain, suffering, and death, all products of entropy, will cease (Revelation 21:4). At the same time, Satan will be judged, and evil will be swallowed up forever. (Depending upon one’s eschatology, this may all happen at once, or be spread out by as much as 1000 years. But it all occurs within the context of the closing of this entropic world, and the creation of the new heavens and earth. In my own view, these events are all simultaneous.) Romans 8:18-23 describe this moment when all of creation is delivered from the bondage to decay, led into this liberty by the children of God, revealed in this late day to be sons (and daughters!) of God. The context suggests that suffering ceases in the same instant. From these specific Scriptures, and the general teaching of the Bible about the concurrent changes in both the spiritual realities and in the physics of the cosmos, I have concluded that the fate of entropy is in some way linked intrinsically to the fate of evil. We also understand from the Romans 8 passage that entropy was introduced into creation by the Creator himself, but included as a provisional element, one from which he fully intended to liberate creation in the fullness of time. If the fates of entropy and evil are thus linked, and if the plan of the Creator was that entropy would someday cease along with evil, we might conclude that the purpose of an entropic creation is related to evil, and to evil’s ultimate demise.

This conclusion, which is based upon physics, the Bible, and logic, is central to my entire thesis; if you tend to scan these posts, please read that last sentence of the previous paragraph slowly.

In my next post, we will travel back in time to the creation moment in an attempt to understand what might have been the ultimate purpose of the Creator. And I will then apply these understandings to theodicy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mini Book Review: The Doors of the Sea

On the first day of my vacation with my family, I just read The Doors of the Sea by David Bentley Hart (Eerdmans, 2005). I could not it put down. I recommend it to any reader who wants to delve deeper into our current topic of the problem of evil.

Hart wrote this wonderful little treatise, subtitled “Where was God in the Tsunami”, in the wake of the Indonesian Tsunami. Out of his deep faith and informed mind and with profound honesty and eloquence, Hart responds to the horrors of that 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Chris Tilling reviewed and recommend the book (you can read his review here) and his enthusiasm was so unrestrained that I immediately ordered my copy. I read it this morning; and, for reasons which shall in time be obvious, I am compelled to offer this review before moving on to my next post.

Against the backdrop of two manifestations of Natural Evil (the 2004 tsunami, and the Lisbon earthquake/tsunami/fire of 1755) and Dostoyevsky’s portrayal of Moral Evil in The Brothers Karamozov, Hart thoughtfully weaves his “elucidation” of God’s goodness, evil’s reality, suffering, and redemption. With his multiple scathing denunciations of Calvinistic determinism (which he calls absurd) and eloquent dismissals of all other standard Christian theodicies (many of which he unapologetically identifies as “blasphemous flippancies”), Hart shows his utter contempt for much of what passes as Christian explanations of the problem of evil.

The truth, Hart helps us to see, is to be found in the context of free-acting evil, the understanding of the cosmos as entropic and death driven, the coexisting of two Kingdoms (life/light and death/darkness — but Hart is no dualist!), the suffering that results from this state of affairs, and the glory that awaits a final consummation.

Hart’s thoughts closely parallel many of my own; he comes nearer to the concepts I will unfold in my next post than anything I have ever read or heard. There are still significant differences, and Hart would doubtless include mine in the category of “rational theodicies” which he uniformly rejects. Nevertheless, with considerable trepidation I shall boldly move forward with my proposed theodicy, encouraged and re-inspired by Hart’s superb book.

Monday, October 8, 2007

... Continued ... IS GOD GOOD?

Background: A reader, Jac, noted an inconsistency in Post #8 in which I tested four standard Christian Theodicies against a set of defined criteria. One of these criteria was that “a working theodicy must result in an omnipotent, compassionate God with his honor and integrity firmly intact in the face of a cosmos brimming with evil.” Jac’s question, very simply stated was this: how could I insist that a viable theodicy must uphold the honor of a “compassionate” God when so many Old Testament stories cast him in a light that is far from compassionate (as we might define compassion). Jac wrote, “By society’s definition of compassionate, many would consider the God of Exodus 11 and other Old Testament passages to be no different than your baby killing Nazi.” Jac cited the killing of firstborn sons in Egypt (Exodus 11:4-6), the slaying of innocent children in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the drowning of innocent children in the flood of Noah. So the question has been raised. And before we move forward to suggest an alternative theodicy, we must return to reexamine the very presumptions of theodicy. Is God good? Is he compassionate? Do we define compassion in the same way he does?

Readers Comments: Several readers wrote comments suggesting ways in which this dilemma might be viewed.

Jac suggested that these O.T. stories portraying God as an apparently uncaring child slayer are troubling to believers, and are often “insurmountable barriers to the skeptic.” He sees them as irresolvable, and suggests that I ought to be more tentative in my dismissal of the free will/free process theology theodicy. He argues in favor of that theodicy, and contributed this C.S. Lewis quote (from Mere Christianity): “If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will--that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings--then we may take it it is worth paying.”

Steve Martin suggests that the answer might lie in the concept of progressive revelation. His explanation seems to me to be two-pronged. Either the revelation is accurate, but God accommodated the infant state of man’s faith in his actual dealings with man, or the recounting of the stories is a little fuzzy, representing a less-than-accurate view of what God did and why. This concept would suggest that the true character of God comes into clearer focus as we progress through the ages of written revelation. Jac concurs that this must be part of our approach when he writes, “I agree with the concept of progressive revelation – we definitely understand God better now that we did before.”

Timothy takes a similar tack and writes, “When we look at historical accounts from the old testament scripture, it would seem to me that we are watching a God who is some how engaged in the affairs of man on a different level then we have experienced in the last couple thousand years of recorded history.” He expands on this idea, suggesting that we assign greater weight to later revelation. Early revelations concerning God's character, Timothy contends, may be tainted by the authors imperfect understanding of God. The authors might be giving what amounts to an inspired, but nevertheless human, rendition of the interactions of God and man; but their writings would not necessarily represent the final word on God's nature.

About himself, God declares “I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). The loving, kind, good God that Jesus came to show us is the God of Creation, the God of Moses, the God of the Old Testament. My own solution to Jac’s dilemma (which I will elucidate in greater detail later) is found in progressive revelation. It is a subject to which I will necessarily return, and which will involve a major discussion of Biblical interpretation and inspiration.

My Conclusion: I must agree with Jac’s central objection to the way in which I discounted the free will argument of theodicy as not upholding the compassionate character of God. Considering the stature of those who have forwarded the free will / free process theology argument (Lewis, Guinness, Polkinghorne, many others), I may have oversold my somewhat cavalier dismissal of it. Nevertheless, my argument is unchanged: this theodicy fails to satisfy the skeptic, it fails to satisfy most believers, and it fails to satisfy even its own proponents. So the quest for a better theodicy continues. I will suggest my own approach to the problem of evil in my next post.

The interlude continues ...

Post #9 is coming! And also, some possible solutions to the dilemma posed by Jac. But life has been very busy lately; and I have been a little distracted by conversations happening elsewhere, some of which might interest my readers. Over at Young Earth Creationists Anonymous, a website hosted by a former YEC who is now an atheist, I have been involved in some interesting discussions with some atheist friends. Christians can benefit much by engaging intelligent, thoughful atheists. If you're interested, you can look at the latest discussions by clicking here, and entering in, if you wish. Also check out the earlier post and comments, "Paley's Moral Compass." My friend Steve Martin has posted an excellent essay at his site, An Evangelical dialogue on Evolution. If you think that belief in evolution somehow marginalizes Genesis, Steve makes a case that the exact opposite may be true. Read it here.

And don't give up on me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

... Interlude ... IS GOD GOOD?

I was just getting ready to write POST #9, when the discussion of my last post took a sharp turn. I am inviting comment on Jac’s contribution (which you can read by clicking here and scrolling down to the exchanges between Jac [“anonymous”] and myself). Jac raises a point which brings the whole matter of theodicy into question. Is it necessary to solve the riddle of how a good God who is also all-powerful can permit horrifying evil if we agree at the outset that the very same God perpetrates horrifying evils. To put it another way, why should anyone expect God to stop Hitler’s hand when God himself is on record killing innocent children in Egypt and Sodom, etc. If we start with a God who commits monstrous atrocities, does the Problem of Evil cease to exist as a problem. For the Problem of Evil begins with the assumption that God is good.

I have some ideas about how to deal with this legitimate question, but I would prefer to hear first from my readers. Please comment ...