Paul's Reviews > The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
416390
's review
Mar 17, 12

bookshelves: god-botheration
Read from March 15 to 17, 2012

This is book three in my quest to find a good explanation of the Christian faith. Once again, I don't think this book is it. But in mitigation, I can now see that Christianity is so very very difficult to explain without drifting off into shimmery two-shakes-of-Four-Quartets-and-a-dash-of-Revelations language that my heart goes out to these guys who take on this task. Okay, my heart almost goes out to these guys.

Part One of this book is where TK challenges and in his own eyes overcomes seven major doubts which people like me have, such as "there can't be just one true religion" or "how can a loving God send people to Hell". On that point, TK concludes that God indeed is a God of judgement and will send sinners to Hell :

The belief in a God of pure love – who accepts everyone and judges no one – is a powerful act of faith. Not only is there no evidence for it in the natural order, but there is almost no historical, religious textual support for it outside of Christianity. The more one looks at it, the less justified it appears.

Actually, this chapter is frankly not very frank. TK avoids saying who is going to get the big heave-ho. Does he think God will reject all non-Christians, for instance? Even if they're really excellent people, like my friend Mohammed? (Mind you, Timothy Keller and my friend Mohammed would both agree that I'm going straight to Hell because of my unbelief. But I'm comforted to think that Mohammed thinks he's going straight to Hell too, for reasons which it would be inappropriate to mention.)

I hardly agree with TK about anything, but I give him points for fearlessness and fiestiness. He plunges in and at least asks himself a lot of the right questions. And it would be interesting to discuss the whole book, but these religious reviews are getting way too long. So I'll stick to one chapter.

THE USUAL PROBLEM OF EVIL

For me this is always the big one.

TK says, in essence, If you can't figure out why there is evil and suffering, please don't conclude there is no reason. It's because your brain is very small. Be a bit more humble.

If you have a God great and transcendent enough to be mad at because he hasn't stopped the evil and suffering in the world, then you have at the same moment a God great and transcendent enough to have good reasons for allowing it to continue that you don't know.

So there's a reason why the driver of a bus taking kids home from their skiing trip had a heart attack as he was driving through a tunnel in the Swiss alps this past week so that he drove his bus right into a wall killing 22 children. Well, TK does admit that suffering like this is a genuine problem for the believer. But then he says that actually

evil and suffering may be (if anything) evidence for God

I think it goes like this: the atheists believe in evolution and natural selection, a process which is amoral (lots of suffering and death involved). But then they also believe that suffering is wrong, unjust. Where did this idea of wrongness and unjustness come from?

The non-believer doesn't have a good basis for being outraged at injustice… if you are sure that this natural world is unjust and filled with evil, you are assuming the reality of some extra-natural (or supernatural) standard by which to make your judgement.

Here is a thread which runs all the way through the book. TK simply doesn't accept that there are such things as secular humanitarian values. He thinks all the atheist humanitarians have got their values from God but are in denial or are just ignorant of the source of their values.

But I look at things differently.

Certainly religion was where moral philosophies were formed and our most profound and ancient ideas (such as the Golden Rule) are necessarily based in religion because until the Enlightenment that was the only game in town. But gradually, by fits and starts, secular education and a scientific empirical point of view formed and over the centuries floated free from its religious moorings. Keller appears to think that if I accept evolution in all its implications then I accept human beings are part of that and are subject to its laws which are the bloody and merciless laws of natural selection. The strong eat the weak and no room whatsoever for compassion - Darwinism is natural untrammelled fascism. But I say that this overlooks two unique things that happened to humans -

Self-consciousness

And

Language

And these two remarkable things freed us from being natural Darwinian fascists. Maybe God gave us self-consciousness and language but I think we did that ourselves. By natural selection. Our secular hearts and minds are in the business of self-improvement, they have been for 50,000 years, it's a trial and error thing, they're still doing it, it's unstoppable. So we don't shrug at the latest serial killer and say well, he was a little too darwinian, but still, that's what us mammalian life-forms do, heh! Survival of the one with the most guns!

So that's one strange idea the TK has, that non-religious people should be cool about evil and if they're not then they're crypto-religious.

He returns to this idea later and quoted Arthur Leff :

The fact is, says leff, if there is no God then all moral statements are arbitrary.

I'll rephrase that :

If there is no arbitrarily designated ultimate source of morality then all moral statements are arbitrary.

But actually, he does provide some excellent examples of the uneasiness of morality – such as the female anthropologist who is convinced that each culture is to be cherished and protected and yet works earnestly to improve the conditions of women wherever she goes.

The other idea he has relating to the problem of evil and suffering is one which boggled me. God has an afterlife in store for us in which all the evil and suffering will not only be redeemed but will be made to have never happened in the first place. Or maybe I'm not reading this bit right.

the Bible teaches that the future is not an immaterial 'paradise' but a new heaven and a new earth… resurrection – not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater. … All will be healed and all the might-have-beens will be. …Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.

So, to summarise, another great old Byrds song which has fabulous harmonies:

Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by



But in the end I didn't dislike Timothy Keller at all, I warmed to him even in his weird-ass contorrrrrted-logic frankly ridiculous stuff about, say, the Bible's views about women. If I ever see him in a bar I'm going to buy him a beer and ask him one more question that's not in this book that's been really bugging me recently. It's this.

Do all the universe's civilisations get a Jesus? In a galaxy far far away was there once – or will there be – an eight-tentacled Jesus? My old granny would have had a conniption fit at the very thought, but the 20 billion people on the Planet ZZGGFZZ need to be saved too, so they should get their Jesus too.

What do you think, Timothy?
59 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Reason for God.
sign in »

Comments (showing 1-50 of 456) (456 new)


message 2: by Traveller (last edited Mar 17, 2012 11:19AM) (new)

Traveller Paul wrote: "Keller appears to think that if I accept evolution in all its implications then I accept human beings are part of that and are subject to its laws which are the bloody and merciless laws of natural selection. The strong eat the weak and no room whatsoever for compassion - Darwinism is natural untrammelled fascism."

I just don't see the logic in that. Darwinism is about:"That which works, will survive. Those specimens that make a species most successful, will survive the best, and will therefore "shape" what that species is." All kinds of species have evolved, and amongst the most successful species are social creatures, species that survive because of an internal social structure between members of the species.

Whereas most mammals are quite social, especially social species are homo sapiens, ants and bees. I could argue that ants are probably the most successful species on earth - it's a toss-up between ants and humans I guess, and it's probably quite incidentally because there's such a difference in size between us and ants that ants survive so well in spite of humanity's destructive behaviour against other species.

..but what do humans and ants have most in common? A sophisticated social structure, where individuals play roles in a society that exists because the members play a role in supporting the other members of their particular community.

Being supportive of one another is 'successful' behaviour in terms of the survival of the species, and humans being destructive towards other humans, and humans who don't play roles that contribute to the good of humankind feels "wrong" because it is wrong from a Darwinian, evolutionary point of view.

It's very simple, really. I suspect people who don't see the logic, don't really understand how evolution and the survival of the most successful specimens works, or they simply have not carefully thought about it, and followed the logic through to it's obvious conclusion.


message 3: by Traveller (last edited Mar 17, 2012 12:03PM) (new)

Traveller Btw, many other species have supportive social roles. For example: Wild dogs and jackals have creche's for the young 'uns, who stay behind while the "hunting" members of the pack go out to bunt. These hunters actually come back to the creche, and regurgitate food for the little ones - a very "philantrophic" unselfish type of behaviour, don't you think?

In elephant packs, they have a matriarch who leads them, and midwives who assist in the birth of and protection of young ones, and so the list of "positive social behaviour" in species other than humans goes on.

If it can be "the right thing to do" for these other animals to act unselfishly and supportively towards other members of their communities, don't you think that mutual support towards other members of the species and especially towards you own 'tribe' or community would be a rather basic thing for humans to work out without some supernatural being having to tell them this? I mean...-if animals could do it...

And furthermore, I still don't see why Darwinism and Christianity has to exclude one another, as long as the Christians are prepared to let go of that silly and illogical creation story at the start of Genesis. Even if you weren't a Darwinist, the order of it just doesn't make sense.


Julie Davis Traveller, the creation story in Genesis (which actually contains two creation stories) is not meant to be scientific. It views the history of God and man through the eyes of faith. So, you are absolutely right that you can believe in both Darwin's theory of evolution and Christianity (depending on the flavor you adhere to, I suppose).

Paul - the question of how evil and suffering can exist in a world where there is a loving God is one that can't really be covered right here. But the really short answer comes down to the idea that man has free will. We know what good is and should choose it, but often put selfish or wrong choices ahead of what is right. If God stepped in every time one of us was going to do the wrong thing and made us do something different then we'd be puppets, not people. That is the answer to how a person can be a good person whether they are atheist or have faith in God. It is part of natural law (as it is called in Catholicism), part of our make up that we know what is good. Too bad that all of us often choose what is not good ...

As I say, this is just the very big picture but I wanted to toss that out there.


message 5: by Manny (new)

Manny I agree with Traveller about the misreading of Darwin. Cooperation, sometimes cooperation with another species, is often the best strategy! If you read Dawkins's evolution books, he makes this point many times.

And about the problem of evil: well, I think you need to adopt a certain sense of perspective. Considering that the natural state of the Universe is violent chaos dominated by collisions between massive black holes, where life is completely impossible, this one isn't too bad. I don't want to come over all Doctor Pangloss, but in the grand scheme of things it's not reasonable to claim that a few living creatures dying prematurely on one little planet says anything about the existence or otherwise of God. How seriously would you take the argument that I couldn't find my favorite pair of socks this morning, hence God doesn't exist?

This is book three in my quest to find a good explanation of the Christian faith.

Check out Dante! Or, for a recent movie version, The Tree of Life.

Hey, how come I'm defending Christianity? I'm an atheist. But even if I don't believe in God, I do believe in due process...


Paul Hi Julie

the free will explains the existence of human-derived evil like the Nazis, but doesn't explain the natural disasters which befall people like earthquakes - couldn't God have created laws of physics which allowed planet earth to have more stable techtonic plates? Natural disasters make life seem completely arbitrary.

Just tossing that one back!


message 7: by Robert (new)

Robert Manny wrote: "I agree with Traveller about the misreading of Darwin. Cooperation, sometimes cooperation with another species, is often the best strategy! If you read Dawkins's evolution books, he makes this poin..."

I think you are making a grave error here! It's not "sometimes" when it comes to co-operation between species; symbiosis is closer to being ubiquitous! Every animal with a gut is in symbiosis with its stomach flora; many plants are in direct symbiosis with micro-fungi. All eukaryotes are almost certainly evolved symbiotes of prokaryotes. Insect pollination and on and on...On the other hand, the number of predator-species is a low proportion of the sum of animal species.


message 8: by Manny (new)

Manny Good point, Robert! "Sometimes" is an understatement. And there's a whole chapter stressing this in The Selfish Gene...


message 9: by Shauna (new)

Shauna You should have a look at The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature if you haven't already Paul, sounds like Keller himself could have done with a little reading up on the subject of sexual selection.


message 10: by Manny (new)

Manny The Mating Mind needs to be taken with a pinch of salt IMHO, but yes, that too...


message 11: by Shauna (last edited Mar 17, 2012 12:39PM) (new)

Shauna Oh, really? Which book would you recommend? I wouldn't mind reading more on the subject.


message 12: by Manny (new)

Manny I don't mean I know a better book on sexual selection in humans! I just thought that his arguments were often rather speculative, even if it's a fun and thought-provoking read.


message 13: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Manny wrote: "I don't mean I know a better book on sexual selection in humans! I just thought that his arguments were often rather speculative, even if it's a fun and thought-provoking read."

There is other literature on the subject, I definitely read some lit on it before, but that was a good while ago, and I can't remember names or titles. I'll do a bit of searching, but not sure if I'll manage to come up with it..


message 14: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls [insert long comment about religious beliefs]


message 15: by Manny (new)

Manny MJ wrote: "[insert long comment about religious beliefs]"

MJ, I simply don't understand how an intelligent person like you can say [provocative opinion]! Even if [controversial author] did once say [overused quote] he obviously meant [far-fetched reading] and not [willful misinterpretation]. Well, I hope you're not offended, but [gratuitous insult]. Sorry.


message 16: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls Oh, [furious, sweary rebuke]! You [barrage of increasingly personal and confused insults]! I hope you [series of insults aimed a family members in all caps]! Hmmph.


message 17: by Manny (new)

Manny Ah, [half-hearted retraction]. Although it may have sounded like [mendacious summary], I actually meant [outright untruth]. [Feeble apology].


message 18: by Manny (last edited Mar 17, 2012 03:44PM) (new)

Manny [Pathetic, timid afterthought].


message 19: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls [Self-congratulatory mot]. [Begrudging acceptance of apology]. [Ignore afterthought].


message 20: by Manny (new)

Manny [Superfluous and ambiguously worded second apology]. [Embarrassed attempt to change subject].

[Unfunny LOLcat].


message 21: by Robert (new)

Robert There is such a thing as an unfunny LOLcat? Now that is contovercial!


message 22: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Hey Manny - are you saying that not being able to find your socks this morning was a trivial inconvenience? By Jove I think you are. But seriously, the fact that you could not find them indicates to me that you were not listening hard enough. There was a still small voice saying "they're behind the fridge, I can't say how they got there but that's where they are". But you atheists are too busy to listen properly, hustling about and trying to find the Hugo Boss particle as you do.


message 23: by Traveller (last edited Mar 18, 2012 01:10AM) (new)

Traveller [insert comment that indicates obvious amusement and enjoyment of the proceedings]

[popcorn emoticon]

Carry on...


message 24: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul [sound effect : falling over]

[sound effect : groaning]


message 25: by Traveller (new)

Traveller [insert cute LOLcat image that's never been used before, with facial expression indicating: "What's all that about? Nevermind, I don't need to know, I'm just spectating. These humans sure know how to make a fuss about stuff that just makes no impact on where my next meal is going to come from. And who cares about that stinky pair of socks that I dropped behind the fridge last weekend anyway? They've become a good host for new life by now. God creates new life in mysterious ways sometimes..." ]


message 26: by Traveller (new)

Traveller


message 27: by Traveller (new)

Traveller


message 28: by Alan (new)

Alan Chen It's 4AM right now, and the latter half of this thread made me chuckle for the first time in days. Well played by all.


message 29: by MJ (last edited Mar 18, 2012 04:59AM) (new)

MJ Nicholls [milks applause] [apologises to Paul for unprecedented inclusion of LOLcats in comment thread] [awws at LOLcats]


message 30: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Paul won't mind. [sez I behind his back while he's attending a folksong duo with his family]

The more commotion in his threads the better!


message 31: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Manny wrote: "[Superfluous and ambiguously worded second apology]. [Embarrassed attempt to change subject].
[Unfunny LOLcat]."


Oh, it's an EFW! http://efw.livejournal.com/ Well-done!


Julie Davis Paul wrote: "Hi Julie

the free will explains the existence of human-derived evil like the Nazis, but doesn't explain the natural disasters which befall people like earthquakes - couldn't God have created laws ..."

Hi Paul ... the Christian way of explaining that would be that when "original sin" occurred (Adam and Eve putting their desires ahead of what was right) then it "broke" the natural world as well. Which I realize is something of a big leap to take. But it does go to the fact that we are all connected. That if I do something bad it may create ripples that would affect you eventually. And this occurs with nature as well. Again, this is a large subject and a small place for discussion, but that is the gist of the thing. :-)


message 33: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul That's a big gist!


Julie Davis Yeah I know. I guess that is because you connected two things that I never think of in connection with each other: nature and evil. So let's go for a smaller gist, though I'm not sure I can connect the dots properly in this venue ... but I'll try! :-)

A hurricane, in and of itself, is not evil. It is simply how the weather system (the planetary system) works. It is only a natural disaster when it plows into us. I suppose it isn't a pleasure to the birds, etc. that are in its path either though ... and when we think about the natural world and suffering we can't forget that there are lots of "little" natural causes of suffering. Gravity causes many people to fall to great injury or death every day. I find it hard to point to gravity, tectonic plate movement or extreme weather conditions as proof that God does not exist or does not want the best for us.

So how do we look at it? We are upset and outraged by natural disaster because something inside tells us that this isn't fair, that this isn't how it should be, no one deserved this. In fact, this is the question that the book of Job was written to consider. It is a question that mankind has had for a long time.

I found an article that covers many of the questions about natural disaster and God's existence or allowance of natural evil in the world. You may or may not want to read it, but the gist (again with that gist!) that relates to your point is this:
God put Adam and Eve in charge of the fish, the birds and animals and told them to bring the earth "under their control" (Genesis 1:28). In other words, human beings are to be co-creators with God. This implies that creation is not finished. God has drawn an amazing amount of order out of chaos, but creation—"the process of replacing chaos with order"—goes on.

If the universe God has created is still "in process"—still evolving—then there continues to be something incomplete, unfinished, "imperfect" about it, in its own right, even apart from the severe brokenness it suffers because of human sin. Perhaps, just as God refuses to interfere with our decision-making in the realm of moral choices, so also God hesitates to force our hands as stewards of creation. Perhaps our dignity as God's co-creators is such that we have been given a major role in gradually replacing chaos with order. Though God is very close to us and intimately involved in our struggle, he does not choose to be a puppeteer controlling the world's events by strings. Creation continues through human mediation. As the Scriptures show, God's healing intentions toward humanity are revealed at times through miraculous cures and healings. Yet, God's healing usually comes about through scientists, doctors, nurses and others in the healing community.

Thus, human suffering and tragedy caused by natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, epidemics, etc.) or from human ignorance and miscalculation should not be blamed on God but seen as resulting from an unfinished and imperfect world. An evolving world implies that there still exist "pockets of chaos" not yet under our control, nor even, in a sense, under God's control—given the way the universe was created. God's will, which is committed to our healing, is that sin and chaos be eventually conquered and the world move toward perfection through the co-creative efforts of humanity—with Christ at its head. Patience—the capacity to suffer and see God's creation as in process—is often the missing, though understandably hard to find, ingredient.
Again it comes down to free will and human dignity.

Not sure if this helps or not since it does depend on the book of Genesis for the context of man's place in the world, but based on that it makes logical sense to me.

We see some of this sense of our place in things in the environmental movement today. There is the realization that our actions, whether it is as small as using plastic versus paper bags or as large as offshore drilling, affect the natural world around us. Now, I'm not saying that we cause hurricanes, earthquakes, or blizzards. But it is that sense of interconnectedness, taken to the planetary level, which echoes this sense from Genesis of our work as co-creators in a chaotic world.


message 35: by Manny (last edited Mar 19, 2012 07:50AM) (new)

Manny Julie, did you see the Terrence Malick picture The Tree of Life? A very beautiful and imaginative transposition of Job into modern-day movie form.


message 36: by Paul (last edited Mar 19, 2012 09:32AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Hi Julie


Thanks for taking the time trying the explain the excruciatingly difficult... Evil and natural disasters are connected because of the untold suffering they cause & so leading non-believers to question why a good God allows all this to continue. I know it's all very simplistic of us, but when a disaster happens I feel even now the same way about it as i did when I was a kid.


So, you will not be surprised that I find parts of this approach to natural disasters begs a few questions –

- the first thing that always springs to my mind is that there appears to be an assumption that the physical laws governing the creation of planets like the one we live on HAD to be the way they are, and that God could not have arranged it so that our tectonic plates DIDN'T randomly shift around & cause the deaths and untold sufferings of millions of people. I mean, I can easily imagine that some planets never have ANY earthquakes. Granted, even on those planets the people living there trip up and break their ankles and sometimes their pets drown and so forth, but earthquakes don't kill hundreds of thousands of people in a couple of hours. So this theory appears to say that the physical laws which goven OUR part of THIS universe couldn't be any other way, not even if God so desired.

- so therefore, God is not omnipotent and I wish Christians would stop saying he is! Actually, much of what Christians say in the books I've been reading and elsewhere implies very strongly that although they SAY God is omnipotent, they don't really think he is, or that he has so many self-imposed limitations that he may as well not be. Now, if you come out & say that God is NOT all-powerful, or even that he is but he's decided not to be in this particular solar system, then you've solved the problem of evil, which is that God can't be good and all-powerful, only one or the other.

- If the thing about Creation being still in process is right, then God accepts that until mankind gets its act together millions will perish horribly in these natural disasters. Well, it seems rather callous, to put it no stronger than that.

The over-riding feeling i get is God saying "Yes, i'm aware it's tough, but those are the rules! Position closed!"


message 37: by Manny (last edited Mar 19, 2012 09:28AM) (new)

Manny But is it really appropriate for God to change the laws of physics so that I can find my socks more easily? I think the author of Job has a point.


message 38: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul yes Manny, it really is - if your feet are still in them.

You have made the laws of physics into a fetish. Of couse they can be changed if you're God! Shazam - there you go!


message 39: by Manny (new)

Manny But there are so MANY pairs of socks in the universe, and the laws of physics have to apply everywhere. Even for an omnipotent being, it's a bit challenging. As Kurt Vonnegut says in my favorite scene from Cat's Cradle:
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.

Nice going, God.

Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly
couldn't have.

I feel very unimportant compared to You.



Julie Davis Paul wrote: "Hi Julie
Thanks for taking the time trying the explain the excruciatingly difficult... Evil and natural disasters are connected because of the untold suffering they cause & so leading non-believe..."


I hear ya, but I think one must think about the far-ranging implications of this concept: "This implies that creation is not finished. God has drawn an amazing amount of order out of chaos, but creation—"the process of replacing chaos with order"—goes on."

This actually supports the evolutionary theory, right? So to my way of thinking, this is actually cool. That God puts the system into place and then allows the system to work itself out. I never hear supporters of that theory annoyed by past disasters which actually might improve a species to the point it is today ... but which were probably horrible to the species itself. This is just an observation since I never really thought about this before now. So I realize it probably has some holes in it. I just find it interesting.

In terms of the overall question, I think that, just as we have to guess at evolutionary paths and even the path our planet has taken from flaming ball of lava (or whatever it began as) to what we have now ... in many ways the scale is just too big to understand well or at all, beyond what seems to make sense.

All that is very removed and intellectual compared to the reality of your question about the millions dying in natural disasters, which is of course ... awful.

However, the explanation would be the same one that works when explaining evil Nazis (etc.) ... God chooses not to be a puppeteer by jumping in every time something bad is happening. "Though God is very close to us and intimately involved in our struggle, he does not choose to be a puppeteer controlling the world's events by strings. Creation continues through human mediation. "

I see your objection to the "those are the rules" position but the feeling I get from the whole thing is more like: I can't make a statue out of marble without chipping away the corners, sanding it down, etc. There is pain in creation (ok, I know marble doesn't feel pain, but you get the idea, I know). :-)

I also wonder, where would it end? If God stops the earthquake then (which, yes, he could do ... I am in the God is omnipotent camp ... although I do wonder what would happen to the planet's rotation or shape if the plates don't shift ... but that's another question), then does he also stop the thunderstorm where the falling tree may kill the family? What about the fact that the rain was needed to end a drought? Does he stop the meteorite shower so that old Chicago doesn't catch on fire? (Hey, I don't have a good reason for that, except I have no clue what would happen to other celestial bodies and orbits if those meteors hadn't gone by...).

I suppose he could do all those things but then aren't we living in a bubble again? Kind of like a toddler whose father never wants him to skin his knee so he gets carried everywhere? That greatly hurts the toddler in the long run but it seems nicer in the short-sighted father's view. Not having long-sight I don't know what the trade-off would be.

Or ... if it isn't a bubble, is it Paradise? Which would be nice, but I recall that mankind had to leave thanks to that whole original sin thing (which I know is from Genesis ... history seen through faith ... and which wouldn't work for your way of thinking). But it is a logical progression.

I do wonder, in thinking about this, if there hadn't been that fall from grace (the wrong choice in the Garden of Eden), would the co-creation made it so that earthquakes wouldn't have been the result of shifting plates? In a world of "what if" that intrigues me ... because if we're putting omnipotence and full cooperation in creation on the table together, anything could have happened.

The fact is, for a Christian, we live in a world where these things happen, just like people falling off of cliffs because of gravity or committing suicide or getting murdered or the thousand other horrible things that can happen. Often we don't know the answer. Which is why we have faith. And I absolutely know that nothing I can do is going to prove God to you, whether this debate or any other. That has to come from each person's struggle with the question (been there, done that).

And, in the end, honestly, your question about evil is why the book of Job was written. This is why people endlessly debate. We don't have a definitive answer. I was just trying to give you a Christian explanation that logically flows from the other things we believe about God. And one that was a little more thought out than the one in that book which, frankly, sounds like one of the worst toss-off answers ever. I hate it myself just from your description. :-)


message 41: by Traveller (last edited Mar 19, 2012 11:15AM) (new)

Traveller Paul wrote: "yes Manny, it really is - if your feet are still in them.

You have made the laws of physics into a fetish. Of couse they can be changed if you're God! Shazam - there you go!"


Especially if God was powerful enough, and could change the laws of physics enough, to fit all the animals on the planet (including dinosaurs) onto a ship that one human built - pairs even, and seven of some animals even! ..and all of the insects, and other life-forms that weren't included on the ship that would be annihilated by being submersed in water for 190 days, all somehow respawned from somewhere, or God created them all over again, and they became re-established enough to fill the earth again in less than around 3 000 years.

Well, if God could have bent the rules that drastically, surely he could just speak a word, and your socks would be on your feet again; and just speak a word, and no more floods and hurricanes would destroy animal, plant and human life and property, and no more earthquakes would destroy entire cities and/or cause tsnumais that wipe out human life and property.

After all, this is the God who upon occasion commanded the sun to stand still in the sky, and it did.

In Joshua 10, the Bible tells the story of the day when the sun--and time--stopped. The Israelites were fighting the Amorites in Canaan. During the battle, Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stop, so he would have extra daylight to finish the task. Scripture records that this prayer was answered: The sun "delayed going down about a full day" (v. 13).

Well, if he can do that....


Julie Davis But did the dinosaurs all have socks on?


message 43: by MJ (last edited Mar 19, 2012 11:56AM) (new)

MJ Nicholls [help i'm trapped in a comment thread with massive replies i can't possibly read where is the escape button have i eaten it oh dear there is no god only a manmade construct that's my take ah there's the exit]


message 44: by Traveller (new)

Traveller Chickens, sockless chickens, all of you!


message 45: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell MJ wrote: "[help i'm trapped in a comment thread with massive replies i can't possibly read where is the escape button have i eaten it oh dear there is no god only a manmade construct that's my take ah there'..."

[ceiling cat LOLCAT]


message 46: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul On the 17th day God said "Let there be socks."

And there were socks. And God said that the socks were pretty good, although the seams could have been straighter.

And there was a foot in one of them.

But apart from that, not bad.

And God decided that on the 18th day he would probably let there be tv hosts. Or maybe secondhand copies of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He wasn't sure.


message 47: by Manny (last edited Mar 19, 2012 01:19PM) (new)

Manny I am pleased to see that my socks are being quoted. I hope they will grow up and one day become a fully fledged philosophical example.

"Ah, that's just a Manny's Sock," people will say dismissively.

Anyway, it's my new dream. I'm prepared to do the necessary work to turn it into reality!


message 48: by Paul (last edited Mar 19, 2012 01:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Seriously though, Manny, i know you know this because you read a big book recently which i couldn't even understand the title of - if God had wanted to change the laws of physics so that earthquakes wouldn't happen to a li'l blue planet like this one, would he have had to redesign the whole Universe 1.0 project or would he have had to just make a weeny ickle tweek? I mean, i may be asking for something unreasonable but i keep thinking - He could have done it, he just didn't want to...


message 49: by Manny (new)

Manny I think it would be a major redesign. The lead angel would come back and say sorry guv, can't do it, and angry words would be exchanged.

I don't know what would happen next, but I've been involved in enough software projects that I'm pretty sure it would start like that. There could be a story here.


message 50: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Of course this is probably Universe 4.2 and God's probably muttiering "he oughta have seen the early versions, he wouldn't be moaning on about earthquakes, let me tell ya, those early versions were really buggy"


« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
back to top