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Concerning Pain, Evil and Suffering

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by Mark Quayle, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    These thoughts are offered in the hope that they may begin what logical defense of Christianity does not always do:

    To those who don't know HIM, you have maybe some vague concept of the agony of separation from God, and the joy of closeness to Christ. Maybe you have some experience with guilt and despair. Maybe not.

    Maybe you feel a revulsion at the indignity to which God has subjected his creation. You are disgusted by the sycophantic adoration of believers for Christ. You find no logic in the thinking of those who find confidence in supposed 'truth' that admittedly lies beyond even their own understanding.

    You don't know the pain, dismay and sorrow at the failings of the flesh in service to God. You don't know the joy in communion with Christ or the exaltation in being a 'partaker in his sufferings'. You can't understand the beauty of souls in pain, resigned to their own helpless need for the One for whom they were created.

    You mistake what is written in tears of joy and pain, for arrogance!


    You ask a reason for our hope, our expectation in Him? Read Job 19

    23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,
    that they were written on a scroll,
    24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
    or engraved in rock forever!
    25 I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
    26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
    27 I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!"


    You have no idea how badly we wish you could know Christ!
     
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  2. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer Supporter

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    Perhaps one of the saddest things I've ever read.
     
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  3. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Maybe the happiest I've ever written.

    Do you believe in self-determination?
     
  4. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer Supporter

    +4,137
    Atheist
    What do you mean by the term?
     
  5. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ha! I was hoping to find that out from you. To me it means different things in different conexts; but any way, I find it hard to separate meaning from use.

    Here, I'm asking you to explain how you see yourself, as far as causation, in life and death. Are you a victim of causation? Are your choices a result of forces outside of yourself?

    What I was hoping to get at is how good a thing it is, to me, to my mind and comfort, in knowing I am not the master of my life.
     
  6. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer Supporter

    +4,137
    Atheist
    A victim? Life is what it is. I was born; I will die; I am content with these facts. I am not interested in unlimited anything. I do not wish eternal life. I do not wish to be remembered forever. (A couple generations might be nice; but, there will be no 'me' to care one way or the other.)

    Even when I was a believer, the attitude of some of my fellow Xians that they should be perpetually children in the heavenly father was just astonishing. I don't/didn't wish that any of my children would remain children. Though they are my offspring, they are adults; they've moved on in life and I'm proud of them for it. I don't want to be perpetually dependent on me. I don't want them to consult me on how to make decisions on every little thing. I don't need their prayers about whether to have the ice cream or the chocolate cake. Of course, I am willing to discuss, say, the purchase of a house and what issues they may need to consider, but otherwise...

    So, then, to imagine that God, the father, should desire that his children should never grow, should always consult, should always pray over ice cream is just astonishing. A loving parent should want their children to grow to be self-sufficient.

    I hope this isn't offensive, but this discourse reminds me of Dan Barker's quote:
    YMMV, of course.
     
  7. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It is true, then, that those who are not sick don't need the physician!

    There is truth to that, and not that I agree to the way you seem to take the father/child thing of temporal life to be representative of the father/child thing of God's economy, there are many other equally strong if not stronger figures in Scripture of other relationships of believer to God. I personally find them all compelling, but to realize we here are looking at things backwards.

    And I agree, to some degree --the notion that we as children should never grow up, is not Biblical.

    No offense taken.

    To me, then, it seems your answer to my use of 'self-determination' would be yes, you wish independence from God.

    It does my heart good, for some reason --perhaps for the same reason I am glad that church attendance is declining in America-- that you 'come from' a Christian background. (My own son has abandoned Christianity, his reasoning has more to do with the notion that God cannot be both good and omnipotent. I told him I did not want him pretending, and to do what he thought was right, but to try to keep an open mind.)

    Anyhow, I thought I should tell you. I have never felt the satisfaction before that I do now, in absolute confidence that God is doing all this for his own sake. He will bring about everything he set out to do in the beginning, and it appears he's bringing me along for the ride. This is way better than being a mere intellectual animal, finding satisfaction in life and its blessings. In fact, I find more satisfaction in life now, than I use to, when I thought this life is all about this life. It is a bit like being in love, (or like being a child, haha!). Colors are more intense, I notice things around me, and everything is interesting!
     
  8. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer Supporter

    +4,137
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    Well not exactly. I cannot wish independence from a being I don't think exists. I would not want, however, a being who demands worship and subservience, to exist. I see the Christian god as such a god.

    44 years, I was a believer.

    It does my heart good that you've taken that attitude with your son. I've done the same with my children. However, I reared them in the faith (I was believer the majority of the 2 oldest's childhood.) And, the 2 older ones remain in the faith. The younger has mental health issues and "what she is" depends on the...um...let's say month.

    Well, I would not take that away from you. But, I think you could have all that without faith.

    Anyway, thanks for a pleasant conversation. This place sometimes has me jaded and I expected a sort gotcha wordplay conversation. This wasn't that. It felt honest and I thank you for it.
     
  9. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Lol, that reminds me of the protests from Arminian-leaning believers against the God I believe him to be. I try to tell them he no more forces them to believe, or worship, than he forces them to exist. Yeah, that's a bit of wordplay, but it serves.

    Do you consider it mere intellectual dissent that dissolved your belief, or what? Is it about the Christian God, or about Omnipotent First Cause, or what?

    Christians certainly are not immune to the tendencies of any person. My wife was not an easy mother. All my kids were brought up 'in the faith' but my son was the last, and was more like her than he wants to know, and saw in her, and no doubt in me too, too much hypocrisy. But, I wouldn't trade him for the world. God knows what he is doing. One preacher I know of says, "I expect to be surprised who did and who did not make it to Heaven, but I expect to be most surprised that *I* made it there!"

    True, I have had, when I was a child, and again when I was in love. Though this is quite a bit more substantial, I think.

    You have been pleasantly non-antagonistic, and I appreciate that too.
     
  10. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer Supporter

    +4,137
    Atheist
    I'm not sure how to answer the question. "Mere intellectual dissent" seems reductionist. I mean the following: I've been working on training myself to respond differently than I have been to life. Words matter. I might say "my brain won't let me X". But a more honest thing to say might be "I am resisting X though I can't articulate why."

    My rejection of Christianity and theism, in general, is a wholistic rejection. My intellect rejects theism; my emotion rejections theism; everything in me rejects theism. There is no "mere" about any of it.

    I was an elder; a home group leader; etc. All of everything about my life was about Christianity. I wasn't hurt. I wasn't mad. None of the tropes that theists assert toward atheists apply.

    I spent my last years of my Christianity trying to reconcile dogma to reality. I had, what I thought was, clever solutions to many issues that I perceived. For example, if one posits ex Deo rather than ex nihilo, then God intrinsically knowing reality makes some sense. God might have time that is not quite perpendicular to our time such that he sees almost all of everything. Such a solution allows that God can act. (How can a god act that is "outside" time? OTOH, if God has time, how does one avoid God's infinite regression problem? When in god-time, did God decide to make our reality? How long did he wait? I am NOT really asking as that would be a massive de-rail.)

    In any case, it came down to how do I know what I know. Or, should I believe things that are merely posited because they've been posited by me or anyone else. The bottom line is that any theistic beliefs I've run across cannot be substantiated. One may have dogma or tenets, but they are taken as axioms without justification. (I have a saying: All axioms are derived inductively including this one.) And things without justification should be dismissed until such time as they have justification.

    Justification does not include “I felt my heart strangely warmed”.
     
  11. Yttrium

    Yttrium Independent Centrist

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    Agony of separation from God, no, I don't see any agony involved. Joy in closeness to Christ, yes, I've seen that in quite a few Christians, although I haven't experienced it myself. Guilt, of course, that's common. Despair, no.

    Well, no. If there is a supreme being who created everything, I'm mighty grateful.

    Certainly not.

    I can certainly understand it, and it can follow a degree of logic in certain circumstances.

    Okay. I'll take your word for it.

    No I don't.

    Not at all. Seems pretty obvious to me.

    Well, thanks for the kind thoughts.
     
  12. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for going to the trouble of telling me all this; I like it very much. I specially love to talk about such things as we could no doubt spend hours on, that you presented here as only an example. To me, God's (First Cause's) existence makes more sense than anything else --including my own existence and certainly my trust in, perceptions/ evidences of anything. While my reasoning may be flawed, I have been unable to escape the fact of God's absolutely necessary existence. (And yes, at times I have wished I could do so).

    Actually I reject pretty much all claims as evidence, or at least I am skeptical of just about all claims. I find reasoning (faulty, no doubt) more reliable. And I find that what I must and what I cannot do or believe are undeniable. I find myself believing what I do, most strongly, not because it appeals to me, but because I cannot deny it. (Of course there are many more things that I trust or believe, merely because they make sense to me and appeal to me.) I would like to claim to be a rationalist, but in the end, I find many things making sense to me for reasons I can't put into words. (Not that that is irrational, but I can't explain the reasoning behind it. My intellectual apprehension of truth still lacks hand-holds, lol.)

    As you can imagine, though God is precious to me, often debate becomes and end in itself, an exercise, a learning, than a defense of my beliefs. I blunder along hoping to get words at least cohesive, and maybe getting some ideas across others had not considered, other times, but probably usually merely to try to get my thoughts into words.

    Thanks for listening.
     
  13. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am curious what do you believe, concerning God? And concerning Omnipotence, First Cause?
     
  14. Yttrium

    Yttrium Independent Centrist

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    I believe in my own existence. I'm flexible on everything else. I can't even come to a warm fuzzy on whether God exists or not. It would be nice, and the universe is a strange enough place that I wouldn't be surprised if an intelligence was behind it all; yet I lack sufficient evidence to point me either way.

    Omnipotence I feel is a vague ideal. Easy to say, hard to fully define.

    I'm strongly inclined to think that there was a first cause. I can't rule out the possibility of uncaused events, but I lack firm evidence of such things. I could certainly call the first cause "God", but I have no indication that the first cause was intelligent in any way. In fact, I have a hard time wrapping my head around an intelligent first cause, since I would think that conscious thought would require a stream of cause and effect, which it couldn't have due to being the first cause. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey...
     
  15. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks. My mind cannot accept any other explanation for existence. If there was no First Cause, there was no structure for even 'nothingness' to be in. And chance by definition cannot cause anything. Likewise infinite regression of causes 'is repugnant to reason'.

    To me, First Cause is necessarily Omnipotent, and vice versa. There can be only one. Everything else is contingent. Thus, cause-and-effect --in fact, even fact itself-- proceed from him; he is that basic, that 'default'. He 'invented' them, so to speak. But they are according to his nature.

    Have you done any study of the philosopher's logical 'necessary attributes' / qualities of First Cause / Omnipotence? Some of them are really good. The one thing I find most intriguing is the notion of all things 'coming from' God. I don't need to wrap my head around it to understand that it must be so, or he is not First Cause. Because of this, he cannot, for instance, be said "to be bound by his nature", but "to only do what is his nature". Another is the intent behind first causation. That's a little harder for me to show, but it makes perfect sense from the negative: I can't make sense out of the notion of first cause being mere mechanical fact, since it would be subject to principles from outside itself. With intent, first cause can be self-existent, depending on nothing else.

    'Timelessness' is more how I see God's economy of operation, than perpendicular time. To me, it makes perfect sense, for example, that he could have spoken the finished product of his creation into existence, completed 'instantly' (by our wording), yet we may see 6 or 7 or 10,000 or 15 billion years in the making. Likewise, this implies, since he is creator, that to him, to foresee is to forecause.

    Yeah, it is fun.
     
  16. Gene Parmesan

    Gene Parmesan Well-Known Member

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    That seems deterministic for us, doesn't it?

    Side note: this is a pleasant thread that I have enjoyed reading.
     
  17. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, deterministic. I don't have a problem with that, unless it means we are not after all at fault for our sin. We DO decide, and that according to our wills. But the worldview that demands 'free' will, assumes a kind substance to ourselves that is not warranted. It also can't fathom such things as "The command does not imply the ability to obey." It anthropomorphizes God.
     
  18. jayem

    jayem Naturalist

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    As my avatar notes, I'm a naturalist. I believe in matter/energy and the fundamental forces of nature. I don't know exactly how the universe can into existence. But if one can imagine that it was created by a god who always existed, why is it so difficult to imagine that matter/energy may have always existed?

    But I know that belief in God is important to most people. It provides comfort and peace of mind. It can be a source of strength and reassurance in hard times. And it imparts the sense that you're not alone. God loves and cares about you, and will always be by your side and never leave you. I get it that this is a powerful message. But--and I don't mean to be pejorative--it's always seemed to me that God is a grown-up version of a 5 year old's imaginary friend.
     
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  19. Gene Parmesan

    Gene Parmesan Well-Known Member

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    God created your entire existence with the ability to map it out any way He wanted and somehow you are culpable for choices even though that's exactly what God brought into existence? Wouldn't God bear the responsibility for your choices?
     
  20. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Bear with me here: I'm not saying this is possible, but for the sake of discussion: If Naturalism was the fact --i.e. if there was after all no God-- cause-and-effect occurring naturally, our decisions would necessarily still be caused. If in our reasoning, then, God is First Cause, which he most certainly is, what is the difference between that and naturalism, (other than the most blessed security that the judge of all the world will do what is right)?
     
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