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"Why? Why? WHY?!" a direct quote from Ceridwen018 and many others

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by HOGCALLER, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    Why was imperfection allowed?

    1. Introduction

    a. You can read my posts on this site to find that my main concern has been to stand up for the Bible and to try to correct what I feel are misunderstandings or misrepresentations of what the Bible says. That is again my purpose in this thread. My hope is to present a satisfying answer to the following questions found only in the Bible. It is an answer that I personally find to be much more satisfying than any other. Additionally, it is my firm belief that, by means of their misunderstandings, misinterpretations and misrepresentations of the Bible and its Author, at times so-called ‘believers’ have been one of the main contributing factors to the large numbers of ‘nonbelievers.’ Therefore, by answering these questions from the Bible it may be an answer, a point of view that is ‘new’ to a nonbeliever, as well as to a believer.

    2. What questions?

    a. What, if anything, is proved by the existence of imperfection? The word imperfection is used because it best encompasses and describes the entire broad range of things that one might think of to include as part of this question: wickedness, crime, violence, death, disease, pain, suffering, poverty, starvation, pollution, war, and on and on. That way the above question is really many questions. And all those are legitimate questions that arise in the minds of many, from devout atheist to devout believer. Both believer and nonbeliever may be moved to ask “Why?” While some will categorically state “See! There is no God.” Yet, all but the most hardhearted are disturbed by what they see or experience.

    b. Both those who have no doubt and those who do doubt the existence of an all-powerful, loving God are moved to ask: If God does exist, why has he allowed so much imperfection, in all its forms, throughout history? Why does he allow the sorry state of things we see around us today? Why does he not do something to bring an end to war, crime, violence, injustice, poverty, disease, fear and other miseries that are escalating at an alarming rate in so many countries of the earth? And then there are those that observe those things and reason within themselves that if they could change things they would. Therefore, these things become ‘proof positive’ to them that there is no God.

    c. It is suggested by others that God created the universe, installed humans on planet Earth, and then left them to run their own affairs. According to this view, God would not be to blame for the trouble and misery that people bring upon themselves because of their greed or mismanagement.

    d. However, some reject such a theory. For example, physics professor Conyers Herring, who acknowledges a belief in God, states: “I reject the idea of a God who long ago set a great clockwork in motion and has since been sitting back as a spectator while mankind wrestles with the puzzle. One reason for my rejection of this is that my scientific experience gives me no reason to believe that there is any ‘clockwork’ model of the universe that is ultimately and finally the correct one. Our scientific theories . . . will always be capable of greater and greater refinement, but I feel sure they will always prove imperfect. It is safer, I think, to have faith in the living force that makes this improvement always possible.”

    e. The above questions demand truthful, satisfying answers. But it is not truthful, or satisfying, to be told, “It is God’s will for us to suffer,” or, “God works in mysterious ways,” therefore, “These are things we cannot understand.” If God created the awesome universe of such marvelous order, surely he must have a good reason for allowing humans to get so disorderly. And would such a Creator not care enough about his own human creation to communicate with us why things are the way they are and why he has permitted imperfection and all its consequences? Would it not make sense for him to correct these bad conditions in due time if he has the power to do so? Any loving father would do that for his children if he could. Certainly an all-powerful, all-wise, loving Creator would not do less for his own earthly children.

    3. Where to look for the answer and why?

    a. Who can best answer the questions about God’s permission of imperfection? Well, if you were charged with some fault, would you want people to listen only to what your accusers or others said about it? Or would you want to speak up for yourself to clear up the matter in the mind of anyone who sincerely wanted to know? Rightly or wrongly, it is God who is held to be at fault for permitting all these things; and since he best knows why he permits them, would it not be fair to let him speak for himself? The fact that these questions are still nagging or unanswered in the mind of many points to the need for a better, more satisfying answer to be provided. Looking to humans for answers has not been and will never be satisfying, since so often they have conflicting ideas about these matters.

    b. Where does God provide the answers? There is only one source that the Creator claims to have authorized to tell us what happened and why. That source is the Bible, which states: “All Scripture is inspired by God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) This should not be surprising, because if God had the power to create the amazing universe, surely he could become the author of a book. Mere humans can communicate, sending voices and ideas, even moving pictures, over invisible airwaves. So it would not be any great task for the almighty Creator to project his thoughts to faithful human writers and to see to it that they put them down correctly and then to see that those thoughts were preserved for posterity. That is why the apostle Paul could say with confidence: “When you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) It very well may be that some will reject any and everything to do with the Bible, but before you do so, you should remember that the Bible was written specifically to deal with these issues.

    c. Perhaps you have never examined the Bible. Yet you may be interested to know that it contains the most complete, dated historical record in existence today. In fact, a first-century historian, Luke, a medical doctor, was able to trace the ancestry of Jesus of Nazareth through four thousand years of history, step by step, name by name, all the way back to the first man. Since the Bible goes back to the very beginning of human existence, it can tell us who is to blame for all the conditions we see or experience, why God has permitted it, and how it will be remedied.

    d. If someone else committed a crime, how would you feel if you were blamed for it? You would consider this very unjust. Justice requires that the guilty be punished and the innocent be freed from blame. If an automobile driver ignores a stop sign at a busy intersection and gets into a bad accident as a result, it is not the fault of the law or the law writers. If a person becomes a glutton and gets sick from overeating, it is not the fault of the farmers who grew the food. If, despite good upbringing, a young man leaves home, ignores his father’s good counsel and then gets into trouble, it is not the father who is to blame. Then why should God be blamed when mankind commits wrongs? Should not the blame be put where it belongs—on the guilty party?

    e. Also, there is something else to consider. If we blame God for such things as starvation from food shortages, whom do we credit for the productive fields and orchards that produce such bountiful crops in most lands? If we blame God for sickness, whom do we credit for the body’s marvelous healing systems? If we blame God for city slums, whom do we credit for majestic mountains, clear lakes, beautiful flowers and delightful trees? Clearly, if we blame God for the world’s troubles and then credit him for the good things of the earth, it is a contradiction. A loving God would not promote both good and bad at the same time.
     
  2. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    f. To say that God does not exist is just as contradictory of all the demonstrable facts and only makes things worse. Believing that the universe, this earth and its marvelous forms of life just happened is to ignore the facts and surely “survival of the fittest” is not a better, more peaceful way of life. The fact is that the earth is far better equipped to sustain life than any house, yet every house has an intelligent designer and builder. Then what about this planet with its far grander life-sustaining systems of air, land and water? The Bible says logically: “Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4) True, some people conclude that because humans do bad things it means that God does not exist. However, this is like saying that because people who live in houses do bad things then houses have no designers or builders. It would also be like saying that just because he does something wrong a person never had a father. Believing that God does not exist certainly does not provide a more satisfying answer or engender any real hope for the future.

    2. As we seek an answer, consider this:

    a. Who, then, is to blame for the terrible things that have happened to the human family? Much, but not all, of the blame must rest on people themselves. Human dishonesty and frustration cause crimes. Human pride and selfishness cause wrecked marriages and dysfunctional families, racial prejudices and religious hatreds. Human error and unconcern cause pollution, filth and disease. Human arrogance and stupidity cause wars; when entire nations blindly follow political leaders into those wars, then they must share the blame for the suffering. Hunger and poverty are primarily due to human neglect and greed. Consider: the world now spends many hundreds of billions each year on armies and armaments. If all of this money were properly spent on growing and equally distributing food, improving infrastructure and providing health care and medicines, think what could be done! Especially when we consider the above, the money and time that are lavished on producing weapons of war and indulging the selfish whims of pleasure seekers, it becomes undeniably obvious that every child that dies of starvation is a victim of an inexcusable injustice.

    b. Nor is God to blame for the wrongs committed in the name of religion. For instance, clergymen pray for God’s blessing on the wars of their respective nations. Yet often, though on opposite sides, the soldiers killing each other belong to the same religion! God could not be to blame for that, because he condemns what they do, saying that those who truly serve him must ‘have love among themselves.’ (John 13:34, 35; Luke 6:27-30; Matthew 26:52) If they do not have this love, then God says that they are “like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother.” (1 John 3:10-12,15) Killing people in the name of God, whether during inquisitions or in wars, is similar to the ancient practice of sacrificing children to false gods, a thing that Almighty God says he ‘had not commanded and that had not come up into his heart.’ (Jeremiah 7:31) The clergy’s political meddling, support of wars, and false teachings, such as saying that God is responsible for this world’s suffering or that he even burns people in a literal hellfire forever, are repugnant to reasoning persons, and to God. No, God is not to blame for the wrongs that humans themselves commit. And he is not to blame for the wrongs blessed by clergymen who claim to serve God but who do not speak the truth or practice it. Well, then, was there something wrong with the way God made mankind? Did he give the human race a bad start?

    c. When a person reads the first two chapters of the book of Genesis, it becomes very clear that when God created man and woman he gave them a perfect start. He created them with perfect bodies and minds, so that sickness and death would never plague them. Their home was a lovely, parklike garden of delightful flowers, lush vegetation and fruit-bearing trees. There was no lack. To the contrary, there was abundance. Also, God set before our first parents interesting work and stimulating goals. He instructed them to extend the parklike conditions of that paradise throughout the entire earth. In time the many perfect children that they would produce would assist them in this. Thus, eventually, the human family would become a perfect race of people, inhabiting an earthly paradise, enjoying life forever, and even having the animals in loving subjection.

    d. But why did things turn out so disastrously? Was it because God did not really create humans perfect in the first place? No, that is not the case, because Deuteronomy 32:4 says of God, “Perfect is his work.” However, human perfection did not mean that the first human pair knew everything, or could do everything, or could not do what is wrong. Even perfect creatures have limitations. For instance, there were physical limits. If they did not eat food, drink water and breathe air they would die. Nor could they do such things as violate the law of gravity by jumping off a very high place and not expect to get hurt. Also, they had mental limits. Obviously, Adam and Eve had a lot to learn, since they had very limited experience and knowledge. But no matter how much they learned, they could never know as much as their Creator. Hence, although perfect, they were limited by being in the human realm. Perfection simply meant that they were complete, that there was no flaw in their physical and mental makeup.

    e. In addition, God also created humans with free will or as free moral agents, not to be controlled or guided just by instinct, as are animals, or by fate or some predestined plan, like puppets on invisible, indiscernible strings. And surely you appreciate such freedom. You would not want anyone dictating to you, every minute of your life, what you should do. However, that freedom was not to be absolute, that is, without limitations, but was to be relative. It had to be exercised within the boundaries of God’s laws. Those fine laws would be few and simple, designed with the greatest happiness of the entire human family in mind. His requiring that they obey his laws, since he knew that respect for those laws would bring them unending benefits, showed God’s love for humans. Disrespect for God and his laws would interfere with their happiness. It would bring nothing good. In fact, it would bring certain calamity, because God warned Adam and Eve that if they abandoned him they would “surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) So to keep living, they needed not only to eat food, drink water and breathe air, but also to be guided by God and his laws.

    f. There is another very crucial reason why our first parents needed to keep depending upon God. That reason is that humans were not created to govern their affairs successfully independent of God. God did not give them the right or the ability to do that. As the Bible says: “To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) That is why the Bible declares: “He that is trusting in his own heart is stupid.” (Proverbs 28:26)
     
  3. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    1. What went wrong and with what consequences?

    a. With such a fine start, what went wrong? This: our first parents, Adam and Eve, used their freedom of choice wrongly. They decided to go their own way instead of submitting to God’s rule. In fact, the woman thought that they could become “like God, knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 3:5) Relying on their own self-centered thinking, they wanted to determine for themselves what was right and what was wrong. They did not foresee the unintended consequences and the vast damage that would result from such thinking. When they pulled away from God’s rulership, what resulted is, in a broad sense, like what happens when you pull out the plug of an electric fan. Cut off from its source of sustaining power, the fan slows down and eventually comes to a dead stop. Similarly, when the first human pair pulled away from the Source of life, their Creator, they eventually deteriorated and died, as God forewarned that they would.

    b. Since our first parents rebelled against God before they had children, imperfection set in before the birth of their first child. Adam and Eve became like a defective pattern. Everything produced from them was also defective. They could pass on to their children only what they themselves now had—imperfect bodies and minds. They were no longer perfect because they had withdrawn from the Source that sustains perfection and life, God. So in line with what the Bible says at Romans 5:12, everybody born since then has been born in imperfection, and is prone to sickness, old age and death. But God cannot be blamed for this. Deuteronomy 32:5 says: “They have acted ruinously on their own part; they are not his children, the defect is their own.” And Ecclesiastes 7:29 notes: “The true God made mankind upright, but they themselves have sought out many plans.”

    c. But is it reasonable that disobedience by just two persons should result in such tragic consequences for everybody? Well, we know that human carelessness by just one person in handling a small safety factor in the construction of a building can result in a disaster that may cost the lives of many people. Failure to care for a similar feature in a dam could lead to its rupture and a flood that could cause enormous destruction. A single act of corruption by a ruler may open the way for a chain reaction of wrongdoing in a government, leading to great harm for millions of people. In a family, when a father and a mother make a wrong choice, their children can suffer serious consequences. Our first parents made the wrong choice. As a result, the entire human family was plunged into imperfection and disaster.

    d. Since God’s law was involved, and his integrity too, he could not let the violation go by without affirming and enforcing that law. What respect would people have for him or for his law if he did nothing about it? Do we respect rulers today who do not obey their own laws, or who allow certain people to break them willfully without penalty? Hence, God carried out his stated penalty for disobedience, which was death. But he mercifully allowed the first pair to have children, which mercy we should appreciate, otherwise we would never have been born. And although we are imperfect due to Adam and Eve’s failure, do we not prefer to be alive rather than dead?

    2. But wait, there is more to it.

    a. Is this to say that all of this originated entirely with humans? No, there is more to it. God’s producing of intelligent creatures was not limited to humans. Already he had created countless other intelligent sons in the heavens, spirit creatures. In Genesis 3:1-5 who is speaking through the serpent? It is not God. (Titus 1:2; James 1:12-15) It is an invisible spirit creature that is behind the serpent and who brings up the challenges and issues that now have come to involve all of God’s intelligent creatures, both men and angels. (Revelation 12:9) While angels too were free moral agents, they would also have to submit to God’s good and reasonable laws to remain alive, however, one of these spirit creatures meditated on wrong ideas. And when a person meditates on what is wrong, that can build up to a point where he does the wrong thing he is thinking about, so too with this spirit creature. He built up ambition in himself to such a degree that it moved him to challenge God. He told Adam’s wife, Eve, a lie that they could disobey God and still, he said, “You surely will not die.” (Genesis 3:4) He questioned their need to depend upon the Creator for continued life and happiness. In fact, he told them that disobedience would actually improve matters for them, causing them to be like God. Thus he called into question the truthfulness of God. And by calling into question God’s laws, he cast doubt on God’s way of ruling, in fact, on God’s right to rule. For this he was called Satan, which means resister, and Devil, which means slanderer.

    b. Again for emphasis and clarification, what was the point of what Satan said? For one thing the Devil challenged God’s honesty. Reflect on the implications of this. If God were not truthful in this matter, could he be trusted in anything else? Would his creatures on earth or in heaven always have to be suspicious about what God said? We know today how suspicious persons are of politicians who govern through the use of lies. (Compare Psalm 5:9) Satan’s claim that God is deceitful and withholds things that are good for his creatures also raised the issue, does God deserve to rule? The question of the rightfulness of God’s way of ruling involved all creation. Additionally, Satan was contending that humans could get along without God, that they can and should rule themselves. The question was put before men and angels: Can humans successfully govern their affairs independent of God?

    c. Those serious moral issues demanded complete settlement. The way in which God chose to do that clearly shows his wisdom and his interest in our welfare, both now and in the future. God allowed time to pass, during which all intelligent creatures could see the evidence. What evidence has time revealed on the issues raised in Eden? As God forewarned, human disobedience has resulted in death, preceded by sickness and old age. So God was not dishonest in his warning, and there was no basis in this for challenging the rightfulness of his rulership. There is also proof that man cannot set his own standards, ruling himself independently of God. No form of human government has been able to prevent wars, corruption, oppression, crime and injustice. This confirms what the Bible says: “To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23) And also, “All this I have seen, and there was an applying of my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, [during] the time that man has dominated man to his injury.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9) Further, time has proved that men cannot end suffering, rather, that they often cause it.

    d. Because God is so much stronger, he could easily have wiped out these human and spirit rebels in an instant and right at the start. But that would not have settled matters satisfactorily. Why not? Because it was not God’s strength that was challenged, the issues raised were moral ones. And a vital issue among them was this: Would the way of rebellion prove successful? Could rulership that ignored God bring lasting benefits to the entire human family? Would God’s rulership of man be better for mankind or would man’s independent rulership be better? God, in his wisdom, knew that this, and other key issues raised, would take time to settle. So he allowed a definite period of time that would give humans ample opportunity to arrive at the peak of their political, social, industrial and scientific achievements.
     
  4. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    e. It would take many generations for the answer to be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, that time period could not be just a few days or a few years. Court cases can take weeks or months even where just two people are involved. The great issues at stake relative to God’s rule demand a full answer, not an inconclusive settlement. Also, the allowing of all this time to pass is so that all possible implications and permutations of these issues would become entirely and clearly evident to all intelligent creation and thus leave no question unanswered and undecided and for some future determination. In this way the settling of these issues would never need to be repeated at any future time. A loving God could accept nothing less than a full and definitive settlement. And we can be glad that this is so, since only such a settlement can open the way for unending peace and security for all of God’s universal family, in heaven and on earth.

    2. God’s provides an early answer.

    a. The Bible book of Job helps us with this as it helps us to identify the root cause of suffering and to see why God allowed it. Especially in chapters 1 and 2 is this aspect along with other important implications of the issues made clear to us. Although the book of Job is now found toward the middle of the Bible, chronologically it was among the very earliest books of the Bible that God authored by means of Moses. So we find God revealing the “How’s” of this situation in Genesis and then in very short order the “Why’s” are revealed in Job. It is primarily in the book of Job that we find an answer to our questions.

    b. After a brief prologue introducing Job to us (Job 1:1-5), the curtain of invisibility is drawn back so that we get a brief but enlightening view of heavenly things. Where we find that the defiant, rebellious spirit called Satan was not satisfied with only challenging God’s authority, but additionally carried his challenges even further and called into question the integrity of all God’s human children. (Proverbs 27:11; Revelation 12:10) In verse six we find Satan assembled with other spirits in God’s presence. At the mention of Job’s blameless course, Satan challenged: “Is it for nothing that Job has feared God? . . . For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch everything he has and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” (Job 1:9-12) In other words, Satan was first accusing God of bribing Job and, second, was claiming that if Job were stripped of his wealth (and then later his health also), he would curse God. By extension, Satan was asserting that no human would love and be loyal to God in the face of suffering. That challenge had universal and enduring impact. The issues that Satan raised had to be settled. Thus, God gave Satan freedom to act against Job and, by extension, all men. Could Satan turn all men away from God? Only time would tell. History tells us that Satan has been extremely successful with the vast majority; but also that there have always been a very small fraction that have been faithful and who account for the passing on of true worship and faith. But that is another subject for discussion at another time.

    c. Let’s consider Satan’s methods used against Job (and by extension against all humans): The first thing he used was criminal and warlike violence to bring about severe economic problems. (Job 1:13-15,17) The next things used were what appeared to be “acts of God,” that is supernatural use of natural forces to complete the economic reversal and to accomplish the killing of Job’s children (a wind “striking the four corners of the house,” possibly a tornado strength ‘dust devil’ or whirlwind, would be a very unusual event on the Arabian peninsula and the lighting was so unusual that it was described to Job as “the fire of God”; even today natural disasters are unknowingly referred to by some as “acts of God” even when they are man-made). (Job 1:16,19) All of these actions were caused and controlled by Satan. And what is more they were made to appear to Job, and onlookers, as if they were coming from God. This explains why Job said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." (Job 1:20-22) But who was actually causing these things?

    d. No doubt Satan had expected to be as successful with Job as he already had been with the vast majority of humankind. Even though it did not turn out that way it did not stop Satan from expanding his challenge to include the very person of Job, both body and mind. While still in mourning over the loss of his children, Satan afflicted Job with a horrible disease that caused him to be covered with malignant boils and that caused him excruciating pain. Job became so sick and repugnant that his wife blamed God, in fact, she was moved, no doubt under Satan’s influence, to oppose her husband’s faithful course and to say: “Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job did not know why he was suffering and yet he would not accuse God of causing it. We read: “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:6-10)

    e. Then Satan arranged for three “friends” to appear “to console and comfort” Job by pummeling him with unfounded criticism and false accusations. No doubt there are some that will readily identify with the feelings of depression revealed by Job’s words at Job 10:1-3: “I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?” Job was still unaware of who was causing his suffering and why. And just as a small child becomes angry with the loving parent that holds them still while a painful dose of medicine is administered, Job too blamed God, at that point. So it seems to be a very common thing for unknowing persons to blame God for their suffering. But is it correct to do so?

    f. If you analyze the circumstances behind Job’s experience, you will see that the issue is: Will humans serve God out of love, despite troubles? Job helped to answer that. Only true love for God could have moved a person to remain faithful, which is what Job did. What a testimony against Satan’s false accusations! This case, however, did not begin and end with Job back then; it has extended for centuries. We are involved too.

    g. Yes, God let Satan bring many troubles on Job. Job lost his wealth. His children were killed. He was struck with a loathsome disease. Though not knowing that Satan was making him the object of special attack, Job remained faithful to God. (Job 27:5) How could he do so? He loved and trusted God. Therefore he was sure that God would not forget him and that the Creator would even resurrect him if he died. (Job 14:13-15) God never abandons his loyal ones. In time God stepped in and undid the damage that Satan had caused. Job’s health was restored. He came to have 10 more beautiful children, together with great prosperity and a long life. You may read the encouraging details in Job 42:10-17.
     
  5. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    8. What has been proved?

    a. About 6,000 years have now passed since the issues were first raised. What has been the result of defiance, rebelliousness and total independence from God’s rule? All kinds of governments, all kinds of social orders, all kinds of economic systems, and all kinds of sectarian religions have been tried. But nothing has brought true peace, security, lasting health and happiness. Can one boast of material progress when World War II alone took over fifty million lives? Is it progress to send men to the moon, when those same rockets with nuclear warheads could annihilate mankind, and when hundreds of millions of people on earth were suffering from hunger and poverty at the same time that men walked on the moon? What good is having a house with many conveniences when families are torn apart by arguments, when the number of divorces grows constantly, when fear of crime and violence in the neighborhood spreads, when pollution and slums grow, when economic depressions throw millions out of work, when riots, civil wars and the toppling of governments are common occurrences that threaten a man’s home and way of life?

    b. The truth is just as former United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim admitted: “Despite material progress, human life has never had a greater sense of insecurity than it is experiencing today.” The book Environmental Ethics also states: “Man, created to breathe clean air, drink and enjoy pure water, and enjoy the adventure of his natural surroundings, has changed his environment and finds he cannot adapt. He is preparing his own mass execution.” Truly the long permission of wickedness should demonstrate to all reasonable persons that men were not created with the ability to direct their affairs successfully apart from the guidance of God. And with six thousand years of human failure as evidence, never can anyone rightly charge God with not allowing enough time for humans to experiment. The allotted time has been enough to prove that the way of rebellion against God has been an absolute disaster.

    c. As to God’s permitting evil, many persons think only about man’s suffering. They fail to appreciate the important issues that are being settled. Also, they may overlook the benefits that they can receive because God has allowed time for the settlement. (2 Peter 3:9) Each individual alive today should be especially grateful that the time God has allowed for settling these matters has been sufficiently long for us to be born. Whatever pleasures we have enjoyed, it is because of God’s time allowance. Further, we have been given the opportunity to prove our love for and loyalty to God by knowingly taking his side on the issues.

    d. There is also a flipside to the above; some have used their time to prove themselves disloyal to God whether knowingly or unknowingly. Again consider one of the many ways that may be done: Many persons complain about evil and suffering, disloyally blaming God for these and others rebelliously go even further using them as an excuse to dismiss God altogether. But the critical question is, “Do any of these ones truly want the elimination of imperfection, or is it just of its penalties? Think about it, much of the suffering man brings upon himself is when he reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7; Proverbs 19:3) Immorality produces venereal diseases, abortions and weakens society. Smoking leads to lung cancer or other health problems and to an early death. Drunkenness and drug abuse damage the liver and the brain and also help in breaking down society. Breaking traffic laws causes fatal accidents. Do those who say, ‘Why does God permit imperfection? When will he stop it?’ really want God to do so? What if he did so right now, by preventing all those selfish, defiant and rebellious practices? Many would complain bitterly that he was overly restricting their “freedom,” perhaps even claiming that he was not allowing them to be what they were born to be. We do well to ask ourselves, ‘Is that how I am reacting to these issues? Or do I want to be like Job, thus helping to answer the challenge Satan raised?’

    e. How do you feel about this? From what you now know of the Creator and the situation, would you not concur with the Bible writer James? Despite his suffering, he had this conviction: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13)

    f. We have a valuable aid in getting that wise view. It is by our considering Jesus’ case. We know that Jesus is esteemed for his insight, knowledge, and ability as a teacher. Where did he stand regarding Satan and rebelliousness? Jesus was certain that Satan the Devil both exists and can cause suffering. Satan, who tried to break Job’s integrity, overtly tried to do the same to Jesus. Beyond proving that Satan is real, this shows that the challenge raised in Job’s day is continuing. As did Job, Jesus proved faithful to the Creator even at the cost of riches and power and although it caused him physical suffering and death by torture. Jesus’ case shows that God was still allowing humans to demonstrate that they would be loyal to him despite problems. (Luke 4:1-13; 8:27-34; 11:14-22; John 19:1-30)

    g. In the meantime, God has maintained the earth as a reasonably pleasant environment. The apostle Paul reasoned: “In the past generations he permitted all the nations to go on in their ways, although, indeed, he did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts to the full with food and good cheer.” (Acts 14:16, 17) Clearly, the Creator does not bring suffering, but he has permitted it so as to settle issues of the utmost importance. At this point, the question that comes to mind is: the Almighty has the power and the love of justice needed to end suffering, so, will he ever do so?
     
  6. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    9. Will it ever be different?

    a. Based upon our own recent experiences, we should be able to appreciate the Hebrew prophet Habakkuk’s reaction to violence and injustice. He lived at a time when the Jews had fallen into many bad practices, which sorely troubled Habakkuk and moved him to ask God: “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:3, 4)

    b. Though convinced of God’s righteousness, Habakkuk was distressed by the violence and injustice among his people. Also, at that time the Babylonians (Chaldeans) were on the rampage, terrorizing and despoiling other nations. It seemed that wickedness prevailed everywhere. The prophet Habakkuk wondered why God, who could see it, seemed to do nothing. (Habakkuk 1:13)

    c. In a vision God assured Habakkuk that the seeming prosperity of the wicked was only temporary. God not only saw what was occurring, but also cared. He had an “appointed time” for meting out divine justice. Even if humans thought that this was delaying, Habakkuk was assured, “It will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

    d. Further showing God’s care, he alerted Habakkuk to a challenge facing humans in the meantime. God said: “But as for the righteous one, by his faithfulness he will keep living.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Would Habakkuk meet the challenge, doing what was right and moral despite what those around him did? He needed to display faith that God would handle matters properly in his “appointed time.”

    e. History tells us what happened. When the time arrived, God acted to end violence and injustice on the part of the Jews. The land was conquered and many of the people were taken captive. Later, God had an accounting with Babylon. As God foretold through his prophets, the Medes and the Persians under Cyrus defeated the seemingly all-powerful Babylonian Empire. (Jeremiah 51:11, 12; Isaiah 45:1; Daniel 5:22-31) This small-scale illustration shows that our Creator does not close his eyes to all the conditions. He is aware of them and he does care. (Compare Genesis 18:20, 21; 19:13.)

    f. As noted above, the book of Job also gives us reason to be confident that God can and will undo any and all the suffering that humans undergo while these things are being permitted. (Compare 2 Corinthians 4:16, 17) As God observed and approved of Job and Habakkuk, he is now taking note of humans who are loyal to him in the face of evil conditions, and he will not fail to reward them. (Malachi 3:16-18) How do many react when they see or face suffering, whatever its cause? They may be unaware of the issues raised in Job’s day, or they may not believe that Satan even exists. Hence, often they doubt that there is a Creator, or they blame him for the suffering. How do you feel about this?

    g. Sincere persons who are willing to accept God’s rulership and standards feel the suffering also. With them in mind, God is going to act against those carrying on rebelliousness, even as he did on the small scale mentioned in the book of Habakkuk. God will eliminate all those in heaven and on earth who are responsible for wickedness and suffering. Just as God told Habakkuk, there is an “appointed time” for this. We can be sure that “it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

    10. The Bible engenders real hope for the future.

    a. The Bible assures us that God purposes to restore the earth to a paradise condition, such as Adam and Eve enjoyed before being disloyal. (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:4, 5) Then there will be complete fulfillment of Bible promises such as: “The wicked will disappear; you may look for them, but you won’t find them; but the humble [or, meek] will possess the land and enjoy prosperity and peace.” (Psalm 37:10, 11,29; Proverbs 24:1, 20)

    b. Hence, God’s allowing wickedness lets us show where we stand, what is in our hearts. God told Habakkuk: “As for the righteous one, by his faithfulness he will keep living.” That requires cultivating a hatred for what God shows to be bad or evil. (Habakkuk 2:4; Psalm 97:10) Living that way may make us unpopular with some neighbors and associates. (1 Peter 4:3-5) Job, Habakkuk and Jesus were willing to be different so as to be loyal to God and have his approval. How about you? Persons who are following this course are adding to the evidence that Satan is a gross liar. They are proving that humans can be faithful to God, confident of the rightfulness and righteousness of his way of rule. God, in turn, knows that such persons can be entrusted with caring for the paradise to be restored on earth. Life then will be so delightful that the sorrows and evils of the past will not come to mind. They will be forgotten just as we have forgotten the pain and sorrow we felt years ago when, as children, we may have scraped a knee. (Isaiah 65:17; John 16:21)

    c. That is a delightful prospect and it helps us to see that God’s permission of wickedness is just a brief interlude in the outworking of his eternal purpose. (Genesis 1:28; Isaiah 45:18) The legal, moral issues giving rise to it will be settled for all time.
     
  7. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Quite, but that is with the assumption that a god created the universe in the first place. There is no physical evidence to support the theory that a god created the universe, and therefore the theory that he/she inspired the bible can be equally rejected on the same grounds.

    I would think that the most complete and accurate historical record in existence would be at the very least, my history book at school, not to mention some huge volume contained in the Library of Congress or the Smithsonian. A book which contains stories of wrestling with angels and being swallowed by whales, only to be regurgitated alive days later does not immediately come to mind as a work with historical accuracy as it's first priority.

    This is where the 'why's' start to come in. Why did god create evil, allowing the son to disobey?


    Well then, perhaps god is not all-loving. God is responsible for the good and the bad, because he created both the good and the bad. If god is not to blame for evil, then who is? Satan? Ah, but god is more powerful than satan, is he not? That means that if he didn't want evil, he could do away with it easily. However, then arises the question, "Why did god create satan and evil in the first place?"


     
  8. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Could you please post those facts, perhaps in a separate thread? I have certainly never seen them. Scientific facts say that god is unecessary.

    The "survival of the fittest" theory is not accepted because it is peaceful and happy and gives people a warm and fuzzy feeling. It is accepted because it is consistent with the observed patterns of reality.

    Is it? I would have a much more difficult time living outside than I would in a house. If the often volatile weather condidtions didn't get me, the elusive food and lack of clean water source might.
    If someone does something wrong, it does not disprove that they had a father. However, if someone who has an onmiscient and perfect father does something wrong, it certainly calls into question the supposed omniscience and perfection of that father.

    Again, the lack of belief in god is not held by people because it specifically makes them happy and gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling. It is held because it is what is consistent with logical observation.
    Gos wrote the script and hired the people to act it out. If god didn't want hate, filth, pollution, and disease, he wouldn't have created them.
    Let's forget about Deuteronomy for a moment, and focus on logic. IF god created things perfectly, then how is it possible for them to turn out disasterously? It's not. Something went wrong. In this instance, Deuteronomy in incoherent with basic logic and reason.
    I'm confused. What, exactly, was god's definition of 'perfection'? Your description is no different from any normal human being. Did god mean that he created them perfectly in every physcial aspect? Wow, that's pretty shallow.
    Does god know everything? Great, then that means that he knows the outcome of my next decision. That doesn't sound like complete free-will to me.

    Actually, if someone telling me what to do all the time meant that I was always happy and everyone else was happy to, rather than the unhappiness which stems from free-will, I would have to say that I would prefer a lack of free-will.


    That's all the time I have for today. Until tomorrow!
     
  9. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    You need to read my post again because you obviously missed the point. You are making claims or assumptions that are contrary to what the Bible says and to what I said, also.



    God did not create Satan in the first place! The Scriptures indicate that the creature known as Satan did not always have that name. Rather, this descriptive name was given to him because of his taking a course of opposition and resistance to God. The name he had before this is not given. God is the only Creator, and ‘his activity is perfect,’ with no injustice or unrighteousness. (Deuteronomy 32:4) Therefore, the one becoming Satan was, when created, a perfect, righteous creature of God with free will or freedom of choice. Therefore, Jesus Christ said of him: “That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him.” (John 8:44) Jesus here shows that Satan was once in the truth, but forsook it. Beginning with his first overt act in turning Adam and Eve away from God, he was a manslayer, for he thereby brought about the death of Adam and Eve, which, in turn, brought sin and death to their offspring.

    So, from a righteous, perfect start, this spirit person deviated into sin and degradation. James describes the process bringing this about when he writes: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.” (James 1:14, 15 see my original post.) In the course that Satan took, there seems to be, in some respects, a parallel with that of the king of Tyre as described in Ezekiel 28:11-19.



    The dirge recorded at Ezekiel 28:11-19, though directed to the human “king of Tyre,” evidently parallels the course taken by the spirit son of God who first sinned. The pride of “the king of Tyre,” his making himself ‘a god,’ his being called a “cherub,” and the reference to “Eden, the garden of God,” certainly correspond to Biblical information concerning Satan the Devil, who became puffed up with pride, is linked to the serpent in Eden, and is called “the god of this world.” (1 Timothy 3:6; Genesis 3:1-5, 14, 15; Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4)



    It very well may be that you will refuse to accept the facts as presented in the Bible, but God did not create Satan in the first place! Nor did he “create” evil! And your accusation claiming that he did does not make it so.



    As for the answer to your last question: read my post!
     
  10. standing_on_one_foot

    standing_on_one_foot Well-Known Member

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    Hmm...but wait up. If you have an omnipotent, omniscient, omni-etc, omni-etc God who created everything knowing how everything would turn out, how is God not responsible for evil? So God didn't directly create it, I'll give you that, but ultimately, if you have someone completely in charge of everything, that someone is responsible for everything, right? You know, it's really the all-knowing part that troubles me here...

    Heh, it's funny, this is most definitely not the side I'd usually argue.
     
  11. Mr Spinkles

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    Hogcaller-- Does God have the ability to create a perfect world?

    If so, why did God not create a perfect world?

    If your response is "because if the world was perfect it would be boring" or "because if the world was perfect we wouldn't have free will" then I refer you back to my first question.
     
  12. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    You say: “Could you please post those facts, perhaps in a separate thread? I have certainly never seen them. Scientific facts say that god is unecessary.”



    I say: you first! “Scientific facts say that god is unnecessary.” Really? And which “facts” are those? And don't answer with theories.



    You say: “If someone does something wrong, it does not disprove that they had a father. However, if someone who has an onmiscient and perfect father does something wrong, it certainly calls into question the supposed omniscience and perfection of that father.”



    I say: really? Did you read somewhere in the Bible that that God is omniscient? If not, then somebody told you that, correct? And that someone(s) may very well have told you something that is not correct and misinformed you. So let me ask you: how? Please prove the above statement.



    You say: “Gos wrote the script and hired the people to act it out. If god didn't want hate, filth, pollution, and disease, he wouldn't have created them.”



    I say: you are absolutely right. And he didn't! AND I say it AGAIN: “It very well may be that you will refuse to accept the facts as presented in the Bible, but God did not create Satan in the first place! Nor did he “create” evil! And your accusation claiming that he did does not make it so.” “You need to read my post again because you obviously missed the point. You are making claims or assumptions that are contrary to what the Bible says and to what I said, also



    You say: “Let's forget about Deuteronomy for a moment, and focus on logic. IF god created things perfectly, then how is it possible for them to turn out disasterously? It's not. Something went wrong. In this instance, Deuteronomy in incoherent with basic logic and reason.”



    I say: no! Let's not forget about Deuteronomy. You continue to make these very tall claims but you provide no proof. Prove Deuteronomy 32:4 is “incoherent with basic logic and reason.” Yes, something did go wrong but apparently you are so sure of what you think I'm saying and so set in your opinions and preconceived ideas that you are not able understand what I actually say and therefore you ignored what I said about it!



    You say: “I'm confused. What, exactly, was god's definition of 'perfection'? Your description is no different from any normal human being. Did god mean that he created them perfectly in every physcial aspect? Wow, that's pretty shallow.”



    I say: obviously you are confused! Please go read my introduction paragraph again where I forewarn you that this will most likely be ‘new’ to you. And then answer this question: where did you get your definition of perfection? Did you read it somewhere in the Bible or did someone(s) tell you? Let me repeat myself: “apparently you are so sure of what you think I'm saying and so set in your opinions and preconceived ideas that you are not able understand what I actually say!” Please slow down. Please think about what I have actually said (not what you think I said) and then let us have a discussion about the things you do not agree with—but that I did say, OK?



    You say: “Does god know everything? Great, then that means that he knows the outcome of my next decision. That doesn't sound like complete free-will to me.”



    I say: you are absolutely right! That is not free will! Neither is it what I said! This is what I said: “In addition, God also created humans with free will or as free moral agents, not to be controlled or guided just by instinct, as are animals, or by fate or some predestined plan, like puppets on invisible, indiscernible strings.” Freewill is the antithesis of predestination! I am talking about free will and you are trying to argue with me about predestination.



    You do ask a good question: “Does god know everything?” He answers for himself in the Bible at Genesis 11:5-8 where God is described as directing his attention earthward, surveying the situation at Babel, and, at that time, determining the action to be taken to break up the unrighteous project there. After wickedness developed at Sodom and Gomorrah, God advised Abraham of his decision to investigate (by means of his angels) to “see whether they act altogether according to the outcry over it that has come to me, and, if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:20-22; 19:1) God spoke of ‘becoming acquainted with Abraham,’ or ‘I have become his intimate friend,’ and after Abraham went to the point of attempting to sacrifice Isaac, God said, “For now I do know that you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me.” (Genesis 22:11, 12; compare Galatians 4:9) There are many other examples that I could cite. The point is that God's perfection means that he has perfect self-control and can exercise his foreknowledge at his discretion and without interfering with the free will of his creatures. God is omnipotent, but that does not mean that he is not able to pickup an egg without crushing it. When he wants to foreknow something he can and does, but that does not mean that he cannot control himself and must foreknow “everything”.



    Predestination is an unscriptural teaching that slanders God. It confuses what he can do with what he actually does. The fact that God can foreknow events is clearly stated in the Bible. (Isaiah 46:9, 10) However, it is illogical to think that he cannot control his ability to know the future or that he is responsible for every outcome. To illustrate: suppose you had very great physical strength. Would that make you feel inclined to hug a newborn baby with all your strength? Of course not! Likewise, having the ability to know the future does not compel God to foreknow or foreordain everything. His use of foreknowledge is selective and discretionary.



    You say: “Actually, if someone telling me what to do all the time meant that I was always happy and everyone else was happy to, rather than the unhappiness which stems from free-will, I would have to say that I would prefer a lack of free-will.



    I say: you obviously didn't think that one through! Unhappiness does not stem from freewill but rather from the misuse of free choice. I viewed the movie ‘Matrix’ for the first time about two weeks ago. Surely you would not prefer life in the Matrix? Do you really want to be an automaton?
     
  13. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    Mr_Spinkles,



    You say: Hogcaller-- Does God have the ability to create a perfect world?

    If so, why did God not create a perfect world?

    If your response is "because if the world was perfect it would be boring" or "because if the world was perfect we wouldn't have free will" then I refer you back to my first question.




    What I said, as posted above, was:



    c. When a person reads the first two chapters of the book of Genesis, it becomes very clear that when God created man and woman he gave them a perfect start. He created them with perfect bodies and minds, so that sickness and death would never plague them. Their home was a lovely, parklike garden of delightful flowers, lush vegetation and fruit-bearing trees. There was no lack. To the contrary, there was abundance. Also, God set before our first parents interesting work and stimulating goals. He instructed them to extend the parklike conditions of that paradise throughout the entire earth. In time the many perfect children that they would produce would assist them in this. Thus, eventually, the human family would become a perfect race of people, inhabiting an earthly paradise, enjoying life forever, and even having the animals in loving subjection.

    d. But why did things turn out so disastrously? Was it because God did not really create humans perfect in the first place? No, that is not the case, because Deuteronomy 32:4 says of God, “Perfect is his work.” However, human perfection did not mean that the first human pair knew everything, or could do everything, or could not do what is wrong. Even perfect creatures have limitations. For instance, there were physical limits. If they did not eat food, drink water and breathe air they would die. Nor could they do such things as violate the law of gravity by jumping off a very high place and not expect to get hurt. Also, they had mental limits. Obviously, Adam and Eve had a lot to learn, since they had very limited experience and knowledge. But no matter how much they learned, they could never know as much as their Creator. Hence, although perfect, they were limited by being in the human realm. Perfection simply meant that they were complete, that there was no flaw in their physical and mental makeup.

    e. In addition, God also created humans with free will or as free moral agents, not to be controlled or guided just by instinct, as are animals, or by fate or some predestined plan, like puppets on invisible, indiscernible strings. And surely you appreciate such freedom. You would not want anyone dictating to you, every minute of your life, what you should do. However, that freedom was not to be absolute, that is, without limitations, but was to be relative. It had to be exercised within the boundaries of God’s laws. Those fine laws would be few and simple, designed with the greatest happiness of the entire human family in mind. His requiring that they obey his laws, since he knew that respect for those laws would bring them unending benefits, showed God’s love for humans. Disrespect for God and his laws would interfere with their happiness. It would bring nothing good. In fact, it would bring certain calamity, because God warned Adam and Eve that if they abandoned him they would “surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) So to keep living, they needed not only to eat food, drink water and breathe air, but also to be guided by God and his laws.

    f. There is another very crucial reason why our first parents needed to keep depending upon God. That reason is that humans were not created to govern their affairs successfully independent of God. God did not give them the right or the ability to do that. As the Bible says: “To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) That is why the Bible declares: “He that is trusting in his own heart is stupid.” (Proverbs 28:26)

    5. What went wrong and with what consequences?

    a. With such a fine start, what went wrong? This: our first parents, Adam and Eve, used their freedom of choice wrongly. They decided to go their own way instead of submitting to God’s rule. In fact, the woman thought that they could become “like God, knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 3:5) Relying on their own self-centered thinking, they wanted to determine for themselves what was right and what was wrong. They did not foresee the unintended consequences and the vast damage that would result from such thinking. When they pulled away from God’s rulership, what resulted is, in a broad sense, like what happens when you pull out the plug of an electric fan. Cut off from its source of sustaining power, the fan slows down and eventually comes to a dead stop. Similarly, when the first human pair pulled away from the Source of life, their Creator, they eventually deteriorated and died, as God forewarned that they would.
     
  14. Ronald

    Ronald Well-Known Member

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    Hogcaller, I really liked your story until you used an unfortunate word,"selfcentered" this is a defect and they were perfect. Eve was the weak link , she had only Adams word of "don't eat" Seeing it looked good and having free will she simplely had two choices, resist temptation and obey God or to give in to temptation and be disobedient. She as her own moral agent chose wrong. The most awful part was that God gave them a chance to repent. Which they didn't.
    The rest, as they say is history.
     
  15. Master Vigil

    Master Vigil Well-Known Member

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    The problem with all of this is... The bible is, can not, and will not, be perfect. It was written by finite imperfect beings. And even if a perfect god would write it through them, the end result would still be in itself imperfect. The only way the bible would be perfect is if god changed the humans and made them perfect. But if multiple things are perfect, than they would all be the same thing. There can not be different perfections, there can only be one perfection. So there would only be one person who wrote the bible. But even if god made a man perfect, the man would become the same things as god, and then there cannot be two perfect gods, for they would essentially become one. But there were many people who wrote the bible. They were written by imperfect beings, and thus the end product was IMPERFECT!!!

    But let us assume that the bible is true. And even though you say that god did not create satan as he is now. God still created him. At the heart of everything is god, there is nothing that is not a part of god. Therefore, even though god created lucifer, lucifer is satan. And therefore god created satan. And as evil is a part of creation, god created evil.

    Another thing, even though the original old testament was written long before the christian bible was ever put together. The jews still do not take the torah at face value. It is up to a "cantor" to bring out the meaning in the torah. Meanings change, and as we see throughout christianity's history. The meaning changes. So who is right? You? I think the most credibility goes to the ancient rabbi's, the ancient mystics, the ancient theologians. Scripture is not enough, interpretation of scripture is extremely necessary. The bible is not a history book, it is a story. A myth, a legend of an amazing man.
     
  16. standing_on_one_foot

    standing_on_one_foot Well-Known Member

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    Back to blaming Eve...Adam ate too, you know.

    Hey, a question...would Adam and Eve ever have had kids if they stayed in the Garden?
     
  17. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    standing_on_one_foot,

    To understand the matter of foreknowledge and foreordination as relating to God, certain factors necessarily must be recognized.

    First, God’s ability to foreknow and foreordain is clearly stated in the Bible. God himself sets forth as proof of his Godship this ability to foreknow and foreordain events of salvation and deliverance, as well as acts of judgment and punishment, and then to bring such events to fulfillment. His chosen people are witnesses of these facts. (Isaiah 44:6-9; 48:3-8)

    A second factor to be considered is the free will of God’s intelligent creatures. The Scriptures show that God extends to such creatures the privilege and responsibility of free choice, of exercising free moral agency (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; Joshua 24:15), thereby making them accountable for their acts. (Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:11-19; Romans 14:10-12; Hebrews 4:13) They are thus not mere robots, or automatons. Man could not truly have been created in “God’s image” if he were not a free moral agent. Logically then, there should be no conflict between God’s foreknowledge (as well as his foreordaining) and the free moral agency of his intelligent creatures.

    A third factor that must be considered, one sometimes overlooked, is that of God’s moral standards and qualities, including his justice, honesty, impartiality, love, mercy, and kindness. Any understanding of God’s use of any of his ‘omni’ qualities but especially of foreknowledge and foreordination must therefore harmonize with not only some of these factors but with all of them. Clearly, whatever God foreknows must inevitably come to pass, so that God is able to call “things that are not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17)

    God has four cardinal or main qualities: love, power, wisdom and justice. Just as an artist mixes and blends primary colors to produce many shades and hues of color, God’s qualities can be mixed and blended with differing results. For example: love plus wisdom plus justice produces mercy; but mixed in different proportions they produce jealousy. God is the supreme being of the universe and as such we speak of him as being "all-powerful" (omnipotent) and “all-knowing” (omniscient) and so on. And yet, even though he is "all-powerful", each and every exercise of God's power to pass judgment and to enforce punishment does not result in the utter destruction of everything. That is because His exercise of power is blended with or offset by His love, wisdom and justice so that the result is just right (perfect) and does not violate His other qualities and attributes.

    The question then arises: Does God know in advance everything that people will do? Is his exercise of foreknowledge infinite (not his ability to foreknow), without limit? Does he foresee and foreknow all future actions of all his creatures, spirit and human? And does he foreordain such actions or even predestinate what shall be the final destiny of all his creatures, even doing so before they have come into existence?

    Or, is God’s exercise of foreknowledge selective and discretionary, so that whatever he chooses to foresee and foreknow, he does, but what he does not choose to foresee or foreknow, he does not? And, instead of preceding their existence, does God’s determination of his creatures’ eternal destiny await his judgment of their course of life and of their proved attitude under test? The answers to these questions must necessarily come from the Scriptures themselves and the information they provide concerning God’s actions and dealings with his creatures, including what has been revealed through his Son, Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

    The view I ‘hear’ being expressed here is that God’s exercise of his foreknowledge is infinite and that he does foreordain the course and destiny of all individuals and that view is known as predestinarianism. Most of its advocates reason that God’s divinity and perfection require that he be omniscient (all-knowing), not only respecting the past and present but also regarding the future. According to this concept, for him not to foreknow all matters in their minutest detail would evidence imperfection.

    To be correct, this view would, of course, have to harmonize with all the factors previously mentioned, including the Scriptural presentation of God’s qualities, standards, and purposes, as well as his righteous ways in dealing with his creatures. We may properly consider, then, the implications of such a predestinarian view.

    This concept would mean that, prior to creating angels or mankind, God exercised his powers of foreknowledge and foresaw and foreknew all that would result from such creation, including the rebellion of one of his spirit sons, the subsequent rebellion of the first human pair in Eden, and all the bad consequences of such rebellion down to and beyond this present day. This would necessarily mean that all the wickedness that history has recorded (the crime and immorality, oppression and resultant suffering, lying and hypocrisy, false worship and idolatry) once existed, before creation’s beginning, only in the mind of God, in the form of his foreknowledge of the future in all of its minutest details.

    If the Creator of mankind had indeed exercised his power to foreknow all that history has seen since man’s creation, then the full weight of all the wickedness thereafter resulting was deliberately set in motion by God when he spoke the words: “Let us make man.” (Genesis 1:26) These facts bring into question the reasonableness and consistency of the predestinarian concept; particularly so, since the disciple James shows that disorder and other vile things do not originate from God’s heavenly presence but are “earthly, animal, demonic” in source. (James 3:14-18)

    The argument that God’s not foreknowing all future events and circumstances in full detail would evidence imperfection on his part is, in reality, an arbitrary view of perfection. Perfection, correctly defined, does not demand such an absolute, all-embracing extension, inasmuch as the perfection of anything actually depends upon its measuring up completely to the standards of excellence set by one qualified to judge its merits. Ultimately, God’s own will and good pleasure, not human opinions or concepts, are the deciding factors as to whether anything is perfect. (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 22:31; Isaiah 46:10)
     
  18. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    To illustrate this again, God’s almightiness is undeniably perfect and is infinite in capacity. (1 Chronicles 29:11, 12; Job 36:22; 37:23) Yet his perfection in strength does not require him to use his power to the full extent of his omnipotence in any or in all cases. Clearly he has not done so; if he had, not merely certain ancient cities and some nations would have been destroyed, but the earth and all in it would have been obliterated long ago by God’s executions of judgment, accompanied by mighty expressions of disapproval and wrath, as at Sodom and Gomorrah and on other occasions. (Genesis 19:23-25, 29; compare Exodus 9:13-16; Jeremiah 30:23, 24.) God’s exercise of his might is therefore not simply an unleashing of limitless power but is constantly governed by his purpose and, where merited, tempered by his mercy. (Nehemiah 9:31; Psalm 78:38, 39; Jeremiah 30:11; Lamentations 3:22; Ezekiel 20:17)

    Similarly, if, in certain respects, God chooses to exercise his infinite ability of foreknowledge in a selective way and to the degree that pleases him, then assuredly no human or angel can rightly say: “What are you doing?” (Job 9:12; Isaiah 45:9; Daniel 4:35) It is therefore not a question of ability, what God can foresee, foreknow, and foreordain, for “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) The question is what God sees fit to foresee, foreknow, and foreordain, for “everything that he delighted to do he has done.” (Psalm 115:3)

    The alternative to predestinarianism, the selective or discretionary exercise of God’s powers of foreknowledge, would have to harmonize with God’s own righteous standards and be consistent with what he reveals of himself in his Word. In contrast with the theory of predestinarianism, a number of texts point to an examination by God of a situation then current and a decision made on the basis of such examination.

    Thus, at Genesis 11:5-8 where God is described as directing his attention earthward, surveying the situation at Babel, and, at that time, determining the action to be taken to break up the unrighteous project there. After wickedness developed at Sodom and Gomorrah, God advised Abraham of his decision to investigate (by means of his angels) to “see whether they act altogether according to the outcry over it that has come to me, and, if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:20-22; 19:1) God spoke of ‘becoming acquainted with Abraham,’ or ‘I have become his intimate friend,’ and after Abraham went to the point of attempting to sacrifice Isaac, God said, “For now I do know that you are God-fearing in that you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me.” (Genesis 22:11, 12; compare Galatians 4:9)

    Selective foreknowledge means that God could choose not to foreknow indiscriminately all the future acts of his creatures. This would mean that, rather than all history from creation onward being a mere rerun of what had already been foreseen and foreordained, God could with all sincerity set before the first human pair the prospect of everlasting life in an earth free from wickedness. His instructions to his first human son and daughter to act as his perfect and sinless agents in filling the earth with their offspring and making it a paradise, as well as exercising control over the animal creation, could thus be expressed as the grant of a truly loving privilege and as his genuine desire toward them—not merely as the giving of a commission that, on their part, was foredoomed to failure. God’s arranging for a test by means of “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad” and his creation of “the tree of life” in the garden of Eden also would not be meaningless or cynical acts, made so by his foreknowing that the human pair would sin and never be able to eat of “the tree of life.”

    To offer something very desirable to another person on conditions known beforehand to be unreachable is recognized as both hypocritical and cruel. The prospect of everlasting life is presented in God’s Word as a goal for all persons, one possible to attain. (John 3:16) After urging his listeners to ‘keep on asking and seeking’ good things from God, Jesus pointed out that a father does not give a stone or a serpent to his child that asks for bread or a fish. Showing his Father’s view of disappointing the legitimate hopes of a person, Jesus then said: “Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will your Father who is in the heavens give good things to those asking him?” (Matthew 7:7-11)
     
  19. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    Thus, the invitations and opportunities to receive benefits and everlasting blessings set before all men by God are bona fide. (Matthew 21:22; James 1:5, 6) He can in all sincerity urge men to ‘turn back from transgression and keep living,’ as he did with the people of Israel. (Ezekiel 18:23, 30-32; compare Jeremiah 29:11, 12) Logically, he could not do this if he foreknew that they were individually destined to die in wickedness. (Compare Acts 17:30, 31; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4) As God told Israel: “Look to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:19-22)

    In a similar vein, the apostle Peter writes: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise [of the coming day of reckoning], as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) If God already foreknew and foreordained millenniums in advance precisely which individuals would receive eternal salvation and which individuals would receive eternal destruction, it may well be asked how meaningful such ‘patience’ of God could be and how genuine his desire could be that ‘all attain to repentance.’ The inspired apostle John wrote that “God is love,” and the apostle Paul states that love “hopes all things.” (1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:4, 7) It is in harmony with this outstanding, divine quality that God should exercise a genuinely open, kindly attitude toward all persons, he being desirous of their gaining salvation, until they prove themselves unworthy, beyond hope. (Compare 2 Peter 3:9; Hebrews 6:4-12) Thus, the apostle Paul speaks of “the kindly quality of God [that] is trying to lead you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4-6)

    Finally if, by God’s foreknowledge, the opportunity to receive the benefits of Christ Jesus’ ransom sacrifice were already irrevocably sealed off from some, perhaps for millions of individuals, even before their birth, so that such ones could never prove worthy, it could not truly be said that the ransom was made available to all men. (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6; Hebrews 2:9) The impartiality of God is clearly no mere figure of speech. “In every nation the man that fears [God] and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35; Deuteronomy 10:17; Romans 2:11) The option is actually and genuinely open to all men “to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26, 27) There is no empty hope or hollow promise set forth, therefore, in the divine exhortation at the end of the book of Revelation inviting: “Let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” (Revelation 22:17)

    There is much, much more that could be said on this subject; hopefully this should be enough for you to correctly understand this “new to you” viewpoint.
     
  20. HOGCALLER

    HOGCALLER Active Member

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    Perfection

    Another concept that seems to be a problem with some and therefore must be defined is ‘perfection.’ The thought of perfection is expressed through Hebrew terms drawn from such verbs as ka·lal´ (perfect, perfected, perfection as at Ezekiel 27:4), sha·lam´ (complete, to be completed, come to completion or an end as at Isaiah 60:20), and ta·mam´ (be completed or perfected, come to completion or perfection as at Psalm 102:27; Isaiah 18:5). In Greek the words te´lei·os (adjective), te·lei·o´tes (noun), and te·lei·o´o (verb) are used similarly, conveying such ideas as bringing to completeness or full measure (Luke 8:14; 2 Corinthians 12:9; James 1:4), being full grown, adult, or mature (1 Corinthians 14:20; Hebrews 5:14), having attained the appropriate or appointed end, purpose, or goal (John 19:28; Philippians 3:12).

    For correct Bible understanding one must not make the common error of thinking that everything called “perfect” is so in an absolute sense, that is, to an infinite degree, without limitation. Perfection in this absolute sense distinguishes only the Creator, Almighty God. Because of this Jesus could say of his Father: “Nobody is good, except one, God.” (Mark 10:18) God is incomparable in his excellence, worthy of all praise, supreme in his superb qualities and powers, so that “his name alone is unreachably high.” (Psalm 148:1-13; Job 36:3, 4, 26; 37:16, 23, 24; Psalm 145:2-10, 21) Moses extolled God’s perfection at Deuteronomy 32:3, 4. All of God’s ways, words, and law are perfect, refined, free from flaw or defect. (Psalm 18:30; 19:7; James 1:17, 25) There is never any just cause for objection, criticism, or faultfinding regarding Him or his activity; rather, praise is always due Him. (Job 36:22-24)

    Perfection of any other person or thing, then, is relative, not absolute. (Compare Psalm 119:96) That is, a thing is “perfect” according to, or in relation to, the purpose or end for which it is appointed by its designer or producer, or the use to which it is to be put by its receiver or user. The very meaning of perfection requires that there be someone who decides when “completion” has been reached, what the standards of excellence are, what requirements are to be satisfied, and what details are essential. Ultimately, God the Creator is the final Arbiter of perfection, the Standard-Setter, in accord with his own righteous purposes and interests. (Romans 12:2)

    As an illustration, the planet Earth was one of God’s creations, and at the end of six creative ‘days’ of work toward it, God pronounced the results “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) It met his supreme standards of excellence hence it was perfect. Yet he thereafter assigned man to “subdue it,” evidently in the sense of cultivating the earth and making the whole planet, and not just Eden, a garden of God. (Genesis 1:28; 2:8) In other words, what was already “very good” or perfectly suited to perform what was required and purposed for it was to be made more so.

    The tent, or tabernacle, built in the wilderness at God’s command and according to his specifications served as a type or small-scale prophetic model of a “greater and more perfect tent,” Jehovah’s heavenly residence into which Christ Jesus entered as High Priest. (Hebrews 9:11-14, 23, 24) The earthly tent was perfect in that it satisfied God’s requirements, served its appointed end. Yet when God’s purpose concerning it was accomplished, it ceased to be used and passed out of existence. The perfection of that which it represented was of a far higher type, being heavenly, eternal.

    The city of Jerusalem with its hill of Zion was called “the perfection of beauty.” (Lamentations 2:15; Psalm 50:2) This does not mean that every minute aspect of the city’s physical appearance was supremely attractive, but rather, it relates to its use by God, the city’s beauty resulting from the splendor that he conferred upon it, making it the capital of his anointed kings and the site of his temple. (Compare Ezekiel 16:14) The wealthy commercial city of Tyre is portrayed as a ship whose builders, those working in behalf of the city’s material interests, had ‘perfected your beauty,’ filling it with luxury products of many lands. (Ezekiel 27:11)

    Thus, in each case the context must be considered to determine in what sense or relation perfection is meant. The Scriptures simply do not support the arbitrarily absolute definition of perfection that some claim.
     
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