God, Evil, Heaven, & Stubbing My Toe on a Circular Argument

So we've all heard or thought of the question, "Why does God Allow Evil?" Christians have wrestled with that discussion for as long as I know. The common conclusion is that God allows evil because of free will, plus it lets you know what God's love is. You can find that answer all over the internet. Aside from that being a terrible argument, I love what this does to the afterlife. I read an article that you can read, but I'm gonna hit the highlights that matter to me, and I think to the rest of us.

The good Dr. Richard Tompkins says, "Evil... represents a "deprivation" of the goodness of God." "God did not create evil but He does allow it to exist... In the final analysis, everything centers on free will. We can choose God’s goodness or reject God’s goodness. The only way that God can totally eliminate this corruption of His perfect goodness is to no longer permit free will." (Note: I have edited this to shorten it.)

We've all heard this explanation. But have we taken this human justification to the next level? When I'm asked about my purpose in life, one of my stock responses is, "What is your purpose in life? To live under God's rules for all of your human life in order to reach heaven? When you get there do you have free will? Can you then live the life that you choose? What's the point of living as someone else would choose so that you can live forever as someone else chooses? Does God kick you out of heaven for not living as he would choose? Will he flood heaven too if we get out of line?" The point that I make is that you don't have free will in heaven. Taking the explanation laid out to the next level is taking it from Earth to Heaven.

So in order for us to know God's love, we have to know the opposite, his absence. By the way, if you live the perfect life from start to stop, does that mean that you don't know God's love? Try that out on the self-righteous. The Dr. says that the only way to eliminate evil is to no longer permit free will. So when Christians go to heaven they must not have free will? God kicked Satan out of Heaven, so how will we get to experience his love? Will there be no feelings of love in Heaven? In your justification, good Dr., you want us to know that Heaven is absent of free will and knowing love? You expect us to set aside those feelings here in the form of the human experience and live under the rules of the Bible, in order to spend an eternity without them as well? Sir, I suspect that there are many of us whom would define that as Hell.

The Bible and the justifications for the evils therein never stop showing up as a life that I wouldn't choose under any circumstances. I like living under the premise that it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. This isn't just a lesson in relationships. This is a lesson to take through life. In regards to the Bible, it's better to love the life you get to live, than to live two lives that you don't love.

Views: 44

Comment by Galen on May 23, 2010 at 8:13pm
Nicely put!
Comment by Todd on May 23, 2010 at 8:25pm
Because god respects our free will, he won't interfere when we do evil. I occasionally get that answer from a christian when I raise the problem of evil. If god stops a serial killer from killing he would be interfering with his free will, and god loves us too much to take our free will away.

For me, this raises a multitude of questions. Why are humans allowed to remove a person's free will when they commit crimes? Human societies send serial killers to prison. If god will not override a person's free will by stopping them from committing murder, why is it okay for human societies to do it? Maybe christians should try to abolish prisons, police, and the military for taking it upon themselves to remove a person's free will. Of course, the complete lack of police to enforce laws would also make government irrelevant, so I guess christianity should be synonymous with anarchy?

Plus, what about all of the plagues in the bible sent by god to punish the wicked. Why did god punish people back then, but not now? He sent the angel of death to punish the Egyptians. Why didn't he take out Hitler?

Well, Hitler is probably in hell, they retort. Oh yeah, hell. God won't raise a finger to interfere with our free will here on Earth, but he has no problem with an eternity of suffering after we die. With god, it sure seems to be one extreme or the other. You would think a super intelligent being would be a little better at finding some middle ground.

In the torah, god is often responsible for encouraging people to commit evil. For instance, god hardened Pharaoh's heart to prevent him from listening to Moses. This was a much more consistent viewpoint which held that an all powerful god is responsible for the evil in the world as well as the good.

In zoroastrianism, there was an evil god and a good god, and neither was all powerful. This viewpoint is also more consistent. Christianity tried to combine the two viewpoints to end up with an all powerful god who is not responsible for the evil in the world. They tried to have their cake and eat it too. Neither the free will argument nor Augustine's idea of evil as the absence of good will overcome the inherent contradiction at the heart of christianity.

I guess that's why you need faith. Faith can overcome any nagging contradiction. Of course, so can a lobotomy.
Comment by CJoe on May 23, 2010 at 8:46pm
Oh yes, and let's not forget Judas whose free-will was taken in order that he could fulfill the prophesy... and then was punished even though he had no choice! And how about Jonah? He had no desire whatsoever to preach to this particular city (whose name eludes me) but was forced to do it... God went to extremes to get that guy to do it, and Jonah is considered one of the the righteous. So Judas took the blame for carrying out God's will, and Jonah gets the reward for kicking and screaming the whole way through and then gets rewarded. WTF?!

Free-will my @$$. God has us in a trap no matter what we do!
Comment by Velogiraptor on May 23, 2010 at 8:54pm
I heard another spectacular argument regarding free will. God could have granted free will without the ability to act on it. For example, I really want to walk outside and fly, but I don't have the ability. The will exists, but not the ability.

The next problem is the murder example. By allowing the murderer to act on free will and kill another person, the victim is deprived of their free will. They, of course, want to live, but are deprived of that. The same people who talk about free will will also be the first to say that the lord works in mysterious ways or that we can't understand God's will. If everything happens according to a divine plan, then free will is actually an illusion anyway. In that case, God is directly responsible for all of the evil that has ever occurred or ever will. In the case that the murderer succeeds and their free will ends the free will of another, God has knowingly given the means, and is once again responsible for all the evil that has ever existed, or will ever exist.
Comment by Allen Sneed on May 24, 2010 at 2:19pm
Free will is contradicted in the Bible because supposedly all of our actions are written in a book somewhere and God knows exactly what will happen throughout all of time.

But to play the devil's advocate here, one could easily believe that God only allows people with free will into Heaven if he knows they are not the kind of people who would willingly disobey him. He could then just burn everyone else. In fact, many Christians I know view this life as a test whereby God weeds out those who would willfully disobey him in Heaven.

My problem with Christianity isn't so much that God allows people to do evil things as much as it is that God himself commits acts of such needless cruelty in the Bible that it is difficult for to imagine why anyone would worship him. It's like worshiping the devil.

If it weren't for the countless logical fallacies, contradictions and absurdities in the Bible, I would be led to believe that God is evil instead of just fictitious.
Comment by M on June 1, 2010 at 10:51pm
There's so much confusion for me with this. I thought god created everything, so it doesn't make sense that he didn't create evil. Who die, then? Us? I thought, also, that we were created in his image. So, does that make god evil? And then, how can we have free will if the entire story of the world is already known to god? That's not free will. Our choices are already mapped out, no? And according to the NT, when we get to heaven we will not be as we are here on earth. We will be as the angels are, without all these annoying human characteristics, desires, and needs. No more spouses, no more need for family ties, etc. High-and-mighty spirits, floating around not needing anything but all a-filled with love and pixie dust (or something). I don't know where that leaves the free will that we can't really have anyway due to that god-knows-everything contradiction.

Every time I have asked this question, I get: "It's part of God's plan." To which I reply, "He's quite the bastard, isn't he?"
Comment by M on June 1, 2010 at 10:52pm
Pardon, I meant "Who did," not "Who die." Yikes.
Comment by CJoe on June 1, 2010 at 11:22pm
Quite the bastard indeed.
Comment by Seth on June 13, 2010 at 8:33am
I'm thankful for the Sunday Morning Service. Without it, I would have surely missed this gem. Gaytor, your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
Comment by Johnny on June 13, 2010 at 9:53am


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