Opinions on faith and life

Cosmic Q and A

2008-11-24

Often the question is raised, “Why did God bother with all this history? Why did He not just create some people for heaven instead of going through all this?” It is a question most frequently asked of those who reject Calvinism, but is no less a question for those who accept it, since the end result is the same. But to attempt to answer it, I think it may be helpful to use a technique employed by Jack Kelley concerning the timing of prophecy: to work backwards from a goal.

Let us suppose that the reason God created us was because He wanted “children” to love and be loved by. We can never know for sure that this was it, or it was that simple, but it’s as plausible as any other. What are some facts we can list that would have to be true about reaching the goal?

To use a common saying, it’s not always about the destination but also the journey. The journey is what makes arriving at the destination all the more satisfying. Children are spoiled if we just shower them with gifts, but they learn both responsibility and gratitude when they earn something, when they worked for it. And if mere humans would not accept as genuine a contrived or inevitable “love”, or a manufactured “character”, then certainly God’s standards are much higher.

I can’t imagine any other way for the goal to be achieved except by giving people free will and letting history play out. But, some will ask, what about evil? Did it have to be so? And why would God pursue this goal if it meant anyone would suffer?

As I’ve written before, there is no free will to choose without alternatives to choose from. Evil is the absence of good, just as darkness is the absence of light. To choose God freely requires the option to reject. And if God determined not to create unless all would choose good, it would again result in a contrived scenario, a rigged game. And how does one develop character without a struggle? Should God have guaranteed that our struggles would never result in failure? Then what would have been the point of developing character at all?

I often say that those who have all the answers haven’t heard all the questions. This particular question is one we cannot answer, and no matter which one we try we only raise more questions. All we know is that God created us, we rebelled, and He made it so very easy to be restored: faith alone. Though He didn’t have to, God decided also that we could be rewarded for our suffering in this life, for at least trying to please our Master. I don’t know why people have such a problem with that. Eventually we’ll find out why God did all this, but in the meantime I don’t think God is asking much for us to trust Him. We only know that history has happened, so it must have been necessary to achieve the goal.

7 Comments

Janice

Hi Paula,

I’ve been thinking about this topic recently because I’ve been reading a book about attempts to assassinate Hitler. ("Killing Hitler" by Roger Moorhouse.) I’m only about half-way through so far but already I am astonished at how many "lucky" escapes he had. Since I don’t believe in luck I’ve been thinking about why God should have spared Hitler’s life until he took it himself.

My own experience is that God often teaches me about Himself and what He requires of me through my suffering. If I didn’t suffer I’d have no reason to think there might be something wrong in my life; wrong priorities, attitudes, understandings, behaviours, etc. Some lessons take longer to learn than others depending on how deeply buried and unexamined the wrong thing is.

For a gross example, following awful experiences at two consecutive workplaces I suffered from recurrent, ever-deepening, bouts of depression for about 8 years. Though very unpleasant it was actually quite interesting for me to go through because I used to be a doctor. Observing the disconnect between my spontaneous thoughts (I want to walk in front of that speeding car) and my deepest beliefs (I have no right to do that because my life doesn’t belong to me) was fascinating and helped me to understand how people can actually go ahead and do the deed. The idea of committing suicide stopped being unthinkable. Instead it became positively alluring. So I thank God for anti-depressant drugs and also for driving me, in my helplessness, to prayer.

I asked Him to show me how I was contributing to my own misery. He showed me that all human beings are sinners. Such a simple thing! It was something I should have known and thought I did. But He showed me that my repeated disappointment with other people’s behaviour grew out of my mistaken belief that people could be expected, more often than not, to choose to do the right thing even if that conflicted with their own interests. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. People are sinners and can be expected to do whatever advances their own interests even if it is morally wrong. There is no reason to be disappointed when they do that because that is what people do. If they choose instead to do what is right, then celebrate and be thankful.

When the answer came it felt, physically, as though some hard nut in my chest had cracked open and set me free. That was about three years ago. The depression ended that day and I’ve been well ever since. But I digress.

In relation to all the failed assassination attempts on Hitler’s life (and questions of how much less suffering there might have been had one of them succeeded) I think we, as a society, had to learn how truly wicked Hitler’s ideology was. We wouldn’t have learned that if his racist, eugenicist, Darwinian, killing program had been halted before it was fully expressed. Too bad that even now we in the West appear not to have learned the lesson fully. Even now there are eminent people who, for the sake of their own careers and hoped-for place in the annals of academia, will argue that Darwinism really had nothing to do with what motivated and supported that wicked man and his followers in their murderous actions even though it provided justification that what they did was consonant with the, "assured results of modern science".

I hope it doesn’t take as long to get rid of state-established Darwinism as it took to get rid of state-established Churches. The Brits still have an established Church, which probably helps to explain why that Church is so moribund there.

Paula Fether

Hi Janice, thanks for sharing that.

I had some relatively mild depression in my early 20s, and looking back on it later I concluded what you did: "But He showed me that my repeated disappointment with other people‚Äôs behaviour..." Depression, for me anyway, came from self-centeredness. Contrary to what many believe, many people don’t get depressed because of low self-esteem but the opposite, combined with others not agreeing with our self-assessment. And since we can’t make them esteem us, we want to get away-- one way or another.

The same principle about expecting people to do what they do also works well on road rage. ;-)

Yes, I long for the day when God is esteemed, when there are no political powers issuing propaganda instead of allowing all facts to be put on the table, when individuals take responsibility for themselves and esteem others.

Jamie

Paula, I have noticed there is a lot less contention when I mostly just fellowship with my sisters in Christ on the internet. It seems where there is men and woman involved in discussions, there is more strife and sensitivity to trivial things; I have several theories as to why that is. I realize it’s not the case in all groups.. just mostly the circles I have personally been in. Maybe God is calling me to fellowship with the sisters exclusively right now. Homeschool fellowships offer really great intimate fellowship between the sisters... minus the baggage I find on so many forums.

Jamie

I guess I posted that in the wrong topic.. oh well.

Paula Fether

Hi Jamie,

Did you mean to post it in the "Futility" thread? I can move it if you want.

But, an interesting observation. For me, I seem to encounter equal amounts of contention regardless of the gender of the participants. I’m an equal-opportunity boat rocker. ;-)

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