Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Screeching brakes and God's plan

When I felt my car slam into a solid object, saw glass fly and heard the sickening thud of metal crushing bone, my first thought wasn't, "Why didn't God intervene?"

My first thought was a word you would not hear in church.

My second thought was terror that I might have hit a child, since I knew I wasn't close enough to another car.

My third thought was relief that the object was a deer and that my son and I were unharmed -- although the same can't be said of my months-old car.

The incident left me thinking, though, about how suddenly life can change, how disasters much worse than hitting a wayward deer can strike without warning. When the unthinkable happens and proves we're not invulnerable after all (our favorite delusion), big questions bubble up.

Why did this happen? What does it mean? And the perennial favorite: Why didn't God stop it, if he exists and is all-powerful?

Some people see misfortune, injustice and evil as proof that God must not exist -- or is too weak or uncaring to act on our behalf. Others are quick to tell those who suffer that it's all part of God's inscrutable plan.

What these views share in common is the assumption that a loving, powerful God would necessarily micromanage and manipulate the lives of every human being.

Since when was that a requirement of love?

I believe that bad things happen because they happen, not because God is pulling our strings to punish or polish us. That doe chose to run into the road; God didn't send her in my path so I'd have something to write in this blog.

But here is where belief makes a difference. Because of my faith, I was willing to look past the fright and inconvenience of the wreck and let its lessons shape my spiritual life. Upon reflection, I had to acknowledge how attached I had become to that vehicle, how proud I was of its little luxuries. I pondered the need to be more aware of my surroundings -- not just while driving, but in my interactions with other people.

And I was reminded again that no matter what happens, God is with me -- not causing or preventing disasters, but redeeming them from meaninglessness.

A wreck doesn't have to be part of God's plan to be used for God's purposes. That's up to us.

Thoughts?

38 comments:

rebecca said...

I agree. Stuff happens. Although when my oldest son was very young he asked me "why is it we give thanks to God for all good things but he never gets the blame for all the bad things?" Good question, I thought. But of course like most things my children ask, I was clueless as to the answer. It does seem a bit one sided...I tried to say that God is who helps us get thru bad things, he doesn't prevent them...blah blah...but I too have often wondered if there is a God, where the heck is he? Doesn't he see the suffering here on Earth? Doesn't he care? I know that is considered unthinkable to question God's existence, much less his love, but I bet my son and I are not the only ones to have had those "thoughts."

Edie said...

First - I'm very happy to hear that you and your son are ok.

You make an interesting point.

"A wreck doesn't have to be part of God's plan to be used for God's purposes. That's up to us."

My personal philosophy is that things DO happen for a reason; there is no such thing as coincidence and we are at the place in our lives that we are suppose to be at - at that time.

When my daughter was diagnosed with Diabetes 6 yrs. ago, my mother was angry. "Why my granddaughter?!" My first reaction was, "Oh thank you God that it wasn't a brain tumor or something terminal." It could've been worse. Whenever something bad happens in my family's life, I figure it's happening for a reason. I might not like it, but ...

Did God make it happen? No. There is free will and we all make our choices, I just believe everything is related and happens for a reason, even if we can't figure it out at the time or agree with it. It's all part of the journey.

Nick said...

Evil is actually evidence of God's existence as the concept of evil requires the concept of a moral law which cannot be found without God. (Attempts have been made, but there is no justification for why I ought to obey them.)

Alvin Plantinga has helped to deal the death blow to the Problem of Evil. The assumption is God must deal with everything now. Plantinga merely says that God has a good reason for allowing it. Do I have to know it? No. The atheist must prove that there is no good reason. This was something an opponent of mine didn't get on a debate on this topic.

There's a reason most atheists now have dropped the Problem of Evil as an argument against theism.

Anonymous said...

All interesting comments.

I throw out this to think about (I don't hold it as a personal belief, just a concept to consider, as part of a questioning attitude that I feel is a healthy characteristic of spiritually-faithful people): Is it possible, just maybe, that all the tragic, sad, destructive events that are a part of life --- from our perspective as humans, events that can be stunningly tragic and unfair --- are, to God, so absolutely trivial that they don't merit His concern? Not that I think God doesn't care about us; on the contrary, I believe His love for the world is so deep that it's incomprehensible. But if you hold the traditional belief that life after human death promises Eternity, then the years we spend on Earth, even those of us who survive long enough to be very old, are almost immeasurably briefer than a wisp of a second. To us, when grave tragedy strikes it becomes the overwhelming focus of our consciousness......perhaps God would say "even this horrible thing you're dealing with right now means nothing compared to the eternity you will spend with me." Now, I understand this viewpoint could seem smug, spoken by someone who's [so far] been dealt nearly none of the sorts of tragedies we read about in the paper, and who is fortunate enough to live a middle-class life in this country when war, misfortune, and hunger are the norm in so many other parts of the world. But I really think it could be that God cares only about how we treat one another, and will address that with us when we meet Him. Faith can offer comfort to those in pain, and I think when tragedies are the result of deliberate, malicious behavior, He will deal with the ones who create it.........but I don't think God is interested in 'micro-managing' life on Earth.

Nick said...

Very well said. I suggest reading Peter Kreeft's book "Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing."

Danbo020759 said...

You're right, Jane.

1) God does not cause evil/bad things to happen.

2) God allows evil to exist because it was man who brought evil into this world through his free will. Evil exists that mankind may be the better for it.

3) Bad things (disasters) happen because of the disharmony mankind brought into the world when he disobeyed his Creator. The ultimate bad thing -- death -- was a direct result of man's diobedience. God is the author of life; Satan the author of sin and death.

4) God, in His infinite wisdom and power, can extract some good from every evil act. Jane, you mention that in a small way this accident made you reflect on just how "attached" you'd grown to the status afforded you by this car.

I am glad you and your child survived this accident. May God keep you close, now and always.

D.J. said...

Jane, glad to hear you're okay.

This topic has actually been on my mind a lot this week. I'm teaching my students through the gospel of John on Wednesday nights, and this week we are studying John 9:1-12, the account of Jesus healing a man born blind. Upon seeing the man, the disciples immediately ask, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Their immediate assumption was that this man's suffering was a result of divine punishment. This opens up the question, "Why do bad things happen?" Jesus gives them a totally unexpected answer in verse 3 - "Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." The man's blindness did indeed have a purpose, and that purpose was wrapped up in that moment, when we would be a living, breathing demonstration of the glory of God. In the rest of the passage, many people come to faith because of the example of that man.

Scripture gives many reasons for suffering. Sometimes it comes to test and strengthen us (Job), sometimes it comes to grab our attention and call us back to God (Amos 4), sometimes in comes for reasons that are not for us to know (Luke 13:1-5). Yet it always is under God's control, and difficult as it is to understand, it always comes for his purposes. My favorite example of this comes from Genesis 50. Joseph was cast into a well and sold into slavery by his brothers. Yet through God's providence he eventually rises to prominence in Egypt and saves an entire region from famine. When he and his brothers meet again, they are terrified that he will take revenge on them. Yet Joseph first responds with wise words we would all do well to remember, "Am I in the place of God?" He then continues...

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

Look carefully at his words. The brothers did what they did from evil, hateful hearts. They were completely responsible for what they did. Yet what they did was not outside of God's complete control. God "intended" that those things happen to Joseph, for a purpose and plan bigger than he understood. God did not merely swoop in, pick up the pieces of the brothers' actions, and make something good of them, he intended the whole situation to save many people! Joseph spent 20 years from point A to point B, unable to understand why God had allowed this to happen, but he trusted in him nonetheless.

Jane, I admire your teachable spirit that learned from a situation that can easily cause doubt. Yet I must disagree with you on one point - the Scriptures clearly teach that God is in total control of all things, even things we might consider "micromanaging." Consider what Jesus himself said in Matthew 10:29 - "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father." He's making the point that even the most tiny and insignificant events do not transpire apart from the plan of God. All things do happen (and are intended) for a reason, and when that reason is hard to see, we must hold onto the promise of Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

Rebecca, you are certainly not alone in your questions - and those questions are not necessarily wrong, nor must they destroy our faith. I would point you to the words of Job, one of the most beautiful expressions of faith in all of Scripture. In the midst of unspeakable suffering, he doesn't curse the sky, but professes...

"Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face."

Job still had his questions, they didn't go away, but in the midst of it all, he proclaims that he still will hope in the Lord, even while questioning him. Oh, to have that steadfast faith and trust!

A couple interesting stories on the topic...

I'm a Charlotte expatirate living in Louisville, KY, and this story made news here last month during the heavy storms that hit the area...

http://www.aboveallthings.org/?p=351

And when talking about faith in the midst of suffering, one can't forget the grief and faith soaked story of one of our most familiar American hymns...

http://www.hymns.net/stories/spafford.htm

In good times and bad...

Soli Deo Gloria

rod said...

Thanks for your interesting thoughts on this, Jane, although I regret that they were brought into focus by an accident.

I also agree that God doesn't cause these bad things to happen to us; living in a flawed world is sufficient for that. Neither did He promise to keep bad events away from us. He only promised that we would not endure them alone.

I believe one measure of faith is our ability (or lack thereof) to praise Him when it all seems to be going wrong for us. Corrie Ten Boom writes about such a faith in her book "The Hiding Place". Personally, I found faith to be MUCH more difficult for me when the nurse was warning us to start preparing for our daughter's funeral. (Didn't happen; she's fine now.)

God does promise that, for the faithful, He will bring some good results out of those events we perceive to be "bad".

Anonymous said...

Nick, "atheist must prove there is no good reason"... what a joke, seriously. You do know that there is no such thing as proving "universal negative"?

Honestly onus would be on you to prove there is a good reason behind is. Theists are the one claim there is a good reason and onus is on them to prove it so. Until then, things just happen - that is it.

As far as your other claim about "ought to follow the morals". No one claims you need to follow. You do that on your own. Morals are just that, you follow them because you want to not because you ought to. You behave in a way that are beneficial and survived from our ancestors because they are beneficial. For who or what? That is the question, it might be that we are just a vehicle of transferring genes through the time. Sometimes things just are, no reason behind it.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

Nick, "atheist must prove there is no good reason"... what a joke, seriously. You do know that there is no such thing as proving "universal negative"?

Iztok: Sure there is! It depends on the negative. There are no visible pink elephants at least 5 feet tall in my apartment now. I can prove that very easily.

Now you say that you can't prove a universal negative in regards to the outworkings of God? I agree with that. However, then that means you have to say "There is no good reason for this to occur." Unless you can prove that, then the argument from evil is non-existant. That's one reason leading atheistic thinkers have started to drop this line of argumentation.



Iztok: Honestly onus would be on you to prove there is a good reason behind is. Theists are the one claim there is a good reason and onus is on them to prove it so. Until then, things just happen - that is it.

Me: And all I have to do is show the reality of the Christian God. If we can see the reality of the resurrection, then we can see that God has a good reason for allowing some evil to occur.

Also, it is still up to the atheist to tell us by what standard he judges between good and evil, which cannot be done while holding to moral relativism at the same time.

Iztok: As far as your other claim about "ought to follow the morals". No one claims you need to follow. You do that on your own. Morals are just that, you follow them because you want to not because you ought to. You behave in a way that are beneficial and survived from our ancestors because they are beneficial. For who or what? That is the question, it might be that we are just a vehicle of transferring genes through the time. Sometimes things just are, no reason behind it.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Me: No one claims that? I claim it. Every preacher I know who preaches on Sunday claims it. Parents claim it when teaching their children. Teachers claim it. Why? Because we are not to just do what we want to do. We are to do what is right.

If I did what I wanted to do always without care about morality, I would probably be a father a thousand times over by now and sitting in jail for various crimes. Instead, because I believe in morality, I believe there is a way I ought to live and if I do not live that way, then I have done something wrong.

Morality is not about what you want to do. It is about what you ought to do. If there is no reason you ought to do anything, then we might as well do what is said. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."

Anonymous said...

One great example of how God works through tragedy can be found in the story of Troy Conn who was stabbed while trying to save his grandmother who was also stabbed and didn't make it. This young boy is a believer in God, has more faith that some will have in a lifetime. Go to www.gastongazette.com and read the articles and take a few minutes to watch the interview with his father.

Danbo020759 said...

Jane's too polite to say what I feel. Perhaps she doesn't feel the way I do at all. I can't speak for her. So I'll speak for me.

I truly wish that those people who would like to use this blog as a pedestal from which to argue whether or not God exists would take there business elsewhere. There are numerous blogs dedicated to the question.

Jane's blog is subtitled, "A Conversation About Faith." If you have no faith, how can you comment "on" faith?

I very much doubt Jane will resort to banning (as no one has really been outright rude to this point) or moderating comments in an effort to keep the discussion on track, but I do respectfully wish that some people would take their arguments against faith elsewhere.

The Ten Commandments tell us "Thou shalt not kill." You can "kill" a person with a gun, a knife, a word, a look. Likewise you can save a person's life with a word or a look! I'd like to hear more about the good people do for each other, the acts of kindness. Those things save lives as sure as do parachutes.

Why try to tear a person down when you can, instead, build them up? Even if you don't agree with them, can't you find something on which to agree with them?

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Nick,

"Morality is not about what you want to do. It is about what you ought to do. If there is no reason you ought to do anything, then we might as well do what is said. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.""

So as I said, you so things because you feel you HAVE to. I don't see this as particularly moral act. It is based on fear of punishment or lust for a reward. For me moral thing what one does because one wants to w/o fear of punishment or hope for a reward.

I guess for me (un)selfishness is something I take into account regarding morals.

Not sure if that makes sense but... I do good because I want to, because I want to help people around me. I am not fearing any punishment if I don't neither I am hoping for any reward if I do. I just simply do it because it helps others.

Hence I am a foster/adoptive parent of a 16 year old (that has been bounced from home to home for many years). Why I do it? Because it seems no one else stepped up to the plate for this young girl. Is it tough? Yes as she is determined to upset her placing from time to time in order to get kicked out (easier then getting attached). Things she does hurt and I wouldn't take them from anyone else but my kids (not even from my wife). Disobedient? Sure. Cursing me? Sure. Disrespectful? You bet! If I would be subscribed to OT I would have all rights to stone her to death many times over. But difference is that my live is not conditional.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

Iztok: So as I said, you so things because you feel you HAVE to. I don't see this as particularly moral act. It is based on fear of punishment or lust for a reward. For me moral thing what one does because one wants to w/o fear of punishment or hope for a reward.

It's not based on feeling. It's based on truth. However, remember if moral relativism is true, there is no moral thing to do. There's nothing immoral then about doing something for a reward or for fear of punishment, neither of which are my motivation. The rewards are just a nice bonus.

Iztok: I guess for me (un)selfishness is something I take into account regarding morals.

Me: Let's take this premise:

Unselfishness is a moral good.

Please demonstrate this from an atheistic basis which would mean nature is all there is.

Iztok: Not sure if that makes sense but... I do good because I want to, because I want to help people around me. I am not fearing any punishment if I don't neither I am hoping for any reward if I do. I just simply do it because it helps others.

Me: As do I, and you have Christianity to thank for that. Do you know what our society was like beforehand? Do you know what practices we consider barbaric the great Greek and Roman thinkers didn't bat an eye at?

Iztok: Hence I am a foster/adoptive parent of a 16 year old (that has been bounced from home to home for many years). Why I do it? Because it seems no one else stepped up to the plate for this young girl. Is it tough? Yes as she is determined to upset her placing from time to time in order to get kicked out (easier then getting attached). Things she does hurt and I wouldn't take them from anyone else but my kids (not even from my wife). Disobedient? Sure. Cursing me? Sure. Disrespectful? You bet! If I would be subscribed to OT I would have all rights to stone her to death many times over. But difference is that my live is not conditional.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Me: While that is good, you again make it seem like the Israelites practice a conditional love. They didn't, which I wrote much on with no response.

Also, you do realize the idea of agape as a good is really a Christian ideal. Right?

Anonymous said...

Nick,

no, moral thing is not Christian invention. Humanity didn't just start being moral when Christianity came to the play. (Or when Moses came down from the mountain for the 3rd time.)

Also, you constantly say that if morals are relative, then there is nothing immoral. I don't really get that stance honestly. Speed is relative, right? It is not absolute, it is based on point of reference. When I stand still my speed is 0 mph, but only relative to ground, however if I stay still on the train moving, my 0 mph is only in regards to the train. Same things with morals. Yes it seems we are more moral then our ancestors, but I am sure that we will look barbaric for our successors several hundred years from now.

If our morals were absolute, they wouldn't change in time and space.

I didn't claim that Israelite's love was conditional, I am claiming that your God's love is. (I get this from reading the Bible.) Good example is recent controversy with expelling a church because they admit gays in their midst.

Sincerely,
Iztok

charlotte mortgage lender said...

good point Nick.

A lot of ideals taught today were from Christian beliefs.

Anonymous said...

charlotte mortgage lender,

"A lot of ideals taught today were from Christian beliefs."

Care to show us some examples of ideas? The way I see it most of the ideas Christianity have is taken from older religions. (Including virgin birth, resurrection etc.)

Morality certainly predates Christianity.

Can you name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever?



Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

Iztok: no, moral thing is not Christian invention. Humanity didn't just start being moral when Christianity came to the play. (Or when Moses came down from the mountain for the 3rd time.)

Me: This is a straw man. I never claimed such. In fact, I have always stated that morality has been here from the beginning vis a vis Romans 2. (And to say Romans 2 was written after Christ and therefore invalidates the point makes as much sense as saying Paul thought creation came after Christ since he described it in Romans 1 as showing God's existence.)

However, humanity did reach a new level of morality never before done when Christ came. You remember the Gladiator games? Seneca and Cicero and other great ethicists of the time thought nothing of stopping them. It was Christians that did that.

You know about Sparta? You know about the Pedaresty that went on? It was commonplace. Family was not a valued unit. Read Plato's Republic and see what he planned to do with the family.

How about the girls that were born? What was a common practice? A father wouldn't even blink to leave his newborn daughter out in the wild to be ate by wild beasts simply because he wanted a son.

Go read the fifth chapter of the Epistle to Diognetus to find out what the church was doing early on while they were being tracked and killed. Go find a teacher before Christ also who gave a positive form of the golden rule. (All the others gave a negative of do not do to others what you do not want done to you. Christ gave a positive in reply.)

The morality that you see and that you try to live around you today, is due in huge part because of what Christians did in response to the coming of Christ. The world was so turned upside-down that what was considered acceptable before Christ is now seen as repugnant.

Iztok: Also, you constantly say that if morals are relative, then there is nothing immoral. I don't really get that stance honestly. Speed is relative, right? It is not absolute, it is based on point of reference. When I stand still my speed is 0 mph, but only relative to ground, however if I stay still on the train moving, my 0 mph is only in regards to the train. Same things with morals. Yes it seems we are more moral then our ancestors, but I am sure that we will look barbaric for our successors several hundred years from now.

Me: Are you not still moving? Are you not moving at some speed? I don't see how it invalidates the point. If there is nothing that is absolutely moral though, then who are you to say X is moral or immoral? It simply boils down to what you like and don't like.

Also, speed is descriptive. Morality is prescriptive. Morality is not about what you do. It's about what you ought to do.

Iztok: If our morals were absolute, they wouldn't change in time and space.

Me: And they don't! Go read something like James Q. Wilson's book "The Moral Sense." Margaret Mead's studies into societies where she thought they did something different have been debunked. Societies may differ in how they treat moral principles, but by and large, they have the same moral standards. There may be cases where they do allow lying and running from battle, but no society values dishonesty and cowardice.

Iztok: I didn't claim that Israelite's love was conditional, I am claiming that your God's love is. (I get this from reading the Bible.) Good example is recent controversy with expelling a church because they admit gays in their midst.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Me: How is this conditional love? Consider this. If you have a loved one who is guilty of murder, is it conditional love to do your civic duty to turn them in? I'm not saying you'd enjoy it or that you'd want to, but if they did something like that and they could well do it again, are you not obligated to do your part and report such to the police. But they could spend life in prison! Does that mean the love is conditional? No. Unconditional love does not mean that there is never justice.

And as for allowing homosexuals, please note that this is NOT allowing homosexuals. This is allowing practicing homosexuals. I would have no problem with a homosexual clergyman provided one thing. He's abstinent. Why? Because our Scriptures due condemn homosexual behavior and I believe for good reason.

However, if morality is again relative, all you can say is "I don't like it." As soon as you say "They ought not to have done this," you are appealing to a moral absolute.

The church made that decision and I would gladly stand by it.

Danbo020759 said...

Jane wrote, "God is with me -- not causing or preventing disasters, but redeeming them from meaninglessness."

A beautiful thought. Someday, I pray, we will all come to full knowledge of God's work "behind the scenes," so to speak. But for now, knowing He is there is more than enough.

Anonymous said...

Nick, you avoided answering a question about a moral/good deed/say that is specific to religious people that non-religious couldn't/wouldn't do.

Sincerely,
Iztok

P.S.: For me if you "ought to do something" it is just obedience then, morals are you do because you want to not because you ought to do.

For example, I don't have to foster a child and no one would think any less if I wouldn't. It is not an ought that makes this being a moral/good thing it is a want.

Nick said...

Nick, you avoided answering a question about a moral/good deed/say that is specific to religious people that non-religious couldn't/wouldn't do.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Me: Why? Because I deny that such exists. That is because actually you have been raised in a culture that has its roots in Christianity and the Christian ethic is still here. Even the Founding Fathers that weren't Christian saw the importance of Christianity being taught. Go through the Federalist Papers and find out about it.

Iztok: P.S.: For me if you "ought to do something" it is just obedience then, morals are you do because you want to not because you ought to do.

For example, I don't have to foster a child and no one would think any less if I wouldn't. It is not an ought that makes this being a moral/good thing it is a want.

Me: But there is an ought behind it. One ought to care about one's fellow man. Now should you want to do morality? Yes. But there are many things we do morally that we know we ought to do but we don't necessarily want to do.

If relativism is true, there is ultimately no want that is better than another. You want to adopt a child. Someone wants to kill them. There's no standard to say which is better and which is worse.

Anonymous said...

Nick,

"You want to adopt a child. Someone wants to kill them. There's no standard to say which is better and which is worse."

You are right. There are cultures where religious practice was to sacrifice kids to their gods. This was a good thing for them. So yes you are absolutely right, there is no say which one is better and which one is worse. These people considered human sacrifice a good thing. Same way as Christians thought Inquisition was a good thing they were doing.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Still no answer on a single good thing religious person would do/say that non-religious wouldn't.

On the other hand if I would ask about a bad thing that religious person did and nonreligious wouldn't people would have no issue answering. (human sacrifice mentioned above is an example)

Nick said...

Iztok: You are right. There are cultures where religious practice was to sacrifice kids to their gods. This was a good thing for them. So yes you are absolutely right, there is no say which one is better and which one is worse. These people considered human sacrifice a good thing. Same way as Christians thought Inquisition was a good thing they were doing.

Me: Which is the end result of moral relativism. You cannot praise and you cannot condemn. You cannot condemn the Inquisition (Which has been exaggerated exceedingly greatly by atheists) but you cannot praise that which is good because there is no good or evil.



Iztok: Still no answer on a single good thing religious person would do/say that non-religious wouldn't.

Me: Which is a straw man. My position is not that an atheist cannot be moral. My position is in atheism there is no basis for morality.

Now I wrote a long post on how the world has changed since the coming of Christ and how practices once seen as perfectly natural are now universally condemned. Could you tell me why it was that Christianity changed that?

Iztok: On the other hand if I would ask about a bad thing that religious person did and nonreligious wouldn't people would have no issue answering. (human sacrifice mentioned above is an example)

Me: Nope. Non-religious people sacrifice humans everyday. It's called abortion and it's sacrificing human children to the altar of convenience. Stalin sacrificed people to the altar of his own empire.

Atheism has killed millions more in a few decades than the church ever could.

Anonymous said...

Nick, "Atheism has killed millions more in a few decades than the church ever could."

There is a huge difference really. Stalin and alike didn't kill because they were atheists, while perpetrators of 9/11, Inquisition etc. did kill because they were religious.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Gamecock said...

I am continually amazed that so many people presume the absence of God due to suffering and death. God gets to be God. He decided to create beings that could choose to love him and become sons of God, knowing from the beginning that we would fall and that he would have to become flesh, suffer and die to complete his plan as a gift to us.

Everyone will die. But we have been given a path to eternal life through Christ.

Anonymous said...

gamecock, any evidence of life after this one? or are you just saying the mantra in hopes it is true?

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

There is a huge difference really. Stalin and alike didn't kill because they were atheists, while perpetrators of 9/11, Inquisition etc. did kill because they were religious.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Me: Again, no responses to my asking why things deemed natural were condemned as immoral after Christ came. Just one little bit taken....

Well then, it sure seems interesting. These people didn't do this because they were atheists! It just happened to be a coincidence!

I don't even have to look at past atheists. Let's look at present ones. Let's go to Cuba and North Korea and look around. While he wasn't an atheist, let's look at Hitler who expressed great hatred for Christianity.

Think about Stalin as well. He was hand-picked by Lenin for his hatred of things religious. Read the Gulag Archipelago and hear about priests being tracked down to be arrested.

Atheism does lead to this naturally. If there is no judgment to come and there is no right or wrong and if life is just a random accident with no intrinsic value, then why not do that? Of course, not all atheists do such, but that is also because a Christian worldview has permeated our world and where that is the weakest, morality is often the victim.

Religion can claim nowhere near what atheism has already done.

Anonymous said...

Nick, first on abortion:

Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as "Born-again/Evangelical".

Apparently vast majority of women who do the abortion don't agree with you. All I am saying is that it is their choice.

About natural before and immoral after Christ. I thought that was a rhetorical question since it is obvious that human race improves over time. Things that were natural in time of inquisition are immoral now. Both after Christ, right? Slavery was natural couple of centuries ago and it is immoral now (people defended it used Bible to justify it). Human race just developed regardless of Christ.

Re Stalin etc... again, these people didn't do it because they were atheist, they were dogmatic. On the other hand we have plenty of evidence of people doing bad things BECAUSE they were extremely religious. 9/11 happened because (not instead) of religion. Here is a quote that well describes it: "The people who did this terrible thing were sincere, deeply religious, believed they were right, believed they were doing the will of their god, firmly believed they were going straight to heaven for doing what they thought of as a wonderful deed. They had just one thing wrong with them. They believed. They had faith. And it was their faith that drove them to it." (Dawkins)

North Korea? North Korea remarkably looks like what you would describe Heaven. Thanks, but no thanks!

Sincerely,
Iztok

P.S.: Still waiting for a single good deed that religious person would do/say non-religious wouldn't. (Yes I am ignoring your thing about "written on our hearts". Stupid thing, we think with our mind not with our heart. Guess something that people who wrote the Bible didn't know and God didn't tell them?!?)

Mike S said...

Nick gets it.... And as for allowing homosexuals, please note that this is NOT allowing homosexuals. This is allowing practicing homosexuals. I would have no problem with a homosexual clergyman provided one thing. He's abstinent. Why? Because our Scriptures due condemn homosexual behavior and I believe for good reason.

just sent this below to Ed Williams last night concerning his column Sunday...
----- Original Message -----
From: Mike To: ewilliams@charlotteobserver.com
Cc: opinion Observer ; Lew Powell
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2007 12:43 AM
Subject: re: Well we did it again...


Wow Ed, you missed the entire point. How can you be in the position you hold at the Disturber, and be so blind at the same time? It is really so simple, you simply missed it by being so liberal. Here is the difference. While most "sinners" acknowledge that greed, jealousy, addictions, dishonesty, et al, are in fact sins, homosexuals do not believe they are living in sin when the Bible clearly states they are.

How do you know greedy people, or re-married people at your church are not trying to repent as you stated? The problem is, most homosexuals don't repent because they don't admit. What part of that don't you get? What I hear you attempting to say, as do many others, is that you are smarter than God. Or that the Bible was not inspired by and assembled by God's will. If God didn't want the Apostle Paul to write important epistles, such as the book of Romans, in the New Testament, He would have seen to it that it would have been left out. First and foremost, you have to believe that either God is everything, or he is nothing. You seem to be trying to make something gray out of black and white. The Bible is clear about the issue. And just as clearly, If God the Father wanted only Jesus to write the New Testament, then guess what? It would be that way. Look, we didn't write the Bible. WE, including you cannot change it, nor as the professed Christian that you say you are, ignore it.

Out of it all, Leviticus chapter 18 and Romans chapter 1are not in there by coincidence. Those points made there are not arguable. Homosexuality is just as much a sin as any of the others mentioned in the Bible. You talk about what Jesus said. Jesus said to repent and sin no more. Why don't you ever quote that? Perhaps homosexuals would get better "treatment" by Baptists if they would admit that the practicing of it is, in fact, a sin. That IS the problem. You seem to point at everything but that. Why? Why should homosexuality get a free pass when all the other sins are preached against all the time in Baptist churches. Why not that one too? There is your real problem.

God's word is not fluid. It is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 100 years from now, Leviticus and Romans are still going to be in there...What then? Am I hearing you say that in your church, you never read aloud from the pulpit, Leviticus or Romans? Isn't that like "cherry picking?" We read the entire Bible in our church from cover to cover and believe me, I catch arrows all the time, but I know my sins are wrong. How 'bout a little "admission" from those on the left? That is the problem. There really are 'absolutes' in this world, Ed. It's not just about "feel good" all the time.

Read these Ed:

http://www.pcahistory.org/findingaids/rpces/docsynod/301.html

Can Homosexuality Be Healed?
by Francis MacNutt, 2006

http://www.giveshare.org/family/aidshomosexuality.htm

Mike
Charlotte

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anonymous said...

Mike,

so you are saying that God made a mistake creating 10% of human population as homosexuals?

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

Iztok: Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as "Born-again/Evangelical".

Apparently vast majority of women who do the abortion don't agree with you. All I am saying is that it is their choice.

Me: Sure. They can agree. They have all right to be wrong. Got anything better than argument ad populum?

Iztok: About natural before and immoral after Christ. I thought that was a rhetorical question since it is obvious that human race improves over time. Things that were natural in time of inquisition are immoral now. Both after Christ, right? Slavery was natural couple of centuries ago and it is immoral now (people defended it used Bible to justify it). Human race just developed regardless of Christ.

Me: Oh yeah. We do improve. Why a few years ago, you wouldn't have even thought there would be a school shooting. How many have we had now?

That murder rate, is it dropping?

Has there been less war as we've gone along or more?

Yep. It's evident things are improving.

And let's get some things straight on slavery. The Bible did not invent slavery. In fact, slavery in the ANE was more like your work today. They were more along the lines of indentured servants and the Bible set standards on how they were to be treated. It was also not based on ethnicity.

Iztok: Re Stalin etc... again, these people didn't do it because they were atheist, they were dogmatic. On the other hand we have plenty of evidence of people doing bad things BECAUSE they were extremely religious. 9/11 happened because (not instead) of religion. Here is a quote that well describes it: "The people who did this terrible thing were sincere, deeply religious, believed they were right, believed they were doing the will of their god, firmly believed they were going straight to heaven for doing what they thought of as a wonderful deed. They had just one thing wrong with them. They believed. They had faith. And it was their faith that drove them to it." (Dawkins)

Me: I agree with Dawkins on Islam. However, Dawkins should look at his own ilk which he can't explain and see how their actions are a result of their own beliefs as well. Or is it just that when atheists go out and mass-murder their people, they don't do so based on what they believe? Instead, it fits in perfectly. Hitler, for instance, saw himself as bringing about survival of the fittest. The massacres in Cambodia came from the study of Sartre. When atheism flourishes, massacres thrive.

Iztok: North Korea? North Korea remarkably looks like what you would describe Heaven. Thanks, but no thanks!

Sincerely,
Iztok

Me: How so?

Iztok: P.S.: Still waiting for a single good deed that religious person would do/say non-religious wouldn't. (Yes I am ignoring your thing about "written on our hearts". Stupid thing, we think with our mind not with our heart. Guess something that people who wrote the Bible didn't know and God didn't tell them?!?)

Me: Which you'll be waiting, for that has never been my claim. As for your "Ancient People Are Stupid", you need to check up on the ancient culture.

Get a copy of Pilch and Malina's Handbook of Biblical Social Values. In the Hebrew mindset, the heart and eyes refer to emotion-fused thinking and the outcome of emotion-fused thoughts.

It does not mean they believed one literally thought with the heart. It was simply metaphorical language just as a man today can say that he loves his wife with all his heart. I guess he's a stupid modern though who doesn't realize that love is done in the brain instead of the heart.

Anonymous said...

Iztok said:
so you are saying that God made a mistake creating 10% of human population as homosexuals?

Sincerely,
Iztok

God "allows" things now....the world is no longer "perfect" ever since man committed the original sin. God allowed free will then, only we screwed it up. All bets are off now, and have been since the beginning. People are born blind, sick, with built in drug addictions, crazy, and pre-dispositions to many perversions other than homosexuality. Sin has been, and will continue to be. We are all now "born in sin." Homosexuality is just one of many types of sin. That is "why" we needed a Savior, and precisely why Jesus has been so sought after.

Without Jesus paying for all sin, none of us could ever hope to be reunited with a Holy God. Jesus paid that ultimate price for me, and nothing I could ever do, could gain me one seconds worth of God's time in Heaven. It's what Jesus did for me that is so magnificent! Jesus has become the bridge to allow a forgiven sinner to enter a Holy Heaven and sup with a Holy God. But for me, What I can do, is first admit I am a sinner, admit the Jesus died on the cross for my sins, not His, and arose from the grave to return to His rightful place at the right hand of God the Father. I need to repent of my sins, receive Him as Lord, and follow Him the remainder of my days here in this world and once in Heaven. Then with any and all the compassion I can muster, I am to spread the Good News about what Jesus did for us to all the corners of the world. In my case, that is my neighborhood, which we go out each month on visitations and do just that. It's pretty simple really. Not easy, but simple. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice and that is why we no longer have to sacrifice animals. He paid it all in full.

Man made the original mistake by choosing to follow Satan. God gave us "free will" and we chose the wrong thing to do. So Man, not God, is THE reason people are born in all sin, including the predisposition for homosexuality. Alcoholics have to abstain, gambler"aholics" have to abstain, drug addicts have to abstain, pediaphiles have to abstain, homosexuals have to abstain....what is the difference? Sin is sin, and we all have to fight our battles, why not them? God made us with free will because all along, He has wanted us to "choose" Him, not be forced to love Him or follow Him. That is why faith is so interwoven into this mix. Without faith, what would be to choose? If we could literally see both, Heaven and Hell, laid out before us, what would be to choose, duh...Uh, I think I would rather take door number two there Bob, you know the one I see down there with the donkey and hay on fire...and not door number one where I see a new SUV, big camper, and trip to Hawaii.

It is all about faith. You have to choose the door based on what we do see before us, which is never going to be enough "proof" or, "facts." I know what Jesus has done for me, because I have made changes based on my faith, that I couldn't, or wouldn't have otherwise been able to make. I was beyond "human" aid. I have lived a miracle, and therefore, know in my heart they exist. And...I am having to abstain from things that come natural for me...But natural men are not going to go to Heaven. If that were so, why would we need a Savior?

Mike S

Anonymous said...

Mike S,

"God "allows" things now....the world is no longer "perfect" ever since man committed the original sin. God allowed free will then, only we screwed it up."

So tell me something. How would Adam and Eve even know right from wrong BEFORE they've ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? How can God judge them knowing full well they couldn't have known any better before they've gained knowledge? It seems like a setup for failure of human race. Further more, why do we have to pay for the sins of our ancestors?

Sincerely,
Rev. Iztok

Anonymous said...

Adam and Eve were created and lived in absolute innocence. There was only one thing they could possibly do that was evil, and that was disobey God. God had given them only one law, and that was NOT to eat of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. Why? Because God had created them -- free moral agents, and every free moral agent has been given the God-given right to choose to obey Him or to choose to reject Him. Disobeying God is what is evil. Anytime you disobey God it is evil. And they knew not to eat of the tree because.... God told them not to. He also told them of the consequences.

But instead of obeying God -- they listened to the devil who wanted to destroy their relationship with God.... and sin entered into their lives. At that point It became a part of their human nature. You See, It's important to understand that the curse was placed on sin before sin was ever committed.

Now you should know that you get your physical nature from your parents. You also inherit a sinful nature. Just as we go through a metamorphic change when Christ comes into our heart, Adam and Eve also went through a metamorphic change the moment they disobeyed God's... one Law!
They became sinners, and all their offspring will be born with that inherited sinful nature. But Praise God... Christ died to give us a new nature!

Anonymous said...

anonymous,

but how would Adam and Eve know any different before they've ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

Seriously, if you don't know the difference you are not mentally capable to know what is good or bad, hence they were punished for what?

Only a very cruel being would set up someone for a failure. That is exactly what happened. God didn't give Adam and Eve knowledge of what is good and what is evil.

On top of that if you really read your bible, issue wasn't with the tree of knowledge of good and evil but with the tree of life as gods didn't want Adam and Eve became one of them (this sounds like jealousy to me). Like a kid that wants to hog own toys and don't want to share. Now tell me is jealousy a good thing? If it is not, why some honor god whose name is Jealous at the first place?

Sincerely,
Iztok

Anonymous said...

All of this attempt at logic and argument when the subject is faith.

The mental gymnastics are stunning.
In the end the arguments have born little fruit.

Those on each side are convinced, and yet ALL have to live their lives. Let the true value be shown through action not words.

As if God or no God, our finite minds could possibly encompass the infinite.

i know where i'm going said...

In response to what evidence we have of eternal life - other than the fact that believers trust the scriptures and that our beliefs are based on FAITH above all things - how's this scenario:

I believe in eternal life; you don't - if I'm right, I go to heaven and you don't. If you're right - neither of us go to heaven. So you lose either way. In the meantime, I live a life with peace and hope and you live a life thinking that this is all there is.

Anonymous said...

"I believe in eternal life; you don't - if I'm right, I go to heaven and you don't. If you're right - neither of us go to heaven. So you lose either way. In the meantime, I live a life with peace and hope and you live a life thinking that this is all there is."

This is false premise. You are writing this with an assumption that your particular religion is the right one. There are hundreds of different options to choose from and there is highly unlikely that you in particular have it right. If you chose wrong god and wrong religion, you are ending up in hell anyway.

This whole premise is known as a Pascal's Wager and the whole thing is well documented as a logical flaw.

It assumes that faith/belief has no cost and other things. You can actually read more here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager

Well in my case I do live w/o expectations of any life after death. Basically: You should live your life and try to make the world a better place for your being in it, whether or not you believe in God. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by those you left behind. If there is a benevolent God, he may judge you on your merits coupled with your commitments, and not just on whether or not you believed in him.

Honestly if such god exists and requires one to believe and merits don't count, then I don't see it being benevolent or just and hence don't really care for it in such case.

Sincerely,
Iztok