tsunamis and life building

In a reflection that is most certainly to be categorised firmly on the side of what is understandably seen as the impersonal, cold, logic-chopping philosophical problem of evil (rather than more humane existential or pastoral problem of evil), it occurs to me that the feeling of unjustness we almost universally feel when, say, a massive tsunami wipes out thousands of poor ‘innocent’ people ((though a thoroughgoing Christian anthropology knows no such thing, mind you – we’re a mixed bag – wretched and radiant – always both – never just one…)) is almost entirely an affair of emotion rather than reason.

Notice that I said it was the feeling of unjustness, rather than the sense that we ought to have compassion on the victims, which was driven chiefly by emotion rather than reason.  For what just alternative do we imagine?  That earth should be free of tectonic activity and water – both of which are fundamentally necessary for the existence and flourishing of all life?

The complaint seems to be that God is somehow unjust for making a world where tsunamis happen, or for not intervening each time they are in places that wipe out thousands of people… or hundreds of people… or dozens of people… or any single human life… or animal life… yes, God should stop those tsunamis too… matter of fact, God should stop sudden gusts of wind that cause people to lose their balance, fall and hurt themselves…  God should intervene to stop my paper cut…

From the perspective of a Martian, all of these human dramas played out on our ‘pale blue dot’ are not so different.  Certainly the point at which the ratio of deaths-saved to degree-of-divine-interference becomes an offense ((by whose standards though?)) seems utterly arbitrary.  What’s more, Nature certainly doesn’t care for either tsunami or paper-cut victims.  Nature is neither grieved at evil nor glad at good, for the ‘dumb witch‘, needs not either of those adjectives – or any qualitative value-judgments.

Experience teaches us that when we build our house on a beach, we risk possible devastation by wind and waves.  Handle papers quickly and carelessly, and expect paper-cuts.  The ‘natural evil’ is worsened by the human evils of things like impatience and inattention (behind the paper-cut) and things like the greedy, indifferent and dehumanising failure to share knowledge and technology that would see the poor, vulnerable coastal communities having stronger buildings and better and faster tsunami warning systems.

The God-who-is-Love is not there to remove all pain and suffering, but to be trusted in the midst of, and to Love us into, through and out the other side of all pain and suffering – great and small.

It’s not the reality of tsunamis that raise hairy theological questions, but rather when people claim that God sent it on the homosexuals or the lone survivor claims God singled them out for survival over the others. ((I’m opposed to those who would rob such a survivor of their gratitude to God for their survival – it’s just that I’m also highly doubtful that it is appropriate or sensible for this gratitude to be accompanied by a sense that God didn’t want the others to survive  – or want them to survive as much…))

I’m not fond of the habit of attaching direct, one-for-one, tit-for-tat theological purpose and meaning to every single phenomena (i.e. this mouse made it to the mouse trap before that other mouse because it had been very, very naughty in the eyes of the Lord…).  Though equally, I’m committed to seeing all phenomena as known by and sustained by God, so God has at least something to do with literally everything that happens.

It does seem that we tend to thank God for pleasing events, but not critique God for unpleasant ones.  So, the simplistic complaint, ‘all of the credit, but none of the blame’, is very intuitive, but only to a point.  Despite that many Christians actually do only thank God for nice events and are not sure what to say of un-nice ones, the Christian faith relates to pain and suffering in a unique way.  One (certainly not the only) way it does is by taking everything from tsunamis to paper-cuts as an opportunity to be reminded that one must not put their trust in anything other than God, the Rock of Salvation.

Calling a Spirit such as God a ‘rock’ is both a delicious juxtaposition and an utterly appropriate metaphor, especially if God actually is who Christians (and monotheists) believe God to be – the very source and sustainer of all (created) being or existence.  The single, sole ‘capital-T-Thing-transcending-all-lower-case-t-things’, who does not change in essence, character or nature.  The lone Locus of faith that cannot be shaken.

24 ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods [even tsunamis!] came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’ – Matthew 7:24-27

100 comments

  1. I think you’ll find the complaint is that “this (universe, at least) can’t be an ‘always good/perfect god’s creation as we humans alone (p’raps Martians and others) readily and regularly observe/describe/subject things as ‘far from good/perfect’.

    An always good/perfect god could and would do better – by creating something that was always good and perfect.

    Makes all the sense in the world to me..

  2. Hi Ryan,
    We’ve been ’round this merry-go-round before too…

    I don’t think this complaint:
    a) wrongly sees the perfection/goodness of the Creator as being inseparably tied, chained and shackled to the perfection/goodness of the creation.
    b) fails to take seriously the standard/simple rejoinder that making things that were (unfailingly – unable and un-free to not be) “always good and perfect” would render such things as love, freedom, choice, creativity, growth, process (and more) utterly meaningless.

  3. a) A really really really awesome, talented human designer only becomes that based on his designs. If no one likes his designs, he’s a sh*t designer. People look around the world and see parts that are awesome and parts that suck. This means it’s not perfect. This means it’s designer (if it had one) is not perfect.

    b) What ‘always good and perfect creation’ don’t know… don’t hurt ‘always good and perfect creation’. Thought experiment: Dale, right now, in an alternate universe there’s this concept called ‘myloxyloto’ that makes all concepts we know of love, freedom, choice, creativity, growth, process (and more) look really crap!…. Guess how much you care…?? Not a bit right?

    That’s exactly how much an ‘always good and perfect creation’ would care if you told them “oh hey guys your utterly meaningless existence is missing out on this cool love, freedom, choice, creativity, growth, process (and more) stuff we have in our ‘kind of good sometimes creation’!!”

  4. a) and that’s where human analogies break down. The point above is that the thing created has sufficient ability to wreck itself. Any object we make cannot make choices in this kind of way. The closest analogy is probably childbirth. A parent ‘makes’ a child, who can then make choices to progress toward maturity, or to regress toward immaturity.

    b) indeed, all we’ve got to work from is this world, not some ‘possible world’ which you think a perfect/good creator should have created. But what I’m doing is a bit different. I’m not merely speculating on what a choice-less, robotic world would be like, i’m observing (and validating) that this world does have choice and that love, freedom, etc. are meaningful in this world – although it is not (yet) perfect.

  5. a) no that’s where the ‘all perfect’ god concept breaks down. it’s ridiculous for an all perfect creator to create something with crap in it. That renders the purportedly all perfect creator not all perfect after all. How do you not understand this. The closest analogy is certainly not childbirth as 1) God is not on the same level as us e.g. species 2) no one can conceive of an ‘all perfect’ mother giving birth to a flawed child because of… read from top.

    b) I agree, obviously, going off this world that I do enjoy my fair share of love, freedom etc. But neither you nor I would miss them in an ‘all perfect’ world. Why? Cos it’s perfect! You don’t miss things in a perfect world. That would render it not perfect. Are you getting this?

    Absurdities and incoherence are all that logically follow when you start throwing around ‘omni’ characteristics and concepts.

  6. a) i said it was a close analogy, not a perfect one, so… yeah. and the specific reason it is useful is coz of the freedom, choice of the child – analogous to the freedom, choice that we see in this world

    b) forget comparing an unknown/unknowable other possible/perfect world to this one, or what we’d ‘miss’. we know in this world what choice and choice-less-ness looks like. We prefer (rightly) the first one. We judge (rightly) that a city where love is both requited and unrequited is better than a city where love is either forced or forbidden.

  7. a) but it’s not useful though… for the reasons I listed… You’re like “Hey, I’ve got a useful analogy!” I’m like “Let’s hear it!” You’re like “Here it is!” I’m like “Here are the reasons it sucks and doesn’t work!”…. and … this is the part where you go “True! That analogy is not satisfactory!” and ditch it…

    b) It really is a lot simpler than you’re making it. A perfect world is… perfect. It doesn’t matter if there’s choice, love, freedom, etc. All that matters is that there’s no one around saying “hmmmm… that could be better..”. Instantly the ‘non-perfect’ sirens go off.

  8. a) well obviously we disagree as to the usefulness of the metaphor (and your reasons)

    b) nahp – conceptualising/describing a ‘possible world’ which is perfect (which means completed btw, implying a completing, perfecting process – and thus a time when it was not, yet, perfect) is not simple. :) What this seems to boil down to is qualitative value judgment about whose definition of ‘better’ matters.

  9. a) you say “The point above is that the thing created has sufficient ability to wreck itself.” can you see how if a creator/designer/manufacturer purposefully creates/designs/manufactures something with the sufficient ability to wreck itself – he/she/it is not a good/perfect creator/designer/manufacturer…??

    b) no it really is simple. if something is perfect – this means it cannot be made any better in any way, shape or form. therefore if something ‘perfect’ is presented to someone and that someone says “could be better”. boom. instantly rendered imperfect. that’s how simple it is.

    On the other hand, conceptualizing or describing a ‘possible god’ which is perfect (which means completed btw, implying a completing, perfecting process – and thus a time when it was not, yet, perfect… oh wait a minute… your god wasn’t always perfect..?

  10. a) ability to actively choose to not return relationship, to be pedantic. but seriously, there won’t be any relationship within creation which will ever be able to fully picture a relationship between creation and Creator.

    b) indeed, though ‘perfect’ probably has other valid connotations, the ‘having-achieved-a-complete-state-[from-former-incomplete-state]’ connotation would be most unfitting for an ultimate (unchanging-in-nature) being like God.

  11. a) is it ‘perfect’ when the creation does not return the relationship? if the answer is ‘No’ then the logical conclusion is the Creator is not perfect. I’ve explained this several times now.

    b) exactly! It does have other valid connotations. First and foremost being – ‘having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be’. This is the only type of creation a perfect creator would create.

    And since we can look around and see otherwise, we can reason that whatever is behind the creation of the universe is not a ‘perfect’ entity.

  12. a) …and I’ve explained that you can’t link state of maker to state of that which is made in the same way as we might want to do with examples from within creation. The Creator, rather than being dependent upon the state of that which is created, is free to create in various kinds of creations, with varying degrees of freedom – from a mechanistic, machine-like world, through to an utterly random, ungoverned realm. Our world seems to be between these extremes, as it has lawfulness and regularity, but (particularly in humans) also freedom to choose and act. This, I think, is good – and better than either of those two extremes, even if you think one of them (the mechanistic/machine one) could be ‘perfect’.

    b) see a)

  13. You haven’t actually explained it though, Dale, as how do you explain something that has no examples in the known world you can relate it to? All you’ve done is special plead for your assertion that in this case you “can’t link state of maker to state of that which is made in the same way as we might want to do with examples from within creation.”

    ” This, I think, is good – and better than either of those two extremes, even if you think one of them (the mechanistic/machine one) could be ‘perfect’.”

    a) It’s not just I think it’s perfect. It’s that it is perfect. The definition of the word perfect necessitates it to be how I described it above (even if you want to describe in ways that might make you think of The Matrix or something so that you might be repulsed by the idea)

    b) of course you (and I) think it’s good. We have a sample size of one. And like I also said above, what they don’t know (e.g. other conceptual worlds) wouldn’t hurt them or worry them. If we’d been born or raised in either extreme, we’d think was the norm.

  14. a&b) indeed, there have been many a movie about ‘perfect’ worlds that are seen to be not ‘good’. The claim here is that the best, most free (rather than manipulative) way to achieve a perfect world is to allow for freedom for un-good and imperfection, and to work with/in this not-yet-perfect world to bring it ultimately to a perfection that is not forced upon it, but is genuine, and freely chosen. I don’t know how much further we’ll get here :) Suffice to say that I’m pretty convinced that forced ‘perfection’ – precisely because of being forced – is not only not perfect, but it’s not even good. :)

  15. “The claim here is that the best, most free (rather than manipulative) way to achieve a perfect world is to allow for freedom for un-good and imperfection, and to work with/in this not-yet-perfect world to bring it ultimately to a perfection that is not forced upon it, but is genuine, and freely chosen. I don’t know how much further we’ll get here”

    Yes I’m not sure how much further we will get as we’ve had that convo before (about how it won’t matter once it’s complete how it got there, memory wipes, ‘genuine freedom?’ etc.) and I demonstrated how ridiculous an convoluted a concept it is..

    Suffice to say that no ‘force’ is involved as force requires two states. One that it’s being forced from and another that it’s being forced into.

    A perfect-from-the-get-go state is simply that. Perfect. No force. No problem. No one sitting around saying “man I feel so forced to do this and that, I wish I could choose”.

  16. well, maybe discussion of what constitutes ‘force’ gets us a bit further?

    (oh, and nice ‘victory lap’ with this comment –> “and I demonstrated how ridiculous an convoluted a concept it is..”)

    But re ‘force’, I think the sense relevant to the issue at hand is not about being moved from one state to another, it’s about whether or not the state you are created in is such that you can authentically choose and act upon others such that your actions are free and not entirely determined (yes, even determined such that you don’t mind being determined – i.e. matrix!).

  17. Just reminding you of the way I showed how irrelevant the ‘perfecting process’ is if heaven’s residents cannot remember it. And how that would be equivalent to starting off in full perfection. Haha ‘victory lap’. We both know it’s just you, me and tildeb here, Dale. No crowd to spray my champagne at..

    Re: force. It is relevant as that’s what being forced to do something is. “You once could do something else, now you can only do this!”

    a) by definition – to be created in a perfect state is to not allow for imperfect (authentic as they may be and as much as you might prefer it) options/actions to be possible. They would render the state imperfect. No one’s being forced from being able to do imperfect things to only being able to do perfect things. They just simply do perfect things all the time from the word go.

    b) what makes you think your actions are free and not entirely determined right now?

    Interesting video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6S9OidmNZM

  18. I’ll leave the determinism conversation to the experts. My perspective as a layman is that it’s both/and, and that the causal factors behind everything we call a choice don’t mean that I’m not still choosing it.

    But the crux of our issue is here

    No one’s being forced from being able to do imperfect things to only being able to do perfect things. They just simply do perfect things all the time from the word go.

    your use of the word ‘just’ (which means only) conflicts with your assertion about not being forced into ‘only being able to do perfect things’. If they are created to be only/just ‘perfect’, and because they could have been created otherwise, this is not free and is mechanistic, meaningless and forced – whereas a perfection that is at the end of a free process is chosen willfully and entered into relationally.

  19. Why don’t you leave big questions like origins of the universe to the experts too? (you could say there are currently none and may never be any)

    Seriously – why do you feel the need to have a ‘gnostic’ viewpoint on it? Why not remain agnostic? (always comes down to this hahaha)

    And you can call the perfect ‘conceptual world’ mechanistic and meaningless (from your subjective sample-size-of-one ‘real world’ viewpoint where you have the capacity to make choices to do bad things) if you want.

    But you cannot call it forced.

    Because as I’ve shown forced means that the creation has to have knowledge of a state or have been a part of a particular state and then be forced into the other ‘perfect’ state.
    e.g. “ugh, I hate being forced to do this”

    …as apposed to just have always having been in a ‘perfect’ state. e.g. “what is this word ‘forced’ you speak of? is it another word for ‘perfect’!”

    Bear in mind, this is essentially our ‘free will in the afterlife’ conversation we had framed as a ‘free will in the conceptual life’ conversation.

  20. LOL. Is that short comment a concession that:

    a) yes, now that I think about it, I should be agnostic to the question of the origin of the universe
    b) yes, I see now that the conceptually perfect world you propose would by definition not be ‘forced’ any more than you and I are ‘forced’ to be homo sapiens. It would simply ‘be’.

    ;) ;) ;) ;) :D :D :D :D :) :) :) :P :P :P

  21. No, you victory-lapper – it’s me saying “I’m taking a break from the merry go round that is this (and about every other) topic with you :P:P:P:P:P

  22. Hahahaha this one I’m (obviously) commenting to wind you up.

    But seriously, can we agree on at least b)? (not that any of this really matters as the “no reason” argument undermines the whole conversation about conceptual/possible creations)

  23. no, because unless there is any sense of being able to ‘not be’ perfect (i.e. if the only/sole option is to ‘be’ perfect, then it’s not a perfection that is participated in and chosen freely, but imposed.

  24. Haha well.. we’re really just disagreeing semantically over words like ‘force’ and ‘impose’ here..

    1) I’m saying there needs to be two states – the one being ‘forced’ or ‘imposed’ in place of the other. e.g. A human was forced out of their freedom (state 1) into slave labor (state 2).

    2) You’re saying if there’s only one state possible – it’s by definition forced or imposed. e.g. Humans are forced to be humans. Desks are forced to be desks, etc.

    If we take a look at a dictionary:

    force – (Physics) an influence tending to change *DING* change requires at least two states.
    force – coercion or compulsion *DING* these things both require two states. One state and Two state that you’re being coerced or compelled into doing.

    impose – force (something unwelcome or unfamiliar) to be accepted *DING* implying a state of prior nonacceptance.

    Seems to me like 1) makes the most sense. And 2) can be most succinctly expressed as simply ‘being’.

    Make sense to you?

  25. I know what you mean, I really do, but all these definitions (and your footnotes to them) are working from things inside this world/creation, and the problem is that, again, our sample size is ‘1’, so what I’m saying is that although our sample size is ‘1’, the very fact that we think this world is not perfect seems to suggest that it we can imagine a world that is not like this, and that it could have been different. I am agreeing that it is a very real possibility for God to have made us in a different state to how we are, and that we could have been either more mechanistic and robotic or more chaotic and unstable. So it IS force because there ARE other ‘states’ possible, it’s just that only one of the possible states is actual (that we know of) – this one.

  26. “(that we know of)”

    …was my whole point, Dale… Of course the creator would know all the different states, but we as creation would not be subjecting any notions of “ugh, I’m so forced to such and such”.

    By your logic, this state, this world we do reside in is also ‘forced’, as God forced us into this state as apposed to a variety of other conceptual states.

    So you can stop attacking the perfect conceptual world on the grounds of “it’s soooo forced”. Because it’s as equally forced as this world or any other world. In other words – it just ‘is’.

  27. Herein lies the tension between theological schools of Calvinism and Arminianism – or the philosophical concepts of necessity and chance.

    In one sense, God is sovereign over all of our choices/actions/states, etc. and we don’t have any say over it at all. Atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett: “Of course you have free will, you don’t have any choice about that.” :) But God himself is free (i.e. not contingent on any other being or state external to himself); and thus free to create various kinds of worlds. This world, I suggest, is the best world for meaningful relationship. If someone wants to complain that God ‘forces’ us into this best world, then fair enough – although they are not ‘forced’ to stay in it – and sadly too many (esp. in NZ!) choose not to. And it is only our sense of other kinds of worlds being possible (i.e. our sense of God’s freedom) that even enables us to complain about this one. It is not the desire for a possible better world that I am countering, but rather I’m countering the means by which it is suggested that God ought to have brought this world about – namely by erasing the ability for us to desire (and thus choose and participate freely in) it. A two-stage plan (Creation and New Creation) seems the only way to allow for relational free participation.

  28. Again, yes, I know what it is you believe. I just think it’s a shame the two stage plan sacrifices supreme perfection (being perfect from the get go) thus rendering the creator not supremely perfect. But again, none of this really matters in light of the claims of not just the omnipotence but also omniscience. Oh well.

  29. yeah, your definition of ‘supreme perfection’ is not supreme in my view (for reasons over-discussed above – lol), and I still deny that an ultimate, unconditioned Creator could have his/its’ attributes conditioned by the non-ultimate, conditioned creation. I’m happy to ‘agree to disagree’ if you are :P

  30. “yeah, your definition of ‘supreme perfection’ is not supreme in my view (for reasons over-discussed above – lol)”

    Objective supreme perfection would not be affected by yours or anyone’s subjective view on it, chief. If it’s supremely perfect, it’s supremely perfect. If there exist people saying “this could be better” then you’re not living in supreme perfection.

    “and I still deny that an ultimate, unconditioned Creator could have his/its’ attributes conditioned by the non-ultimate, conditioned creation.”

    No one’s said that. In fact, I’ve said the reverse: if there exists an ultimate, unconditioned creator – IT’S attributes would condition it’s creation.

    A perfect creator makes perfect creations. An alright creator, alright creations.

    Ignoring for now that a supremely perfect entity would not create a thing at all – if it were to create, it would not create the universe we see around us with it’s sometimes awesome, sometimes crappy attributes.

  31. the question really isn’t centrally how we’d know what supreme perfection is, but how that perfection is brought about (through a fait accompli, or through a relational participative process).

    I’m trying to think of an analogy to explain how the state of the maker isn’t shackled to the initial/temporary state of the thing made…

    A baker makes bread dough which is ‘not done’, not ‘finished’, not reached it’s goal, it’s telos, it’s perfect (to be eaten) state, but it is nonetheless ‘good’ to be eventually transformed (through a process) into bread. She is not any less a good baker for making dough instead of bread… ya dig? Translate that to the ultimate level of God, and whilst you could say that God coudl be all ‘WHAM’ bread, it just seems wrong to me coz the process that produces bread is skipped over. The bread would seem fake.

  32. The baker analogy might be adequate if the baker was working with a haphazard throw together with random ingredient amounts and left to it’s own for portions to go moldy.

    Not a very good dough mix. Not a very good baker.

  33. …and thanks for showing how to press a metaphor past it’s useful level. It’s simply to demonstrate that it is possible to have a two-stage process for very good reasons. You can complain all you want that there aren’t good reasons for such a scenario with our existence, but the metaphor is quite basic and works in a basic way.

  34. Of course it’s possible to have a two-stage process! I’ve never disputed that. It’s just an imperfect process, making it an impossible process for a supremely perfect entity to incorporate. The metaphor is incomplete and completely doesn’t work.

  35. I’ll grant the semantic difficulty when trying to marry talk of a) a two-stage process characterised by development and freedom, and b) an intentional ultimate being, transcending that process (I think that’s the heart of this convo), but the point is that it’s possible that a two-stage process good

  36. In summary:

    Ryan: Could God have created a universe without evil in it?
    Dale: Yes
    Ryan: Then why didn’t he?
    Dale: So we could have free will/participate, etc.
    Ryan: Could God have created a universe with free will/participation, etc. and without evil?
    ….

    (Dale: Yes)
    (Ryan: Then why didn’t he?)

    or

    (Dale: No)
    (Ryan: Then God is not omnipotent)

  37. I would respond that the all-powerful God acts out of his omnipotence, not brutely or mechanistically, but according to God’s creative, redemptive, patient nature. Similarly (if I dare use an analogy) to how money possessed is not necessarily money spent, so also power possessed is not power wielded. A search of omnipotence and/or kenosis on this blog will yield my thoughts on this, and proper theological discussions aren’t hard to find either. To come back to the problem of evil, you could either say:

    a) that Yes God could have created a creation free of evil, but he didn’t because of his relational nature
    or b) that No, God could not have created a creation free of evil, because he himself has chosen to limit his actions to those consistent with his nature.

    Clearly they are ways of saying the same thing. The relationship between God’s actions and God’s nature are the key thing.

    In an attempt to be clever, I’ve re-worded a Bonnie Rait line (“I can’t make you love me if you don’t…”) to fit with this kenotic omnipotent Lover described above >>> “I can make you love me, but I won’t…”

  38. God can have a creative, redemptive, patient nature if you want, he however cannot simultaneously have an omnipotent or omniscient nature.

    They contradict.

  39. OK definitely not going to jump on that merry-go-round w/ you (your claim that tri-omni is impossible), coz we’ve been there before.

    But sticking just to ONE of the omni’s – omnipotence – you do grant that potency (omni or non-omni – i.e. the power that I have) can be used in different ways, right? If so, then on what grounds can you say that because God chooses to act in ‘x’ instead of ‘y’ way, that the amount of potency God possesses is less? Say I have ability/power/potency to lift 100kg press bar. Just because I don’t do that at any given time doesn’t mean I don’t have the power to. Can you help me see your logic?

    But I suspect you are instead making the claim that because of God’s self-restraining, patient nature, then God is not omniscient. I’d want to say that this does begin to be a very semantic thing, but also that I don’t see how God’s limitation of his action equals a limitation of his power.

  40. “Just because I don’t do that at any given time doesn’t mean I don’t have the power to. Can you help me see your logic?”

    He can do it but chooses not to? Alright, drop the omnibenevolence ball with one hand, and you can pick the omnipotence ball back up (kind of, ignoring the fact that an omnipotent omniscient would not create things).

    ‘No I’m not’ to your last paragraph.

  41. OK. So (bracketing your claim that tri-omni is illogical – which is a big bracket for you I know…) you grant that God self-limiting his action has no direct bearing on the amount of power God would have?

  42. I never didn’t grant that. Of course being omnipotent doesn’t require you to be infinitely maxing out your powers.

  43. Yes, and it should be rather clear that being capable of all (i.e. potent of omni) does not require a total (as you say) maxing out of your powers, nor does it require you to do both good and evil – esp. if your nature is good.

    So, again, it comes down to a kind of philosophical/semantic issue reflected in the question: ‘Are God’s actions limited due to self or an other’ It’s a contradiction for an ultimate being, not contingent or conditioned by any ‘other’ to have its being, nature or actions limited by an other. So we conclude that God, being free enough and powerful enough to do literally anything, whether big or small or good or evil, freely chooses to wield his power in a way consistent with his nature, which he also has of his own free self-determination.

  44. Yup, so he freely chose to create/allow evil to exist. Nice Job Breaking It, God.

    You hold in your hands omnipotence and omniscience (mindscrew in itself) and the omnibenevolent ball hits the floor with a thud.

  45. This quote (from another post) I think counters that simplistic equation where ‘bad thing x that happens’ is both directly caused by God and thus directly affects-or-reflects God’s nature: “The world is a dance in which good, descending from God, is disturbed by evil arising from the creatures, and the resulting conflict is resolved by God’s own assumption of the suffering nature which evil produces.” So yes, God has allowed evil to exist, but the claim is that for a relational ultimate being who desires meaning and relationship and creativity and maturity, a world that is good-and-yet-tainted-and-broken-by-evil, but able-to-be-redeemed is infinitely preferable to either not creating a world at all (relationship, meaning, etc. = impossible), or creating a world where all is simply deterministic phenomena and no free choice, giving/receiving, etc. is possible. In other words, a world with a temporary mixture of good and evil with a destiny of a better Good, is better than a world with ‘only-temporal-good’. Definitions of ‘omnibenevolence’ should be shaped by these larger conversations, and not reduced to a narrow focus on whether or not any particular cases of suffering/pain occur.

  46. Omnibenevolence means one thing and one thing only. All good.

    Because of the fact we look around and see ‘not all good’ and the belief you hold that God created and is responsible for everything – we can reason that God created and is responsible for ‘not all good’. Any creator that creates something that turns out to be ‘not all good’ is themselves not all good at creating. There is room for improvement. The creator could have done better.

    “the claim is that for a relational ultimate being who desires meaning and relationship and creativity and maturity, a world that is good-and-yet-tainted-and-broken-by-evil, but able-to-be-redeemed is infinitely preferable to either not creating a world at all (relationship, meaning, etc. = impossible), or creating a world where all is simply deterministic phenomena and no free choice, giving/receiving, etc. is possible.”

    We’ve had this convo before but when you say “able-to-be-redeemed” – you mean heaven, yes? What’s heaven like? Dare I say it is “deterministic phenomena and no free choice”? Wait. I thought you didn’t like the sound of that..? So why do you look forward to this?

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