Free Will as a Reason For God Allowing Evil?

(95 Posts)
headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 09:00:13

I used to be a Christian but I can't remember how the free will argument actually works. As a human, if I could stop someone doing something awful to a child, I would. Furthermore, if I knew someone had witnessed a rape they could have stopped I wouldn't think that person had acted morally. I fully expect people to intervene where they can to prevent bad things happening. If they said 'I don't want to affect their free will' I would find that deeply offensive. How come Christians find this logic acceptable?

The free will argument is one which says that God has allowed people to have choices (free will) and that some of those choices will lead to bad things happening to other poeple (I choose to drive my car when drunk and kill someone.) The alternative is to have people who are autonoma and can only choose good, thus are not really human as to be human involves choice. That is the very basic version of the free will argument.

The idea that you don't act to stop evil doesn't come from Christinaity which has a very strong strand of social justice as well as a parable from Jesus about the Good Samaritan where the man who helps another who has been mugged is commended.

I think the idea about not intervening comes from the eastern religions as there is a belief in reincarnation so by intervening in an evil act you might be preventing the soul learning and moving on. This may be a wrong interpretation but it is how it was explained to me a few years ago.

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 13:18:21

See the thing about the automna. Good needs to let us have free will so that if we love him, it's because we chose to, and he likes that more than he doesn't like bad things happening? See if I was making intelligent robots to be my friends, and I had 2 options, one was that they couldn't do evil, which would mean they were being nice because they couldn't do anything else, and the other was to give them free will so that potentially they could abuse and murder children but if they chose to love me it would stroke my ego, I'd say 'stuff my ego, all the ego stroking in the world isn't going to make small children being abused justified.'.

If you saw someone blind drunk getting behind the wheel of a car and you could easily stop them from driving, but you didn't because you didn't want to infringe their free will, that would be morally reprehensible. If god does it, it's seen as good?

Will we be able to sin in heaven?

StackOverflow Sun 22-Sep-13 13:24:21

The bit I've never understood about this argument is why the free will of those intending to harm others is apparently privileged over that of their victims. Why must a murderer/rapist be allowed his will to murder/rape but the victim's will to go on about their business without falling prey to a violent criminal need not be taken into consideration?

Tuo Sun 22-Sep-13 14:40:03

OK. This is a hugely complex issue, I know, and I have very little time and definitely no pat answers, so I'm just going to throw my twopenn'orth into the pot and hope that it contributes to the discussion, although I know it doesn't answer it.

The key factor that helps me to get my head around this (a bit!) is the factor of time. God is eternal; He is in eternity; that is to say, that God does not experience time as we do, in an ongoing sequence of 'and-then-and-then', but rather in a single eternal 'now' in which past, present and future come together.

Head's examples presuppose a before and an after: acting now to prevent a rape, or child abuse, or a war in the future. But this is to conceive of time from a human rather than an eternal perspective. For God there is no 'and-then-and-then', and so for Him, and in His creation, the before and the after, the action and its consequences, are already present.

Now, this doesn't answer, for me, the problem of evil, nor does it make it acceptable. But it does answer the question of why God doesn't intervene in specific instances to prevent harm, suffering, or abuse. Because, the way that I look at it, God creates the world free once and for all: He does not kind of watch history unfolding and go 'Oh dear, no, I don't like how that bit panned out... rewind...', because He is not watching history in a linear sequence in the way that we experience it.

It doesn't completely answer the question, I know, but it seems to me that it's important we remember that, in giving the world its freedom, God does not just cast it loose as a great seething blob of 'will' - that is, desires, appetites, self-obsession, whatever - but rather also gives us a moral direction, a sense of right and wrong, so that, at best, we not only will what is right and therefore pleasing to God (and remember that Jesus makes plain that what is pleasing to God is that we should behave well towards one another), but also act as good stewards for the world that God has given us (which means, yes, looking after the planet, but also IMO campaigning against things we believe to be wrong and seeking to change our world and make it better. So I believe that God does intervene to prevent evil, not absolutely (because the world is an imperfect world in which sin and evil patently exist) but on an individual level every single time that one of us (and I mean 'one of us human beings' not only Christians, obviously) performs an act of charity, speaks up for what we know to be right even in the face of opposition, and so on. This means that I don't look to God to intervene to make the world a better place by somehow overriding free will , but that I try to make the world a better place by using my free will for good not ill.

Tuo Sun 22-Sep-13 14:42:30

With apologies for the missing bracket after 'make it better'!

FavoriteThings Sun 22-Sep-13 15:43:43

The op is the wolf in sheeps clothing poster so be careful.

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 16:21:30

Tuo, I've heard the 'god outside of time' explanation. It may well have been the one I sort of liked best when I was a believer. Looking at it now I think to myself that he still knows what it feels like to be that victim bound in by the earthly hems of time and still chooses not to act. For example, I've never been stabbed but I can imagine it sufficiently enough to know it feels horrible, and would leave the victim with problems that outlasted any physical injury even if they made a full bodily recovery. and as such would prevent someone being stabbed if I possibly could.

The risk of this 'outside of time' outlook is you could argue why bother to ease suffering? Why bother to prevent death? Isn't the advance of medicine preventing suffering that, in a way, should be happening?

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 16:26:05

Favourite? How/why am I pretending to be anything? You said this about me before but you didnt explain what you meant?

The debate over free will is one of the biggest in philosophy. There is a really good intro in the 'Very Short Introduction' series

Amazon link

niminypiminy Sun 22-Sep-13 18:18:00

HiH wrote "Good needs to let us have free will so that if we love him, it's because we chose to, and he likes that more than he doesn't like bad things happening?". No, God gave us free will because he made us in his image. It's not conditional; he doesn't give us free will so that we will do any particular things that he would want us to do (because there is nothing that he needs from us, he is complete in himself already).

HiH wrote: "See if I was making intelligent robots to be my friends, and I had 2 options, one was that they couldn't do evil, which would mean they were being nice because they couldn't do anything else, and the other was to give them free will so that potentially they could abuse and murder children but if they chose to love me it would stroke my ego, I'd say 'stuff my ego, all the ego stroking in the world isn't going to make small children being abused justified.'. " God doesn't need our love. His ego, if you want to use that metaphor, doesn't need any more narcissistic gratification. If there were no free will there could be no evil things done, it is true; but there could be no good things done either. There could be no free actions done at all, and we would just be like dolls being moved about in a huge dollshouse. But God doesn't need us to exist in order to do something for him -- our existence is a free gift, and free will is an essential part of that gift. We get to be actors for ourselves, able to do actions that are venal, and cruel and stupid -- also loving, self-abnegating and virtuous.

HiH wrote: "If you saw someone blind drunk getting behind the wheel of a car and you could easily stop them from driving, but you didn't because you didn't want to infringe their free will, that would be morally reprehensible. If god does it, it's seen as good?" This example assumes that God is going to intervene sometimes and sometimes not, and that is the central problem that I have seen you come back to time and time again HiH. Of course, this kind of example is a commonplace of ethics (for example in the trolley problem, and very knotty problems they are.

But where would you start the stopping in this example? Would you stop them as they got into the car, or would you stop them before they they had that tenth pint, or would you stop them before they had the first pint, or would you stop them before they went into the pub, or would you stop them before they went to work and got sacked, or would you stop them before they had their first drink... Since God can see the action in all its past and future extent, stretching backwards and forwards over time, where would he intervene? And how are we to know, with our time- and space-bound views, which is the critical moment? I don't know.

And at which point would God be saying to the person involved, 'well, you're obviously not capable of using your free will properly so I'm going to take it away from you'? But gifts aren't like that: when you give something, you can't take it back. And free will is indivisible. It's like an unquantifiable adjective (eg a thing is either unique or it is not; it can't be more or less unique). You can have free will -- or not. You can't have it sometimes, and you can't have it conditionally. It's yours to fuck things up with -- or to do amazing things with. That's the nature of the gift.

crescentmoon Sun 22-Sep-13 18:42:38

Thanks to greenhearts, tuo and niminy for your posts, lots of interesting points and things to think about.

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 18:51:28

So god has free will? He could do evil stuff?

niminypiminy Sun 22-Sep-13 18:57:11

God is free will. He could not do evil stuff, because he is entirely, eternally good- the goodest thing there ever could be, the gold standard of goodness. He cannot act except in accordance with his own nature, which is to be good. God is always, freely, himself - all that is good, all that is loving.

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 18:57:40

Jesus commands us to love him. In the OT god says he is jealous and will punish the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren (possibly even great great grandchildren) of people who don't love him. That doesn't strike me as someone who isn't needy.

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 18:59:24

If god doesn't need us to do anything for him what about the great commission at the end of the NT sending us out to convert and heal etc?

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 19:02:46

But according to many posters on this board god has intervened in their lives? I can't see why he couldn't have made us unable to sin, that is, after all what heaven is supposed to be like?

Viviennemary Sun 22-Sep-13 19:07:57

I must say I don't quite get the concept of free will. I don't see why we all couldn't have been made 'good' either. Life would be a lot easier.

Lots of great points from headinhands and others. I agree with you. The free will argument is illogical.
For one thing yes HIH ... what about heaven, how would things be different there ?

I think there is value in the world faiths and religions, with their writings containing some of the most thoughtful, beautiful, and wise sayings of people through our history.

But I think fundamentally that we created God not he us.
It is all just as wonderful, if not more so, looked at that way round.

I still value my faith community which is thankfully the very liberal Quaker community.
Religiously speaking I'd declare myself to be a Liberal non-theist Quaker.
One thing most Quakers can relate to is the idea that "There is that of God in everyone" Also that any moment in life can have a sacramental quality to it.

niminypiminy Sun 22-Sep-13 19:25:25

There's a difference between 'needs' and 'wants', isn't there? God wants us to love him (because he loves us), he doesn't need us to.

God could have made us without sin, that is, without free will. But he chose to give us free will, and we can so bad things. We can also do good things. What would a world where we couldn't do anything good be like? What would a world where we couldn't do anything freely be like? Is our stupendous ability to mess up the price of our capacity to love?

No niminy, I think our capacity to mess up is more to do with our not being as evolved as a species, or as civilised, or as intelligent, or as good at communication, negotiation, and rational logic (or as perfectly designed in God's image) as we often assume we must be.

Not to mention kindness, empathy, love and other stuff like that which might help us get along with one another better!

niminypiminy Sun 22-Sep-13 19:38:40

Ah, yes, human perfectibility. Not showing much progress, is it?

Sadly not niminy sad
- Interesting thread for a Sunday night x

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 20:23:36

but you said earlier Nimmy that although god has free will he can't do anything bad so it must be possible to have free will and be good. Why couldn't he have made us like that?

Regardless of wether it's a need or a want if I said 'love me or I'll hurt your kids' you wouldn't think I was well adjusted would you?

Is that last bit quite fair niminy ?
- the love me or I'll hurt your kids bit ?

Explain your thinking there a bit more could you ?

Oh, sorry all, that was to HIH not niminy obviously blush
I got caught out by the new page I think ?

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 21:40:17

It's from the 10 commandments in Exodus 20

3“You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

niminypiminy Sun 22-Sep-13 22:02:22

I feel like we're going down the road more travelled now, and for the next couple of miles we'll have an argument about the composition of the Bible, about approaches to the Pentateuch informed by Biblical scholarship, and about literal understandings of scripture. The word cherry picking will occur. And possibly the word simplistic.

I don't think I have the energy to walk that road tonight. All I would say is that free will and the problem of evil are complex topics with a long history of debate behind them. Disputes around them can't simply be settled by flourishing a (not very relevant, but that's by the bye) proof text quoted out of context.

headinhands Sun 22-Sep-13 22:27:13

That quote was in response to juggling's response. If you personally don't wish to debate it for whatever reason then that's obviously okay.

RoLoh Sun 22-Sep-13 22:45:05

So how does this free will thing stack up against 'God's plan?

This mysterious plan of his that is apparently the answer to all the difficult questions seems at odds with the concept of free will

As Nimmypimmy has said the road is well travelled. I'll just put a quick note of my route which is as someone who does not believe the Bible was written by God but by people who were influenced by their culture and that the Bible shows the way that people have been growing in their understanding of God over thousands of years. This makes me a woolly liberal in some quarters and someone who has been taught good Biblical hermenutics in others.

As part of my job I get to be with people during some of the darkest days of their life. I sat with the families of murder victims and with women who have been raped. I don't need to imagine what the effects of free will are because I can see them.

The philosophy around free will is a bit like quantum mechanics. Those who have studied it at depth can discuss it and still not agree. Those of us who can just about cope with the terms 'determinism' 'critical realism' 'a priori' and 'categorical imperative' can have a pub discussion but don't kid yourself that you are going to really get to grips with it.

What the free will discussion usually brings up in the pub discussion is a lot of anger at God. Why does God let this stuff happen? It's not fair. I want to do whatever I want (free will) but I don't like it when other people do whatever they want and I or mine get hurt.

For what it is worth I think that this view comes from quite a childlike view of God as the big daddy who will make everything right. As people grow up they realise that the world is not like this and get very angry at God for not saving them from their and other people's bad choices. I remember going through this as a teenager. This is entirely normal and described in stages of faith theory Fowlers 3 to 4 and Scott Peck 2 to 3 if you want to look it up.

Stages of Faith Chart

As I sit with the dying or bereaved or hurt my image of God which is gained through Jesus is that God is with us in the suffering.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 13:38:58

I don't tend to worry too much about the concept of free will per se, What I started the thread about was how free will is oft quoted by Christians to excuse god for not acting, when sometimes he does according to many believers. And generally not acting when many flawed humans would if they could. And that's the crux, if I could stop someone doing something awful to a child I would. If I didn't act I would feel awful about myself. If I didn't act and used the excuse that there is a bigger picture beyond the here and now I would expect people to think I was not thinking straight.

I said earlier that I wasn't sure how I previously explained it away but I'm thinking it was a mix of the 'god outside if time' with a big dose of 'if it doesn't bother other Christians, I needn't let it bother me' sort of thinking.

You may think the arguments around the concept of a loving God and free will are complex greenheart and compare it to everyman having a discussion about quantum mechanics, but I don't think it is really that difficult to come to the reasonable conclusion that it is actually illogical.

Yes I think the idea that God is with us in the suffering can be helpful to some people, and is the wisest of the understandings within the christian tradition.
Sincerely I hope it helps you and those you are with in your valuable work.

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 14:27:58

Headinhands, what you are talking about is not free will at all, it is the problem of evil. I think actually the mention of free will was a bit of a distraction, because your real question is not 'why do humans do bad things?' but 'why does God not intervene to stop them? (and while we're about it why doesn't he stop natural disasters, diseases and other bad things not caused by humans?)'.

In other words, it's not the free will of humans you are worried about, it is the free will of God, no? Why doesn't God stop us doing bad things? As I've already explained several times, if we did not have free will we would be automatons, unable to do anything without being directed to by God. That means we would have no moral capability at all, and no choice. The Matrix plays with these ideas in quite a clever way, if you like that kind of thing.

But for you the problem is God and the existence of evil. Why doesn't God simply arrange the world so that no bad things can happen? But if we have free will (and if the world is the way it is, full of toxins and tectonic plates and weather and insects and viruses), then terrible things will happen. And if we are to have free will we have to be free to do the bad things -- because, as I've said before, you can't have free will conditionally.

The Christian response to this -- as Greenheart said above -- is that in Jesus God shares our pain with us. He willingly underwent stupid, senseless undeserved pain and suffering, just as we do; he willingly went to his death knowing that he would die, really die, as we do. When we suffer, he is there. When we cry, he cries with us. God looked at human life, with all its pain and sorrow, its cruelty and spite and hatred, all its joy and beauty, and came to share it so that he could be with us through it all.

But ultimately Christians believe that at the end of time, whenever or wherever or however that is, all will be made right, and that our suffering will be redeemed, and our death will be mended. That is the hope that is at the centre of Christianity. And in the meantime through Christ, God walks beside us in the vale of tears.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 14:37:35

But nimmy earlier you said god has free will but because he is good he can't/won't do bad. So why couldn't he make us the same. And those viruses and tsunamis, god made them or the right environment for them knowing they would happen.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 14:41:42

My title refers to believers using the notion of free will to answer the problem of evil. I don't have any philosophy quals so I'm probably using layman's terms because they're the labels I use in my thinking.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 14:43:58

Who control's god? How is he able to be good with his free will intact if no one is telling him what to do? Why couldn't he make us the same?

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 14:45:14

The thing is: we are not God. We have used, and continue to use our free will to turn away from his goodness.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 14:49:44

So why would god give us a different free will to his free will knowing it would cause untold suffering? If he is able to have free will but somehow only do good why would be decide to give us a free will that does allow us to do bad stuff and then hold us accountable while he is considered blameless?

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 14:51:33

The free will is not different; we are different.

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 14:52:32

(By the way, I'm all for being angry with God about crap that happens. I reckon he can take it.)

Yes I like that bit HIH "and then hold us accountable while he is considered blameless" - that was something that struck me early on in my questioning of the christian faith ..... God was meant to have made us and yet he is not really accountable for the result!

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 16:03:57

How are we different. Why make us different knowing the consequences?

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 16:05:05

He made us deliberately different and we are the ones to blame for hurting each other?

StackOverflow Mon 23-Sep-13 16:09:40

I don't actually get the argument above:

- We're made in God's image
- God has free will
- Therefore we have free will

But God is supposed to be inherently good. Where do the negative aspects of human free will come from, then?

Not tring to argue for argument's sake - this just relly doesn't make any sense to me!

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 16:26:23

Which god are we talking about? Or is it all gods?

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 16:31:09

Well, let's use a metaphor to explore this.

My child is made out of me and her father, and between us we have given her all her genetic material. Everything she is was made out of us. She got all of her physical being from me as her mother. But the moment she began living in the world she became completely separate from me. She began by taking breaths for herself, and she will, I hope, end up by living entirely independently of me.

She was of one substance with me, but she is different from me. However much I try to plan for her, however much I try to guide her and teach her and show her what is best, she will lead her own life and make her own mistakes. She may do all sorts of things: she may become a drug addict, or choose to work as a prostitute, or share her life with a violent man, or become a career criminal. I can't make her not do those things. I can't make her do the things I want her to. All I can do is love her and hope that my love will be the foundation of a good life.

That is like God. We are his children; we are made in his image, and out of him, but we are not him. We are free, as children are, to live as ourselves, and to make our own mistakes and fuck things up.

And we do make mistakes and fuck things up: again and again and again. We all do. We don't know why -- though we have stories that can help us understand our own nature. The task, however (to paraphrase Marx) is to live in the knowledge that God's love is the foundation of our life.

"He made us deliberately different and we are the ones to blame for hurting each other ?"

Exactly HIH - better really to grow up (spiritually speaking and otherwise), not look for anyone to blame, and start taking real responsibility for our own actions, knowing that we all have feet of clay/ are all very far from perfect. But work with that to the best of our abilities and with tolerance, forgiveness, humility and sometimes humour for the common good.

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 16:37:51

nim so if you are separate from god when you are in the world. Why do some religious people attribute the good things to god? And why not the bad things?

To use a metaphor, jimmy saville did a lot of good charity work

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 17:34:17

Nim the problem with the the god as a parent analogy is that generally parents don't give birth and then abandon their children into the care of people they comsider very poor at making good decisions. Furthermore a good parent doesn't hold themselves up as perfect and then reject their children for not meeting perfection. An earthly parent would generally feel a level of responsibility (wether rightly so or not) for their offsprings behaviour. As a parent my aim is to produce independent adults, I don't expect them to worship me, loving me would be nice but in a mutually rewarding and supportive relationship.

madhairday Mon 23-Sep-13 17:34:34

Reading with interest.

Free will is something I am not sure anyone can get their heads round in its entirety. That and the opposite predestination.

I like niminy's metaphor. Stretching it a bit further, let's say you could design your own child - not just physically, but in the way they function emotionally, spiritually, mentally etc etc. Would you make them capable of love, of delight and joy, of appreciation of beauty, of caring about others? Surely these things could only be in their truest forms when the opposite were possible - so to experience the heights of joy the depths of sorrow highlight what that actually is. Or would you make them incapable of feeling pain or sorrow, but also incapable of experiencing joy and love?

Would it be possible to create them to love and to care deeply without there being pain and suffering? Can the highest form of love exist without the lowest form of pain?

I have no answers, but like the others, this informs some of my thinking. God made us in his image - and that means we are capable of such heights of experience - and such depths. Jesus was perfect yet experienced the very depths of suffering.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 17:39:59

Would you make them capable of love, of delight and joy, of appreciation of beauty, of caring about others? Surely these things could only be in their truest forms when the opposite were possible

The opposite being bad stuff like not caring and hurting people? Is god capable of not caring? How come he is all good yet not capable of evil and yet we don't consider his experience of the highs inferior?

And some of this would be a problem with heaven wouldn't it ?
No concept of time, everything perfect, eternally praising God ?
Not sure it appeals, though would be better than a world of suffering I guess.
Just don't think it's likely really.
I think this is as good as it gets.
And can be pretty good at times if you're lucky, like most of us.

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 17:49:27

Headinhands - you can't know if god doesn't do the bad things. You can't know if god is responsible for the good things. You can't know if he negligible, powerless or doesn't care. You can't know if he is evil or good. You can't know which god is the governing god, if there are many or if there are none.

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 17:51:08

hih:*generally parents don't give birth and then abandon their children into the care of people they comsider very poor at making good decisions* I'm not sure how you think God does this?
Furthermore a good parent doesn't hold themselves up as perfect and then reject their children for not meeting perfection But God does not reject us for not meeting perfection. God loves us unconditionally.
An earthly parent would generally feel a level of responsibility (wether rightly so or not) for their offsprings behaviour I think you would have to draw a distinction there depending on whether the offspring was a child or an adult, wouldn't you?
As a parent my aim is to produce independent adults, I don't expect them to worship me, loving me would be nice but in a mutually rewarding and supportive relationship worship=love. I don't have to support God, because he's already complete in himself. But I love him because he is the source of all life, all love, all goodness.

My metaphor wasn't exact - it couldn't be because no metaphor can be. I was trying to convey something that I think you were trying not to understand.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 18:08:29

God made us and then left us to fend for ourselves on earth with only eachother. He's not directly looking after us.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 18:11:42

I thought we didn't go to heaven if we didn't believe in Jesus? I thought we effectively borrowed his perfection when we believed in him. So without accepting him we are not perfect and hence we are not in his gang.

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 18:13:39

Hih - is 'god made us' a statement. If so you should state which god and how you know this.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 23-Sep-13 18:16:16

>How come Christians find this logic acceptable?
Because the alternative 'logics' are worse?

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 18:19:40

Erol - what alternative logic? Why would you use Christian theory in a way that you wouldn't except in any other part of your life?

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 18:22:41

I think even parents of adult children feel varying degrees of responsibility for how their kids have turned out, I know I do.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 23-Sep-13 18:22:52

Yougo - no idea - but if Christians don't accept the free will argument presumably they'd have to find some other excuse reason for the existence of evil.

headinhands Mon 23-Sep-13 18:25:14

I'm mainly working from a Christian viewpoint in that they generally believe god created us.

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 18:25:20

I think the term evil was created by religion. One easy way to get rid of it

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 18:29:39

The obvious conclusion from observing, presuming that god exists, is that God is evil. I believe this 'evil' is heightened by 'blind following' and lack of judgement. It appears to be a vicious cycle.

Don't you think it's more likely, and more hopeful really, that he doesn't exist Yougo ? - Though I do think the massive expansion of the Universe at the big bang and many other things are quite wondrous and rather inexplicable!

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 19:19:14

Jug - I don't think any god exists. I suppose it's more likely that a god doesn't exist.

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 19:20:29

Jug - what do you think?

Yeh, I guess I think that a God does not exist, only the many wonderful Gods that we have created across the world and through time.

I think story is important to us.
I think there is much to wonder at.
I think love matters most.

Yougotbale Mon 23-Sep-13 19:33:21

Jug - yes it's important to understand history, music, art, etc. so there is a place for religion and choice.
It's interesting to watch documentaries on tribes in the amazon (for example), that have had little or no contact with the outside world. They have not been exposed to any mainstream religions. They manufacture their own spirits and gods. Partly out of fear and partly out of wanting control within the tribe. It makes it clear how these stories can be made and believed.

No more takers ?
All out for 6 ?!

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 21:35:29

Or perhaps not interested in the facile turn the discussion had taken?

Didn't seem so to me niminy, but possibly it had run it's course.
Slightly surprised that's all.

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 21:50:29

Didn't mean to be dismissive -- am very weary and still working. But I don't think I have much to add when the debate gets to the level of 'all religions are made up to oppress the people'.

Good night then niminy - hope you'll be finished with the work soon and can get some rest smile

niminypiminy Mon 23-Sep-13 22:01:32

Thanks smile

purpleink Sat 28-Sep-13 19:16:02

I think you have to redefine freedom.

Christ sets you free.

Or you can be deceived by Satan and be 'slave to sin' which ultimately is a person's downfall, death.

The best analogy for being a slave to sin is addiction, which alters the mind and body so you are physically, virtually dependent to the addiction and trapped. But not quite because it can be overcome.

Christ offers freedom because you see the Truth, are not deceived and are not a 'slave to sin.

Two choices, that is all. 'Choose life'....

headinhands Sat 28-Sep-13 20:46:28

That'd be believable if there was a clear distinction between Christians and non-Christians but as far as I've known there isn't.

Why would a loving god (who wants us to be set free) allow us to be punished for being deceived?

purpleink Sat 28-Sep-13 20:49:36

Because we choose it. We have Free Will. And also you can ask to be guided by the Holy Spirit and you can have Faith that you will be....

headinhands Sat 28-Sep-13 20:57:00

So what about those who are Christians who have addictions? And those who aren't who have none? They're off to heaven anyway?

purpleink Sat 28-Sep-13 20:59:00

If you truly believe on Jesus you are Redeemed. Even if you are battling addictions.

headinhands Sat 28-Sep-13 21:01:20

So sometimes christ doesn't set you free even when you know him. And sometimes you don't even need him.

purpleink Sat 28-Sep-13 21:04:22

Erm not quite....it's a process. You grow in knowledge and faith. You always need Him, that is the whole point.

headinhands Sun 29-Sep-13 08:51:48

What about the people who don't need him? Or the people who have him and still live with, and die with addiction? There are millions of people living their lives without Jesus and don't feel any need for him. I just don't see the out working of the claims you make about Jesus. Many people overcome addiction without Christianity.

purpleink Sun 29-Sep-13 09:06:08

Chemical Addiction was just one analogy. I'm talking about being a 'Slave to sin'. Like, for example, in the play "Billy Liar" he couldn't stop lying. As for not needing Him I don't see many sinless people walking about...

headinhands Sun 29-Sep-13 10:36:22

Nobody is perfect that's for sure. Even Christians make mistakes though so there's nothing to suggest that being a Christian makes people any more perfect than anyone else. I've messed up but I try to learn from my mistakes so I don't make them again. I try not to hurt people because it makes me feel unhappy to see others unhappy. Overcoming personal problems isn't something only Christians do.

purpleink Sun 29-Sep-13 10:53:50

Never said non-Christians could not overcome personal problems. I have found being a Christian centres me, however. It has given me clarity. It helps me and a lot of others say it helps them too.

It is a choice.

headinhands Sun 29-Sep-13 12:04:38

But lots of people say lots of different things help. The one thing they all have in common being that *

headinhands Sun 29-Sep-13 12:18:37

Sorry, the one thing in common was that the person put effort into changing something. There's no evidence that those who made changes without the impetus of a religion somehow found it harder. You should take the credit for the good you have brought about in your life.

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 12:40:55

Are you happy headinhands?

I have seen a few threads where you tenaciously question Christians before. What are you hoping to find out?

headinhands Sun 29-Sep-13 14:20:56

So the validity of my questions depend on my personal emotions? As I said at the start of the thread I seem to have forgotten the way I made Christianity work logically so find it interesting discussing it. No one has to engage, I wouldn't want anyone to join in unless they wanted to so don't see that I am doing anything dubious?

Is there something wrong with asking forthright questions? I find the notion that direct questioning is somehow wrong very interesting. Can you think why it might not be okay to ask questions and challenge the validity of the religious statements made on this thread?

ancientelm Sun 29-Sep-13 14:28:13

Didn't say it was wrong. Just curious as to whether the questioning has provided you with clarity, concerning your own beliefs / world view.

headinhands Sun 29-Sep-13 14:29:28

Generally speaking I'm fascinated with the how and why of human's supernatural beliefs. I like to think that people who find robust examination of such won't be posting. I think this board is the perfect place to find such discussion as it's entirely up to the poster if they want to post. There are many threads in this section I wouldn't post in so I can distinguish between where it is and isn't proper for me to post. But on debate threads, yeah, I think that's pretty much what they're for.

SadBadMadFat Sun 29-Sep-13 18:23:29

Op, I understand what you mean, I think the same way.

I believe in the Creator God, I believe in Jesus, the cross and resurrection, I am a Christian.
But a loving, just, Gracious God?

....I just don't get how so much crap is allowed to happen.

When I became born-again many moons ago, I was led to believe God was like Gandalf/Santa/Genie of the lamp and all my problems in childhood would go away and Id live happily ever after. I havent. Things got worse. Not by my free will either, by trying my best to live an honest Christian life.

I dont get why children have to suffer for the 'sins of their fathers' or whatever, I dont un derstand why God knew (just one example) the terrorists got on that plane and drove it into a building, a plane full of innocent families,a buil;ding full of workers). why didnt He strike the terrorists down or do a 'Damascus' on them?

and its okay to question all these things, after all God gave us a brain and an inquisitive mind.

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