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Sunday, August 17, 2014

A gnawing spiritual riddle solved!

Why Would a Perfect God Create an Imperfect Universe?

A question that has always plagued my mind since my childhood. I kept playing God's and his arch adversary's advocate alternately, until I could play no more to get an answer! This article came as a welcome relief and even contained a sensible solution I could agree with (you see Librans like me can never quite make up their mind between blind faith and inquisitive reasoning by themselves, they need a healthy debate to help scratch their personal itches). But even from the many convincing answers, I still remain unconvinced about a perfect God engaged in the needless act of an imperfect creation. The only sanskrit verse from the Vedas that even dares to wrestle with my mind is 'Sa Eko Na Ramyathe!' (God did not enjoy being alone). Anyway, the solutions from the article are excerpted below for your immediate reading pleasure:

R. Jay Pearson • 2 years ago
Lausten, turning your question around, or upside down, or inside out . . . what (with the theology you've presented for analysis in mind) do you imagine the universe and humankind should look/behave like if God is the perfect Creator? What specific expectations ought people have of the God you've described?

Lausten North R. Jay Pearson • 2 years ago
I’m asking the question about the specific God of the Bible. If we were talking about what haunts me about Shiva, or what troubles me about Plato, we would have no problem agreeing on many things. I ask the question because there are so many who claim this specific God is working for them. These are my neighbors, these are the people who cancel my vote and want me to live like them.

That God was supposed to help the descendants of Abraham build a kingdom in the land of milk and honey. That worked out for a while and differences between Elohim and Yahweh were fading but differences between Moses and Aaron split the kingdom and eventually both fell. That was quite a while ago, and I’m seeing a lot of people in need of milk. That’s my first criteria, the end of chronic starvation. We were supposed to get back to living under the laws of Moses, then God would be back on our side, but who has ever unscrambled those laws? Second criteria, a clear sense of what it means to lead a good life. This one really shouldn’t be that hard, but so many fail at it while saying they are righteous. Then God comes down and says that soon everything will be done, and we just need to live by the law of love. It was an improvement, but too much was left to chance and the laws were still unclear. Not even a statement on slavery, that should have been an easy one. Now simply too much time has passed and too many prophecies have gone unfulfilled. I’d like a world with no death and very little pain, but even just some incremental steps towards some of the promises of the Bible would be nice.

R. Jay Pearson Lausten North • 2 years ago
Lausten, from what I gathered, your main issues are with the following: 1) inconsistencies of insistent Bible-believers; 2) temporal and moral inconsistencies of Bible pronouncements; 3) unfulfilled Bible prophecies.

You also mentioned objections to chronic starvation and slavery. In most cases, starvation is a result of regional wars and conflicts (e.g., Darfur, Ethiopia, Iraq, etc.). Man-made events. The same with slavery. It is a man-made thing. Not God-made. So starvation and slavery is on us, not God. Therefore it is up to us to solve our own errors.

As to the Bible . . . I would say that it is also man-made. God-inspired? Perhaps. But inspiration is not authorship. The most rational conclusion I make about the Bible is that while it contains godly words, it is not the "Word of God." It is ultimately the product of man. And so any disappointment you may have about the inconsistencies and failures of the Bible's pronouncements and prophecies should come as no surprise.

As for the God of the Bible . . . with the Bible being a product of man, logic requires us to accept the probability that the image of God in the Bible is a reflection of man's ideas, not cosmic/universal reality. The God of the Bible is an icon borne of human imagination. Ultimately, a fiction. (This isn't to say that, where the nature of "God" is concerned, there are no "diamonds of reality" in the otherwise vast "dunghill" of Scripture, as Thomas Jefferson once eloquently put it. But the diamonds are scatterings, and not representative of the whole.)

As for those believers who insist that the fiction is a reality, and try to impose that fiction on others . . . well, their imbalance will only create imbalance. We can either engage it with balanced humanity, or lay expectations on a fictional God to handle it for us.

Like you, I would also like to see a world with no death and very little pain. Outside of the uninterrupted natural progression of our human lifespans, we create death and we create pain. How do we create death? By our own destructive and self-destructive behaviors. How do we create pain? Through those same behaviors, but also by the attitudes and values we embrace and which inspire those behaviors. We are the creators of most of our suffering.

So the solutions to almost everything you've mentioned rest in our own human hands.

Lausten North R. Jay Pearson • 2 years ago
Amen to that.

Pax • 2 years ago
I really like to speculate about this question. It seems to me that there are at least two parts that can be looked at individually:

1) Does God's will that we love him mean that he is lacking in some way? I don't understand God's love in that way. God's love for us is agape: selflessly willing what is best for us. However, when we love God, there's no need to wish what's best for Him, but we can have agape for each other - loving the things He loves. So, our love for God includes conforming our will to His, which ultimately makes us (and others) better, and so it's not for God's benefit but for ours. It's not something that God needs for His own sake.

2) Why would a perfect being create something imperfect? I think anything that is not God must stop short of Him and therefore must be imperfect. Thus, a "perfect creation" is a logical contradiction. It's like asking if God could create a stone so heavy that He couldn't lift it. But, of course, we can talk about degrees of perfection. So, why didn't He create us more perfect than we are? Actually, I think that's what He's doing. We're all in formation to become more and more perfect. The imperfections of our world have tremendous value in our formation.