First of all, I find your writings interesting and your attitude towards
those who are either agnostics, atheists or antitheists, pretty "mature
So, turning to you, there are some questions in my mind, which, for some
odd reason, are VERY seldom even touched in the wide spectrum of the
Christian literature. And I am also surprised that, after scanning
through a lot of the so called apologetic Christian Web sites, I found
only very little written about these matters. So much watered-down, cheap
and easy discussion about boring "apologetic matters", but almost no one
touching "this REAL Issue".
The real Issue is: WHO IS GOD, actually? What KIND of God do we REALLY
have? Why is it, that the God of the Bible is described to be millions of
times WORSE and MORE EVIL than the Devil himself?
I assume that you will substantiate this "description" later, so I will not go into it here. But let me at least notice that there is a MAJOR philosophical problem with calling the Definition/Standard of Good 'more evil' than the 'father of lies' and the one who was a 'murderer from the beginning'...I can see an epistemological question looming ahead for us...
Someone of course could answer immediately that this is just The Real
Issue to ME, now, this time of my life, and ten years from now I will
probably be tormenting myself with very different kind of question.
Well, I don't necessarily think so...I get plenty of questions in the ThinkTank on the Character of God or doubts about His goodness...what sensitive heart CANNOT wrestle with the problem of suffering and not 'feel' the apparent tension between His goodness and our perception of reality? I don't fault you in the least in this--nor do I trivialize the question at all! Twice a year I stumble around in the vastness of our ignorance in this arena myself...I 'argue' with Him about why He lets Himself be slandered about this issue, when He logically has a perfectly satisfactory answer somewhere...
.. But NO! The inner reality and the essence of the One we call the
Trinity is The Question! I have been thinking about it almost forty years
And I am not alone. I hear questions related to this presented SO MANY
TIMES (mostly by non-Christians, of course, in newspapers, books, movies,
TV, Internet news areas, etc.), but so very, very seldom I see anyone in
the Christian community ever even trying to make an attempt to answer
them? They just "believe", have "faith", meaning that they avoid the
question, ignore it, run away from it ...
I am not sure where all you have looked, but in some of the circles I read in I see efforts to address this...esp. in the areas of philosophical theology (see some of the books in the Tank...the works by Frame and those by Hasker et. al., for example.) I certainly agree that a lot of people run from the question--but what else is new?!
Scared of loosing their OWN soul, perhaps? Yes, quite obviously so!
That's the attitude of MOST of the Christians in MOST of different
Christian circles! And I know what I'm talking about. Presenting certain
kind of questions is a blasphemous Sin, and if you happen to even to
THINK too loud what life sometimes is FORCING you to think deep inside,
you are OUT!
However, one very important note before I really begin:
Please, do not take ANYTHING in this my email "personally". I don't want
to fight against YOU, or put YOU down, or anything like that, because
that would really bring me no mental, intellectual, or sadist sexual
satisfaction at all.
NO problem...you have already indicated how 'painful' this issue is to you, and therefore I expect a high degree of 'passion' or intensity...some will see that as attack perhaps, but I will understand it as a measure of your struggle with this issue.
Showing myself able to trap you with my questions in not my aim. But I am
more than willing to hear your opinion about them.
Again, I understand...no problem...as a matter of fact, I am perfectly capable of trapping myself in questions that WERE NOT INTENDED as traps!... (grin)...
That was the foreword. Now let's dive into details.
So, there is SOMETHING in Christianity that is The Unresolved Mother of
all Questions to me! It is perhaps the most absurd electro-chemical
Paradox in the Universe, taking place in the human brain. Perhaps there
is some kind of supernatural answer to it ... I don't know.
I mean this: How can so many people in the world be SO AMAZINGLY BLIND?
Eyes they do have, but they really do not see! They do not see the most
BASIC, the most OBVIOUS moral discrepancies in the Bible. They do no see
what the Bible is REALLY telling us about the NATURE and the REAL ESSENCE
of God! Ears they do have, but they really do not HEAR. They do not hear
what the Bible itself, and the fire breathing evangelists are preaching
unto them ... about the Satanic God, just yearning to torture men and
women AND LITTLE CHILDREN, first here in this time-and space dimension
and then eternally in the Lake of Fire.
"Yearning" is a bizarre word in there! Believe me, if God was 'yearning' to do this, He could have picked MUCH MORE EFFICIENT ways than the existing plan! He could have simply created full-formed adults directly IN some place of torment, and by-passed all this foolishness of morality, patience, the Cross, enduring slander, etc...no, something in the design of all this indicates that 'yearning' is not the correct word-choice here!!
These are strong statements, of course, and I would hope you intend to substantiate them later in this document. I am not sure what exactly you mean by 'moral discrepancies'...I would guess from your phrase 'Satanic God' that perhaps you are suggesting that God makes moral demands upon His creatures that He did not follow when He was on earth as a creature (i.e. Jesus)?...but I will read on...but note that so far you have not supported any of these rather large-scope statements...
The biblical picture of God is awful! If you are honest (which is very
rare among the Christians), it really is something that makes you vomit!
I am not sure I could disagree more...the God I see is much 'better' than I would have expected...I would have expected more immediate judgment and less patience, for example. I would NOT have expected an Incarnation, life as a servant, death as a criminal, for a world that largely ignores even the most basic of inner-witnessed moral imperatives!
So, if there is Love, it MUST be something quite opposite to the God of
the Bible! God's "Love" there is a caricature of REAL LOVE. Some kind of
sick joke, even though it is really hard to use the word "joke" in this
Again, I understand your intensity, but you haven't given me any data to work with yet.
The Bible is "a Love Letter" from God, full of blood and violence! Yes! A
lot of it is caused by evil and violent MEN. But the problem is that SO
MUCH OF IT is from God! Sorry that I'm repeating this old and wear-out
statement here, once again, but I'm doing it simply because the Bible is
SO DISGUSTINGLY FULL of blood and violence, caused by the "Loving God!"
You just don't get use to it! That senseless killing, bloodshed and the
so called "Divine Judgments"! That's why it is worth of mentioning here
again ... even though I know that no Christian, perhaps, has any
satisfying answer to this question ...
Maybe we are getting closer to the issues here...I can detect two issues in this paragraph: (1) violence 'caused by God' and (2) divine judgments as being 'senseless'...
On (1) you apparently consider it 'evil' for God to do violence (e.g. judicial execution, protection of the innocent), but it is not at all clear to me how you could support this view. I am not at all sure how creatures could have some absolute 'right' to restrict their Creator's actions (good, bad, or otherwise)--the thought seems patently absurd to me. Maybe this a matter of the 'senseless' clause in (2) so let's move on to that.
On (2), you assert that the divine judgments were/are 'senseless'. This, of course, is a rather absolute statement of knowledge! Granted that you have been thinking about this for 40 years, I strongly suspect that God may actually have data / arguments / reasons that you haven't had access to or have considered objectively. For you to asset that the judgments are 'senseless' MUST be restated more accurately as 'I cannot see any sense in the divine judgments'--this is a huge difference and one MUCH MORE IN KEEPING with the limited epistemic faculties of humanity!
It would also probably be helpful for you to describe what kinds of judgments ARE 'sense-ful' according to your standards. Are judgments YOU make of people 'sensible'? Why? What about the judgments you make of God or Christians or skeptics? How would YOU define 'sensible'? I suspect (although it is early in our discussion and I could VERY EASILY be wrong) that your definition of 'senseless' is basically 'that which you disagree with morally, or that which you cannot see a justification for'. Again, be careful that you are not being presumptive or rash in your conclusions.
It is also obvious from your statement that you recognize that humanity is responsible for vast amounts of evil, but what is not clear is how you would decide that God was responsible for SO MUCH MORE THAN that. Quantitative data?
Some great Christian thinkers have pondered this subject. C. S. Lewis did, in his darkest moments, when his wife died for cancer. But even though he was one of the greatest apologetics of this century, when faced with the cruel reality of his own life, when The Cosmic Vivisector made some real tests with HIM, he became remarkably silent.
I am familiar with the case of Lewis, but I am not sure his experience is any different than it should be. Suffering is NOT to be enjoyed, it DOES involve a test of character and commitment, and it DOES involve one in struggles of conflicting motives. The scene in Gethsemane, in which the very Son of God wrestles with conflicting LEGITIMATE impulses (sacrifice yourself for others vs. flee personal pain), is essentially the experience I see portrayed in Lewis. Lewis did not 'revise' his view of God's goodness on the basis of that experience; he simply deepened his appreciation for the actions/promises of God to remove such suffering from the world--I Cor 15.26: "The last enemy to be destroyed is death."
Believe me, I get quieter too when the floods come over my head! And though I grumble and complain, and occasionally rant and rave, I get through it into a life of greater dimensions and sensitivities and compassion for others--somewhat more like His Son's life on earth...
Actually, my experience with many non-Christian people is, and so is also
my own firm personal opinion that it is rather difficult for ANY one of
us to find ANY KIND of love, gentleness, or compassion in the Bible!
I don't seem to have a problem at all with finding that...I can look at Gethsemane or Golgotha or the ministry of the OT prophets or the divine overtures to the 'not many noble, not many powerful, not many wise' among us...I can look at the message of personal freedom to the masses, to the persecuted, to the humble...I see it in scripture and I see it in my experience of Him. I see it in every offer of forgiveness and acceptance, and in every act of delayed judgment.
all you have to do is just to read a few pages of it, and you will find
God drowning men, women, CHILDREN, LITTLE BABIES and INNOCENT ANIMALS in
the Flood. Just cancer surgery, Christians use
Now I think we are getting into your issues. What I see surfacing are some assumptions that you need to justify, in my opinion.
Although you don't specifically refute the 'cancer surgery' argument, I think you should...that argument is at least an ATTEMPT by some Christians to think through the issues; so why have you not even taken it seriously? What is the major flaw in their argument? What is the major strength of their argument? You really should focus more on evidence and argument than simply on assertions (that increasingly look like unsubstantiated slurs)
For example, you are making an assumption that God is 'evil' to drown what you call 'innocent animals'. What, in your opinion is a 'guilty' animal? What moral standards are YOU aware of that you render upon God that requires him to 'force' every animal to die a 'natural death' (whatever that is?!).
Let's look at this a little closer, for it may give us some insight into why your assertions are structured so? Let's ask a spectrum of questions.
When God made animals, in what way was He obligated to them?
When they die of 'natural causes' (e.g. 'in their sleep') in what sense is God 'less' (or 'not' ) guilty than if He has them drown in a flood or die from a tree-fall or get eaten by a predator?
Or is God 'morally required' to have them 'live forever'?!
While I would agree that I would find it offensive if God made animals (with requisite nervous systems) to simply torture them (cf. Proverbs 12.10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.), I consider that RADICALLY different that God making animals, demonstrating His goodness to them by a natural life-cycle and preservation of the species, and eventually causing cessation of consciousness. I don't see this as evil as all; in fact, I have to consider it evidence for God's goodness--just like the Psalmist did:
Psalm 104.23: How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number --
living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
27 These all look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
Now let's take the case of human life. In what ways is God morally obligated to us?
When we die of 'natural causes' (e.g. 'in our sleep') in what sense is God 'less' (or 'not') guilty than if He has us drown in a flood or die from a tree-fall or get shot by a violent criminal?
Or is God 'morally required' to have us 'live forever'?!
(and what would be you privileged base of data to support a position on the above? Your 'common sense' , 'moral intuitions', 'statistical piety of your subculture'?)
My point here is that we IMPORT ethical obligations appropriate to us a peer-creatures ('thou shalt not kill') to a Being that is OBLIGATED to do EXACTLY that (i.e. kill/cause/allow death) as part of governance of the universe!
I don't think we use the correct reference point in ethical comparisons all the time. We try to compare our actions to God the Father's, INSTEAD of to God the Son's. As ruler of the Universe, there are certain tasks that uniquely accrue to Him (e.g. time of death, balance of choice-vs-restraint in community evil). As such it is improper to say that since we are not allowed to kill, that it is improper for God to kill. Rather, the case of the incarnate Son--Jesus--is the benchmark we should use. As the God-man, HIS standards represent the model for humanity. Indeed, it is HIS perfect obedience--as a man--that is standard for the future judgments of people (cf. John 5.27: And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.).
This is one of the major fallacies I find in sloppy theological and philosophical thinking in this area. We blindly rush in, assuming that our moral notions are (1) superior to God's! and (2) applicable to God! We would be closer to the truth if we took OUR notions and applied them to God-as-creature (i.e. Jesus Christ during His sojourn on earth)...which I will probably have to do later on in this series. We typically do NOT think critically in this area--we just ASSUME that 'man is the measure of all things'!!!!
Anyway...sorry....that was ME on MY soapbox...back to your letter
But how is it that very often I find sinful men around me to be loving,
compassionate and sympathetic. Thank God (!?), they are very different
from some so called Christians!
Couldn't agree more, but I hasten to add "and vice versa"...thank God I know Christians that are 'real' examples of the love of Christ--who give their lives, like Christ did, for others...in the words of the Son of God on earth : "greater love hath no man than this--that he lay down his life for his friend"...
But Your Heavenly Father is million times worse than the Devil himself!
Worst conceivable Cosmic Sadist. Eternal Torturer. Always eager to GET
DRUNK by the PAIN and SUFFERING of the human beings he has
Assertion, assertion, assertion...when do we get to the data?
He is The Dark Being, full of sick, UNLIMITED hatred. Uncontrollable
hatred. He just ENJOYS to express his hatred!
How could you possibly substantiate this, friend?!
If you use Scripture, you are out of luck...it simply cannot be used to document that God 'enjoys to express his hatred'...
If you use some other source of data, you are not going to be able to verify it at all--apart from some type of revelation from 'the other side', you are as epistemically impotent as the rest of us! Your intuitions, logic, guesses, etc. are simply no better than mine--and I disagree with your characterization of God...my experience is different than yours, and you haven't brought up any scripture yet...
But why am I so blind that I blame God for all evil, not seeing that the
Sin and the Devil actually are the root cause of it? In a moment I will
tell you why.
The word UNLIMITED above was no accident. The Hell is UNLIMITED.
Actually, you are probably incorrect. Hell is EXACTLY matched to the evil that mankind and angelic beings have perpetrated in the universe. God is VERY EXPLICIT in this regard--we are judged according to our works, and those who have done 'little' wrong, are beaten with 'fewer stripes'...If our evil is UNLIMITED, then our Punishment would presumably be UNLIMITED. If our evil was 'finite' in some aspect, then the punishment would be 'finite' in some aspect.
Part of the problem with your statement is the ambiguous term 'unlimited'. This is one of those 'infinite' (limiting concept) type of words that has a wide range of meaning. "Unlimited" could vary in duration, intensity, periodicy, etc.--the word is just too 'fuzzy' for you to use it in this argument as you try to.
We know that there is more than "just" blood and violence in this
time-and-space dimension ... according to the Bible, there is
inconceivable cruelty and horrible eternal torture awaiting the mankind,
except for that little minority of people, "the selected ones", "the
little flock", who manage to escape the wrath of God.
"inconceivable"? "torture"? "cruelty"?--you are both judge and jury here, eh? You have already decided that this is 'unfair'? You have already decided that a judgment that PERFECTLY MATCHES the severity of each individual act of evil CANNOT be 'fair'? How could you be so presumptive? What other system would be 'fair'?--one that let the Hitlers of the world off without recompense? One that didn't hold evil religious leaders accountable for leading millions astray? One that didn't punish (at a PERFECT MATCH) crimes of child abuse, victimization of the elderly, violent rape, deliberate bigotry?
We do NOT know how a punishment that is sometimes described as eternal, can PERFECTLY MATCH a series of finite actions in history, but we have no solid reasons for doubting God's ability to do this IN PERFECT MORAL FAIRNESS. (His commitment to justice was amply demonstrated in His becoming the infinite victim of His own punishment on the Cross--He takes evil and judgment seriously (not gleefully as you indicated earlier--or Gethesame would have been radically different in character!)...
Everything is centered around His Excellent Being! There will be
approximately 15 000 000 000 people in the Lake of Fire some day,
tormented forever and ever and ever, but THREE HOURS of HIS suffering on
the cross would have saved them from there.
I appreciate your concern for the world, but your theology is more than a bit confused.
What do you think happened during the Three Hours on the Cross? According to the NT, He was lessening CONSIDERABLY the possible future punishment of EVERYONE...how are you implying that He somehow didn't do all that was necessary?
Look at Jer 2.21:
I had planted you like a choice vine
of sound and reliable stock.
How then did you turn against me
into a corrupt, wild vine?
and Is 5.4:
What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done with it? When
I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?
If ANYONE makes it to the Lake of Fire, it is NOT because Jesus didn't do something for them on the Cross!
Compare Paul: II Cor 5.19ff: "that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. "...
Does this sound like the scenario you painted above? Of course not--God is not as you somehow have constructed Him...
And I think I must disagree with you about 'everything is centered around His excellent Being'...I really think it is otherwise...I think (subject to limitations due to commitment to truth and His personal integrity) that His focus is on US!
I look at:
This data indicates a considerable outward-focus on the part of God..."He is good to all His works"
And a very minor thing to Christians usually is, that more than a million
Jews also died in the same way during that time. They just were not so
Holy, and Pure, and Blameless ... they were just less than dirty rats,
from the God's point of view. From the cross they went into the Lake of
Fire, and are eternally forgotten. And just to bring this a little closer
to us, would YOU want to be one of them?
What are you talking about? There were plenty of Jewish believers under the Roman empire B.C., and many of those who were similarly executed probably joined God in heaven. The Gospels talk about those who were 'waiting for the consolation of Israel' (Lk 2.25), and the initial flurry of acceptance indicated high hopes for God's visitation--a mark of faith among Jews.
And, subsequently, were more Jewish-Christians who died similarly--esp. several of the apostles.
And why in the world would you assume that God saw them as 'less than dirty rats'? What data do you have? You are just ASSERTING and ASSUMING again. Granted that you are upset about this issue, but that fact does NOT release you from being honest, open, and neutral to the data! You must be responsible, and not make wild statements and unsupported statements.
Forty million Jews have died during the last 2000 years, because "his
blood really came upon them, and their children." "Father forgive them,
because they do not know what they are doing." That prayer went unheard!
Well OK., it only concerned those Roman soldiers, using the hammer that
particular time ...
What?! How did you decide that those deaths were related to that single NT scripture verse?! Historians (even naive ones!) don't make such absolute and sweeping generalizations as that! It is difficult for me to take this stuff seriously, when you make statements like that.
And surely you are familiar with the images in Revelation--that YOU seem to understand, while I do NOT--that indicates that the Devil was/is/will be(?) the instigator of persecution of the Jew--as the stock from which the Messiah came (Revelation 12.17.) The Devil has apparently used every means at His disposal (e.g. the Church, military regimes, economic power, social and cultural ostracizing) to persecute this group. Why would you try to pin that on God? And...how in the world would you support that?!
Or did Jesus think on the cross: "When I get to Heaven from here, I will
really show them who is who?" At least he did so!
a lot of assertion, a bit of slander, and 'presto' out pops a conclusion???!!!]
Where did it all come from, this whole Dark Reality in our Bibles and all
around us? Who created it? God? Or Satan? .. or was it there FROM THE
As far as I can tell--philosophically, theologically, exegetically--God created a perfect universe with personal agents with the ability to create derivative universes in an analogical fashion to God's--via cognitively-structured choice. One of the more intelligent of the agents chose to create an alternative universe NOT structured after the balanced and dynamic patterns within God.
In so choosing, this intelligence 're-fashioned' itself into a being with one foot in reality (as God created it) and one foot in 'un-reality' (a conceptual universe in the mind of Satan)...as such, this agent's choice interacts with its rationality in unpredictable ('un-real') ways, making the choices of this being bizarre.
This high-intelligence and high-volition, being closest to the un-reality, was HIMSELF the most distorted by the anti-forces and anti-rationality in the un-reality. As such, what was love became hatred; what was loyalty became revolt; what was reasonableness became unthinking malice.
From this being, through his influence with others--similarly endowed with reasons and choice--dissonant forces and conceptual structures became parasitically attached to 'good' reality. These destructive (anti-reality and anti-harmony and anti-balance) ripples affected his character, power, future. In the blind rage to strike back at his maker, this deceiver, this 'murderer from the beginning', this 'father of lies' began a campaign to do as much vindictive damage as possible against his Creator. Attacks upon the universe, humanity, the Jews, the church, the Son of God, the very image of God, rationality, etc...became the modus operandi of this being...And one goal of the one who wanted to be God, is to convince us less-intellectually-endowed mortals that the Devil is God, and that God is the Devil. That's as close as he will ever get to being God--in convincing us that God is a devil Himself.
It dawned on me 15 years ago, that as clever as I might think myself to be, if God did not somehow protect me from intellectual manipulations by the evil one, that I did NOT STAND A CHANCE of resisting his intellectual persuasions in directions of aberrant thinking and beliefs.
Glenn M. Miller, do YOU have any answers? Any REAL answers!? In your
writings, you sort of "lead us to assume" that you have ...
Some, I suppose, but you are not through asking questions yet are you? (grin) Maybe I will have to settle for exposing the assumptions and pre-existing commitments you hold BEFORE you even come to the data.
I don't want to push you, embarrass you, or make you feel helpless in
this Flood of questions. I am just looking at you and waiting to hear (at
least something) from you ...
Remember, I am more interested in truth and honesty, than in avoiding embarrassment or in not feeling helpless...and also remember, that I am VERY slow to get to these emails...esp. ones that are as deep as this, and question that are riddled with vagueness and imprecision--not necessarily due to you, but due to the very nature of the question.
Is Satan The Creator of Sin? How can he be that, if he was not CREATED to
be The Creator of Sin? You must have heard this before, but I will
present it once again here. Because it IS the great Paradox. Note
carefully, once again, its mysterious details:
This general argument is based on 2 basic fallacies in my opinion--the ASSUMED and unsubstantiated views that
(1) the EFFECT is already "completely/perfectly" present in the CAUSE;
(2) that CAUSE/EFFECT models can be 'scaled up' to contexts of PERSONAL INFLUENCES/AGENT CHOICES.
But more on this at the end of your argument...
The Origin of Satan MUST be in The Great Nothingness (or else he is not a
created being at all!) All the properties he now has, or ever had, or
ever will have, must be of God!
(Oh, that's nothing new. Even Calvin knew that!)
But anyway, Nothing comes from Nothing! So, everything (including Satan)
must be created by your Loving Heavenly Father. Created one way, OR
ANOTHER! But created, anyway ...
Nothing odd so far in your statements...the individual who was originally good and later took on the character and role of being the Adversary (i.e. "Satan") was created by God, as were the set of potentialities (from which his abilities would have later developed)...
The only issue I have so far is perhaps in the fuzzy word 'properties'...I suspect that you will try to smuggle into that word his propensity toward fury, irrationality, arrogance, murder, deceit, torture etc...but I will wait until you explicitly do so before I get into the difference between created potentialities and consciously developed abilities/skills/orientations...let me simply point out here that the term is HIGHLY ambiguous and needs rigorous analysis, if one is to avoid false generalizations...
Creating a Cherubim, who is able to create a Satan out of himself, is
just a question of methods used in the creation of Satan, not a question
of "who actually did it?"
Here we have an issue...you seem to ASSUME--without argument, evidence, or proof(!)--that God 'created' Satan through Satan's self-determinative will!!!! This model begs the question altogether...it IS a question of "who" (personal language), for in the "who" realm, it is clearly the individual named "Satan"...though self-determinative and self-constitutive acts of will and execution, this agent re-shaped himself into the being characterized by most of the evils you seem to impute to God...as humans we do this EVERY DAY...our objective choices re-shape our characters/future actions...we are constantly using our previous 'states' of character/skills/orientations to re-shape (not 're-create') our personalities...
For you to try to pin accountability for this on God REQUIRES you to make the unjustified (and semi-religious) assumptions I pointed out at the beginning of this discussion--that causality 'scales up' to personal influences (which I do NOT in any way accept, observe, or even see how one could demonstrate it!), and that all effects are somehow ALREADY present (and fully-formed) in the 'cause'. These are patently metaphysical assumptions, and until you can somehow 'prove' them, I will have to cast my lot in with the more common-sense and observable notions that:
These are MUCH MORE demonstrable, observable, plausible than the ones you put forth:
I would have to say that the vast majority of observed reality is on the side of MY assumptions, not yours...(I have actually BEEN an adolescent before...grin)
In The Beginning there was NOTHING ... but God!
Now there is Satan PLUS the Satanic God! And there is no real LOVE,
almost anywhere! That's why the whole Universe, and the world around us
is so devilish. Because all there exists, is basically Evil ...
You still haven't demonstrated (or even argued) that God is this evil thing...so why do you keep asserting this? You also are making the obvious assumption (seriously false) that Satan is the only evil creature in the universe (besides God, in your opinion), but the situation is much more complex than that...Every angelic being could poof out of existence tomorrow and there would still be enough developed evil orientations in humans to spoil the universe forever! (I am not sure it's relevant to our discussion, so I may not have to go to far into this thought.)
But you raise a MAJOR issue (metaphysically and ethically) in this statement that reduces part of your overall argument to self-referential absurdity.
When you assert that "Because all there exists, is basically Evil", you sorta 'lose' Evil in the process...
You cannot have an 'evil' (which is generally defined in terms of 'good') without having a 'good'. (Strangely, you CAN have a 'good' without having an 'evil', but this will be later brought up) If you only 'have' evil, you have neither good Nor bad. Let's look at this more closely...
First, let's start with an all-evil universe, in which nothing 'good' occurs. Confining ourselves to the Western religions, in which an Agent Deity operates (necessary to your position)--Islam, Judaism, Judeo-Christianity--what 'things' and events are considered 'good' (and hence could NOT 'be' in an all-evil universe):
[Theoretically, we could rest the case here! But, let me mention some other 'things' that are considered 'good' in those systems.]
Secondly, let's approach this is from ethical theory.
(I don't want to get too technical here philosophically, so I will try to keep this concise. There are some basics in mainstream ethics that should illustrate the point.)
[There is a WHOLE LOT of sloppy thinking out there in this last regard. It is altogether too common to hear someone naively say, "Well, if God exists as the good, then evil must exist also--by definition--you can't have one WITHOUT the other, you know." This position hopelessly confuses 'logical definition' with 'reality'! There is a HUGE difference between wrestling with a 'real' evil and wrestling with a 'definition' of evil!!!]
Where this nets out, friend, is that SOMEHOW, SOME WAY, there HAS to be a "GOOD" somewhere in the system--to make sense out of the obvious evil that WE BOTH KNOW is present in our existence and experience. We are certainly agreed on the reality of that evil, but my analysis of that reality leads me practically and philosophically back to the reality of SOME ultimate good...it is inescapable...it just has to be found...
On a personal note, I remember the first time I wrestled with this evil-God issue. It was in a particularly difficult time of my life in the early 80's...My loving Father (always interested in my development!) had allowed some horrible challenge into my life...things were nightmarish...emotional pain was crushing...life itself was difficult to endure even in 5 minute increments...I was so intellectually compelled to accuse my Lord of senseless malice at the torment in my life...and then I bumped into the theoretical problem--as soon as I attached the predicate 'evil' to the Ultimate, I 'lost' the meaning of the predicate 'evil'! It was self-stultifying to call the Ultimate (and therefore the definition of 'good') 'evil'! If the 'evil thing' WAS ultimate, it would 'instantaneously' become 'good' and then ALL of MY notions of what was really 'good' (which was generally shared by billions of other humans like me--the goodness of love, tenderness, kindness, endurance, justice, mercy, human life, creation, order, etc.) would REVERSE! It would have been a MUCH larger problem explaining how billions and billions of people's basic notions of 'good' were TOTALLY mistaken, than the MUCH smaller problem of how God could let this specific experience into my life and still be called 'good'! I decided to stay with the preponderance of data, and give God the 'benefit of the doubt' in my case!!!
What I DID realize at the end of the above process was that I probably should assign responsibility for the 'evil' to someone--but it couldn't be an Ultimate Agent. So who MIGHT I ascribe the malice to? Since it didn't involve any obvious human conspiracy against me, and it seemed to be not a Freudian-type of self-inflicted pain, I was led to ascribe it either to malignant angelic forces or simply to impersonal situational forces (e.g. earthquakes or natural disasters might be in this category). I didn't decide between the two, but on the basis of the interactions between Satan and God in Job 1 and 2, and in Luke 22.31--"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.", I recognized that there was a malignant intelligence in the universe to which the accusation of malice could sometimes be applied correctly (philosophically and theologically speaking).
Well, this is a long reply, but I hope you see the issue. There IS a 'GOOD' out there somewhere (since there is EVIL in our experience). And we must look for it, and be open-minded to it, and not force our pre-conceived sets of assumptions on ourselves BEFORE we begin the search for this Good...And, given that ethics is generally considered to be a personalistic area, we should be looking for a GOOD 'ultimate' Person...I can name one candidate for that role; can you name another? ;>)
Let's take a group of two Equations:
(1) Nothing comes from Nothing
(2) Evil comes from Evil.
Two equations, two unknown variables.
.. and the equations themselves are giving us the answers we are looking
I am beginning to wonder if your imprecision is not causing some of your problem. To label the above as equations, unknown variables, and even the implied 'simultaneous equations' is HIGHLY AMBIGUOUS and COULD lead to serious errors.
"Evil" and "Nothing" are NOT 'unknown variables'--you simply cannot apply algebraic processes to these!
"Evil comes from Evil" is NOT an equation at all, but a statement (misleading) about cause/effect in the area of personal influence (as I have already objected above).
Even the structure of the two statements are misleading. If you reword them, you see that they are NOT 'simultaneous' at all:
When it is rephrased more carefully like this, one can see that they are not 'simultaneous' equations at all. Indeed, the first statement is PRESUPPOSED by the second..they are not parallel equations.
For the fearful Christians, paralyzed and unable to think that God MUST
be the Source of all evil, it's existence really is a mystery. Where did
the sin come from? What was that mysterious sequence of things, leading
to the current situation?
Where did the Original Sin come from? Did Satan really CREATE it out of
Nothing? But then again, his ABILITY to create it, where did THAT come
Again, I think you are just not thinking carefully and rigorously here. Your need to critique your own assumptions of 'sources of evil', 'causality' in personal influence contexts, the 'existence' of evil, etc.
Evil is NOT a substance--it doesn't have weight and occupy space. It is defined in PERSONAL, not MECHANISTIC terms. It is as meaningless to ask "WHERE evil CAME FROM" as it is to ask "How much does EVIL weigh?" or "what is the freezing point of evil?" It's okay to ask the 'where did evil come from?' question AS LONG AS we don't let the form of that question trick us into smuggling notions of physical, Newtonian causality into it! Even the "creation out of nothing" phrase you use of Satan is misleading--it 'borrows' a creation-image for what was a choosing-act.
Even if we fix the wording of the question, from "How did Satan create evil?" to "Why did Satan choose to act out-of-pattern with the Ultimate Pattern of Authentic behavior/thought?", we must STILL WATCH OUT that we do not expect a 'causal' type answer to what is an influence-type questions.
In other words, it is IMPROPER to ask "What Causes 'forced' Satan to produce an evil effect?"; the PROPER question (for a personal context) is "What influences and values did Satan consider in making his choice?" The PROPER question is NOT answered in causal statements, but in influences and orientations--in PERSONAL LANGUAGE. This is the way our universe works. We are not forced to follow the 'causes'; we consistently demonstrate the ability (as humans) to say NO to the best influences and say YES to the same influences later. ALL OF OUR OBSERVED DATA supports an 'influence model' of human choice, rather than a 'causal model'.
And...I already dealt with your 'where did his ABILITY come from' issue earlier. I won't repeat my comments here.
It was because of his Free Will, they say. It is "the other side of the
coin". Mysterious polarization of the reality of the basic essence of the
But is it a mystery? Why do you WANT to make it a mystery? The Alpha is
The Source, and that would explain everything! God is not trying to hide
his Satanic nature! Why the Christians are trying it?
I try to avoid the 'free will' terminology as often as possible, since it is SO philosophically loaded, and I try to stay with 'self-determination' or 'self-constituitive' or 'self-modifying' types of phrases. How the personal choice thing works MAY BE mysterious, but only if we are trying to reduce it to causal models. I make choices (inscrutable ones!) every day, but I am not blown away by the 'mystery' of my choices, nor do I assume that I was causally determined from the creation to choose these socks today!
Again, you are confusing 'source' with 'cause' in a VERY restrictive (and counter-intuitive, counter-experiential) way. To make God the ONLY ETHICAL and VOLITIONAL AGENT in the universe would require explaining away the VAST MAJORITY of human experiences of self, other selves, and community! Quite a task! (It is probably self-stultifying as well--to say "After studying the data, I choose to believe that my choices are illusionary" is a bit self-referentially absurd, wouldn't you agree?!)
And, let me say it again, you have not even REMOTELY demonstrated that God has a 'satanic nature'. In fact, you have prompted me to give several arguments and evidences that your claim is (1) meaningless (i.e. you can't have an evil Ultimate, by definition of the words--its a 'square circle' kinda thing); (2) that it runs counter to the mass of empirical data in human experience; (3) and that it requires signing up for some VERY questionable (and un-supported by experience) assumptions.
So, there is nothing for God TO hide.
Consequently, I would like to emphasize one thing very clearly here:
If there really is the Lake of Fire, and if it is what the Bible clearly
tells us it is, God is absolutely the first one that should be thrown
into it! The ONLY right place for the Trinity is in the Lake of Fire! The
REAL Justice and the REAL Moral of the Universe requires it!
But ... there is no one to throw him (them) there ...
This is very unfortunate, from our point of view! To say the least.
I find it unfortunate that you simply assert this without giving us the benefit of your 40 years of examining this issue. Surely, in all that time you have come with REAL data (instead of the simple metaphysical argument from material causes). That's what we really need here for the discussion.
Where are these?
[I can think of some arguments and passages against the goodness of God, but mine are too easily 'disposed of'...But then again, I haven't been thinking about this forty years, so I expect you may have some stronger arguments...but I won't know until you send them in.]
But wait ... there is one other explanation to all this. That anti-love,
brutal, satanic God is just human imagination? I hope it is! I SURE HOPE
It is a pretty complex structure of thought, I must say. But however, it
is only created by the very sick human mind. Yes, we are VERY sick, but
so are the lions, sharks and HIV viruses, very sick ...
In one sense I DO believe that the image of an Evil God IS HUMAN IMAGINATION! God is not that way at all. For humans to believe that He is evil, requires either their imagination or deception from an evil source. We have, of course, reason to believe that BOTH these factors are at play.
Our imaginations can be distortive to say the least (Romans 1!), but there are apparently malignant super-human intelligences in the universe that are somehow occasionally involved in major initiatives of deceiving humans (with a progression in time). Even a couple of passages from the bible show this 'special activity':
This is NOT to blame all deception of angelic powers! Indeed, there are many more verses that fault US for this activity!
"He will be tormented with burning sulfur IN THE PRESENCE of the holy
angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and
ever. There is no rest day or night." (NIV)
The most basic question here is: Does this torture bring satanic joy to
God's dark, corrupted hearth." Yes or no?
The answer is 'no.' (I hope you're not going to ASSUME this again.)
He has told us in a couple of places/ways that 'judgment' is NOT His 'favorite thing'!
The Ezekiel passages are the most pointed--one can sense the frustration of God at the self-destructive choices of His people:
Ezk 18:23: Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
Ezk 18.32: Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!
Ezk 33.11: Say to them, `As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'
In Isaiah 28:21, God calls judgment His 'strange work'--it is 'alien' to Him!:
The LORD will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim,
he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon --
to do his work, his strange work,
and perform his task, his alien task.
All of the passages that describe God's 'delight' in justice have to do with justice FOR THE POOR and the OPPRESSED--the emphasis is on the care of the 'oppressed' NOT the 'punishment' of the 'oppressor'!
Look how CLEAR THIS CONNECTION is!:
And even the passages that use the 'vengeance' word, connect it to crimes against the oppressed:
And, finally, we have SPECIFIC data that shows that God feels grief/pain at having to do this 'strange work' of judgment--
God plays by His rules--even to His own grief. His feelings at judgment are FAR FROM 'joy', my friend.
Now, I don't mean to oversimplify here, but the general thrust of scripture is that God does judgment (1) reluctantly; (2) on behalf of the victims; (3) with deep personal grief; and (4) as late as possible!
If yes, how can he be the Pure and Holy Love at the same time?
If no, why does he do it then? For Justice? Who's saying that it is the
I think the above verses indicate the range of the 'justice' motif...God consistently identifies judgment with justice throughout scripture (there are MANY more such verses in Holy Writ, than those cited above).
All the Christians always just answering, how there is Eternal Justice
behind these most dark verses of the Bible. No one really touching the
Real Issue! Why?
Not sure I understand your question here...if the 'real issue' is the character of God, we have been discussing that in this email...if it is the 'why' of judgment on Satan, it should be obvious from the verses--he was/is a MAJOR influencer of much of the death and destruction of world history. (In the pictures of Revelation, see Rev 12.17 and Rev 20.7f).
Someone has written:
"God has not answered all of our questions, and for his own reasons. He
meets our needs, many of which are intellectual, but He just doesn't seem
to answer them all. You can raise more questions in 5 minutes than you
can answer in 500 years.
Deut. 29:29: The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but
the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,
that we may follow all the words of this law.
Most of the questions and issues they raise have already been answered in
many ways, and in many generations. But SOME that they raise may never be
answered--in this life or the next. (Some may not even be real questions,
actually...but that's a philosophical issue for another time.)
I learned a long time ago that God is not embarrassed about a single
verse in the bible (but I have been) and that He is not afraid of any
question of truth that a person can raise (but I have been). He really,
really, really is a God of truth and honesty and goodness. "
.. but before you can make some VITAL (this word is related to The Life,
as you know) decisions, concerning your OWN little life, you MUST get
some answers. Making blind commitments is possible, and all too common,
but it is foolish. And furthermore, it is superficial, and it can lead to
anything, light, darkness, or something else in between!
I agree, and that's part of why I wanted to raise some of your assumptions into 'explicitness'. The data MUST be allowed to 'speak' with as few assumptions as possible (or at least as few 'narrow' ones). Using our commonsense notions of personal agents, accountability, self-determination, etc. will help you re-assess the data without the restrictive starting point of "exhaustive and reductive causality in personal contexts." I DEFINITELY don't believe in blind commitments (nor do I think God does--for example, Acts 14.16f: In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.").
Well OK., I know that some people ask at least two classical, pseudo-wise
1. Why would God, IF HE IS SO EVIL, expose himself in the Bible?
Simply because he doesn't HAVE TO hide anything from us! He is not
responsible to ANYONE! There is no one ABOVE him. He is the only
REFERENCE to himself. He's got the absolute power, and perhaps the
absolute power has really corrupted him absolutely.
And perhaps he is just compelled to expose himself? What's inside, will
come out, sooner or later. The Law is, you can not hide what you are!
I am exposing myself in this email. You are exposing yourself in the
Christian Think Tank. And God is exposing himself in the Bible.
2. And a better one yet:
If I MYSELF think that I am created by this Satanic God, how can he,
being evil, create something so good, and so perfect, and so anti-God in
his nature, as I happen to be? Creating someone so brilliant and so
morally enlightened as I am must be quite a job for a God like him.
Well, I don't necessarily think in that way about my origin at all, but
anyway ... this IS a good one! Really! How can this BAD GOD even make a
distinction between good and bad, leave out all that is bad when creating
me ... even though it STILL must be in him ... or did he himself REPENT
somewhere in between ...
No he did not! But perhaps it was I who, like a sheep, wandered away from
him. I have "gone astray", from HIS point of view! I am "lost." There is
exactly TWO REALITIES, and you can only be in either one of them. If you
are not in the Darkness, you are bound to find yourself in the Light. But
for him it is the opposite of it,
of course ...
OK. I have to admit that I don't have any really GOOD answer to that ...
but anyway, I can see that I AM very different from him, for some reason.
I HATE all that biblical pseudo-"Justice", "Light", "Righteousness",
Divine Self-Exaltation, Hallelujah's in the blood-filled Revelations,
etc., etc. ...
These are GREAT examples of the absurdities one can get into if they take your restrictive assumptions and definitions. Without the ability for at least SOME self-aiming, you cannot account for ANY 'opposites' or 'deviations'. And the fact of the matter is, you CANNOT have a 'really GOOD answer' to that--the situation as described is nonsensical--given your One-agent metaphysic. You cannot 'go astray into the Light' because EVEN that goodness exists in Him (in your position). As a matter of fact, "you" cannot even be 'different from Him' since you are already present in Him already somehow (as the first and only cause)! He has to fully incorporate all that you are, do, think, etc.--by your position--in Himself, and hence, you are EXACTLY like this God!
Hopefully you can see the logical problems, caused almost exclusively by those early assumptions. You might try re-assessing your OTHER evidence in light of the contrary assumptions I mentioned above.
And let me point out that a God as evil as you assert him to be is certainly of 'no interest' to me either! I just happen to be convinced that the image of God you have constructed does not match the God of the Bible and of my personal experience. You are right to abhor such an evil person as you describe; but may I suggest that that person is NOT God, but perhaps a pretender to the throne.
And I am not especially interested, in this situation, to worship my
peanut brain and posses "all those good answers." They won't get me
Well, there may be something to this. I have classically doubted human 'reason' to penetrate into the realities of the 'infinite'. My skeptical inclinations force me to look for authenticatible communication from the Outside. This is why the Tank has got so much stuff on the origin, transmission, reliability of the bible.
And take your time to answer my questions, but please, do not ignore
Well, I am not sure I answered the questions, but I at least tried to analyze them far enough to see where additional detail or clarity might be needed. And, obviously, it took several months to get to it...
Maybe we can continue the discussion with some of the specific events, issues, passages that led you to such strong feelings on your position.
Looking forward to hearing from you,