My soteriological dara theory is about why God allows pain and suffering and evil. Please read the whole theory here, as this will enable understanding of this discussion. My friend and constant sparing partner Hermit brings up some issues that I think should be explained or dealt with in some way. It's an interesting discussion. Just to get started, let me post the basic assumptions I make in presenting the theory:
(1) The assumption that God wants a "moral universe" and that this value outweighs all others.
The idea that God wants a moral universe I take from my basic view of God and morality. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Fletcher (Situation Ethics) I assume that love is the background of the moral universe (this is also an Augustinian view). I also assume that there is a deeply ontological connection between love and Being. Axiomatically, in my view point, love is the basic impitus of Being itself. Thus, it seems reasonable to me that, if morality is an upshot of love, or if love motivates moral behavior, then the creation of a moral universe is essential.
(2) that internal "seeking" leads to greater internalization of values than forced compliance or complaisance that would be the result of intimidation.
That's a pretty fair assumption. We all know that people will a lot more to achieve a goal they truly beileve in than one they merely feel forced or obligated to follow but couldn't care less about.
(3)the the drama or the big mystery is the only way to accomplish that end.
The pursuit of the value system becomes a search of the heart for ultimate meaning,that ensures that people continue to seek it until it has been fully internalized
the argument looks like this:
(1)God's purpose in creation: to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good.
(2) Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated).
(3) Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices
(4)The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free outweighs all other considerations, since without there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.
This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that he requires moral behavior, and what that entails. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclined to sin.
This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it. Argument on Soteriological Drama:
(5) Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tension exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultiamte goals, ends and purposes for which we are on this earth.
(6) Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us
(7) We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probably all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from the heart.
(8) therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is internationalized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; introspective, internal, not amenable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.
In other words, we are part of a great drama and our actions and our dilemmas and our choices are all part of the way we respond to the situation as characters in a drama.
This theory also explains why God doesn't often regenerate limbs in healing the sick. That would be a dead giveaway. God creates criteria under which healing takes place, that criteria can't negate the overall plan of a search.
The most important point that drives the whole theory is the idea of internalizing the values of the good. It this that makes it necessary to live life as a long search and that is why God allows free choices even though they often mean evil choices. Internalizing requires a search.
This brings us to Hermit's first point:
He's quoting me first
It doesn't do us any good to be spoon fed ideas. We have to learn for ourselves the meaning of the good or it wont mean anything to us, our hearts wont be in it.
"There's a big difference between "spoon feeding" and teaching...(trust me, I'm married to a teacher...I hear about it all the time...). But teaching doesn't involve hiding evidence, concealing knowledge or making it more difficult than not to find the answers...an honest search for the truth should reveal that truth if it's really there, and any teacher will help that search, but not by hiding in the shadows and allowing injuries to occur.
I didn't say anything about hiding evdience. I said the evidence s clear and easy to find, but you to search. It's not that its hidden, God's presence is hidden to some exent, but it can be found. The evidence is there but you have to want to see it. That makes all the difference: skepticism thrives on wanting to doubt.
Moerover, one does not have to teach what is obvious. If an answer is obvious it need not be taught. to teach is to assume something needs to be expalined and that means its something we can't understand without help.
suffering is not an teaching agency, just suffering in and of itself doesn't teach much. it's the necessity of the kind of world in which one must search out the answers because they are not obvious that makes suffering necessary as a consequence."
I completely disagree; the only necessary consequence of not searching for answers is continued ignorance. Pain, suffering, fear and anguish are not necessary.That's really twisting the premise of what I said. First of all to assume that something needs to be taught means its not obvious and you can't see it without explaination. So all the knowledge you accept as such is "hidden" in the sense in which you use that word here. Secondly, I said suffering in and of itself does not teach much. Do you disagree? You beileve that suffering does teach much? then you shouldn't mind it. Case closed. No problem of pain.
read this here:
Now you want to assert that suffering isn't necessary, what do you have to replace it? It is necessary to the extent that God must allow free will if wants moral universe, because moral choices require freedom or the yare not moral. Thus the moral unvierse must be a free will universe. That means have to be free to actualy make the wrong choice, when that happens suffering happens. Thus suffering is necessary to a moral univerese.
What you are proposing is akin to leaving a small child alone in a room full of sharp knives and pots of boiling liquids so they will learn, from the "necessary consequences" of their cuts and burns that sharp knives and boiling water are dangerous. The child will certainly internalize that lesson, but there are better ways to teach it.Are you a child Hermit? You are not a man? you can't make decisions? This is why God gives us a moral sesne, and a moral law on the heart. This is why we have society and society has rules. But your strange desire to put life out on the streets on the same par has a child's nursery and to assme if like is not totally peachy then there can't be a loving God and to totally resist any and all possible answers is nothing short of impossing a double standard. You want to be free to question, you want to be to disbelieve, but then you don't want that free when using it wrongly means consqeunces.
You are just cheating the issues by insertion of a false premise. The premise that there can no pain of any kind whatsoever or else God is either no good or not there, why should we accept that premise? It is a logical option that God has his reasons, why is it not logical to assume that?
What calculus do you use to decide what is fair and what is not? How can you, a mere mortal pretend to tally the balance sheet and decide that creation isn't worth it, when you can't even understand the issues at steak (nor can any of us)?You do not have an infinite knowledge of all things. So how can you possilbly tally everything up? I mean you do not even know if other worlds exist. How you determine that it's not worth it to create and allow the pain and suffering on the assumption that it will all be redeemed?
if everytime anyone did anything hurtful god worked a miracle to stop it no one would ever have to search for the truth and would never internalize the good.
"I think it's insulting and demeaning to humanity to presume that we are incapable of learning to be good without the possibility of apparently gratuitous pain and suffering.That is a contrdiction to point one. In point one I said suffereing in and of itself does not teach much. But you disagreed with that. Now you take my theory to mean that we need suffering to learn to the good. But you are not taking into account why that is. You speak as though you think, that I think that is' the suffering itself that teaches. I denied that explicitly. What is necessary to do the teaching is the search, not the suffering. The suffering is a side effect that just comes with the territory. Moreover, you define it as "gratuitous" and I never defined it as such. It's a side effect of free choices, but it is not gtratuitous (for its own sake) it's the necessary result of being free in a real world.
Does that meant that I trivialize pain. No. Of coure not. We are still obligated as a part of our duty to humanity to aid in the cesation of suffering as much as we can.
What moral improvement do we get from the rape and murder of a child, for example?Again, that question assumes that the suffering itself is the teacher. I already said it's not. Its' a consquence of having freedom to make wrong choices. Wrong choices need not hurt people, assuming we can make the right wrong choices. But the freedom to make them is essential.
Most of us instinctively recoil with horror at such cruelty, we don't need to have it actually happen to understand that it's a bad thing..That's why society has laws. But you keep assuming that I've the suffereing itself is the teacher. How many times must I remind you? The suffernig is the necessary consquence of freedom. If all people would chose not to hurt others we could have a perfect world. But they are not going to choose that, and if they don't have the freedom to choose then they are not capable of learning to make moral choices.
in fact I would intervene to prevent such a thing from happening if I could, even at the risk of my own life. Why would a genuinely loving God do less?
Because the freedom to choose is intrinsic to love. Don't you know you can't force someone to love? It's not love if it's just some automatic instinct, or if its forced. God wants us to love in the heart. He wants us to seek him and discover the values of the good and make choices out of love, and all of that requires that we have the freedom to choose. Thus, having the freedom to choose, we must be allowed to choose wrongly or we don't really have it.
If your world view is right why is humanity not a paradise? why have not all people chose rightly? You say we can love without God, we don't morality in terms of rules, (IF I understood you correctly) we don't belief in God. All we have to do is love. We can all just act in love and everything is fine. They don't we?
I says it's because we have sin nature. We have to do this search thing to find the answer to that, or in my off seminarian MacFarland* speak: we have to discover a way to mediate ultimate transformative experince in answer to the human problematic. We have free will, but we don't understand how to apply to until we come to acquire the values of the good. Then we can choose the good, and that means choosing others over self. We can do that when we are bogged down in sin nature. We must be freed from sin nature by God's power of transformation (supernature). All of this requires free will because if we are not free we can't love or make moral choices.
We both believe we are free to choose. But I believe there's more to it, it's not just so intuative that need only do some natural spontaneous act of kindness, we have to go through the mill to gain the perspective necessary to discord selfishness.
*Neil MacFarland, Perkins professor who taught my religion in Global perspective class, that's where I got that phraseology.