The guy says his name is Bill. To demarcate which Bill (I know a couple) I just call him anonymous Bill, nothing insulting intended. He made some comments in response to my post on Wednesday. I did make tentative responses but after thinking about it more I want to say a couple of other things. I hope the readers understand becasue there are a couple of things here that I feel are important to my whole blogging career ("career," "mission," "hobby"--whatever).
Forgive me if I oversimplify, but as best I can determine, your premise is basically that the world is what it is (or perhaps is to be considered the best of all possible worlds) and God is handling things as mercifully and lovingly as is possible given the situation. Is that correct? I don't want to straw man you here.
I wouldn't say the best of all possible worlds because we have the fall. While I don't accept that as a given point in history, such as literal garden of Eden, I think it is a valid category and that's what the garden story was about, understanding and dealing with the tendency of us all to fall from the grace of innocence and learning to rebel.
My problem with that premise is accepting that the nature of things is beyond god's control. If you accept the mythology of heaven and heavenly hosts and whatnot, god obviously is capable of creating a climate (heavenly realms) in which beings are brought into a perfect reality with direct proof of god's existence and sovereignty while still maintaining free will (those rebellious angels). Furthermore, a situation has supposedly existed since near the beginning of time in which god tolerates sin without allowing it to offend him to the point of resolution, so I don't see any reason why it couldn't continue in such a state.It's not that it's not beyond God's control. Of course God is in control but there are other factors that have to be considered. God could make thing be anyway he wanted, but if he wants mutually constradictory things he has to alter the situation in a way that mediates between the contradictions. He was us to have free will and be free from sin. Tha'ts practically impossible because with free will we will chose at some point to go our own way. If we don't have free will we can't make moral decisions and love wont be real. If you program a robot to love you it doesn't really love you. Where's the real love value in a relationship where the one saying "I love you" is only saying because it's a wind up doll that has to say it? We have to free will to mak free decisions and love for real. Then with free will we will go our own way at some point. So God makes a way for us to come back from rebellion and choose the right path again. Our pride wont always let us admit we are mistaken.
What you call entitlement, I call common decency. If I have the capability to lay my newborn down to sleep in a clean, safe crib and instead lay him down on a bed of nails, what does that say about me? If I place that child in a wagon and roll it down an incline toward a ravine, will the DHS applaud me for giving him a fun ride?We are not new born. Analogies don't prove things, we have to move beyond the unreal of an analogy and face what the analogy is really about. We want to be independent and want to make decisions for ourselves but then we don't want the consequences of making the wrong deicsion. God allows us to become like new born again spiritually, but he can't just stop the world and say "Ok everyone make the right choice now."
God puts it in us to understand what is decent. We have that desire and the tendency to find the indecent repellant, becuase God put it there. We have to choose the right path to exercise it fairly and unselfishly. We have conflicts within ourselves and with others. We are all at different levels of growth and maturity. We are all selfish and we are different stages in our ablity to mediate selfishness with decency. Of cousre this is going to make for a rough edged world. God does protect us. He does give us the strength and ability to cope if we turn to him for that strength. He can't just stop the world and make it all even becuase that would negate the free chosen of those who have not been through the learning process yet, which is most of us (including me).
I can't really jibe with the Niebuhr thesis because by this logic, self-transcendence should only lead to sin when the subject's needs aren't being met. Per your example, sin wouldn't have occurred if you weren't hungry and cold to begin with, or if you were given adequate ability/resources to pay your rent honestly.
That's because the world can't be made even. It's always going to be filled with people who are different stages in development because we have different ages and different rates of maturity. It takes some of us longer to get the message. You should have seen me the other night. The cowboys did it again! they are up to their old tricks. why can't ever get it together!?? It's Jerry Jones it's all Jerry Jones. The woman I was watching with kept saying "It's not important it's just a game." Just a game! You don't undersatnd, the Cowboys aren't good anymore! It's a catastrophe of epic proportion. I'm going to start building a boat. You start rounding two of every kind of wine and beer.
The anxiety of spoke of is always present and stems from self transcendence. That process is not just about need that's just the example. You are assuming God could just give us everything and make it all good we have no trials. Then you can't understand why I call that entitlement? We have a higher purpose that is not based just giving me a good life. You are acting like that's some kind of catastrophe to think that way. That life is not about my happiness is not a catastrophe. Happiness comes from fulfilling what you are made for not from just always getting what you want. We have higher callings than just saying out of harm's way. So we have to live in a world where people are searching for truth and working on the decision making process in contemplation of God's reality. That means a world where people are free to abuse their decision making process and make other people miserable.
If you hadn't been put into a hostile climate that demands shelter, or if you'd been given the means to provide for your basic needs, or if god had zapped the rent money into your account, or if god had inspired the landlord to mercy, or any number of alternate scenarios would have made sin unnecessary. If god is aware that sin is the result of need and sets you in an environment of need, who's responsible for the sin?Sure but all you are really saying is that life should be about your happiness and fulfilling a higher purpose is wrong it means you have to suffer. That's what I call entitlement. I guess you call it "having a good life."
Something is going on in the universe. There's more to living than just getting your way and being safe and being happy. That's a big catastrophe and some people never forgive God. that's just the same as saying "why didn't taht big mean old God make me God? Until God gives up and makes me God I'll hate him." OK then you die having God. The study data proves that we are happier when we seek God and find his purpose for our lives rather than demanding our own way. I say that because the studies show religion is the number one factor in well being, that those who have had religoius experiences (of the kind known as "spiritual" or "mystical") are happier and better adjusted.
Religion is the most powerful Factor in well being.
Poloma and Pendelton The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3290.
"The authors found that religious satisfaction was the most powerful predicter of existential well being. The degree to which an individual felt close to God was the most important factor in terms of existential well-being. While frequency of prayer contributed to general life satisfaction and personal happiness. As a result of their study the authors concluded that it would be important to look at a combindation of religious items, including prayer, religionship with God, and other measures of religious experince to begin to adequately clearlify the associations of religious committment with general well-being."
(5) Greater happiness
Religion and Happiness
by Michael E. Nielsen, PhD
Many people expect religion to bring them happiness. Does this actually seem to be the case? Are religious people happier than nonreligious people? And if so, why might this be?
Researchers have been intrigued by such questions. Most studies have simply asked people how happy they are, although studies also may use scales that try to measure happiness more subtly than that. In general, researchers who have a large sample of people in their study tend to limit their measurement of happiness to just one or two questions, and researchers who have fewer numbers of people use several items or scales to measure happiness.
What do they find? In a nutshell, they find that people who are involved in religion also report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not religious. For example, one study involved over 160,000 people in Europe. Among weekly churchgoers, 85% reported being "very satisfied" with life, but this number reduced to 77% among those who never went to church (Inglehart, 1990). This kind of pattern is typical -- religious involvement is associated with modest increases in happiness
Argyle, M., and Hills, P. (2000). Religious experiences and their relations with happiness and personality. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 10, 157-172.
Inglehart, R. (1990). Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Nielsen, M. E. (1998). An assessment of religious conflicts and their resolutions. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37, 181-190.
In the days before research boards reviewed research proposals before the studies were conducted, Pahnke devised an experiment to induce people to have a religious experience. On a Good Friday, when they were to meditate in a chapel for 2.5 hours, twenty theology students were given either psilocybin or a placebo. The students who were given the psilocybin reported intense religious experiences, as you might imagine. Their levels of happiness also were significantly greater than the control group reported. But what is especially interesting is that these effects remained 6 months after the experiment, as the psilocybin group reported more "persistent and positive changes" in their attitudes to life than did the placebo group.Poloma and Pendelton The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3290.
"The authors found that religious satisfaction was the most powerful predictor of existential well being. The degree to which an individual felt close to God was the most important factor in terms of existential well-being. While frequency of prayer contributed to general life satisfaction and personal happiness. As a result of their study the authors concluded that it would be important to look at a combination of religious items, including prayer, relationship with God, and other measures of religious experience to begin to adequately clarify the associations of religious commitment with general well-being."
There's a bigger picture to consider. It's not just about me it's about everyone in the world and our need to seek truth. That brings into play my theory on Soteriolgoical Drama.
I've posted about that many times. It's my answer to the problem of pain and evil. Please read it again. It's not that i think that's the answer. It's a theory and it indicates this a logical answer to why God allows the kind of world we have. It may not be the answer I give but the logic of it suggests the possibility that there is a logical answer.