Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Existence of Good God Part (1) (3) L.Figurski


There is no question that the most  ancient  and the greatest obstacle  to belief in God is the existence of evil. When it is said  “the problem of evil” it sounds  abstract, but suffering and evil  is as real as the existence of the universe.  Evil seems to be omnipresent and far more powerful  than the good. Suffering and hardships,  man’s inhumanity to other heartbreaks  and  unjust social structures, hunger  and widespread poverty, and other  acts against humanity lead people to the conclusion that God does not exist. One must simply be an atheist.  Where is God? Why God does not care? If God exists then  why He  does not help? The history of this world  is an  inconceivable story, of suffering and death    indicating  the absence of God.  The question must be  analyzed on the existential and logical level , but  one must remember always  the emotional , personal and concrete experience of evil  in individual lives.
            Rabbi Harold Kushner in his  book:  “ When Bad Things Happen to Good People”    gives a  vivid illustration of possible reaction to evil when it is experienced on personal level. Although it is impossible to agree with his conclusion , one must acknowledge the fact that  abstract analysis of evil, it’s existence  and  concrete personal experience  are two different ways of approaching the question. When unexpected tragedy strikes in personal life  humans  simply lose their balance and accuse God of  extreme cruelty and unnecessary evil which seems to be  absolutely incomprehensible. This is how people become atheists usually  for personal emotional reasons.
                Very often   the problem seems to be beyond solution  because of   false notions  such as : the concept of being , the notion of  God , the nature of man.The plan of God relative to man and the  freedom  of the human being facing God, the  universe and God’s relationship to man. For the atheist the problem of evil  does not exist. The atheist  rejects  any notion of God  and also any  human privileged position within  the context  of the evolution of the universe. The atheist simply  has no problem here . The universe is somehow self-existing, something happens in it, passes away  and that is all.  An atheist  does not expect anything. Any kind of existence beyond  the space-time is rejected. Man is  one of the  billions of entities  of the universe. There is nothing extraordinary about   existence.  The human being  is  thrown into existence. He does not know why he/she exists,  and what for does he exist. Life seems full of misery: aging , sickness, suffering and death. Life is finally  blown  out like  a  candle.   One could  say that man    pops up into existence , exists for a  short time  and disappears. According to the atheist  this is how the things are. Do not ask why, what for, do not  complain or  curse  life and misery because there is no point of asking such questions and   there is nobody listening. The universe is  neutral to what happens, how it happens and why it happens. The immense spaces of the cosmos are empty and indifferent to man.
            This attitude  is a dogmatic and unproved  assumption  of  those  who do not bother  to justify it in any way and  accept the views   of atheism  even if it violates  and  neglects  the   most fundamental principles of logic and experience.
The problem of the existence of evil  is only  a serious problem for a believer in God. Not only of any god  like  the pantheistic god,   or the deistic god  or even  a god who  is  on the same level  as the evil god  like  the Persian  notions of Ahriman and Ormuzd. The  God of Judeo Christian theism  is radically different  from any other. This is why the  theist faces the obvious  seemingly  unsolvable  situation, as below: 

1. God exists .
2. God is all good  and  omnipotent.
 3. But evil  both natural and man-made  exists too.
Conclusion: (a)  God  cannot exist.
(b) Either He cannot  abolish evil, then He is not omnipotent, or  
(c) He does not  want to abolish evil then He is evil too.
Our knowledge of God begins with the  surprise  that something exists. It is the Leibnizian     question  : why is there anything at all rather than nothing. The existence  of  any being must be  somehow intelligible to the human mind.  From analysis of a finite being  the mind moves to the idea of contingency  and causality. There must be  one being which is self-existing  that is  existence is  it’s very essence . This way the mind arrives at the existence of  the Prime Mover , the First Cause, and Designer of  the Universe. This is  the philosophical notion of God. The problem of God’s existence  must be separated  from the problem of  the existence of  evil in the world.  Those  are two separate  questions. Quite often  the distinction is not acknowledged . People say   “…    if evil exists God does not exist…” The idea is the following: An all good and Omnipotent God  cannot allow any evil whatsoever to exist. This conclusion  does not follow at all. God is Omnipotent, immaterial absolutely transcendent and perfect. In Himself God is completely infinitely happy  and therefore He did not create the universe, for any other reason,   but only  to share  in some form his goodness with His creatures. Being good  is  always the very root of any perfection and value of any  kind. Nothingness does not exist therefore  cannot be known or created in any way. Even the minimum degree of any perfection or value must be   good and the product of good. Therefore  God being  infinite  is infinitely good  and His  creation  must be good. This is why St. Augustine expressed the question very simply:  “…If God does not exist why so  much good, and if  God exists  why so much evil?...”  God’s perfection and His  Omnipotence enable God to create all finite beings “… out of nothing…” This expression however must be properly understood. It  means  that  nothing existed,  but God the creator alone. The power of His creative word was enough  to let existence be given  to what was not existing.    God is completely happy in Himself and in absolute independence and freedom . It follows that  God did not have to create a universe. He did not need  to call non existent entities into being . Ultimately there is only one reason why  God called the  universe into  existence: to share  in some way His happiness with His creatures. The personal God   let persons be. God being good cannot  intent directly evil  in any form.
3This brings the analysis  to the  important  question :  what is evil?
Thomas Aquinas  defined evil  as lack of perfection which ought to belong to some being. For example   a stone has no vision because the stone has no power to see   and  therefore  it  is not evil but absence of vision in a human  is evil because normally vision belongs to the  human nature. Being is first in existence and evil is parasitic  on a being which is in itself good, but  limited  and deprived of some  perfection. It follows that  God  by creating  finite beings  did not intend evil, however by creating humans, He   indirectly allowed the possibility of abuse of  freedom given to man.  Freedom of choice  is the expression of the nature of man  created as a person       capable of  own choices.
 Without free choice  humans  simply would not be  human beings. They would be  manipulated things only. As such  there would not exist any moral value or responsibility  of any kind . Freedom of choice gives man independence and self-determination. Man can  reject  God’s offer and ignore   God’s  directions.  This is the essence of sin and spiritual decay. It is a positive  rebellion and rejection  of  God. In the first Chapter of Genesis there is the story of  the  rebellion against God. Sin and evil became  part of  man’s existence destroying his relationship to God, to other people  and also making man a slave of sin. Evil seems to be more attractive , more effective  and far better in practice  than  the directions given by God. Evil becomes  all pervasive and  omnipresent. This is visible  in all aspects of human existence , all social systems , even  within the closest human relationships in families. As  mentioned above evil  is parasitic on the good. It  destroys  man himself and       brings death, moral corruption.
  Moral evil  can be compared to leprosy. It attacks  the spiritual life of man and  deprives the person of the ability to recognize the difference between moral evil and moral good. Man recognizes clearly the difference between moral evil and moral good  but  with time  and repeated  silencing his conscience he loses the ability  to  feel the difference of moral activities and  he continues to live quite often in  complete blindness  to the obvious evil in which and with which he habitually lives day by day. Moral values simply  become unimportant and considered nonexistent. What remains is  self-centeredness , self-interest and  the competition  by all means  in the fight for survival and material gain.
Once this happens  man is practically enslaved by  the power of evil and   becomes  accustomed to it. Evil becomes normal way of living.  It is now a habitual way of  thinking and decision making and creating temporal idols in human life. Man loses  the ability  and  desire for change  because change requires an  awakening to  evil governing one’s life. It requires  strong and deliberate decision   to begin  a new life in freedom and according to the plan of God.  But that is exactly  what man does not want  because he does not want to surrender to  God’s will. Freedom of choice  is  like double edged sword. It can cut both ways. However it is the greatest gift  given to human’s by the Creator. Man is an image of God.
 God  cannot  create evil in any way . God is goodness itself . By  giving  man freedom of choice  God  created  the possibility  of manmade evil . This is  why human beings are afraid of their own great calling: to be eternal participants of divine life as chosen children of God who is Omnipotent Love.
Summary of  the above points:  1.God did not create evil but only good. 2.Man as a creature of an all good God was created also good  because  he is called the image of God. 3. Human freedom of choice  is necessary condition  of  being a person. 4.Freedom  of choice  involves the possibility of choosing evil. This is the very condition of true freedom.  5. Man   rebelled against the will of God,  chose disobedience,  and  became  infected with  evil,  hostile to God,  and to other humans  losing  the clarity of vision of his own nature and destiny . 6.     Evil and sin  multiplied and became man’s  habitual way of living. The image of  God became disfigured,  tarnished and   poisoned, infected towards sickness unto death.(S. Kierkegaard)  7. Only God can  liberate  man  from  the deadly slavery of sin.  8. God is the God of freedom and liberty and He respects  the freedom of man,  even   if  man   turns against Him  and can opt for eternal loneliness without God.   9.      God  desires  the salvation of all men  from enslavement to evil.
The real question   is   the co-existence  of evil and God . Usually the   problem  is      formulated as follows:
1.If  God exists  evil cannot  exist.
2. Evil does exist.
3. Therefore  God does not exist.
   Existence of God  is  evidently  proved  by  the  nature of the universe  and  the  demand  of the First Cause ,  the  Intelligent Designer  of  the universe and the First Mover of the dynamism observable  in the world. Those proofs are metaphysically certain on their own , independently on other  problems. Therefore  the problem of God’s existence  is  separate from the fact of the existence of evil. The real question is whether  God  and evil can co-exist. The  answer to this problem of co-existence  of God and evil  is in the affirmative, yes God exists and evil exists too. Why is this  so?
    God being all good  cannot  directly create   evil  but since He wanted to have free and responsible persons  He opened  the possibility of choosing evil. This explains why evil and God co-exist. So  the first part  of the syllogism : if evil exists God does  not exist is  false.
    It can be  asked  why  did God create  the universe and human beings at all. The    answer seems clear:  God did not have to create the universe at all  because being God, He is perfectly happy and did not have any need to create. The motive for creation can  only be love.   God wanted to share  His own happiness with  conscious , responsible free persons  capable of   loving answer to his  love  and  participating in  some way  in His divine nature   even for eternity .  Man’s  personality and his free choices  are the necessary conditions for fulfilling  the vocation  to be a  living image of God. Man is  a responsible  creator of his  destiny because it depends  on the way he responds to God.  This    is the burden of responsibility for one’s own free decisions. Responsibility is understood as  real burden and everyone must try to grow up towards being responsible for his own  decisions and actions. By  decision and action  humans shape their own character . Sadly enough    history of humanity  shows  the depth of man’s depravity.  One would not exaggerate by saying that it is written in blood and horror.  The depth of human depravity  makes man far worse  than other animals. The saying of Thomas Hobbes ”homo homini lupus” – man is the wolf to the other man remains painfully true.              

God’s plan cannot be frustrated  by human evil .  God did not give up on humanity and  revealed His will and plan  for humans.
            Man in his rebellion against God is  enslaved in his own evil and is  inclined to  worship  human made idols which temporarily may fascinate him  only to lead to final frustration.

The concept that this life here and now  is destined for  human happiness is a misunderstanding. The problem of  coexistence of God and evil  has it’s roots in 

the fundamental  vision of life, the nature of the universe  and  the meaning and destiny of human life. The adequate solution of the problem is given in the context of Christianity in a very special way. Human life can be understood adequately within the Christian dogma.  The basic errors and distortions enter  when  life  is  conceived as   the time from  conception to the moment of physical death. In such view that is all man is given. It  is all of his existence . Eternity existed before man’s birth,  he lives for a short time  without   any direction or meaning of his life and he dies forever. This creates  the anxiety  and the  fear  which dominates his life. Man is not certain practically of anything at all.  He does not know  what the others will do to him  and  subconsciously  as Thomas Hobbes said, …man considers everyone else as potential enemy against whom he must arm himself   and he is not even certain how much time is left for him before the inevitable death. Man does not put his hope in God  but in  whatever   he can accumulate  of material values , popularity , power over others  and climbing the social ladder . In everything  he does  he wants to be first and he would eliminate anyone in the fierce  fight for survival. Objective moral values in  such  existence  are obstacles to  his success. They would  limit  his  self-adoration and pride. Consequently  man creates his own  values which make it  easier for him to dominate others. The language  of such people  becomes completely devoid of any  moral good or evil . Instead  words are used completely morally neutral such as like  productive, effective  progressive, scientific  and so forth. Man greedily acquires many things not because he really needs them but to impress others with his  possessions   and show that  his material goods  are far better  and more valuable than those of others. For example he would buy an expensive new car not because he needs one, but to feed his vanity. Life becomes  a constant competitive effort to outshine others. It is deprived of honest , true human relationships and  it becomes selfish , short and finally ending in death.

This is the evil created by man himself in his falsely understood  nature of life which  becomes one dimensional , horizontal and ultimately frustrating . The evil  described above  is not only situated in the very soul and spirit of man , but according to the Bible, nature itself, that is the world in which man lives is also affected by the fall and hostility. According to the words of St. Paul: It is yearning for liberation. The universe follows it’s own ways of development from the beginning  and  becomes also a dangerous place  to live in : diseases, old age, all kinds of suffering and the inevitability of death are all part of the human experience.

            If  looked upon in the above described way  the world  seems to be a very difficult  place to be born into and  there are those who accuse  God  of cruelty and  unloving despotism and  hostility to man. In Dostoyevsky’s book “The Brothers Karamazov,” Ivan , the brother of Alyosha    says the following:  “If in this world which you think God made even one small child  suffers and cries  then the world is not worth living and I myself give the ticket back.” There is  seemingly too much  pain   and  disappointment in this world and  many people  lose their faith in a loving and good God . When suffering and pain become overwhelming some commit suicide. As discussed before, God is all good and God cannot directly create evil , and He did not . Evil  originated in the  hostility and rebellion of man against  the plan and commandments of God. The Will of God seems to be an intrusion, and a burden from outside. It seems to suffocate man  and  his imaginary independence  Briefly speaking  God  is not  wanted. For many people God  has no place nor meaning in their lives , they live  as if God does not exist,  and they do not bother even to know  anything about God , His existence and His plans for humanity . The fascination  of  pleasures of this life and their  successes in this or that area  and   the constant hunger for entertainment of all sorts does not leave much time for  deeper reflection and search for truth.  Man becomes deeper and deeper alienated from God and other people  and does not even  question  the fundamental  issues of existence. The evil  perpetrated by humans in history is beyond any description. But man does not want  to accept  the  obvious  fact of  the evil done by  man and  the responsibility  for it . Man blames always either God  other people , the circumstances of his life  or anything else but himself.  The Grand Inquisitor  in his accusations against  Christ whom he recognized in the streets and ordered  to be arrested for creating a tumult  gests more and more excited and finally he completely dumbfounded by Christ silently  kissing him    shouts: Go away ,go away and never come back, never! The Grand Inquisitor  could not  forgive Christ that He gave freedom of conscious to men.God respects human freedom. Man is   endowed with immortal soul and destined  for eternal  life.






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