Saturday, July 5, 2008

Is God dead?

Wouldn’t you believe it? It has been proclaimed (quite some time back, in fact, in 1882!) that God is dead! Not physically dead, but dead in the consciousness of men. Well, that’s what German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, opined through the mouth of one of his characters, a madman of all people, in the book The Gay Science. While I’ve not read this book, it does give food for thought.

I first came across this slogan last year while doing some study for a sharing. This phrase became so popular that it even spurred people to form a movement(!). Time magazine reported on this in 1965 with this front cover.

But, looking at the events that are happening around the world today (and even in our country), it would be very easy to think that God really is dead; and if He isn’t, then He’s obviously not doing very much about it. War, genocide, famine, natural disasters, global warming, short of a cosmic disaster (like the one in the film Deep Impact), there isn’t much else that the present world hasn’t seen. And so the questions: where is God in all of this? If He’s all mighty and powerful and good, why doesn’t He do something and stop all of it? Why allow such things to continue?

Apparently, someone has asked a similar question a long time ago. Here’s what Epicurus (350-?270 BC) said:

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how comes evil in the world?

What do you think?

The young adults at my church meet every Friday at my place for study. And this time, we’re doing a series on how God could allow suffering and evil, and it’s been an interesting journey so far. We’re still in the midst of it, so I’ll probably be coming back to this topic in the weeks to come.

But, coming back to the questions raised, what I found out was that it all boils down to how God created us: moral beings with the will to do as he or she pleases. This is called free will. It’s not that God created evil, He created the possibility for evil. Our own choices led the world to what it has become. While God could come in and take away all evil, there’d be a problem: the world would be empty? We’d all be gone! And while God could also step in and prevent all evil things from happening, what would happen to our freewill?

So, the thing is this. Would you have preferred God to have created us without the ability to choose evil in the first place?

For me, it’s a tough question. It would have been absolutely wonderful to not to have to worry about anything in the world; not getting robbed or mugged in the streets, not being killed by some natural disaster, and so forth, but I also feel there wouldn’t be much a point to living if I was just like a robot, unable to make decisions for myself – whether good or bad.


charlenediane said...

Ive always been interested in religion issues, particularly because I was brought up to believe strongly in God and was made to understand and study The Words thoroughly.

Sadly I am no longer a staunch Christian as I once used to be and am increasingly drifting away from my religion that once was the rock of my foundation.

Still I believe and KNOW that God exists and He is not 'doing anything' because what is happening in the world today has long been in the prophecy of the end of times.

But I don't want to get into any serious talk now, especially on a nice warm Sunday morning like this :)

Nick Phillips said...

I'm a Catholic but not a very good one. Like Charlene, I do believe God exists but I for one think he's probably fed up with all the crap that is happening in this world and has decided to just let us destroy ourselves, seeing as how we're already halfway there anyway!

Oh and on a different note, here's wishing you a great week ahead :D

Perry said...

charlene: what better time than to go back to that rock!

nick philips: I don't think God's just letting us destroy ourselves. It just seems that way. He's waiting...