Sunday, 30 October 2016

Non-Goodness in context of a wholly-Good reality? The basic, insoluble problem for Christianity, as traditionally conceived

There is a very glaring and obvious problem in Christianity as the situation is set-up by intellectual types - there is a gross mismatch.

The problem is real; but comes from a false assumption - which comes from the absoluteness of abstractions.

1. For most monotheists in general (including Christians); God is taken to be utterly powerful - having made everything from nothing, knowing and controlling everything absolutely according to his will down to the finest detail.

2. For Christians; God is wholly Good and our loving Father; who desires to raise us to become his Sons and Daughters.

3. If God is all-powerful and utterly loving - then why is the world he way it is? So obviously and grossly imperfect.

The problem, the contradiction, is non-Goodness in a wholly-Good reality.

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One attempted solution is to say that it is not this world which is perfect, but the next: after death - however this raises the question of why we don't simply get born-into the next.

(Why not?... Go to Heaven. Go directly to Heaven. Do not pass mortality. Do not collect two hundred traumas.)

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Another attempted solution is to say that everything in existence is Good except for Man - who had a Fall and (perhaps) Original Sin - and that is why an omnipotent, loving God cannot make the world Good - i.e. because Man has wrecked it.

But this is to make Man an exception to God's omnipotence; which the first assumption will not allow.

The Fall/ OS is merely to concentrate the problem of non-Goodness in a wholly-Good-reality into a single primordial exception to God's omnipotence - which isn't a solution at all.

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Or it might be said that God is wholly Good, but the Devil and his minions are wrecking the world; but that again conflicts with the fact that a wholly Good God made and sustains the agents of evil.

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My point is that the simple 1,2,3 is an absolutely genuine incoherence. Various more, or less, complex fixes have been put into place; but none of them really work - they are a sleight of hand, a self-fooling, they merely stop questioning by confusing or are kicking the can further down the road.

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THE problem is regarding God as absolutely powerful, having created everything from nothing, and knowing and controlling absolutely everything all the time. If this is accepted as a necessary assumption - and God is necessarily Good; then Everything Is Good and there is nothing more to say about it.

We must simply submit to what is. The only evil is to question.

But wait! - this doesn't work either; because where does the disposition to our questioning come-from? Why does this problem arise in the first place? Why do we notice, or seem to notice, any problem about anything? (If God is utterly powerful and controls everything...)

Back to square one.

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No - whichever way you twist or turn, there is no rational and convincing (i.e. simple and coherent) way of making omnipotence and Goodness compatible.

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(If God does not need to be Good, then this problem is soluble; at the cost of reality being understood as an incomprehensible chaos and existence a pointless torment. In other words, the problem can be solved by denying the reality of Good. Everything just happens and nothing can be said about it... The problem then becomes that in such a universe we could never know that it was such a universe. If chaos, then no knowledge - hence no knowledge of chaos. Another insoluble contradiction.)

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The solution is utterly simple - which is that God is utterly Good but not utterly powerful, all knowing etc. So, God is always working for Good; but things happen that are not God's will.

One major common objection to this is, partly but importantly, a visceral superstitious terror of 'insulting' God - which is itself clear evidence that the person does not genuinely believe in God's Goodness.

(Because to impute unloving attributes to the Christian God - such as resentment and hyper-sensitivity to disrespect - is, and always has been, very common; almost universal.)

Another objection to non-omnipotence is the 'my God is bigger than your God' boasting and clinging; the idea that my God should not only be more powerful than anybody else's God, but more powerful than anything and everything ever possible conceivable - and that worry is solved at a stroke by resorting to an infinite abstraction such as omnipotence.

(My God is better than your God by definition.)

In sum; the desire to regard God as an absolute of infinite power is itself evidence of the problem it attempts to solve. It is Christians' own unloving, untrusting, unfaithful, weak, boastful and immature nature which makes us fear to understand God as anything other than an omni-God.

This would not matter except that it stands in the path of the one thing needful which is knowing that God is wholly Good. We need to notice and repent that Christians often compromise, often dishonestly and evasively, on God's Goodness in their absolute (terrified?) refusal to compromise on his omnipotence.

All of which is certainly understandable - given the underlying lack of conviction in His Goodness - but absolutely deadly and perhaps fatal in terms of getting the fundamental Christian priorities wrong, and refusing to repent this wrongness; but instead doubling-down on un-necessary and (ultimately) contra-Christian assumptions.

And none of this would matter expect that the above 1,2,3 argument is what keeps many thinking people out of Christianity and excludes so many others and confuses and weakens the faith of countless more - because here we are not dealing with a mere paradox or mystery or misunderstanding, but a stark contradiction.