Thursday 27 July 2023

Creativity in Christianity, and the problem of suffering

Creativity means bringing original (i.e. originating is us) thinking from one's own self to problems -- not, therefore, merely mix-and-matching among what (we suppose) others to have said on the problem. 

And the big problem for Christians, in the past couple of centuries, has been the problem of suffering. 

It is a real eye-opener to realize just how Big a problem suffering has been. I've been re-reading Robert Frost's poems and biographies lately, and he was yet-another Christian of recent engagement (Philip K Dick was another) who expended decades of serious effort (trying-out this and that scheme or suggestion) in trying to understand the problem of suffering in this mortal life on earth; and without ever attaining a satisfactory or satisfying solution. Or even one an answer that was clear and comprehensible, and avoided confusion and contradiction. 

This strikes me as a pretty damning failure - at least for Christianity as it has been conceptualized whether traditionally, or in more 'modern' way -- and it applies too, to 'Old Testament'-dominated Christians (like Frost) - who end-up with a God who barely resembles that described and exemplified by Jesus Christ; but instead an incomprehensible tyrant who (in practice) inverts the truth that God is Love, to the opposite of "Love is God" (that is, the un-Christian assertion that whatever 'God' does is Love by definition - and without regard to Man's understanding and experiences of Love). 

When intelligent and creative people grapple for many years with a problem they fail to solve and yet - by its nature - is one that needs to be solved by every Christian*; this, for me, is prima facie evidence that they are clinging to at least one false fundamental-assumption that is blocking what would otherwise be a straightforward solution.  

(*I'd have thought it was obvious that every Christian needs to be able to understand why a wholly-Good God who is the creator; permits suffering, including (apparent) extreme suffering and early deaths innocents such as young children, in this world. This is not trivial, and it needs a solution that is clear and satisfying - or else, loss of faith in such a God is logical, perhaps entailed.) 

My answer is that these creative and intelligent people have applied their intelligence but not their creativity to the problem! 

In other words, they have accepted the problem as defined by their predecessors, instead of evaluating the formulation of the problem. 

A wrongly-formulated problem is insoluble, no matter what intelligence and resources are applied to it; while a well-formulated problem is always soluble when that solution is necessary to salvation (because that's the way that a Good creator God will naturally set-up his universe).

I have been through this trajectory myself. When I became a Christian I was determined that the truth was already known (revealed) and stated, by some or other church - or at least some individual within a church; and my job was to find it, understand it, believe it, and obey it. 

I therefore made a pretty determined effort to switch-off my creativity when it came to Christianity: my effort was to discern for sure, maybe to select (albeit as little as possible); but not to change anything, and certainly not to add anything! 

It was only after I found that crucial problems were not soluble, never had been solved satisfactorily and clearly, and that no amount of selection and recombination - at least, not when ruled by established principles) would work; that I was compelled to get creative about Christianity. 

(Either that or knowingly to accept swirlingly-abstract fudges, or known pseudo-answers). 

As I have often described, I discovered a couple or more false assumptions that trapped Christianity, and prevented a solution to the problem of suffering. 

One of the first and worst was the very common assumption that God was omnipotent and omniscient so that creation was entirely a product of God's positive will; and another assumption was that Jesus Christ's teaching and efforts were directed at "making a better world" - at improving this mortal life - perhaps even perfecting this mortal life at some point. 

Once I realized that God instead was (no matter how vastly powerful in creation) engaged in a creative war of Good against evil in reality; and that Jesus's primary achievement was to make-possible eternal resurrected life; did I realize that the problem of  suffering was a wrongly-formulated question.

Jesus did not promise a better mortal world - nor a world of less suffering: certainly not a mortal world of perfection! 

Nor did he wish to set up a church as an essential intermediary between individual Men and the divine; and make his followers obey a church primarily - instead, he sent the Holy Ghost for our essential and always-wise guidance. 

Jesus did not promise even an improvement of this mortal life. Instead; Jesus's promises of happiness were directed at post-mortal life, and not at flaw-less-perfection, but at our becoming Sons and Daughters of God - divine creative-Beings like Jesus himself. 

God did not create suffering, which has always-been wherever there was free-agency (until Jesus enabled Heaven). God's creation is directed against primordial suffering and conflict between Beings; but God did not promise to remove suffering, which is impossible in this mortal world. Suffering is only overcome (via Jesus's teaching and work) in the post-mortal, resurrected life-everlasting, world of Heaven. 

Suffering in this mortal world is therefore inevitable, because of the nature of this world and the Beings who inhabit it; and therefore God uses this world to prepare us for the resurrected world of Heaven which those who desire it may choose - and where there is positive love, joy, creativity, energy, satisfaction (instead of the mere negation of suffering). 

Thus we arrive at some simple and comprehensible understandings of these vital matters - but only by applying our creativity, as well as our intelligence

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