Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

As humans, we can’t stand to not know the answers to questions.  That is why we have science.  That is why billions of dollars or more are spent every year on research.  We want to know why and, generally, as soon as possible.  We like for everything to fit in our labelled boxes.  One of the greatest and mysterious questions of all time is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” 

You know the question.  You’ve probably asked it yourself.  You’ve seen or heard or know some great people that have suffered badly.  So what have they done to deserve it?  After all, they are good people.  I’ve thought a lot about this myself and in my own attempt to answer a question so it will fit in my nicely labelled and organized box, I’ve come across some reasons that I believe answer that question. Here are five of them:

1.  That’s just the way it is. Part of life is, well, life. Things happen in life and that’s just the way it is. You can’t fight it, you can’t even contain it sometimes. Life happens and we have to deal with it. Sometimes I think, “why shouldn’t that have happened?” Sometimes we think that we should be immune from bad things but that’s just not how life works. I don’t like the uncertainty of life but I can’t do much about it sometimes. It hurts to see someone die “before their time.” I’ve seen it many times.

2.  It is deserved. Everyday we make choices. Most of those choices don’t have much of an impact on our everyday life. But sometimes we make decisions that have profound impacts, whether positive or negative, on our lives. Some of those stupid decisions can cause bad things to happen. I’ll never forget hearing the moans of a mother crying for her teenage son who died in a car accident. The son died in a tragic rollover that could have been prevented by better choices. You hate to say someone deserved to die but sometimes our poor choices have inevitable consequences that we must face.

3.  It is God’s will. Sometimes this is the toughest one to understand: what is and what isn’t God’s will. Entire books have been written about determining God’s will. God does have a plan and we aren’t always privy to the details. Sometimes, bad things happen to people because that is part of God’s greater plan. When our daughter died at 7 months, that was the toughest thing that had happened to us. As hard as it was, we’ve been able to see God work in many people’s lives. We’ve also been able to know and experience God in ways that many people never have. I don’t know what His entire plan and purpose is but I trust in His will.

4.  It is a way to build character. I’ve often heard that when something bad happens, it either makes you better or bitter. How we respond to the bad things in life have a lot to say about who we are and have a lot to do with who we become. That often is where we find who we are. That is our character. I think of going through a tough time like going through a fire. It’s not so much who you are before something bad happens but who you are after something bad happens. It’s easy to be happy and joyful with a great attitude when everything is just as we want it. But the deeper issue of who we are is often defined by the trials we experience in life.

5.  Bad things happen so we can be better prepared to help someone else in a similar situation.  All of us go through life. We go through life together. As we experience certain events and troubles, it puts us in a better position to help others deal with similar situations. I can’t stand to hear someone say, “I know how you feel,” when they have absolutely no idea. But if someone else has walked in the same shoes, who am I to deny their feelings and experiences? Having gone through difficult circumstances and come out okay, I’ve been able to help others in certain circumstances. Seeing and hearing of someone’s triumph over disaster has a great effect on you and a way of encouraging you.  You can’t argue with someone’s personal experiences.

When something bad happens to us, there often is more than one reason why and I have found that several of the above can be true for a single bad event. Accepting what happens to us and making the most of it is a great challenge. Whether it be for the building of our character or the encouragement of other people, may God grant us strength to face life and all the joys and trials that it brings our way. Time to eat two cookies and call me in the morning.

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42 responses to “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

  1. I can honestly say that the worse things that had happened to me in the last 50 years too had turned out to be the best things next for me.. and we know that all things work for the good for those who love God..

  2. If #3 is true, then God would be responsible for 1, 2, 4 and 5 (in addition to 3). I personally don’t find that a very compelling argument for the whole “God is good and love” thing, but lots of people have found ways to rationalize it.

    I would say that, IMO, it was a poor choice of words to say that a young person’s death in a tragic rollover would fall under the “It is deserved” category. He deserved to die because, what, he didn’t wear his seat belt? That’s a pretty strict view of justice!

  3. In biased perspective, life is all about causative effect of chosen acts; consequence(s) follow decision(s) and doesn’t work the other way around. Simply put, bad things DON’T happen to good people but, rather, DO happen to lousy decision makers.

  4. cliffordthedawg

    Thanks for the comments. I am far from having figured everything out. These are just my experiences and what I’m learning as I face life.

    Hktelemacher, I didn’t expound much on the rollover in the post and, you’re right, it is a bit stiff of me to say that death is deserved. That wasn’t really my intended point, that he deserved to die. My intended point was that because of poor decisions, sometimes there are dire circumstances that we must face.

    In the accident, there were several teenagers, crowded in a vehicle, not wearing seatbelts, speeding and taking dangerous curves on a gravel road. Alcohol wasn’t involved but in similar situations, often is. Many times, poor choices lead to bad results.

    Have a great day everyone.

  5. “Simply put, bad things DON’T happen to good people but, rather, DO happen to lousy decision makers.”

    Therefore, all people who lose their homes, possessions and lives to natural disasters, congenital or random medical conditions, or other extraneous forces are bad people?

  6. I guess it is hard to convince anyone who already made up his mone, and can see only his own world

    I had gotten a new denture a few months ago and it was a pain to wear them, many people could not understand what I was saying with them too.

    So today this moring I accidently lost them.. I figure next that I had to get a new pair.. a cupole of hours later it occurred whereI might have dropped them, on the sidewalk in front of a store where I had put them into my pocket.. soI went over there but the dentures were now on the road, and car had even ran over them too, so I thought they were useless now..

    When I got home I tried them on and they now fit great.. bad things happen to us all, but for true Christians they next turn out for our good.. Romans 8:28 .. as simple as that.

  7. Looking at this from a purely spiritual point-of-view, I might suggest that maybe we do deserve all the bad that happens regardless. If we are all sinners and separated from God because of that, don’t we deserve judgment and death? Maybe the question should be, “Why doesn’t more bad happen to us?” Could it be that all of the good and positive things we receive and experience are not deserved but, rather, blessings by a gracious God who wants to bless us and were it not for those blessings, that life would be all bad? I think we do tend to think we deserve nothing but the good when in fact, maybe we don’t.

  8. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4078003.stm

    “A child still dies of hunger every five seconds”

    “The annual UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report says present levels of hunger cause the death of more than five million children a year.”

    thenonconformer:

    “I guess it is hard to convince anyone who already made up his mone, and can see only his own world”

    Wow, I will sleep super-well at night knowing that God fixed your dentures, and saved you a couple of bux from having to get new ones. All those stupid kids must not be true Christians.

    But of course, since everyone’s a sinner, those kids deserved it, just like we all do.

    I . . . just . . . can you people hear yourselves?

  9. I have pondered over this question and there are is not an over arching answer that will comfort us all. One thing is pretty certain in that no matter who you are, where you are, or what your religious affiliation is you will encounter some very hard things. We may not always understand why things happen but there are some things we can count on:

    1). Christ will be there in the storms for those that have placed their trust in Him. Several episodes from Jesus life point to this fact and none stand out more then when the disciples and Jesus were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and a storm over takes them. Jesus was there and He did not “poof” at the first sign of trouble. Sometimes Jesus will calm the storm in our life but other times He will not. But He will always be there.

    2). Bad things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people. Bad things happen. The causation of the tragedy may differ but the result is the same. Whether by a poor decision on your part, a poor decision by somebody else part really matters not. Just as with death and taxes, tragedy is almost guaranteed for us all.

    3). Bad things happen to good people, in my own honest opinion, sometimes to show that God’s faithfulness and a person’s faithfulness to God. How a christian responds to a tragedy speaks more about what they believe than when there are times of joy and prosperity. The world watches how a christian responds to adversity to see if God really does make a difference.

    4). One thing we tend to forget is that God’s initial intention was never for things to be the way they are. His initial purpose was for there to be a intimate fellowship between Him and His creation. However the everything was corrupted with the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. The corruption not only affected the relationship between God and man but also affect our world. Death, suffering, sickness, and despair are all a result of the fall of man into sin.

    I too have gone through some things I never thought I would have to face. Did I question? Yes. Did I wish it never happened? Of course. Did I doubt? To be perfectly honest I did. But you know God is bigger than my doubts and questions. His shoulders are big enough to carry me when I do not understand . God used a particular painful part of my life to teach me more about Him. As I was enduring this painful time three questions always seemed to arise. 1). What did I believe about God? 2). Why did I believe it? and 3) Do I trust His promises?

    To sum it up let me quote Theodore Roosevelt
    “The way we endure what we must endure is more important the the trial itself”

    God Bless and get those feet wet!

  10. “Death, suffering, sickness, and despair are all a result of the fall of man into sin.”

    Even on the assumption that is a true statement, it is something God knew would happen from before time existed. If you believe he is all-powerful, and omniscient, then he knew for an absolute fact what Adam and Eve would do, and when they would do it. God’s little theatrics about asking questions He already knew the answer to . . . a nice touch for their benefit, to be sure. Enough to have them soiling their fig leaves, but nothing occurred of which He did not have absolute foreknowledge.

    Therefore:

    “One thing we tend to forget is that God’s initial intention was never for things to be the way they are.”

    must be a false statement. If God is all-powerful, and omniscient, then nothing happens in this Universe that is not a reflection of God’s intent–he knows everything that has ever happened, and everything that will ever happen, and everything that has occurred has done so exactly as had been dictated by His act of creation. To say that anything happens, anywhere, any time, that is not God’s intent is a logical impossibility; it is ascribing the weakness of Man’s imagination to an unfathomably powerful and knowledgeable being.

    People treat God as if He is a person–that he changes his mind (if you pray, He will change what is to happen, or possibly what has happened), he is moody, etc. . . . a being that knows everything there is to know, forever from the beginning to the end, has all of the information he’ll every need about anything, and the processing power to make sense of it all. How is it possible that any being with the ultimate knowledge of everything forever could possibly make a decision and then change his mind? When he made His decision to start with, he knew you were going to pray, and what you were going to say to Him (or not say), when and where you were going to say it . . . He knew the exact position of every atomic and subatomic particle within a million billion miles of you. Yet he’s going to change His mind? And before you go down the road of saying God controls all, and if God knew all of these things then *everything* happens according to God’s plan, then you’ve obliterated the concept of free will. The sin of man is not his, but God’s, who is the cause of all things.

    I imagine nothing would be more freeing than to have the ability to believe without critical thought.

    I’m sure a variety of readers are not pleased at my pollution of this post and comments thread, but this topic has long stuck in my craw. If you truly believe in an all-powerful, totally omniscient God, then the Bible in my opinion is nothing more than a flight of fancy, because it is littered with a God who, like most ancient deities, is saddled with the human characteristics put upon Him by the culture, time, and limitations of those believers. The ultimate act of anthropomorphism. I don’t see any other way to think through it without absolutely and totally shutting off the critical thought capacity of your brain.

    If you want me to go away, I will, but I’ll never forget the Christian believers who credit God with fixing their dentures, or starting their lawnmower (I heard that one in church last month), or whatever, while babies and children die from hunger, cancer, natural disaster, accidents, etc. How arrogant, and prideful. I’d say Jesus must be rolling in his grave, but you wouldn’t believe me :)

  11. Bad things happen to all of us because elf the curse of our grandparents, Adam and even, as promised they would next.. and bad things are helped along by the devil and his followers too.. if we are doing things our own way, according to our own gospel, our own understanding we cannot even resist the devil..

    (Mark 7:29 KJV) the devil is gone out of thy daughter.

    (Rev 12:12 KJV) Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

    I can say for certainly that the many bad things that happen din my life reduced when I became a bond slave, servant of Jesus Christ, I dispel many of them away now too in the name and the authority of of Jesus .. and those bad things still hat happen happened for God’s glory still next.. and for my good..

  12. >>I’d say Jesus must be rolling in his grave, but you wouldn’t believe me

    No I rather rightfully believe in Jesus and follow him alone .. and not in the devil and his follrwers who certainly. visbly have no real love or peace in their own lives.

  13. (Rom 8:28 KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    (Rom 8:29 KJV) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

    (Rom 8:30 KJV) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    (Rom 8:31 KJV) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

    (Rom 8:32 KJV) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

    (Rom 8:33 KJV) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

    (Rom 8:34 KJV) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

    (Rom 8:35 KJV) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

    (Rom 8:36 KJV) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

    (Rom 8:37 KJV) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

    (Rom 8:38 KJV) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

    (Rom 8:39 KJV) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  14. I appreciate everyone’s opinions and beliefs, we all have them, usually based on our experiences, and you’re free to post what you believe. I only ask the usual, no vulgarity and mutual respect, etc.

    I think we do put human limitations on God and I think to say God acts and thinks and responds in the same way that we do is off-kilter. Look no further than our concept of love. When we talk about love, we generally refer to our feelings, how it benefits us, a self-centered love. We confine God to our own dimensions a lot of times, put Him in a box. We do treat Him like he’s a regular, normal human being. He is not. He is God.

    I do think God is in control but He doesn’t treat the world and us like robots. I believe He has the power to do so but doesn’t and allows things to happen, allows us to choose and allows us to experience consequences of ours and other’s choices, whether good or bad.

    I think we have a hard time not understanding all there is to know. That’s why we spend so much on research, science, discussion, etc. There are lots of things we’ll never completely understand and comprehend, religious or not. But just because we’ve “saddled” God with our humanness, doesn’t make Him any less God or make the Bible “littered” with a less than God God. He is who He is regardless of what we humanistically make Him. He either exists in all His fullness or He does not. There is no in between.

    Thanks again for your honest comments.

  15. Wow good discussion I think. It certainly is a difficult topic and not one that can hardly be fleshed out here. But I do want to respond to a couple of things posted above.

    God is certainly all-powerful and all-knowing. And yes He did know the choice that Adam and Eve would make to disobey and choose to sin. Was it His plan? Was it God’s intention for Adam and Eve to disobey? I do not believe so. So if it was not His plan and He is all powerful and all knowing, why did He not stop them?

    I quote hktelemacher
    “And before you go down the road of saying God controls all, and if God knew all of these things then *everything* happens according to God’s plan, then you’ve obliterated the concept of free will.”

    The key word here is free will. God created us with the ability to choose to obey (which I believe is His desire for us) or disobey (which I believe God does not intend). God could have created us without a choice but to love Him, honor Him, and obey Him. But then we would be nothing more than a computer program or a robot. What would it mean to you to have a computer repeating “I love you”. Do the words hold any meaning what so ever? No they do not.

    It is our choosing to love that gives loves it meaning. We can choose either to love Him or not. God will not force anyone to love or obey. It has to be our choice for it to mean anything. And given that we have a choice, I believe that there are choices God desires us to make (do not eat of the tree of good and evil). When we choose contrary to what He desires does that diminish His power or knowledge? Certainly not. Does He know the decisions and choices we will make. I believe He does. But He will not force us to choose. He might show us the consequences or persuade us but He will never force us.

    As far as us changing God’s mind, that is an interesting area. Read about when God brought the Israelites to the River Jordan and they were about to cross into the land promised to Abraham. They sent scout into spy out the land and cities. Basically they came back and reported that there was no way they could ever take possession of the land (except for Joshua and Caleb). They disobeyed God and turned away. As God came before Moses, He said that He was going to wipe out all the people of Israel and start over. He was about to pronounce Judgment right then and there. But Moses interceded on behalf of the Jews and asked God not to destroy all the people in this manner.

    God chose not to destroy them right there and then. He did however turn them and make them wander in the desert for 40 years until the generation died out. God still judged the sin of the people, but Moses pleaded for God not to do it all at one time. Did Moses change God’s mind? Not about the judgment but God did change the way in which the judgment would be carried out.

    “I imagine nothing would be more freeing than to have the ability to believe without critical thought.”

    I think this is a little harsh. My faith in Christ is not based on blind faith. I have wrestled with many of the questions. I have found the answers to some question, to others I am still searching and wrestling with. Do I believe the Bible? Yes I do. Do I believe it because my parents told me it was true or my preacher says I should. Certainly not. I believe it because the evidence support the Bible is concrete and overwhelming. There is no other book of antiquity that is as well documented than the Bible. None. It’s truths span the centuries and apply to us even today. There is no other book written that can even compare to the Bible in its historical accuracy, its relevance, and its truth. To say that I believe with out critical thought makes some assumptions on your part that are unfounded.

  16. “God created us with the ability to choose to obey (which I believe is His desire for us) or disobey (which I believe God does not intend). God could have created us without a choice but to love Him, honor Him, and obey Him. But then we would be nothing more than a computer program or a robot. What would it mean to you to have a computer repeating “I love you”. Do the words hold any meaning what so ever? No they do not.”

    I don’t know that I can buy this, and here is why: If God is all-knowing, then he knows whether we will choose to obey or not. He knew whether you, or I, would obey here in 2008 just as surely as he knew the nanosecond after the Universe was created. To a being that knows all, we do exactly what he always knew we would do, from the utterance of “Let there be Light” (and even before that) and if that is not the definition of something programmed (in this case by God himself), then I don’t know what is. If God the all-knowing knows, to an absolute certainty, every choice I have made from when I had the mental capacity to make choices until I no longer have the mental capacity to make choices (death, mental disability, etc.), then that is not a choice at all, it is no more than a program–only the illusion of choice. If God does not know, then He is not all-knowing.

    I would also contest anyone’s contention as to the Bible’s historical accuracy. If you’re a young Earth creationist, or you believe the literal story of Noah’s flood, then you really shouldn’t even pretend to have a need to make rational sense of anything. If you are not a young Earth creationist and don’t believe in the literal story of Noah’s flood, then it is tough to stand behind such a claim of historical accuracy. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but there seems to me to be only a couple of ways to skin the cat when it comes to your claim.

  17. I think there is a slight difference between being “programmed” by God in that we have no say so in what we do and God knowing the choices we would make a head of time. If we have no choice then everything we do, say, or think is a hollow sham and has absolutely no meaning what so ever.

    God does know the decisions and choices I have made and will make make. But it is always my decision as to choose to obey Him or not. I fail to understand how it is still not our choice even if God already knows.

    Take my son for example. Now I am not claiming to be all knowing but I do know my boy. When I say to him “Don’t jump on the bed” yet I know pretty well that he is going to jump on the bed, have I programmed to do so? No. He heard me clearly say not to do something yet chose to do it anyway. I knew he would and consequences followed. Did I make him do anything or “program” him to disobey? It was his choice and his choice alone.

    As to the historical accuracy I would have to disagree. The documentary evidence of the old and new testament is far greater than any other piece of work. The accuracy of what has been given to us is unparalleled in any other work.

    I am a creationist. Am I old age earth creationist or a young earth I have not studied it enough yet to form my own opinion. Do I believe Noah’s flood occured? Yes I think there can be arguments made.

    I believe that you have to take all of the Bible or none of it. We cannot simply pick and choose what we want to believe or pick what is true and what is false. If you do start to pick and choose, where do you stop? When we start to choose what parts of the Bible to believe then it becomes very easy to rule out the parts that are inconvenient to us.

  18. “When I say to him “Don’t jump on the bed” yet I know pretty well that he is going to jump on the bed, have I programmed to do so?”

    I see this defense all the time, and the answer is, if you were God, “Sure you did.” If you believe God creates every human being, and that He knows every decision you will ever make, then logically it must be that is how He made you. You can’t say that when He creates you, knowing where, and when, and who you will be raised by–not just who you will be raised by, but every single intimate detail of what decisions were made in your upbringing and why, so he knows, from your creation, not just what you are going to do but why you are going to do it, and then turn around and say “That’s not a program.”

    To circle back to your analogy, if you and your wife knew, years ago when you first planned to have a child together, that if you had *this particular child*, he would choose to jump on the bed at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, July 24, 2008. That if your child was born exactly (to the second) 24 hours later, or earlier, he would not jump on the bed at that time, but instead at 9:00 p.m., Friday, July 25, 2008–events you set in motion. Just because that child eventually thinks he/she has a choice, it really never was a choice, was it? You put the whole thing in motion, knowing in advance that the choices you made and make were going to lead to exactly that event.

    And if that isn’t true, then somehow God must be “surprised”–not exactly a logical concept for an omniscient being.

    You are essentially saying “Logic doesn’t matter, because there must be free will in order for my religion to make sense and for my holy book to be validated. So I’m going to treat the illusion of free will as free will itself, reason be damned.”

    I wrote out a bit about the whole creation and Noah thing, but it’s just not worth it at this point. Your starting and ending point is that the Bible must be literally true, and everything must be contorted to fit within that framework so the house of cards doesn’t blow apart, no matter what logic, or science, would have to say on the matter. While that is consistent with your stance on free will, it doesn’t make for worthwhile discussion.

  19. cliffordthedawg

    Speaking of logical. I personally find it more logical to believe in God than not. I don’t know and understnad everything about God and can’t answer some questions that come from my own limitations. There are questions I can’t answer without using the Bible. Does that mean that God or the Bible doesn’t exist or isn’t true, just because I can’t explain it in my own limited intelligence and understanding? But, there are so many things that happen that seem to be beyond the realm of chance which is what many people seem to believe our existence is all about.

    As far as evolution, I think a lot of assumptions have been made without scientific proof. At times, scientific evidence has been twisted and distorted to fit into the evolutionist’s nice little box. If there were such perfect hard-core proof, why are there scientists that are just as intellectual, disagreeing with evolutionists? Why is there continuous discussion on the issue with both sides giving compelling arguments yet the issue not resolved?

    And if God didn’t exist and we’re just here, why do we exist, then? Why not just do whatever my little heart desires? Why do anything? Where does our moral code and conscious come from? Where is hope for anything, why have hope? Outside of God, I’ve never heard of a good explanation why.

  20. “As far as evolution, I think a lot of assumptions have been made without scientific proof. At times, scientific evidence has been twisted and distorted to fit into the evolutionist’s nice little box. If there were such perfect hard-core proof, why are there scientists that are just as intellectual, disagreeing with evolutionists? Why is there continuous discussion on the issue with both sides giving compelling arguments yet the issue not resolved?”

    This just means that you, similar to the way Anonymous stated he/she has not researched the issue of YEC vs. OEC, are not researched in (a) the very dominant scientific consensus that evolution is the mechanism for the development of life on Earth, (b) all of the practical applications that evolutionary biology has brought and is bringing to field such as medicine to help people, and (c) the many ways is which the theory of evolution has evolved since Darwin’s original writings–ways that scientists have observed, measured, and tested Darwin’s theories to correct or update. If a scientists finds repeatable, measurable evidence that their theory is wrong, they go after the theory–maybe they need to tweak the theory, or find a new theory that incorporates not just the old data but also the new data. They really do. Look at the competing scientific hypothesis right now about such cutting edge topics as the number of dimensions, or the increasing rate of expansion of the visible Universe. Modified, updated, turned upside-down until you get to a Theory, where the overwhelming and accumulated scientific evidence means that it is extremely likely that what you are going to get are tweaks, not flips.

    “And if God didn’t exist and we’re just here, why do we exist, then?”

    I don’t know, but I don’t find it credible to answer any question to which we don’t currently know the answer by saying “God.”

    “Why not just do whatever my little heart desires?”

    Try reading some social contract theory. The bottom line is that regardless of why, we are here. And the vast majority of human beings do have a desire for their life here to be long, and as pleasant as possible, regardless what does or does not await them in the next life. In other words, if Christians are so absolutely sure as to what awaits them in the next life, so rock-solid positive that our current sinful existence isn’t even a shadow of what awaits in Heaven, why have laws against murder at all? If you’re a Christian and you get murdered, (a) you’re going to Heaven, where eventually you will be joined by others of the same faith, and (b) God will punish the wicked. There is nothing inherently contradictory in that framework by allowing everyone those who would commit wickedness to do so freely. If your ministering cannot bring them to God, you still will have fulfilled the obligations necessary to get into Heaven.

    A secular person, on the other hand, might say “I am here. I have children, and they are here. I would like my time here and, more importantly, their time here, to be as good as it can be, because I don’t know what, if anything, comes next.” That sounds to me like a much more compelling argument for improving this world, than to do so out of fear of divine punishment.

    “Why do anything? Where does our moral code and conscious come from? Where is hope for anything, why have hope? Outside of God, I’ve never heard of a good explanation why.”

    You consider God a good explanation? To me, people use “God” to explain something that they believe is mysterious, or don’t understand. History is rampant with examples of religion claiming to know truth, but being replaced with, and retreating in the face of, secularly-derived knowledge. Maybe in the past it has been easier to smudge the lines between secular knowledge and the literal interpretation of religious books, but now Biblical literalists are faced with the reality of having to simply deny things that have behind them more and more accumulated historical and/or scientific evidence.

    I’m not saying I expect science to solve every question there is within my lifetime. If the human race is extinguished by a cosmic calamity, there are answers that may never be known, by anyone. But I believe that I am here, and I know that because I don’t know what, if anything, comes after this, I want to make this place a better place while I am here, for myself and those who come after me. And, quite frankly, for others around me. I find that extremely compelling, and I also find it tough to square with the idea that I am nothing more than a wretched sinner, begging God for favor for myself and others.

    And when it comes to being here, and wanting to do things that help people, I believe the most efficient way to do that is to take advantage of those things that are measurable, and repeatable (derived from secular and scientific knowledge), that benefit those around me. Helping provide vaccinations to those who don’t have access to them. Feeding the poor and the homeless. Contributing to the advancement of society and the marketplace of human ideas. These things are all outside of a framework of God, and all within a framework of saying “I don’t know what comes next, but I believe I am here.”

    Just my $.02.

  21. Do not believe I ever said we surprised God with our decisions. I believe God is fully aware of all the choices we will make, for the good and the bad.

    So let me see if I can recap your view of who God is and how He works.
    1. God is all powerful and all knowing
    2. Because He is all powerful and all knowing then He knows all the decisions that we will ever make
    3. Because He knows all the decisions we will make beforehand they are really not decisions but rather God making us do certain things
    4. Man has no choice in the things that he does
    5. God is then responsible for everything that occurs

    If these assumptions are correct then God is liar and suffers from a split personality. How could a rational and just God say certain things are wrong (rape, murder, incest, lying) and then “make” people do these things? God would then be no more than a cruel puppet master amusing Himself. What a sad place to live. Therefore the world would be without hope, love, friendship, or justice. We would be mere pawns upon a board moved to and fro at the whim of God.

    Is it logical that God would tell us not to do certain things (rape, murder, lying, etc.. those things we consider evil, bad, wrong) and then give us no choice but to do these things? Did Hitler have a choice, Pol Pot, Stalin?

    God is all powerful and all knowing but He never forces those things on us. If you remember Jesus saying “If you love me you will keep these commandments” what He is saying is that love is a choice you have to make. Love is a choice, not a function of feelings or hormones (that would be lust). To me it does not make sense for God to set out what is right and what is wrong and then “make” people do the wrong. Not logical at all.

  22. cliffordthedawg

    I appreciate your $0.02, I’d rather you give me a million dollars, literally. With a little more money, I could sure do a lot more of other things I want to do, see places I want to see, etc.

    You’re right, I don’t know much about YEC and OEC. Maybe I’ll check it out. I do admit that it is difficult trying to study all the things I’d want to find out about given the context of my life as a doctor, having a family and other responsibilities – just really busy and there’s not a lot of time left. Maybe that’s a good excuse, maybe not.

    I’m sure I could study a lot more about the things you’ve studied that cause you to believe the way you do. I would like to think that you’d admit that there’s a lot more about the Bible you could study if you wanted to (? 75% on the Bible Quiz) – the Bible itself, historicity arguments, archaeological findings, compelling apologetical arguments, etc – maybe you have.

    I do find God to be a credible answer, just as you do not find God to be a credible answer but, rather, find other theories to be credible. At a minimum, God gives me hope and gives me something I can hang my hat on. There is nothing else that can. Evolution and other dogma doesn’t do anything for me as far as giving me hope or trying to make sense of the world. Just eat, drink, be happy and die.

    We all live together and I think, like you, we have social responsibilities. I applaud your desire to make the world a better place. I do to and I also find it compelling. I’ve spent years of my life helping people, doing free work and giving up lots of “me” sorts of things. I given money, I have helped the poor, I have fed beggars. I have even risked death to provide healthcare and help the poor in third world countries without evangelizing said countries. Tangible things mean a lot more than vague statements.

    Whether or not you read the Bible or agree with it, we can read in it how Jesus did tangible things, and those certainly within the context/framework of God. All of those helpful things can be done within a framework of God just as you say they can be done outside a framework of God – there are lots of good people. It has been the case in my life. Certainly, lots of great things have been done, advancements made, new things discovered by Christians who believe deeply in God and are also scientifically/research/socially inclined.

    There are if’s in science, things that we don’t completely understand and probably never will, certainly within a secular mindsight. There are if’s in Christianity because we don’t completely understand and I don’t believe we will until that “great meeting day in the sky” ;) . That doesn’t prove or negate that God is real or the Bible is true. Even if none of it were true, in my case, because of my religious beliefs, I can say that I am making a positive impact on my world and I’m not shoving my beliefs down anyone’s throat. I wouldn’t have lost anything. At best, it is all true and all of what I believe will happen.

    For you, I know that you believe what you believe and I’m not forcing my view on anyone. It might not interest you but for the sake of argument, what if what I believe is true, you know, Heaven and Hell, God/Jesus, the Bible, etc.? I’ve admitted what I thought the consequences would be if it were not. What about you? What’s the worst and what’s the best by believing what you do believe and what’s the best/worst if Christianity is right?

  23. “Is it logical that God would tell us not to do certain things (rape, murder, lying, etc.. those things we consider evil, bad, wrong) and then give us no choice but to do these things?”

    No, it wouldn’t be logical. But you rest your conclusion on the fact that the second part is wrong, not the first. If there is no God, or if there is a God but the Bible is not the word of God, then you do not necessarily run into the logical paradox.

    I realize that’s a big leap, but I stick with my contention that your position is not internally logical with itself. The three alternatives in dealing with a rational, secular person would be (a) give up the pretense of having an internally logical framework and simply state that God is beyond logic, end of discussion, (b) modify your explanation of the framework to account for the problem of only having the illusion of free will, or (c) move off your position. Again, not trying to be harsh or combative, just trying to work through it.

  24. cliffordthedawg

    1. In the discussions above, the talk has been on God being in control/freewill, etc. and we’ve gotten off on that while presuming a flawed view of the law. The reason for all the “not to’s” is so that we become aware that we do those evil things and we need help. We can either be perfect or keep all the law, as Jesus, and be okay, have eternal life,etc. The intent of the law is to become aware of our inability to keep the law and therefore need Christ as a replacement for the righteousness we can’t keep, obtain or earn on our own good behavior. You’d never know you’re speeding if there wasn’t a law. If there was no law against murder, you wouldn’t know it’s wrong. There are people groups/tribes that murder and it’s perfectly right in their eyes. So part of your reasoning is flawed from a misunderstanding of the purpose of the law. That seems pretty logical to me. We still have our choice to obey or disobey and recognize our inability to keep the law.

    2. I’m still interested to hear your answer as to what you’ve gained/lost if Christianity were true.

    3. I know there are hypocrits in Christianity but that’s another topic. But I find a little bit of hypocrisy in some of your beliefs. (Before I continue, I do realize that writing back and forth is nothing like a face to face discussion, so some meaning is lost and maybe I’ve misunderstood. Also not trying to be harsh/combative.) However you seem to have a strong desire to do as much for mankind as you can, make the world a better place, and do all that you can for your family, etc. But, are you not potentially making a huge mistake and disservice to your fellow man, not to mention the ones you love the most, if your beliefs are wrong? If mine are wrong, all I’ve managed to do is to help someone live a better life and maybe cause someone to not believe in some of your beliefs which ultimately have no impact on their afterlife. If yours are wrong, and people follow them, you have done a horrible disservice to them. Forget about your own soul for a minute. You want to make the world a better place but in your attempts to dispel and deny God, in your doing so, if wrong, what have you done to those souls who listen to you? Wouldn’t that go horribly against your desire to do as much as you can for mankind? I think that, indeed, it would horribly go against the one thing you cling to and find compelling, making the world a better place and having a positive impact on others.

  25. “You’d never know you’re speeding if there wasn’t a law. If there was no law against murder, you wouldn’t know it’s wrong.”

    (A) The reason the law says not to speed is because it is dangerous to drive at excessive speed. What is actually an excessive speed is dependent upon a lot of variables, including road conditions, traffic, what kind of car you’re driving, etc. People who have knowledge as to good driving practice would know when they were driving at an excessive speed under given conditions, even it there wasn’t a law.

    (B) Individuals within a society, controlling a given area of land, can form a voluntary social contract based on the secular belief that a free society is important, and the fabric of a free society rests on the assumption that one will not forcibly infringe upon the rights of others. Murder would fall into this category. It is not necessary at all to believe in God to come to the conclusion that murder is not a positive social action, and just because some culture (presumably non-Christian), somewhere out in the world doesn’t believe in the wrongness of murder isn’t any more of an indictment of voluntary social contracts as saying that the Catholic church’s systematic cover-up of child abuse by priests means that every Christian denomination suffers the same problem. I would advise you to tread more lightly regarding such generalizations, because you’d take quite the offense if I brought out the same broad brush to do some painting of my own.

    Sorry about missing the best/worst thing. The best thing that could happen if you were right and I became the awesomest mortal Christian evar would be that I would go to Heaven. The worst thing that could happen is that any other religion that states that all non-believers will go to the equivalent of Hell would be right (a risk I run regardless whether I am Christian or atheist, obviously). So, if Allah awaits me, I would be pretty equally screwed whether I was was the world’s awesomest mortal Christian evar or, say, Richard Dawkins. Right? Then there are a handful of religions that don’t preach exclusivity, but none that are relevant in modern American discourse, really, but if any of those are right then it really wouldn’t matter whether I was an atheist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Wiccan, whatever. So I’m not just looking at a binary equation, I’m looking at a 1,000-sided die and wondering whether my number would turn up. So to me I don’t find that a particularly compelling issue, and it sure as Hell ain’t as simple as that simple 4-box example of what if I pray vs. don’t pray against two other boxes of God exists or God does not exist.

    In that light, it is just as easy to turn the spotlight back on you. You seem like a pretty nice, responsible sort. I imagine you would trot down readily enough to the Hell of another religion upon finding out that, despite your best efforts in this life to find truth, you were wrong about the Christian Bible and Christianity. You’d feel responsible–I mean, even though you don’t evangelize, you probably don’t affirmatively hide your Christianity, and maybe someone inspired by your heroic efforts will renounce their religion (That would be a true kick in the balls if they renounced a religion that turns out was the right one!!) to follow the spiritual footsteps of Christianity.

    Sp at the end of the day, I have to trust my own judgment that any truly fair and just God will not condemn two people who lived equal lives just because one was a Christian and another was a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or a Sikh, or an atheist. And that, more than any other single thing, is the one fact that has turned me away from Christianity. Given two people who have lived more or less the same life–were about as good (or bad) to their families and friends, about as good about keeping their word and raising their children to be productive, law-abiding members of society (and maybe even happy, at that, if we are so lucky)–one would go to Heaven, and one would go to Hell.

    That is the *ultimate* form over substance, and I flatly reject any system that purports to be just and fair that would come to that result. No. Way. No. How. And if you have any apologetics that address that issue, just save those electrons and don’t bother typing them here, because there is no possible explanation you can give that would justify such different treatment of two people who lived their lives in very much the same way. I don’t care if you say it is God’s law so it is just the way it is as He handed it down, because if that is the case then I would be screwed on Judgment Day no matter what because I will not agree to be complicit in such an inherently unjust process. I. Will. Not. Sorry for the cheesy use of periods. Twice. But I can’t emphasize this point enough.

    Actually, though, I take back what I said before. The worst thing would be to be a devout Christian, then find out that God really is a pretty particular sort, and find out that I was believing in the *wrong kind* of Christianity–and let’s face it, there are a variety of Christian denominations that teach not just that they are right, but that they are right to the exclusion of other Christian denominations. Whether you think they are right or not, depending on their denomination the would come on here and argue that you would be going to Hell just as surely as I would be if we were to both be simultaneously run over by a bus tomorrow.

    It would be like an extra kick in the balls on the way to Hell. Yah, that would be the worst. Don’tcha think?

    shachar
    “http://www.creationmuseum.org/goodnews”

    Don’t even go there. Both literally, and figuratively. Really, if you buy the stuff that place is selling, then you really have given up any pretense of rational, logical thought. And that’s fine, but, and I’m telling you the honest truth up front, prepare to be mocked mercilessly when you trot out here saying that man and dinosaurs roamed the Earth together. I’ve been intentionally very civil because Cliff has been likewise, and he’s been putting his best foot forward to try to make internally consistent arguments, but that will all be lost if you start touting the place that is being used to brainwash children against science. I’m not kidding, my civility will only extend so far. And maybe at that point Cliff shuts the whole comment part down for this post, but I’m giving everyone fair warning. I’d much rather continue to discuss logic and theory with Cliff than go down this road. Maybe Cliff could make another post about that awful place and you could go there and start touting it there. Please.

  26. I didn’t mean to say you don’t ever evangelize, but you pretty plainly stated that you don’t really evangelize in the course of doing good and right, which I actually quite admire compared to so much of the good-Christian back-patting quid-pro-quo evangelism that goes on.

  27. cliffordthedawg

    Well I’m at some friend’s house this weekend so I won’t be able to get on the blog much. I have my posts for the blog already finished, just have to click publish.

    I do want to respond quickly to hk. If you were in my city, I’d take you to lunch (if you’d go) because I appreciate your honesty and candidness, even if we completely disagree. I appreciate the civility and understand that just as it can appear from this side to be oppositional, it can appear to be the same from your seat as well. There’s no fight here for me, just sharing with people who are interested and come to the site what and why I believe.

    You do seem quite intelligent and studied, particularly in Secular Philosophy. Now whether that’s a side product of your chosen profession or just a hobby I don’t know. Either way, you do choose words and phrases and lines of reasoning that are beyond the realm of the average Joe and that’s fine. We all have different professions and, for some, that colors their theology. I’m a doctor and, assuming your not, I could speak to you and others in a way that is out of the realm of the average Joe, and that is also fine. We have our professions. If it is your hobby, that’s great that you’re not spending your time on the couch eating Lasagna in a tray watching Hannah Montana but instead trying to learn.

    I don’t want to mislead anyone, it just hasn’t come up yet. Although I spent a couple of years as a missionary (most of that time was actually spent learning the language and just regular living as opposed to evangelizing), I write my thoughts based on what I’ve learned and experienced in life and my spiritual journey as opposed to a set of school-taught theology, philosophical degree or some blind-following-the-blind thought. I think that is better anyway, in many cases, because parroting someone else’s words is much different than sharing your own words from your own experiences. While I certainly have shared my faith in certain circumstances, I’ve also done a lot of things, as stated previously, with no God or “you owe me” attached.

    That said, hk, I wonder if you’ve studied the Bible and its supporting evidence as fervently and passionately as you’ve studied its opposition. If I’m wrong, I’m sorry, but it appears to me that much of your reasoning is based on what you’ve heard others say and respond and a human-based misunderstanding as opposed to studying firsthand the source itself. Hardly scientific from which to draw dogmatic conclusions. You seem to have some disdain for those who haven’t studied YEC or OEC or Social Contract Theory and the like. But have you studied the Bible and supporting documents as intensely as you’ve studied and read the materials that you have?

    There are some lines of thinking/statements that you’ve used specific to the Bible/God that, I think, are flawed somewhat in that their true meaning in the Bible is different. I can understand, however, one coming to that flawed understanding by observing and listening to the sometimes inaccurate words of other people’s religion. But the Bible and God are on trial here and not the imperfect Christians although maybe they should be.

    With all honesty and civility, a true scientist would study all aspects of the subject matter if he wanted to prove/disprove his hypothesis. I say that because you yourself said previously that you’re just trying to work through this which, to me, says you haven’t completely made up your mind. On the other hand, if you’ve completely made up you mind, are you going against what compels you the most, that is, the desire to do all for mankind, love your neighbor, etc by dabbling with Christians in some sort of provocative way? I don’t sense that but I’ve been wrong before.

    Whatever the case, just as there are brilliant minds in Secular Philosophy and the like who’ve written extensively, there are brilliant minds in the realm of Apologetics who’ve written extensively. I wonder if you’ve read them or have, for the most part, studied the issue with one eye open and the other closed. I’ve admitted I haven’t studied YEC or OEC and, for that matter, neither have I studied Dawkins, Freud, Marx and the others. I do know about evolution from my professional background as a doctor and having studied the sciences.

    If you want to know the truth, as a scientist, you’re obligated to chase down every bit of evidence for or against a particular hypothesis so as to make your theory hold more water and stand firmer. If you have extensively studied the Bible I applaud you and will have to take back what I’ve said as to the appearance that you’ve not.

    Again, I, personally write out of my experiences and what I’ve come to believe and understand, not parroting what others have told me in Sunday School as a child. I write my beliefs not from what I’ve seen in the way that others have acted or brilliantly said, but from what I’ve experienced in walking this life day after day.

    Well, this morning, this is turning out longer than I intended, people are waiting on me but just another thought. I’d also like to clarify what I believe because I think you are attributing some of your comments here to some of the generalities that you’ve come to understand based on what you’ve seen and heard from others, rather than me. Maybe you understand what’s below, but to be clear as to what I believe, here goes.

    I believe that God created the world and that man was initially perfect. Man sinned and thus, separated from God. God instituted the law and showed man what he had to do to become right with God again and to show that man is utterly incapable to keep said law. To provide a way for man to then be right with God, God sent Jesus who would become that righteousness for man for all who believe. Those who believe will be eternally with God, Heaven and those who do not believe will be eternally separated from God, Hell.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. HK, I do appreciate your honesty and candor and I believe that you are truly seeking the truth. I say all that to clarify a few things before responding and continuing the great dialogue.

    I am visiting people and this takes time to write, so, I’ll get back to this, probably monday, since I’m out of town and spending time with friends.

    Thanks again for the comments, everyone, thanks for the mutual respect. Gotta eat.

  28. I appreciate all the comments and the discussion on this topic as well. I think it is very important for people to be able to have conversations about these types of things and not arguments. I hope I have not come off as being combative or argumentative either. I only wish to explore these thoughts and present how I see things.

    I am a Christian and am glad to be one. I, like Cliff, believe that God was instrumental in the creation of all things and that includes mankind. Do I understand how it all came together? No, I do not. Neither side, the creationist nor the evolutionist, has all the answers and we may never find them all.

    I have studied science and love aspects of biology, biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology. I have done graduate work in some of these areas. I do not say this to brag but I say it to lay a foundation. In all of those may years as a student and graduate student there was nothing that I saw or studied that convinced me that we are mere products of time*matter*chance which is what evolution boils down to. I have studied evolution, granted not to the degree some have.

    As I look at the incredible complexity of a single cell, I see enzymes, proteins, DNA, RNA all working together for the cell to function. The extreme complexity of a single cell is evident, to me, of a design and thus a designer. I know the arguments of genetic mutation and natural selection. But the sheer probability of even of few of the enzymes essential for life coming together just perfectly in the primordial ooze is astronomical.

    I was listening to a speaker the other day. He was talking of a very well known astrophysicist who was looking at the very moments after the Big Bang. He said that the ratios between the contraction and expansion of the universe during those first picoseconds had to be so precise or the universe would have never come to be. He illustrated this by saying that you have a better chance at hitting a 1 sq inch target dead center from 200 billion light years away than for those ratios to have just happened by chance.

    I say all of this in order to give just a few examples of why I believe that God is real. There are many more that I shall not get into. But the most compelling for me is what God has done in my life. Through my belief that Jesus was God in the flesh here on Earth, that man is utterly ruined because of sin, because of His love for us Jesus died on the cross in order that the judgment for my sin be carried and paid for by Him, and that He rose from the dead three days later; God has done what He promised. The change in a person’s heart when becoming a follower of Jesus is very real. He did it in my life. No amount of argument or “logic” can change what God has done in my life and the lives of millions. You may not believe it nor accept it but that does not change the fact that it happened because it is something I have experienced first hand.

    We can talk logic and philosophy until we turn blue in the face. But the fact is that it really does not matter. What truly matters is what do you do with Jesus? There is no denying that He lived. You may argue that He was just a man, many people have. If He were just a man then where is His body. There are tombs and relics from other religious founders but no body for Jesus. He burial place was well known to all who had an interest in His death. And yet we have no body to account for. The real question that we all have to wrestle with is what will you do with Jesus?

    I know that this may have gotten off topic to some degree but for me it is the central theme in everything. Not trying to be combative or argumentative. Just trying to let you know a few of the reasons why I believe what I do. Believe me there are many many more.

  29. wtb1 wrote:

    “No amount of argument or “logic” can change what God has done in my life and the lives of millions. You may not believe it nor accept it but that does not change the fact that it happened because it is something I have experienced first hand.”

    And that, when it boils right down to it, is the inevitable end position. It is a position unassailable by logic or reason.

    “If He were just a man then where is His body. There are tombs and relics from other religious founders but no body for Jesus.” and “The real question that we all have to wrestle with is what will you do with Jesus?”

    The books of the Bible, written after His death, are the only historical evidence we have of His resurrection. The books themselves claim that He was seen by many after his resurrection, but we also know that some books may have been tampered with before appearing in their current configuration. As an example, there is significant debate about the true ending of the Gospel of Mark, which would include pretty much the entire post-resurrection story.

    What I do with Jesus is acknowledge that there are a variety of different possibilities that, if true, would not require Jesus to be the Son of God, starting with whether the Bible is an infallible source of historical information.

    Cliff wrote:
    “That said, hk, I wonder if you’ve studied the Bible and its supporting evidence as fervently and passionately as you’ve studied its opposition.”

    I have not read the Bible cover-to-cover, but I have read the entire New Testament and most of the Old, some parts many times. I also read The Case for Christ cover-to-cover (took notes), as well as The Purpose-Driven Life (just to name two, and not including the large amount of materials I have read online). I have participated in group Bible study as an adult and as a youth I was very active in my church’s youth group and as part of that group traveled to needy communities to perform community service.

    That being said, must I study every world religion with such passion? I would need to quit my job just to passionately study the Abrahamic religions and their vast number of denominations (many of whom claim truth against even other denominations of the same major religion). Then, what, do I move on to major Asian religions, or do I keep local and start with the more minor stuff in America? Native American religions? Wiccan and other Earth-centric pagan religions? I grew up with Christianity, have read quite a bit on it, maybe it would be fair to start somewhere else, circle back to Christianity near the end–several decades from now.

    I have found this to be pretty common among Christian apologetics . . . just like the simplistic 4-box argument about whether to pray or not vs. whether there is a God or now, on the underlying assumption that the only option is whether the Christian God exists or not and that is the only being one could pray to. The whole “What does it harm to believe [in Christianity]” argument, which I’ve already pointed out some of the fallacies of.

    Quite frankly, the opposite argument of yours is more often true, although that is a generalization that I can’t say applies here. How many Christians do you think have passionately and open-mindedly studied atheism, or agnosticism? My experience has been that most Christians only are exposed to these viewpoints while reading Christian apologetics . . . hardly a good source for a passionate and open-minded inquiry. Consider that, in this culture, most kids are indoctrinated pretty early in Christianity, and so the predisposition is against other views, not for them. Christianity is the dominant religion of this country, and so persecution is more often against atheists than by atheists (consider that there was recently a Christian drive to have PZ Myers (who authors and runs the blog Pharyngula) fired from his job because he threatened to desecrate a consecrated communion wafer).

    And this just covers a single viewpoint that is not compatible with Christianity.

    So I do my best to approach everything with a rational and logical mind. I’ve seen too many people believe too many crazy things to fall in line with any religion that either patently offends the basic notion of what I truly believe to be just and fair or that isn’t internally consistent and logical within itself. And if that is somehow not enough because only God knows what is just and fair, well, that goes back to just blind faith in my book, because any religion can throw that argument out there, that their God is the sole determiner of just and fair and therefore they are right and little ‘ole me with my pitifully puny mind just could never comprehend it. If only I just read their Book a little more, surely it would all make sense to me . . .

    The funny thing is that I don’t necessarily think religion is bad in and of itself. It certainly, like anything, has the potential to be, but generally on a small scale rather than on a large scale. When not trying to impose itself upon non-believers, churches provide valuable social glue within a community, and do encourage philanthropic and charitable endeavors. I also think that Jesus’ teachings have value. Even when separated from its divine attribution, The Golden Rule is still a damn fine rule (and, as I have argued before, is a rule that easily fits within the context of a secularly-organized society). I’m not that fond of Paul, who I see generally as more egocentrically judgmental and, if I can be totally honest, IMO possibly slightly (or significantly) unbalanced. Definitely fanatical. I think Thomas Jefferson was definitely on to something with his version of the Bible. Give me just Jesus and it’s a lot more compelling.

    Anyway those are just some random thoughts.

  30. Gen 31:7 But your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.

    (Rom 8:28 KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    In my life I have faced serious illnesses more than once….

    Baiscially initially when my children were born and they were facing serious sickness.. My wife, and I and our church prayed seriuoulsy for them..

    and when I was next myself becamse serioulsy ill too.. and I can assure you that in desperation I prayed seriuoulsy as well..

    AND I HAVE OFTEN PRAYED FOR OTHER SICK PERSONS NOW TOO.

    What initially ALSO appeared as the most tragic demonic events in my own life next, they had turned out to be the most blessed event, even prolonging my life.

    Imagine that I as an adult in Calgary Alberta was firstly fired from my job because I had refused to cheat, lie, steal on behalf of my firm. Next my sadly unfaithful wife filed for divorce, and she ven stole my personal belongings and my 3 children too, even our house next went into foreclosure and was taken over by the bank, so what can happen worse than that?

    Well next the pastor of the local church tried to kick me out of the local church cause I could not longer give to him, and he for sure falsely was not willing to give in return.. What next?

    Well for 2 years the lying, pretending local bad doctors, hospital could find anything wrong with me too.. even though I knew for sure there was something wrong with me..

    So I next moved back to my home town, Montreal to another province, Quebec.

    Shortly the doctors there confirmed the fact that I need quintuplet heart by pass surgery, and they also next installed a pacer, and a defliberator as well.. thus prolonging my life much longer than had I strayed in Calgary Alberta.

    You see I was working and living in Calgary Alberta in 1982 and for 2 years I had gone to various doctors, I had undergone various medical tests and the doctors said they could find nothing wrong with me specifically, rather it appears they must have known the truth but refused to do anything, for the Alberta government has a policy that they give medical services priority mainly to people born in Alberta. Had my wife not filed for divorce for sure I would have had been dead next there, and when she filed for divorce, we lost our home as the lawyers had seized it for their future payments, so next I had no choice but to eventually go back to Montreal to firstly get medical help cause I was in continually stomach pains. By the blood pressure alone the doctor should have know how seriously I was sick, 165/145.. my wife being a nurse she knew right away.. God even told me I was seriously ill.. and he had refused to allow me to work hard.

    When I got to Montréal and visited the McGill Hospital, the doctors here said I was ok originally, amused me and put me into a bed for 4 weeks and conducted no medical tests at all.. next finally they decided to discharge me, but someone had to sign off on me and they decided to do one test, the echo gram, the technician doing the test next she start to cry, and I asked her why she was crying, she replied that I was too young to have such a serious heart problem, 1/3 of my heart was dead. The next day the doctor said the McGill Hospital came and told me that there was nothing they could do for me, I would have to go home and get ready to die. But right then at the same time I heard Jesus say “do not worry Paul, it will all turn out all right”.. so next day the 2 doctors came back and and said they will give me a heart surgery tomorrow, a quintuplet heart by pass. After the heart surgery I was totally normal for 2 weeks but then it seemed to have been inadequate.. the surgery was only partially successful. I was able to walk but I had difficulties in any serious exercise, physical activity. God told me next he took my wife away cause it was her bad cooking that was killing me, something the dieticians confirmed next too. He God had now freed me to work on the internet, I have been on the internet actually since computers had first started in the 80’s both as a political lobbyist on behalf of all Canadians, as a Christian pastor promoting God’s truth.

    I had now also wanted to return to Alberta, because I loved the weather and scenery there,so as I prayed as to why I could not go back there. God told me I he had provided everything I needed in the city of LaSalle Montreal where I was I was even for my medical care. I shortly had a vision. It was a view of Montreal from above, but on the south side of the Montréal, across the river instead was a huge European looking city. I was told I could not cross the south river, and I saw from the air above the Montreal General Hospital and I was told I would have to go there next. That week my main doctor called and said I would have to go to the hospital to have a defliberator installed for I have a tendency to die in my sleep. So they implanted the medical device and next it significantly improved my breathing.

    I was now also basically limited to biking, since walking any long distance was too difficult for me but eventually next even Biking that was too hard for me, I could not make it up the hill. So in desperation I prayed and told God that. Just after I had prayed the phone rang and a fellow said he had acquired an electric bike he would like to sell me. I bought it, and it really solved my biking need. I loved it. I could travel at 30 mph and do about 60 miles before I recharge it, bout 2 a week.

    Meanwhile I continue on the net daily for hours, generally my mornings at least, writing my messages, replying to letters. I have been happy, fulfilled with God the last 15 years too. I have been very visibly active on the net as a Christian, even daily writing Bible devotionals to many pastors, college students too. Gladly here doing the work of the Lord. Although I liked being a pastor of a home church better in Calgary, I loved the daily home , hospital and political visitations too. So as you see there are no complaints here. God let me serve him more next instead of having me die. God had said to me also he had let me live cause I had served him..

    Is 61:1 THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed {and} qualified me to preach the Gospel {of} good tidings to the meek, the poor, {and} afflicted; He has sent me to bind up {and} heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison {and} of the eyes to those who are bound, Is 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, Is 61:3 To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion–to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, {and} failing spirit–that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Is 61:4 And they shall rebuild the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former desolations and renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

    Is 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Is 61:11 For as [surely as] the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring forth, so [surely] the Lord God will cause rightness {and} justice and praise to spring forth before all the nations [through the self-fulfilling power of His word].

    Is 62:11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the Daughter of Zion, Behold, your salvation comes [in the person of the Lord]; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work {and} recompense before Him. Is 62:12 And they shall call them the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken.

    God through Jesus Christ has promised to deliver us from all of sickness, sadness, sorrows, troubles even today, and we can stand on many such promises in his Word, the Bible. There is no pit that you fall into that is so deep that Jesus now next cannot still help you out off.

    Many professing Christian persons still do have concerns such as “Teach me how to pray for healing?” or ” I Prayed for healing but nothing happened yet?”

    It is firstly important to remember that the right of praying for healing in Jesus name by faith in God’s word, his written promise to us is the Children’s bread only, meaning this right belongs to all real genuine Christians, not to secular or still ungodly persons basically. Secondly if you prayed for healing, and nothing happen first give it some time, secondly pray again till you do next get the healing, even pray to find out why the healing has not happened..

    Now I know very specifically that I with 2 other church elders had prayed in a specific period for 28 people to be healed, and yet next only half were undeniably healing, but God there at the same time had revealed simultaneously to all three of us the same reasons, obstacles as to why the other persons were still not healed, including their unconfessed major sins, personal inadequacies that had to be dealt with, and in some of those cases next we prayed again for the same persons and they were healed or delivered from their bondage, sicknesses.

    If you are a false teacher, a false prophet, and there are much too many of them in the Christian, secular environment, do not basically expect God firstly and rightfully to hear your prayers.. even for healing. You rather need first to get right with God yourself.

    Phil 4:4 KJV) Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

    More Wine does not prevent Cancers, nor does being a drunk, or smoking, doing bad drugs prolong ones health too.. Only Jesus does..

    I can honestly say that the worse things that had happened to me in my own life next had turned out to be the best thing for me.. they caused me to grow spiritually and to grow closer to the Lord too, and we know that all things work for the good for those who love God..

    (2 Cor 1:3 KJV) Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

    (2 Cor 1:4 KJV) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

    (2 Cor 1:5 KJV) For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

    (2 Cor 1:6 KJV) And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

    (2 Cor 1:7 KJV) And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

    http://pbulow.tripod.com/
    http://anyonecare.wordpress.com/2008/05/26/how-to-pray-for-healing/

  31. Wow, there’s a lot I could comment on but time limits me. But here are a few thoughts.

    For Nonconformer, it seems like you’ve been through some major ordeals. I admire your faith in God and your steadfast belief in Him as well as your commitment. As far as Canadian Healthcare, that’s another topic. Thanks for all the links. I appreciate your candidness as well and sharing your life experience. No one can argue with what you went through, what you believe, and how you’ve been changed. You raise some interesting topics such as faith-healing and God working out all things for your good.

    ————————————————————————————————–

    For HKTelemacher, I think I would personally call the Mark issue’s “significant” debate outside the realm of “dominant” scholarly study, though that doesn’t mean the non-dominants can’t be wrong, just as the dominant vs. non-dominant discussion in science/evolution/etc you’ve referred to previously.

    Ultimately, you’re right, the discussion should come down to Jesus and not the different sects, denominations that have emerged over the years. You’re also right that it’d be impossible for most to do an extensive study on all of those religions. But again, it comes back to our topic, Christianity.

    I haven’t extensively researched all of the other religions or even atheistic doctrine for that matter. But remember, I have posted what I’ve found/experienced in my life over the years. I believe that the Bible is true and Jesus is the only way to Heaven so I’ve not found a need to look for an alternative way. You’ve come here questioning the authenticity of Christianity, the truth of God and Jesus. And you are more than welcome to. It’s in response to your questions/evidence about Christianity that I’ve responded previously. And if it’s a scientific issue to you, study it honestly, thoroughly and equally from both sides.

    The big issue is that God/Jesus should be on trial, not Christians. It sounds like some of what you’ve seen in “Christians” doesn’t jive with what Christians should be. It also seems that you’ve taken some of what you believe indirectly from the words/explanations from Christians. That again is ok, but there are many things that people and denominations purport to be truth from the Bible, yet it has been “doctored” or misinterpreted or misconstrued to effect a message they wish to convey. Certainly, there’s a lot of people calling themselves a Christian yet finding themselves unable to tell what and why they believe.

    As far as your friend PZ at Pharyngula. I just briefly went to the site one day last week as a link from your page. I don’t know much of the story but it sounds to me kind of like he tried to go to a Pit Bull’s doghouse and slap the dog in the face and steal his doggie bone. When the dog bit him he started telling everyone, “hey, this dog bit me, how unfair.” It seems like he has provoked the outcry from the pit bull. So, for one, intentionally provoking someone hardly flies in my book for someone who might espouse Social Contract Theory. Two, can you blame the pit bull for biting back in the face of provocation? Third, it is true that many times “Christians” have attacked others and done stuff in the name of Christianity but, it seems to me, that he (PZMyers) started the fight (not that fighting’s right).

  32. I often still do notice that the people who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord tend to be readily baptized with the holy spirit.. manifest more holy spirit gifts and the people who accept Jesus as savor only tend to make intellectual Christians, not real Christians, not anointed with the holy spirit. I have definitely in Canada witnessed that half of all even once loudly proclaiming Christians, pastors , even those evidently once had been anointed by the Holy Sprit they used their own free will choice and next turn deliberately their back on God by their own free will.. even some of my best friends.. they had openly even admitted to me that they had sold themselves to the devil next.. Like Apostle Judas did.. cause Christianity had no given them in this world all they had wanted.. they certainly at one time were just as much a Christian now as I am.. Now next many persons make false displensaltionist judgments on persons they do not know and try to said instead a Christian cannot be possessed, cannot do this, they thus have never been a Christian, they had never been saved.. or enlightened.. but they had been undeniably definitely a Christian at one time too. And they had trend their back ob God.. Apostle peter did as well but he repented of I next. So did Samson, others did not like King Saul..

    I believe in everyone’s’ right of free speech, right to to be heard as well.. I really do not promote their views.. I discuss them. Even if I do not agree with them still too.

    You said some of my theology came from others? well basically I know that is not true.. I often do refer to others in what I know God has also taught me the same things , or had confirmed the same thing in the Bible .. Nice talking with you..

  33. Nonconformer said: You said some of my theology came from others? well basically I know that is not true.. I often do refer to others in what I know God has also taught me the same things , or had confirmed the same thing in the Bible .. Nice talking with you..

    Hi nonconformer. Sorry about the confusion. No, that’s in response to hk telemacher. My response to you was:

    Nonconformer, it seems like you’ve been through some major ordeals. I admire your faith in God and your steadfast belief in him as well as your commitment. As far as Canadian Healthcare, that’s another topic. Thanks for all the links. I appreciate your candidness as well and sharing your life experience. No one can argue with what you went through, what you believe, and how you’ve been changed. You raise some interesting topics such as faith-healing and God working out all things for your good

    Nonconformer, everything else starting at “HK” I wrote was in response to hktelemacher. Sorry for the confusion, I’ll try to post comments to individuals in an exclusive window. I will edit that comment section to make it more clear. Have a good day. Again, I appreciate your faith and comments.

  34. PZ is more liberal, I am a libertarian, so I ascribe more to the likes of Hobbes and Locke than he does. We’re not really in the same bucket in that sense :)

    Personally I find the whole rigid structure of Catholicism to be unappealing and sometimes more than slightly ridiculous (if this is a tangent we can wander down). So while PZ knew he would be upsetting Catholics (although in his final act he also desecrated a Koran and a copy of The God Delusion), I personally don’t consider some of their various reactions to be justified. Here again, outside of someone’s subjective experience with a consecrated wafer (it saved my life, it fixed my car, I feel more saved, whatever), there is nothing objective to the notion that the wafer undergoes any physical change upon being chanted or waved at by anyone, including priests.

    “The big issue is that God/Jesus should be on trial, not Christians.”

    Depending on the underlying assumptions of one’s inquiry, it may be impossible to separate the two. I’d go more into it, but I’m afraid nonconformist would hit me up with another 50 Bible verses!

    “That again is ok, but there are many things that people and denominations purport to be truth from the Bible, yet it has been “doctored” or misinterpreted or misconstrued to effect a message they wish to convey.”

    This is one of the things so compelling about a more secular/scientific worldview–there are more interpretations of the Bible than grains of sand on the beach. Yet if for each such grain of sand I would count, I was to roll a bowling ball off the edge of my desk, the physical law of gravity would pull it to the ground. While you cannot physically see gravity the way you can see clouds or puppy dogs or whatever, gravity is measurable, and its effects are repeatable on demand. Gravity does not demand prayer, or specialized chants of any kind to invoke its mechanisms. I don’t have to worry about whether the bowling ball will fall or not depending on some unknowable grand plan gravity has for all the world. When I push the bowling ball off the desk, I don’t have to worry about whether I have done something displeasing to gravity, such that I might have to spend the next 15 years lashed to the Earth with tether because gravity has decided it will no longer keep my feet on the ground.

    And how do you know for a certainty that a particular opinion of the Bible is “doctored” or misinterpreted or misconstrued? People who espouse interpretations of the Bible seem to each have an much conviction as the other that their view is right and *your* view, or *my* view, or nonconformist’s view is doctored or a misinterpretation, etc. Unless you are willing to forgo completely the objective concept of God (which I greatly suspect you are not), it is only opinion as to what type of interpretation leads to eternal reward. You say “Oh but the Bible says this”, but others of similar conviction say “Oh but the Bible says that”.

    And, as has been pointed out, these different interpretations have real consequences depending on whether they actually are Truth or not. You, or I, or the nonconformist could go to Hell for all eternity! How can anyone have any comfort under such a system? You can never know, outside of a subjective feeling (or upon death, I suppose), whether you’re getting it right. And feelings are so manipulatable . . .

  35. manipulable. pfeh, some much for a graceful end to a comment (even assuming I’ve got it right on a second attempt).

  36. I disagree with a lot of Catholicism’s teaching. I am not a Catholic, but a Protestant which you probably have figured out. As far as Protestants and interpretations, there are lots of denominatinos as you know but the vast majority would hold to Jesus as the way to Salvation. I agree there are several (not as many as the sands) interpretations of what’s in the Bible, many of which, while important to a particular denomination, have no impact on eternity (dancing, drinking, baptism with immersion or being sprinkled, etc.) I think there is far less interpretive difference when it comes to Jesus being the way to Heaven (he either is or isn’t).

    As far as the various reactions, yeah, I think people do way over react to situations and make themselves look foolish. My point though was that Myers was being pretty provocative and surely knew that he would provoke a lot of people.

    It does come down ultimately to whether or not someone wants to put their faith in God. There are many apologists and lots of compelling arguments that many people find to be proof enough of God’s existence and that Jesus is the way to salvation. For other’s it is not so compellilng.

    I would argue, as you do with gravity (that you can’t see it but see it’s effects), that one can also see the effect that God/Jesus has had though you can’t see His person. I can tell you person after person whose life has been changed as a result of God’s work in their life. Other’s can tell about miracles that have happened in their lives. Still others have told about supernatural happenings in their lives that convince them of God’s presence. (Some have experienced, particularly in animistic and third world countries, evidence of denomic activity, which, in a secular worldview, wouldn’t exist either).

    I agree feelings are manipulable and think that people have really taken advantage of that over the years.

    One last though, in an earlier post, you said you felt that Paul was egocentrically judgmental. I disagree, I find that he’s very concerned about the welfare of others and that he seeks to glorify God more than anything else. That gave me an idea to write about it and summarize the books he wrote, trying to address the question if Paul is egocentric.

  37. “I would argue, as you do with gravity (that you can’t see it but see it’s effects), that one can also see the effect that God/Jesus has had though you can’t see His person. I can tell you person after person whose life has been changed as a result of God’s work in their life.”

    Gravity’s effects are consistent, and measurable. Having faith in God/Jesus is looking for patterns amidst chaos. It goes back to the title of this post, right? Why do bad things happen to good people? I push the bowling ball off the desk, it falls. Slight curve as its horizontal momentum carries it off the edge, in a path that can be calculated based on other things that can be measured, such as velocity, or acceleration, and height.

    The activities of God, on the other hand, are all over the place. Right? That is why we have to ask these questions in the first place. Some people pray, and God never heals them. Some die. Some live. Some, purportedly, are healed, although no reputable scientific study has proven the existence of miracles. Children are orphaned. People win the lottery. Some people’s entire lives are ruined by hurricanes, or earthquakes, while others have year after year of good crops, or picked a location for their business that ends up being highly desirable. Some in every category are Christians, some are not.

    At the end of the day, when faced with so many conflicting acts and events, we’re left to shrug our shoulders and make vague, hand-waving conclusions about how one thing or another is God’s plan, whether that event benefited or harmed someone. That’s just a tough one to swallow.

    A (very Christian, compared to me) good friend of mine once told me that he likened me to the Pharaoh in Exodus, that perhaps the Lord for some reason has hardened my heart. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that would be a violation of free will (although one that according to the Bible, God doesn’t seem to have a problem doing when it suits his purposes). So who knows. Must be a plan.

    btw I am reading your other entries. Have been thinking hard about whether to comment on the thread on mockery, bit not sure what I would say. Strange impulse.

  38. Welcome back HK, I thought you might have gotten bored or just done with the conversation (I think I may have made noncormer mad – misunderstanding about who I was commenting to). You’re right, gravity is measurable and I understand what you mean about God’s plan being a “tough one to swallow.” But I find it difficulty to argue with someone’s personal experience with God and Jesus. So, do you consider yourself a Christian (“very Christian, compared to me” comment)?

    In the end, I do think we worry and obsess too much about all the things that happen, why they happen, how they happen, etc. I think, as wtb has said, that ultimately it does come down to what we do with Jesus and faith. I certainly don’t understand everything about God and often find myself saying like Paul, that I “see through a glass darkly.” But I prefer to cast my lot with Jesus.

    Feel free to comment and say whatever you want (of course without being obscene or something). I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the mockery post.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s nice to know that someone somewhere is reading, regardless of what you believe. G’day.

  39. “So, do you consider yourself a Christian (”very Christian, compared to me” comment)?”

    I was raised a United Methodist, active in the church. I’ve been a member of the United Methodist church for pretty much all my life. What am I really? I don’t know anymore. I ask questions like “Is Ghandi in Heaven?” and “How can I follow a faith that would condemn such a man?” I know that, according to the vast majority of Christian denominations, Ghandi is not in Heaven (I don’t consider those churches that believe everyone goes to Heaven as being consistent with what I’ve read in the Bible). But even if you don’t credit him with creating non-violent mass protest against tyrannical forces (even Jesus drove money changers from the temple), there is little question that he is one of the pioneers of peace in the 20th century. Ghandi took his free will and did make the world a better place, inspiring Christians and non-Christians alike.

    If I am to believe that God exists, and is a perfectly just being, then any faith so offensive to a just result must not be the product of such a perfect being.

    Ghandi said of Hinduism:
    “Hinduism as I know it entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being…When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and when I see not one ray of light on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita, and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. My life has been full of tragedies and if they have not left any visible and indelible effect on me, I owe it to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.”

    If I accept your subjective experience of God and Jesus, am I not also obligated to accept Ghandi’s subjective experience of religion? What am I left with but to look to my own faculties and say what is measurable, what is consistent, what is just?

    And so, I continue my struggle.

  40. Pingback: Someone keeps deleting my comments. Too bad they can’t delete my blog. « ZenPolitics

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