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juniper
01-22-2015, 11:06 PM
This is something I struggle with. I have for many many years, and one of the reasons I don't believe that God (god, gods) are involved in individual personal lives.

When something nice, fun, helpful, positive happens, certain people credit God for it. "God is good." "God is good!!!!!" "God answered my prayers."

But when something wrong, evil, negative happens, I don't see those people saying, "God is bad." "God didn't answer my prayers."

When a football player who just scored a winning touchdown says, "God was on my side," does that mean God wasn't on the side of the defensive player who failed to stop the touchdown? So God plays favorites? He likes the orange team better than the green team?

This week a semi-tragedy with my grandson turned into a massive relief when he walked out of the hospital 2 days after being struck by a car and sent into ICU in seemingly critical condition. My husband posted about it on FB and he got many nice responses. I shook my head over the ones that were along the lines of "God is good."

Because, what if he hadn't survived, or had been brain damaged, or lost a leg, or something else bad had happened? What would the FB posts have said then?

If someone credits God with a good thing, shouldn't that person also blame God when a bad thing occurs?

:Shrug:

I guess that's why the notion of the devil came into play. He's the one to blame for bad stuff - but still, if God is considered the ultimate power, he should be able to stop the devil - if he wanted to, which apparently he didn't, so then God's playing favorites again.

I really, really don't understand this thinking. When I question my husband about it, he says it doesn't make sense either, but then he makes comments about God being good ... he attends a Christian church and I don't.

Can someone talk me through this? Explain the reasoning?

I hope this doesn't sound confrontational. I don't mean it that way - I'm just confused by this and have been for a long time. The incident with my grandson this week brought it back into my thoughts.

RichardGarfinkle
01-22-2015, 11:14 PM
As an atheist, I can't help with your question about God, but it is good that your grandson is okay.

sassandgroove
01-22-2015, 11:26 PM
I am not an expert. I grew up in church but I don't attend anymore. I feel that what those people are doing and what you are asking is a way people comfort themselves but not necessarily accurate. Does that make sense? I have doubts and question too even though I pray every day. I don't understand stuff in the old testament about offerings and why Jesus had to die for us, but I still pray to God and Jesus. I don't know the answer to your question. I know that when we were given free will (Eve at the apple) evil and sin entered the picture. I don't know where I'm going with that. Bad things happen to good people and I don't know why. Good things happen to bad people, too. I know people who say that God can bring good out of bad events. I'm going to stop now.


Can someone talk me through this? Explain the reasoning? Maybe there isn't reasoning? Faith is believing when you don't know or understand. So I'vebeen told.

Alpha Echo
01-22-2015, 11:45 PM
I wish I could help you, but I struggle with a lot myself. I grew up in a Christian home attending a Baptist church. I no longer go to church, but my entire family does. My mother has turned into something I don't even speak to anymore (she's so far to the right it becomes insanity). My father and stepmom as well as my baby sister and her husband are all active in their churches (my brother-in-law is the praise pastor), and I respect and love them greatly.

But I still have ideas and questions with which they don't seem to struggle.

This past weekend, I visited my sister, and late in the night, she asked me how my relationship was with God. I knew she wasn't asking to pry or to pester or lecture or anything but out of a pure and kind heart that genuinely worries for me. I told her I feel I'm great with God - I pray every night, and my faith has never wavered.

And yet.

And yet I wonder the same things you do. I question how the Old Testament and the New Testament can possible be speaking of the same God. I prefer to believe the New Testament and follow Jesus' example of love than to believe in the wrath and fury of the Old. I believe Jesus loves homosexuals and transgenders and everyone in between all the same. I believe that my God may be your Allah and his Buddha.

When I asked my sister why...why God can't be the same across religions...but different (if that makes sense), her words made me cringe, "Because our Bible tells us so." (Okay, not those exact words, but still).

When I asked her why we have to believe our Bible, what makes ours right and everyone else's wrong, she said she thinks it's because ours gives us an alternative - should we not believe we go to hell. But that's not an answer. Our Bible should be just as infallible as all the other books on gods, so...what if they really are all written about the same God? The same Jesus? Or in the very least, a belief in something bigger and better and stronger than all of us?

Needless to say, our conversation went in circles. she's probably one of the few people IRL I can talk to about this without being hurt...or hurting in return.

I'm so sorry. This became a derail as I just kind of spilled out my recent struggles.

I wish I had an answer for you, but there is so much we can't understand. Perhaps we're not meant to. Perhaps Sass is right and that's where Faith comes in.

I can say that I believe in God and Jesus with all my heart and soul. That has never faltered. Not really. That doesn't mean I don't question soooooo many things. Everything. From the words and stories of the Bible to the existence of hell. And I'll never understand how anyone can be truly joyful at the idea of the second coming...and coming now. I want to live my life here first, before I find out what's on the other side.

sassandgroove
01-23-2015, 12:01 AM
I believe that my God may be your Allah and his Buddha.I feel that way too. I wonder if we have so many churches and places of worship and worship styles because we all interpret our sense of God differently.

Alpha Echo
01-23-2015, 12:07 AM
I feel that way too. I wonder if we have so many churches and places of worship and worship styles because we all interpret our sense of God differently.

That's exactly what I think. And is that so wrong? Why does it have to be "my" God the way this book says...or no God at all?

Devil Ledbetter
01-23-2015, 12:24 AM
This is something I struggle with. I have for many many years, and one of the reasons I don't believe that God (god, gods) are involved in individual personal lives.

When something nice, fun, helpful, positive happens, certain people credit God for it. "God is good." "God is good!!!!!" "God answered my prayers."

But when something wrong, evil, negative happens, I don't see those people saying, "God is bad." "God didn't answer my prayers."

When a football player who just scored a winning touchdown says, "God was on my side," does that mean God wasn't on the side of the defensive player who failed to stop the touchdown? So God plays favorites? He likes the orange team better than the green team?

This week a semi-tragedy with my grandson turned into a massive relief when he walked out of the hospital 2 days after being struck by a car and sent into ICU in seemingly critical condition. My husband posted about it on FB and he got many nice responses. I shook my head over the ones that were along the lines of "God is good."

Because, what if he hadn't survived, or had been brain damaged, or lost a leg, or something else bad had happened? What would the FB posts have said then?

If someone credits God with a good thing, shouldn't that person also blame God when a bad thing occurs?

:Shrug:

I guess that's why the notion of the devil came into play. He's the one to blame for bad stuff - but still, if God is considered the ultimate power, he should be able to stop the devil - if he wanted to, which apparently he didn't, so then God's playing favorites again.

I really, really don't understand this thinking. When I question my husband about it, he says it doesn't make sense either, but then he makes comments about God being good ... he attends a Christian church and I don't.

Can someone talk me through this? Explain the reasoning?

I hope this doesn't sound confrontational. I don't mean it that way - I'm just confused by this and have been for a long time. The incident with my grandson this week brought it back into my thoughts.

I can only come at this from an atheist viewpoint, fwiw.

I call what you're describing God Always Gets A Pass. Believers attribute good things to God, and bad things to "the fallen world" "free will" "the fallen nature of humans" "the devil" and so on. At best they will attribute a bad thing to God but make it out to be a good thing e.g., "God needed another angel." "God sent that hurricane because of teh gays and abortions." Or they'll make it out to be a mystery, "God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform, we are too puny to understand" and so on.

I see these as outs that allow the believer to continue believing despite evidence that (for a nonbeliever, at least) contradicts God's goodness or even his existence.

The other thing I think about God is that how one describes him tells you more about the describer than it does about God.

Ken
01-23-2015, 12:45 AM
God is a billion times wiser than us mortals. So IMO it is probably not a productive thing to try to understand the ways of God. It is comparable to an ant trying to understand the ways of Man. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather it is something to be awed by. And that is why we have built churches in His honor and pray to Him and worship Him. That is in short why He is God ! And between us, if anyone at all is able to translate God's actions it is our priests. That, my friend, is their function. So return to the fold, pronto. Amongst other things you've got a hug coming to thee from me :-)

kuwisdelu
01-23-2015, 02:50 AM
I'm not Christian, so I can't speak to a Christian interpretation.

But I believe gods are fallible and aren't all-powerful.

Things get a lot simpler when you discard omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence.

stephenf
01-23-2015, 03:05 AM
Humans have struggled with with their life and it's meaning . Gods are a human invention , in an attempt to answer some of the mystery of life. Gods don't actuly exist .

Chris P
01-23-2015, 03:19 AM
I think what you're reacting to in people's "God is good" statements is a shallow theology, but a well-meaning one nevertheless. I got really annoyed after September 11 with all the email stories about the guy who stopped to buy his wife an anniversary card and missed being in the towers. The conclusion is that God was watching over him. What about the 3000 people he, by that reasoning, wasn't watching out for? Therefore all I can say about people who say such things is to take the good intentions for what they are.

A deeper theology is one where the believer accepts suffering and tragedy as something that happens despite God being good all the time. I don't subscribe to the idea that God causes suffering to test us (he allowed Job in the Bible to be tested, but that was a one-off, and the book itself tells us so). Nor do I believe that suffering is a tit-for-tat consequence of sin, or that it all cosmically balances in some way and suffering is necessary to experience the joys. What I believe, and might not be able to say very well here, is that the grace of God works through the suffering, no matter how bad it gets. He's still there in our lives, even though nasty stuff is happening. There are still principled ways I'm expected to behave in the midst of it. At a most basic level I look for what I can learn from suffering, or else I've gone through it all for nothing.

Although as a Christian I "officially" believe in the Devil, he doesn't play very much into my daily activities or even when things get bad. In a lot of ways, the presence of the Devil creates more questions than it answers (not you, Devil Ledbetter! You're aces!). That's one part of my theology that probably bears more reflection.

Osulagh
01-23-2015, 03:26 AM
The atheism in this thread....


This is one of those sunday school questions that come up rather often, and possibly one of the problems with historic revisions done to the bible.

One of the more common interpretations of the Christian God's "bad" actions is to have a good outcome. This takes several forms, most notably to "test your faith" as in when God tests your faith by putting you under bad conditions. If you're able to uphold your faith in God, then you will be granted his grace.

Siri Kirpal
01-23-2015, 04:59 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

God is omnipresent, is the Totality. Therefore, God is neither good nor bad. God is simply the greater-than-the-sum of what is happening.

But in your case, I understand why people say "God is good." It's basically the same as saying "Thank God."

Probably didn't answer your question.

The problem occurs when people root for their own team rather than the Whole. This is what leads to good and bad...besides that our brains work that way.

Hope some of that made sense.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

A_Read
01-23-2015, 05:37 AM
I'm not adding a lot, but here's my two cents...

I agree with Chris that handing out a "God is good" to every event that we consider good is shallow theology. Yes, if you believe in the Bible and the God of the Bible, He is good. Completely and utterly. But terrible things happening does not negate this fact. The theological reasons for "bad things" happening include the following (and this is my dumbed-down version because it's me talking, not a theologian):

1- God gave us free will. Sometimes people abuse this. Actually a lot of the time. But God doesn't usually stop the consequences of the bad things that we do because He wants us to make our own choices.

2- "bad things" allow us to grow in our faith. I don't know about everyone else, but I do tend to grow more when things are not all sunshine and roses. I don't think God sits there and thinks "Hm, Joe hasn't prayed in a while, I'm gonna smite him with a car accident so he learns some humility." No. Not at all. That bad stuff comes as a result of someone else's free will, or from the Devil, among other things. But God still uses that stuff for good, even when that feels impossible.

God doesn't cause the bad stuff. But sometimes He allows it. As humans, we cannot ever completely understand exactly why. But that does not make it wrong to wonder why, to question what you believe, doubt sometimes, and ask questions. I believe God wants us to do these things and that's part of why He gave us the ability to reason and think through things.

Alpha Echo, I believe in God, like you do. Everything I know about God comes from the Bible. I'd have no idea who God or Jesus was if it had never been written. The way I read it, if you believe in the God of the Bible and Jesus, then it's presumed that you believe the whole Bible. Jesus says in Luke 16:17, that every word of "the Law" (the part of the Bible that existed in His day) is true. It is not easy to believe all of it and it does require faith. But if you believe in the God of the Bible, and He claims to have inspired every word of it, then either He's a liar, confused, or...He actually did. (2 Timothy 3:16). At least that's how I read it.

Osulagh, in regards to your last comment, I don't believe that one can earn God's grace. I think it's available to everyone, regardless of whether we deserve it or not. If a person's faith is strengthened through difficult circumstances, then that is its own reward. The faithful are promised rewards in Heaven, too.

StarryEyes
01-23-2015, 05:48 AM
I'm not Christian, so I can't speak to a Christian interpretation.

But I believe gods are fallible and aren't all-powerful.

Things get a lot simpler when you discard omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence.

Agree 100%.

Also, I believe that the Gods's interest sometimes conflict with each other, especially if your relationships with them vary a lot. Take, for example, the story of Odysseus. He had a strong relationship with Athena and she clearly cared for him, helping him and intervening in his favour throughout the epic. On the other hand, he offended Poseidon, who in return made his life very difficult. There were two very different forces at play here. That's how I explain the Gods being both "good" and "bad" from a human perspective - coupled with the fact that, as above, I don't believe them to be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.

At least, that's my polytheistic perspective ;)

benbradley
01-23-2015, 07:13 AM
Disclaimer, I'm a Christian by heritage (attended a mainstream Baptist church growing up), and as an adult spent years involved in 12-step programs, during and after which I spent a lot of time reading about God and various religions and beliefs, and ended up educating myself out of any belief.

This is something I struggle with. I have for many many years, and one of the reasons I don't believe that God (god, gods) are involved in individual personal lives.

When something nice, fun, helpful, positive happens, certain people credit God for it. "God is good." "God is good!!!!!" "God answered my prayers."
I've heard this a lot too.

But when something wrong, evil, negative happens, I don't see those people saying, "God is bad." "God didn't answer my prayers."
You might hear them say "What did I do wrong?" or "It's God's Will." I've heard people say God DID answer their prayers, and the answer was no.

The Christian God I grew up with is ALWAYS good. Somewhere along the way I got the idea that the word good was an extension of the word God, and likewise Devil was derived from the word evil. That's folk etymology and perhaps wrong as far as actual word origins, but it's probably close enough for modern purposes.

Bad things happening are sometimes seen as God's Will as I mention above, but it may also be seen as one's own failings.

When a football player who just scored a winning touchdown says, "God was on my side," does that mean God wasn't on the side of the defensive player who failed to stop the touchdown? So God plays favorites? He likes the orange team better than the green team?

This week a semi-tragedy with my grandson turned into a massive relief when he walked out of the hospital 2 days after being struck by a car and sent into ICU in seemingly critical condition. My husband posted about it on FB and he got many nice responses. I shook my head over the ones that were along the lines of "God is good."

Because, what if he hadn't survived, or had been brain damaged, or lost a leg, or something else bad had happened? What would the FB posts have said then?
If such posts have religious/Christian references, they'd likely say the boy is "in a better place" or that it is "God's Will."


If someone credits God with a good thing, shouldn't that person also blame God when a bad thing occurs?

:Shrug:

I guess that's why the notion of the devil came into play. He's the one to blame for bad stuff - but still, if God is considered the ultimate power, he should be able to stop the devil - if he wanted to, which apparently he didn't, so then God's playing favorites again.

You're applying logic here, and some might tell you that logic shouldn't be used with religion and God, that these are metaphysical things that transcend human inventions such as logic.

...
I believe that my God may be your Allah and his Buddha.
The Christian (and Judaic) God and the Islamic Allah are Abrahamic religions, and have the typical Western idea of God in common, but from what I've read, Buddha is definitely NOT like any of these, and is neither a deity nor a messiah (as are Jesus and Mohammed). This equivalence of Buddha as God appears to be a Western interpretation.

God is a billion times wiser than us mortals.
Where did this "billion times" figure come from?

So IMO it is probably not a productive thing to try to understand the ways of God. It is comparable to an ant trying to understand the ways of Man. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather it is something to be awed by. And that is why we have built churches in His honor and pray to Him and worship Him.
Are these chuches not built in what WE THINK is His honor? How do we know this, other than, as mentioned before, what the Bible says?

That is in short why He is God ! And between us, if anyone at all is able to translate God's actions it is our priests.
With as much as I've studied about God and religion, I should be a priest or minister myself, but I don't think "they" would want me.

C.bronco
01-23-2015, 07:23 AM
God can give us the strength to make it through heartache and difficult times. Sometimes, we can't see the big picture. Sometimes, it is a challenge, and we can't always see how it can help us to help others in the future.

There was an extended period when I was afraid to ask, "What else could possibly happen?," mainly because it did keep happening. If you haven't seen the Neil Simon play, God's Favorite, you may want to.


We are stewards, and need to help others who are going through the impossible; maybe, sometimes, we can only do that if we have been there ourselves.

Underdawg47
01-23-2015, 09:17 AM
I recall a time I went over to my friend’s place to play video games, and when I got there he was all excited about this new kind of virtual reality game. He said it was different from any game I had ever played before and he was so right. I, much like everyone else, had played some sophisticated games where the characters are so realistic and the artwork is so beautiful. Your characters could do so many adventuresome and daring things, if only you could keep them alive long enough. Oh well, your character dies, so you spawn another one. No big deal right?

That’s what I used to think up until my friend introduced me to the newest kind of video game ever created. Instead of your character spawning into the world fully formed with names like Adam and Eve, he is born into a world called Earth from the bodies of other characters through sexual intercourse. An entire history has been created for these characters, a past a present, and an endless number of possible future events. It is like you have virtual free will to do almost anything you want, except break the laws of physics set up for this world. In this world, your character lives at a faster, more sped up rate of time than our own. Previous virtual games were fun at first, but then it got boring. Each character was aware of the previous character’s life and would kill off his character if things didn’t seem to be going the way he wanted it to go. The game got boring because being spawned as adults their characters already knew the best strategy for survival, made themselves rich and strong. Their character’s lives were always too easy to play, so players lost interest. The older version called Paradise just wasn’t that fun of a game.

The game made a big improvement over previous versions by making it possible for the player to forget his character’s previous lives as well as not being able to remember his own. In this newer version, the player believes that this is his real life and there is no other one. They are less likely to take major risks that would endanger their lives and will fight for self preservation. The characters fear their deaths and that makes the game so much more of a powerful experience. The characters communicate with each other, fall in love, fight and kill each other also. Anything goes except that fear of death keeps most of them from doing anything too risky. The players nowadays can feel the emotions, pain as well as the pleasure and pain that their characters feel. Most players claim to have had wonderful experiences by playing these games through the lives of their characters. Most players said they ultimately enjoyed having lives wrought with fear and pain and overcoming great obstacles. Like reading a great book. There is really no good or evil in this virtual world and the characters made up gods and the concept of good and evil to explain their existence.

It was rumored that when the game was first developed, some hackers found a way to break the physical laws of the game that allowed their characters to do some pretty miraculous things and appear as gods, or even remember that previous game called Paradise . I suppose every game has its cheaters.

Siri Kirpal
01-23-2015, 09:04 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Yep. God is the Author and Authors do bad things to their characters, but if they didn't do them, the characters wouldn't exist.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

RichardGarfinkle
01-23-2015, 09:30 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Yep. God is the Author and Authors do bad things to their characters, but if they didn't do them, the characters wouldn't exist.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

That's a disturbing theology. The only justification for the stuff writers put characters through is that the characters aren't sentient beings, but figments of the writer's imagination. If our characters were people we'd be brutal torturers and murderers.

Siri Kirpal
01-23-2015, 09:42 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

You can see it that way. Or you can see it: what's the intended character arc and what do I need to learn before my book ends.

Not suggesting any of us should "act like God" with our fellow humans.

And OP, come to think of it, doesn't that line and "Acts of God" indicate that we know God isn't only Good.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

kuwisdelu
01-23-2015, 09:49 PM
If oiur characters were people we'd be brutal torturers and murderers.

You say that like we aren't.

RichardGarfinkle
01-23-2015, 09:59 PM
You say that like we aren't.

This topic might be worth it's own thread.

juniper
01-23-2015, 10:48 PM
The game made a big improvement over previous versions by making it possible for the player to forget his characterís previous lives as well as not being able to remember his own. In this newer version ...


Umm, at the risk of sounding really dumb, Real Life video game or analogy?

robjvargas
01-23-2015, 11:17 PM
Juniper, I wish I had time to go into detail. I don't ascribe to a major religion, yet have strong faith in a more or less judeo-christian vision of God (and of Satan).

Without delving too deeply into dogma and scripture, I believe that God and Satan are rather arbitrarily assigned as personifications of good and evil. I believe that God created it all, that in order to provide choice to Man (and, I presume, any other intelligent beings in this universe), he (convenient pronoun) realized that at least two options were necessary, and that each option led to the next consequence.

I believe that God and Satan personify (very roughly) the denial of and concentration on self. God and Satan are not, to me, static entities, nor is good and evil as simple as I just described.

The idea of good and evil at the far extremes, that's easy. The margins between the two, however, are deeply intertwined, and... well... fuzzy.

I will try to respond to further questions as I can. Life is rather hectic for me at this time. But I hope I've provided a very basic framework for a different view of it all.

BTW, this all stems from persona experiences where I felt interaction with God (and, frankly, Satan). I don't claim these as hard truths, nor do I intend to convince anyone. I merely present this as an alternative viewpoint.

Once!
01-23-2015, 11:18 PM
Ah, the age old question - if God is good why do bad things happen?

Choose your preferred answer - because there is no God, because we don't understand his motives, because he is testing us, because the bad thing is good (somehow), because he doesn't intervene in everything, because of the devil, because...

Choose whatever answer suits your world view.

juniper
01-23-2015, 11:36 PM
My answer is easy for me to understand - I'm trying to understand the other POV.

If someone thinks God is responsible for the good stuff, then why isn't he (all powerful god) also responsible for the bad stuff?

Makes sense to me ... but as someone upthread said, applying reason to faith doesn't always work out.

Quentin Nokov
01-23-2015, 11:43 PM
As mortal human beings we see tragedies as bad, but on a divine, grand scale, is what happened really that bad? We might be upset about it because it directly affects us and alters our lives and we all want to live perfectly happy. No one wants tragedy or death or disease, but that's what we face in life. Whatever event we believe to be bad, God might see it as good for the sole purpose of His Will. That doesn't make someone's death or near-death an evil act of God. God has the power to raise up the dead and restore life, why should a death be evil when it's not permanent in His eyes; when the spirit of the person has returned to Him and He can restore it when He wants?

---
My brother got the best of everything growing up. He had to have the name brand clothes; the cell phone; the new car. Whenever he had financial problems (debt into the $1,000s) My mother made sure that the family sacrificed its own savings or income tax return to make everything perfectly well with him. I remember a check for $120 that was going to be mine that my mother swiped away because my brother needed the money. Okay, yeah, the check was in my mothers name it was technically hers to do with as she pleased, but I did the work for her and she was going to give me the money in exchange. I was so upset.

What I realized with my brother was if something didn't go his way and his life couldn't perfect, his way of thinking was "How can there be a God?" It stemmed from his selfish personality.

Deuteronomy 10:14 "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is."

Psalm 24:1 "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."

We own nothing on earth, everything belongs to God, but he lets us enjoy the work of his hands. But His will comes before our own desires. So when you lose / lost your brother / sister / mother / father / daughter / son / house / job etc., know that they never were yours to begin with.

What I saw in my brother was when God wouldn't give him everything he wanted, God became a mockery, a joke. God became the creator of evil, because, essentially, my brother couldn't get his own way. He disliked the idea of a higher power controlling the things he believed were his. It was a "mine" attitude. "Things have to be mine and no one else's--not even God's."

---
Perhaps what many people don't understand about God is He has a fairly hands-off policy with mankind right now. Why? Because he wants man to understand that His way is the way we should choose. God gave mankind a trial period of 6,000 years to rule ourselves. He knows we can't rule ourselves, but he said, "Okay, you want to try. Let's see how it goes," and he backed away. That attitude alone goes to show that God isn't a tyrant. If God was an evil tyrant he would have destroyed all of mankind in the lake of fire by now.

So when something bad happens who can really determine if the event was from God, Satan, or if it was just time and chance:

Ecclesiastes 9:11 "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."

The vast majority of mankind is ruling themselves and living without divine guidance, so when something horrible happens, one question to ask is did mankind do it to themselves? Was it a fluke?

---
Matthew 6:31 "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

I quote this because if you look at the final verse. It's a stipulation. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and these things will be given to you. If one does not seek the kingdom or righteousness God will not support them or help them out of their troubles.

God has the decency to leave atheists alone. He does not call people who do not want to be His. He does not force Himself on them, but at any point in time someone wants to return to Him, God does not hold a grudge. He welcomes them with open arms.

So when bad things happen to people and people accuse God for letting such evil happen to them, I often wonder if God tosses his hands and says, "You didn't want me to interfere in your life! So I didn't!" He didn't create the evil, but He didn't stop it.

---
Romans 8:28 "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."

Notice again, a stipulation. Things work together for good to them that love God while things do not work out for good for those who are against him.

If you were an employer and you had two employees; one was faithful, loved you, worked hard, did everything you said, and was such a good friend with you that they wanted to have you over for dinner several times a week, meanwhile the other employee mocked you, hated you, slacked-off, and disobeyed your office rules, and didn't want to see you outside of work let alone at work, what would you do? Discharge the latter employee and tell them the find a job better suited to their interests? And the other you might promote or give a lovely bonus. Is that so unjust?

Ezekiel 18:25 "Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?"

Romans 2:11 "For there is no partiality with God." Other scriptures that reassure the God does not play favorites are located in Deuteronomy 10:17, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34

God is not bad. Human nature is. You look through the Bible and you'll see that blessings come only when mankind obeys God. How many times does God plead that Israel return to him, tells them to abandon your evil ways and He will forgive them? How long did Jeremiah preach repentance before Judah was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzer? God says He sends his prophets rising up early to warn mankind of the evil that will befall us.

Luke 13:2 “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

I believe in God because who will help me when I get in trouble? I cannot provide for myself, who else can I rely on? Who will give me life's necessities? I need God in my life because I do not have riches or good health. I am weak in every aspect of life: physically, financially, emotionally. What, because I believe am I better than those who don't? No. Because God is my Father, and as any Father. . .Hebrew 12:6 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

Deuteronomy 8:5 "Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you."

Revelation 3:19 "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent."

Proverbs 3:11-12 "My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights."

Nothing bad comes from God. We only see it as bad because it's not what we would have wanted to happen; it didn't go our way. We have a selfish, spoiled attitude; we think we deserve the best. We want the best and when we don't get it, by human reasoning, it's God's fault. Mankind blames Him and then hates Him for it. Are your earthly parents evil for having taken toys away from you as a child because you threw a temper tantrum. Are they evil for saying, "No, I'm not buying you that new iPhone because your phone still works fine." That moment your parents don't give you what you want, don't let you get your own way, or take away something you claimed was yours, but really belonged to your parents, does that make them evil for doing any of those things?

---
I got in trouble often. My dad would lay the faults on the table. I needed his guidance to become a better person, and likewise God deals with us. He disciplines those whom he loves so that they will become better persons.

God delivers all those who love him out of their tribulations.

Psalm 34:18-19 "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all."

Hebrew 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."


God knows what He's doing, and His purpose is only for the greater good. We may not see the purpose for days, weeks, months, years, even generations to come. Humans are physical beings. We are not spiritual like God and God works from a spiritual perspective--one that mankind will never be able to grasp.

Isaiah 55:9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Romans 9:20 ". . .O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?"

Daniel 4:35 "All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"

Ken
01-24-2015, 12:42 AM
Where did this "billion times" figure come from?

Are these chuches not built in what WE THINK is His honor? How do we know this, other than, as mentioned before, what the Bible says?

With as much as I've studied about God and religion, I should be a priest or minister myself, but I don't think "they" would want me.

Billion. Just to signify -- a lot !

Churches. Well it could be anything so long as it is done with aim of worship. It's a way of acknowledging Him and showing gratitude.

Perhaps you should, become a priest. They took Van Gogh even though there were many objections.

Not to draw comparisons between you and Vincent, of course ;-)
Except to suggest you too have got talent !

sassandgroove
01-24-2015, 03:36 AM
Juniper I appreciate this thread because it's helping me too. Thanks y'all.

Pup
01-24-2015, 04:49 AM
I can only come at this from an atheist viewpoint, fwiw.

I call what you're describing God Always Gets A Pass. Believers attribute good things to God, and bad things to "the fallen world" "free will" "the fallen nature of humans" "the devil" and so on. At best they will attribute a bad thing to God but make it out to be a good thing e.g., "God needed another angel." "God sent that hurricane because of teh gays and abortions." Or they'll make it out to be a mystery, "God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform, we are too puny to understand" and so on.

I see these as outs that allow the believer to continue believing despite evidence that (for a nonbeliever, at least) contradicts God's goodness or even his existence.

The other thing I think about God is that how one describes him tells you more about the describer than it does about God.

Since there's no "like" button...

I agree with the above, though I see it more as religion trying to be all things to all people, and then when contradictions occur, needing to explain them.

If someone is saved in a car accident, God gets the credit. It makes people feel protected to know God is watching out for them in situations beyond their control, and that might be the end of it, until one stops to think: what about the people who were killed in the same accident? To keep the reigion viable, there needs to be an explanation, like the ones you mentioned.

Or someone prays that their loved one will be healed, and the loved one recovers. God gets the credit. Prayer gives peope a sense of control over uncontrollable situations, and they are good at remembering the hits and ignoring the misses, but eventually someone will pray really hard for something and it won't come true. Again, there needs to be an explanation: Pray that God's will, not yours, be done. Or, God answers all prayers but sometimes the answer is no.

The above fits Christianity, but I'm not familiar enough with other religions to know how they deal with it.

kuwisdelu
01-24-2015, 05:08 AM
The above fits Christianity, but I'm not familiar enough with other religions to know how they deal with it.

In many religions, gods aren't considered omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.

In fact, I'm not sure those are truly innate qualities of the Abrahamic god so much as they're simply popular perceptions.

Underdawg47
01-24-2015, 06:11 AM
Umm, at the risk of sounding really dumb, Real Life video game or analogy?

It was a way to express my belief in reincarnation. I think of souls as players in a grand virtual reality video game where humans are the biological characters that souls inhabit. They forget who they really are and who they were in order to play out the lives of their characters. The way I see it, there is no true good or evil, just karma. In each life you get to play a different character whether and do good or bad things because of free will. But this is also a game of tit for tat. If you were the oppressor in one lifetime, you could be the victim in the next. So in a way I don't believe that god, if there is one, cares one way or the other what people do. People create their own heaven and hell right here.

Chrissy
01-24-2015, 07:26 AM
I can only come at this from an atheist viewpoint, fwiw.

I call what you're describing God Always Gets A Pass. Believers attribute good things to God, and bad things to "the fallen world" "free will" "the fallen nature of humans" "the devil" and so on. At best they will attribute a bad thing to God but make it out to be a good thing e.g., "God needed another angel." "God sent that hurricane because of teh gays and abortions." Or they'll make it out to be a mystery, "God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform, we are too puny to understand" and so on.

I see these as outs that allow the believer to continue believing despite evidence that (for a nonbeliever, at least) contradicts God's goodness or even his existence.


As a believer per se, I must admit that I don't ascribe to any of those reasons listed.

When bad things happen, I think something along the lines of, "Fuck. That sucks. Life sucks." (etc.) And then I think, "How could I/we have prevented this?" and, "How can I/we prevent this in the future?" Truly, God doesn't enter into it at all.

When good things happen, I generally attribute those things to the people who did them. Admittedly, when randomly good/lucky/fortunate/oh-thank-God things happen, I may be heard saying "Thank God," but it's just an ingrained phrase. I don't actually think God altered the course of the universe... just 'cuz.

And yet I still believe in God, and I believe that s/he is good. I believe that s/he is not evil. I don't believe in Satan or the devil, or even evil, at all. *sticks out tongue at parents*

I believe that we have the capacity for goodness beyond human self-interest because of God. Because it doesn't make sense that we would have the capacity to be selfless, if there isn't an element of Pure Goodness, which I like to believe is both the challenge of our existence (from God) and the gift of being human (from God).

That's just my perception, not to be taken as any sort of "truth." I also think that the way people see God (myself included) is sort of the personification of our own growth/expansion as human beings. For example, take Maslow's hierarchy of needs:

Food and shelter - thank God before dinner.

Safety and security - belief that God protects us/pray for protection.

Blah blah blah whatever the other levels are - God.

Self-actualization - belief that we are put on earth for a purpose/seek and pray for "true" purpose.

This is all okay; it doesn't mean that God isn't real, or good, imo.

And while I wholeheartedly agree that's it completely illogical to ascribe to God's goodness everything from a football game victory to a child wrenched from the brink of death, I still believe that s/he *exists* in these things. Because s/he is everywhere. Not necessarily doing anything; just there.

For me, it is okay to "thank God" for good things, because being thankful is a positive and helpful human emotion. It's the thankfulness that's the thing. Whoever a person is thanking - Lady Luck, or God, or Mother Nature, or whatever - it is *in* human beings to feel grateful. So the answer the OP's question, I'd say that gratitude tends to have a recipient, and a lot of people use God. Maybe whether it's logical or not isn't the point, for those people at least.

(And really, if we start expecting people to be logical all the time, we might just drive ourselves insane... ;) )

ColoradoGuy
01-24-2015, 08:17 AM
Ah, the age old question - if God is good why do bad things happen?

Age old indeed. St. Augustine in the 4th century pondered the Problem of Evil, as have many theologians in the Christian tradition since. It naturally segues into the Problem of Free Will. Augustine had a lot to say about that, too.

Neegh
01-24-2015, 08:47 AM
In a universe of polaritiesódark/light, up/down, hot/cold, here/there, isnít it sufficient just to say God is?

Quentin Nokov
01-24-2015, 08:18 PM
There are times I think attributing God to silly things like a football game victory or finding a quarter in a parking lot is a bit over-the-top. I remember someone said, "Jesus bought me my new car." Or, "God told me to stop eating sugar." To other people these statements are, well, rolling-of-the-eyes worthy, but I don't say anything against them because Christians have their own relationship with God. Maybe God did do all these things for them, but how am I going to know for sure?

There are things that have happened in my life that I know were from God, but no one else is going to understand how I attribute those things to Him. There's only so many times a believer can call an answered prayer a coincidence, especially when the manner in which the prayer was answered could not have been fulfilled by human means. And it's for those reasons people do believe. No one can be convinced of God's existence without experiencing weird, supernatural, unexplainable events that you're sure could never have happened without divine influence.

I believe Christians ought to glorify God. Many Bible verses tell us to glorify our Father: Psalm 29:1-2; Psalm 34:3; Psalm 69:30; Psalm 96:1-9 and so on and so forth, but I do think it's shallow and even hypocritical for people to glorify God when only the good stuff happens and then sweep Him under the carpet when so-called "bad" stuff happens. The apostles even glorified God during their trials and tribulations.

Romans 5:2 ". . .And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

I glorify God every day. I thank him for keeping my family safe, keeping my pets safe, for food, water, clothing, shelter, warmth etc. I have a medical condition which hinders my life a bit, but I still glorify God. Yeah, the disease sucks, but I know I'm a far better person because of it. It took about 10 years to realize that but. . . .I know what I know but I'm not going to try and convince anybody of it. My relationship with God is private; I know when He's intervened; I know when He's blessed us; I know when He's answered my prayers, and likewise I know when He's ticked-off; I know when I've been punished--but only He and I know those things, and I'm not going to plaster my relationship with Him on a billboard for the world to see. I glorify him for all the things he's done in my life.

Basically, if Christians are going to glorify God for the good things then they should also glorify God in the so-called "bad" things--or the things that went contrary to their plans. It's hypocritical to do otherwise.

aruna
01-25-2015, 09:00 PM
Good and bad are only according to our own very limited human viewpoint.

Most people think of "good" as the things that cause pleasure and "bad" the things that cause pain. I don't think that way; haven't done for decades. Everything that happens is "right", in that everything that happens is an opportunity for me to grow, become braver, bigger, more compassionate, more patient, a better human being, more beautiful inside, and that is the whole point of it all. It's not what happens that matters, but how I deal with it. And usually the things that cause pain help me to grow more and faster, whereas the things that cause pleasure, and getting what I want, go in the opposite direction. So yes, I am quite happy, or at least patient and understanding, when things don't turn out the way "I want"!

And yes I am a believer but not in some man with a beard up in the sky. God for me is the very foundation of my consciousness, my being, and of every living creature, and "growth" as I used it above means coming into the experience of that, here and now, knowing it directly in myself and in every other being. The word God as used in religions is a metaphor for a state of perfect happiness; the "man in the sky", Father, is equally a metaphor. The true question is not "is there good and evil" but "Who am I?"

kuwisdelu
01-25-2015, 09:12 PM
The word God as used in religions is a metaphor for a state of perfect happiness; the "man in the sky", Father, is equally a metaphor.

In some religions perhaps. But benevolence is not a primary trait of god in all religions.

I think god would be a metaphor for other things in other religions, particular those with many gods.

aruna
01-25-2015, 09:30 PM
Well -- I was referring to mainstream religions, and this is certainly the case for those. And even Hinduism -- which is THE religion of many gods -- regards those "many gods" not as separate entities, but as various aspects of the one; God as supreme intelligence, the many as paths leading to the same goal.

kuwisdelu
01-25-2015, 09:33 PM
Well -- I was referring to mainstream religions, and this is certainly the case for those. And even Hinduism -- which is THE religion of many gods -- regards those "many gods" not as separate entities, but as various aspects of the one; God as supreme intelligence, the many as paths leading to the same goal.

I'm aware, but one of my things these days is promoting awareness of the thousands of local religions around the world.

It gets annoying how we keep getting left out, y'know?

StarryEyes
01-27-2015, 07:26 AM
Well -- I was referring to mainstream religions, and this is certainly the case for those. And even Hinduism -- which is THE religion of many gods -- regards those "many gods" not as separate entities, but as various aspects of the one; God as supreme intelligence, the many as paths leading to the same goal.


I'm aware, but one of my things these days is promoting awareness of the thousands of local religions around the world.

It gets annoying how we keep getting left out, y'know?

:hi: Hi, I'm a polytheist who believes my Gods are separate entities.

Okay, so I don't want to detract the discussion too much but I thought I'd crawl out of my hiding place just this once to agree with kuwisdelu's point. My religion (Hellenismos - check out the link in my siggy if you want to learn more) is polytheistic and, like Hinduism, I would go so far as to call it one of "the" religions of many Gods. Unfortunately, our Gods are mostly seen as fiction or a thing of the past now, as most people think we've all died out.

Trust me, we still exist! *pinches herself to make sure of it* Yep, definitely alive and real :)

Anyway, I don't believe that my Gods are "good" in the way we humans perceive "good" to be. For more details, see my post on the previous page - basically, I believe the Gods to have their own motivations that may not align with ours nor with what we call "good", and that are constrained by Fate, hence the Gods not being omnipotent.

Your beliefs may be different, and that's fine - in fact, I'm rather enjoying reading what everyone has to say on the subject. I just thought, as someone of a minority religion that often gets left out, that I should speak up here :)

C.bronco
01-27-2015, 07:42 AM
I think we each have a journey, and a chance to realize how our knowledge from trials can help others and make us better people. If everything was super keen and okey dokey, we wouldn't have a whole lot to add, and it would be unrealistic. No one gets Normal indefinitely. Sooner or later, bad stuff happens. How we deal with it is our trial and learning experience, which we are meant to share and help others get through their own similar trials.

C.bronco
01-27-2015, 07:45 AM
Maybe part of it stems from doing what is right by realizing what is right from first-hand experience, and owning it. That is different from doing what is right because you were told to or because it was easy. Maybe that's why we have to face bad things.

Rufus Coppertop
01-27-2015, 04:36 PM
A god of all totality would necessarily be omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.

Such a god would necessarily encompass all polarities imputed by humans and would extend beyond them.

Good and Evil constitute a polarity imputed by humans.

Once!
01-27-2015, 04:57 PM
In a universe of polaritiesódark/light, up/down, hot/cold, here/there, isnít it sufficient just to say God is?

Unless he isn't.

Xelebes
01-27-2015, 07:24 PM
Good = Of Benefit, in terms of a relationship to whomever is casting judgment on God, God aiding them would be good.

Bad = Of Detriment, in terms of a relationship to whomever is casting judgment on God, God inhibiting or wrecking them would be bad.

That's my take on the issue. The all-good tack people insist on God is not particularly useful. Wrath of God is not and never will be good in the eye of the person receiving it.

robjvargas
01-27-2015, 08:53 PM
My own belief is that God created us with the ability to choose. In setting out to make choices for us, he created a universe of contrasts, and of rules that govern those contrasts.

I don't agree with all the "conventional" definitions of what is good and what is evil. I don't presume any authority to define them for others, either. I can only go with what my soul tells me is so.

Neegh
01-27-2015, 09:02 PM
Ah, the age old question - if God is good why do bad things happen?

Choose your preferred answer - because there is no God, because we don't understand his motives, because he is testing us, because the bad thing is good (somehow), because he doesn't intervene in everything, because of the devil, because...

Choose whatever answer suits your world view.

Job—although a little hard to read—deals with this question.

kuwisdelu
01-27-2015, 10:59 PM
In my culture, Sun Father is mostly hands-off. When he wants to interfere with things, he sends his twin sons, the war gods, to help guide us.

Misfortune and death first came into the world with the first witch. After we emerged from the earth, the first witch came out with us. He brought corn and seeds, and that is how corn and seeds came to exist in the world. In exchange, he asked for a child, and he killed her. That is how death came to exist in the world.

Four days later, the witch said to return to the place of emergence, and the child was found playing. She was alive, but no longer among the daylight people, and had to be left behind, but we were told to not to mourn for her, because she was happy. That is how the cycle of life and death, and the afterlife, came to be.

Since then, witches are often blamed for misfortune. If you are not living your life correctly, or act out of jealousy or greed, without concern for others or the community, then you might be suspected of being a witch.

Yet although witches brought death and misfortune into the world, they also brought corn and seeds, which are necessary for life.

As I see it, it's about balance. The good comes with the bad, and there is no way around that. Without the bad, we would not know how to appreciate the good.

And learning how to find happiness even in the midst of misfortune is part of growing up.

Our gods don't protect us from darkness and unhappiness, because that is not their role. They are there to guide us on a journey through life, and sometimes that means facing difficulty.

RichardGarfinkle
01-28-2015, 12:48 AM
Mod Note:

Okay folks, I'm going to temporarily lock this thread while I split off the worship posts to a new thread. Hold off posting for about 15 minutes and it should all be taken care of.

Thread bisection complete.

Underdawg47
01-28-2015, 01:14 AM
I tend to think of jealously as an emotion based in fear. To be jealous of other gods implies that God recognizes the existence of other gods. But for me personally, this is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for me not to believe in the Christian god. I find jealousy to be a trait of insecurity and lack of trust in what the other person will do. If god were omniscient, and omnipresent, then he would know the thoughts of others and the reason than people do the things they do. It is hard to feel jealous when you see the entire picture. You can feel sorrow, or pity, but jealousy seems to be born out of fear and lacking.