If God is omnipotent, why does he not just show himself to all of us, all at once, thereby ending this game of free will and temptation?
If God is omnipotent, why does he not just show himself to all of us, all at once, thereby ending this game of free will and temptation?
In point of fact, there are very few humans in this world who are not aware of God, consider them shown. But, this isn’t enough, it never will be enough. The story of Numbers is of a people surrounded by and living on miracles every day, and yet the reject God over and over.
Rather, it is our struggle to find our own way to come to grips with the nature of humanity its best and and most craven aspects. And, our nature is build in to the design, you cannot repeal it with laws, or manage it with furrowed brows. It must be tamed by each individual in their own lives for their own reasons.
The purpose of Religion was that this institution provided just this service, but people being people, are happy to see paths to feed their own base spirits even through the operation of such teachings. Or, more closely, people must construct a means of teaching morality and faith utilizing the very base nature that is at our core.
This is a struggle that those who follow Nietzsche would prefer to abandon. To let human nature run its course. Except, we have been there and done that too. It is called savagery. You cannot replace something with nothing, but to come up with something truly workable, you have to be at least a bit serious. The philosophers who have followed the nihilist point of view ultimately fall toward the idea that societies are only stable as tyrannies. Where a few privileged elites rule over the masses who are essentially slaves. This was the justification for Fascism, and ultimately the justification for Stalinism as well, and in much of this world today, it is the de facto way of life for humans.
But, is this what you want for your children? If you don’t, you have the tools to establish a world of freedom and peace, but you get no where without God and an agreed understanding of basic morality that reflects the reality of humanity rather than its aspirations and denials of that reality.
America for all of its flaws and faults was a better place 50 years ago. We have run a system of questioning every social premiss through the meat grinder of the lives of our children. Its not pretty. Our children are growing up wild, and are suffering. And, yet we distance ourselves from the answers.
Psychologists have studied the mind and speculated all sorts of theories, and as we learn more about the human mind, we become wiser. The ideas and notions of Freud and Jung who still tower like giants are also just so quaint at the same time. Our real problem is that B.F. Skinner has generally won this debate. We are a mass of learned behaviors right down to our emotional triggers, driven by primal needs that do not when to say when. Left alone, the outcome is toxic.
Love and free will are the point–and they are part and parcel of each other. Thats why.
His plan isn’t complete. Gods timing is God’s timing. No matter what ideological part of the spectrum you find yourself inhabiting…you likely realize that God’s view of History and process–on large time scales is how He works.
Arguably, as we grow closer to Him in character and relationship, we become more ready to experience heaven and His presence.
A more robust answer to this question though is probably found in a theodicy on suffering.
And it certainly bears remembering, that our human perspective is limited, while His is far, far, far, far more expansive by several orders of magnitude. His is omniscient after all.
If he is more than just an imaginary big-daddy-in-the-sky, why does it seem that God is hiding from us? It stands to reason that the inability of anyone to produce a unicorn is a pretty good reason not to believe in unicorns. Why shouldn’t the same standard be applied to God? And if he doesn’t have a physical body, why won’t he at least produce an obvious sign that he is there…like the words “I am God, I am here” written in big flaming letters in the sky?
But with a little insight, it quickly becomes apparent why God keeps a low profile and doesn’t make himself available for appearances on the TV talk show circuit. In his book Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey reminds us that God has a problem: All of the impressive displays of power in the world will not force us to love him. And if God could force us to love him, it would not really be love. Love is not love unless it is freely chosen:
“Power can do everything but the most important thing: it cannot control love…In a concentration camp, the guards posses almost unlimited power. By applying force, they can make you renounce your God, curse your family, work without pay…kill and then bury your closest friend or even your own mother. All this is within their power. Only one thing is not: they cannot force you to love them. This fact may help explain why God sometimes seems shy to use his power. He created us to love him, but his most impressive displays of miracle—the kind we may secretly long for—do nothing to foster that love. As Douglas John Hall has put it, ‘God’s problem is not that God is not able to do certain things. God’s problem is that God loves. Love complicates the life of God as it complicates every life.’”
In short, it all boils down to free will. If God made us unable to deny his existence, we would be unable to choose to love Him. Frequent, “impressive displays of miracle” would go further than merely doing “nothing to foster love.” Rather, they would render us much less able to choose to love God. It would take a fool indeed to reject a God whose existence is completely undeniable. And if we could not deny God, we would be nothing more than puppets. Why would God want to seek to be in relationship with puppets?
Yancey makes this point clear by quoting a parable written by the 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard:
“Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist—no one dared resist him. But would she love him?
She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage…that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal…For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.”
And to be in loving relationships with people, it turns out, is exactly what God seeks. If one takes the time to review the Bible, one will quickly see that many of the stories told share this underlying theme. From God’s pursuit of the Jewish people in the Old Testament to Jesus’ command to “seek first His kingdom” in the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament, the Bible conveys that God is seeking people who will seek him.
But all of this is not to say that God remains completely hidden. Rather, it is to say that he communicates his presence using subtle intimations so as to not be forceful. One such intimation is that of beauty. Dean Overman notes in his book A Case for the Existence of God that beauty is one of God’s ways of pointing us toward truth:
“Physics Nobel laureates Paul Dirac and Richard Feynman were convinced that mathematical truth can be recognized by its beauty. Beauty points toward truth. Dirac was more concerned with beauty in an equation than whether the equation matched an empirical experiment because he had discovered that beauty was a more accurate indicator of truth. He credited his sense of beauty with allowing him to find the equation for the electron that, coupled with Maxwell’s equations, forms the basic foundation for the very successful quantum field theory of quantum electrodynamics. Almost every contemporary physicist knows that beauty is the fundamental indicator of truth in his or her analysis.
Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose also emphasizes that aesthetic criteria, not only in visual appearance but also in inherent mathematical qualities, are extremely important in his discovering truth. He notes that a beautiful concept has a greater likelihood of being true than an ugly one.”
Fortunately, though, one does not have to be a physicist or mathematician to recognize this beauty. Overman continues:
“Consistent with Penrose’s idea that a more perfect and more real world has a more profound and more beautiful reality, the beauty of music seems to come from a more sublime reality….We are bathed in beauty in this world from so many different perspectives and manifestations. Our universe is wondrously and beautifully elegant. As I have repeatedly stated, it did not have to be this way; it could have been a chaos in which there is no ability to comprehend its order and no ability to do science or mathematics. You and I behold a universe that is like a great work of art made with love. What is the source of this beauty?…As Plato noticed, beauty is suggestive of another reality, a more real and even more beautiful reality.”
One is compelled to wonder, if the universe is nothing but the mechanistic result of blind chance, why then is it imbued with so much beauty? And why does beauty so clearly point us toward truth? Atheists allege that we are nothing more than “survival machines,” glorified robots that exist for no greater reason than passing on our genes. What survival value, then, does the ability to appreciate the beauty in music and in nature, for example, provide? Was our prehistoric ancestor who appreciated the beauty of a sunset somehow less likely to be eaten by a lion than our prehistoric ancestor who did not? If beauty is not a divine expression of love, than what is it? Why did “survival machines” develop the ability to comprehend higher mathematics and physics…not to mention the beauty and order of the universe revealed therein? Did this ability somehow help our primitive ancestors escape predators or obtain food? Reasonable answers to these questions cannot be furnished from within the framework of a mechanistic, purposeless, atheistic view of the world. Hence, the atheist must engage in what C.S. Lewis referred to as “willful blindness” to avoid such unsettling questions.
Esoteric belief would say that god does show itself to us, that god is actually just reality itself, and we are made in its fractal, microscopic image.
• Perhaps the best way to describe god (reality) is that it is actually a relationship, like that between a crystal and light. The crystal represents matter (the principle), and light represents consciousness (the principle), such that when the two interact, forming a prism effect (the process of evolution), a vibrant spectrum is vividly displayed (creation).
• Characteristics of both matter and light are represented in the spectrum, and so too characteristics of consciousness and matter exist in life.
• As the complexity of life (or the brain) intensifies, so too the depth of consciousness increases.
In effect, what I am saying is that we are all avatars, or representations of that cosmic relationship, and bare the trademarks: fractals, thought, love (or adoration for creation).
Basically what I am saying is that god shows itself in each of us every moment, and that free will is the result of that integral interaction between observer and observed.
To be one with “god” all one need do is just bask. No steps necessary, we are already there, but we take it for granted because we were born with a blank slate for the most part. The human struggle is that we are born ignorant, and we must work hard to discover truth; and once we do, it sets us entirely free from worry–about whether we have free will or temptations and the rest of that nonesense.
David discusses this.
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
No, God is not omnipotent, and free will is an illusion, as Hitchens sarcastically put it, “Of course I have free will. I have no choice!” The fact that he (God) ain’t showing much of himself anymore, cannot control the Devil and a third of angels to this day, and cannot punish the wicked, the liars, and the pedophile Catholic priests (this one always hurts ;)) etc, (and a thousand more ;)) should tell you that already. If he is omnipotent, he should be here “waving his dick” (George Carlin) while us sinners are groveling on the ground licking and sucking his big toes at the same time already Am I remotely reasonable? God cannot show himself because he is not real. Is it too hard to understand? Really. Any excuses the religious come up to rescue his incompetency is just that: excuses. And you know the saying: excuses are like assholes, everybody has one ;).
Free will? someone here, Mr. Homer, eh…I mean Mr. John Simpson, in an attempt to explain God’s absence, suggested that “Love is not love unless it is freely chosen” (in italic for emphasis effect, I suppose ;)). I slightly disagree but cannot do anything since there is a big middle finger ;), where the comment button should be but no more, warning me my disagreement and my opinions are not welcome. Very un-American like, right? I wish he would reconsider his option and let us in on his conversation. Perhaps this is a good chance for me to test the validity of prayer ;). In the mean time, I have no choice but to express my opinion here. Anyway, let’s get back to the subject at hand. So “Love is not love unless it is freely chosen”?
Where is my choice in loving your God? Here he is, your God, screaming on the top of his lungs demanding my love for him. Ever the extremist, he wants it quite completely, “…with all your hearts and minds.” How about I just love you 99% and leave a meager 1% for my family, my friends, and, hopefully, my scotch? You know, as Mark Twain puts it, “Sometimes I cannot find relief in anything but profanity”. Should we be spoken in that tone of voice, obeying that kind of injunction? Worst, not only he asks for my love for himself, he also tells me who to love, after he stripped me all of my love ;). And if I don’t, he has a “special place” for me, full of endless torments and pain. Hell is the price I have to pay if I rejected his offer. Where is my free will?
War Machine Is from Mars, Christy Mack Is From Venus, and Their Story Ended in Simi Valley
And example of the dystopia we are creating for our children. These people are extreme, but you see it all around you, people bereft of ideals that can form the basis of character become slaves to their own worst nature.
In to this, we have a gift, a book that is not simple, it tells stories of how people fall but also how they get back up. It tells where to get the strength to stand against the most fearsome challenges, and how to protect and respect each other. Its there for you. But, making sense of it, is not easy.
The institutions that operate to teach its lessons are run and maintained by humans. But, any new system will have to be managed the same way by humans as well. I personally believe that we are getting to the place where enough evidence is in to step back and respond to this revelation in new ways, but in the end, much of the old ways are well designed.
Most of the serious errors are not in goal, but rather in implementation. The rest of the land has been proven as essential. Modern farming provides for this, as the dustbowl was the consequence of not doing so. But, resting the land all at the same time, was impractical to say the least. It had to be done in rotation.
Some rules, just don’t work, such as tribal ownership of the land. It didn’t then, it still doesn’t now. Socialism has strived to work out this problem for 150 plus years now, and still human nature just cannot operate in this way. When ownership is not clear, coveting becomes appropriating, it drives sin rather than preventing it.
We live in an age of blessings beyond the imaginations of all generations before us. And yet, we still fall into the trap of “What have you done for me lately?” In my prayer book, there are no greater words than, “Pray as if everything depends upon God, Act as if everything depends upon you.” We are the agents of God’s miracles. We are also God’s most common agents of destruction.
The Jewish concept of God admits no other, there is but one God, without equal or rival. And, this means that God is ultimately the source of all evil. People don’t get that. But, evil serves its purpose. The nature that Nietzsche felt was unduly constrained by the laws of the Bible is called by Jews, Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination. This is born into us, not as sin, but as the instinct to survive. This is essential, basic and necessary for us to live to the very next day. It is the wellspring of the “Will” as well as the swamp that consumes it just the same.
The good inclination arises as we mature, and learn the rules and laws of social order, we learn how to be human. Children who are not taught this are feral, if language isn’t learned in the span of a few short years it becomes almost impossible to acquire. These rules, from manners to morals is taught by our parents and assisted by others. And, this rule set will largely guide the life of that person. Current research places this time of fixation of a person’s basic values as between 10 and 11 years of age, more or less. Our society starts holding people accountable for the most basic aspects of the law, such as not stealing, not murdering at age 13. The same age that Jewish children are obliged to accept and live the law by becoming Bene Mitzvot.
Personal acceptance and the struggle to maintain a code of behavior is key to what we call “humanity.” In our wealth, and ability to feed every desire, we have forgotten this, and are inthralled by the “If it feels good…” society. But, in the end, when the number of people who engage in “humanity” falls below a certain level, the only thing left is barbarity. We are heading that way as a society.
But, the only sure way to end “temptation” is to end us. This may be something that apocalyptic faiths welcome, but for those of us who love our children, “No thanks.”
My father told me that, “One thousand people make mistakes just to prove to you what not to do, be careful that you are not one of those thousands who are just serving to educate someone else. Accept their gifts and do not make that same mistakes.”