Re: Question for George (was Re: Vast Majorities...)

Murphy (
Sat, 15 Feb 1997 13:15:01 -0500

Rodney Dunning wrote:
> On Sat, 15 Feb 1997, Murphy wrote:

> > God acts in everything that happens in the world. {How to think
> > of God's "concurrence" with evil actions of people has always been
> > recognized as one of the most difficult questions of theology & I skip
> > that now!]
> I wouldn't want to tackle it either, but this is really the major point
> isn't it? If God "acts" in everything, including tornadoes, drunk drivers
> and such, then our theology can't ignore this. How can we say he
> does without a working understanding of how he does so, and yet still
> remains holy? Isn't it possible that these things just happen, and that
> God has no real involvement in them? Perhaps I've misunderstood you.

I wasn't trying to dodge this issue earlier, but it didn't seem
to be the main point at issue then. But if it is ...
To say that God is "almighty" means that God is, in fact,
involved in everything that happens in the world.
If God cooperates with nuclear forces so that fusion reactions
can happen in the sun in order (eventually) to make food available on
earth, & if those reactions would_not_ happen without God's action, then
we have to say the same thing about the same fusion reactions taking
place in a hydrogen bomb detonated over a city. Plenty of other
examples could be cited. The basic genetic & metabolic processes which
enable us to live also enable microorganisms to kill us.
The fact that God voluntarily limits himself to acting within
the framework of natural processes (which are God's creatures!) means
that (again my qualification - "in the great majority of cases") God
will not miraculously intervene to save people from those processes,
however they may have been set in train. If you build a house on the
Carolina coast, God will not supernaturally deter hurricanes ("natural
evil"). If someone fires a gun at you, God will not supernaturally
change the bullet's trajectory to keep it from killing you ("moral
_Could_ God so intervene? IMO, yes.
_Does_ God so intervene? IMO, yes, but very seldom. (& then I
would suggest often by invoking aspects of natural
processes which we don't know about.)
The old dogmaticians, recognizing fully the difficulty of the
problem, said things like, "God concurs with the effect but not the
defect." The defect, in the case of moral evil, is in human wills.
I don't mean to pretend that there is a neat answer to this
problem. Ultimately the answer has to involve the fact that God is the
victim of avil: "The cross alone is our theodicy" - & that isn't neat.
But I don't think it's a solution at all to say "God can't help it."
George Murphy