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

Rodney Dunning (
Sat, 15 Feb 1997 21:17:34 -0500 (EST)

On Sat, 15 Feb 1997, Murphy wrote:

> 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.

But what is the nature of the involvement? It is such that God becomes
responsible for everything that happens in the world? If so, is God
responsible for human sin? Clearly the answer is "no."

> 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.

I hope you'll have an explanation of God's "cooperation" in a future
post. :) Did he cooperate in starting and maintaining the war that lead
to the detonation of nuclear weapons over Japan?

> 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
> evil").

I agree with you regarding God's tendency to intervene, but does God send
the hurricane that destroys our house on the Carolina coast, and does he
in some way cause the person who shoots us to do so? Surely the answer to
the latter is "no."

> _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 evil: "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

I guess my problem is where does God's activity in the world end and evil
begin? Aren't some things just plain wrong, having no connection to God
whatsoever, except that if he chose to do so, he could prevent them? Are
we both saying this? Mayber this is what you meant by concurring with the
effect but not the defect, and God being the victim of evil.

I'm inclined to say that God's relationship to the bad things that happen
in this world is best understood via his power to stop them, if he choses,
but I can't understand them or him if he is in some way their cause. It
would seem that if he is cause of all things, then there can be nothing
that is really evil. Surely the existence of evil is as convincing as
that of God.

Thanks for your thoughts; this has been interesting.

Rodney Dunning
voice: 910-759-4977 or 910-759-4980
fax: 910-759-6142