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

Murphy (
Sun, 16 Feb 1997 15:24:01 -0500

Rodney Dunning wrote:

> Murphy wrote:
> > 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."

"I form light and create darkness,
I make weal and create woe;
I the LORD do all these things." (Is.45:7)

"Does disaster befall a city unless the LORD has done it?"
(Amos 3:6b)

These can be interpreted - as I sketched briefly - in such a
way that God is indeed not _directly_ responsible for sin - i.e., for
the will to do evil. But people could not act upon such evil
decisions unless God co-operated with their acts.

> 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?

The idea of "cooperation" or "concurrence" is that God as 1st
cause uses natural processes as 2d causes or instruments.
God did not make Hitler decide to go to war, but the planes of
the Luftwaffe wouldn't have gotten off the ground if God had not kept
the processes of aerodynamics &c in operation.
Luther somewhere uses the image of the master carpenter who
has to work with damaged tools. That's particularly apt when the
divine instruments we're talking about are human beings. God does the
best he can with us. Why didn't God stop the holocaust? He did -
using Britain, the USSR, USA, &c as instruments. And if they had been
better instruments, it wouldd have been stopped sooner, or never

> 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."

God does not make these things happen for that purpose. God
has been involved in the whole network of events of which those are
parts all the way back to the big bang. But the joints of that
network are loose in various degrees, as QM & chaos theory show us.
God has been involved in all the processes that led to the potential
killer holding a gun on you, but that doesn't mean that the gunman is
just a robot.

> 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?

I find it hard to see how this could be so in a coherent way.
If God is the "Ground of Being" & the existence of all things depends
on God, then things which have no connection with God simply _aren't_.


> Surely the existence of evil is as convincing as
> that of God.

Evil is best thought of as fundamentally negative, a defect or
privation of the good. Such defects are real - the Christian
Scientists are wrong in thinking them just illusions. But they don't
have the same ontological status as the good. Satan (to use that
image) is not an "Evil God" but a creature of God (& thus in essence
_good_ - cf. Augustine) turned from his proper role. Evil is
fundamentally destructive: Goethe calls the devil "The spirit who
always denies" (der Geist der stets verneint).
George Murphy