RE: Coercion

From: Don Perrett <>
Date: Fri Apr 09 2004 - 08:45:40 EDT

George wrote:
        Why would God act that way? An analogy that's often used is the way
a parent limits what he or she does with a child so that the child can grow
up & understand its environment and learn to do things for itself. The
possibility of understanding our world even at an elementary level, let
alone in a sophisticated scientific way, requires such divine limitation. A
child won't learn how to understand things if a parent immediately gives it
answers to all questions, and won't learn to do things if its every need is
immediately supplied.

Don P:
I understand the analogy and agree somewhat. But, one must understand that
God initially did supply us with everything (according to Genesis) but we
sinned and were thusly expelled into a world in which we must deal with
things on our own and NOW we must learn to live without the dependence of
God or learn AGAIN how to depend on God as we were meant to in the

        The simplest - though over-simple - way to put the process argument
is that God can't be _blamed_ for evil because he's doing the best he can to
prevent it. This is, e.g., Kushner's argument (on a popular level) in _Why
Bad Things Happen to Good People_ . God is not the sole cause of anything
that happens, so the fact that things "go bad" can be attributed to other
causes. OTOH if God is omnipotent (in the correct sense - i.e., the one who
is the 1st cause of everything) then one is faced with the question of why
he causes the phenomena that result in the Holocaust or Rabbi Kushner's son
having progeria.

        The process view has attractive features but also problems. It
seems to imply some kind of cosmic dualism. & it's not clear why there can
be 2 phenomena which are essentially the same, one of which is good & the
other evil. If God has some degree of control over the fire that heats a
house, why doesn't he have the same degree of control over the fire that
burns it down & kills people. A process theologian would (I think) reply
that all the "actual entities" that affect the situation have to be taken
into account, but this may be just a way of saying "Well, it's complicated."
& of course moral evil is a more difficult problem than natural evils like
houses burning down, but the two are not completely separate: Moral
decisions involve, inter alia, what goes on in brains.

Don P:
Since we "fell", we are the cause of moral evil. It is we who make the
"choices", which God gave us, that turn something blessed into something
cursed. Without us evil would have no where to exist. As for natural evil,
it is only our perception that things such as disease and natural disasters
are evil. In fact, they are merely natural events which are required in
order for a universe to exist in such a state as to allow choice. Death is
normal and should be accepted. It is our "evil" desire to prolong the
process for our own physical desires.

Don Perrett
Received on Fri Apr 9 08:45:25 2004

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