Re: Coercion

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Sat Apr 17 2004 - 05:38:38 EDT

Re: CoercionHoward wrote:

I know of no one on this list who posits that the world operates independently of God.

Well, I believe that the world acts independently of God in some respects. I believe that God knows the world in detail and is immanent in that he is always available for it. In some way unknown to humans he maintains its existence. However, the world operates independently of him in that he does not control everything it does. If you do not agree on this last point, I'd appreciate hearing what you believe and also how you then deal with the theodicy problem.

But if God is able and willing to intervene on some occasions, but not on others, how does God draw the line? Let's pose the question concretely: If God was able and willing to intervene to add a rotary outboard motor (the flagellum) to E. coli bacteria, why would God not intervene to prevent the hijacked planes from striking the World Trade Center towers? How was that line drawn?
and
And why should we allow it to be so easy to posit that a good God would choose to advance His cause at the expense of all of the people who died, suffered, or grieved the loss of mother, father, husband, wife, brother, sister or friend in the 9/11 tragedy? What kind of a God-portrait is that?

Even if we knew God's objectives and priorities precisely, which we don't, we still would not be able to help God make these decisions, because we don't know enough about the world. In other words, we don't know much. Consequently, we can't really hope to understand the reasons for God's choices. I have confidence that God has honorable objectives and knows enough to make good decisions that are in accord with his objectives.

To judge God's actions in terms of the human emotions that may result from some of his choices is to take an inverted perspective. It is basically saying that God needs to do what we think is good and right rather than what he thinks is good and right. Paul in Romans 9 says [NIV], "...Who are you, man, to talk back to God? ...Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" So Paul argues that we are not qualified to judge God's decisions, even though we may on occasion think them unfair. Jesus did not question God when the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people who were no more deserving of such fate than any other 18.

Does God need a new PR advisor? He's above PR. He wants the world's love, and he goes out of his way to attract it, but he cannot change into something other than what he is if the world still finds him unacceptable. As for me, I believe God can and does intervene when he wants, he does not always intervene when people think he should, but he is nevertheless an attractive person.

Don

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Howard J. Van Till<mailto:hvantill@sbcglobal.net>
  To: Don Winterstein<mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>
  Cc: asa@calvin.edu<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>
  Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 9:16 AM
  Subject: Re: Coercion

  On 4/15/04 10:43 AM, "Don Winterstein" <dfwinterstein@msn.com<mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com>> wrote:

    Howard Van Till wrote:
     
    "OK, but the problem of theodicy is present in full force as soon as you
    posit that God is able and willing on occasion to "do such choosing (or
    perform a miracle) if and whenever he wants to." The hard question is, "Why
    does God choose to use this form of power on some occasions but not others?"
    One solution that you here propose is to say something like, "since the
    question is impossible for us to answer, let's just posit that God does have
    an answer and it's a good one." Some people obviously are satisfied with
    that; others are not. Some might see it as a clever way to give the
    appearance of dodging the issue, but it is nonetheless vacuous."

    Don replied:
     
     
    I don't see how this kind of arguing is so vacuous, especially if one can imagine a really compelling reason why God might want his creation to operate quite independently of himself, as I can.

  I know of no one on this list who posits that the world operates independently of God.

    This is especially true if one additionally cannot believe the world is capable of creating itself, no matter how well-gifted its components may be--as I can't. (That is, I can believe it up to a point, where only very simple systems are involved, but not to completion, where unimaginably complex systems are involved.)

  I know of no one on this list who posits that "the world is capable of creating itself."

    The alternative, to expect that God should intervene in every case where someone seems to be "suffering unfairly" would ultimately lead to expectations that God should intervene in every case where any "harm" comes to anyone, which would inevitably lead to expectations that everyone should live forever in perfect health, lavish wealth and total comfort--otherwise God would be evil!

  But if God is able and willing to intervene on some occasions, but not on others, how does God draw the line? Let's pose the question concretely: If God was able and willing to intervene to add a rotary outboard motor (the flagellum) to E. coli bacteria, why would God not intervene to prevent the hijacked planes from striking the World Trade Center towers? How was that line drawn?

    We all have genetic defects. Some just show up earlier and/or more obviously than others, and some cause more suffering than others. We all die. This to me obviously means that defects, illnesses, disasters, catastrophes are all part of the plan--for this life. But Christians believe there's something better beyond all that.
     
    So why shouldn't God intervene when it would advance his cause but not intervene when it would damage his cause? And why should it be so hard to believe that God has a cause in this world other than having everyone live forever in perfect health, lavish wealth and total comfort?
     

  And why should we allow it to be so easy to posit that a good God would choose to advance His cause at the expense of all of the people who died, suffered, or grieved the loss of mother, father, husband, wife, brother, sister or friend in the 9/11 tragedy? What kind of a God-portrait is that?
Received on Sat Apr 17 05:37:23 2004

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Apr 17 2004 - 05:37:24 EDT