Re: [asa] Philosophical Musings on Heaven & the Problem of Evil

From: gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>
Date: Mon Jul 28 2008 - 22:46:54 EDT

Williams's argument is invalid because of his lack of understanding of
infinite ordered sets.

Is this the best of all possible universes? With respect to what standard
might it be best? What does the concept of universe include?

We should use God's standard of what is best, rather than ours. Even so,
in some sense this is not the best possible universe since the Bible talks
about new heavens and new earth that would apparently be better.

For addressing the problem of evil, we should not restrict ourselves to
our present universe but to the totality of all we experience both in this
life and the next. Then we should trust God's judgment as to what is best
for us.

The main reason that the Bible gives us for looking forward to heaven is
that it means being with Jesus, our Savior, the Lamb slain from the
foundation of the world. This would not be the heaven that would exist for
us if we had never had to go through the world in which we find ourselves

Gordon Brown (ASA member)

On Mon, 28 Jul 2008, Christine Smith wrote:

> Hi all,
> Thought I'd add to the mix of "problem of evil" themed
> threads the following musings...I hope in some way,
> shape, or form, they're not redundant on previous
> conversations...would appreciate all of your insights
> as always :)
> I recently read the book "The Unexpected Way: On
> Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism" by Paul
> Williams. Among the items in his book that I found
> thought-provoking was his take on the problem of evil.
> The basic essence of his argument is as follows:
> 1) Because there are, theoretically, an infinite
> number of universes God could have created instead of
> this one, it is logical contradiction to say that God
> could have created the "best of all possible worlds",
> since being a part of an infinite set of
> possibilities, there would always be a better
> possibility. Therefore, it is not a violation of
> God's omnipotence to say that He couldn't create the
> "best" world, and thus the question is reduced to "why
> didn't He create a BETTER universe"
> 2) Being God, He is under no obligation to make a
> better universe than the one we currently live in, if
> the one we currently live in suits His purpose.
> Therefore, God's creation of a universe that includes
> suffering and evil is not a problem, and indeed,
> should probably be expected.
> My musings on these lines of reasoning are as
> follows...
> Regarding #1, this sounds reasonable on the surface,
> but is this a correct understanding of the idea of
> what an infinite series means, and is it
> scientifically correct (so far as we can understand
> things) to say that there could have been an infinite
> number of universes created? Also, regarding the idea
> of the "best of all possible worlds", doesn't this
> equate in some sense, to what we believe heaven to be?
> If so, does the idea that this type of world could not
> be created, violate our theological creeds which state
> that God is the creator of "heaven" and earth, and the
> general understanding that Christ "came down from
> heaven" and "ascended to heaven". Or, rather than
> being the "best of all possible [created] universes",
> is heaven rather to be understood as the place (so to
> speak) where God resides, outside of created time and
> space? If so, then will heaven (where we will rest
> eternally) merely be better than our current universe,
> rather than the best possible universe? Is it possible
> that the creation of a lesser (containing more
> suffering & evil) universe is in some way a
> requirement of being able to create a better universe,
> thus the need to endure the lesser to get to the
> greater?
> Regarding #2, I question the premise of his argument.
> In the act of creation, doesn't God submit Himself to
> certain obligations, in the same manner that a parent
> is obligated to a child? Certainly, it is clear that
> God does submit Himself to certain obligations through
> the form of historical convenants with His people.
> Doesn't this mean that God does, in some sense, have
> an obligation to create a better universe than the one
> we are in now (or perhaps that's what He's doing as we
> speak?)?
> Thanks ahead of time for your insights and your
> patience as I reflect on these questions in an attempt
> to better articulate my own thoughts on it.
> In Christ,
> Christine (ASA member)
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Received on Mon Jul 28 22:47:46 2008

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