On my blog entry entitled Reconciling Child Abuse and Faith/Religion, a reader posted the following comment:
Anywho… if I can continue our religious discussion: so you contend that the evil of the world is caused by humans. An obvious enough answer. But what does god do as he looks down upon the evil that his children create? He should easily be able to prevent these terrible things from happening and spare the innocent victims. The fact that he doesn’t means that either he is willing to allow the innocent to suffer, or he does not have the power to stop it. Perhaps he does have a purpose for allowing this suffering, as you seem to imply (if I understand you properly). But the fact remains: the lord, who is supposed to be all-loving allows unspeakable acts to be inflicted upon the nicest, kindest, most devout, and most innocent of his creations. God could have hypothetically created a world where there is no pain and suffering, and his creations are only ever filled with positive emotion, but he didn’t. In my mind, the only logical conclusions to make of this are that:
1.) God is not truly all-powerful.
2.) God is not truly all-loving.
3.) God does not exist.
And what of natural disasters, disease, accidents, and other forms of suffering and pain which humans do not cause?
Hehe… sorry for the somewhat confrontational answer. I just really like these kinds of discussions. ~ Lenore
I really like these kinds of discussions, too, which is why I am blogging about this today. :0) Considering how deeply child abuse survivors have been wounded, I think that these are good issues to explore as people wrestle with how a loving God could have allowed such terrible things to happen to them when they were innocent children.
To respond to your question, I need to present a different premise from what you might hear from many religious people… I do not believe that the Garden of Eden was a place. I think that story is an allegory for something that happened to us in the spiritual realm. I believe that all of us were once a part of God and that something happened that split us off. (People with Dissociative Identity Disorder will probably understand what I mean the best.) Our natural state is being one with God and includes having his attributes – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (the fruit of the Spirit).
I do not believe that God created anything evil but that evil is a natural state of being outside of the presence of God. Blaming God for the existence of evil is like blame light for the existence of darkness. Darkness is what exists when there is no light: all of the darkness in the world cannot snuff out a tiny candle.
I think that each of us is a part of God that somehow got “split off” and is in the process of integrating back into being a part of God. For this to happen, we need to become pure light because darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. I believe that the way we become pure light is to develop the fruit of the Spirit, and we do this by experiencing difficult circumstances that have the ability to solidify embracing these attributes. For example, how else can you learn patience than by being forced to wait? If you don’t have to wait, there is no need for patience.
I think earth is a place that is separate from God other than what we bring with us. We are the hands of God on this earth. The more we become like God (develop the fruit of the Spirit), the more presence God has on this earth. God is also present in the living things that surround us (nature), which helps him be closer to us. However, earth is no Eden. We learn through facing and overcoming obstacles, and that is what life is all about. It takes many lifetimes to develop the fruit of the Spirit.
Because the purpose of earth is to learn, I have no expectation of life being easy. I do not believe that death is the end – I actually believe that living through trauma is a much more difficult road than dying from it. So, when natural disasters happen and people die, I see them as being released from this cycle of the learning experience and being at peace for a while before they travel back to learn more life lessons the next time around.
What is the point of a weight room with no weights in it? You wouldn’t grow any muscle. The hardships in life are what develop our spiritual muscle.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt