The Spiritual Darkness of Presidential Politics

Faith and Politics

To atheists and agnostics, what is said in this post will likely be meaningless. Well, so be it.

This post is addressed to those Americans who are Jews and Christians.

It is this writer’s observation that presidential elections reveal a lack of faith in the God of Israel among those people who claim to believe in him.

Why? Because, all too often, such Americans act as if God has no control over politics in general and government leaders in particular.

One should not act that way if one believes in the God of Israel and if one has studied the writings of the Tanakh/Old Testament.

Here are two verses from the Tanakh which reveal that God indeed has authority over government leaders.

Exodus 4:21: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.'”

Ezra 1:1 “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing.”

These verses tell us that we should not panic if a particular person we don’t like is elected President of the USA, because God’s sovereign will shall be done no matter who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The trouble with too many God-believing Americans is that they believe that God has relinquished his authority over people. Too many God-believing Americans adhere to the unbiblical belief that God gives every person absolute, unlimited free will.

That belief isn’t supported by the Tanak/Old Testament or by the New Testament. Instead that belief comes from an earthly philosophy that way too many religious leaders have mistaken for Scripture.

Of course, it is natural and understandable that people would ask, “If God has authority over political leaders, then why does he allow them to do bad things?”

The ways of God don’t always make sense when viewed from a Human perspective. That is where faith comes in. Do we trust that God’s sovereign will shall be done even when government leaders do things that we are opposed to?

A presidential election is no reason for God-believing Americans to enter a period of spiritual darkness. The God of Israel still has complete sovereignty over all creation. He won’t be helpless no matter which presidential contender wins in November.

Sharknado 4 (with movie trailer)
The Hill website could use a proofreader.
  • yetanotherjohn

    Excellent point.
    You can also extend this into the new testament. Romans 13:1-2 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
    You can make an argument that all sin is us wanting to be God. “How can God let (fill in the blank) be president?” is an example of us saying that somehow God has got things wrong and with us as god things would be better.
    There is also the human tendency to think that if we just try hard enough, we can somehow fix this broken world (that we broke). If we just had the right person and laws, all would be perfect. This is more evident on the left than the right, but on the right it tends towards wanting to impose Christian morals on non-Christians via the law.
    I believe God’s word calls us to look inward at our failures to do God’s will, repent and pray for the strength and wisdom to reform ourselves, not to impose what we think is God’s will (or what we think God’s will should be if we were god) on the perceived faults of others. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have laws, even laws that match God’s word (e.g. Thou shall not murder). But that we shouldn’t wonder why God isn’t doing our will in politics.

  • JWH

    If presidential campaigns are going to involve the dark arts, they at least need to make it catchy and fun.

  • JWH

    What a load of codswallop. Who let Professor Pangloss in?

    • yetanotherjohn

      Which Bible verse did you think was wrong?

      • JWH

        I’m agnostic on the Bible verses. But his entire point is complete twaddle.

        The God of Israel still has complete sovereignty over all creation. He won’t be helpless no matter which presidential contender wins in November.

        In other words: “Don’t worry who wins the election. God will do his thing.”

        Bullocks. Get your ass out, vote, support or oppose a candidate. Don’t just trust a deity’s plan. That’s either an abdication of responsibility or electoral defeatism.

        • yetanotherjohn

          That is the difference between a believer and a non-believer. I agree that we should labor in the left hand kingdom to elect who we think will do the best job, but I disagree that we shouldn’t fear, love and trust in God above all things.

          • JWH

            And the difference between an atheist and a believer is that the atheist says you have to make the world yourself. A deist will tell you the same thing.

          • Scalia

            Certain kinds of believers, JWH. Not all believers espouse determinism.

          • JWH

            A very good point, Scalia. Although I seem to be arguing with a “certain kind of believer” here.

          • Scalia

            I reply to that “certain kind of believer” below. 🙂

          • JWH

            I’m just disappointed nobody picked up on my Pangloss joke. Bunch a Philistines here …

          • Literary reference not missed.

          • JWH

            Good to know. It’s important to bring CULTURE to the Internet!

            https://muppetmindset.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/28982-samtheeagle.png

          • Thanks, but I’ve had my Activia for the week.

          • JWH
          • Scalia

            I picked up on it. I just didn’t comment. 🙂

          • Brucehenry

            I’m sure Rodney read Candide in the original French. Mispronouncing and misspelling it all the way.

          • I’m sure I don’t care what you think.

          • Scalia

            I read it in English. French fries and bon about exhaust my French.

          • That would be frites or pommes frites. The Belgian version are fried in horse fat.

  • PBunyan

    That’s good to hear. So God is pro abortion and gay marriage? And the Holocaust? And God wanted the Fed to be created? And communism? And God is pro slavery? And against self defense?

    Wow what a wonderful God He is!

    • JWH

      And God is pro slavery?

      Interesting side note here. I wish I could find the article again, but I read that in the early to mid 19th century, there was a divide among American Christians on this topic. You had some abolitionists who believe blacks were equal before God, and slavery was wrong. You also had staunch pro-slavery Christians who considered slavery part of God’s play. (Typically based on the “curse of Ham.”)

      The middle was … interesting. There were many, many shades in between. One view (and one held by Lincoln himself) was that slavery was part of God’s plan, and that God would choose to end slavery when it was best for both races.

      • PBunyan

        Yeah, I know, I heard those arguments. I was just trying to make the point that God sure lets the political leaders, whom according to this post he has authority (and control apparently) over, do countless horrendous atrocities.

        • JWH

          do countless horrendous atrocities.

          … including Fuller House.

          • WHO’S THE BUSTER

            Hate-watching it are you? I did the same with Suits (I am embarrassed to admit I watched such a poorly written show) and am currently hate-watching Vinyl (swing and a miss for Scorsese and Jagger).

  • Wild_Willie

    I have been a bible believing Christian for 38 years now. I studied long and hard with a lot of prayer thrown in mainly for wisdom. God is good. God is great. He is.

    Having said that, It always amazes me when someone will take two, three or four verses from the bible and stand proud as if he or she made a point. Can’t happen. The scriptures are so intertwined and can be confusing unless you take the time to study. It is the sin of pride to state a bible verse and state what God wants for all.

    For the non believers Jesus said he is the son of God. He is either the Lord or a liar. Your choice. Choose carefully. ww

    • Retired military

      “There is no God” – taken from the bible.

    • JWH

      For the non believers Jesus said he is the son of God. He is either the Lord or a liar. Your choice.

      You’re misquoting CS Lewis. It’s lunatic, liar, or lord.

      And in response to Lewis, I would point to two more possibilities:

      Legend. Research suggests the Gospels were authored (at the earliest) about thirty years after Jesus’s death, and probably later. By the time they were put to paper, the Gospel stories would have been transmitted orally many, many times, growing a bit each time. Who knows what elements were added after Jesus’ death?

      Mistaken. This breaks the alliterative pattern a bit, but it is viable. In this option, Jesus was not the son of God, but he and his disciples believed that he was, and they conducted themselves accordingly

      • Wild_Willie

        It is all on faith and belief. You got it, you get it. You don’t got it you don’t get it. ww (not trying to fan an argument)

  • Scalia

    One should not act that way if one believes in the God of Israel and if one has studied the writings of the Tanakh/Old Testament.

    Psalm 97:5
    The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

    He is more than the God of Israel; He is the God of the whole earth, and we study more than the Old Testament.

    These verses tell us that we should not panic if a particular person we don’t like is elected President of the USA, because God’s sovereign will shall be done no matter who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Who is panicking? We’ve been having discussions (something you’re not familiar with) about the various candidates for president and why we support or do not support one or the other. That’s standard fare in an election year.

    The trouble with too many God-believing Americans is that they believe that God has relinquished his authority over people. Too many God-believing Americans adhere to the unbiblical belief that God gives every person absolute, unlimited free will.

    So, God exercises His authority to such a degree that He compels people against their will to vote a certain way. Well, if that’s what He is doing, how do you know He’s not compelling us to panic over the prospect of this or that candidate becoming president? Why are you complaining about the exercise of divine prerogative? If we can’t help how we vote, then we can’t help complaining either, right? After all, God may be compelling us to panic in order to influence others to avoid the candidates we support. So, if panicking is God’s will, why are you fighting against Him?

    Before you wade into a theological quagmire, you need to define the boundaries of this political determinism that you appear to espouse. You don’t throw out a couple of verses about what you think is God’s sovereign will without telling your readers just what you mean by it. Are all our acts predetermined? If not, where’s the boundary and how do you know where that boundary is? Implying that true believers should shut up because of Robertson’s undefined determinism doctrine lacks any rational heft precisely because it is undefined.

    Of course, it is natural and understandable that people would ask, “If God has authority over political leaders, then why does he allow them to do bad things?” [T]he ways of God don’t always make sense when viewed from a Human perspective.

    Oh, that’s a nice way to pat everything into place. In other words, what I’ve just said might not make any sense, but don’t worry about it; just believe anyway because faith bridges the gap. That might be your definition of faith, but that’s neither the Bible’s nor mine. Faith is grounded in rational belief, not in an undefined doctrine peddled by a blog writer.

    The God of Israel still has complete sovereignty over all creation. He won’t be helpless no matter which presidential contender wins in November.

    It’s a pity nobody here has denied God’s sovereignty. That’s leaves your remark hanging irrelevantly in midair.

    • JWH

      It’s a pity nobody here has denied God’s sovereignty. That’s leaves your remark hanging irrelevantly in midair.

      **Cough Cough**

      • Scalia

        Ok, ok….you deny it, but Robertson was aiming at believers. I should have said, “…no believer here has…” 😉

        • JWH

          Incidentally, some of what PBanyan cites above (particularly slavery and the Holocaust) highlight one big reason I can’t embrace the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent deity. There’s just too damned much evil in the world, and people often perpetrate it, or justify that evil, in the name of one deity or another.

          it seems to me that a benevolent deity would not permit man to inflict such suffering on his fellow man. And I find odious the notion of it being all part of some divine plan, as Robertson articulates above.

          • Scalia

            Standard argument from evil. The best that gets is excising the word benevolent. I understand the counter that if God isn’t benevolent, then the Bible isn’t true. I only highlight that to raise the point that it doesn’t touch the basic argument for a Creator’s existence; it merely questions whether the Creator is all-benevolent.

            Implicit in your objection is the assertion that if God were omnibenevolent, there could be no evil in the world. That would appear to affirm determinism. Man should be hard-wired to always choose good, for if man has free will, then he can choose evil over good. Once free will comes into play, moral evil becomes possible.

          • JWH

            Standard argument from evil. The best that gets is excising the word benevolent

            It’s a standard argument, but it’s the start of a lot of things. Long before I came into contact with atheist thought, a variation on this started young me on the path to atheism. Once I started questioning the whole “benevolent god” thing, I doubted the rest of Christian theology.

            I think you misread my assertion by the way. I don’t assert that there would be no evil in the world, but that an omnibenevolent deity would take steps to punish, deter, or prevent evil. HItler or Stalin might have chosen to commit evil, for example, but there might have been a lightning bolt, pillar of fire, or some other divine intervention that stopped them.

          • jim_m

            Since Christian theology (and many other theologies) holds that man has an eternal soul, punishment for sin may take place either in this life or in an afterlife. Your argument seems to hinge that because you feel that evil is not punished immediately and in this life to your satisfaction that there can be no God despite the fact that religion maintains the likelihood that God is focused on an eternity and metes out punishment on an eternal scale that is far more painful than anything in this temporary life.

            Your arguments lack perspective.

          • Scalia

            I don’t think my assessment of your assertion was off by very much. Your explanation appears to reduce to God allowing man to think evil thoughts; he just isn’t allowed to act on those thoughts. If we have a possible world where no evil can be committed, then we have effective determinism. Evil is simply not an option.

            There are two facets to the Problem of Evil. The first is logical and, of course, the second is emotional. Since the existence of God is not the topic of this thread (I may post something on the Problem of Evil as it relates to politics, of course), you may find The Problem of Evil and The Problem of Evil Once More interesting.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            Good articles. I suppose I must buy the good doctor’s book mentioned in the second article.

          • JWH

            I think William Lane Craig relies on vastly different postulates than an atheist does.

          • jim_m

            Since postulates are foundational principles upon which reasoning is built, you either accept them or you do not. The fact that you refuse to agree with the postulates is not evidence that the reasoning built off of those postulates is faulty.

            But take the atheist position for a moment. Once you dispense with God you have dispensed with any rational means by which to call anything good or evil and you have dispensed with any guiding principle to say what is good and what is evil. These become meaningless terms defined only by whoever has the strength to enforce his opinion upon others.

            Atheism has no problem of evil because it cannot even define what it is. Someone posted this video recently, it bears rewatching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0218GkAGbnU

          • Scalia

            Ravi Zacharias is superb.

          • I bought his Deliver Us From Evil video series years ago… and then led a study of it during my stint as an Episcopalian years ago (late 90s as I recall)… I thought it then and now to be fantastic.

          • Scalia

            He, along with Norman Geisler, are leading non-Catholic Thomists. I believe I’ve already mentioned that I’m also a non-Catholic Thomist. Ravi’s Can Man Live Without God? and Geisler’s Christian Apologetics are great reads.

          • I don’t remember you mentioning it but I likely missed the reference. Cool stuff.

            I’ve mentioned that I’m reading Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths to Rome. No where near finished with it but so far, it’s excellent… as you’ll see if you click the link, it’s about a variety of different folks who attended Geisler’s seminary in North Carolina who crossed the Tiber and became Catholic. I find this stuff seriously fascinating.

          • Scalia

            Thanks. Just FYI, I will not be converting to Catholicism. 😉

          • Lol… of course not…

          • Scalia

            I don’t remember you mentioning it but I likely missed the reference.

            That’s probably because we were in the middle of one of our epic brawls when I said it. 😮 !

          • JWH

            I read his “End of Reason” a few years back; I recall being distinctly underwhelmed. Of course, I wasn’t entirely impressed with Sam Harris’s work, either.

          • Scalia

            For some reason, all of JWH’s comments were deleted. He had replied to my links, but when I came on board to reply, he was gone. I searched his account on Disqus, but it appears to have been removed. So, JWH, wherever you are, I hope you come back.

            Now, I assume there’s a glitch in the system, so I’ll reply to your (JWH’s) latest post. You wrote,

            I read through them. I encounter the same problem here that I do with similar explanations of evil and caprice in the world. Eventually it always seems to come down to “Well, this is what God intended, God is mysterious, we can’t question God,” and so forth — it’s an explanation I find singularly unavailing.

            At the end of the day, the universe just seems to damn indifferent to evil, to suffering, to all of it — such that if I were theistically inclined, I’d be more likely to believe in the capricious Greek gods, or in the Great Watchmaker, than in a omnibenevolen t deity.

            As I recall, you used the Problem of Evil to question the existence of an omnibenevolent God. The links are intended to defend against that objection, not to answer every “why did God allow that to happen?” question.

            As I mentioned to Bruce, that may not be emotionally satisfying, but it doesn’t come close to being a refutation of God’s existence.

          • Scalia

            JWS, since you appear to be familiar with C. S. Lewis, I think his reply to your “the universe seems…indifferent to evil” is most excellent:

            My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.</blockquote

          • A point of fact… I did not, accidentally or willfully, touch JWH’s comments.

            🙂

          • jim_m

            This is also a good essay on the subject of objective morality and good and evil. It doesn’t address the problem of evil, but if you cannot understand the foundational principles (not having to accept them, but minimally to understand them) then there cannot be a useful discussion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xliyujhwhNM

          • Peter Kreeft, Catholic convert, is an excellent resource on these things…

          • JWH

            I read through them. I encounter the same problem here that I do with similar explanations of evil and caprice in the world. Eventually it always seems to come down to “Well, this is what God intended, God is mysterious, we can’t question God,” and so forth — it’s an explanation I find singularly unavailing.

            At the end of the day, the universe just seems to damn indifferent to evil, to suffering, to all of it — such that if I were theistically inclined, I’d be more likely to believe in the capricious Greek gods, or in the Great Watchmaker, than in a omnibenevolent deity.

          • jim_m

            Your argument, as Scalia points out, would be that if God is good then he would prevent all evil and the only way to do that would be to render mankind without free will. The God of the Bible is not such a person. If God removes free will from mankind then man is merely an automaton, incapable of making any real choices.

            You argument boils down to man is evil, therefore God cannot be good, therefore God does not exist.

            It is illogical.

          • Wild_Willie

            Amen to that! The greatest trick of satan is convincing the masses he doesn’t exist. ww

          • Brucehenry

            All these arguments about God and evil and free will ignore my questions: Why birth defects? Why microencephaly? Why earthquakes and poisonous water and crop failure and childhood disease?

            What kind of benevolent god allows these nightmares to happen to innocent sentient beings capable of feeling pain and misery and anguish?

          • jim_m

            Ever read the Bible? The fall encompassed more than just Adam and Eve. This is not the Garden of Eden. It is a broken world that doesn’t work as God intended. Natural disasters happen. Mankind is not perfect and disease and birth defects happen.

            And you and greedy self centered atheists since time began ask, why isn’t God some cosmic bottomless cookie jar, where I can always get the treats I want when I want?

            God isn’t about your prosperity. God doesn’t guarantee your health.

            In fact Jesus guarantees suffering, “In this life you will have trouble…” God is not interested in temporary pleasures. God is interested in the condition of your heart. You pose vain, selfish excuses for why you won’t believe.

            God never promised you a perfect life and you whine that you don’t have one and claim that therefore God doesn’t exist. You claim that Christianity and all other religions are false because you claim that THEY say God promises a perfect life. But they don’t. Your argument is specious.

          • Brucehenry

            Well, lol, Jim.

            For one thing “The Fall” is a fable and there were not really any people named Adam and Eve who were actual, you know, historical figures. Evolution and all that.

            I don’t need “excuses for why I won’t believe.” I don’t believe in the God of the BIble because I don’t find His advocates particularly persuasive. And one of the things I find contradictory is the assertion that “God loves you and has a plan for your life” and a bland acceptance of this loving, benevolent, all-powerful God who also created the polio virus and who drowns innocents in tsunamis.

            My question, and I am not alone in asking it, is sincere. If it could be explained to me plainly, perhaps I could understand it. Instead I am attacked as a “greedy self centered atheist” who wants a “bottomless cookie jar.” Very Christian of you.

            Whatever promises of pain and adversity there are in the Bible is beside the point. If I tell you I am going to keep punching you in the face for all eternity, and you ask me why I keep punching you, is it a sufficient answer to say “Hey, I told you this was going to happen!”??

            I’m not interested in what God’s promises are. I’m not angry at God for my less than perfect life. Heck, my life ain’t that bad, it’s actually pretty nice. I’m asking how people can tell me that God is all-powerful, loving, and benevolent, yet allows the suffering of innocents who had no choice.

          • jim_m

            It’s religion fool. We already know you do not believe, so your asking why God do or does not do something is ridiculous on its face since you already reject the premise that God exists to do or not do anything.

            If you are going to criticize religion, you need to criticize the theology on its own ground. You cannot argue that it doesn’t account for evil and then claim that the explanations it has for evil are not relevant because they are religious in nature.

            You are as poor an arguer as anyone else you have criticized for that on these pages.

          • Brucehenry

            Well, Jim, that’s what I was trying to do — accepting, for argument’s sake, that there is indeed a God, and then asking why this God who is supposed to be benevolent, omnipotent, and loving allows the suffering of those who have not made any choice to sin. This is not that hard.

            Excluding non-believers from arguments about religion would kinda preclude the possibility of converting any of them for Christ, wouldn’t it?

            I also wasn’t claiming that the explanations religion has for evil are not relevant because they are religious in nature. I said that the explanations I have heard from religious folk usually relate to MAN having the free will to choose evil and not the specific questions I have raised.

          • jim_m

            You cannot accept that there is a God and then condemn that idea when you selectively refuse to accept the theology that comes with Him. If you want to argue theology you have to find inconsistencies within it. You cannot choose to exclude some of that theology and then criticize the religion for not having an explanation for something when you have excluded the very explanation out of your caprice.

          • jim_m

            You raise issues of natural cause. I gave you a common religious explanation and then you trashed it saying that it was irrelevant.

            Yes, there are issues related to man and his willful actions. There are also issues related to natural disasters, etc. Both have been explained to you. You chose to reject the explanation of the later because you didn’t like it. Not liking it is not a sufficient argument.

          • Brucehenry

            “Both have been explained to you.” No, they haven’t.

            I can see the point in the argument about evil and man’s free will, etc. Your explanation of the “natural disaster” issue is that shit happens and hey, you were warned right there in the Bible. Neither of those explanations explain WHY these things happen if there is indeed an omnibenevolent God.

            But as I said to Scalia, I meant no offense by raising the question. I sought a satisfactory answer to a question I have frequently asked believers. I guess I’ll keep asking.

          • jim_m

            It has been answered. Adam’s fall was not just his personal fall but one that encompassed him, his descendants, and the world of which he was custodian.

            You have your explanation, it wasn’t what God made or intended, but it is the consequences of the choices man made. The difficulties we face are meant to point us back toward God. At the same time they can be opportunities for us to turn our backs on Gad. Either way, they are opportunities for man to choose which way he will turn.

          • Brucehenry

            Again do you really believe that there was a real, historical person named Adam, who was the very first human being, and from whom we are all descended? So you deny the theory of evolution and are a Young Earth Creationist? Oooooookaaaayyyy.

            Man has never made a choice to live with birth defects or the chance that he and his innocent children may die horribly in a plague, earthquake, or flood. Never chose to live in a world filled with microbes which may kill innocent babies before or shortly after they take their first breath.

            If God didn’t create the zika virus, who did? Is He the Creator of all we survey, or isn’t he?

          • jim_m

            Whether Adam is a historical person or simply an allegory is of no import. The question is whether or not someone believes in the fallen nature of man and the world.

            Have you never made a choice and then discovered consequences of that choice that you were unaware of? Such is the case with Adam. We do not choose the consequences of our actions. All too many times we find out that there are consequences that we never suspected.

            God created the world, yes. What the world becomes is another issue. By your analogy God created Adolph Hitler and Hitler did what he did, so by your argument God is directly responsible for Hitler’s actions.

            Zika virus is something new. God did not directly create it. Viruses change their DNA/RNA all the time. Their genome shifts and their behavior changes. God did not create it. The fact of its existence is more an issue of God’s allowing things to happen in our world.

          • Brucehenry

            Dodges. Again we change the subject to what MAN has done, or focus on zika instead of the larger point: Why are innocents made to suffer and die if God is loving and all-powerful?

          • jim_m

            I answered your question when I said that the world is fallen and is not how God intended but is this was as a result of the fall. You have rejected that , but that fact is a central tenet of Christianity. When you deny that you deny the possibility of a Christian answer, which is what I am trying to give you. I cannot answer you when you refuse to accept the postulates of the Christian faith.

            It being the case that the world is fallen and not as God intended, God chooses to use the fallenness of the world to reveal Himself. As I have stated before, God is not interested in our pleasure. He is interested in the state of our hearts. He is interested in who we are and not in providing us all with lives from the TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. That is apparently your complaint, that you do not have some spectacular lifestyle and you have had struggles in life and you believe that any good deity would kiss you lazy ass and make everything perfect for you.

            You presume that God is perverse and bad things happen for no reason. But what if God allows bad things to happen because they make you a better person? Since God’s real interest is that you become a better person is that wrong that He allows (not causes but allows) bad things to happen to further that aim? Since that aim is also something that determines your eternal destiny are you saying that you would rather that he not achieve the best eternal destiny for you in order for your transient pleasure now? Apparently so.

            Your argument presumes no afterlife. Your argument presumes that God promises material success and physical pleasure and that these are the measuring sticks by which we decide if someone is cared for by God. Your argument presumes that God has the power to prevent bad things from happening s therefore must prevent all bad things from happening and that He cannot otherwise use those things for His purposes and finally, your argument presumes that you know God’s desires and purposes better than He does.

          • Brucehenry

            I have said nothing about prosperity or my own personal happiness. That is not my concern AT ALL when I ask this question. I want to know why, in an abstract sense that has nothing to do with myself — again, I have little to complain about — it is necessary for innocents to suffer and die horrible meaningless deaths if there is indeed a benevolent and omnipotent God in charge.

            And if it takes children I don’t know starving or dying horribly from bone cancer to make me a better person I’d just as soon stay a wretch, thanks.

          • jim_m

            No, it should take that. And it isn’t all about you. There are other people in the world.

            Your position presupposes again that all things are happening because God wants them to happen that way. But He doesn’t. He may allow things to happen because He is not going to force His will down everyone’s throats. He is going to allow people the free will to make their own choices.

            God takes the bad circumstances and uses them for his purposes. It is the difference between believing that bad things happen and you are a victim of the universe, and believing that God is working through the circumstances and that ultimately (perhaps only in an eternal sense) some good will come of it all.

          • Brucehenry

            Again with the “free will” dodge. There is no “free will” involved in being born to suffer horribly with a birth defect. No free will involved in being swept away by a flood or buried in the rubble of an earthquake.

            “And it isn’t all about you.” Yes, that’s what I keep telling you. It’s about a question I’ve asked of religious people for years and never received a satisfactory answer, and still haven’t, although the last part of your last sentence in your above reply comes as close as any, I guess.

            But it still boils down to “The Lord moves in mysterious ways” and my question is, “What is the solution to the mystery?”

          • jim_m

            Bruce,

            You, yourself are switching back and forth between complaining about bad things the happen because other people have acted and bad things that happen due to natural events.

            I have answered in both cases. You are either being deliberately obtuse in order to egg me on or you are simply unwilling to pay attention to the arguments I have presented.

            Your questions have been answered yet you persist in claiming that they have not. You are now entering the realm of dishonesty and I am done discussing the issue with you since I have already provided you ample explanation,

          • Brucehenry

            That’s fine if you are “done” but you are either mistaken or lying when you say that I have “switched back and forth between complaining about bad things that happen because other people have acted and bad things that happen due to natural events.”

            No, I have not. I went back and re-read my comments and nowhere do I complain of anything that happens because “people have acted.” Unless you count crop failure, which is usually due to drought or flood or other bad weather.

            All of my examples — ALL OF THEM — are about natural disasters, microbes, plagues, birth defects, and childhood illness. NONE OF THEM are about choices people have made, or about things that happened “because people have acted.” WHERE DO YOU GET THAT I HAVE??

            You are doing on this thread what you always do, and it is so transparent as to be laughable. You insist that I am saying something I am not saying, and then you castigate me for saying this thing I never said. In this thread, you even have the gall to insist that it is I who has entered “the realm of dishonesty.” It would be laughable if it wasn’t so annoying.

            Again, my question has NOTHING TO DO with consequences, intended or unintended, of things that happen “because other people have acted.” I am SOLELY interested in the question of why a benevolent God would allow INNOCENTS to suffer horribly and die from unavoidable natural events like earthquakes, floods, communicable disease, birth defects, and childhood cancers.

            And AGAIN, the question has NOTHING TO DO with anything that has happened to me personally or any loved one of mine.

            “I have answered in both cases.” Yes, you have stated over and over that shit happens and hey you were warned right there in the Bible. Neither answer is satisfactory. Oh and God moves in mysterious ways, too. Also a useless answer.

          • jim_m

            No. I have said quite clearly that
            1) the world is fallen and is not the perfect world God created or intended
            2) bad things happen as a result of that fall
            3) God’s purpose is not about our comfort, pleasure or prosperity but is about the condition of our hearts
            4) God uses negative events to affect the condition of our hearts
            5) If you do not understand God’s goals it isn’t because He moves in mysterious ways, it is because He acts with an eternal perspective, one that you do not perceive. This is not so much mysterious as it is indicative of your lack of perception

            6) You presume that all people are innocent. This is not the case. It is almost a certainty that some people deserve every moment of suffering they experience.

            7) People suffering is temporary in this world. Your complaint that it happens is further demonstration that you do not understand that there is a different and eternal perspective
            8) You have indeed mixed complaints about man made issues with natural disasters, etc.

            If you don’t like the answers that is your prerogative. However, you asked for an explanation. I gave you an explanation from scripture. You are not required to believe it, but you ought to understand it from the grounds on which it is argued. The problem is that you are being deliberately obtuse and refusing to understand the explanation. It really isn’t that difficult to understand an argument form the other side. You are refusing to even try to do that.

          • Brucehenry

            1. The world being “fallen” depends on one’s acceptance as fact of a fable. Further evidence that you are a Young Earth Creationist — in other words, a nut.
            2. See number 1.
            3. Yes, I can understand that, but it does not address my question.
            4. Yes, I can understand that.
            5. Yes, I can accept that.
            6. And it IS a certainty that SOME people DO NOT deserve to suffer. Babies born with birth defects that mean a life of pain, however long, for instance. And it is this “eternal perspective” that I am asking to have explained to me.
            7. The fact that the suffering is temporary is a given. Not to be a smartass, but so what? I am not asking about the existence of Hell, I am asking why innocents suffer if there is a benevolent and omnipotent God. I understand that this God may have a different perspective than us puny mortals but am asking someone to explain this perspective to me.
            8. NO I HAVE NOT, and you cannot quote me doing so.

            And finally, when I ask this question, the people of whom I am asking it ought to be able, or to attempt at least, to answer it in terms a non-believer can accept. If your perspective boils down to “mysterious ways,” just say so. Scalia and Rick have given me answers far superior to those you have offered. You have only given me platitudes and hostility. Way to spread the Good News, Jim.

            I wish I had addressed my original question on this thread to one of them. I should have known I would provoke a hostile and useless response from you.

          • jim_m

            My point which you are deliberately avoiding and one which EVERYOEN else has made, is that you have asked for an explanation for why bad things happen. You have asked for a religious explanation

            You reply with an insult that religion is a fable and therefore the religious explanation you have asked for is unacceptable.

            You are being deliberately offensive. I am not a young earth creationist. I am explaining things from a religious point of view. I am not trying to spread the gospel to someone who I know is utterly uninterested in hearing it. Fuck you.

            You are an asshole, deliberately ignoring the argument and twisting my words. I have not been hostile up to this comment. I have been patient trying to explain to you my position. You have been consistently insulting and condescending. Look at your own crap before insulting me on this one.

          • Brucehenry

            Your first reply to me was one in which you called me a “greedy self-centered atheist” and asserted that I wanted God to be a “bottomless cookie jar,” among other choice insults and mischaracterizations, so yes, you have indeed been hostile and dishonest throughout this thread. It’s true you tried to walk back some of your animus and get a little more civil for a while there, but went right back to insults and lies after a few comments back and forth.

            I have not asked for a general, non-specific answer as to why bad things happen. I have asked, repeatedly and clearly, why specific bad things happen to innocents who have made no choice to sin, if there is a benevolent and omnipotent God in charge. You keep telling me the world is “fallen.”

            Yes I am familiar with the concept of original sin and a fallen world, but that doesn’t mean that the Adam and Eve story is not a fable. I NEVER claimed that “religion is a fable,” but that the Adam and Eve story is. Just as is Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, and the Jonah story. Job too. That doesn’t mean that “religion is a fable” and I never said it was. I never WOULD say it was.

            It is ummm pretty ironic to hear Jim Fucking Underscore M complain that someone is “twisting his words” since that has been your modus operandi since I first began reading Wizbang. You’ve done it again throughout this back-and-forth here, insisting that I have “complained about bad things that have happened because other people have acted.” NO I DID NOT, NOT ONCE yet you repeatedly insisted that I did in order to argue with something I never said.

            You keep trying to change the subject to “free will” and a “fallen world” but that is NOT what I have asked about. I keep telling you that “mysterious ways” and “we are too puny to understand” are just insufficient answers. What I want to know is WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE?

            If that’s all you got, just say, “That’s all I got, it’s good enough for me, and too bad you don’t get it.” That’s pretty much what Wild Willie said. As I have said, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind here.

            You can’t read, and you can’t argue honestly. You’re a nut, whether you are a young earth creationist or not (and I think you are).

          • jim_m

            I’m sorry that you found my accurate description of your behavior insulting.

          • Brucehenry

            Well, as insincere and snarky as that reply was, I am sorry I offended you. I didn’t start out meaning to offend — asking a sincere question — but as so often happens when you and I interact, I get pretty damn sarcastic myself. I understand this is a subject that should not be snarked about, so to that extent I apologize.

          • jim_m

            Perhaps if you weren’t just searching desperately for a gotcha with me you wouldn’t find my arguments so unpersuasive.

            Even Scalia noted your dishonesty in this thread when he pointed out “If you’re not making an argument, you’re certainly asking for one.”

            You aren’t looking to be persuaded you are looking to tear down religion. You don’t do so with Scalia because he offers a tragic personal story.

          • Commander_Chico

            “It’s religion fool.” A classic.

          • jim_m

            And I would not argue that.

          • Scalia

            Good and common questions, Bruce, but they are not arguments. As I noted to JWB, there are philosophical arguments and emotional ones. Emotional arguments, as gut-wrenching as they may be, have no bearing on God’s existence, and the logical argument fails because, logically speaking, there is always the possibility that a greater good is achieved by permitting evil.

            The Problem of Evil is not a philosophical problem for theists, but it is a very emotional one.

          • Brucehenry

            I’m not trying to make an argument. I don’t wish to convert anyone to atheism or agnosticism. I am asking a question I have asked of religious folk all my life and it is one which no one has ever answered to my satisfaction. Usually the subject gets switched to “free will” and “man isn’t perfect,” neither of which have anything to do with tsunamis or birth defects or death by childhood diarrhea.

          • Scalia

            If you’re not making an argument, you’re certainly asking for one. To answer your question, I have to offer relevant premises that will through valid logical inferences lead a rational person to the conclusion that evil (natural and moral) does not and cannot contradict the existence of an omnibenevolent God. That question has been answered time and again. If you checked out the links I gave to JWH, you’ll see that theism is on solid philosophical footing when it comes to the Problem of Evil.

            Intellectual arguments, however, don’t necessarily ameliorate the agony that many people have to endure. My wife and I lost our first child. It still rips my heart out to think about it. Then our next child contracted pneumonia when she was a little over a year old. You can guess the angst we suffered while hoping and praying that she would get better. I recall a coughing fit (among many) that she had. She could not stop coughing and was clearly suffering. I begged God to help her, but she continued to cough dreadfully. I am ashamed to admit that I became angry at God and screamed, “Are you enjoying this??!!” Yet, in all of that I never questioned God’s existence. My pain was seeking an outlet, and I foolishly vented at God. My daughter eventually recovered and has grown into a lovely woman.

            I don’t know if there is any ultimately satisfactory answer that I can give you. I can only say that sin has affected the universe as well as mankind. We will all die some day, and the universe will be no more. My hope is not in this universe or this natural life. The deepest peace, fulfillment, contentment and joy I have ever experienced has been given to me by my Lord Jesus Christ. He is my hope and He is the One I am longing to be with forever. In Him, my life transcends the corruptible dimension, and in Him I am free from the chains of sin.

            I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (John 11:25-26).

          • Brucehenry

            While my question may sound argumentative and smartalecky, I mean no offense and apologize if any offense was given. I am touched by your personal story and, while it doesn’t offer an “ultimately satisfactory answer” as you admit, I will check out those links. Thank you for your answer.

          • Fr. Robert Barron touches on the Problem of Evil in this 10 minute video… adds nicely I think to the discussion… if you can’t take 10 minutes to listen to it, listen to that which comes at about the 5:19 time frame through the next few minutes… great stuff… in my view…

            https://youtu.be/07AWWJiyAU8

          • Walter_Cronanty

            I think my wife and son have memorized Job.

          • Brucehenry

            I’m sorry, but with all due respect, this is just “The Lord moves in mysterious ways” and “we can’t understand His motives” and is unpersuasive.

            Interesting that Fr Barron doesn’t mention the fact that in the Job story, Job’s suffering is caused by a BET between God and Satan. I can’t think of anything more capricious.

          • jim_m

            Yeah, and God wanting to provide an object lesson in persevering through suffering had no value.

          • Brucehenry

            I’m sure I sound very ignorant to people who know about theology, please excuse me.

          • jim_m

            If you accept that the purpose of the Bible is to communicate who God is, educate the faithful as to what His rules/plans for life are, and inspire people to follow those rules/plan, then you can see that the Bible functions on multiple levels simultaneously.

            It is part history, part metaphor, part instruction book, part inspiration/motivational.

          • Is Job to be taken literally or allegorically… for me it makes more sense to do the latter but either way, a deep profound truth is being communicated.

            Found this by Peter Kreeft that I think could help…

          • Brucehenry

            Thanks for the link but it does not answer the question I asked. It addresses the consequences of choice. It does not address birth defects like the microencephaly that strikes the infants born to mothers who contracted the zika virus, for example. Neither the mothers nor those innocent infants chose to do anything at all, yet those innocent infants are born with birth defects that sentence them to a brief life of intense suffering.

            Why does a benevolent and omnipotent God allow this?

          • No one in my view can answer that question definitively Bruce… and I know that’s unsatisfactory… but it’s that question that led me to look at the Catholic understanding of redemptive suffering… and there I found some satisfaction. Not complete satisfaction, that which we as humans will seek, but the best answers I’ve been able to find so far.

            I mean when you look at it, the question could be asked of the cross, which is foolishness to those who are perishing.

            I think the mere fact that you’re asking these questions is in indication that you’re being hounded by the Hound of Heaven.

          • Brucehenry

            I could not penetrate the purple prose of that poem to save my life, but I assume that it has something to do with man’s search for meaning in all this mess, am I right?

            I grew up Catholic but never have I ever had the gene to really, deeply believe. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but even as a child I always felt there was a whiff of abracadabra in ANYTHING to do with the supernatural. I have made several game efforts over the years to go back to church and all, especially after my children were born, but have always been put off by the pious and unable to get past the sheer illogic of believing things that can never be proven.

            And again, the answers I get when I ask these questions — God moves in mysterious ways, we are too puny to understand God’s plan, and the like — are just unsatisfactory.

            But I thank you, and Scalia, and RM for trying to help me understand and for not taking offense at the things I have said, which I suppose probably come off as rude or disrespectful or at the least ignorant.

          • Not rude, disrespectful or ignorant in the least Bruce. Peace brother.

          • Scalia

            I don’t have a problem with anybody who has a hard time understanding why innocent people suffer—sometimes horribly. I only jump in when I think people are using that as evidence against God’s existence [EDIT, I understand that you’ve qualified your statements that you were not trying to do so], and my answers are mostly tailored to show that such a response is irrational.

            That said, I again acknowledge that the why is often elusive and may never be understood in this life, but I don’t understand nuclear physics either. The fact that I am personally incapable of understanding something is not a basis for rejecting it. I realize that you can counter by saying that physics is verifiable and falsifiable regardless one’s inability to comprehend it. Yes, that’s true and illustrates why incomprehension, in itself, does not undermine either physics or the existence of God. If there are sound, logical reasons why God is, then one’s inability to understand many things about Him are as ineffectual in undermining His existence as it is to undermine physics. The argument, then, is whether there are sound, logical reasons to believe in God, not whether we can understand why “unnecessary” suffering exists.

          • Brucehenry

            Best answer I’ve ever had to that question. Thanks.

          • Scalia

            No apology necessary. I take no offense at your questions.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            Wonderful comment. Well said.

          • Scalia

            Thank you, Walter.

          • jim_m

            The problem of evil is only a philosophical problem for atheists and agnostics.

          • Retired military

            Bruce
            Don’t know if this answers the question or not.
            But I think of the story of Lot.
            Basically it boils down to this.
            Faith is easy when you have everything.
            It is when you don’t have everything or things are going poorly that determines your faith.
            Also the saying that the character of man is determined by what he does when no one is looking.
            For the human condition there can be no good without evil, No sunshine without darkness.
            Maybe God is giving us the opportunity to live up to what we can be and not just to be what we are.
            During one sermon my priest recently gave, he made the following statement about the statues of Jesus on the cross that you will find in every Catholic Church. It reminds us of not only what we (mankind ) did (crucify him) but also we didn’t do (stop an innocent man from being crucified).

          • Wild_Willie

            Actually those examples demonstrate the total freedom of choice God allows us. The people of Germany, for example were demoralized personally and economically. Hitler preached to that hurt, raised their pride and took over. Who really would have thought a beer hall preacher would try to take over the world in 1933? Or say a community organizer who lived off the teat of the US, pushed racism everywhere, sat under a hate filled preacher would become the president. All choices that are regretted. ww

  • Walter_Cronanty

    The question for the believer is not whether God is in control and/or his will is being done if X is elected. The question is: Has this country so turned its back on God that His will is that our country continue its downward spiral?

    Joshua 24:20
    If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”

  • WHO’S THE BUSTER

    I prefer that governance and religion are not acquainted.

    • Walter_Cronanty

      Unfortunately, for many leftists, they are one and the same.

    • Scalia

      Of course you do, but the Founders disagreed with that.

  • Paul Hooson

    To the contrary, as a Jew, this election only reasserts my faith that sadly people will self-punish themselves and bring a pox upon their own house and vote for a Donald Trump despite every possible warning sign that he is able a terrible leader.

    • Scalia

      The destruction of this nation began when politicians discovered that the People could be bought with their own money.

      • Paul Hooson

        We only continue to prove ourselves to be mere ants compared to the wisdom of God. We look at our dogs and cats and admire “how intelligent they are”, only because we are not much more advanced than the animals ourselves. Donald Trump’s campaign has regressed our evolution back to the days of troglodytes sitting in the corner of our caves worried that some other tribe might take away our piece of meat we’re chewing on, so our tribe elects a real bully with a big club who we hope might protect us, even though he’s always proven himself to be a self-centered and self-serving asshole. Compared to believing in God, believing in Trump really takes an act of faith that he will somehow magically behave better than he does now and rule in a responsible fashion. It only takes a mustard seed of faith for me to believe in God. But, I lack enough faith in my being to believe in Trump.

        Donald Trump is hardly the second coming of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln will forever always be the American version of the story of Job.

    • Commander_Chico

      As opposed to Hillary, who is going to put an old exploiter, traficker of women, pornographer and horndog like you in prison AND start World War III?

      • Paul Hooson

        I dislike Hillary and Trump near equally. And, Cruz is probably near as bad as Santorum, who believes that anything that is fun should be against the law.

  • Commander_Chico

    TRUMP WINS! TRUMP WINS! TRUMP WINS! Let’s hear the haters and the losers whine about open primaries now.