God weighs in

by nvrgnbk 19 Replies latest jw friends

  • real one
    real one

    Bigger perhaps. And more cruel and hateful than any of us can imagine.

    why do you say that?

  • nvrgnbk

    why do you say that?

    Do you read anything other than the Bible, real one?

    If you're very secure in your beliefs and your faith is strong, you may enjoy reading Bart D. Ehrman's God's Problem. It may offer you some insights that would be helpful in answering the question that you directed to MissingLink.

    As you're someone interested in reaching others with the Gospel, I think it may be a worthwhile investment of your time and resources.

  • keyser soze
    keyser soze
    God is so much bigger than your puny little minds can conceive!

    Since no one's actually seen him, we'll just have to take your word for that.

  • OnTheWayOut

    Let's open up the old prayer bag and see what folks are asking Old Yahweh.

    Why all the suffering?
    What is the afterlife?
    Does life have any purpose?
    What are today's lotto numbers?
    What is the absolute truth?
    Why do bad people win and good people lose sometimes?
    When are you going to feed the world, shoe the children, cure cancer?
    Should we worship you all our lives or just be good and live full lives?

    Oh, gang. The list goes on and on. All the answers are there. I tried to
    give the answers to Joseph Smith, but that Moroni is a real good practical

  • The Oracle
    The Oracle

    I would just like to say, that the God of the WT is an insecure ego maniac, and any decent peace loving man or woman should label him as bad association.

    Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God to steady it, for the oxen were making it tip. But the Lord was angry with Uzzah; God struck him on that spot, and he died there before God. (2 Samuel 6:3-7).

    You know what? I am sorry, but I don't care how important you think the ark is, you don't kill somebody for trying to steady it. If there was some other hidden reason Uzzah had to get wacked, then WHY NOT TELL US ABOUT IT??? Aren't we supposed to be learning valuable lessons from the bible? The only thing any decent human learns from reading that account and all the surrounding context - is that God is a grade A ass-wipe. You got angry did ya? Angry because Uzzah tried to steady the ark? Well guess what? You need some anger management classes. Did you think about Uzzah's wife and children? Selfish bastard.

    haha! The great thing is, if God is real and a decent person, then he totally knows this bible account is bogus, and he would take absolutely no offense at me pointing this out!

    The Oracle

  • parakeet

    nvrgnbk wrote: "If you can't perceive my existence you're not really looking. There are special people that can."

  • parakeet

    real one wrote: "God is so much bigger than your puny little minds can conceive!"

  • nvrgnbk

    Great Lisa Miller interview with Bart D. Ehrman, author of God's Problem.

    Lisa Miller
    Belief Watch

    “On Faith” panelist Lisa Miller is a senior editor at Newsweek. She oversees all of the magazine's religion coverage and writes the regular "Belief Watch column. She edited Newsweek’s “Spirituality in America” double issue, which looked at the rise of spirituality and why many Americans are choosing to seek spiritual experiences outside traditional religions. She has supervised publication of major cover stories including “Sex, Shame and the Catholic Church,” (March 2002), “The Bible and the Qur’an,” (February 2002), “Fighting Addiction,” (February 2001), and “God and the Brain,” (May 2001). Miller came to Newsweek from the Wall Street Journal, where she was an award-winning senior special writer covering religion for the paper’s front page since 1997. Prior to the Journal, Miller worked at the New Yorker, Self magazine and Harvard Business Review. In 1998, she won a New York Newswomen’s Club award for feature writing. She earned a B.A. in English from Ohio’s Oberlin College. Miller is writing a book about contemporary beliefs and conceptions of heaven. Close.

    Lisa Miller
    Belief Watch

    “On Faith” panelist Lisa Miller is a senior editor at Newsweek. She oversees all of the magazine's religion coverage and writes the regular "Belief Watch column. more »

    Main Page | Lisa Miller Archives | On Faith Archives | Belief Watch

    God's Problem and Ours

    Bart Ehrman, Biblical scholar at the University of North Carolina and former evangelical Christian explains in his new book “God’s Problem” why theodicy – or the problem of suffering -- caused him to cease believing in the Christian God. Here's my interview with him.

    The problem of suffering is the oldest philosophical problem in history. Why attempt to address it now?

    The reason it’s an old problem is because people are constantly confronted with it. It’s the oldest problem for thinking people, but people still think.

    Can you explain the problem, theologically?

    In the traditional Christian understanding of God, God is the creator of the world and sovereign over the world. He’s all-powerful and all-loving, and yet there’s suffering. How does someone explain that there’s so much suffering in the world if there’s a good and all-powerful God who’s in charge of it?

    There are three kinds of books that address this problem. There are philosophers who deal with it purely on the intellectual level. They tend to be very arid, astute and to me somewhat morally repugnant, because they’re treating it like a mathematical puzzle.

    What are examples of such books?

    I don’t want to name names. By making [theodicy] an intellectual puzzle, it allows people to bypass the real issue, which is that there are people suffering in the world. It brings about a kind of complacency rather than a response.

    What’s the second category of books on suffering?

    A self-help, feel good about yourself book, like Joel Osteen’s. Most of these are so simplistic they’re silly.

    How are Joel Osteen’s books about suffering?

    They advise you to think good thoughts. Think happy thoughts. Count your blessings. Realize it could be worse. You could have an arm amputated as well. You’re supposed to feel good about yourself because God has a wonderful plan for your life. There’s a reason for everything -- these kinds of platitudes, I think they’re morally bankrupt actually.

    And the third kind?

    The third kind, which you typically get in the Judeo-Christian tradition, are books that wrestle with the problem by looking at texts. These are not by philosophers but by religious thinkers. In my book, basically I’m dealing with traditional answers to suffering and trying to evaluate their utility.

    But you left the Christian faith…

    Yes, I found all the answers to be unsatisfying. There’s one Biblical view that I do find satisfying, which is the view found in the book of Ecclesiastes. It’s a book that says that life is very short and it’s all we have. We don’t know the whys and wherefores of why things happen, but we do have life, and we should enjoy all the good things in life that we can—and help people so they can also enjoy life.

    Was there a moment where you decided to leave your Christian faith behind?

    I continued to go to church for many years after I stopped being an evangelical Christian. I was in church, and the congregation was saying the Nicene Creed, and the only part I could say out loud was that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate and that he died and was buried. That’s when I decided I couldn’t claim to be a Christian anymore and go to church. That was eight or nine years ago.

    How has that changed you?

    I’ve compensated for the loss by intensifying my passion for friends and family and work and trying to enjoy life more. I buy better wine than I used to, better micro-brewed beer, and I eat better food. I think I live life with more of a gusto than I used to.

    What has been the response to your book?

    I was on [NPR’s] “Fresh Air,” with Terry Gross, I’ve been getting hundreds of emails, and I try to answer these emails. A lot of people have gone through a very similar movement from Christianity to agnosticism or very serious doubt. A lot of people feel they’ve done this alone; there isn’t a community of like-minded doubters.

    How has this transformation changed your scholarship?

    I started out in Biblical scholarship as an evangelical Christian. My special area of scholarship has been to study the original words in the gospels were -- I wanted to know what the original words were because I thought they were inspired by God. Since I don’t believe any of that anymore, I do it for a completely different reason. Christianity is the most important religion in our civilization so I do it for cultural and historical reasons now.

    Did your scholarship actually lead you away from God?

    This is going to be the next book. I’m imagining a three-book thing. “God’s Problem” is, in some ways, the last book. There’s this entire middle area, about when I was a church going, God-believing, sin-confessing Christian. There’s a story there about how scholarship ended up leading me away from my traditional Christian faith.

    How did that happen?

    For one thing, I started finding all sorts of contradictions in the Bible, and I started finding that the different authors of the Bible had very different views of who God was and who Jesus was. Mark’s gospel has a very different Jesus than John’s gospel and neither of them has the same Jesus as the Nicene Creed. Who am I supposed to believe? Mark? John? The Nicene Creed? They’re all different from the historical Jesus, and what are you supposed to believe? This book next that I’m going to write is going to deal with that -- how historical scholarship on the Bible actually undermines traditional Christianity.

    The British theologian N.T. Wright would disagree with you.

    Yes he would, forcefully.

    How can a book that denies the truth of the Christian God offer comfort to the suffering?

    The only way I can gauge it is from the emails I’ve been getting, from folks whose spouses have died or whose child has been killed in a car accident. These people have expressed deeply felt thanks for the book, they say it helped them to see – I don’t think you can say there’s a reason for everything. So your child gets killed by a drunk driver, and someone tells you there’s a reason for everything? No. It helps people to see that the Bible doesn’t have a single answer. Some of the answers in the Bible can be comforting. But at the end of the day, it’s impossible to reconcile the idea of suffering with an all-powerful and loving god. As scary as that is for some people, it also can be comforting, because there’s not a loving god that’s causing all this.

    What does give comfort?
    It really helps a lot to count blessings and to realize how good life can be and how good it is. When someone’s really suffering in extremis, there’s not a lot you can do. You just have to suffer with them.

    Please e-mail On Faith if you'd like to receive an email notification when On Faith sends out a new question.

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    Posted by David Waters on March 7, 2008 11:36 AM


    Are you speaking for the God of the Christians, the God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Jews, the Moslems, or one of the many Greek/Roman Gods.

    As I don’t recognize any of the Gods above in your words, it would seem that you have invented a God that suits you. This nothing new. It is how all the other Gods came to be.

    On the other hand, if you are describing a non-judgemental universal intelligence, perhaps you should find a label other than - God.


  • Carlos_Helms

    Well, who knows? Everyone has a reason for being here, don't they? If it's not about "God," what's it about? We are who we are and, if it's not about becoming a better "who we are," then it's just another exercise in arrogance: defining who we are by what we are not. If someone can accomplish being a better, happier "who I am" without God (however he is defined), I'd like to see it. God, to me, is about self-responsibility. He has removed the burden of the past and fear of the future so that I, right here and right now, can become the "me" I was created to be - which is part of a greater whole. It's not about becoming more lovable; it's about realizing the love that's always been there. It's not rocket science. I'm surprised that great minds like Ehrman haven't picked up on it. Peace! Carlos

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