August 2010

Thinking about how both God & evil can coexist … given this proposed dichotomy: "God can either do literally anything and everything, or he cannot":

If God can do literally anything and everything, this includes things that are contradictory. Ex, he can make a square circle, or can create something the smells purple. If this is so, there is no problem with God's goodness and the existence of evil in the world, because since God can do anything, such seeming contradictions should not faze us.

On the other hand, if God cannot do literally anything and everything (as is suggested in the Bible, ex God cannot lie), then this means that there are certain things that God cannot do. Thus, it is at least possible that the existence of free-willed creations (which could freely choose evil) and God's omnibenevolence (perfect goodness) and omnipotence (all-powerfulness) are not incompatible, since it may not be possible for God to have the former (free will) without the latter (evil) to some degree.

This is part of the argument given in Alvin Plantinga's landmark (but difficult since it's written for philosophers) book God, Freedom and Evil … at least, as I understand it. (Short essay based on the book is available here.) He goes into considerably more detail in that book and no doubt with much more precise terminology and philosophical acumen than I have here. Not sure why it suddenly came to mind today, but thought I'd type it out. It makes sense in my own head … :)

A duckling hatches. Unlike most ducks, which lay their eggs near bodies of water, this duckling has, for whatever reason, been born inland, with no water nearby.

Our duckling grows up into a duck in an arid climate, seldom feeling the cool, wet caress of raindrops. In those rare rainy moments, he steals brief glimpses, takes a small foretaste, of something more. Yet he is content in his environment, never having known anything else.

One day, a fierce wind begins to blow. Try as he might to weather the storm, he decides to venture out of his comfortable surroundings in search of shelter. He walks (for he has never had a need or occasion to fly before) as the wind continues to intensify, filling the air with sand and debris. Steadfastly, he pushes ahead, sometimes allowing himself to be blown forward by the wind, other times pressing headstrong against it. He walks, and walks, perhaps for hours, perhaps for days, it's difficult to have any sense of time or direction.

Then, suddenly, the wind dies down, and as his eyes begin to clear he can scarcely believe what he sees.

Water. A billion, trillion times more than he has even seen before.

He has been led to the ocean.

He stands, then sits, then stands once again, staring at the magnificent scene in front of him. At length, be approaches timidly, dipping at first a single webbed toe, then a foot. Although scared by this new experience, this foreign environment, nonetheless he intuitively knows that he is on the threshold of greatness.

Still, he hesitates. It's unfamiliar, untested, even scary.

Yet, he takes a step of faith and jumps into the water … and for the first time, swims.

It's unlike anything he has experienced before, but at once he knows. This is what he is meant for. Not just his perception of the world has changed; he has changed. It's not that he is abandoning everything about his life on land, but now that he has experienced the fullness of this new environment, he can never go back to the way things were before … he is home.

Photo credit: spyros_tav

The experience of encountering and walking with the living God is not like putting a feather in your cap; it's more like putting on glasses and really being able to see for the first time. It is the fulfillment of cravings of which we are only given a foretaste in the natural world.

C. S. Lewis once said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." This, I think, captures part of the transformative power when a person realizes that they have finally been freed to become the person they were always meant to be.

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jesus

Is it possible that God has been at work in your life all along? Maybe it's time to explore your world beyond your current boundaries in search of the ocean, and ask the question: What does your soul crave?