Sean Pitman: God for the existence of evil, why do you …

Comment on Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull by Ron.

Sean Pitman: God for the existence of evil, why do you claim that God is responsible for the evolution of life over billions of years on this planet via a very painful mechanism of “survival of the fittest”? – that God deliberately and directly creates all genetic mutations and uses natural selection to produce untold suffering and death for countless sentient creatures?

First of all, I never said that God was responsible for evolution over billions of years. Remember in our ground rules for discussion we stipulated belief in a special creation about 10,000 years ago. So we are only talking about what happened since then.

I don’t see “survival of the fittest” as painful at all. First of all, that was first used to describe social/cultural evolution, not biological evolution. I don’t think it needs to have the connotations that have been given it. For one, the process never requires pain and death. Any and every individual can life out a full and complete life. It only requires that there be two different environments bridged either geographically, or over time by two different populations. One population does better on one environment, while the second does better in the second environment.

I see the development of variation in a population to be very consistent with God’s character. Just look around, He obviously loves variety. I also see a changing environment as natural/consistent with God’s character and not sinister.

So, how is the fact that some humans are better suited to live well in the arctic, while other humans are better suited to live at the equator, and still others are adapted to live at high altitudes evil? To me those seem to be very positive adaptations made possible by a loving God who loves diversity. I don’t see those as being harmful at all.

If humanity gets to the point that they can live and reproduce in space, I will expect to see their bodies adapt to life in space over time. That seems to me to be very positive, not negative, and no astronauts have to die prematurely or live an incomplete life to make that happen. They can all live full, happy lives.

As far as any death, related to any genetic abnormality that develops, I don’t see that it increases in any way our concern, or God’s culpability for pain in any way that can’t be explained by standard theology.

Tell me. How do you justify God instigating the murder of Job’s children and servants? How do you justify God ordering genocide? How do you justify God, the Father, permitting His Son to be tortured and killed? What ever answer you give to these questions, just apply it to the pain and death caused by genetic defects as well.

Personally, considering the evidence in the Bible, it appears to me that death weighs very lightly in God’s scale of pain. It seems that for God, death is appropriate for even the smallest and most remote of transgressions. For example He gave Eve the death penalty for stealing a piece of fruit while He only gave Cain banishment for murder. That would imply that in God’s mind, a piece of fruit is of more value than the life of a man.

If it doesn’t bother God to inflict the death penalty for stealing a piece of fruit, while only banishing Cain for murder, and he is willing to order the death of his own son, then why would He worry about death from cancer or any other reason? Death is death. If he allows ANY kind of death, then what does if matter if he allows MANY kinds of deaths?

Ron Also Commented

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Sean Pitman:
I think what you say could only be true if God were not a loving God.

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Holly Pham:
Yes, Holly, I believe Jesus was compelled to make the sacrifice He did by His love for us. In fact that His decision to proceed with creation in light of His full knowledge of the sin that would happen morally obligated Him to rescue us. But the compelling and obligation arose from within His own nature and the nature of love. For example, I don’t see how a loving person could choose to create a situation that they absolutely knew with absolute certainty would result in innocent people being thrown into the Holocaust and still remain loving if they did not have a way to rescue the holocaust victims.

The fact that Jesus did create, and that He did find a way to rescue the holocaust victims (and I mean at the time of, and during the holocaust, not in some abstract future heavenly life, see Betsy’s testimony just before she died in “The Hiding Place”, and Dr. Fankl’s book) proves that He is loving. If He had not done so, I think humanity would have concluded rightly that God was not loving. Had Jesus not come to die, Satan would have won his argument, but Jesus DID come and die.

But those statements I just made only refer to God and His nature, and His responsibility. It says nothing about the responsibility of Adam and Eve, Hitler, or you and I.

Everyone, Satan, Adam and Eve, Hitler, you and I, are all individually responsible for our own decisions. It is OUR decisions that define our character and it is OUR decisions for which we are responsible. So, the only way to hold sinners accountable, and say that Sin is truly sinful, is to uphold the meaning of the word “responsible” by affirming that God Himself is responsible.

You can’t hold sinner’s or Satan responsible if you gut the meaning of “responsible” by denying that God is responsible. God IS responsible, and it is the cross that proves that He is in fact, responsible. (If you can find a text in the Bible where God denies responsibility for anything, please let me know.)

See Job 42:8. Note that God claims responsibility for Satan’s work in Job’s life. Job’s whole argument in the preceding book was that God was treating Him unfairly, while Job’s friend’s were defending God. Here God confesses that Job was infact treated unfairly, and God claims responsibility for it. If God, by His own confession is guilty of treating Job unfairly, or even as a sovereign allowing Job to be treated unfairly by Satan, then God IS guilty, and deserves the same punishment that is inflicted on any other guilty person. But note that God incurred guilt in the process of trying to save us, and the rest of the universe, from the lies of Satan. God had to do some unseemly things in order to unmask Satan. So that is the meaning of the phrase, “He became sin for us”. In order to save us, He had to take our sin upon Himself, and He had to suffer our death.

If He did not take responsibility for our sin, then His death had no meaning. You cannot satisfy the demands of justice by punishing an innocent victim, even if that victim is God. Punishing an innocent victim only adds more guilt to the crime. The only way we can be Justified through Christ, is if Christ takes responsibility for us.

In effect, Jesus is saying to the rest of the universe, “Yes, I know they sinned, and yes, that makes them truly evil, but they sinned ignorantly, with incomplete knowledge. Don’t worry about it. I will take responsibility for them. If they do any harm to anyone else in the universe, credit it to my account, I pledge myself to make it right.” And He does. And that I think is the essence of the Investigative Judgement. The Universe is asking the question, did He do it? Did He live up to His promise and “make it right”? Have all claims against God and humanity been satisfied?

To use the scientific analogy we have used previously, Satan made a claim about God’s character. Basically He asked the question, “If someone sins, how will God react? Will God still act in Love with the best interest of the OTHER at heart, or will He act against the SELFish-interest of the OTHER by removing or destroying the freedom of the OTHER in order to maintain His own integrity?” You see how this sets a trap for God? In order to answer the question SOMEONE has to chose to sin which means that SOMEONE would suffer the consequences of sin, something that God’s love would find intolerable. So, rather than letting His creatures do the experiment and suffer the consequences, God, in love, decided to spring the trap Himself. He gave man freedom. He allowed man and the rest of creation to ask the question, which Eve did when she took the apple, but then He took the responsibility for it Himself, and He, Himself paid the penalty. The only way Justice and Mercy can kiss, is if God takes responsibility and bears the punishment Himself.

Now what about what Mrs. White says about Eve denying responsibility for her actions? Yes denial of her sin is itself evil. I won’t argue that. But there is another way to interpret that transaction.

By looking at what motivates Eve’s denial, you can see fear. In essence she is saying “I am afraid. This punishment is too great for me, I can’t bear it.” And in unjustified hope, she says, “You take it.”

And God, recognizing the fear that motivates the denial says, “Yes, my dear, of course I will. I will take the responsibility for it myself. I will be the one to bear the eternal consequences. You must only bear the temporary consequences.

In this life, you will have to bear temporary pain and sorrow and death. But these will only be temporary, like the pain of childbirth. The pain and sorrow of this life will give birth to a new, eternal life with me. Don’t be afraid. I will be with you. Always. We will do this together.”

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

Bill Sorensen: That God can and will use sin to His own advantage is no reason to assume it was an absolute necessity and that Satan did God a favor by introducing sin

No, I agree with you. What Satan did was and is evil. There is no excuse for it.

And remember that there is a difference between Satan who sinned in the full light of God’s presence and refused to repent even when He was CONVINCED of his error, and Adam and Eve who were deceived. I think a good God would have an obligation to help someone who was deceived that he wouldn’t have for someone who was acting premeditated in full knowledge.

If I deceived you into doing something that resulted in the death of someone, you would still be guilty of involuntary manslaughter, but you would not be guilty of premeditated murder. Some juries might even find you innocent.

Recent Comments by Ron

Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation

Sean Pitman: No one is demanding that they “get out of the church”. . . . . anti-Adventist views on such a fundamental level.

You don’t see how characterizing a dedicated believer’s understanding of truth as “fundamentally anti-Adventist” would drive them out of the church?

I guess that explains why you don’t see that what you are doing here is fundamentally wrong.

Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation

Professor Kent: Nothing saddens me more than the droves who leave the Church when they learn that many of their cherished beliefs regarding this evidence don’t hold up so well to scrutiny.

I agree. I am sure that Sean and Bob don’t mean to undermine faith in God, but every time they say that it is impossible to believe in God and in science at the same time, I feel like they are telling me that any rational person must give up their belief in God, because belief in God and rationality can’t exist in the same space. Who would want to belong to that kind of a church?

Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation

Sean Pitman: and have little if anything to do with the main point of their prophetic claims

And by analogy, this appears to be a weak point in the creation argument. Who is to decide what the main point is?

It seems entirely possible that in trying to make Gen. 1 too literal, that we are missing the whole point of the story.

Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation
Regarding falsifying the existence of God through the miraculous:

While it is true that one can’t falsify the existance of God and the Biblical miracles at a philosophical level, it seems to me that it is possible to falsify it at a practical level. For instance prayer for healing. How many families who pray for a miracle for a loved one in the Intensive Care Unit receive a miracle?

While the answer to that question doesn’t answer the question of the existence of God at a philosophical level, it does answer the question at a practical level. After 36 years of medical practice I can say definitively that at a practical level when it comes to miracles in the ICU, God does not exist. Even if a miracle happens latter today, it wouldn’t be enough to establish an expectation for the future. So at a practicle level it seems it is possible level to falsify the existence od God, or at least prove His nonintervention which seems to me to be pretty much the same thing at a functional level.

Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation
@Sean Pitman:
Sean, what is your definition of “Neo-darwinism” as opposed to “Darwinism” as opposed to “evolution”?