Why Did God Create Us If He Knew We’d Sin? [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

Time for another episode in our ongoing series, Questions That Haunt Christianity.

This week, Shelly asks,

Why would God create humans (and animals) knowing what a vast number of them would suffer in this life? Does eternity really make up for a life of war, fear, hunger, or _______ (insert issue here). The typical response to this question is, “People could have lived in perfection as God created it, but they chose sin.” But that doesn’t answer the question. God would have known that people would sin. So why start the whole mess at all, even with the promise of a messiah?

Here’s the drill: You take on Shelly’s question in the comment section to this post. On Friday, I’ll take my crack at it.

  • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

    Really hoping for something better than “we don’t know God’s plan” on this one Tony.

  • Curtis

    Because God only exists in relationship to something else. If people never sinned, then we would never be the “other”, and God would cease to exist.

    • Rick

      If God ceased to exist without us, that would make an all powerful God pretty wimpy! God does not NEED us. He LOVES us. Not the same thing. Sin is just a way to hide from God so you can find Him again. Finding Him again is the purpose of Life.

      • Curtis

        Okay, maybe the relationship of the Trinity is enough for God to exist. God needs relationship to exist, and that relationship is found in the three parts of God, with or without us.

        By separating humans from God through sin, God made it possible for humans to enter into relationship with God too. We are “in God’s image”, separate from but in relation to God, just like the Trinity.

        When the relationship between a person and God is broken, that person is no longer with God, and God shrinks a little. That is sin.

        • Nathaniel Hamilton

          How does God shrink a little, is that possible based on the attributes of God? (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc.)

  • Craig

    Consider the boy who tears the wings off a hornet to drop it into a jar full of ants. The boy shakes the jar if his captives don’t fight. All this is fully intelligible. So perhaps it is with God and his universe.

    “O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

    How’s that for an answer?

    • Evelyn

      FYI Craig, Christians call the shaking the jar part “love” but they wouldn’t phrase it in the terms you give or else they’d be unappealing.

  • http://getoutfromunderit.blogspot.com Andy

    Because traditional notions of “sin” are an archaic distraction from the acts of visceral, real-world charity that we can (and should) be performing. It’s much easier for a power-hungry organization or person *cough cough Tony Perkins Tim LaHaye Bryan Fischer Mark Driscoll cough cough* to focus on how evil sex is than to talk about how we should be unconditionally helping lift the least of us.

    • Frank

      The most tragic and errant statement of all “Because traditional notions of “sin” are an archaic distraction.”

      Certainly explains a lot in “progressive” (actually regressive) Christianity.

      • http://getoutfromunderit.blogspot.com Andy

        I’m not a Christian, actually. And the way you conduct yourself on these comment threads, Frank, you don’t appear to be, either. While you and the Huckabees of the world are focusing on what I do with my penis, true Christians are doing something to help the people who need it instead of castigating them for perceived “weakness.”

        But hey, cool, not-at-all-obvious joke about “regressive,” bro. Where can I buy the t-shirts?

        • Frank

          Yeah ok, right. Whatever you say must be true.

          One day you might discover the truth. I hope so.

          • http://getoutfromunderit.blogspot.com Andy

            Me too, buddy. Me too.

          • Mike O’Brien

            You gotta love it, how “Christians” are always so hopeful for the rest of us to one day, “find the truth”; you know, right after making a childish insult, regarding progressive politics. Frank…you truly are (in my book) a very, very typical Christian. Blind as my great-grandad, and ready to label anyone who disagrees with you as a person who just doesn’t know the truth…something I find to be gorgeously ironic. Me personally, I’d rather burn in hell for all eternity, that kiss the ass of your God, who’s prepared to damn me for all eternity, if I masturbate without apologizing after.

  • Max

    In order for us to have a real and loving relationship with God, we must have the freedom and ability to choose him or not choose him–the ability to choose to follow the path sin or to choose not to. If there was no choice, there would be no freedom, and that is not true love. It is only through such a relationship, with its included repercussions, that we can fully love and be loved by God.

    • Mike O’Brien

      Actually, In order for you to have a real and loving relationship with God, you must convince yourself of that which is imaginary. It’s like Santa Clause…remember when you had to come to terms (hopefully) that Santa wasn’t real? Well Frank, here’s your last hard lesson of childhood that you apparently missed. Your religion has actually convinced you that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

      But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!

      • Selah

        Mr. O’Brien
        God does not need any $$.God doesn’t need anything!! Oh yes He has a special place , but it is reserved for Satan and his demons and He doesn’t want you to wind up there.” For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son and those who believe in His Son will never perish but have eternal life ”. Mr. O’Brien, you will spend eternity somewhere and the decision you make about Jesus on this earth will determine your destiny for eternity. I pray you will make the right choice.
        Make sure that your ‘ name ‘ is going to be in the Book of Life.

  • Adam

    Because he loves us.

    I’m not a parent, but I imagine this question can be answered from a parent’s perspective. Before your child is born you know they will sin. You even know they will suffer. But you love them despite all that. Never to have created this one you love, never to have had the relationship, never to have discovered who they are and who they become — that would be unthinkable.

    • NateW

      Yes! There are complexities and rebuttals I’m sure, but to say that we have been given life in order to love and be loved is central to the answer I think. The task from here would be to demonstrate that pain and sin are necessary to the full experience/knowledge of and participation in God’s love. A parent has no choice in the kind of world their child will enter, except in the love they can demonstrate. Perhaps God is supremely confident that the love he can demonstrate is able to overwhelm all the adversity that each of us faces. As a parent cannot demand true love from their child, neither can God. It is a law of logic that love cannot be demanded or asked for. Love arises ONLY as a spontaneous response to the sensation of being loved. To be first loved is a pre-condition to loving others. In fact, until I know what it is to be perfectly loved, I will not be able to truly love another. Until I have been shown that I am able to be fully known and Loved anyway, i will withold myslef from others for fear of rejection and I will see others primarily as means to gain what I think I need to be “enough” to be loved.

      • Cory

        God is like an abusive parent. They tell you they love you, but they will lock you in the basement and bash you. No matter what you do they still beat you, but it’s okay because they still love you!

        Replace the parent with God and the basement and beatings with hell and eternal torture. What kind of love comes from fear? Ever heard of Stockholm syndrome?

  • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

    This question assumes God’s complete foreknowledge of future events, as if the future is settled. However, if the assumption is changed – if the future is open, and God knows all possibilities, but does not know the future as an actuality – then we can account for God creating humanity with the possibility of sin. The open view of the future means that humanity’s sinfulness was not inevitable.

    • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

      I meant to include some resources for the Open View. I particularly enjoyed Greg Boyd and others’ essay called “Open Theism, Omniscience, and the Nature of the Future.”

      http://reknew.org/2008/01/open-theism-and-the-nature-of-the-future/

      Also, here is a lecture given by Greg Boyd on Open Theism (or what he calls the open view of the future):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6UA1bToI7U

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      But we have knowledge of the past. If we assume God created the world, then we have the entire history of everything to show that God created a world with sin it. Don’t avoid the question.

      • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

        I don’t see how I’m avoiding the question. In an open view of the future, it can be argued that God DIDN’T know humanity would sin, or that sin would enter into creation for certain. He knew it as a possibility, but not as an actuality.

        The original post says “God would have known that people would sin.” I disagree with this assumption.

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          So, either God is responsible for sin, therefore arbitrary and possibly evil, or, as you imply, good and sin come from somewhere else (can “enter into creation”) and he has limited powers, therefore opening the question of “who is God?”.

          • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

            I don’t think I can accept the way you frame the issue.

            First, God’s inability to know whether we would or would not sin does not automatically lead to the conclusion that God is either responsible for sin or both “good and sin come from somewhere else” (as you stated). If it is assumed that God created humanity with free will, then he created the possibility of sin out of necessity. However, this does not mean he created sin itself, nor does it mean he created a world that was inherently sinful.

            Second, I think your post strays from my original point, which is that God does not know the future as actual, but knows all possibilities from the creation of the cosmos. God’s creation of the universe (as I think Tony has stated before) was in itself an act of self-limitation, including God’s complete foreknowledge of all events that will happen – thus leading to an open view of the future.

            All of that to say this: personally, this is how I reconcile the existence of sinfulness seen within creation without tarnishing the goodness of God somehow.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Chris; “self-limitation” was a cop-out by Tony. It makes no sense. It merely addresses the issue of what God can’t do by saying he chooses not to, and we don’t know why. More evasion. And on “knowing all possibilities”, have you really thought about that? That’s a lot of knowledge.

            Finally, “free will” is something that we experience, but the jury is still out on just what it is or how much of it we have. I don’t see much point in just assuming it is something god-given. That leaves us at the “it’s just so, it’s a mystery, god is great” explanation. The same basic disappointing answer we’ve ended up with on all of these questions. Like I said, I was hoping for more.

          • Phil Miller

            It’s not that God has “limited powers”, per se. It’s just that once God creates something that is outside of Himself that He doesn’t control in a deterministic fashion, He is purposely limiting Himself. I don’t see how this is cop-out at all. It’s a pretty cut and dry thing, really. Sovereignty either means that God meticulously control everything going on in the universe, or it means something else. The Calvinistic view God is a divine puppeteer of sorts is rather new in Christian thought.

            As far as an atheists using the problem of evil as some sort of apologetic against Christianity or other theistic views, I’ve always thought that was a self-defeating argument on their part. An atheist’s definition of good and evil is ultimately going to be completely arbitrary. This is an old Josh McDowell type of defense, I know, but no one has ever convinced why it’s really actually wrong in some ultimate sense for an atheist to murder everyone.

          • Evelyn

            “but no one has ever convinced why it’s really actually wrong in some ultimate sense for an atheist to murder everyone.”

            If you believe that Jesus died for your sins then it isn’t really actually wrong in some ultimate sense for a Christian to murder everyone. Jesus already took the punishment and you can do whatever you want.

          • Phil Miller

            If you believe that Jesus died for your sins then it isn’t really actually wrong in some ultimate sense for a Christian to murder everyone. Jesus already took the punishment and you can do whatever you want.

            That’s assuming a strict substitutionary view of the atonement, something is also rather a historic anomaly in Christian thought.

        • Craig

          Suppose I leave a room full of kids with these instructions: “You can do anything you want–just don’t touch the cookies.” Can I claim ignorance about what they’re going to do?

          Now add a talking snake.

        • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

          I’m not saying that I “believe” this, but it seems that a combination of deism, process theology and radical atheism (mentioned below) could resolve this question. Maybe…

          • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

            How so? I saw further down that you said you aren’t a Christian, but I’m curious to see how you might answer the question in detail.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            Actually, I am a Christian. But, I don’t claim to mentally assent to the orthodox Christian God.

            I’d have to think about this some more…

          • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

            Sorry about that, that was my own presumptive reading of your comment below. Apologies.

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            All good!

            My trajectory of thought is very similar to Caputo, Rollins, Zizek.

  • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

    My response would reference Martin Hagglund – other than a “radical atheist” position, I haven’t found a good response to this question.

    • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

      i.e. a world without evil would be undesirable.

      • Craig

        …and so (or because?) God desires evil. Jut like a little boy.

        • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

          I don’t “believe” in “God.” So, at least one problem solved.

      • Evelyn

        Perhaps you mean to say that there would be no desire in a world without “evil”. We can call any type of pain evil. For example, when it gets to be about 2 pm in the afternoon and you haven’t eaten lunch and you get hunger pangs. Hunger pangs are pain but they tell us when we need to eat. If being hungry were not painful, we wouldn’t need to eat – without the pain of hunger, eating is unmotivated and unnecessary and we wouldn’t do it. Likewise, if we didn’t live within a world of dualities (involving pain), we might not see the point of doing anything at all. Many people, for example, have noticed that the concept of “death” is very motivational. Many people would also say that death is the greatest evil …

  • Sven

    This was one of Chris Hitchens’ chief complaints about Christian doctrine: that we are “created sick, and COMMANDED to get better”.

    • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

      That seems like a completely legitimate argument against much of Christian orthodoxy. But, I think you can solve that problem by positing “God” as the source of everything that exists, while not claiming that God determines anything.

      • Sven

        How so?

        • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

          Remove the orthodox Christian God.

          • Sven

            Can you elaborate? Hitchens’ statement was pretty general.

          • Sven

            Basically, what idea of an “unorthodox” God do you have that is still Christian?

          • http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com Rob Davis

            My understanding of “divinity” is shaped by the trajectory of Jesus the Christ. It’s Christian because it seeks to embody that way of being human (the way of love) in our time and place. This idea does not require any “beliefs” about the orthodox deity.

  • http://enterthesilence.blogspot.com/ Jay Potter

    The essence of a creator is to create. A creation is always less than the creator. The creator may even call it a good creation, but it is not equal to the one who created. The creator may know the whole of the creation, but setting it to life allows it to take on a will of its own. This creation may then take its own opinion of itself as higher than the one who first created it.

    The creator always yearns for each part of its creation to return to the creator, to reflect the essence of creator and sustainer of the creation. It may in effect have to become a part of its creation in order to show the right path back to the creator.

    • Kim Hampton

      It’s not always true that the creation is less than the creator (as many artists will tell you). G-d could have created the earth without humans; then creation wouldn’t have been lesser than the creator.

  • Rich

    “Evil exists so that [Christ] might be demeaned and insulted, so that the depth of His love and sacrifice could be expressed as much as is possible in the small frame of history.” – Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl

  • toddh

    We deal with this question often in my high school Sunday school class, particularly in reading through the Old Testament. Why did God let the Israelites languish in slavery for hundreds of years? Why did God command his people to commit genocide? Couldn’t God have just _____ [fill in the blank]. If God is so perfect and all-powerful, then why are there so many effed up stories in the Bible? The whole thing makes me realize that the god I am worshiping is not the god of the Bible. For whatever reason, nothing is ever neat, tidy, or painless with the God of scripture. Including the cross ;) . It appears that the desire to have a neat, tidy, pain-free world is part of me worshiping the god I want to have, instead of the god that is actually part of the story.

    • Craig

      So what do you do? Do you turn back to worship the “effed-up” god of the Bible or do you do something else?

      • Evelyn

        They worship the “effed-up” god of the Bible and call themselves mysterious when they are actually worshiping the devil and don’t want to admit it. The only thing you should worship is that which you believe embodies what is good. It is not good to make a human being suffer and hang on a cross regardless of whether you are going to resurrect him (just like a rape that results in conception is not good) nor is it good to require live sacrifice for atonement. No matter how much lipstick you put on the pig (i.e. volumes of apologetics), it is still a pig.

  • Lee P.

    I too, do not see how God gets off the hook for sin and evil.

    god is the top of the pyramid and ultimately responsible for everything. Take Christian advocates for “intelligent design” for example. Lets assume they are right about the perfect creator. For a creation to err then a perfect creator/designer would have to have created him/her/it with the ability to err. And since God also created the environment and every single parameter of his entire creation, creating creatures with the ability to err/sin/miss the mark is the same as creating them for that expressed purpose. God would know every possible scenario and every probability involved with his creation and their purposely made design flaws.

    There aren’t any satisfactory answers to any of this. There just aren’t.

    But then there are lots of tough questions and paradoxes out there in the universe. This is just one of them.

    • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

      I’m not sure I’d call the ability to love and free will “design flaws.”

    • Pax

      creating creatures with the ability to err/sin/miss the mark is the same as creating them for that expressed purpose

      I don’t think this is true. Natural counterexamples abound.

  • Pax

    It seems to me that this is another form of the problem of evil. Like with last week’s question, I’d say yes to “Does eternity really make up for a life of war, fear, hunger, or _______ (insert issue here).”

    But like others have mentioned, I (help) create my children because even though I know they’ll sin, they’ll suffer, etc. But, their existence is still a really big good.

  • Lee P.

    “I’m not sure I’d call the ability to love and free will “design flaws.””

    Well that’s a good thing I didn’t say that eh? I said the ability to sin and miss the mark (and murder and maim and masturbate and lust) were design flaws. This God supposedly designed everything. All the parameters from macro to the micro to the quantum. Everything. Yet he gets off the hook for everything evil and gets credit for everything good. always kinda seemed like bullshit to me. Still doesn’t make sense. Good thing I am not focused on the origins of evil in my Christian walk. I just don’t care about that aside from, say blog posts and what not.

    • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

      What I meant by my comment was that “the ability to sin and miss the mark” automatically presume the existence of free will, which exists (in my opinion) for the purpose of our ability to love. One’s choice to sin may be flawed, but the original design (free will for the purpose of love) which allows humanity to sin is not.

  • Rich

    I think the better way to look at it is at the macro level… let’s go back and look at what happened prior to creation. Satan rebelled. Inherent to that rebellion was a claim that God wasn’t the ultimate good in existence, that Satan could do better. God’s response? To create a world that He would ultimately die for, to show just how good He could be. We are all characters in God’s story, all notes in His song, all actors on His stage. The point: to show all creation what a glorious God he truly is, the One who died to kill the dragon and get the girl.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      Except he didn’t actually die in the sense of going away somewhere. Dying meant he just went back to heaven in the first place.

      So the furthest you could go with that is that he experienced pain for us. Which I suppose is worth something, but there’s plenty of people that would say that, sure, what he experienced is painful, but there’s plenty of people that experienced far worse physical pain. And that’s without even factoring in emotional pain.

      So if the pain God experienced wasn’t actually the worst possible pain anyone could ever experience, and there are people who have been through worse than Jesus did, doesn’t that mean that they outdid Jesus? That their lives were far more of a sacrifice than his was?

  • Charles

    Most of the responses here (and Shelly’s question) are based on the traditional christian premise of original sin. Therein is the problem as I see it. What if… what if there is another way to view our position/relationship with “the source of all being?” What if we were born, not with original sin (a negative), but with the essence of “God” within us – our soul (a positive)? “Sin” might then be viewed as our ignoring or not seeking our devine soul. Additionally, a new way to view atonement might be our reuniting with our soul – the devine (God). Jn 10:30, “I and the father are one” then takes on a new meaning, I think.

  • Lee P.

    ““the ability to sin and miss the mark” automatically presume the existence of free will””

    We have no idea what the term “free will” actually means. It may be even more obfuscate that the word “God”.

    It seems like Christians just use it as a magical placeholder. “”Free will”! There! Now it is all explained!”

  • Jim Armstrong

    Re: Charles’ “What if”…
    Let’s see. What issues are simplified by positing that “sin” is a human concept?
    Eliminates the contradiction in our own experience. We do not hold our own creations somehow culpable for their as-built less-than-ideal behaviors.
    Eliminates this conundrum about God not abiding sin, yet perfectly creating a “very good” thing that nonetheless gravely offends Him.
    Eliminates conflict with Jewish roots that do not include Original Sin (best you have a Rabbi’s explanation for this).
    Eliminates conflict with some (even historical) Christian thought.
    Eliminates somehow holding Adam and Eve responsible for our own misdeeds.
    Eliminates the need for a “real” Adam and Eve, and the apparent conflict between this Genesis story and the continuing revelation of Creation through the lens of science.
    Eliminates the unresolvable contradiction of a loving God defaulting innocents to burn in hell.
    Eliminates the “free will” enigma as well, I think, because the universe/earth/myself continues to operate as intended, …even if the specifics of its manifestations are still an unfolding work in progress.
    This posit does, of course, raise a major challenge with respect to understanding of Messiah. That may be a show-stopper for many. But suffice to say that there are self-identifying Christians (again, throughout history) who have engaged the powerful currents of orthodoxy and orthopraxy (right thinking and practice – the essence of tradition) and found a new place of quiet waters (though neither quickly, nor without a great deal of Jacobean wrestling).

    • Charles

      “…there are self-identifying Christians who have engaged the powerful currents of orthodoxy and orthopraxy and found a new place of quiet waters…” Amen, brother, Amen!

  • Joe Carson

    I hope Tony’s answer – and perhaps some other commenters’ contributions – consideres some the unprecedented collectiive issues humanity faces in 2012 and in lives of our children and grandchildren. How much, if at all, are they the result of indivdiual/collective sin? Why are we the generation chosen/allowed/fated to face them?

  • Evelyn

    “Does eternity really make up for a life of war, fear, hunger, or ‘whatever’?” No, Shelly, eternity does not make up for a life of suffering. Life makes up for a life of suffering. The grace that we are given makes life worth living regardless of the suffering. Looked at another way, God’s grace gives us the illusions we need to make life worth living and the perception of suffering makes it seem like the things we do have value.

  • http://www.turridesign.com Jesse Turri

    John Cobb answers this question better than anyone I’ve ever read:

    “…if God is to bring an ordered world out of a chaos of finite actualities, any development that God can promote will have to conform to these correlations. The positive correlation between the capacity for intrinsic good and intrinsic evil means, as already indicated, that the increased complexity that makes greater enjoyment possible also makes greater suffering possible. Greater complexity of experience overcomes triviality, but it does not guarantee bliss, for it may open the door to discord so great that the positive enjoyment of experience will be virtually eliminated. The reason is that the condition for great enjoyment is the capacity to receive the feelings of others into oneself. This is good if the feelings the others contribute are by and large harmonious. But if they are not–if one’s body is wracked with pain, if loved ones are mutilated–then the sympathetic appropriation of their feelings becomes the source of great suffering. In fact, the suffering can be so great that sympathetic appropriation can seem more a curse than a blessing, and practices can be undertaken to seek to eliminate or at least minimize this capacity. One can choose harmony over intensity, thus reverting to a more trivial existence in order to advert discord.”

    • Evelyn

      Interesting. I’m not sure I agree with “the condition for great enjoyment is the capacity to receive the feelings of others into oneself.” There are many opportunities in life for enjoyment that don’t involve social interaction – for example, you could get great enjoyment out of your relationship with the natural world or you get get great enjoyment out of a relationship with a hobby you might have. Enjoyment doesn’t have to include other people.

      • http://www.turridesign.com Jesse Turri

        Ah, you raise an interesting point evelyn. Are there degrees of enjoyment? Is the enjoyment you get from shopping or playing online poker the same kind enjoyment you get from a personal relationship, say with a loved one? I’m not so sure. The former seems a bit more trivial to me…

  • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

    “… but no one has ever convinced why it’s really actually wrong in some ultimate sense for an atheist to murder everyone.”
    Because it is. This is a much easier thought experiment for a theist than an atheist. Imagine for a minute that God does not exist. Did you think about going out and killing someone during that minute? If so, go get help. More likely you didn’t. You didn’t for the same reasons people of other religions and non-religions don’t. Because it’s wrong. Obviously. We need to explain to little children why not to hit, but we expect people to figure out to not kill by time they are 18 . If they don’t get it, we lock them up. There is no confusion on this point. If you aren’t convinced it is wrong or can’t figure a reason that doesn’t involve God, there is something wrong with you and I’m not going to explain it to you.

    Here’s a clue. If I killed everyone, who would be there at the drive up window to hand me my chicken sandwich?

    • Craig

      Regarding your clue: surely that isn’t the sort of reason why one shouldn’t murder others.

    • Phil Miller

      It doesn’t matter how much you parse it, saying something is wrong simply because we say it’s wrong is a circular argument. The best an atheist can say is that humans as a species have evolved in such a way that most of have learned that killing each other is not beneficial for us for passing on our DNA to the next generation. In a purely objective sense, right and wrong don’t exist in universe without God. All that matters is survival and non-survival.

      • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

        I didn’t say I COULDN’T provide a reason, I said I WOULDN’T. You are not worth the trouble.

      • Evelyn

        This reminds me of Robert Green Ingersoll’s quote:

        “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.”

        I think Lausten has seasonal affective disorder. He didn’t used to be this ornery.

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          Thanks for the laugh Evelyn. Okay, admittedly, its a bad day at work. More to the point, I’m disappointed in the responses to the great questions in this series. Most of them fit the standard lines. But you can really get my goat by making some sweeping statement about atheists. Not to be Capt. Atheismo, defender of unbelief, or anything, but this is supposed to be a conversation about emergent Christianity, a basic understanding of non-belief is important to that. We aren’t going to figure out where religion fits in the world if we don’t have a place for the non-religious.

          • MarkE

            Lausten:
            Bad mood aside, you are being too hard here. After all these are “haunting” questions, not easy ones; thus no one will have a completely satisfying response. I thought the answers have been reasonable and interesting given their difficulty. Maybe they are nothing new to you if you have pondered them, but then nothing is new under the sun.

            These types of questions have been part of the great conversation of humanity. I would not expect the responses to convincing, but they can provide some food for thought for those wondering.

          • Evelyn

            I can see where you’re coming from, Lausten. I wasn’t raised religiously – there was no God talk in our household and we didn’t go to church. I mentioned this in a group seminar at an episcopal church and the response of some of the church ladies was “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t believe in God – I’d probably kill someone” and then the religious use such a rationale to be bigoted against atheists. In fact, I remember a poll that showed that atheists are less trusted than anyone who believes in God regardless of what religion they are (including Muslim, Hindu, or Jew). I suppose the life-long religious types have always been told that there is a person in the sky who will smite them or they will burn in hell for an eternity if they do not follow the rules so this is the rationale that they’ve always used for good behavior and they don’t know any other way. It is in fact insulting to humanity to believe that we don’t have a moral fiber in our mentality and that our entire system of ethics and morals depends on a concept of a personal God but we somehow have free will and if we exercise it to break the rules (whatever they are) then we are to blame.

            I basically operated without a concept of God until I was about 34. I didn’t know why I had the ethos that I did when I was operating without a concept of God. It could have been conscience and it was always suggested to me by my parents that I should follow the Golden Rule. I remember once when I was about 8 years old my brother and I were playing and one of us had taken something, I don’t remember what it was, and my father thought we were lying about it. So, he picked us up by the ear until one of us told the truth. It hurt a lot and I always used that incident as a rationalization for the fact that I hated lies. My father used to manipulate us with guilt quite often and, after about 15 years of that, I laid aside guilt basically because it became obvious that my father was laying a false sense of guilt on me about things that I hadn’t done or that I shouldn’t feel guilty about. So, I had reasons for my ethos that were tied to the Golden rule, the way my parents raised me, respect for the law, and desire to be friendly. My ethics and morals had nothing to do with the presence of God in my life but I was not a murderer. I thought Hitler was evil because he did things that went against everything I thought was necessary for humans to live together productively in society and what he did was horrifying and I couldn’t believe anyone would want to do something like that to people. However, my concept that he was evil had nothing to do with God.

            So, I think Phil is a little caught up in his own belief system when he said that we do not have concepts of good and evil without a concept of God. We, in fact, have concepts of good and evil in our gut feelings and consciences.

    • Phil Miller

      Speaking of thought experiments, my question would be this. Can an animal do anything that we would consider morally wrong? I don’t know that I’ve met anyone who would answer yes to that question. But yet, there are plenty of instances of animals committing acts that humans consider despicable – eating their young or their mates, killing indiscriminately, etc. But I’ve never heard anyone say animals are immoral for doing these things.

      If humans are simply are more highly evolved animal, our morality simply becomes a construct completely of our own making. I really don’t see any other away around it.

      • Curtis

        It gets back to the “free will” thing, doesn’t it? We believe animals are driven by instinct, their behavior is defined by their DNA. Humans are unique in that we have a consciousness — we can choose how to behave. Morality only exists in the context of choice, in the context of free will. So no, an animal cannot do anything morally wrong.

      • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

        Then your problem is that you need to go meet some people who don’t see the world exactly as you do. It might help expand your awareness. There have been some great studies on Bonobo apes and Dolphins involving a sense of morality. You “can’t see any other way” because you have blinders on.

        • Phil Miller

          Frankly, you don’t know anything about me or who I interact with regularly. Perhaps it’s you who needs to get out a little more.

          I’m aware of the studies and anecdotes involving seemingly moral actions by different animals. Most of the studies come down to attempting to find some evolutionary functionality behind this behavior.

          Btw, you need to read my first post more carefully. I did not say that atheists are more likely to go on mass killing sprees than others or that atheism automatically leads to such things (although, in the long run, I admit, it’s hard for me to see how a pervasively atheistic culture would not simply become nihilistic). All I’m saying is that an atheist’s appeals to higher ideals such as “right” and “wrong” are ultimately hollow. Without a divine order of some sort in the universe, what are the concepts of “rightness” and “wrongness” or good and evil ultimately based on?

          As it relates to this post, I’ve always seen the problem of evil as an odd question for an atheistic to assert. The question itself assumes the existence of God, and if God doesn’t exist, asking why evil exists becomes as innocuous as asking why oxygen exists. It exists because it exists.

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          I don’t need to know anymore about you than what you have told me, and I get that you aren’t saying atheists are more likely to do anything. I can see that you have a perverse understanding of atheism, science and evolution. A primary premise of science is that there are consistent laws of the universe throughout space and time. It is not a belief or an assertion, but an agreed upon premise. If ever there is evidence that it is wrong, it will have to change, but it has worked pretty good for a thousand years. It breaks down at the beginning of time for this universe.

          Even saying things like “beginning of time” and “this universe” challenges our language. Understanding why oxygen exists does not. There are reasons for it, explanations. Just like there are reasons for why I don’t track you down and punch you even though you have insulted me. That is not a threat, and I don’t need to assume there is a God to restrain me. I wouldn’t want anyone punching me, but I usually avoid that by not insulting them. See, laws, morality and “good” are really pretty simple.

          • Phil Miller

            Not to be coy, but exactly how have I insulted you? Perhaps you need to grow a thicker skin if you can’t bear a little bit of resistance to your comments on a blog.

            Btw, I generally accept evolutionary science as true (I’m married to someone who has a PhD in Microbiology, for cryin’ out loud). I don’t believe it provides answers to all of humanity’s questions, though. I don’t see how you can equate a natural, scientific law with a moral maxim of some sort, but whatever.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            You said atheists don’t have a reason to not murder everyone. You said my argument is circular. You said “the best we can say” is its evolution. (That isn’t actually an insult, it’s ignorance on your part). That atheism would probably lead to nihilism. Our appeals are hollow. And asserting there is a problem of evil is odd.

            The thickness of my skin is not the issue. We’re talking about morality, and you are refusing to show any compassion, any ability to see things from outside your point of view (don’t make me find those quotes too). BTW, I’m married to a very active church member for cryin’ out loud, it says nothing about what I accept. I never claimed to provide “answers to all of humanity’s questions”. If you think you have all those answers, maybe that’s the problem.

        • Phil Miller

          I don’t see how anything of those things are insulting, really. All I’m saying is that from my perspective, those are the logical endpoints of an atheistic worldview. I’m not really saying anything different of atheists than what Richard Dawkins says himself (although, he probably would not agree with me regarding nihilism). He says this regarding the meaning of life:

          If there were a universal meaning of life it would have to be to survive and reproduce. Because any species that doesn’t have a strong drive to reproduce and keep its self from dying, is unlikely to be a species for long. That’s it. It is unlikely that any intelligent species would come into existence with a predefined intelligent meaning to life. Like I said earlier, this does not negate them from being able to decide on a meaning for their lives after the fact. And it seems, most likely, that this is what happens, even if the attempts to understand a meaning makes them invent a super natural deity and pretend that such a deity created them with such and such a meaning of life in mind.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Well Phil, if you can’t see that “hollow, odd and nihilistic” are insulting, then I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Or we can agree that you are heartless and insensitive. You are saying things quite a bit differently than atheists. They spend quite a bit of time attempting to understand you, because they see how religion has driven history and is affecting politics. It would behove you do to consider understanding them.

          • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris

            This response is for Lausten North.

            Forgive me, but I am really just trying to understand your perspective. I’ve been following this comment thread a little bit out of curiosity, but I have yet to see you explain exactly how you derive morality from an atheistic framework. Please don’t read my comment as insulting, I’m simply trying to understand. Perhaps a comment thread is not the best way us to have this conversation, but I’ve been curious for a while about how an atheist can decide on any kind of ethical framework or foundation apart from the existence of the divine.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            I appreciate the question Chris and acknowledge I have not provided an answer. I never said it was easily explained only that it was obvious. What I mean is, human beings require food and water to survive. Beyond that, some shelter and safety are needed to be able to have some happiness and to procreate. Anything that attempts to interrupt that could be considered evil or immoral. It is the discussion of intentions and of long term consequences for short term actions that gets beyond the ability to explain it in brief.

            But then, the question is, do we need to discuss that? If we see a big pipe of chemical sludge spilling into a clean river, do we need to have a philosophical discussion? That’s why I say it is obvious, and get frustrated with comments like Phil’s.

          • Phil Miller

            Lausten,
            I still don’t quite understand why you felt insulted or personally attacked, but if you did, I apologize. It’s not my intention to harass or harp on you, but rather, I’m simply pointing out what to me appear to be some incoherence within an atheistic framework.

            Even regarding the chemical spill in the river example, I feel like there’s underlying assumptions in that example that seem to go unquestioned. Why is a clean river better than a dirty one, for example? The obvious answer is something like it ensure the health of the human species and others for years to come or something to that effect. But what makes the human species or any other species intrinsically worth saving? The way I see it, I just can’t see how an atheist can give a compelling answer to this question. I’m not saying this as an insult. I’m just saying it because I genuinely don’t see how one does not arrive at despair as the logical endpoint of atheism.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Phil;
            Thanks, and again, it is not about me. It is about your inability or unwillingness, or whatever it is that prevents you from considering the viewpoint. I’m not going to attempt to convince you that I have a basis for being good. I just do. I picked the river example because many people do make philosophical arguments for why it is okay to do that, and they all are abhorrent to me. If you can’t quickly come up with some reasons for why it is wrong, not just for humans, but for other animals and for the long term health of the planet and how any other short term thinking is just sick, then I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know how you even come up with a question like “what makes humans worth saving”.

          • Phil Miller

            Lausten,
            You say it’s not about you, but you’ve managed to take nearly everything I’ve said personally for some reason. It’s really quite amazing. I mean atheists can come here and say horrible things about Christians, equating belief in God to belief in Santa Claus or whatever, but yet all I’ve done is say that I don’t see how an atheistic perspective doesn’t ultimately lead to despair. I’ve not said I think atheists are bad people, unloving, unkind, or not compassionate. All I’m saying is that these values do not seem to line up with a worldview that says everything that exists is a matter of pure chance and that there are no non-material forces at work in the universe. Personally, if I believed that I do not think I would have much hope in the future.

            If our place in the universe is simply to be born, eat, procreate to pass on our DNA, and die, that sounds utterly hopeless to me. I’ve never heard an atheist say anything that convinces me they believe there is more meaning to life than that. Richard Dawkins has in fact said repeatedly that the meaning we can have in life is that which we assign to it ourselves.

          • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

            Phil;
            Stop it. Stop saying you are engaging me in some sort of dialog then saying “I’ve never heard” and “all I’ve done” and “I don’t see” and “All I’m saying” and lumping me into some group. You’re ignoring many of my words and twisting others. So if it seems like I’m not responding to things you say, that’s why. Yeah, Dawkins says that. And why is using our minds, our ability to think about the future, about consequences, a bad thing? It is us, our consciousness that evolved and we are just barely starting to understand, that first looked up at the sky and asked “why?” How does that lead you to despair? We’re finally seeing that the answer isn’t up there. I think that’s good.

          • Phil Miller

            I won’t “stop it” because I don’t know what “it” is. If you’re simply going to become defensive when asked why you believe the way you do, I fail to see how that’s all that different than what atheists accuse Christians of doing. Perhaps you’re wanting to distance yourself from certain kinds of atheists, and that’s fine. I just don’t understand why it’s so hard for you to give an honest answer or why it’s wrong for me to ask.

          • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

            You’re confusing “defensive” with pointing out your poor discussion skills. I answered Chris’ question because he asked it respectfully. You came back with a stupid question about why is clean water better. I can understand why you had a problem with me saying that “good” is obvious, but “clean”, you want me to explain why clean is better? That just seems argumentative and unwilling to engage intelligently.

            You seem to get the part about it being about survival, but you are stuck on it being “just” about survival. It is not about a brutal “kill or be killed” survival. It is an understanding of our connectedness, our need for others, not just other humans but other creatures, and a healthy planet. I have simple values, like leaving things better than I found them. I apply it at the bus stop and I hope at the end of my life people say I applied it well to all things. When I was younger, we were on the brink of nuclear war and lakes were catching on fire from the pollution. Some people did something about that and that inspires me to do my part for the next guy. That keeps me out of despair just fine.

            I don’t know what “endpoint” you are talking about.

          • Phil Miller

            Lausten,
            Thanks for the answer. I do appreciate it.

            I do imagine that Evelyn is probably correct to an extent. I’ve been a Christian my whole life, and I’m used to a certain mindset and vocabulary. So in that respect we are probably speaking different languages to an extent.

            As far an “endpoint”, I think that one of the ideas that’s central to Christianity is the idea that history has a goal or is headed somewhere. God has a plan that is being worked out one way or another. I don’t believe it’s in a deterministic fashion, but rather in a participatory way. So to me, all the good that’s done by anyone on earth is somehow working to that goal. So it’s hard for me to understand what the ultimate goal is working toward if evolution is simply a truly random and chance process that happened to produce a species we call the human race that will one day become extinct followed by the eventual destruction of this little planet by its sun and ultimately the destruction of the galaxy itself.

            To quote Rob Bell

            does death have the last word?
            is it truly, honestly, actually dark
            and so whatever light we do see
            whatever good we do stumble upon
            are those just blips on the radar?
            momentary interruptions in an otherwise meaningless existence?
            because if that’s the case then despair is the
            only reasonable response

          • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

            I know about the various endpoints that Christianity talks about, I don’t know about any atheist endpoint. I don’t think a whole lot about the end of the universe. I am not disparaged by it and thus don’t need Rob Bell to tell me what my response should be. I think more about the person at my job who just told me that she spent the last month living in her truck because her apartment was infested with mold and her landlord wouldn’t do anything about it.

            Have you read Brian McClaren? He is pretty clear that evangelicals should stop thinking about the afterlife and get their hands dirty right down here right now. I don’t care if he thinks Jesus is a motivation for doing that or not. I just know he is on the right track.

          • Phil Miller

            I’ve read all of McLaren’s books. I like him quite a bit actually. And I agree with the part about Christians getting their hands dirty right now, but I don’t think that requires us to give up entirely thinking about the afterlife or eschatology. I don’t think McLaren would either, actually. But anyway, it’s been an informative talk. I again apologize if I frustrated or insulted you. That was not my intention.

  • Michael McCoy, M.Div.

    The confusion, I think is on what Sin actually is. It is NOT when we are horrible to each other or when we do something we shouldn’t. Sin is a state of being that is separation from God. Bonhoeffer calls it “taking our eyes off Christ and placing them on ourselves as the model of true humanity.” Augustine has the best definition for evil I have seen. Evil does not exist. Evil is the privation of the good–an empty space where the goodness of creation isn’t because of our separateness. So God did not have to create these things even if s/he knew they would happen. They aren’t things, but the absence of something. And since God is in everything, (panENtheism), it doesn’t take much to change this situation. The question of kenosis is not a new one and I think we can understand this self-emptying capacity of God in Christ. Why, then cannot God make room for our freedom by kenotic means as well?

  • MarkE

    This is a question that I have very little interest in trying to answer for the same reason I don’t like banging my head against the wall. But with little effort, here is my non-answer.

    In this life, we experience pain and delight, good and evil. Things evolved the way they did, whether god exists or not. Why? For all sorts of reasons. Pick one.

    People act in evil ways because they are prone to be selfish. People act in good ways because it has its benefits. Jesus tried to convince us that being good is a better way to live. Go with it or don’t. Apparently we are free to choose.

    You can speculate all day long about what would happen if part of the equation were changed (no pain, no free will, God zapping evildoers), but it would most likely be a much different world than the one we live in – and I am sure we would wonder about why that world was the way it was. We can’t have it both ways.

    This question may make me curious, but it does not haunt me. Sorry, Shelly, maybe Tony can help you out, but I’m not optimistic any answer will provide a satisfactory basis for belief-unbelief or how to then live. I look to different questions to help with those.

  • AJG

    Two possibilities:

    1) God is not omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. A God that would create a world with as much unanswerable suffering as this one cannot be good in any sense that has meaning to us (unless you want to redefine “good” as “whatever God does”). That’s the Calvinist God. He’s ugly but badass. Or perhaps God is truly good but does not know the future completely (Open View). In that case, he is good and capable of anything, but cannot foresee evil ends. Or maybe God is wholly good and all-knowing, but incapable of doing anything (or has restrained His power by giving His creation free will). One of these three aspects of God has to give.

    2) Because God did not create us. God does not exist except as a mental construct meant to give meaning to one’s life and to give comfort to conscious beings that know their existence will end after about 75 years. He’s just a coping mechanism.

    As a former evangelical, I hope that the answer is #1 to some extent, but I suspect the answer is really #2. There’s no good evidence for God that cannot be explained better by more believable and rational arguments. Pain and sin are just nasty parts of our existance that we struggle with as best we can.

  • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

    Shelly . . .

    1. I am a Christian.

    2. I don’t accept the premise of your question, i.e., a) that “God” is some kind of supreme being and cosmic sovereign who manages the universe’s affairs according to a reward/punishment model; b) that this supreme being has the gift of foreknowledge whereby knowing that humans would “suffer in this life” and “sin” he nonetheless created them anyway; and c) that there is an “eternity” that makes up for the suffering you mentioned.

    3. When encountering the definition of “God” as I just described above, then I am certainly an atheist. This “God” is a sadistic fiction who, by all accounts, is also a piss-poor planner whose human characteristics are peculiarly all too familiar. Ultimately, such a “God” is nothing more than imaginative excrement squeezed out of the retentive mental anus of poorly grounded human minds.

    4. Since your question, therefore, proceeds from a fictional scenario mired in uninspiring mythology masquerading as “true” theology (it is Halloween, though, after all), it can only be answered within the confines of that same fictional scenario. Which makes this whole conversation mind-numbingly academic.

    5. Perhaps the better question(s) should have been, “Why is there suffering in the world? How can we successfully cope and respond to it? How can we create a better, more creative and productive human family?” Insofar as such questions can be asked free of the sad fictions of certain religious presumptions, only then can we proceed with a truly functional dialog that treads upon a path of reality.

  • Kim Hampton

    I think the question actually doesn’t go far enough.
    Why did G-d put the Tree of Knowledge in the garden and then make a special effort to tell Adam to not eat of the fruit of that tree? (let’s not forget that G-d doesn’t speak directly to Eve until after they have eaten the fruit; or at least scripture doesn’t tell us that G-d spoke to Eve) If G-d had just put the tree of knowledge in the garden and not told Adam anything about it, then who knows…maybe they would have never eaten it…or they may have eaten it and nothing would have happened.

    I’ve always thought the Jewish tradition had something by putting G-d on trial. Maybe traditional Christianity oughta try that sometime.

    • Ole

      Kim:

      Your question points to the contradiction between the “primitive” and charmingly naive picture of God presented in Genesis with the more highfalutin’ picture presented in most of later Christian theology. The God of Genesis is a bit of a doofus for putting the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden in the first place, true enough, but there is more to it than that. The Tree of Knowledge was actually the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil — knowledge of the difference between right and wrong. This knowledge was something that the Genesis God did not want Adam and Eve to have, because knowledge of the difference between right and wrong was something that was intended to be reserved “to the gods” alone. Adam and Eve “stole” conscience from God just as, in another myth, Prometheus stole fire.

      Like any good primitive myth, the Genesis myth of The Fall “explains” things. It explains why people have consciences (God didn’t want us to have them, but we acquired them as a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve). It explains why we die (like consciences, immortality was never intended for humanity because it was to be reserved “to the gods”). And it also explains why snakes ain’t got no legs.

      Of course Christian theology has typically reject such a straightforward reading of the Genesis myth (except possibly for the bit about why snakes don’t have legs).

  • WFS

    We are still evolving. We were originally like animals. As we evolved, we discovered that it is better for our survival as a species to cooperate with one another. That’s what we’re trying to do today and that’s what we will do more so in the future.

    I look at how far we have come just in my lifetime. When I was a child, African-Americans had no civil rights. Women were treated as inferiors. And you could be drafted to fight in a war that you didn’t believe in.

    We’ve come along way, but we still have a long way to go.

    By the way, I don’t believe in a creator who is intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of the universe. So that makes the question as to why God allows evil a moot point.

  • B-Lar

    There is a reason that these questions haunt christianity. Everytime to add a character trait to god, you restrict the concept. By making him all powerful and all knowing, you have to make him callous if he knowingly created a world with suffering, which doesnt work when you try to also make him all loving. You can tie yourself in knots this way. By trying to answer these questions you are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The intellectual acrobatics arent neccesary if you discard the assumption that god exists, and you can then start asking meaningful questions. You know, about actual reality.

    The very fact that these questions haunt you should be an almighty big red flag that something is wrong with your base assumptions. Naturally though, you discard those “doubts” because you are told by the infallible that blind faith in the face of reason is supposedly a virtue. You gave your mind away to fill the hole in your heart.

    • Ole

      To paraphrase: One of the fundamental premises of Christianity is that, not only does God exist, but he is the bestest god there could ever possibly be. One of the challenges for Christian thinkers is to explain why, if this is so, the world we live in is as it is.

  • Robert

    For His glory.

  • Shelly

    I want to clarify that my question is about suffering, not sin. I added the reference to sin because it’s how many Christians think about suffering on earth–that humans “chose” suffering because they disobeyed God.

    • http://christopherbaca.wordpress.com Chris Baca

      I think the reason that sin has been focused on so much for many of the responses is because suffering is typically viewed as a direct consequence of sin. No sin = no suffering. Basically interchangeable, at least in the responses.

  • http://rbridgesimagery.com robert bridges

    God didn’t create sin. We did – to explain to ourselves why it is that universally human beings from the beginning encounter events which cause pain and suffering and experience feeling states such as fear, hate, guilt, shame, greed, love, compassion, joy. God gave us the Mind or maybe God and Mind are functionally the same (an ontological query) and we use the Mind to give us beliefs and stories (theologies and myths) to explain life.

    Only, there is no sin in life or in living there is only the living and life. Simply put, we’ve made it all up as we go. The bible starts the story of a peoples struggle to understand and please god. As that struggle continues it becomes one of relating to god – hence Jesus arrives – the sinless mediator. But if you hold as some commentators’ have that sin has so long been associated with suffering and that somehow the perfect life would be free of suffering got all twisted up. That’s malarky. Suffering is part of life as the Buddha saw and all the rest we do to ourselves by being captive to our ideas………..Sin, is just another idea.

    • nowswimback

      It says in the Bible that God created evil, therefore he created sin:

      “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” – Isaiah 45:7

  • Mina

    the focus of man’s fall is always about the sin, but i think people over-look what kind of sin caused man’s fall- was it disobedience? Technically, yes, but really it was that we ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of GOOD and EVIL. That’s how man was cursed, not because god was punishing us for misbehaving, but because he warned us of the natural consequences of knowing the difference between good and evil.

  • Pingback: God Allows Suffering Because Suffering Is Existence [Questions That Haunt]

  • Amber

    Only until you wholeheartedly seek God will you receive understanding. For now you will continuously question everything thing you can’t conceive. You will even find temporary comfort in each others support of one another’s ignorant theories. Everything has a purpose, if you want to understand life better, have strength to overcome anything and never have another unanswered thought then trust in him.

    Read over some of these Scriptures:
    (The stories are meant for examples to us, to learn from)

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/god-bible-verses/

    • Craig

      You’d make a good junkie Amber. Be careful.

  • necr0sys

    Surely sin was around even before God created man? Satan rebelled and disobeyed God and was cast out of heaven. That is sin. So Adam and Eve were created into a realm where sin already existed. So I think when Eve ate from the fruit, she already knew what she was doing was wrong. How could God punish them if sin and right and wrong weren’t even existing at the time?

    As for the main question of why God created us with foreknowledge of sin…well quite honestly no one knows. The thing is this. God exists, whether we like it or not. Scientific discoveries in the last 2 decades all point to a designer of the universe. Just look at things like code in DNA, cosmological constants in the universe….and ODDS of complex life coming together as we know it by a random accident. Mathematicians have worked it out, and the scientific result is IMPOSSIBLE. Never mind this inexplicable moral compass every human being possesses. So, God exists. From that, we can gather God is a hell of a lot smarter than all of us put together X infinity. WHO ARE WE TO ACTUALLY QUESTION THE MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE? it boils down to submission. 2 John 1:6 and Proverbs 1:7 sum it up quite nicely.

    ‘And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.’ 2 John 1:6
    ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.’

    So love really isn’t what we think it is concerning God. Yes we are grateful he provided a Saviour who suffered the ultimate penalty for us, a means of re-establishing ourselves with God…but what love really is, is obedience…the conscious choice to make decisions that please God. Not because we have butterflies in our stomach…but because God’s sovereignty, power and majesty demand it. It is that act of dying to self everyday that show our love for God…a willful act of dying to flesh. I’m not perfect, but if my creator says I shouldn’t do certain things, I will try my hardest not to.

    The harder questions like this one will be answered when you die. For now, act on what you know. You know God exists. You have knowledge of good and evil. DO GOOD. OBEY GOD. The road is not easy, but it is the only road leading to eternal life. God has given each of us the tools and strength to overcome any mountain or battle in our path. The Bible is sharper than any two edged sword…USE IT. Read it everyday and bolster yourself with the wisdom in it. Love those who mock you and show them the love that Jesus showed the prostitutes, tax collectors and pharisees. Don’t worry about what others think about what you believe and what you stand for. DEEP DOWN INSIDE THEY WANT WHAT YOU HAVE.

    Stand strong and know the creator and master of the universe has your back. What an awesome feeling. Just look outside one night when it’s clear, and just think of how vast the universe is…all the stars and planets…how massive it is. Think about how everything about our planet, solar system, galaxy was designed in such a way so you could one night be thinking about these things and attribute them to such a awesome, powerful creator. You will then realize that asking questions like the above are pointless, because our finite minds cannot comprehend the reasoning and intellect of an all powerful, all knowing, and sovereign mind of God! if we can realize this, then that’s all we need to know for now. TRUST GOD – he is much smarter than you.

    • Milia Dick Ziegler

      What a wonderful way of answering that question! It is one that has trouble me for quite awhile, and your thoughts really helped put my mind at ease.

      Thank you very much (-: !!

  • joseph

    Its interesting..self limitation..but why would God who does as He pleases limit Himself? Well…He proclaims (i speak as an athiest) that He forgets our sins after repentance…but how could God forget? Jesus being God Himself “emptied Himself” as in God limited Himself by far to relate to a evil world….it could only be love? Would a parent give a 5 yr old total freewill with ammunition and weapons out in the open saying “dont touch it…youll be killed” which would be a test….to see if the five year old loved his parent enough to BELIEVE he would be killed ….then again….if Adam and Eve believed they would die…..they wouldnt of taken a simple bite that was equivalent to 7 atomic bombs… i digress. ..

  • Ted Lundquist

    Ah, theology. If you read Genesis and other books in the Bible, you might be able to see God as all understanding and capable of addressing any situation. All knowing and all powerful are concepts that really don’t help in understanding Jesus or the life we are confronted with. Jesus taught a way to live caring, thoughtful, understanding lives. He didn’t teach theology.

  • Smiljan

    This planet Earth is just an experiment, so that God can show every being that He created outside of Earth (Different worlds, angels, etc..) that by wanting to separate yourself from God and wanting to become a god can only lead to your doom. We humans on Earth are closely watched by every side on that. You see, God will prove to Satan that He can be both merciful and just at the same time. For you see, the Satan got his followers like that, saying that God is deceitful and that He can not be both merciful and just at the same time, that God is a tyrant, that God you serve your God by fear, and other things. But the main thing that in this experiment is that God can and is merciful and just at the same time.

    All the problems that you see in the world now are the consequences of the sin. For you see in this world the Satan is knight not God, or our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is why this world will have an Apocalypse. When that time comes, our Lord’s Angels will come to take away those that believe and trust in God and leave everyone else on this planet till they die. Those sinners that will be left behind will not have an eternal life like those who give their whole life to Jesus Christ.

    Another thing is, the hell we imagine is not the river of fire or something where the devils torture you, it is being left behind and after death, no eternal life. That is hell!

    Give your whole life and everything to our Lord Jesus Christ and feel the calm overcoming you and feel the love flowing through you. Feel the TRUE happiness! Save yourself as The Kingdom of our Lord is close! Forgive those who have wronged you and ask for forgiveness of those that you have wronged. Pray for your enemies and your close ones. Give your unconditional love to your neighbor. Pray for forgiveness from our Lord Jesus Christ and our Lord, who is merciful will forgive you.

    Another thing that I want to say is that those “Ten Commandments”. is just like a mirror, it tells you that you are the sinner. Reading all Ten Commandments just tells us how much we are all the sinners. Following just the Ten Commandments will not save you, you must give yourself to our Lord Jesus Christ and He will save you as He is merciful and just God! You see we can not earn forgiveness or earn eternal life with our Lord, we must come with humble heart in front of our God and ask, ask to be forgiven, but ask with real feelings of feeling guilty of every sin that we have ever did.

    May God Bless You All!

    ** I do not mean to offend anyone and I respect your rights to your opinions, this is just my opinion expressed and I do not mean to force my opinion on anyone. May God Be With You!

  • Andrew

    Ask yourself this: Why do people have children, if they know their children aren’t going to be perfect?

  • managerforlabor@yahoo.com

    If god is so powerfull, then why did he allow satan to come between his plan? Why didn’t god just destroy him and simply move on with his plan..was god bored and just wanted to have some compeition w satan… let’s see how many humans will fallinto sin?!…. oh by the way if they sin then they will go to hell.because eve sin, then ima punish all…. god is unfair!

  • G-Man

    If God is omniscient and loving and therefore knew everything that would happen and does not want to see people suffer and did not want robots, then why didnt he just create the people he knew would make it to Heaven and not create the rest of humanity? Seems to me that would solve everything. No Satan or his other fallen angels, no sin from Adam and Eve, no fourty years in the wilderness, no one getting beheaded for believing, no great flood, no worms that never die, no fire and brimstone… Just peace for those that would have ultimately made it anyway.
    Also, if I were all powerful it would be real easy for me to never sin too if I decided what right and wrong is. Doesnt seem quite fair is all Im saying. Im no God but I seem to have more common sense and compassion. And I wouldnt want everyone praising me either. Holy holy holy, praise praise praise 24/7 so to say… Im sure Heaven is a nice place but come on, who wants everyone constantly telling them how good they are? Shouldnt an all powerful and all knowing god already know they are thankful without having to hear it? I thought we were supposed strive to be like Jesus/God? I thought we were supposed to be humble? That doesnt sound humble, it sounds like something we would go to hell for.

  • Sterling Ericsson

    Or he could have created us in a manner that would mean we wouldn’t sin, such as not having curiosity or not being gullible to Satan’s words. Then we would still have free will, but would have no interest in eating the fruit.

    Instead, God in the Bible created humans in a manner that ensured that we would.

    • peachlovehope

      Could you really call it free will if there were no contrasting options? In other words, if there were no evil, how could good exist? Can you really imagine that a life where there was no curiosity? How would we learn? In order for us to experience the “positive” things like joy, love, hope, excitement, satisfaction, etc, there has to be an opposite such as sadness, sorrow, hate, anxiety, disappointment, or none of these things would exist at all. Creating people with no capacity to sin would equate creating people with no capacity to forgive, show mercy, or love despite flaws (because what flaws could there be without sin?).

      • Sterling Ericsson

        I think one of the better comparisons someone made is that if God seriously didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat the fruit (and we can pretty much all say that he did based on the scenario and situation he created), then he would have made humans with the personalities of Vulcans. There would still be curiosity, but it would be tempered with logic. And, thus, there would be no need to eat the fruit.

  • peachlovehope

    Where is the blog author’s response to this question?

  • sw4eq

    Self-loathing is the Original Sin and, on our current evolutionary path, the only way we find God. The New Testament has many writings on the awareness gained through loving ourselves and others.

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