Is God different today than he was during Old Testament times? If so, how is this so? How is this justified?
Does God allow us to be hurt and make mistakes because he wants us to learn from this–Just as a parent lets their child learn by natural consequences? Is he totally hands off, or does he get involved when he sees fit? Was he hands on during the Old Testament, then switched it up and went laissez faire?
I might have more as we go.
I would like to note at the outset, that I am not looking for an argument in this thread, merely a discussion. I don’t really have a strong hold on exactly what I am looking for, but I do know that I am re-thinking many of my past beliefs. All view points are more than welcome, and please don’t hijack the thread to get on your soapbox whether you are an athiest or a christian. I am searching for answers, not feelings or emotions.
Well, maybe you could explain how you came to these questions.
How come you have questions about if God yes or no “changed”? In my opinion that is an impossibility since God is uncreated, eternal and transcendent.
As for God allowing people to be hurt and to make mistakes.
Since humans have a free will, inevitably that results in making mistakes and one of the results of that is that we hurt others.
Those others are thus victims of our free will.
That doesn’t happen by interference of God, but by our own interferences.
As for God getting involved: All 3 monotheistic religions I know of give stories where you see God “getting involved”, yet I think it is a wrong terminology you used to describe these interferences.
These are, obviously, IMHO as an Episcopalian Christian.
No, God Himself has not changed, nor has His attitude. What is different is a growing understanding of what it was He wanted. Using the classic Father/child analogy, contemplate how differently you as an adult view your parents’ discipline and training of you as a child, than you would have seen the same as a child or as a teenager. We’re getting a better handle on what it was that He was saying all along.
Yahbut. In a hypothetical world where choices and their consequences are not possible, we would not grow, we would not exercise free will, we would not be able to love – we might express love, but it would be no different than you programming your computer to randomly run .wav files and popups asserting how much it loves you. According to Jesus, the human relationship most akin to how God feels about us is that of how a father feels about his child.
Which means that He will not give us burdens beyond our ability to bear – but I hasten to say that that is from His perspective. I am not at all prepared to defend how an allegedly loving Father can permit someone to suffer and die from a painful cancer, or a young person with great plans for life to be killed by a drunken driver. If it makes sense to Him, that’s one thing, but it doesn’t to me.
Final point: I believe that He does and always has intervened in the world, but that that intervention is generally in subtle ways, manipulating the ongoing flow of human affairs and of the natural order of things to accomplish His will. It is remarkably easy for human beings to attribute to miraculous causes something with a purely natural explanation, or which is inexplicable with the knowledge of the age. Much of myth and legend depends on this psychological phenomenon. IMHO, sometimes it is Him in action, and sometimes it is us placing pattern on coincidence. Rarely if ever are miracles what the skeptic would refer to as “miracle” in the sense that it’s a superstition they reject – a complete violation of natural law. But in saying that, it’s important to realize that we don’t know all of how the world works yet.
As answered above, no. Now the common question is why in the OT did punishment seem so harsh? Well, the punishment for disobedience is the same, although we tend to think it won’t be because we don’t see it as quick as fire falling from the sky when someone lies. As far as salvation, it’s the same in the OT as the NT, and it’s by faith.
Sometimes. Count it all joy when you fall into various trials comes to mind. At the same time, is God the cause of those trials? I don’t believe so. Take temptation. Each man is tempted when he follows his own desire. So if I am tempted to have an affair, and suffer the emotional consequence of that, is God teaching me something, or has God already warned me that if I do sin, there is a consequence. Is it always sin? No. Some things I don’t understand. For instance, there was a young couple who just got married, and the husband was going to be a doctor, and work in a third world country as a missionary. He died within a year of their marriage, I believe. His wife went on to fulfill his dream, and became a doctor and a missionary. Why did he die? I don’t know. Now some other guy goes and drinks himself stupid, gets in a car accident and is killed, is this God? I don’t believe so. The husband though, I can’t see any point to it, but I believe that this is why I’m not God.
So why did God use such horrible and incredible punishment in the Old Testament, and we don’t really see those types of events today? Svt4Him says that it is the same, but I disagree. Emotional pain from disobedience is one thing, being struck down by lightning and killed is another.
Another question: Why does the Bible stop with Revelations? Wouldn’t it be useful to have some sort of current events added in to make it more understandable for us today.
I do understand that maybe some of this has something to do with “the age of grace”, but wouldn’t that indicate that God did change something? More specifically, He changed the way he viewed mankind.
There are rational explanations for these things but unfortunately I cannot offer any because if I do you will likely think I am trying to pull an atheist threadjacking by going on about psychology & belief and political climates and so on.
I would question why be quite so subtle?I often hear an arguemtn from theists that for him to “hit us over the head”(proverbially speaking) with his existence, omnipresence and omnipotence, would be to rob us of the free will he allegedly gave us but I do not understand why this would be.Gravity acts in obvious and nigh-omnipotent manner and we do not become automatons.The universe’s existence itself requires no “faith” to believe it exists and yet we are not robbed of free will by aknowledging it.
Even if he must maintain some degree of subtlety, can’t he at least do SOMETHING that would be umistakeably God-like and not attributable to more rational/mundane explanation?
I disagree(somewhat).It seems remarkably difficult for humans to say “There is no magical/spiritual/extraterrestrial/psychic component at work here.”.Even when(unfortunately) con-artists and charlatans come along to prey upon our vulnerabilities and their charades are exposed as being non-mystical subterfuge(cold-reading, sleight of hand, etc.), we only seek even more bizarre rationalizations and twists of logic to explain away the explanations!
I see no reason to think anything other than pattern-seeking human belief mechanism is at work for ANY alleged “miracles”.I know that the human belief mechanism is more than capable of convincing thousands of Americans that we are being invaded by Martians to the point where eyewitnesses report seeing monuments and landmarks destroyed by “death rays”.It is capable of convincing millions of people that JFK was a LIBERAL(?!?) and the victim of some massive right-wing conspiracy rather than(as all evidence suggests) simply the victim of a deranged man’s feelings of inadequacy.
Do not think that I believe you to be an irrational, non-skeptic yourself Poly’.I know that is not the case and I think we probably do agree more than I make it sound with my above reply.
As for the percieved “transformation of God” from the fire and brimstone volcano god, Yahweh of the Old Testament, through the much friendlier god of the New TEstament to the all-loving God of today’s modern progressive christians and such…chalk it up to technological progress/ scientific achievment, changing political landscapes and the powerful pattern-seeking nature of human beings.You will notice that fanatical fundementalism(Zealous terrorism and the like) is found where the benefits of scientific and medical progress are not as prevalent as the are in wealthier and democratic nations.That does not mean that such fanaticism cannot exist in such places or that such fanaticism will be extinguished in areas where science and medicine are made available.Not that simple I am afraid.
When the Old Testament was written those people were under the oppresive thumb of people who worshipped other gods and it seemed to them that if there were no hope that something vastly more powerful than the Egyptians/Romans/insert oppressors here did not exist then they simply had no hope.This was of course before the time of Ghandi and so God had to be not only powerful but ANGRY!
You see a similar thing occur with Native Americans as they were being wiped out by the Europeans.They conjured up something called “The Ghost Dance” which was little more than a spirit of retribution that would punish the white man for his crimes.Farakhan(spelling?) and the NOI have come up with a similar invention in the “Mother Wheel”.A supposed gigantic spaceship which is hovering over the US right now waiting to destroy all white people and return power to the “original man”.
When people feel they are being oppressed or unjustly treated they will inevitable conjure a spirit of reprisal or modify an existing(existing in the sense that already believed to exist and is worshipped) deity or entity to fill that role.
moejuck I think you’re confusing religion with God. The Old & New testaments are human documents that try to explain, guide, comfort & rule based on a genuine spiritual reality - but they’re not God.
If you consider how many religions there are & the fact that they have basically the same goals, it seems to me that religion is to God what Dr. Phil is to life. Just a way of trying to understand the big picture that becomes too reductionist & confined once you’ve gotten the basics down. A useful tool, but not the thing itself.
My experience is that God is not a literal entity, not in the way religions describe. By explaining God in personified terms, thinking of a “being” with a “will”, a whole bunch of logical fallacies ensue - such as the ones you raise.
So IYO God is completely separate from the universe?
IMO the universe being created by God is a constituent part of God and hence any change in the universe is a change in God. So God has changed a lot since his fire and brimstone days.
As for God letting us make mistakes - this follows if you accept that 1) God exists 2) He is loving 3) He is all powerful 4) People make mistakes.
I would challenge 2) as this involves a narrow redifinition of God as loving which is not consistent with the Logic of creation and the hierarchy of divinities. To clarify - God has created all things of himself so God has created, and is evil and hate as well as good and love. The question is are these forces harmonized by a higher order force, or are they in eternal conflict?
I am leaning more toward this view the more I research and comtemplate all of these issues. I still have questions, but it does seem that trying to quantify God doesn’t make much sense. I guess it all boils down to how much faith I am willing to lead my life with. I am sure God has made things the way they are so that He could see who would have this sort of faith and who would not.
Perhaps you’d enjoy Illusions by Richard Bach, Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, Gary Zukov’s writings, and the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. And there’s always The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
My current personal favorite is Sheldon Kopp, from whom I offer the following (from If You Meet the Buddha in the Road, Kill Him):
“Unwilling to tolerate life’s ambiguity, its unresolvability, its inevitability, we search for certainty, demanding that someone else must provide it. Stubbonly, relentlessly, we seek the wise man, the wizard, the good parent, someone else who will show us the way. Surely someone must know. It simply cannot be that life is just what it appears to be, that there are no hidden meanings, that this is it, just this and nothing more…What if for each of us the only wise man, the only wizard, the only good parent we will ever have is our own helpless, vulnerable self?..I must retrace my own steps to find my way home. No one else’s way can get me there.”
This implies that you’re looking for objective facts of reality, not someone’s subjective opinion. If this is the case, the place to start is by asking yourself why you believe in a god in the first place, and whether that belief itself is based on feelings or emotions.
The so-called “Bible code” is merely an exercise in postdiction.The same “code” was used to find all sorts of amazing messages in Moby Dick and other literary works.Someone even used the code to find the message that “The Bible code is false, evil, sin, nasty, a lie, trickery …etc.” within the Bible.
I choose to believe in God. I know that I don’t have to, but for me there is more rationality in living in a universe that was thought of by God, than to live in one that just happened to start existing. I don’t think I can imagine what it would be like not to consider God as part of my life. When I was younger my beliefs were definitely based on emotions, but I have come to realize that this is not enough. I have abandoned those emotions in favor of a practical view of God and what he is to me.
*Originally posted by fessie *
**Perhaps you’d enjoy Illusions by Richard Bach, Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, Gary Zukov’s writings, and the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. And there’s always The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
My current personal favorite is Sheldon Kopp, from whom I offer the following (from If You Meet the Buddha in the Road, Kill Him):
Thanks for the suggestions, I will try to do some reading.