My problem in believing the bible is that to me it seems to contradict even simple logical systems. Before I explain this I must admit and make clear that I have found myself to be a predominantly left brained individual, making it difficult for me to accept illogical or magical explainations. So I am hoping that I can rely on you, or whoever else reads this to help me understand Christianity on its most basic and fundemental level by use of logic and empirical evidence.
That being said, I shall start with Satan. As I understand it, Satan was created in the original form of Lucifer, God's most beautiful angel (one of his first). Later on, Lucifer makes a decision that he no longer wants to do as he is appointed to do and would rather rule a realm of evil than be a servant of his father, who is the one true God.
God acts by sending Satan to hell for all eternity. He later creates a race inspired by his loneliness in the visage of his own image; man. Man is immediately tormented by Satan and falls into sin.
I can end here with several questions:
If God is an omnipotent being, omnipresent in both time and space...could he not predict Satans resistance to him, or even Satans torture of mankind?
If he was knowledgable of this, he certainly only allowed it for the testing of man. But if our time here is a test, would not God in his infinite Knowledge already know the outcome? Thereby also rendering time as we know it useless to him?
Also this means that God, who is good and without sin has given birth to evil. For we, his creations (which include Satan) are born with nothing that is not given to us or created by God himself. Does this not make god capable of evil?
My final question concerns the final moment of our own lives when according to christianity we are to be judged by God and must attone for all of our sins; Which is important if you choose to reply with the answer that the Old Testament is not entirely correct. Because this moment and subsequent judgement as I understand,is the inspiration for christianity and the reason for the enthusiasm over the Christ, the idea that a single belief can ensure the survival of our souls. We as human animals only logically desire to stay out of harms way, and I think it is quite obvious that we desire a happy afterlife. As biological machines we do what it is in our nature to do, and we are, according to psychology the sum of our genetics+experiences.We as souls can control neither totally. So how can we be held accountable for an inability to have faith?
Thank you so much for reading this long thing, and I hope you can help me believe.
My response is in Green:
I will try to help you understand. I am not surprised that you have trouble with the Bible, and the reason is that you don't understand it. You have many misconceptions which I will address, because if you don't understand what the Bible is saying it will never seem to make any sense.
It does not matter if you are left brained or right brained, you should not need to check your brain at the door to believe the Bible. As I say, many of the problems you expressed are due to a misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches. So I will start there and try to clear up the misunderstandings and explain from the right foundation what the Bible really says.
I will start with Satan. You have the story only half right. Yes Satan was an angel and at least one of the most important if not the most important angel. He was in charge of worship of God. He did not decide he would rather rule an evil realm instead of being a servant of God. What he decided was that he wanted the worship which was due to God. Or in other words, he wanted to take God's place. He never wanted or will he ever rule the evil realm as you call it. The Bible does call him the god of this world, but that only means that he is the one who controls many of the spiritual aspects of this world. He does not rule, other than the demons who followed him in his rebellion against God.
It is important at this point to understand what happened and why. Lucifer as Satan was called before his fall, had free will. What that means is that he could choose to follow God or to rebel against Him. He chose to rebel and lost his position because of that. One third of the angels also rebelled and went with him, they are what we call demons.
Yes God knew before He created any being what they would do, but that is not the point. God does not want robots, He wants people and angels who worship Him because they choose to not because they have no choice. You make the leap that if God knew they would rebel that means that He is the author of evil, but that is not logical. For any being to have true free will there has to be a choice and that choice was whether to do what was right or to rebel and do what was wrong. That does not make God the author of evil. If you have a child and you allow that child to make a choice, let's say you tell the child that you will allow him to put himself to bed, but he must be in bed by 9 pm. Now if the child stays up until midnight are you the author of the disobedience because you allow the child to make his own decision? Of course not, the child made a decision to disobey. Even if you knew that the child would make the wrong choice, it would still have been his choice not yours.
A second misconception you seem to have is that Satan was able to torment humans right from the start. That is wrong, he was able to tempt Adam and Eve but there was no control or torment involved. Adam and Eve had free will to make a choice to either obey God or rebel also and they chose to rebel. Again that does not make God the author of evil, nor can Satan be blamed for their disobedience, they made a decision to rebel against what they knew was right.
You seem to assume that Satan has complete control over humans and can torture them at will, but that is not true. Yes he is considered the god of this world as I said earlier but he cannot just do what he wants. We live in a fallen world which is under God's curse because of our sin. The sickness the evil in this world and many of the bad things that happen are all a result of that rebellion by Adam and Eve. Satan can do some things but he is not truly in power.
For example he has no control over a Christian at all. That does not mean that I won't come down with cancer, I might and that is part of being human and living in a fallen world. Yet I don't have to worry about Satan doing anything to me. Now again that does not mean that he could not get permission to attack me from God. Why would God allow that? Well it could be for several reasons, but God always knows what we can handle and what we can't and He will never allow more than we can handle. Again I am speaking of Christians not the human race as a whole. Satan has a lot of freedom to deal with un-believers. They are not under God's protection.
We live in an evil world but lots of that evil is due to our unregenerated hearts. People do evil things to each other all the time. I spent 7 years as a Police Officer and I saw first hand how people treat other people. They are making choices and many of those choices are evil. You can't blame that on God.
We have all sinned. Yes we are under a blanket of sin because of Adam and Eve, but we are all responsible for our own actions also and we have all sinned.
As I said earlier God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and He knew that all of us after them would sin. So you could say that He should not have even created us, but as I said before He does not want a group of robots who cannot choice whether to serve Him or not. Because He knew we would all sin, He made plans for our atonement before He even created us. (Romans 5:8 NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
You have some misconceptions about judgment too. Yes we will all be judged because God is holy and His holy nature demands justice. Sin must be punished and the punishment is death for the person who sinned. Since we have all sinned that leaves us in a very uncomfortable position, we are sentenced to death and there is nothing we can do to change that. However, God was able to do something about it. He sent His Son to earth as a human being, He lived a sinless life and died in our place. When He died it was not the physical death alone that saved us, He took all the wrath and punishment for our sins. He then was resurrected on the third day. That is important because death was our enemy. If He had not risen from the dead than none of us could look forward to being resurrected either. That would mean that we would still be defeated by death. God created us as physical beings to enjoy physical things and unless we are resurrected with a new body we would not be able to do that.
We atone for our sins by believing that Jesus died for us and by asking for forgiveness and turning from those sins. Turning means to not do them any more.
You claim that the Bible is wrong because you believe that mankind is nothing more than just an animal. It is time to start using your logic. Do you see any differences between the animals and mankind? If not then you are not being honest. Man is the only being in the physical world who cares for others. For example, even with our evil hearts we understand that human life is meaningful and we try to help those who are sick. In the animal world the old and sick are left to die, that is what survival is all about. Why is it that we don't act like animals? It is the nature (the soul) which God gave us. We are not biological machines as you called us. That is exactly what free will changed. We make choices everyday. A dog eats because there is food, no matter who it belongs to or where it is. A human on the other hand understands whether that food belongs to him or not. Now many people will make the choice to steal it, but they understand that it is wrong.
If we are machines and we just do what our nature programs us to do, then why do we have laws and punish people? If we have no choice why should we be held accountable? That is what you are asking of God, but what about humans and humans? Can you choose to rape and murder and then claim that you were just doing what comes natural and really expect to be allowed to go free? Of course not, because there is something inside of every human being that knows right from wrong. We often choose to do what is wrong, but we know when we do it that it is wrong. Animals don't. They can be taught that if they do A it will cause them to be punished, but they never really understand that A is wrong, only that it brings pain.
Psychology has it all wrong also. Psychology claims, like you do, that we are nothing more than animals who are programed by our genetics and environment. It is not hard to disprove that. Take any child, no matter what kind of home the child lives in, you don't have to teach him to lie, you have to teach him to tell the truth. Why? Because telling lies is natural for all humans, and telling the truth when it will not benefit and might even bring punishment is not natural. It does not matter what environment they grew up in. Psychology tries to claim that all humans are born morally good or at least morally neutral but again you have to hide your head in the sand to believe that. Go become a Police Officer and spend just two years on the streets and see if your opinion changes. It will, trust me.
Why should we be held accountable? Because we make choices. You made it sound as if some people don't have the ability to have faith, that too is not true. It is a choice. You make those kinds of choices on a daily basis. You exhibit faith in a million ways in your life. You cross a bridge because you have faith it will hold you, you get into a plane because you have faith in the pilot and the air craft. You take medicine because you have faith in the doctor and the medication.
God has shown Himself to all of us. All we have to do is look around and we can see Him. He has placed eternity in our hearts, so that we understand that this life is not all there is, yet people refuse to believe. Let me give you an example. Say you are walking down the street and you come upon a baseball and a bat. You look around and you don't see anyone around them. They are just there. Now ask yourself. How did they get there? Did they just happen to appear there by random chance, or did someone make them and then leave them there? Of course you know that someone made them, balls and bats don't just appear by random chance. Right?
Yet if you hold your hand in front of your face you can believe it was created by random chance? Come on. In just your hand you are looking at trillions of cells. Each has a purpose and a function in the overall function of your hand. You have skin cells, many of them different from other skin cells. You have veins and blood vessels, which are different than each other and different from skin cells. You have blood in those vessels and even the blood itself has different components which make it work. You have red blood cells, plasma, white blood cells, T-cells, etc... You have finger nails, you have fat cells, muscles cells, bones, which have marrow inside which produces the blood cells. The list goes on and on, but that should give you a picture of what I am talking about. That is just your hand, yet it is trillions of times more complex than that ball and bat, which you know instinctively was created by someone. So something as simple as a baseball and baseball bat have to have a creator but you don't?
Adding billions of years does not help. Could that baseball and bat have come into being if you add 4 billion years to the time it has been sitting on the side of the road? Of course not. Let's say you have a Rolex watch and you take it all apart. You take every piece and put it in a paper bag. Now you shake that paper bag for the next trillion years. What are the changes that at some point in that trillion of years that Rolex watch will put itself back together and start working? Zero!! And you even started with all the parts and knew that they all fit and will work if they go back together correctly. Yet people will choose to believe that we came into existence by random chance over a period of a couple of billion years. And it all started with nothing.
I on the other hand choose to believe that God has always been and will always be, and that He created us out of nothing. It is a choice. You can have faith in evolution or faith in God, but it is a choice.
I am told all the time that there is no proof of God but that there is lots of proof for evolution. Yeah, right. Let me give you another example of why I say it takes just as much faith to believe evolution as it does to believe in God. There is exactly zero evidence of one species of beings evolving into another species. None, not one example or proof. Yet we are told that we all came from a common ancestor. People will even try to point to DNA and how close our DNA is to apes and say, see that is proof. Did you realize that our DNA is also close to the DNA of a tomato? Wow, did we come from tomatoes? Of course not, so what does it prove? To me it proves that we had a common Creator. Our Creator not only made us but He made tomatoes too!! And apes and grasshoppers, etc...
People like to claim that there is no proof for God and therefore it is not right for God to hold them accountable for not believing, but it is a lie. Evidence of God is all around you, but you have to make a choice to believe it or to believe something else. The problem is that people are still in rebellion against God. They don't want to believe there is a God because if they do they know they owe Him something and that is not acceptable to them.
They are looking for a way out. They make the choice not to believe but they don't want to be held accountable for that choice. So they would rather believe that we are animals and that when we die we will just become dust. The problem is that they know in their hearts that is not true. That is why there are so many ideas going around. Like reincarnation. Wow, that is a good one. If you live a bad life you will have to come back and live a life of suffering to pay for the bad life you lived this time. Who says? Who determines if your life was bad or good and who determines what you come back as? There must be someone in charge! See even people who believe in reincarnation can't get away from the fact that there is a God, they just refuse to acknowledge Him for who He is.
One last misconception that I want to address. You said that if the Bible is true than this life is nothing but a test and since God knows what will happen it is meaningless. Those are not your words but that is the thought. This life is not just a test. Yes it has to be during this life that we come to know God and acknowledge Him as God, but it is not just a test. We are born and we have a choice whether we want to follow God or reject Him. Yes He knows what our ultimate decision will be but it is still up to us. He gives us our whole lifetime to decide. Now some people's lives are shorter than others but again that it part of living in a sinful world.
God will one day do away with all evil and at that point things will again be like they should be, but at that point also all those who have rejected God will have to pay their debt for their sins. I praise God that I won't have to and no one else will either if they will just acknowledge God and ask for His forgiveness. It is a choice.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)
|911 - God's Help Line||Articles||Apologetics||Book Reviews|
|Contemplating Suicide?||Discipleship||Eternal Security||How to know Jesus|
|Help for the Cutter||In Memory||Marine Bloodstripes||Police Humor|
|Police Memorial||SiteMap||Statement of Faith||Testimonies|
|Thoughts to Ponder||True Life Stories||Vet's Memorial||Why I Have a Page|