Thursday, August 30, 2007

the existence of god

last night I realized again that my lack of belief in/relationship with "god" is still more personal than I generally admit. Usually it's "How could one believe in god in light of the way the world is--in terms of drug resistant TB, AIDS, malaria, weapons of mass destruction, torture, sexual abuse .... if god exists, she must be either too weak or too evil to qualify for the position"

but really what it is is much simpler stuff (Megan finds it so funny when I say "what it is is .... "). life if god is all powerful, and good, and ... therefore interested in Benjamin, then by golly she ought to be able to fix up much simpler little stuff. like letting me win at blackjack, for instance. I mean either god just lets the cards fall the way they do because she *can't* make them fall differently, which makes her pathetically weak, or else she lets them fall that way because she *won't* make them fall differently, which makes her aloof, and thus cruel, because it amounts to her making them fall that way on purpose.

I'm sure them some massive logical or philosophical error in there, or both. but there it is.

(I mean yes, in this example, we do have the casino's well being to consider. but what about other even simpler stuff, like helping that rusted bolt come out without breaking off. and all that other murphy's law stuff.)


Anonymous said...

Why do you gamble in the first place, Ben? Surely, if God lets you win then some other poor punter loses (given that the casino gains either way!) and that's not good either.

Megs said...


the answer to your question "why do you gamble anyway?" is complex, and I can't really answer fully in this context. If you really wanna know, drop me an email.

Yes, I understand more fully than you the "if I win, some other poor punter loses, given that the casino gains either way".

Benjamin Ady said...

oops--that last comment was actually Benjamin, not Megs =)

gretta at lothlorien said...

God sometimes answers those rusty bolt prayers, but I think if He/She always did our bidding, we would lose sight of who He/She is (our Creator) and what He/She does do for us - love us, comfort us, change us, give us joy, and the other fruits of the Spirit. What do you think of the CSLewis books which take on such questions as evil, etc? I find them v helpful. Much love, Gj

stephanie said...

If we're so small and God is so big, if she even exists that is, how do we know that it's in our best interest to have things go our way all the time? And you just can't have a true relationship with anyone who kisses your ass all the time. I'd like God to kiss my ass all the time but I don't think it would be the best thing for me or foster any true relationship with her. And it would probably get a little boring, frankly.

Benjamin Ady said...

Gretta, Stephanie,

thankyou for your comments!

I remember finding Lewis' "Problem of Pain" vaguely helpful and somewhat annoying--perhaps too modern. It was a long time ago. mabye I shoudl reapproach it.

Stephanie--yeah, I see what you mean about god kissing my ass. I guess it would get a bit boring. Boring would be nice occasionally =) The thing playing blackjack has helped me realize is that ... chance, or randomness, is real. It's something that came into psychology statistics as well. Sampling always has error. It's sort of a basic fact built into the nature of reality as we know it--kind of like the pythagorean theorem or the relationship between energy and matter.
I've become really ... jaded, while playing blackjack. I see people who are actually superstitious--lots of people, and I internally mock them. Sometimes I even externally mock them--but fairly ... subtly, so they mostly don't pick up on it. dealers pick up on it though. sometimes dealers and I mock them together. That's always fun. People have the most amazingly stupid ideas about luck. I've become completely convinced there's no such thing as luck--only deviation. and somehow that conviction has also bled over into ... providence. I guess it now seems to me that luck and providence are just two different ways of talking about the same thing, and I'm thoroughly convinced that they're ... fragments (or is that pigments?) of the human imagination.

Rachel said...

Benjamin, I don't even pretend to know why God allows so much evil in the world. That is the most difficult question I wrestle with on my faith journey and it probably always will be.

Joe said...

Peronally, I have less problem with the problem of pain than the problem of pleasure.

Russell Newton Roman, Jr. said...

I think it's simultaenously more complex and simpler. God is neither weakly unable to intervene nor apathetically unwilling. If God experienced the passage of time as we do I suspect watching us flail about as we do might be even more painful than it must already be. As it is, if past present and future are all one to God, as I suspect, and many a biblical scholar might concur (off the top of my head, Miracles, by C.S. Lewis comes to mind), then God is experiencing all this rather differently than we. That's one point to keep in mind. More fundamentally, free will is what the whole experience is all about. We're free to choose good or evil only in a context where evil is an available choice. How good are you choosing to be if the only choice is good. An unfortunate by product of this is that a whole lot of bad seems to get chosen, which is also why good people need to educate themselves and not tolerate things like the Iraq war when a bunch of chicken-hawk authoritatian hypocrites dress themselves up in christian clothing and the "Culture-of-life" in order to gain power, influence, and profit at the amoral expense of less privileged lives, be they our soldiers or innocent Iraquis.