5/29/08

Theodicy Meme

This is a response to a meme on theodicy. I was invited by Iyov who was tagged by David Ker, and in turn tagged Suzanne, John, Duane, Nathan, Chuck, Rachel, Simon, and me. And I tag Gil, Mississippi Fred, Reb Yudel, Town Crier and Paleojudaica.
1. if the nature of god is omnipotent, benevolent, and anthropomorphic (that god is a person, who sees suffering as wrong, and can change all of it), why does god not act to relieve all suffering, or at least the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest amount of people the greatest amount of time?
2. if you were god, and you were omnipotent and benevolent, how would you respond to suffering?
3. if this is not the nature of god, what is the nature of god, that allows suffering in the world?
4. if these are the wrong questions to ask, what are the right ones?
First to (4) the standard professor's line is that there are no wrong questions. But of course there are and the determinant is where you ask them. Inside of a faith community these are wrong questions. Theodicy is the invisible elephant in the room. Inside a skeptical community these are boilerplate questions with which to repel believers. Theodicy is the nuclear option.

(3) The term "allows" is a nice apologetic, suggesting that God is a passive agent. No true believer can tolerate this. God must be the purveyor of suffering. If this fact does reveal God's nature then I ask what is the nature of a father who "allows" his sons to suffer?

(2) If I were God I would be omnipotent by consensus, but who says benevolent? If I accepted the Tanakh's theology, I'd be busy punishing sinners and on occasion making a bet with Satan.

(1) If God is all those things, I'd challenge him to a fist fight because of what he did to my mom. She suffered in the ICU for six months before she passed away in 2000. Then I'd fight him 6 million more times.

Where does this "benevolent" God theology come from? Not any religion that I know of.

2 comments:

bryce said...

"Where does this "benevolent" God theology come from? Not any religion that I know of"

I think you mean, "Where does this SOLELY "benevolent" God theology come from?"

Am I right?

After all, I'm sure you could rattle off several verses from the top of your head that refer to God's kindness. (eg. Hashem, Hashem, Kel rachum v'chanun...CHESED v'emes...")

And just, too:

"The LORD is just; our rock, in whom there is no wrong."

bryce said...

"If I were God I would be omnipotent by consensus,"

What does that mean?

"God must be the purveyor of suffering."

This probably needs to be expanded on, such as with the story of Rabbi Akiva and the rooster, the donkey, and the lamp -- or something...

"If God is all those things, I'd challenge him to a fist fight because of what he did to my mom."

I'm real sorry about your mom. If God is NOT all those things (heck, I can't tell from your post what those things are), /then/ what would you do?

"Theodicy is the nuclear option."

Well, your old alma mater isn't afraid to face the nuclear threat:
http://yutopia.yucs.org/archives/
2004/04/talmudic_theodi.html