A Good Reason for Evil

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What is evil? Could it have a purpose? Here is a view of evil from an adult rather than a childish perspective.

The first step in answering the problem of evil is this: We’ve got to get clear on what this thing “evil” actually is. It does seem to follow that if God created all things, and evil is a thing, then God created evil. This is a valid syllogism. If the premises are true, then the conclusion would be true as well.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that the second premise is not true. Evil is not a thing. The person who probably explained it best was St. Augustine, and then Thomas Aquinas picked up on his solution. Others since them have argued that evil has no ontological status in itself.

The word ontology deals with the nature of existence. When I say that evil has no ontological status, I mean that evil, as a thing in itself, does not exist.

Let me give you an illustration to make this more clear. We talk about things being cold or warm. But coldness is not a thing that exists in itself; it has no ontological status. Coldness is the absence of heat. When we remove heat energy from a system, we say it gets colder.

“Cold” isn’t a thing. It’s a way of describing the reduction of molecular activity resulting in the sensation of heat. So the more heat we pull out of a system, the colder it gets. Cold itself isn’t being “created.” Cold is a description of a circumstance in which heat is missing. Heat is energy which can be measured. When you remove heat, the temperature goes down. We call that condition “cold,” but there is no cold “stuff” that causes that condition.

Here’s another way of looking at it. Did you ever eat a donut hole? I don’t mean those little round sugar-coated lumps you buy at the donut shop. I mean the hole itself. Donut holes are actually what’s left when the middle is cut out of a donut. There’s a space called a hole, a “nothing,” the condition that exists when something is taken away. Same thing with a shadow. Shadows don’t exist as things in themselves; they’re just the absence of light.

Evil is like that. Evil isn’t like some black, gooey stuff floating around the universe that gloms onto people and causes them to do awful things. Evil is the absence of good, a privation of good, not a thing in itself.

When God created the universe, he created everything good. He made a universe that was perfectly good. Everything was as it should be. After God was completely done with creating everything, something happened that reduced the good in the world. That loss of good is called evil.

That’s why in Genesis 1 we read “it was good” many times. From the record we know that God didn’t create evil. But something did happen in which evil-the loss of good-took place, and as a result a lot of other grotesque things came about.

So donut holes don’t exist; they’re just the absence of donut. Shadows don’t exist; they’re just the absence of light. And evil doesn’t exist; it’s just the absence of good.

The next question is, if God created everything good, why would He allow evil to infect His creation?

Satan would be the first example of an independent source of evil. Adam and Eve would also be a source of evil with regard to the human race. They didn’t get Satan’s evil; they initiated their own. Satan influenced them–he made his own hole in goodness–but Adam and Eve made their own holes in goodness. They’re responsible for their own evil.

It isn’t that Satan did something bad and passed that stuff on to them, because evil is not a stuff. This is a key point in this discussion. They cannot “dip into” evil because it’s not a thing to dip into. When we make a shadow, we don’t do it with shadow stuff, but by blocking existing light.

In the same way, evil doesn’t cause our actions. In fact, it’s the other way around. Our actions are what cause evil-or the loss of goodness-in us, and that loss of goodness does have an impact on future actions, giving us a predisposition to cause further evil.

God did not create Adam and Eve with bad stuff in them. What He did was to create them with a capability to rebel against Him or choose to do wrong. This is called moral free will, and it’s a good thing, but it can be used for bad. It can be used to rebel against God, which digs out a hole in goodness, so to speak.

Satan and man both used their free moral agency to originate actions that fell short of the goodness of God. I’m sure God had a good reason for allowing evil. It has caused a lot of suffering, but that suffering has, in turn, also brought about a lot of good under God’s direction.

When you forgive someone who’s wronged you and you treat him kindly, is that a good thing? Sure it is, but you couldn’t forgive him if he hadn’t done something bad against you. I’m not saying that we should do evil so that the good of forgiveness could come about. I’m showing that it’s not a contradiction to claim that good can come out of evil.

It’s not good to promote evil itself, but one of the things about God is that He’s capable of taking a bad thing and making good come out of it. Mercy is one example of that. Without sin there would be no mercy. That’s true of a number of good things: bearing up under suffering, dealing with injustice, acts of heroism, forgiveness, long-suffering. These are all virtues that cannot be experienced in a world with no sin and evil.

Now the real question at this point is, “Was it worth it? Good can come out of evil, but was it worth it in the long run, the measure of good that comes out of the measure of evil in the world?” And my response is that the only One who could ever know that is God. You and I couldn’t know that because our perspective is too limited. Only God is in a position to accurately answer that question.

Apparently God thinks that, on balance, the good is going to outweigh the evil that caused the good, or else He wouldn’t have allowed it to happen. Christ paid a tremendous price, an example of the tremendous love God had for us. God would not be able to show His sacrificial love unless there was something to sacrifice for.

Here’s the problem, and this is why we don’t think that, on balance, it’s really a fair trade. We think that life is about giving us pleasure and making us happy. That’s what we think. This view is very prevalent in the United States. Our personal happiness, pleasure, and enjoyment are the most important things in life.

That’s not what the Bible teaches at all, though. There are aspects of enjoyment, but the ultimate reason we were created was not so we can have fun and enjoy life. God’s purpose for creating us was to develop us into certain types of people who were fit to spend eternity with Him. He does that by conforming us to His image by helping us grow through the process of living in a fallen world.

This is part of the message of the book of Hebrews. Even Jesus was conformed-made mature-by the process of suffering. In God’s mind, the goal of the process-being conformed to the image of His Son-is a much greater good than the bad of the evil that we have to put up with on this earth. The balance is definitely on the side of good.

I admit that this is not an easy issue, and part of the reason is that we bring some baggage to the discussion. Part of the baggage is that we have this idea that if God put us here on this earth and created the world for us to live in, then it seems to make sense that the summum bonum-the greatest good-is our immediate sense of personal pleasure and satisfaction. Therefore, if there is some circumstance in which we can’t have immediate satisfaction, then God must either have abandoned us, not exist, or be evil for allowing such a thing.

Last weekend I had a conversation with a young man about homosexuality. He challenged me with this point: Why would God create people as homosexuals if He didn’t want them to experience the pleasure of homosexual sex?

Now, of course, I didn’t agree with Him that God created people to be homosexuals. It wasn’t God’s design that they have this desire. But even if I conceded such a thing, why must I admit that-since one was created with a capacity for pleasure-only a mean, cruel God would allow conditions in which they’d have to say no to that pleasure?

When you think about it for a moment, doesn’t it strike you as odd that we’ve developed a view that in order for us to acknowledge God as good, He must give liberty to all of our passions? And if God doesn’t give liberty to all of our passions-if He doesn’t allow us what we want, when we want it-if He ever asks for self sacrifice, if He ever allows a condition in which we hurt, in which we suffer, in which we are inconvenienced, if He ever allows a circumstance in which our bodily desires are not given full reign, then certainly He must be a cruel God? Isn’t that an odd view?

Do you know what kind of person thinks that way? A child. A child sees what it wants and goes to get it, and if it’s stopped, that child puts up a fuss.

I was with a little two-year-old today who wanted to go into the house while wearing muddy shoes. She was stopped, and she put up a fuss when her shoes were removed. Mom and Dad knew, though, that there were other things more important than their daughter’s desires at that moment. Now she didn’t understand it. All she knew was what she wanted (understandably, by the way, she’s a two-year-old; that’s the way two-year-olds think).

Unfortunately, we’ve bred a society that are, in many ways, like a bunch of adult two-year-olds, grown-ups who believe it’s their divine right to feel every pleasure they can possibly feel, to never encounter any difficulty, any pain, any suffering. And if they do, then God must be a cruel God.

Now I realize that some of you might be thinking, Come on, Koukl, you’re really whitewashing this, aren’t you. How can so much egregious suffering be justified?

I don’t at all mean to brush away the terrible impact of evil on people’s lives. But I’m talking about a frame of mind that we do seem to have, a frame of mind that we are first and our pleasures are first and God owes that to us. And if He denies us our pleasures to any degree, then there must be something wrong with Him.

Now if God is a good God, and He denies us our pleasures, then I’ll tell you one thing, there’s a good reason He does so. That’s what it means to be a good God. I’m not going to buy the idea-the infantile idea that Americans have-that in order for God to be considered good, He has to give me everything I want, when I want it, or conversely, He must protect me from every injury and every difficulty. No, it’s fair to say that God has allowed suffering in the world for very good reasons, even though we’re not clear on all of those reasons.

By the way, what’s the alternative? If you conclude there’s no God because of the existence of evil, then there’s no possibility of ever redeeming that evil for good.

British philosopher Bertrand Russell said that no one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God. My response to Mr. Russell is, “What would you say to a dying child?” What could an atheist say? “Too bad”? “Tough luck”? “Bum deal”? You see, in that circumstance, there’s no possibility of redemption for that evil. In fact, it doesn’t seem to make sense to even call it evil at all if there is no God.

But with God, at least there’s the possibility that the evil can be used for good. That’s the promise of the Scriptures.

And so, instead of the syllogism, “God created all things, and evil is a thing, therefore God created evil,” we start from a different point. “All things God created are good-which is what the text says-and evil isn’t good, therefore God didn’t create evil.” Then we can progress to, “If God created all things, and God didn’t create evil, then evil is not a thing.”

You see, those two syllogisms are just as valid as the first one (if God created all things, and evil is a thing, then God created evil), and it seems that the premises are more reliable. The premises seem to be accurate and true.

The questions we have to ask ourselves are: Do we have reason to think that God is good, and do we have reason to think that evil is not a thing? If we have good reasons to think those two things, then our new set of syllogisms work.

We can then strongly trust that when God does allow a privation of good (evil) to influence our lives, He does it not for evil designs, but ultimately for good purposes.


This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show “Stand to Reason,” with Gregory Koukl. It is made available to you at no charge through the faithful giving of those who support Stand to Reason. Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only. ©1997 Gregory Koukl

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The Origin of Evil

By Douglas L. Duncan, December 15, 2018

“The perplexing concept of evil eternally pleads the mind of God.”
– Douglas L. Duncan

If you have ever asked yourself any variation of the question, “Might there be a single source where the whole of evil came from, and if it is indeed a source at all, then what is it?”, both a belief in that which is unseen, coupled with sound deductive reasoning, will eventually whisper back, that what we are inquiring about is obviously some intangible, yet seemingly created thing, and such a powerful and ethereal type emergence as this evil surely is, it could only have originated from an even more powerful… indeed, totally omniscient and omnipotent Creative force.

Fortunately for us, this magnificently divine Entity came with a Manual, when if referred to, pretty clearly explains that this is indeed the source as well as the case for the origin of evil, and by studying ancient scripture, and discerning what they mean for our reality and temporal existence, we can arrive at a clearer understanding of why evil has been woven into the whole of humanity since the Garden of Eden.

First of all, evil is not a tangible thing. It is a manifesting, multi-faceted, cerebral process, which is unceasingly meted out with exacting purpose, yet always subject to termination at any point that the Creator chooses to end its existence and free humanity from its cruel vice-like grip. To get a child-like layman’s grasp on the reason for evil upon this earth, try thinking of it as a life sentence for all of us, in a federal prison that encompasses the entire planet, and you will begin to have a reasonable picture of what is really happening here. We are all guilty by association of the first sin, and evil is the iron bars of the holding cell that surrounds us, with thorns growing up from the floor.

Our sufferings on this earth, are both permissible and inescapable. They are the unrelenting judgment that was passed upon man from the time of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. It is utter foolishness to ask the atheist’s famous question, “If God exists, why does He allow bad things to happen?” They are supposed to happen because this temporal existence is a life sentence in the prison library, wherein we are supposed to be studying to get our diploma in General Studies 101, and through faith, an eventual pardon. We are all living in a fallen state, abounding with evil, and it is not meant to be a joy ride, totally free of consequences. We were born into sin and suffering, and we will die with it stuck to the bottom of our walking shoes.

The initial, manifestation of God’s awareness of evil, was the endowing of an abundance of pride, combined with free will like that of humans, in His creation of the most beautiful of all the angels. There are no detailed physical attributes recorded in the bible of this being, but he certainly was not red with pointed ears, horns, and a forked tail, and by logical association of him being synonymous with music, it is also doubtful he is a towering, snake-eyed, hulk-muscled beast. No, this lovable, pretty boy Robert Redford doppelganger, He singled out, and named Lucifer, or as he became affectionately known, ‘The Bright (helel) Morning Star’. He was in turn, given a distinguished position of authority as Heaven’s tremendously gifted choir director.

The ancient written records strongly imply, he is a master music composer and a superior orator, not a fighting angel like Gabriel or Michael. He has the gift of mental prowess and cunning manipulation, and once his pride over these attributes set in, and he began aspiring to the same status as God, God expelled him just as He knew He would be doing, along with all his faithful followers, who roughly totaled one-third of Heaven, and who we now refer to as demons, straight down here, of all the places in the universe, to our tiny earth, thus placing the epitome of evil on this very planet, for untold eons before creating us.

Of ‘Helel’ the bright one who stood behind the King of Tyre.

12 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you… Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
Ezekiel 28:12-15

12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Isaiah 14:12-14

Whether it was Lucifer himself or perhaps a comrade even more menacing than him, that appeared as a serpent-like entity in the tree of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil (come on, seriously… an apple?), growing in the garden of Eden, the fact remains, that they were already waiting in the shadows for homosapien’s arrival, and God knew that all too well. It cannot be denied, because He is the one setting everything in motion, from the point where He says, “Let there be light!”

Either we say God is in control, or we say He is not. The truth is, He was certainly powerful enough to have just as easily sent Lucifer and his horde all the way out to Pluto or another Galaxy altogether, but instead He purposely put us both together on the same rock. So why did the fallen angels need to be on this planet only to interferingly cohabit with us? Well, that becomes pretty obvious at this point. They are here to serve His purpose as an intrinsic and necessary half of the yinyang free will concept given specifically to homosapien. Are we to suppose that the omniscient Creator had no clue what Lucifer would do right from man’s start? If you think He was in the dark about it, I am afraid you have the wrong, and not so all knowing god.


Grandpa’s Wallet

In order to implant evil in man’s thoughts, all God had to do was place a single element in his path, which in this case was a unique tree in the garden, whos intoxicating fruit, when eaten, brings the yin and yang together, and opens the mind to corruption, like the lid on Pandora’s box,

This is uncannily similar to the old story of the grandfather placing his wallet on the table in front of his five-year-old grandchild and saying, “I have to leave the room for a minute, but I’ll be right back, so don’t you dare touch this wallet!” No sooner does he get out of sight, and peek around the corner, than the child has completely dragged everything in the wallet out, and onto the floor. Had God not purposely executed this very same scenario whereby man inevitably falls, and then is forced to seek God out, He would have just ended up with more angels, who were weaker than the original ones, that already knew Him. The entire human project would have been analogous to a soft, half-made clay jar being spun on the potter’s wheel, that suddenly goes off kilter and collapses back into a distorted heap of grey mud.

The Origin of Evil

Nothing exists that was not wrought by God, and unrelenting cogitative evil exists and resides in the minds of Satan and man.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Revelation 4:11


As stated earlier, evil is a concept in the mind, and it is a concept that was first in God’s mind, not a tangible thing related to the laws of physics. You cannot see, touch, feel, smell or hear evil. It is not one of the fundamental forces of nature, nor does it consist of matter, energy, or the spatial dimensions of the universe, and it continues until terminated. Yet evil does reside. It takes up residence in the minds of both humans and fallen angels.

It is an unseen and extremely powerful force, which plays a pivotal role in bringing souls to a position of having to seek God for solace, and its consequence also includes a prolonged, agonizing stay of execution for Lucifer and his fallen company. This is understandably making them all the more vengeful to the bitter end. These angels were all created in the very presence of God, and because of this, there are none in need of discovering Him, nor are they created with the unique creative thinking ability we have been specially endowed with, and that God was needing, to ultimately commune with Him on His own personal level. In all of this, we are above the angels, and it is written, they serve us. Basically, we are the one-of-a-kind product of the Creator’s words, “Let us make man, in our own image”, not the image of angels, and definitely not the same mental capacity. God knows that pain and suffering make us who we are. It is just as the fictional Star Trek character, Captain Kirk said,

“Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away. I need my pain.”

God actually proclaims He is the original holder of the concept of evil, and there are several revealing passages within the Old Testament, which Christians try hard to avoid or scratch their heads in confusion, and those who do give them attention, immediately feel the need to explain it away, for the simple reason that they cannot fathom a benevolent Creator, being the author of such a seemingly negative concept. Being the conceptual author and being the perpetrator thereof, is two entirely different things.

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

Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good?
Lamentations 3:38

Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?
Amos 3:6

These are God’s words through His ancient prophets, so arguing it should prove easy since they are dust. Evil exists because God saw the necessity to take it from awareness to implementation, regardless of the inadequacy of human comprehension. Evil didn’t just walk around the corner of the garage one day, and say, “Hey, has anybody seen Lucifer around here lately?” In juxtaposition to God’s ability to go from drawing board to structure with His voice, Lucifer is powerless to create anything. His only expertise is manipulation and that, like his music, is nothing more than variations on a theme.

“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
John 1:3

Evil went from concept to practice long before we got here, so it appears to me, you have to ask yourself this question. “Am I going to accept this above scribbling by the apostle John as truth, or rip out this part because it is utterly ridiculous and unacceptable.

“Well are you punk?”

 

Evil Truly Exists

Yes, but not without true purpose. Think about the definition of the word omniscience. Do we suppose that God, in His omniscience, was ever clueless that Lucifer would wail against Him, thus manifesting what was previously only an awareness in His mind? It is the element of evil that ultimately causes us to seek His face, whereas with angels who know Him, there is no positive benefit to it whatsoever. God didn’t want more angels. What He has always wanted is family that can attain closer to his level of understanding, and share creative thinking with Him, and subsequently, genuine love on a personal level. We were specially created with the extra capacity to achieve total sentience. Angels are clearly not capable of this, or we simply would not be here, with them written to be watching over us.

Apostle John, the Revelator wrote that one day in a far distant future, God plans to free Lucifer from his chains to once again roam helter-skelter, up and down, and to and fro in the earth, after Christ has reigned on earth for a peaceful one thousand years, which translates to intent to use evil one more time.

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison…”
Revelation 20:7

Only after that shall God finally return evil to a mere concept in His mind. It is doubtless unwise to argue the point of evil with God. It is His favorite Craftsman multi-purpose tool for bringing man to his knees, and without it, there is no hope of a higher attainment. I suggest you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, put your hard hat on and go with it.

By Douglas L. Duncan

Further Reading: A Good Reason for Evil.

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A Story for Brother Abel

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Chapter One

It was once a very lonely place for God in His first, and as yet, only heavenly realm at some distant epoch so far back it cannot be fathomed by the human mind. It will forever be a complete unknown as to just how long He existed there in an endless enigma of solitude… but I will weave you a child’s’ story of what eventually happens when an all-knowing Creator, or any other intelligent being experiences too much solitude for too long a time.

When He had finally been alone for so long that agitation and frustration set into his very being… it occurred to Him to create an endless sea of beings for company, having the same physical appearance as you and I, and having similar senses as us, like seeing, touching, hearing and speaking. And oh, my could they ever sing! These new beings He called angels.

Like everything God creates, He was very pleased with his new angels, but it was not too long after making them that He found himself still feeling strangely alone despite having all these wonderful new creatures surrounding Him. And even though He loved them very much, something decidedly was still not quite right, because He began noticing they were all just following Him about, moving in waves like a massive school of fish swimming as though they were a single living thing in the sea, and having been simply thought into existence, He soon realized that they did not have any past experiences or original thoughts and ideas to share with Him. Nor did they show any signs of wanting to learn more beyond the music they loved and were so proficient at.

For all the angels’ beauty that God bestowed upon them, the sum of their knowledge consisted only of their own unadventurous ‘in-the-moment’ interactions among themselves and the unanimous awareness that God had made them. They felt the compelling need to honor Him with their smiles and beautiful singing of eloquent compositions of praise, but there was never any need to search for Him or knock at His proverbial door, because He was already there with them all the time, and they knew that they knew that… so that was pretty much the limit of the angels company for God.

The creation of the angels was simply not enough. They were still coming up short of His need and longing for a deeper sharing of knowledge and concepts, and of feeling love at a personal ‘one on one’ level that could ultimately extinguish His longing for sharing His innermost thoughts both now and for all eternity.

And so, after yet another unknown epoch of unsatiated and racking loneliness passed by, along with further weighing of the angelic limitations versus the full criteria of what God really desired for companionship, He suddenly had His greatest of all epiphanies, and He excitedly addressed His three selves.

“I have it!… If we really want sentient beings that can uniquely love and loathe, be sorrowful and feel joy in varying degrees, interact and dialog with us, have genuine multi-faceted feelings and offer original concepts, then we need to create beings that are dangerously close to being fully like us, and have the ability to make their own choices, just as we do…”

“And now I’ve deduced what has been missing all along! What we must do, is create beings that have the same mental capacities that We have, with limitations on power and the ability to use all that capacity for now of course. They must realize that ‘they are that they are’… that they ‘exist in the now’… that they are ‘fully conscious of themselves and each other’, unlike our lesser life forms. They have to be frail and weak, yet have a will of their own to make decisions, to be able to think unique ideas and have enough creativity to bring those ideas to fruition, They need to have emotions like love, anger, joy, sadness, anguish, fear, empathy, and above all, they need to share this same feeling of frustration and loneliness we are still feeling!”

“What I propose this time is that we create beings with much closer parallels to the imaging and construct of our own minds. As to the intricacies of how they might appear in the visual sense, that is not nearly as important right now. It is the independence of thought, and ‘creative thought processing’ that we have no other option but to focus on and endow them with. Anything less and this loneliness is never going to end for us.”

“Of course, having such advanced attributes inevitably means these beings are going to make their own decisions as to whom they choose to love and acknowledge as friend, and who they won’t. Which in turn means, we are going to end up painfully losing much of them from choosing to not be our friend, and if they despise us so, that they choose to not give us so much as their infinitesimal time of day, or worse yet, deny we even exist… well then, I am afraid I won’t be able to even look at them without becoming more upset than I already am with this infernal feeling of emptiness.

One thing is undeniably and excruciatingly certain with this plan as it must be executed, and that is the great loss of so many of my creation in order to finally attain a truly equal family to coexist with us; but I have thought it through for eons now and there is simply no shortcut or work-around for intelligent, harmonious compatibility with us. The inevitable loss to rejecting us gives me pause to ever create them, but this singular loneliness has become unbearable to me.

“These ones who shall breathe air and choose to turn from the beacon of light we shall provide to show the path here, and instead run away into the darkness, certainly cannot be permitted to step from temporal linear time, to eternally living right next to the few who do make the wiser choice to seek us, believing we exist without seeing before reaching our realm. Unfortunately, these ones will all have to be turned away as it is utterly unacceptable to have them here generating eternal chaos among those who love us. I cannot sanely coexist with dark behavior at my own door, and I simply won’t have it. I refuse to be the author of confusion and that is exactly what it would be to do anything less than separate the wheat from the chaff… and I’ll explain the wheat for food concept later.”

“By my careful calculations, the way it plays out now, we will have to reject over ninety-eight percent of every body-soul we create, which is going to be a terrible loss, and I am sorely perplexed for a real remedy to such a horrendous imbalance to the methodology of my proposal for beings devised to have so very much of our own characteristics. I must go and think upon all this for a time.”

Chapter Two

Later on, or about 1.2 billion earth orbits around its star:

“I was just over there at the ‘Creative Ideas Center’ working on something I call a giraffe, when I inadvertently brushed my hand against the perfectly good pomegranate I created earlier this morning, causing it to roll off the bench onto the perfectly good solid gold floor. Slightly irritated with myself, having had the maintenance angels polish the floor just last night, I grudgingly bent over with a frown on my face to pick up the now badly bruised fruit (a thirty mile drop from bench top to floor doesn’t give fruit a chance), and when I began to straighten up, my head hit right on the corner of the wood vise and that’s when it happened.”

“Eureka! I finally had the solution to my previous epiphany of creating beings who appear and cogitate as we do. I suppose you might call it an appendix epiphany to the original epiphany… or perhaps not… Whatever floats your ark, that’s what I always say. At any rate, I believe it is the perfect remedy to the problem of a relentless, much too high volume of lost souls with free will capability. That and I am completely exhausted trying to think of any other solution to my ‘lonely Creator’ issue.”
Naturally I am still going to have to work out all the little intricacies of the plan while I’m busy creating the physics of the humans’ temporal habitat by kick-starting it with the mother of all explosions, but on the face of it, it’s going to begin by comprising and merging a rather lengthy series of events along with multiple factors and elements, such as initially allowing everyone to fall out of good standing from the very beginning, evil, temptation, and then sending You down there later on Son to fix the subsequent mess. I’ll tell you more about that later… while you’re sitting down… with your feet up…

Finally, we’ll allow enough space-time to lapse in order to produce a vast sea of additional humans between when You get back here, and when We return, to complete the populating of them up here among their angel counterpart, and generally wind down the ongoing propagation of our semi-intelligent and wayward little life forms.

“I tell You what… I just traveled forward into man’s twenty-first century and retrieved some refreshment for us. Let us rest from our creative labors for now Son, and enjoy some of this unique Cabernet Sauvignon wine from Golan Heights Winery, and just sit back and listen to today’s concert by the Angelicas for a spell while I iron out some more of the finer details you’ll need to know later.

Here ya go… Have some of these excellent kippers I grabbed while I was there. They’re fresh Crasters from a little place called Northumberland… just caught this morning by Captain Matthew’s crew.

to be forever continued…
Douglas L. Duncan


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No Time for God to Exist

stevenhawking“We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because
there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me this means that there
is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to
have existed in.” ~Steven Hawking

I read a science news article the other day wherein the late astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, was giving some finalized theories regarding our universe and a creator in his farewell book, “Brief Answers to Big Questions,”. I used to just automatically equate Hawking with the same level of genius as Einstein because folks said he was, so I was supposed to as well; but I dropped that potato real fast when one of his last opines smashed head on into an asteroid at 186,000 miles per second.

In his last days, one of the final issues he addressed was the existence of God. He stated in reference to our universe’s beginning, “We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.”

You don’t have to believe in God to perceive that there is something really wonky with that simplified conclusion. Even Einstein held to a pantheistic concept of an impersonal Creative entity. Hawking is stating with all confidence, that God cannot exist because before the Big Bang there was no linear time in which anything could be the cause of anything, therefore, neither could there be an ultimate conciseness to choose to cause something. Zing! What the hey kind of brilliance was that? He certainly wasn’t thinking through all the possibilities when he blurted that one over his synthesizer.

He addressed the God issue with a near idiotic assumption that the universe and specifically linear time had to have God within its boundaries, or perhaps more to the point, a time out of time, in order to exist, rather than a God from a timeless higher dimension outside the creation event, or the sudden explosion of everything from nothing, referred to as the Big Bang.

Why that’s like saying, “I just made you pancakes for breakfast, but unfortunately I didn’t exist because I wasn’t part of the pancakes, so there aren’t any pancakes. So why don’t you go back to bed, and then come back out here after awhile, and see if any pancakes show up. You never know, I might suddenly exist inside the Bisquick box, and then, there they’ll be… all nice and fluffy with butter and syrup on them!”

The whole concept there StephenO, is that an extremely powerful Entity chooses to create a dimension of both physical matter and continuously expanding movement of said matter, including those speedy little photons which is what we like to measure the speed thereof and refer to the results as time. The Entity itself is not a part of Its newly created dimension, any more than you are a part of your scooter, which will probably be enshrined in a prominent place at The Cambridge University now.

Time is an intrinsic prisoner of our expanding universe and is not a requirement nor probability outside of it, regardless of what alternate realities lie beyond its expanse. I cannot help but chortle a bit at Hawking’s final conclusion on the subject, because the one thing he was right on, is that God really cannot be a part of time, which is merely an attribute of the physical universe He made to begin with, so what was he putting in his tea everyday pray tell, that would give him cause to believe that a creator necessarily has to have this attribute of His creation in order to exist, when he made such an utterance?

As a young man he was known to have believed in a creator, but perhaps one reason for the eventual overtly atheistic view, could be that he became set against a perceived mean God for a lifetime of imprisonment in a non-responsive body, which would be understandable; however that angle is purely speculation on my part. Actually, that’s not true. My wife suggested it to me.

At any rate, I would have thought that he would have been more of an outside the box, thinking bigger kind of guy, but I guess his logic got sucked into a black hole in the end. Well, that was kind of a dismal end theory to wrap up with, and I believe I’ll adhere to a much grander and more creative hypothesis myself.

Douglas L. Duncan


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God Whistles While He works

georgeharrisonGeorge Harrison sang
music specifically to God.

 

Before getting into the whistling part, firstly I want to say that the Bible clearly reveals that God especially enjoys music, and this is fundamental to the crux of my story here. It should also be a given that even less than joyous lyrical music will still have interest for God, because both the mood set by the instrumentation, and the words being sung aloud can have the unique ability to reveal that man is sometimes voicing his trials, suffering and cries for help directly to Him in powerful melodic form, and by so doing, is confessing aloud that he is in a seemingly hopeless situation that is beyond his ability to conquer alone.

So while many songs are certainly joyful, giving God pleasure, it is likely the songs of distress and hopelessness that are more apt to move God to have compassion, and tell Him that the situation is desperate enough to put to music and sing with as much fervor as any intense prayer. In fact, music is prayer.

Any form of music sent up sincerely and purposely to God, will surely be listened to, for this is the most expressive type of language there is, and He is the author of it; and being the author of such a method of expressive and colorful communication, is what has led me to the rest of my story.


music122x

I’m now self convinced that God does not work in total silence. He has a voice because we hear Him speaking throughout the Old Testament, and often quite loudly. Here then, is the story from my own surrealist mind about a Divine Creator who occasionally gets a little noisy when He’s busying about.

I got to thinking one day about God’s creative propensity, His surroundings and what He might have been doing long before He had created the angels. I’m still not sure why my mind went in that direction just then, but I do know I’ve never lost my intense childhood inquisitiveness, nor do I ever plan on losing it. At any rate, here I am alone, sitting out on the porch in the morning, gazing out across the tops of the trees while rocking back and forth with my fingers tapping out a rhythm on the arm of the rocker, and diving deeper and deeper into my thoughts, “Hmm, just what might He have actually been doing some of the time before the company of  angels came about I wonder?” I knew He was called the Alpha and always was, but the angels weren’t because they were first conceived in His mind, then created, so surely there had to have been an unknown interval of time when God was thinking and doing other things.”

“Wait a minute. This isn’t precisely what I want to know!” A rundown of the things He might be doing is all very intriguing, but really, it’s pretty much a given that He was undoubtedly forever doing a myriad of things involving masterly conception and creation, but since there are no records of what those things were, it’s a moot point. What I really want to know is just some aspect of how a perfect mind might focus and proceed with the task at hand, kind of like watching and learning a man’s daily routine from breakfast to bedtime sort of thing, and that just might be something that can very well be deduced using the Old Testament.

Granted the whole rocking chair musing exercise was little more than a Sherlock Holmes style deductive reasoning game based on a bit of Biblical reference with a huge bit of pure conjecture, and doubtless, way out there in left field, but that’s often how I relax, have fun and get my mind off of depressing things… like living in one room. Other people mow their lawns to do that, but not me. I have to be comfortably loafing. Besides, I don’t have a lawn anymore, and it’s no less constructive than making up jokes and one-liners for a book. Well, except for the royalties the book can return if anybody buys the thing.

So I began thinking all over again, but this time with the specific desire to envision God out in the field, putting in His next seven day creation project. How does He carrying Himself about? In that same cloud that hovered over the tabernacle tent for forty years in the wilderness? How does He start His morning? Does He sit, stand or both when He works, or does He continuously move about?

Then a really intriguing thought suddenly entered my mind. Does He talk to Himself or make other kinds of vocalizations when He has an epiphany or asks Himself whether there’s a better way of doing the thing He’s making? Yes, that’s it! That’s the question! What a concept! Does He talk, shout, laugh and even sing to Himself all the time? If He does, then I’ve stumbled onto an aspect of God I can really relate to.

I talk things out and sing to myself constantly when I’m alone. So if I’m made in God’s image, why wouldn’t He talk and sing to Himself as well? I always find that talking to another me, gets the bugs out of the project sooner and with much greater clarity. Talking to ones self is a constructive thing. Having a mental handicap that causes strange verbalizing is not, and people who make fun of you for talking to yourself, need to learn the difference.

Now the obvious was entering my mind and all the lights came on. “Wait a second. God made the decision to populate heaven with angels for intelligent company and to be recognized as being their creator.” He thought out their makeup and endowed them with the specific talents and skills of His choosing. And what do we know from the Bible, to be one of the greatest talents that angels do so well, that would have made Him want to create them precisely the way He did? They sing! They started singing from the time they were created and they haven’t stopped since. Their singing is the most beautiful sound in existence. It’s the Heavenly Choir!

Within sixty minutes after stepping out onto the porch that morning, my rocking chair crossed the finish line. The Creator of music had always been making some sort of melodic compositions, either as a concept in His mind, or more likely, manifested as real audible music emanating from the very same voice that spoke to Moses and the prophets. And if God is singing with His own voice, then the strong probability is that like us, when we’re busy working, we drop back from singing to less focused humming and whistling mode.

There it was. A uniquely physical attribute that God undoubtedly has, that I as a music lover could relate to and have a daily pick-me-up affinity with right here on this temporal plane. Whether its accurate or not doesn’t matter. It falls into the realm of probability, and I can take that worked out rocking chair exercise and hold on to it as a calming thought just for me, on the same level as a memorable sunset by the ocean or that little wooden cross around your neck. Admittedly there is no other use for such thinking as this was, but imagination has always been useful to me as it gives me nearly as much pleasure in this life as music.

What I’ve done with this Sherlock deduction as a way to remind me that God loves music enough to be apt to hum or whistle sometimes, is turn it into a fun greeting whenever I meet someone new, so they always get an introduction of, “Hi there… Nice to meet you. My name is Doug, and I know something about God that you don’t”. And when they ask, “What?”, I reply, “He whistles while He works!” People always smiles and laugh, but then God does that too… while He whistles of course. That’s my final word on the subject, and I’m sticking with it to the end.

Douglas L. Duncan


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Why Did God Create the Thai Liver Fluke?

whydidgodcreatethethairiver
BY FAZALE RANA – JULY 11, 2017

The Thai liver fluke causes quite a bit of human misery. This parasite infects fish living in the rivers of Southeast Asia, which, in turn, infects people who eat the fish.

Raw and fermented fish make up a big part of the diet of people in Southeast Asia. For example, in Thailand, a popular culinary item is called sour fish. This “delicacy” is prepared by mixing raw fish with garlic, salt, seasoning, and rice. After rolling the mixture into a ball, it is placed in a plastic bag and left to ferment in the hot sun for several days.

The fermentation process isn’t sufficient to kill the cysts of the Thai liver fluke embedded in the muscles of the infected fish. So, when people eat sour fish (or raw fish), they risk ingesting the parasite.

The Thai Liver Fluke Life Cycle

After ingestion, the cysts open in the digestive track of the human host, releasing the fluke. This parasite travels through the bile duct, making its way into the liver, where it takes up residence.

Once in the liver, the fluke lays eggs that are carried into the host’s digestive track by bile secreted by the liver. In turn, the eggs are released into the environment with human excrement. After being ingested by snails, the eggs hatch, producing larvae that escape from the snail. The free-living larvae infect fish, forming cysts in their skin, fins, and muscle.

Image: Life cycle of Opisthorchis viverrini. Image source: Wikipedia

The Thai liver fluke is a master of disguise, evading the immune system of the human host and living for decades in the liver. Unless the infestation is extreme, people infected with the fluke are completely unaware that they harbor this parasite.

Estimates indicate that 10% of the Thai population is infected with the Thai liver fluke. But in the villages of northern Thailand, where the consumption of raw and fermented fish is higher than in other areas of the country, 45% of the people carry the parasite.

The Thai Liver Fluke and Cancer

The Thai liver fluke can live for several decades in the host’s liver without much consequence. But eventually, the burden of the infection catches up with the human host, leading to an aggressive and deadly form of liver cancer that claims about 26,000 Thai lives each year. Once the cancer is detected, most patients die within a year.

Biomedical researchers think the liver cancer is triggered by the Thai liver fluke, which munches on the host’s liver. Interestingly, the fluke’s saliva contains a protein (called granulin-like protein) that stimulates cell growth and division. These processes help the liver to repair itself after being damaged by the fluke. In effect, the parasite eats part of the liver, supercharges the liver to repair itself, and then eats the new tissue, repeating the cycle for decades. The repeated wounding and repairing of the liver tissue accompanied by rapid cell division eventually leads to the onset of cancer.

The Thai Liver Fluke and God’s Goodness

The problems caused by the Thai liver fluke are not limited to the biomedical arena. This parasite causes theological issues, as well. Why would a good God create the Thai liver fluke? Questions like this one fall under the problem of evil.

Philosophers and theologians recognize two kinds of evil: moral and natural.Moral evil stems from human action (or inaction in some cases). Natural evil proceeds from nature itself—earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, diseases, and the like.

Natural evil seems to present a greater theological challenge than moral evil does. Skeptics could agree that God can be excused for the free-will actions of human beings who violate his standard of goodness, but they reason that natural disasters and disease don’t result from human activity. Therefore, this type of “evil” must be attributed solely to God.

Are Some Forms of Natural Evil Actually Moral Evil?

As I have previously argued, many times natural evil is moral evil in disguise. (See the Resources section below.) In other words, the suffering humans experience stems from human moral failing and poor judgment, not the actual natural phenomenon.

This most certainly seems to be the case when it comes to the Thai liver fluke. Liver cancer caused by parasite infestations would plummet if people stopped eating raw fish and developed better public sanitation systems and practices.

So, is it God’s fault that humans become infected with the Thai liver fluke? Or is it because the people of northern Thailand suffer from poverty and a lack of sanitation—ultimately, conditions caused by human moral failing? Is it God’s fault that people of Southeast Asia develop liver cancer from fluke infestations, when they eat raw and fermented fish instead of properly cooking the meat, knowing the adverse health effects?

Parasites Play a Critical Role in Ecological Systems

Still, the question remains: Why would God create parasites at all?

As it turns out, parasites play an indispensable role in ecosystem health.1 Though these creatures make minor contributions to the biomass of ecosystems, they have a significant effect on several ecosystem parameters, including biodiversity. In fact, some ecologists believe that an ecosystem becomes more robust and functions better as parasite diversity increases.

Considering this insight, a rationale exists as to why God would create the Thai liver fluke to be a member of the ecosystems of the rivers in Southeast Asia. This parasite infects any carnivore (dogs, cats, rats, and pigs) that eats fish from these rivers, not just humans. Undoubtedly infecting these carnivores influences a variety of ecosystem processes, such as species competition, and energy flow through the ecosystem. The harm this parasite causes humans is an unintended consequence of imprudent human activities—not the inherent design of nature.

Parasites and God’s Providence

Remarkably, recent work by scientists from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) indicates that the suffering caused by the Thai liver fluke may fulfill a higher purpose—a greater good.

These researchers believe that the Thai liver fluke may hold the key to effectively treat slow- and non-healing wounds caused by diabetes.2

High blood glucose levels associated with diabetes compromise the circulatory and immune systems. This compromised condition inhibits wound repair due to restricted blood flow to the site of the injury. It also makes the wound much more prone to infection.

The AITHM researchers realized that the granulin-like protein produced by the Thai liver fluke could be used to promote healing of chronic wounds because it promotes rapid cell proliferation in the liver. If incorporated into a cream, this protein could be topically applied to the wounds, stimulating wound repair. This treatment would dramatically reduce the cost of treating chronic wounds and significantly improve the treatment outcomes.

Ironically, the properties of the granulin-like protein that make this biomolecule so insidious are exactly the properties that make it useful to treat diabetics’ wounds. To put it another way, the Thai liver fluke is beneficial to humanity.

The idea that God designed nature to be useful for humanity is a facet of divine providence. In Christian theology, this idea refers to God’s continual role in: (1) preserving his creation; (2) ensuring that everything happens; and (3) guiding the universe. The concept of divine providence also posits that when God created the world he built into the creation everything humans (and other living organisms) would need. Accordingly, every good thing that people possess has been provided and preserved by God, either directly or indirectly.

On this basis, as counterintuitive as this may initially seem, it could be argued that as part of his providence, God created the Thai liver fluke for humanity’s use and benefit.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

–Romans 8:28

Resources

Endnotes

  1. Peter J. Hudson, Andrew P. Dobson, and Kevin D. Lafferty, “Is a Healthy Ecosystem One that Is Rich in Parasites?” Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21 (July 2006): 381–85, doi:10.1016/j.tree.2006.04.007.
  2. Paramjit S. Bansal et al., “Development of a Potent Wound Healing Agent Based on the Liver Fluke Granulin Structural Fold,” Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 60 (April 20, 2017): 4258–66, doi:10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b00047.

Father • Son • Holy Spirit, and The Shack For Two Brothers

The ShackI have been wondering, for several years, if there are other people who are convinced that the traditional teachings of the Church do not fulfill the accurate and true attitude, image, and mind-set of the Trinity. Specifically, why do we seem to separate the attitude and image of God the father from those of Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

I recently found a short yet significant read that is causing redefining moments in my thought processes. William P. Young (The Shack, 2007) presents compelling suggestions that we, as a Church, need to reassess the images we invoke when we speak of the attitude, image, and mind-set of the Trinity.

Traditional teachings seem to present that God the Father is a wise old man who sits in judgment. Sometimes we include the flowing long gray- or white-haired old man who wears a flowing robe. Usually we project a sternness of appearance, demeanor, and attitude. I suggest that many times we project God the Father as a proverbial taskmaster. Kind of like when we do something wrong (make an error, sin) look out because our error or sin has caused the Father to be angry. I suggest that the Father is not the angry God that Edwards (1741) presents in his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Actually, the Father is quite the opposite. The second point of discussion is our projection of Jesus.

I humbly suggest that Jesus is not the epitome of a Jewish priest. My heart strings tell me that Jesus is more like the personal prayer partner or accountability partner that each of us should have, and, be to others. Yes, he is a priest. Yes, he is Jewish. Yes, he is the human form of God the Father. However, his role is not judgmental. Rather, reconciliation and relationship restoration. Biblical perspectives and stories suggest that Jesus is a hands-on, loving, caring, one-on-one relationship focused partner. His relationship with the disciples, His presentation to the woman at the well, His people-first behavior, His commitment to the Father’s will, are examples of Jesus’ dedication to people. In summary, we misrepresent God the Father and Jesus the Son as the good cop-bad cop cycle. The third point of discussion is our understanding of The Holy Spirit.

In short, I suggest that the Holy Spirit has two primary jobs. First, to commute between heaven and earth to present to God the Father, and Jesus the Son, evidence that we are behaving with a mind-of-Christ. Basically, to evidence that we are getting it right. The second job is to quietly convict us of our errors (sins). The Holy Spirit’s intent of conviction is to bring us into restored relationship that provides physical evidence so that the Holy Spirit may complete His primary job.

Young’s novelette presents a thorough review of our misconceptions while presenting plausible alternatives. His thought processes are interesting and Biblically valid. Enjoy the read.

Thanks for listening.
Dennis LeRoy Duncan

Edwards, Jonathan. (1741). Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Retrieved on 31 May 2008, from The Holy Bible. The Open Bible. King James Version. (1975). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Young, William P. (2007). The Shack. Windblown Media, Los Angeles, California.

YOU Are Important

Rev. Dennis LeRoy Duncan, MSWhether you believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit are who they claim to be does not change the fact that they are, indeed, who they claim to be. One part of this precept supports the notion that the Bible is literally the inspired word of God. Additional support for this hypothesis is provided in II Timothy 3:16 and provides concrete evidence of this hypothesis. Timothy states that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” This point is foundational to the Christian belief system and to our healthy development as human beings.

Let me explain.

The Biblical character, King David, notes in Psalms 139 that our God, the everlasting presence, knows everything there is to know about us. There is no place where we can hide from God, and no thought that we can prevent Him from knowing. Actually, King David suggests that God already knows our thoughts, needs and desires. How does this relate to YOU and your importance?

 

Knowing that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and King David is right in his Psalms 139:14 narrative when he states that “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”, then, before the beginning of time, God has known you. I suggest, no: I know, that YOU are so important that Christ designed your specific DNA before the Father actually spoke the creation narration. The artist Lindsey-Anderson depicts this concept in the painting on this page.

Please do not believe the doubts you sometimes have about your self, or what others may say or think about you. YOU are important! God said it, I believe it, that settles it! I love you.

 

1, Who is the artist in the picture, and how do you know. 2. What are your observations of the pencil, 3. What is the artist drawing?
Comments Welcomed on: 1, Who is the artist in the picture, and how do you know. 2. What are your observations of the pencil, 3. What is the artist drawing?

Dennis LeRoy Duncan

Ref:

The Holy Bible. The Open Bible. King James Version. (1975). Thomas Nelson Publishers.