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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is God a Thug?

The attributes of God ascribed though the centuries and the attributes of the world as we know it indicates that God is a thug.  If God is all powerful then he’s a thug for allowing all types of natural tragedies. For example, if God is all powerful he’s a thug for allowing tsunamis to kill thousands.  If God is all powerful then he’s a thug for allowing a young child to die of cancer.  If God is all powerful then he’s a thug for allowing evil to have its will in a million ways today and throughout much of history. This includes every type of crime foisted on innocents by the perpetrators of evil.  The inescapable conclusion—if God is all powerful, then to stand by and allow any and all of these things inescapably means he’s a thug.

The only relief from this stark understanding is to factor in another attribute of God—that of being all knowing.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9 NIV).  In other words, as far as the action or inaction of God is concerned, from the point of view of man much is destined to remain a mystery.

To illustrate this we can look at how man typically constructs a canal—as straight as humanly possible.  This can be contrasted with natural rivers which are often meandering and indirect.  Man seeks the most direct way, God characteristically does not.  This can also be seen in the way that wisdom is typically attained through arduous learning and experience (often after much hardship and suffering).  We can be resentful that wisdom comes at so great a cost—why couldn’t we just be born with it?  In his wisdom God assigns a more circuitous and perplexing route.

It can be seen that power—even infinite power—has its inherent and inescapable limitations due to the principle of counterproductivity active within creation. (An excessive application of power can have diminishing returns and ultimately do more harm than good.)  God must deal with this paradox of power and his wisdom in doing so extends well beyond human understanding.  Our God, unlike Zeus, does not eradicate every problem with a bolt from the blue.  It takes wisdom to exercise power and infinite wisdom to exercise infinite power.  Thus, the appropriate stance of humanity before the wisdom of God is humility and worship.