So, God Is Good?

I remember my first wife, Kris, dying and leaving two little babies behind because an anesthesiologist was in a hurry to clear the board and go home.

I know that spinal taps are excruciating because I remember growing up in M.D. Anderson hearing my older brother scream having them done way at the end of the hall, trying to survive leukemia.

In that same hospital, I made many friends in the waiting room. I remember being taught how to play tic tac toe by a kid with no hair. I remember that each week I couldn’t figure out where some of my friends had gone. I remember when we stopped going there, my brother was the only one of dozens I knew that left alive.

I remember Opal Jo Jennings, a sweet little girl from Saginaw, Texas, not more than a few miles down the road, who was grabbed from her front yard, stuffed into a car, taken away, raped, tortured, and murdered.

I remember many things. I am reminded of all of them, all at once, every single time someone glibly utters “Everything happens for a reason”, especially when followed by “God is good.” These must have not lived in my world, or have and what they mean by “God” and “good” are opposite of how any sane person otherwise uses those terms.

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O To Be Like Thee

There’s no reason to think Jesus was ontologically God. This is inconsistent with Messiah, out of sorts with the Hebrew use of “memra” and “debar”, and out of step with the idea of “logos” as seen in use and development with Cicero and Philo.

I think Protestants got it right in taking the Eucharist as symbolic, representitive rather than transubstantial.

I think all Christians may want to again ask whether or not Jesus was God, or everything God imagined humanity to be, in His image.

In philosophical terms, one of those is actually a belief since one of those can actually be acted on. We respond to the former: “Well, good for Jesus, he’s God”. It’s an inconsequential statement that only suggests “These teaching don’t have merit on their own, but since Jesus is divine …”. Then there’s the additional issue that Jesus is God, but not God, but is God … anyway, the response to the latter is seeking to be like Christ and through him, finding the divine.

It seems we like our sectarian, tribal magic too much still.

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Start With “Uncle!”

Christian apologetics can’t get it right if it begins with presuppositions or faith. In claiming that we must presuppose God, the apologist admits there’s no real reason to believe; we must simply suppose it is true. When the apologist says one must have faith, he likewise admits there’s no reason to believe and instead is suggesting merely that one ought to hope something is true. As it concerns propositions and truth-telling, there are ethical duties and obligations that come with. Justification is the primary obligation. There’s no justification in assumption or in hoping something is true because neither indicate whether something is true. So if this is part of Christian apologetics, it admits up front that there’s no reason to believe, and follows that by divorcing itself from the ethics of truth-telling from there. In a propositional sense and in the moral sense, it just can’t get it right.

Just a thought.

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If you begin your question as “What is God?”, you are without hope of an answer. Either God is ineffable, or God is that which causes some phenomenon. Of course if we ask “What is the cause of this phenomenon?”, we know we haven’t leant anything about God, only stated that some phenomenon has a cause and that we’ll call that cause “God”. Too, there’s nothing to be said about the ineffable but that by definition, it’s, well, ineffable.

But if you instead begin your question as “Who am I?”, the mystery is close at hand. God becomes the darkness, the unknown, that which will become illuminated in time. For whatever else God is that is beyond us, God is not beyond the inexhaustible image we may bear of him in our own humanity. God is then synonymous with our humanity.

The revelation of God is then the revelation of humanity; ongoing, developing, a discovery of participation. It isn’t contingent to scripture, though scripture may point us to various ways to think of God, of ourselves. It isn’t contingent to nature, though we cannot understand ourselves aside from circumstance. It is however, contingent to humanity as all things are considered from this perspective and all things true are all things which eventually must make sense. Since God is not the nature He effects, nor is He bound as pages or lengths of scroll, nature and scripture are backdrops for that which makes sense. That which makes sense is entirely from human sensibility about himself and the world.

The revelation of God then, if it makes sense at all, is a revelation about humanity and only insomuch as it is a reflection of God.

The question of God’s existence and of God’s nature become irrelevant. Humanity exists and is synonymous with our conceptions of God. When we speak of God’s nature, we’re functionally speaking of our own. The Atheist isn’t wrong to say the Theist personifies. The Theist isn’t wrong to say we can know God. Either type of person is speaking about humanity. The Atheist would only be wrong in thinking that because of personification, God doesn’t exist or that personification isn’t a revelation. The Theist would only be wrong in thinking that what is revealed is the ineffable God himself rather than what He wishes us to learn from this looking “glass, darkly” of humanity, given our circumstance and our past ideas previously penned. Each is then free to choose whichever language he prefers in speaking to his own humanity.

Just a thought.

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A Birth …

In Greek, Mary and Jesus were sinless, “full of grace” in the very same way. It seems to me the issues within Christian Theology have never been more than about expectation. Jesus’ divinity seemed of little import until, literally, the story began to require it in St. John’s gospel. The same is true of the resurrection in St. Mark’s, who doesn’t give it any theological purpose or meaning at all, save vindication for his words and life before his death. At the end of it all, Jesus was divined because we needed to think so. Mary, in the story of the birth of Christ is the symbol of humanity.

We do not praise the femininity of Mary. We praise her as a very Jewish symbol of wisdom (a young woman, open to participation with the divine), through whom a very, by now, developed Jewish theology is told; that life comes through participation with the divine. In this, our human role, what is born in reality is Christ. Christ is born in that moment, in every instance where anyone participates in the goodness of God. The divinity of Christ is as irrelevant as his humanity and his humanity every bit as important as his divinity. Christ is neither without both.

As soon as we start culturalizing the plot into us/them, it’s lost. Here, it’s lost between liberal and conservative, between patriarchy and feminism, between Muslim and Christian, between American and, well, everyone else, between rich and poor.

To find it again, we have to face ethical questions with the idea that Christ can be found, and is especially revealed, in the middle of our crisis, when and where there is a moral good at stake and our bringing God into it changes everything about it. Then and there, Christ is born to the wise. It is here that God is known in real terms as goodness and love, and Christ as their first fruits.

Just a thought.

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“That Which …”

People still think God is the best explanation for certain things. How can that be though? For instance:

1) God is the cause of morality.
2) What is God?
3) God is that which causes morality.

By simple substitution:

“That which causes morality” “is the cause of morality”.

I wish that people would simply think things through a bit more because we’re still left asking what the cause of morality is. This is true of any state of affairs for which God is said to be able to account for: life, logic, maths, cute and fluffy bunnies. These states of affairs can only stand to explain what God is, not at all that God explains anything at all.

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It’s All Magic!

What’s clear is that when it comes to explanatory power, there’s no difference that makes a difference between “God” and “Magic”.

Why is there life?


“God” and “Magic” are defined then as “the thing that caused x”; be that life, be that morality, be that logic, whatever the question is.

So, the answer to why there is life is God such that when one then goes on to ask, “Well, what is God?”, the answer is “the thing that caused life.”

That of course is tautology and tautology doesn’t in any circumstance explain anything.
Whether you then use the word “God” or “Magic”, they are no different than the other.

Just a thought.

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Praying Alone

Ultimately, I think what we mean when we say God is love is simply that the we matter to the universe. I don’t mean in the sense that we’re important, but in the sense that we’re not individually alone. We know too well that praying doesn’t give us our desired results any more consistently than not praying; Popes get cancer too, and why are there martyrs after all?

It seems to me that prayer is a symptom of the human desire for solidarity in suffering. The desire to not be alone, to not feel alone in our despair. Prayer doesn’t work because it doesn’t deliver. It works because it does. Of course we excuse God for not hearing us or because we just didn’t “faith” enough or that “eventually”, or that “He’s got this, but we just don’t get it”, or any number of rationalizations. What it succeeds in doing is keeping us from a blunt reality; that we are alone.

Test the psychology. Look at the facts of reality. The rain falls on the just and unjust. There’s talk of cosmic, karmetic justice but no signs of it. This existential need to matter in this way, to not be alone in our suffering, it’s real. Were it true that some Big Other were palpably present, do you think there’d be an anxiousness causing this desire? Would we excuse God’s inattentiveness if we knew He was there, or forgive it for the genuine and silent knowing that He’s not; not there, or, not loving, and that we are alone?

Just a thought.

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God Is Not A Being

P1) It is said that God is love.

P2) It is said God cannot act against his nature.

C1) If God can choose to love, then God’s nature isn’t love.

P3) If God always chooses to obtain the best, or optimal outcomes in each moment, then God having the ability to choose is identical to God having no choice.

C2) If we hold to philosophical simplicity, we must accept God is not volitional and therefore, not a being, or that

C3) God is a being who can and does choose not to love, and is a being that could choose the best outcomes but chooses less favorable ones, or cannot identify them, or simply cannot obtain them.

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Doubling Down

Johnny lived in a sorted neighborhood. There was all kind of mischief all the time. Johnny’s roommate one morning offered Johnny a bet. “I will bet you ten bucks that your car is not outside, someone stole it.” There had been a rash of car thefts recently and Todd, Johnny’s roommate, was serious about the bet but easily using it to comment on how bad things had gotten that such a bet could actually be made.

Johnny had worked late last night and parked his car near a street light. If he were a car thief, he would have been in bed by that time and wouldn’t pick such a visible target. Still, you never know. Johnny believed his car was right where he’d left it. Ten bucks is ten bucks though and, having thought about it, Johnny knew the odds at that point were about even.

Though Johnny genuinely believed “My car was not stolen” rather than “My car was stolen”, Johnny did not take Todd’s bet. Doubting either proposition wasn’t a factor. Johnny didn’t believe one because he doubted the other. He believed them both. He just had more compelling reasons for thinking one way versus the other.

Johnny is said to have a doxastic belief and an epistemic belief about “My car was stolen”. It should be clear that it is possible to hold many dispositions toward the same state of affairs including contradictory ones yet not be thinking incoherently. Johnny genuinely believed “My car was not stolen”, for one set of reasons, and that “My car was stolen”, at the same time but for another set of reasons. Johnny has a “propositional attitude” in contrast to his other beliefs about the state of affairs about which the proposition is speaking.

It is then not always telling to suppose we know what a person believes merely by asking what their conclusion is; after all, truth be told, Johnny believes more that his car wasn’t stolen than he believes otherwise, but how would Todd know, Johnny didn’t take the bet.

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