Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
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Rob Burgess
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Subject: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Saturday, October 27th 2012 @ 9:16 AM

In the last couple months, I've enjoyed reading a couple biographies of Charles Darwin. I guess I got interested in Mr. Darwin when I read in July aor August that Charles and his wife lost a daughter when she was about 10 years old.

The one biography focused on Charles' relationship with his daughter and among other things how he attended her bedside in her final illness at a London hospital while his wife, expecting with another child, was back at their residence in the country.

The author and others have conjectured that Darwin's loss of a beloved daughter and the ensuing grief he suffered was one reason he threw himself into Origin of the Species, "workaholic" as a "cure" for or reponse to grief.

Darwin's understanding of evolution and how it came about through natural or sexual or random selection, not divine intervention, also eventually caused him to label himself an "agnostic". He had been raised a Unitarian. By contrast, hiis wife was deeply religious and continued to practice her faith throughout her life. (They apparently loved each other dearly, so their divergence on faith issues was not an impediment to their marriage.)

Darwin had a different answer to pain and suffering than the bible does in Job or for that matter C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed. (Both excellent discussions of the topic in my estimation, although not entirely satisfying. Job apparantly written by more than one author since the beginning and ending which are in prose come up with a different explanation for pain and suffering than does the poetic middle section. Lewis is Lewis. I've always preferred the writing of his friend Tolkien.)

To paraphrase (probably poorly), Darwin's understanding of pain and suffering was that since we evolved from other species in a world of natural selection that pain was part of survival, part of life. The world is a cruel place where animals often have short and violent endings. Think of an African grazing mammal being stalked by lions.

Funny, but for me at least at this time that is the best explanation. Again, I have not paraphrased it well. But in essence it answers the question as to why God does not stop pain and suffering. As species evolved through natural selection, some learned to hunt, others became the hunted (so to speak). Pain and suffering were part of existence. Evolution occurred in the process. Gazelles learned to run fast to evade lions and hyenas so that their species would survive. The carnivores learned to hunt in packs to catch the speedier hunted again for survival.

I know it is not a religious explanation, certainly not one you will find in scripture. (Father Dave may prove me wrong with some obscure passage :)

Lewis in Pain said:

"We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it."

Seems to me:

Darwin's and Lewis's beliefs are not mutually exclusive in this regard.



Rob Burgess
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Monday, October 29th 2012 @ 4:07 AM

One of Voltaire's thoughts fits as well:  

“I have lived eighty years of life and know nothing for it, but to be resigned and tell myself that flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man to be devoured by sorrow."


Tanya Bosch
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by bludge on Tuesday, January 8th 2013 @ 4:24 PM

Interesting post Rob. I know it is one of the most common questions that people have. Speaking as someone who has also lost a child all I can say that this question cannot be answered but i think that God wants us as Christians to support those who are suffering. The best I have read on the subject is Philip Yancey. "Disappointment with God" is the first that comes to mind


Dave Smith
Group Administrator

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by fatherdave on Thursday, January 10th 2013 @ 12:55 AM

My friends.

You will appreciate that I am feeling tentative in response to these thoughtful postings. I have not lost a child. I came within a hair's breath of losing my dear first-born daughter (some years ago now) but we were fortunate, so how can I understand the such pain?

Even so, I can comment on the Biblical issues, though I am concious that these are not simply theoretical issues and should not be treated as such.

Personally, I do think Darwin's view of pain is inconsistent with a Biblical view. As I understand it from Rob's post, Darwin viewed pain as an inevitable side-effect of evolution, and one that served no purpose in itself. I think from a spiritual point of view everything must serve a purpose.

In Job, I don't think we can take the introduction to Job's story as the intended explanation for his suffering. The lengthy discourses between Job and his friends look at various theories of human suffering, and Satan is never brought back into that discussion.

The central section of Job is chapter 28, which contains Job's exasperating question: "Where is wisdom to be found?" (verse 12). A straightforward explanation for human suffering eludes Job as it eludes us all.

What Job discovers through his struggle and most especially through his final encounter with God is that the world is a complex place and that he can't be expected to understand much. He learns to accept his own limitations and trust that God knows what God is doing. This is as far as Biblical wisdom gets us, I believe.

We might see the cross as a further statement on human suffering, of course. Certainly it is a visible reminder of the fact that in this world of suffering, God is suffering too! It is no coincidence, I think, that the followers of Jesus chose the cross as their symbol.

I've been reading Richard Rohr again lately, and he suggested that "where do we put our pain" is perhaps the most fundamental of all religious questions. I appreciate that there are no simple answers - religious or otherwise - but I sense that we must not abandon this as a spiritual quest!

________________________________
Rev. David B. Smith, B.A., B.Th., Dip A.
Parish Priest, Pro Boxer, Social Activist, Father of Four

Rob Burgess
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Thursday, January 10th 2013 @ 7:59 AM

Certainly Darwin believed that since humanity evolved from other species that pain was part of survival. To simplify: in nature, it is eat or be eaten. Survival of the fittest.

Darwin was challenged by the notion of an individual soul. Again to simplify: If humanity developed from other species that did not have a soul, doesn't make a lot of sense that humanity has one.   Humanity's place is not necessarily a special one in relation to other species.

Obviously, Darwin did not have access to knowledge base of Einstein or Stephen Hawking or other contemporary scientists. He would not have understood how vast the universe is. He would not have appreciated how small the building blocks of the universe (sub atomic particles) really are. No subatomic particles or Higgs boson in Darwin's time.

There have been recent reports that in the Milky Way galaxy alone that there are an estimated 70 billion earth like planets.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/billions-of-earthlike-planets-found-in-milky-way/

Our one rather minor galaxy in the universe of millions and millions. Vast is a word that is used to describe the universe, but is hard to comprehend how vast. The closest star to the sun, our universal next door neighbor, is a few light years away. Yet, it would take thousands of years traveling at 100,000 miles an hour (which we can't do) to get there.

Let me dare touch science to theology, warning: a heretical theology.

In phsyics there are laws related to conservation. Conservation of energy. Conservation of mass. etc. What these laws state is that in a closed system (perhaps such as our vast universe) that energy or mass (matter) is a constant.

Since the Big Bang, that infinitely small point in time, there has been no more or no less energy and/or matter in the universe. It has been constant even as the universe continues to expand. Size does not matter in this regard. Infinitely small or vastly large: identical.

There is no more or less energy or mass in the universe when a single child is born or dies. Not exactly reincarnation, which might be too much a Hindu or Buddhist notion, but perhaps similar.

Some think that the universe itself is alive. I am not necesaarily one of these. However, one might call this a universal soul so-to-speak.

How many subatomic particles does it take to fill the universe? LOTS.

Humanity is evolving still. It is not a dead end.   Evolution of humanity or of the universe has not stopped and continues.

Man is not the end product. The purpose of the universe is not a home for humanity.

Perhaps, the purpose of the universe is life itself.

Is that God's purpose too?

At least, I did not say like some lazy lax theologians: "It's a mystery"

Herecy ends here.

To quote Johnny:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

What is he meaning of life?, Hell, I don't know and neither did Darwin, Plato, Einstein, Voltaire, or Stephen Hawking. And if THEY could not figure it out, I guess I might as well join all the other lazy thelogians whose small brains regurgitate B.S. when they say "It's a mystery."

"Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon." - Woody Allen


Dave Smith
Group Administrator

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by fatherdave on Thursday, January 10th 2013 @ 11:23 AM

Ah, my friend!

You're going to bring out the existentialist in me! Wink

For what it's worth, I think science is an entirely inappropriate tool for understanding life's purpose and meaning.

As they say, "when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail". This aphorism is usually used with reference to militarism but it applies to science too, I believe.

Science is good at what it does. It records things that happen and looks for discernible patterns to which it associates 'causation', and on this basis predicts how things will happen in the future, but it should never purport to explain why things happen.

Science has proven to be a great tool when it comes to building bridges and repairing broken bones, but it's entirely useless as a means to romancing a woman or communicating with God.

"Spiritual things are spiritually discerned", the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 2:14). Science needs to know its limitations.

________________________________
Rev. David B. Smith, B.A., B.Th., Dip A.
Parish Priest, Pro Boxer, Social Activist, Father of Four

Rob Burgess
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Thursday, January 10th 2013 @ 11:40 AM

"Science has proven to be a great tool when it comes to building bridges and repairing broken bones, but it's entirely useless as a means to romancing a woman or communicating with God."

Oh, is that why this poem didn't work back when I was an undergrad wooing a young lass:

Scientific Capture Methods

I. The Inundation Principle

An apple a day
means you think of apples
at least daily.
A letter a day
and I've stolen
a few more minutes of your life.
Like a torrential downpour
sooner or later, I hope,
it may soak in.

II. Logic A La R.D. Laing

I am a perfectionist.
I seek to touch perfection.
I've touched you.
You are not perfection.
Therefore, I have not touched perfection.
But I have touched you.
And I like that.

- first published in February 1980 in the Amaranthus

Maybe a dozen roses and a bottle of wine would have worked better?Tongue out


Dave Smith
Group Administrator

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by fatherdave on Friday, January 11th 2013 @ 10:33 AM

Ah, you quote the great R.D. Laing - the first of the existentialist psychologists (excluding Kierkegaard).

Let me quote only another great existentialist father, Blaise Pascal:

"The heart has reasons that reason cannot know."

I feel I need to add that neither Bascal nor Laing nor me are against the use of reason. Reason and its friends (science, logic, etc.) just need to know their limitations.

________________________________
Rev. David B. Smith, B.A., B.Th., Dip A.
Parish Priest, Pro Boxer, Social Activist, Father of Four

Rob Burgess
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Saturday, January 12th 2013 @ 10:54 PM

God, if there is a God, has created a beautifully organized, some might say, mathematical universe. E=Mc2, Avagadro's constant, and such.

Ignoring science and relying on mytholgical accounts will also get someone no closer to the understanding of the purpose of life and universe. Chrisopher Marlowe, the great writer contemporary of Shakespeare, said:

"I count religion but a childish toy, and hold there is no sin but ignorance."

I suspect that a balance of myth (ala Joseph Campbell) and science is required to develop a mature understanding of creation.

Notice I did not say a complete understanding. At this point in the evolutionary cycle, man does not have the intellect to fully understand. Not even Einstein or Stephen Hawking.

"Consider your origins: you were not made to live as brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge."

- Dante Alighieri

Or finally,

"How do you talk if you don't have a brain?" - Dorothy

"Well, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking don't they" - Scarecrow

I was going to quote the Tin Woodsman but must go teach a class this morning. So I will paraphrase from one of the final scenes in Oz just before Dorothy leaves with the Wizard:

"Now I know I have a heart, because it is breaking."

Haven't had a chance to view this interview with Noam Chomsky yet, but am loooking forward to it after class this afternoon or evening:

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2013/01/201311294541129427.html


Rob Burgess
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

"Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Luke 18:16

The Kingdom of God belongs to innocents. I agree. Based on that two questions. Both "why" questions:

1. the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Cambodia's killing fields, the gulag, etc.

2. the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Haitian earthquake, etc.

Finally, why is it that our chuches do not speak out against immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.?  

Why is it that immigrants who are belittled and ill treated in our so-called "first world" societies are not embraced as our brothers and sisters and children of God that they are and treated as welcome guests, especially those who are escapinig abject poverty or violence in their home lands?

Why is it that our churches do not stand up for the one billion people this planet who live on less than $2 US dollars per day and say we need to rid ourselves of hundreds of billions of dollars or defense/military appropriations and instead lift up the impovershed, provide them with clean water and sanitation, schools for their children, and food for their bellies?

Why is it that our churches are often are little more than bourgeoisie society clubs? As Led Zeppelin would sing:   "There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying a stairway to heaven."

Simple why questions.

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." - Mother Teresa


Dave Smith
Group Administrator

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by fatherdave on Monday, January 14th 2013 @ 4:04 PM

Quote from RobBurgess on Saturday, January 12th 2013 @ 10:54 PM

God, if there is a God, has created a beautifully organized, some might say, mathematical universe. E=Mc2, Avagadro's constant, and such.

Some would say that the level of 'organisation' we see is something in us and not necessarily something in the external world.

We human beings inevitably see things as predicable and organised and hence we label and categorise. Such categories can play a practical role in the way we interact with the world but that is not to say that the categories exist as something external to our own imaginations.

This is what the scientific perspective on life is all about - standing back, analysising, testing, labelling and manipulating. It's a perspective that has allowed humanity to become very efficient as manufacturers and consumers. Whether it gives us an accurate view of life though is open to question.

My guess is that there is actually a lot less that is mathematical and orderly in the universe than we like to think. I'm a fan of Paul Feyerabend ('Against Method'). His reading of the history of science was that it's not a steady history of one rational insight building upon another but that every new discovery has come through accident or by taking the counter-thesis to the established way of looking at things.

I am also a fan of G.K. Chesterton when it comes to science:

"When we are asked why eggs turn to birds or fruits fall in autumn, we must answer exactly as the fairy godmother would answer if Cinderella asked her why mice turned to horses or her clothes fell from her at twelve o'clock. We must answer that it is MAGIC." (Orthodoxy)

________________________________
Rev. David B. Smith, B.A., B.Th., Dip A.
Parish Priest, Pro Boxer, Social Activist, Father of Four

Tanya Bosch
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by bludge on Tuesday, January 15th 2013 @ 11:57 AM

Rob, I agree with you that the church should do more. Traditionally and especially here in Sydney those attending church are not comfortable with someone who is bereaved or suffering in any way. There are exceptions of course like my church who is excellent at this sort of thing. Philip Yancey feels that in the times of suffering the church ie us are called to support and be alongside. I think it has to start with ourselves in small ways. Who do we know who is suffering at the moment. The answer for me at the moment is my parents who are facing an extremely stressful move in their late eighties. So that might mean not me telling them what to do but to be there to help in any way they want.

As I said (don't ask me where the post went) before, I don't think we can answer this question but to be very much a post modernist and share with people our own experiences. Because I lost a son, I have been able to help two other women with bereavement. I am not boasting, I actually see that as a privelege that they were willing to share their innermost thoughts with me.


Rob Burgess
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Saturday, January 19th 2013 @ 12:58 PM

Tanya:

First, my regrets that you lost a child. Second, I appreciate your efforts to assist others who are in the same boat. And yes, in some instances and in some ways with limitations, that is what the church should be about: compassion, understanding for those suffering.

I would imagine that the churches actions in this regard can be beneficial at times, not unlike a support group, for instance, a 12-Step Fellowship. Step 5 of the 12-Step programs is something similar to what you are alluding to: an individual sharing (perhaps "confessing") details about one's feelings and life to a mentor.

However, most priests or lay people in churches (or in 12-step programs) are not professional counselors who are required to follow codes of ethics. The couple courses that priests/ministers take in seminary for counseling does not make them qualified as psychologists and certainly does not make them psychiatrists: professionals who do follow ethical codes and are highly skilled and licensed in such matters. Proessionals are supposed to know the line or boundary between patient and professional. Amateurs, and that includes priests/ministers, more often than not do not.


Rob Burgess
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Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Saturday, January 19th 2013 @ 11:13 PM

Deeply So

For 25 years,
you were in my life
and forever a day
within my heart.
You're my gift from God,
my daughter,
for every time we said
"I love you"
I knew how deeply so.
And as often as we said
these cherished words,
I need to say them
one more time.

I love you.
Deeply so.

- September 2011, my daughter was born on 9/11 and died a week before her 25th birthday a little over a year ago.

Little Girls

Little girls
fragile flowers
golden sunshine
dandelions
Little girls
watch them grow
too soon
Little girls, no more
fathers struggle
as your sunshine goes
Still pure, white, rotund -
pregnant.
Little girls
spread your seeds
Watch your sons (and fathers) grow.

Little girls

- Spring 2006

I learned many decades ago that was poetry and art are a much more elegant and spiritual release for the soul.


Dave Smith
Group Administrator

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by fatherdave on Sunday, January 20th 2013 @ 3:19 PM

Your words are beautiful, Rob.

I groaned out loud when I read them.

Dave

________________________________
Rev. David B. Smith, B.A., B.Th., Dip A.
Parish Priest, Pro Boxer, Social Activist, Father of Four

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Friday, March 1st 2013 @ 9:57 PM

Rob has some pretty words, but also has:

"Perhaps, the purpose of the universe is life itself.

Is that God's purpose too?

At least, I did not say like some lazy lax theologians: "It's a mystery" "

Just what is the difference between the uncertainty of "Perhaps .... Is that ...?", and "It's a mystery" ????? Two ways of saying one thing, except with some denigration to one form of the words from another.

AJ Ayres is reported to have sorrowed, when he saw that we (they) apply our rules to our opponents, but not to ourselves. It is when we apply science to science, that we see that it CANNOT answer many simple questions, it only answers those it chooses to ask (very often, it comes up with the answer "I dunno", but that does not tend to get published or financed through the grants system, it is not sexy and does not sell books ...)

AJ Ayres' Logical Positivism failed when it tested itself. It is easy to see that the broad brush attacks on Christianity use the very stuff of Christianity to attack it, too. However, all theories so far will also fail, since none has in fact been found to be the ONE unifying theory of all knowledge.

Funny that, since all theories are the products of the insufficient ones who theorise!!! US! ME!

However, Rob also quotes John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word ..." That is extremely different to 'in the beginning was the big bang, matter and energy, and everything else derives from that including thoughts, mind, ideas about god and gods, meaning, laws and everything'.

I think John was correct, and the Word precedes and stands beyond and before matter and all else, and matter is less than the Word who created it. I may be wrong, but that is certainly a better explanation for all - ALL! - that I know and see and understand (and feel and love and imagine and ...), than the idea that all reality is merely matter and energy and mindless chance ("evolution").

Darwin is also quoted (paraphrased) as musing ... 'if my mind and all my thinking is evolved from the mind of an ape, why would I trust it to provide me with reliable thoughts?'

There are better answers to pain and suffering, in my understanding, which relate to the God who IS there and who has not been silent. I do not understand all things, but I trust Him who I know, and He is sufficient for my trust, therefore my trust in Him is rational and sufficient (even though I do not understand all the whys and hows).


Rob Burgess
Full

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Saturday, March 2nd 2013 @ 2:42 AM

"He went to fight wars

For his country and his king

Of his honor and his glory

The people would sing

Ooooh, what a lucky man he was"

- Emerson Lake & Palmer

You know, Steve. I envy you. You appear to have found an answer in faith, or at least what I guess you would call faith.

You are correct in stating that my words were sardonic. I apologize for that. But I find great frustration in priests, theologians, etc. who say "it's a mystery".   I don't think it is. I think it is something that we as yet do not understand or simply to not want to grasp. Kind of an Occam's Razor problem. To me there is a simple answer. It may not be correct. I acknowledge that. Such things are not provable.

Some think that God controls everything, every detail of day to day existence. Some conservative religious people will from time to time be chastised for saying that God caused some natural disaster or another and was "punishing" a group of people for their sins or for some other reason directly or indirectly related to a people.

I have trouble believing that God punishes in such a way, as many others do as well. Still, where does one "draw a line", if God does not punish people with storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., does God determine every aspect of a new born's DNA?    Did God create man as the end of the line, the peak of God's creation, as someone with a special place in the vastness of a universe that is 13+ billion years old and at least that many light years across? Or did God create matter/energy itself and simply let the natural laws God set in place (e.g., the standard model of phsyics and Einstein's laws of space, time, and gravity) do their thing? Or somewhere in between? Does God "tweak" things from time to time? If so, how often and when?

Where do you draw the line? For those of us who ask the question, I guess that is the question.

I believe in a beneficent God. I just think that questioning the details of how, why, etc., is something I do.

The great Yiddish writer of the 20th century, once wrote:

"Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters."

- Isaac Bashevis Singer

Sometimes we have to have moments of existential doubt. I have had more than my fair share of late. I don't think I am alone in questioning, nor am I alone in wanting to use the "how" of science help me understand the "why" of God:

"I wanna glide down over Mulholland
I wanna write her name in the sky
I wanna free fall out into nothin'
Gonna leave this world for awhile

And I'm free, I'm free fallin'"

- Tom Petty

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Saturday, March 2nd 2013 @ 11:00 AM

Hi Rob

pleased to 'meet' you.

* I don't think it is (a mystery). I think it is something that we as yet do not understand or simply to not want to grasp. Kind of an Occam's Razor problem. To me there is a simple answer. It may not be correct. I acknowledge that. Such things are not provable.* How is that not just a lot of words to say "it's a mystery"? Are you again being sardonic?

Your statements of doubt are comforting, as I think that those without it (doubt) are kidding themselves - none of us has enough knowledge to understand enough to be without 'doubt'. I doubt it, anyway, for I am not 'big' enough to 'know'.

Within my ability, however, is trust. I can know ENOUGH to trust, which is what I do. If your words say you do the same, we are somehow equal!

*You appear to have found an answer in faith, or at least what I guess you would call faith.* YES!! "faith" derives from the latin "fide" from which we also have the english word 'fidelity' .... hi-fi is high fidelity, or 'highly true to the original' .... fidelity in marriage implies trust-worthiness and trust-based actions. These ideas correspond well to the FAITH I have in the personal God who has (with reliable certainty) spoken into our world.

There is no need to envy me in this, come on in, the water is cosy! I found my faith at the edge and end of my capacity to rely on myself and on others! I was told lots of things about the God who started the whole show, found enough evidence to balance on the side of leaping into TRUST (or, the heat on the side of self-reliance was too hot, and I chose to leap into the arms of a Saviour) and found that, bit by bit, He revealed Himself from the pages but beyond them, to be a reality that makes better sense than the squawks of self-congratulation I hear from the 'smart' folks (scientists and religionists who pump up their own magnificence) who say 'follow me', but I do not like where they are headed!

*the "how" of science help me understand the "why" of God* is the origin of modern science, according to many historians and those who are more productive writers and thinkers than I am. However, that start soon mixed with common pride, and there are scientists who have veered from that paradigm to the BabelTower-like replacement of God with their fine thinking! Good for them.

I too have trouble believing some silly things that people say to draw attention to themselves. They tear down what has stood for ages, but replace it with a feeble shack which will blow away by next spring! Does God cause suffering? That seems to conflict with the big picture supplied by Him in His word, and in His WORD (Yeshua), so I will keep asking rather than go with any answer which contradicts His being all-good or all-powerful. At least, no alternative has had enough substance to replace my trust in Him, so far.

However, the Bible is like a crossword puzzle - the more I study it, and the more bits that make sense in the whole show, the more other bits come into focus, too. I know from history and directly from others smarter, wiser and older than I am, that I do not expect to get the whole puzzle sorted anytime soon, and I can live with that because I know how small I am within the whole show, which He holds in the palm of His hand (figuratively, but truly).

The natural world is similar, but if I rely on my understanding without reference to His revelation in His Word, I can easily misunderstand that part of the whole of His revelation. We think the big bang was 13 1/2 billion years ago, and the universe may be 13 1/2 billion light years across .... but if I stand in line with ALL humans to day, we will (ALL together) only reach (about) 2 billion METRES (that is about one lightSECOND!!!) ( ... so the measures of the whole box and dice are somewhat beyond our grasp!) We cartoonise what the big picture is to make it at all graspable, then forget it is a cartoon we are talking about!

So, I suppose the line is drawn much closer to each 'me' than many of us realise. I choose to try to limit my acts and understandings to things I can reach and effect, so the line of TRUST = FAITH is really very close to where I stand - where you stand - and my TRUST is in the God of all things, not the wisdom of mere men (not even that of mere women, which of course may be greater ...).

*"Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters."*

The same should be said of all scientists .... and it is true of a great many, both those who are Christ-followers and those who are merely religious, both religious atheists and the rest. But some, like Dawkins, have stepped past doubt into dangerous certainty to make terrible statements like "religion poisons everything" and 'teaching faith to children is worse than sexually abusing them". Really? Even if the faith taught (as Dawkins does in his letter to his daughter) is atheism?

I have yet to meet someone without doubts, really. That is inherent in our limited capacity! We cannot do it all. But, during my doubt, I still rest in TRUST in Him whom I have come to KNOW. Then I can work on the next part of the puzzle in peace, and occasionally change what I thought was the answer in one corner due to the greater evidence for another word which also fits, but allows the newer understanding to also fit!

Unlike a real crossword puzzle, though, I cannot toss this one out just because someone has thought up a new one each week.

Dave, I told you if I started I would soon be getting too involved!

steve

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Sunday, March 3rd 2013 @ 11:10 AM

*Darwin's understanding of pain and suffering was that since we evolved from other species in a world of natural selection that pain was part of survival, part of life. The world is a cruel place where animals often have short and violent endings. Think of an African grazing mammal being stalked by lions. Funny, but for me at least at this time that is the best explanation.*

Why is it that "the world is a *cruel* place", if all there is, is matter, energy, and mindless chance? In the paradigm of evolutionary thinking, I cannot see any space for such ideas as right and wrong, cruel or sublime, or any such categories.

What is, is. If the ideas by which we have judged an event to be *cruel* collide with the process of natural selection and the propagation of selfish genes, then the error is in thinking that the event is cruel!

Instead, whilst it may be not to our liking, it is RIGHT and proper, since that is the way it is! Otherwise, we must infuse some other criteria ... from somewhere for some reason. Is it cruel because of your/my preference, 'I wish it were otherwise'? That will not work if it were multiplied acroos many opinions.

In fact, some people would thereby CHOOSE to mutilate others, and say that was ok. It was done to my family and friends (some survived the mutilations of Mengele and associates) just a few generations ago, and has been done to various people groups throughout time and space. And we would have no categories, apart from survival, to say otherwise. Survival of the fittest, or strongest, or does not explain in ANY way that the strong one is more fit to purpose than the weak. It certainly does not support any concept of 'right or wrong'!

So, how is it cruel that a lion pulls down a wildebeest and tears it to pieces?? It just exists. No right or wrong. Even if it is a baby, or whatever. If that is the best explanation, there is room to look further!


Rob Burgess
Full

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Sunday, March 3rd 2013 @ 5:40 PM

Steve,

"Why is it that "the world is a *cruel* place", if all there is, is matter, energy, and mindless chance? In the paradigm of evolutionary thinking, I cannot see any space for such ideas as right and wrong, cruel or sublime, or any such categories."

I do not find a contradiction between a belief in evolution and a belief in"right and wrong" or morality.   I also do not find a contradiction in a belief in God and a belief in evolution achieved by random selection. (There is a difference between random "chance" and random "selection". Random chance does imply what you are calling "mindless" occurrences. Random selection favors the continuance of life and procreation.

Thus, gazellles learn to run faster to allude lions who have learned to skulk and hide to capture their prey.

While I respect his study of biology, Richard Dawkins is not all believers in evolution and science and he certainly does not speak for all believers in evolution.

"Why is it that "the world is a *cruel* place", if all there is, is matter, energy, and mindless chance?"

The term "mindless chance" certainly contains some moral judgement about randon chance or statistics/mathematics, doesn't it.   First, as mentioned above, I believe the more appropriate term to be used with evolution is "selection" and not "chance". Evolution is not a man made game of chance like a lottery or craps or roullette.

To me, the reference to "Mengele" is not appropriate. Connecting a Nazi hatred and belief system in racial superiority to a belief in evolution and how it occurs is offensive to me. There was nothing "random" about Nazi hatred.

How about some religious people who believe that their religious belief is the one and only true belief and that all who don't believe what they believe will burn in an eternal hell of damnation? Such religious bigotry and to me nonsense (Yes, that is a value judgement that I am making) brought us old women burned at the stake because so-called Christians called them "witches" and did not understand that old women (and old men as well as young women and men) sometimes have superstitious beliefs and practices.

I do believe in a God. I do not pretend to understand God, but am curious about why or when or how God does or does not interact with humans and the rest of creation. Those are fair thoughts or questions, are they not?

Like Jane Goodall, I do not necessarily think that man has a unique or special or better place and is "superior" to other forms of life:

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_goodall_on_what_separates_us_from_the_apes.html

Jane Goodall's belief is not a unique belief. There are religious traditions, such as Jainism, which value all life, not just human life. Many Seventh Day Adventists and other Christian traditions do not eat meat or do not eat meat on Fridays or during Lent for various reasons including a respect for other forms of life.

My own belief is evolving. It is not stagnant. I think some might call it a "spiritual path". Paths presume to me a limited direction, so I am not sure I like that particular term because it limits thought to something more "narrow", i.e., a path.

God certainly is not an old man with a beard. God to me is something like thought. And we humans (and perhaps other species?) are somehow a droplet of water in God's ocean of thought. In the ocean, there are currents and tides and directions, but no paths. And humans are a mere 6.5 billion droplets which might consitute enough water to constitute a small lake, but certainly not an ocean.

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Sunday, March 3rd 2013 @ 10:33 PM

Brother Rob, or should it be Father Rob,

It seems we agree about some things! *God certainly is not an old man with a beard. God to me is something like thought.* The pictures of God we westerners carry about are largely dependent on images drawn in the middle centuries – by Michelangelo and Leonardo, among many whose years I am not educated enough ro know. But, contra Dan Brown (Da Vinci code), our knowledge of God as revealed through Yeshua (Jesus for those fond of the latinised Greek transformed by German then anglicised) need not rely at all on the fertile imaginations of painters 1500 yrs later.

It is funny that we have allowed all these pictures to define God, when He says that we should not do so .... He made US in his image (from which we have fallen and continue our decline), but HE is still seen in us when we do Godly things.

Thought – Word – Logos .... yes, God is something like thought ... but HE is PERSONAL, if we are to receive and believe His revelation, which seems to me to be the only way our droplet minds could have any knowledge of Him (then build on that through relationship with Him, initiated and sustained by Him).

“In the beginning, God ...”, :In the beginning was the Word ...” .... “He is before all things...”

However, you talk of Darwinism ... without the minutiae of the variations of neo-Darwinism etc, I think it is reasonable to assume that talk of evolution and survival of the fittest entails the fundamentals of such theory. Evolutionary theory is mindless unguided processes .... or else, it is a solution in search of a problem! IF God has acted in creating, then there is no need for evolutionary thinking to skew the data to fit the theory of evolution!

But the theory of evolution arose in the period of western thinkers looking for a way to escape from God, and the many patches put on it by those who want a foot in each camp merely tear the fabric of the idea.

Science does not show us theistic intervention, selection, but nor is it equipped to do so when it is limited by fundamentalist secular humanism.

Random selection needs a selector ... then it is not random, but selected! Why would the creator do that, when he tells us he created?

But, if we evolved, then the selfish genes which are somehow enlivened with their own personality to ‘act’ to progenerate, as per Dawkins and Singer and co, then there is no right or wrong except power and preference .... so, even Mengele, or Stalin, or the Hutu or Pol Pot or Al-Qaida are merely promoting their own evolutionary survival, like the lions or the cockroaches or the tuberculosis bacteria ..... just doin’ their thing, not cruel but perhaps necessary for ‘survival’ and procreation and evolution to another level ... no human or non-human animal, apart from the mere classification , all beasties are just beasties ... but their genetic material, which must survive, is special!

How about those “religious people” you write of??? Well, they are just people doing stupid stuff, wearing labels which they or others put on them. There is no necessary connection between them and God, apart from them having started in Adam and Eve, and gone downhill from there like the Word tells us.

No surprises. They are present in the oldest OT and newest NT passages, so we should not be surprised to see them in Salem or Geneva or in our own towns. That does not make their claims right either. But certainly it is careless to then suggest that, just because they used some labels and words in common with others who actually do very different things in following Christ, that they are therefore ‘Christian”!!! Many in Northern Ireland called themselves Catholic or Protestant, but insofar as they rebelled against Christian examples recorded in the revelation from God, they separate themselves from Christ. So do many Jihadists separate themselves from Moslems who follow their way of peace ... though I know less about them, so I will stop there.

People are only following Christ when they are ... following Christ! Not by being born here or there, to these or those parents. We are Christian when we are .... Christ-ian!

Religion, on the other hand .... that is when we reach upward to find God of our own efforts, I think. It always fails. Religion (thus defined) fails whether it is western or eastern; arab or Hebrew; black, white or rainbow.

We are somewhat off the track of pain and suffering.

Darwin, or the many who use his name for their own ideas (cf Dawkins et al, not Rob who is in fact responding to Charlie) does not satisfy me at all. I think Darwin merely defines pain as 'whatever - get on with surviving for whatever reason'.

I think there are sufficient answers in the God who is there and who is not silent, to settle the questions for me. Not complete answers (the whole world would not contain the books ...), but enough to be settled and comforted, and to see past the here and now without any "pie in the sky when we die" needed at all. But that will have to wait, as it is late.

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Sunday, March 3rd 2013 @ 10:55 PM

*I do believe in a God. I do not pretend to understand God, but am curious about why or when or how God does or does not interact with humans and the rest of creation. Those are fair thoughts or questions, are they not?*

They are fair thoughts or questions.

a God ... do you believe in a personal God who is revealed somehow, or in an ethereal God who is beyond all reach?

Is your belief in a transcendent God, or does your God form from the matter and energy which is initially pre-existant? It must be either or - God is either beyond the stuff or contained within it. Is there a third option??? Well, going really loopy, we can imagine the multi-verse thing, where anything is possible, but that requires going beyond anything knowable or reachable, so we can set it aside for a discussion of knowing!

What sort of God is your God? Does he/she/it talk at all? A product of someone else's imagination? Does someone teach you about the God you believe in? Do they have credentials to do so?

I started by seeing how UN-God I am! Before google, I imagined how tiny I was in the universe - starting with my home-suburb-town-state-nation-world-solarsystem-galaxy etc ... google maps has made this really easy! Just zoom out and out and out! I learned that, to have any chance of knowing anything about God, He had to do the reaching out!

So I listened ....


Rob Burgess
Full

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Monday, March 4th 2013 @ 1:13 AM

Steve,

I apologize, but the term a "personal relationship" with God or Jesus carries some baggage for me. Not sure why.   I think it has to do with my angst over fundamentalism and how the term is used by fundamentalists to bludgeon those of us who struggle with faith or those who have different types of faith, e.g., Buddhists who strictly don't beleive in a God, at least not in the western sense of that term.

Here are two writings on the history of the term "personal God" that may, shall we say, add some enlightment to the discussion:

http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap100000.htm

http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/7703/what-is-the-history-of-the-concept-of-a-personal-relationship-with-jesus

I am not sure of the historical accuracy of these sources, I have some limited knowledge of Protestant history having been raised Catholic (only obtained much later as an adult.)

I think Depeche Mode also had a different view expressed in the song Personal Jesus:

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Monday, March 4th 2013 @ 8:41 AM

Hi Rob

I talked of a personal God, not a "personal relationship" which is an americanism most of us do not use, and are happy to do without. Likewise, I am ev-angelical, not eeeeee-vangelical. Ev = eu = true, good; angelos=news, message.

I have no truck with the Buddhist views, but they are nowhere near those of the God who is there, either. Buddhists and buddhist ideas maintain some bits of the God in whose image they are made, as I do, but as a group their ideas are far off. When Buddha refers to his son as fetters, baggage, and seeks to be eternally lost in the misty nothingness of eternity, I am not on that page at any level.

Rather than the commercial ramblings of Dep Mode's art and poetry, I will start with the God who has spoken, and stay there. If He were impersonal, there goes ethics fullstop - if we originate in 'whatever', then the rest of the discussion is power and preference, much like the fields of Africa or the Amazon. Whatever.

steve


Rob Burgess
Full

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Monday, March 4th 2013 @ 11:04 AM

Steve,

Religious views about God (or lack thereof) on this planet are diverse. Yours is a particular type of Christian world view. But 2/3 of the world is not Christian.

I am not an expert on Islam, but if the following article is correct, then Sunnis may believe in a "personal God" and Shia Muslims on the other hand would not:

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_god

Buddhists, as previously stated, don't really believe in God. They believe in a path or a way.

Source:   http://www.buddhanet.net/ans73.htm

Earlier today, I attended a short lecture about Bahaism followed by an excerpt from a Bahai service. (Actually, during their service they read a passage from the Bible, St. Francis's prayer "Make me an instrument", part of the Quran, and of course some of the words of their own prophets. Some lovely music was interspersed.) One article that I read this evening states that Bahais believe in God as an "Unknowable Essence."

http://bahaiforums.com/beliefs/2031-how-do-bahai-view-god.html

One of my friends invited me to their son's wedding a few years back. They are Hindu. The wedding ceremony itself was beautiful. The young couple circled a "holy fire" while reciting their vows.

"Most Hindus see God as primarily personal, though possibly having transcendent or impersonal aspects."

http://western-hindu.org/2009/04/07/do-hindus-see-god-as-personal-or-impersonal/

So, it seems to me that humans have a varied view of who or what God is or is not and what type of relation we humans may or may not have with God, Allah, Brahman, Shiva, the Almighty, Yahweh, etc.

The great Sufi poet Rumi once wrote:

"Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation." Not sure where that puts Rumi in this discussion. But he did write some darn good poetry.

Peace.

Shalom.

Salam.

La Paz.

平和

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Monday, March 4th 2013 @ 12:44 PM

Rob - all of the above is granted.

There are many views. Importantly, these views may group in certain ways, but ultimately they fall into irreconcilable differences, so whilst many cannot be 'right' together, all of the wrong voices will not drown the ultimate truth, which is bigger than all voices.

But history shows that God is not silent. In terms of pain suffring and evil, one version among all the competing claims came to be a man amongst men. He cares. Where is God? Amongst us, though HE is also beyond us in every way. Among many voices there are many claims to answer why bad things happen.

As I have said, Darwin only offers that evil and suffering 'just is'. So they are not evil or bad, they just is. Only the monotheistic voices can say that evil and suffering are contra God, that God had other designs but allowed free will to have its consequences ... evil IS truly evil, but it should have been otherwise, and there is, will be, an end to evil. We can have hope.

Way beyond wishful thinking, there is HOPE.

How long, O Lord? He holds HIs counsel on that one, but gives a promise that there is an end, and a purpose, and that we will 'get it' when things are completed.

Only one has risen from the grave. Whatever all the claims are, the evidence is not easily discounted. This has been tried for ages, but from the start no-one was able, and none has said, 'look, there is the body'. Many wish that it were so, but the evidence is otherwise.

There are many voices claiming and counter cliaming what God says, and God has clearly left us to choose wisdom rather than fame or fortune. Whilst every pair of contradictory views produces at least one wrong, most have both wrong.

However, that does not prove that God is not speaking to us! In many ways, there are evidences of His speaking among us, but these are rarely sexy enough to get our attention. 2/3 does not win the argument. Nor does 999999999/1000000000.

There is ONE God, He IS, and He is NOT silent. There cannot be two gods, or we need to amend what is meant by God to allow that. etc etc etc.

Of all the views you have compassed, which of them has a respectable answer for evil, or for suffering?

Darwin's view seems rather poor - no hope, no comfort, no meaning or purpose (oh, sorry, it does hold out a chance of genetic improvement ... no, it does not even promise that, but the end goal does not seem worth having even if it did occur by chance or selection).

Subject: Re: [fightingfathers] RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
General
posted by PeterMenkin on Monday, March 4th 2013 @ 12:52 PM


These issues of doubt may serve a purpose of some worthy kind for they help=
clarify the mind. My efforts are at practicing Faith. One way is through r=
eligious practice, like Lent. This from my Facebook page: I know, t=
his is religious. And though I may be someone who practices religiious m=
atters like Lent, this was so good I wanted to post it on the site. I ho=
pe no one is offended. For I noticed that the WSJ editorial supporting r=
eading in the Bible as a cultural and educational value in western civil=
ization was bitterly opposed in some quarters. This is a basic precept o=
f the Christian religion, so take it as educational in nature, if your t=
aste. It is part of Western Civilization and its sense of morality, publ=
ic as well as private: sorrow, repentance, turning from our failures, ch=
ange, and similar goods. New Camaldoli Hermitage Repentance - conve=
rsion of the heart - does not mean being filled and tormented by guilt. Ins=
tead, it means being ready to admit our responsibility for our actions a=
nd our need for forgiveness, and having a firm desire to change our life=
: to turn away from ourselves in prayer and in love. Repentance means, a=
bove all, a constant, patient, growing in love. It means our willingness=
to open ourselves to the work of the Spirit in us and to embrace fully =
the gift of our salvation. (Irma Zaleski, "The Way of Repentance") =
________________________________ From: The Order of the Fighting Fath=
ers <fightingfathers@igroops.com> To: pmenkin@att.net Sent: Sunday, Ma=
rch 3, 2013 6:44 PM Subject: [fightingfathers] RE: Pain, Suffering and Ch=
arles Darwin -- The following message was posted by† (SteveKelly) =
in the "Faith Issues" category.† All replies to this e-mail will be sent =
to the group -- Rob All of the above is granted. There are many views=
. Importantly, these views may group in certain ways, but ultimately they f=
all into irreconcilable differences, so whilst many cannot be 'right' toget=
her, all of the wrong voices will not drown the ultimate truth, which is bi=
gger than all voices. But history shows that God is not silent. In terms of=
pain suffring and evil, one version among all the competing claims came to=
be a man amongst men. He cares. Where is God? Amongst us, though HE is als=
o beyond us in every way. Among many voices there are many claims to answer=
why bad things happen. As I have said, Darwin only offers that ebil and su=
ffering 'just is'. So they are not evil or bad, they just is. Only the mono=
theistic voices can say that evil and suffering are contra God, that God ha=
d other designs but allowed free will to have its consequences ... evil IS =
truly evil, but it should have been otherwise, and there is, will be, an en=
d to evil. We
can have hope. Way bey! ond wishful thinking, there is HOPE. How long, O=
Lord? He holds HIs counsel on that one, but gives a promise that there is =
an end, and a purpose, and that we will 'get it' when things are completed.=
Only one has risen from the grave. Whatever all the claims are, the eviden=
ce is not easily discounted. This has been tried for ages, but from the sta=
rt no-one was able, and none has said, 'look, there is the body'. Many wish=
that it were so, but the evidence is otherwise. There are many voices clai=
ming and counter cliaming what God says, and God has clearly left us to cho=
ose wisdom rather than fame or fortune. Whilst every pair of contradictory =
views produces at least one wrong, most have both wrong. However, that does=
not prove that God is not speaking to us! In many ways, there are evidence=
s of His speaking among us, but these are rarely sexy enough to get our att=
ention. 2/3 does not win the argument. Nor does 999999999/1000000000. There=
is ONE God, He IS,
and He is NOT silent! . There cannot be two gods, or we need to amend wh=
at is meant ! by God t o allow that. etc etc etc. Of all the views you =
have compassed, which of them has a respectable answer for evil, or for suf=
fering? Darwin's view seems rather poor - no hope, no comfort, no meaning o=
r purpose (oh, sorry, it does hold out a chance of genetic improvement ... =
no, it does not even promise that, but the end goal does not seem worth hav=
ing even if it did occur by chance or selection). ********************=
************************************************ This is an e-mailing fro=
m the "The Order of the Fighting Fathers" group.† To see any removed i=
mages and/or formatting for this message, visit <https://www.igroops.com/=
members/fightingfathers/comm/READ+00001389+00001389> To change your e-=
mail preferences for this group, visit <https://www.igroops.com/members/f=
ightingfathers+prefs+comm> To cancel your membership to the "The Order=
of the Fighting Fathers" group, click the following link <http://www.ig=
roops.com/members/fightingfathers/info/unsubscribe.html++PeterMenkin+iGbCLC=
rIrJ6> ******************************************************************=
** You are receiving e-mail notifications for *every post*.=
† These notifications can be turned off in your user settings at http://w=
ww.igroops.com/members/fightingfathers+prefs+comm

Rob Burgess
Full

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Monday, March 4th 2013 @ 10:35 PM

When I was a young man, I grew up in a small town in east Michigan which had very little activities for young people. We had no pizza parlor, one local hamburger joint, not even a place to shoot pool or play pinball. A girl friend of mine when I was 19 and she was 16 or 17 regularly hung out at a young person's Christian coffee shop in Saginaw, Michigan (Stevie Wonder's hometown) about an hour's drive away.

I had been brought up in the Catholic tradition, even though my father was a Baptist and his ancestor was the founder of the Baptist faith in the United States, but my mother was Catholic. In that tradition, like Anglican (which unlike other Protestant groups still retains some Catholic or Catholic-like theology and traditions), infants are baptized. Baptists, on the other hand, believe one must be "born again" and baptized as an adult.

At any rate, at this Christian coffee shop where poetry was read, guitar music sung, etc., all one had to do was go to the backroom with one of the Christian "leaders" and profess that you were a true believer, be born again, and the magical mystery tour of Christian faith began. You were "born again", a true believer who was sure to go to heaven and spend eternity with the cherubim and seraphim singing hymns of praise to God.

I finally relented to go to the backroom but once there and pressured to state that I was a believer and that Jesus was my personal Lord and savior, I simply said something like "I don't think I need to say that. I was baptized as an infant in the Catholic tradition. I don't think I need to be born again. No thanks."   Or something like that.

But what did Jesus say was really important? Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Now, Jesus was Jewish. And he preached to Jews and non-Jews alike which was rather unheard of (according to the Bible) in his day.

So, before you condemn all other religions as false and untrue and only your narrow view of Christianity as truth, please read all the stories about Jesus healing lepers, and befriending gentiles, and sharing bread with sinners, treating those with mental illness (casting out demons), etc.

And then re-read the above lines of Matthew.

Jesus never apparently had the chance to meet anyone who was Hindu or Buddhist. He certainly never met anyone who was Bahai or Mormon. The Native Americans have a saying:

"Walk a mile in my mocassins."

So, what would Jesus do?

Personally, I think that Jesus understood that we are all brothers and sisters, all children of God.


Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Tuesday, March 5th 2013 @ 5:14 PM

Well, Rob, I see that you are taking the NT record of Jesus (Yeshua) as being accurate and reliable. Am I close to the track?

And, if we do so, we must be saying that something is true, and that therefore some things may be untrue - not of necessity, but they may be.

So, if we are to accept that Yeshua/Jesus is worth quoting as an authority on his topic, then I suppose we must listen up! He is recorded as saying many things.

I do not know whether he met a Hindu or Buddhist - he may have, as they were potentially on the road back then, he certainly met those of other faiths/beliefs, the Magi came when he was small (from somewhere?? Dave, you have considered where the Magicians came from, haven't you?). jesus was not without knowledge of 'others'.

IF we can trust what he said, He said "No man can come to the Father BUT THROUGH ME". There are as many ways TO him as there are people who come, but only one way, through him.

Are we still thinking that the evidence of what He said 2000 yrs ago (yeah, ok, 1985 yrs) is reliable?

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Tuesday, March 5th 2013 @ 5:46 PM

And again, which of the alternate views offers a respectable response to pain and evil? Hope, comfort, understanding and purpose?


Rob Burgess
Full

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by RobBurgess on Tuesday, March 5th 2013 @ 6:28 PM

Steve,

Obviously, you only pay attention to what someone says Jesus said, NOT what the bible says he DID over and over and over. And no, I do not believe that every word in the bible is true. Nor do I believe that every single, isolated story is true. Many religious scholars understand that. Many have spent decades trying to ascertain what Jesus actually said, versus what may have been added by self-serving scribes years later.

Apparently, you believe every word you read in one book and one book only.   Good for you.

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by PeterMenkin on Tuesday, March 5th 2013 @ 6:33 PM

Athiesm is not a religion, and to say so it is an Oxymoron. Re Darwin, to find a frail, failiing human a Divine is not sensible. Darwin is no Saint; he is a scientist, yes. A good one. He doesn't save anything or anyone. Christ weeps with us, and he does so in pain. He is divine.

I suspect you don't know something religious when you do. And if so, good for you. Here is a sample. I am interviewing this poet, and he answers a question here. Philip Kolin is a religious man:

Answers to Question 1 in new interview with poet Philip Kolin: Over the last 20 years or so, I have published five books of poetry plus a good number of poems in Christian magazines and journals, including America, Anglican Theological Review, Christianity and Literature, Christian Century, the Penwood Review, Theology Today, Spiritus, Windhover, etc. In many ways, my poetry marks my own spiritual autobiography, my encounters with God on the peaks, the plateaus, and the deep valleys. Years ago, the Christian writer and scholar Ann Astell said my poems were "prayers that can be prayed--as meditations . . . sighs of longing, cries of penitence, hymns of praise, prophetic outcries against evil, and contemplations of God's beauty." She was right on target.

But my poems did not start out so profoundly. My first book of poems--Roses for Sharron (1993) --were for the most part secular daydreams, save for a few on my old parish on the South side of Chicago. The turning point in my poetry came with Deep Wonder (2000) which together with Wailing Walls (2006) and Reading God's Handwriting (2012) forms a trilogy of sorts on how my beliefs shaped my poetry. Each of these books springs from my being baptized through different books of Scripture. The poems in Deep Wonder owe much in spirit and language to the Psalms and the Song of Solomon. Wailing Walls vibrate with the cries found in the prophetic books- -Jememiah, Lamentations, Daniel, Amos, Micah, etc.; and Reading God's Handwriting emerged from both the Hebrew Bible and the parables and Revelation in the New Testament through deep contemplation of God's Word.

Guided by the wisdom of and sustained by the promise of the Pslams, the poems in Deep Wonder came at a time when I lost a fiancee whom I thought I loved and later learned that the real lover of my soul was none other than Yahweh. The agonies I heard in the Psalms for God's intervention, His deliverance, became the poems included in the first two sections of Deep Wonder--"The Desert" and "Jesus Ministers." The poems in the later sections of the book recorded the hope and the spiritual ecstasy it brought- -"The Banquet of Christ" and "Bravissimo, Abba." A poem entitled "Christ, My Courtier" expresses the exuberance of a lover for the beloved: "He is a suave courtier/ My Christ, my lover/ He wears a cape of seasons/ And spreads it out/ In the sky/ Midnight blue/ His ring is a solitaire--/ The moon in silver brilliance."

The poems in Wailing Walls document an entirely different type of encounter I had with God. They are poems decrying the injustices of our world--abortion, adultery, poverty, nursing home abuses, deadbeat dads, HIV, domemstic abuse, threats to our environment--and searching for redemption. The title, of course, refers to the famous penetential place in Jerusalem where cries for forgiveness and petitions for help were left insside the wall itself. In my poems the walls become the individual speakers who beg for help in their suffering. The opening poem--"Wailing Walls"--describes the walls and those who come to them for mercy-- "They are made of pain/ Paper and prayers/ Loamed in lamentation/ Crying stones/ Set on memories/ Trowled from broken/ Pieces of dreams/ Sharp betrayals/ Frightened futures/ The whirling voices/ In this place/ Are fugitives from kindness." My poem "Christmas at St. Simon's Mission, " inspired by an actual Anglican Church, asks readers to see and help "The men on homeless row" against the backdrop of God;s love likened to the waves of the sea; the men "roll in/waves of smoke, laughing,/Coughing, chewing tobacco/ Hiding their half pints/ In torn overcoats, chipped/ Teeth showing/ They wear smiles in their lapels/ And shift from one foot/ To another,/ And back again."

My most recent book, and what I regard as my best one, Reading God's Handwriting: Poems, came from reading God's two books--Scripture and nature. Every poem in the collection is firmly anchored in Biblical topoi--whether it be allusion, character, parable, instruction, or place. The idea for this book predates its publication by at least a decade when in 2001 I saw Giambattisa Tieplo's magnificent painting on St. Peter of Alcantara, St. Teresa of Avilia's spiritual director, when it was on tour in Jackson, Mississppi. Tieplo caatches St. Peter writing about Christ's Passion, quill in hand and ear attentive at the Paraclete (as the dove) whispers words into his ear, giving St. Peter the inspiration--the very words--he needs to write his commentary. Folded away in my memory, this painting came together with my reading about Lectio Divina (the sacred ritual of reading, meditating, applying, and acting on Scripture). It seemed as if every time I picked up my Bible, God sent me to a passage that then inspired a poem.
The poems in Reading God's Handwriting are a diverse group--on the cardinal virtues, saints, the Blessed Mother, even poems on individual books of the Bible, e.g., "Genesis," Habkkuk's Sililoquy." Possibly the most important poem I have ever done is "Holiness Is," and certainly the most challenging, but I hope rewarding.

Does Darwin speak to matters like Lent, a religious season? Here is a sample of such that fits many churches well:

I know, this is religious. And though I may be someone who practices religiious matters like Lent, this was so good I wanted to post it on the Palisades site. I hope no one is offended. For I noticed that the WSJ editorial supporting reading in the Bible as a cultural and educational value in western civilization was bitterly opposed in some quarters. This is a basic precept of the Christian religion, so take it as educational in nature, if your taste. It is part of Western Civilization and its sense of morality, public as well as private: sorrow, repentance, turning from our failures, change, and similar goods.
Repentance - conversion of the heart - does not mean being filled and tormented by guilt. Instead, it means being ready to admit our responsibility for our actions and our need for forgiveness, and having a firm desire to change our life: to turn away from ourselves in prayer and in love. Repentance means, above all, a constant, patient, growing in love. It means our willingness to open ourselves to the work of the Spirit in us and to embrace fully the gift of our salvation. (Irma Zaleski, "The Way of Repentance")
Peter Menkin

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Tuesday, March 5th 2013 @ 7:26 PM

Hi again Rob.

Um, no. I do not think that your deduction is fitting to what I have written. If his words are quotable with authority, then we cannot pick and choose which ones. Just like we cannot pick and choose which evidence applies in science (or law, hopefully) (all else being equal).

You introduced the bible, here. Do you disagree with letting it speak (as a record of history, written by certain people etc etc)? Do you prefer to cherry pick what is authoritative? Rather than 'letting it speak', do you prefer to 'make it speak'?

If I do that, I am making myself the ultimate authority. I do not do so.

YOU say "And no, I do not believe that every word in the bible is true." No? Which ones, then? Any??? Who says?

If we agree to eliminate authority, leaving us with only opinions from very many, then we are indeed in a pickle!!

On the other hand, what Jesus has been recorded as saying, only has authority IF His claims of having a 'different' authority to speak are true. If so, then His words are reliable. If not, then we can add his words to a whole lot of noise, and zone in or out at our discretion. Whatever!

I do not think that final option sits very wel with the aspirations expressed by so many, not just my own. With CSLewis, I think that my 'hunger' for meaning suggests there is meaning to be had. IF there is only noise in reply, well .... I do not know spit.

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by PeterMenkin on Tuesday, March 5th 2013 @ 7:51 PM

Rob: In hope I can gain some complimentary and mutual ground with you, the Darwinist, and that you will recognize religion and specifically Christianity as a good in the world and a way of faith, I add these notes.

I know something of pain myself, so my testimony in this regard is experiental as well as matter of belief. Currently, today, Tuesday in the USA my seccond day of a five week, five day a week, five hour day medical program addressing my pain continues. I have had the pain since 1994. So I know something of the matter.

One would not die for Darwin or ones belief in him. But Christians die for their belief. One thing most Christians agree on is that the Bible is a great comfort, God is a rock and cleft, faith is a comfort, and certainly God is a comfort. No doubt. I am sorry you do not know this way. I am sorry you are a lost soul. I have hope for your own transformation, for whatever reason for to the Christian both faith and God in Christ are a mystery.

This matter of the heart, not head, is a strong power in one's life. People die for their faith, as martyrs. Christians do. This news story is not a solo report. But the excerpt below gives an indication of fidelity and belief. Darwin and scientists are not given to these real forces of living in faith as Christians are dedicated.

The news story:

ROME, (Zenit.org).- The 20th century may have been the most striking in the annals of Christian martyrdom, and a new book shows it with numbers.

In two millennia of Christian history, about 70 million faithful have given their lives for the faith, and of these, 45.5 million -- fully 65% -- were in the last century, according to "The New Persecuted" ("I Nuovi Perseguitati").

Italian journalist Antonio Socci presented his work today during a conference on "Anti-Christian Persecution in the 20th Century" held at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Perhaps you knock on the door of Father Dave because you are being called by Christ. He is knocking on your door, apparently. As I say, Thanks be to God.

Yours in faith,

Peter Menkin, Obl Cam OSB

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by PeterMenkin on Tuesday, March 5th 2013 @ 8:06 PM

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

"Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

Luke 18:16

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

The Kingdom of God belongs to innocents. I agree. Based on that two questions. Both "why" questions:

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

1. the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Cambodia's killing fields, the gulag, etc.

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

2. the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Haitian earthquake, etc.

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

Finally, why is it that our chuches do not speak out against immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.?  

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

Why is it that immigrants who are belittled and ill treated in our so-called "first world" societies are not embraced as our brothers and sisters and children of God that they are and treated as welcome guests, especially those who are escapinig abject poverty or violence in their home lands?

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

Why is it that our churches do not stand up for the one billion people this planet who live on less than $2 US dollars per day and say we need to rid ourselves of hundreds of billions of dollars or defense/military appropriations and instead lift up the impovershed, provide them with clean water and sanitation, schools for their children, and food for their bellies?

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

Why is it that our churches are often are little more than bourgeoisie society clubs? As Led Zeppelin would sing:   "There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying a stairway to heaven."

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

Simple why questions.

Quote from RobBurgess on Sunday, January 13th 2013 @ 6:43 AM

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." - Mother Teresa

I get the idea, Why the bad stuff. Especially the big bad stuff. I think it is because man is a fallen creature. Remember the Garden of Eden. I think the better question is Why doesn't God stop all the bad and return man to the Garden. Why is man evil? What about mystery? Do we question God, as did Jobe in the Bible. God asked Jobe, Who are you to question me? Good answer. I can go on for a long time with the How come questions. My suggestion is pay aattention to faith and believe. It is through need of God and Christ that we reach better understanding. It is important to seek, not doubt. So I have learned. Frankly, I don't really have the answers to your question. Why do you aask? Do you think God reveals himself in the way you are going. I do not know. Is yours the way to go. I wouldn't go that way. I know of no teacher I hhave read who says go the way of doubt and distress. But it is certainly popular as a way.

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Tuesday, March 5th 2013 @ 10:42 PM

Hi Peter

I too do not have 'ultimate' answers which could even maybe satisfy everyone everywhen - many choose the easy roads, and cannot submit to anyone but their own minds, so far. I have been there, too!

But I think that God has chosen to speak to us (He is there and he is not silent), not in mere mystery but in some very solid ways (such as incarnation - becoming one of us to share our pain and sorrow - and death. But also solidly in His resurrection, which has solid evidence for it, in which we can responsively join with Him in new life).

Why the bad stuff? I suspect a theory of devolution fits better with the natural laws as we normally observe them, rather than special-case anti-entropy (contra laws re thermodynamics) for evolution. Mind you, the laws are merely summaries of observations, not what "laws" are generally thought to mean .... they do not need to be "broken" to permit a 'contra-law' event, whether it is Evolution or other miracles. But these special cases DO need an input from beyond the system as it had been defined until then .... (CS Lewis makes the case withan money-in-the-drawer example).

However, if we plead the case for Science to be master, thus the LAWs cannot be broken (until we find more details, like quantum mechanics surpassing Newtons laws), then Evolution needs special pleading.

Mind you, science cannot prove evolution by scientific method ... we would need a few thousand years ..... but that is another story. Are there substantial differences between the most ancient mummies and ourselves? They were surely human in the same way that the woolly mammoth was NOT an elephant in modern standards. Minimal change (is there undisputed measurable change at all???) in the 5000 - 8000 years since the mummies were buried, times 200, does not add up to the change from early hominids to modern man in a million years. We do not have to be professors to work it out!

I do not know WHY the bad stuff, but I do know how SMALL I am, how small my own understanding is, but also how amazingly small is that of the intellectual giants! None of them show by exemplary living that they have mastered themselves, let alone the world around them. They think one way in their study, write their books, then walk out into the sunlight and do not follow through. For example, Dawkins is religious in his zeal to trample religion, not realising that the Soviets failed to do so despite millions murdered and artefacts (churches etc) destroyed. They are reported to have insisted that teenagers swear by atheism to advance in education. I have heard of similar sentiments (indeed, written in medical journals) by AMERICAN thinkers, otherwise reputable professors, saying that students who believe in creation should not be admitted to medical schools!

Why the bad stuff? God is good, EVIL is BAD, and God is powerful enough to do as He chooses. Totally. He allows evil to have its run FOR A WHILE, which I do not understand, but I know the Creator, and trust that when He shows me the rest of the story after the end of evil, I will understand His purpose (looking back from then). I am happy to trust Him, and that scenario, since it fits better with ALL that I know than any competitor (alternate world view). That is the story of the book of Job - we do not know why, but we know (like Job repeats over and over) the One who knows why, and can therefore trust him in the dark!

I do not know anyone who has escaped from evil. Few of us saw the tsunami up close, but we all have stories. I knew my grandma, who survived Auschwitz among other camps she tells of her travels through. She was liberated from Mauthausen, so close to death that she could only drag herself along on her elbows. After months in hospital, she recovered enough to finish her life in Australia, but not without fear and pain, I knew her tattoo from those days.

I have been to Mauthaisen. On a beautiful spring day, with sun shining into the quarry with the "Parachute Jump" - you guessed it, there were never parachutes .....

Rob, Mengele himself 'treated' two sisters who were friends of my Grandma ... one of them still lives (in Sydney, Australia; friend of my mother) to tell the story! These things are not THAT far away. They are admissable in evidence and discussion!

I have not read anyone (big author) yet who admits that we are too small to expect to get a big enough view of all history, all faiths, all people, all places, to pronounce an answer, such as all the great minds have pursued. We stand on the shoulders of giants, but we are still as a mound of ants trying to reach higher than they can reach.

We would be much better off seeking the WORD from the Boss! And then, we have to work with all our faculties to tell the noise from the Truth. God has chosen it so, which is plainly seen, but we are not without capacity to do it! He even gives us a boost in many ways and times, but asks of us numerous bits and pieces ... like, come as a child, turn from sin, choose to follow ... etc.

Rob seems distracted by those who make big noises and do not follow through .. .the stairway to heaven mob, the "personal relationship" thing, the "born again" thing - yes, we must be born again (Yeshua said so!) but it seems He meant something the Baptists Rob speaks of did not mean. So they were not following him, even if they thought they were! No surprises there. Many of us fail - I do!

Rob, follow Jesus, not the crowd! Listen to HIM not to me! Though I think I can give pointers, I am no master of the craft. I have held my stillborn child in the palm of my hand, and cried my heart out, but I have not suffered many things that many have suffered. I have been hungry, though I am now 'rich' in the land of the living. In fact, I am richest for my relationships, not my bank balance (thank you for the mortgage, Mr Banker).

Subject: RE: Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin
Faith Issues
posted by SteveKelly on Wednesday, March 6th 2013 @ 6:13 AM

Here is a website which has a commentary on a few bible passages, full of hope, offering change. After all, we all search for adequate answers to pain, and for me this reflects the arena of what the true God who IS there has on offer .....

http://acs.alpha.org/bioy/commentary/438

Whilst the intro is about a man who became a follower, it is also and just as much about the change from pain to hope .....



Pain, Suffering and Charles Darwin