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The problem of evil and suffering and the final state of man.

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  • The problem of evil and suffering and the final state of man.

    Hey everyone. I'm currently going through a period of questioning in my life and my faith (perhaps former faith). I'm currently torn between Christianity and agnosticism.

    Anyway, my questions regards the problem of evil and suffering and the final state of mankind after the final judgment. We see that in the beginning that man was created good and with that goodness came the ability to use his free will as he pleased which included departing from God if he wanted to. By Genesis chapter 3 (whether you interpret the story literally or not) man fell into sin and disobedience and from then on became addicted and diseased with it. All of his descendants fell into the same trap. So now man is addicted to sin and evil and is inclined to give in to it. In answer to this problem, God sent his Son to suffer and die on account of man's sin and to bring him back to God where he can be good again. Even in this state, Christians fall into sin but have God as their helper even when they fall down and will always lead them to him in repentance when they choose him. At the final judgment, God will separate those who will be saved and those who will be condemned. The saved will go into eternal communion and joy with him and the damned will go into eternal suffering (whether that be shame or torture). Now that I have explained that which most of you knew already, here's my question:

    Why can't the final state of men who are saved be the original state in which God created man in the first place? I've heard that people who are in this state still retain free will but choose never to depart from God. However, if it isn't the case that they retain their free will, then it seems that they lose part of their goodness and that which makes them human since our free will is good even if it is used for evil at times. I don't think there is a perfect answer to the problem of evil by any worldview out there but this problem in particular bugs me about Christianity.
    "Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy."
    -Marcus Aurelius

  • #2
    Hello TSN.

    Are you thinking maybe that free will and sinlessness are in some way incompatible? Then what about the angels who stayed allegiant to God? They have free will and yet they don't sin or rebel.

    Further, the Father and the Son both have free will and don't sin.

    I tend to think sinlessness is a higher state of existence (not meaning ethereal I hasten to add) and so we certainly could be improved, potentially to get to that state
    Last edited by LostSheep; 07-03-2014, 08:56 AM. Reason: More comments.
    3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures --1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (borrowed with gratitude from 37818's sig)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by LostSheep View Post
      Hello TSN.

      Are you thinking maybe that free will and sinlessness are in some way incompatible? Then what about the angels who stayed allegiant to God? They have free will and yet they don't sin or rebel.
      No, I think they are compatible. I just find it problematic that evil should have arisen in the first place. Basically, could God have created a world where people can have free will without evil and suffering? (A "have you cake and eat it, too" kind of world).
      "Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy."
      -Marcus Aurelius

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      • #4
        Originally posted by T-Shirt Ninja View Post

        Why can't the final state of men who are saved be the original state in which God created man in the first place? I've heard that people who are in this state still retain free will but choose never to depart from God. However, if it isn't the case that they retain their free will, then it seems that they lose part of their goodness and that which makes them human since our free will is good even if it is used for evil at times. I don't think there is a perfect answer to the problem of evil by any worldview out there but this problem in particular bugs me about Christianity.
        1. It may be possible for men to freely choose to do only good in the future.

        2. I suspect that without the fall, there may have always been situations, where a man or groups of men, could have chosen to disobey.

        3. I think that our experience of a fallen world will help to prevent that possibility in the future. We who have lived through this valley of tears will have a clear contrast with the bliss, love and joy of the New World. Would any rational creature really want to go back?

        4. Perhaps God wants to create a specific kind of character in men. Not just men who are innocent of evil, but men who can face evil, and to greater degrees, resist said evil.

        5. Through the fall God displays certain attributes that would have been only superficially known if we never rebelled. Would we have ever known the depths of His love and forgiveness? Would His just nature have been forever hidden?
        Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

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        • #5
          Originally posted by T-Shirt Ninja
          Why can't the final state of men who are saved be the original state in which God created man in the first place?
          The only response to this seems to be that God initially intended for flesh to be glorified eventually, no matter if Eve disobeyed God. Some theologians say that creation is incomplete to answer the problem of God's ultimate intentions (glorifying the bodies of human beings) not being realized from the get-go.

          The problem with that is human beings are predictable creatures. Obviously, putting them on a harsh planet will force some errors early on. Their physiology and psychology would practically guarantee that.

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          • #6
            I think you're missing a big part of the picture here - that Man was created in the Image of God. Salvation isn't merely a 'get out of hell free' card - it's the beginning of the process that restores that image in us. It's being saved from being what we were as fallen humans and becoming what we're supposed to be as Children of God.

            I have to look something up and I'll get back to you.

            "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


            "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

            My Personal Blog

            My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by whag View Post
              The problem with that is human beings are predictable creatures. Obviously, putting them on a harsh planet will force some errors early on. Their physiology and psychology would practically guarantee that.
              I'm not sure what you are thinking. I certainly did not expect a thread like this one. To some extent people are indeed predictable. But generally speaking, not predictable. Consider fads. Can you predict the next fad?
              The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

              [T]he truth I’m after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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              • #8
                Originally posted by T-Shirt Ninja View Post
                No, I think they are compatible. I just find it problematic that evil should have arisen in the first place. Basically, could God have created a world where people can have free will without evil and suffering? (A "have you cake and eat it, too" kind of world).
                What if he can't? With free will, there will always be a potential for evil no matter how things are. Is that the issue?
                "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by T-Shirt Ninja View Post
                  No, I think they are compatible. I just find it problematic that evil should have arisen in the first place. Basically, could God have created a world where people can have free will without evil and suffering? (A "have you cake and eat it, too" kind of world).
                  Getting caught up in the why questions, when there is no clear answer in Scripture, is guaranteed to bring only frustration. We do not have the information to figure this out to certainty. There are many explanations, but to get an answer we will have to wait. Keep in mind that the birth, life and death of Christ was set before creation.
                  Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                    I'm not sure what you are thinking. I certainly did not expect a thread like this one. To some extent people are indeed predictable. But generally speaking, not predictable. Consider fads. Can you predict the next fad?
                    Higher primates not acting perfectly isn't a fad. You'd expect them to war with each other initially if they are essentially animals. Much less act less than perfect.

                    Yes, that is entirely predictable. In fact, the bible says that the first couple couldn't even manage it. How else would the resulting generations fare if the first batch screwed up? That's of course assuming Genesis 1-6 is history, which it isn't.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
                      Keep in mind that the birth, life and death of Christ was set before creation.
                      That doesn't say anything meaningful. It just engenders more questions about temporality and divine intent.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                        I'm not sure what you are thinking. I certainly did not expect a thread like this one. To some extent people are indeed predictable. But generally speaking, not predictable. Consider fads. Can you predict the next fad?
                        Fads are not an example in terms of the predictability of human nature. Generally speaking, based on the evidence humans have always been fallible and subject to temptation, and human failings throughout history going back to the evidence of our paleohistory.
                        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                        go with the flow the river knows . . .

                        Frank

                        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by seanD View Post
                          What if he can't? With free will, there will always be a potential for evil no matter how things are. Is that the issue?
                          That opens a can of worms about evil always being a possibility in heaven. If that possibility is vanquished in heaven, it could have been vanquished at the initial creation.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                            Fads are not an example in terms of the predictability of human nature. Generally speaking, based on the evidence humans have always been fallible and subject to temptation, and human failings throughout history going back to the evidence of our paleohistory.
                            I expect you are a trillionaire, 'cuz on the basis of your statements, you can predict the daily highs and lows of the stock markets around the world and bet accordingly. Suppose the Beserkiztani stock market moves up or down about 1% daily. A dollar to start with and in a bit less than 8 years a trillion dollars (if I have reasoned correctly). Why condescend to post to us mere mortals? Go off and burn your $100 dollar bills for fun.
                            The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                            [T]he truth I’m after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by whag View Post
                              That opens a can of worms about evil always being a possibility in heaven. If that possibility is vanquished in heaven, it could have been vanquished at the initial creation.
                              I don't see the problem with your first point
                              "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

                              Comment

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