God created and the whole thing from dirt to humans and it has the ability to go where it will go. There are a set of finely tuned physical laws that govern this creation, and into this, God injected his nature into the human form. This intimate act of love, which is what the Adam and Eve story I believe is meant to describe, brought something new to this place. That something new is consciousness, the ability to reflect on ourselves, and is what mainly differentiates us from the rest of creation. It gives us free will which necessitates the potential for opposite choices, good vs evil, without which, we do not have true free will, or at least not free will as we know it. Evil is here because we can choose it. There doesn’t have to be a physical satan or a literal hell. All there has to be is free will, and much if not most of human suffering is brought about by the choices of humanity. Sure, the physical laws in place bring about natural disasters, but that’s the risk of free will. The place has to run as it’s going to run.
If God was to step in and remove human suffering or stop natural disasters, this would have an effect on free will, altering it, changing it, eventually eradicating it if he were to intervene too much and too often. If creating us and giving us this gift is an act of love from God to us, then ultimately the cost is us not knowing God’s love for us. For creation to have free will, God has to let it run as it will. Anytime God steps in to alter it, we risk losing free will, the thing he gave us out of his love for us. And if that is true for God intervening in the bad, it would also be true for God intervening for the good.
I started thinking about this more and more as I have considered prayer, and more specifically, the fact that I don’t think I can say that prayer has ever seemed to do that much. You know, I hear people talk about how they pray for a close parking place at WalMart and God gives it. Or they pray for safe driving and when they get there safely, God did it. I’m just not sure I believe that. If I’m honest, I would say that I can’t name a single time in my life where I prayed for something and as a result, that thing happened. And what about all the times people pray for healing or safety or any number of things, and it never happens? The standard, “Sometimes God says ‘No,'” is just too empty to be of much help and really feels more like a spiritual noodle to replace doubt with false contentment. And what’s more, it’s a God-of-the-gaps approach which is always dangerous because when an answer is found for the unaswerable, where does that leave one’s faith if it’s placed there in the unanswerable?
So these considerations about free will and how it would be affected if God did step in goes a bit of the way down the road of helping me on this journey for my faith to make sense to me. I have a very strong inner compulsion that it should. And at this point, it helps me in my view of how it seems God relates to me. I’ve never had some blinding revelation. I’ve never had some miracle in my life. And as I’ve already stated, I’ve never experienced what I would say is something being done by God as a result of my praying. I have felt God’s presence I believe, but if I’m honest, it seems like God for the most part is in the background letting me know he is there but not really actively intervening despite my reqeusts for or against it.
And this seems like to me like what I would say what I am coming to understand as the value of prayer. The value is in us acknowledging that God is behind it all and supporting it. That’s the example Christ seemed to set for us in his prayer. I don’t think that it’s meant to be a laundry list of requests for some sort of magic trick to grant everything from money to parking places to healing to safety to revival to whatever else. I do think it’s meant to be something that humbles us before the vastness of the creator of this intricate universe as we acknowledge that being as the source of life and love.
There’s a lot more that could be said here, and I suspect some will want to talk about how the bible very clearly states that there is an evil being, Satan, and a literal hell. Those things are very debatable and no longer are the focus of me feeling forced into belief or else. Discuss them if you feel compelled. Maybe I’ll post in another 6 months after I’ve kicked that one around bit more too.