Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Things I don't understand about God

Usually, when writing posts on this blog, I do my best to sound wise and knowledgeable. If you're laughing as you read this, then I may not have succeeded! At the very least I generally try to sound like a Christian who thinks about stuff and has at least some idea what he's talking about.

Generally then, I don't tend to spend a lot of time talking about the things I know I don't understand. So I thought it might make a nice change if I did!

Like most Christians I have doubts. Sometimes I look at the world and I wonder: Is there really a God after all? Am I just fooling myself? Usually my conclusion is that there is and I'm not, but sometimes I feel firmer in that conviction than others and there are always some questions that remain unanswered. So here is one of them:

It seems to me that pretty much everything in nature - at least in the animal kingdom - is ultimately based on violence. Violence is used to determine leadership, territory and mating. If you're a carnivore then you have to be violent in order to survive. If you're a herbivore then you either need to be violent enough to resist your attackers, or have some other way of avoiding, escaping from or defending yourself against violence if you want to live for very long.

One of the central tenets of the Christian faith though, is that God is love. Indeed, this is one of my central reasons for believing in God. Love is the only thing that really gives meaning to life. Without love, life doesn't make sense. It makes sense to me therefore, that the creator of the Universe would have love as His very essence. It also makes sense to me that God would be personal - not just some sort of impersonal cosmic force - as love is personal by definition, not something that can exist on its own in some kind of cosmic vacuum.

So why would a God of love create a natural order that has violence so deeply written into it? I don't understand this. One popular explanation among some evangelical Christians is that this is a result of 'the fall' - meaning that when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, the whole of creation changed and that it wasn't like this before. But there are several problems with this.

It seems fairly clear to me that the world has been here for a few billion years, despite what the young earth creationists might have to say about it. The Biblical creation story doesn't read to me like an account that is intended to be taken entirely literally, and even if it was, it says very little about the state of nature before the fall. It makes sense to me that the relationship between humans and the world would have been negatively affected by the breakdown in relationship between man and God. It even makes sense to me for the world to have suffered as a result of this, in ways we don't fully understand. All the records we have though, suggest that violence has been very much a part of life on planet earth, for a long time before human beings appeared.

So this is a question I don't know the answer to - although it doesn't stop me from believing in God. I wonder what you think?


  1. I echo most and more of your questions.
    Like you I find the anomalies between what is taught and what actually happens in real life difficult to equate with a loving God.
    One thing which perhaps divides us from the animal kingdom is that the (need) for violence for survival in the animal kingdom is not replicated in human life. When we we are violent it is by choice, gratuitous and therefore against Christian teaching.
    I know this throws up even more questions but my tiny intellect is no match for the great 'why'. Sorry, no answers, only more questions.

  2. We seem to have the capacity to aspire to something higher, but also the capacity to make things a lot worse. This seems to fit well with the Christian view that we are God's image-bearers in creation. When we reject that role and try to be like gods ourselves, the results are disastrous!

    Doesn't answer the original question though!

  3. I do not know whether you can expand on this but I am sure that it is in the New Testament, possibly Revelation, that it is written "the Lion will lie down with the Lamb" not in a sexual way but in a peacefull way.
    So perhaps the animal kingdom was affected by the fall but will be put right at the second coming.As regards the age of the Earth, The Old Testament does not state a time period specifically so mayby the Earth was around for millions of years before God brought about Light and dark and ultimately man onto the Earth?

  4. Our human minds are so small compared to the Almighty. So the things He already knows our small minds will never be able to comprehend. < I say that to myself when I have a bunch of questions that Can't be answered. Such as why bad things happen to good people, all of that stuff. However, I think that the answer to your question Does have to do with the fall. If you think about it, before the fall God gave mankind plants and fruits to eat and then Adam and Eve sinned. after that, He KILLED animals and gave them fur to cover themselves. i think thats so symbolic. we were never meant to be here in a world full of violence. from the beginning God wanted us to be close to Him, He gave us free will but He wanted us to live in paradise with HIm. and once we sinned, He had to kill an animal to Cover our nakedness, (our sin), it was the first act of violence on this Earth. and then after God had given them fur, He had angels with swords guard the tree of life, which made you live forever, so He had that covered. if they ate that tree they would live forever in sin. and so from the beginning He wanted us to save us from our sins. You can also tell that how the angels had swords guarding the tree, God used violence to enforce protection around it. my perspective can be completelyyyyyy wrong. or completely opinionated. idk i just think with questions like that the best thing to do is turn to gaze upon His face (scripture) and read beneath the lines to see the answers. :)) hoped i gave a clearer view, not a messy one.


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