Gather round, campers, our discussion today is about God allowing suffering and evil to exist. The fact that terrible things happen all the time leads many of us to reject the idea of God on the grounds that no loving deity could permit such misery to occur.
But is God a puppet master? Or an unfeeling entity who observes us dispassionately?
Because we assume God is omnipotent, we let our definition of the word govern our concept of God. Our model is based on our own social constructs, such as the Boss or CEO–unlimited power but also ultimate responsibility for what happens.
If God is not other in the same way we perceive other people to be, then different rules apply. Think of “God” not as a huge human with superpowers but as something that experiences existence through us, through this world. Then God is a fellow sufferer, sharing in the experience. But that is still a separation; it’s still describing God in human terms. So–don’t cling to that definition, which is false, but continue to accept that we can only approach the divine through human understanding, precisely because we are humans.
Do not personify God (define God in human terms), but know that the way we perceive our existence by its nature leads us to see ourselves as separate and discrete; meaning we don’t easily come to a way of apprehending “God” except as another discrete being, separate from us. This aspect of our perception–the separation–is a necessary product of our freedom.
The prime value of our existence is freedom. It’s what separates us from the animals and the angels. Love is the transformative, active element–the medium in which we move. It is more than mushy, nice stuff we’re supposed to spread around. Love is the ground of all existence–mineral, animal, human, spiritual. Freedom is the uniquely human piece, and our charge is to exercise it with care for others and ourselves. To see God as puppeteer, or as controlling everything and all things, is to deny humans our purpose in existing.