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On Good and Evil

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I believe that God, being boundless, pervades the entirety of creation and animates all action, including human action, the movement of our bodies’ cells, the movement of planets, and all other activity both in the microcosm and the macrocosm.

Some obvious questions arise when one considers morality in terms of this worldview. If God is doing everything, is there any sense in which we have free will? Do human beings have responsibility? By what standards should we measure good and evil?

Because God is everywhere, it makes no sense to talk of freedom from God, or of free will. Clearly, if all is God, then all action is God’s action. In the creaturely dimension, we may at times have the sense that we are acting freely, but this does not mean that in reality we are separate from God. When I raise my arm or nod my head, it is I who am doing so in the creaturely dimension, but it is God who is doing it in the ultimate dimension.

Whatever you do is what God is doing through you.

What evidence do I have that suggests all action is God’s action? I would point to the fact that all activity is coordinated. Within the human body, for instance, there are millions of complex interactions working in harmony. This means that something must be able to coordinate what is going on in my heart, brain, stomach, and foot, all at the same time. That something is God.

More evidence that God is in control is that we grow from nothing into human beings. We never make a decision to grow from a baby to a child to an adult; something is clearly causing this process to happen. For me, scientific ideas like ‘genetics’ and ‘evolution’ do not really explain this process of growth – there is clearly a power that grows us from babies to adults. That power is God.

Even though all action is God’s action, as I have indicated above we do still at times have the illusion of free will, and therefore have choices and decisions to make. How do we decide what is good and evil; what is right and wrong?

Christians will argue that the Bible is the supreme revelation of God’s moral direction for mankind. But the problem with this idea, from my perspective, is that God has created all the Scriptures from all different faith groups, so what makes the ideas expressed in one sacred book more true than those expressed in the others?

It is possible to argue that many different Scriptures that contradict one another are divinely revealed, so it is impossible to know which teachings we should regard as the absolute truth. Also, all Scripture is subject to interpretation so there is the further problem of never knowing which interpretation of a particular text is correct.

With the world religions presenting conflicting guidance concerning what constitutes moral truth, where else are we to look? From my perspective, this is problematic. It would seem that without moral guidance we are living in a world where ‘anything goes’. It is important to note, however, that it is not actually the case that anything goes. Only God’s will goes. Everything that happens is an expression of God’s will – this has always been the case and always will be.

It is true that along with the illusion of free will we have the illusion of decision-making and responsibility. We seem to live in societies, and we seem to be affected by the actions of others. There is nothing wrong, then, in creating laws that protect people’s wellbeing. In the absence of objective morality, this is a difficult, subjective process. It might involve prayer (that God guides us towards right action), and laws that aim to achieve the greatest happiness for everyone.

In summary, then, the realisation that God exists, and is everywhere, creates a problem for moral discussion. The problem is that if we are not really in control then how do we make decisions about right action? The answer in the dimension of ultimate reality is that God will take care of this. The answer in human terms is that we must struggle to do what we believe is right, all the while acknowledging that God is the guiding force in our decisions.


The above article is a modified extract from my book entitled Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion. For more information or to buy the book, click here. Thank you for reading!

12 comments

  1. Nothing else exists but God and we, as souls are part, are drops of Him, the Ocean of All and everything. If we watch our planet from above – all seems One, we come closer then we see differentiations according to our senses and split this oneness into pieces – this is due to our mind. So in our body there is not only our soul, but also God resides in it – it is the true temple of God.

    The fish is in the water and searches for water…

    Thanks for sharing, dear Steven
    All the best
    Didi

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Because God is everywhere, it makes no sense to talk of freedom from God, or of free will.”

    It is a mind-boggling thing to contemplate, and quite silly to think we can live apart from God! The way I see it is that we are in God and He is in control and responsible for our continuing existence, but we do have some cognitive choices, responsibilities, and consequences of those choices, within this framework. This, we might call “free will.”

    I like how you ended this:
    “The answer in human terms is that we must struggle to do what we believe is right, all the while acknowledging that God is the guiding force in our decisions.” Amen!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mel! Thanks so much for your comment. I totally agree that we are ‘in God’, and that existence apart from Him is a rather absurd idea.

      I think it’s Jerry Bridges who uses the phrase ‘dependent responsibility’ to describe our relationship with God – that phrase came to mind when reading your comment.

      Personally, I believe our cognitive choices, etc, are also under God’s control, but I know it’s a perspective that many Christians disagree with. I find it difficult to imagine how God could be in control of some aspects of my body/mind but not others. That would mean there would perpetually be conflict/struggle, whereas it seems to me all aspects of our humanity are coordinated.

      Bless you, Mel, and thanks again! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Really enjoyed this posting. I have been trying to find a way to post about this very topic, but your post discussed everything perfectly.

    I often struggled with free will vs predestination but have come to the same conclusion that you have in your blog posting. We are also too infatuated with the thought of “free will”.

    All that matters in this life is the great commission and God doing His Will through each of us, whatever that may be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well written thoughts, Steven ! I’m going through your posts from a few days. I really like your philosophical thinking.

    But I have a few questions on this post. If there’s is no free will or it is just an illusion, how could we explain the ‘problem of evil’ or ‘bad things’ happening in this world ? Do they happen according to God’s will ?

    Like

    1. Hi there! Thanks so much for reading some of my posts, and for your kind words, I really appreciate it 🙂

      I do indeed believe God is in control of everything that might be described as evil. This is all part of the theatre of life, and the way God chooses to unfold His plans. I believe suffering always serves a purpose, and my hope is that God is ultimately merciful to everyone, whether it be through healing them, or releasing them from suffering through death. It could be that those who suffer the most experience wonderful rewards for all they’ve been through.

      That’s what I believe in a comment-sized nutshell. Obviously a lot more could be said, and I do cover this subject in more depth in my book ‘Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion’.

      I will try to write a more in-depth article on why I believe bad things happen soon, as it’s been a while since I wrote a blog post on that subject.

      Thanks again!

      Like

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