Columnist needs to refine his questions about God

Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

POTSDAM/COLTON — In his columns, Jerry Moore engages intelligently with matters not usually treated in newspapers.

Most recently, this has focused on God, creation, prayer, physical and moral evil, and the incompatibility of religious claims.

Like a courtroom lawyer, however, he sometimes asks questions to get the answers he wants.

He would get better answers if he would bring greater rigor and refinement to his questions.

For the sake of focus and brevity, just consider his June 10 column titled “The painful reality of life.”

In it, Mr. Moore asks, “Couldn’t an all-powerful deity have given us a world free of suffering?”

He answers his question with a dogmatism that might make a pope pause by saying:

“Suffering was inevitable precisely because there was no all-powerful, all-loving supreme being to create a perfect world for us.”

Try to think what such a question and answer can mean.

Why does God create?

Saying he does so out of goodness and love won’t satisfy Mr. Moore because of the suffering inherent in this world.

But would he think God “better” if God hadn’t created at all so there would then be no suffering or if God had created a universe of lifeless planets?

Suffering comes when there are sentient and/or intentional beings.

Having a world with snow leopards entails having a world where such creatures clamp their teeth into the necks of ibexes.

Maybe God should have made a world where water doesn’t freeze so no one would slip on a glazed sidewalk or slide off an icy road.

Some ice hockey fans might consider an iceless universe too high a price to pay.

But such musing doesn’t begin to try to fathom what such a change would mean to the foundations of what we know from chemistry, physics and biology about water and the laws of nature associated with it.

Also, to speak of “better” in relation to God is meaningless since there’s no obligation for God to do anything because obligations arise in a physical/social context, as pastors or newspaper columnists have obligations and can be evaluated on how well they fulfill them.

What obligations does God have?

“Why didn’t God create a perfect world for us?” Mr. Moore asks.

How does he know God didn’t?

“Perfect” means everything is in its proper place.

A bouquet of flowers could be perfect according to its form if there’s nothing out of place, and the same or other flowers might be arranged into another perfect bouquet.

Now, human beings are defective or disordered in their passions, and so they find it difficult to act as they should.

I would think this physical universe is perfect. But because of its scale, it’s harder to see that perfection than with a floral bouquet.

The problem (if that’s the word) with this universe is with the human beings who exhibit disordered passions, the misuse of free will, and longings and hopes that can’t be satisfied in this world.

Mr. Moore seems to think that if an infinitely good and powerful being exits, it has failed to create the world he thinks a supreme being should have created.

Any of us might try to imagine a different world but would quickly get lost in the forest of its complexity.

Some of us believe there is another world for which we were created after we die, and as such we see some sense in the challenges and sufferings we have here.

In any case, we can at least reason out from the world we have and, as card players, play the hands we’re dealt.

In general, I invite Mr. Moore to clarify his language and reasoning and to up his game.

Instead of reading Harold Kushner and Bart Ehrman, he might engage with some more formidable thinkers on these matters.

I would suggest C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft or Brian Davies, among others.

The Rev. Stephen Rocker is pastor of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Potsdam and St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Colton.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Tags

Recommended for you

(15) comments

rdsouth

God creates because it is the creator's defining trait to create. God, like humans, loves creating and helping with creation, and in that sense we are indeed created in God's image, and thus divinely beloved (corporately, not necessarily individually). God can both love us and still use us, putting us in imperfect parts of creation so we can do the task of helping fix it. This is true in much the same sense a general sends minions into battle, knowing some will die. The discomfort you feel is the yoke you are pulling.

Kevin Beary

And who shall know thy thought, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy Spirit from above?

Nice_Commenter

President Trump’s affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels was at the same time his third wife was pregnant. (Both in 2006, look it up yourself).

“Give wisdom”? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Trump owes hundreds of millions to foreign banks, and he was on his way to outspend Obama before Covid.

Christians in America voted for this mess. You have no morals or wisdom in any way.

rockloper

[thumbup]

rockloper

It's hypocrites like you kevin who are driving people away from religion.

rockloper

Jerry Moore hit the nail squarely on the head with his article. christians will come up with ANY ridiculous excuse as to why all the terrible things happen. An all loving god? Give me a break. As evidenced by the bible he's a murderous thug who has a blood lust for human sacrifice. As I sometimes like to point out, what's the difference between me and god? If I were all powerful I would stop a child rapist before he committed the act.

Wow so now the justification for all the suffering is "well would it be better if none of us has a life." How absolutely perverted. Stephen Rocker must really be desperate for any sort of comeback with his water analogy. If you feel god is omnipotent and knows all before it happens then humans do NOT have free will. It's already been preprogrammed by that wonderful god. But again let's deflect everything away from your perfect god.

"get lost in the forest of its complexity". Come on now this is god we're talking about. And why has this almighty god had to hit the restart button so many times? He goofed with adam and eve, he goofed so he had to restart with noah, and even goofed with that one making it necessary to sacrifice himself to himself. Geez he couldn't get it right the first time?

Yes Stephen Rocker you really put forth a feeble defense to Jerry Moore's article. Up his game, he pitched a perfect game. god was responsible for the holocaust because the bible says he chooses all leaders. Oopsy on that one eh? Pretty sad commentary when a child molester and adulterer is preferred over an atheist. Jerry is to be commended for saying it like it is because in this moniker up country that's not an easy stance to take.

Now I know this won't contain any paragraphs which I've tried to include so I would be most gracious to anyone to tell me what I'm doing wrong.

rockloper

How did the paragraphs magically appear? could it be there is a god?[beam][beam][beam]

Holmes -- the real one

Nice_Commenter has a good point here, Rev. Stephen Rocker. There are very few who still tolerate the hypocrisy of the Catholic church. For that matter, very few are willing to tolerate that same hypocrisy in any other church, or in any other organization which has diligently sought to cover up wrongdoing.

Repentance is a tricky thing. Apparently some Catholics believe that admitting to something privately in the confessional makes everything OK.

Well, that would be convenient (especially in situations like this) but fact is, wrongdoing and injustice such as this tends to perpetuate itself unless it's brought out into the light and renounced. The fact that parishioners were told to pony up and even threatened with intimidation to do so says it all.

You know what they say, actions speak louder than words.

That said, arguing about the existence of God accomplishes nothing. Neither of you are going to prove anything and the end result of such debates tends to be two sides smugly thinking each is in the right and the other is completely devoid of understanding.

Jerry Moore’s piece reads a lot like a sermon. He seems to love to pontificate (and the bald irony of that is lost on him.) Your letter, as Nice_Commenter makes clear, simply reminds us all of the hypocrisy of the Catholic church.

rockloper

[thumbup]

Nice_Commenter

Here’s a better suggestion Stephen, don’t be a part of the Catholic Church if you want anyone to take your stances on morality or God seriously!

We all know the Bishop asked everyone to write checks for $3,000 to pay the bill for the pedophile dating service the Ogdensburg Dioceses ran for priests. They even threatened to have priests individually visit people who didn’t donate $3,000 and pressure them into it. Such great morals! Please tell me about God, Stephen.

When Father John Fallon was caught red-handed with child pornography Bishop Brwanza declared him innocent immediately. Did you know Father Fallon didn’t lose his job? Retired as a priest, and the current Bishop hid him in Syracuse.

Your pews are empty due to your church’s bad morals. Smarten up.

gasgun

The failings of some professional God salesmen do not disprove the existence of God. On this subject alone, one wonders why the practice of pedophilia has been condemned so universally, while the systematic religious brain washing of children starting with baptism has been tolerated. The emotional and psychological harm of this form of indoctrination lasts a lifetime and transcends generations.

Nice_Commenter

“Some”? Ha ha ha ha

This was open knowledge. Everyone knew this was happening. I’m 50 and my parents took me to church only to please my grandparents, but even then my mom was insistent I was never, ever alone with a priest. Not the failures of “some”, it is the failure of tens of thousands of Catholics across our region. Again, Father John Fallon was caught red-handed with child pornography he made himself. That’s clearly guilty. The bishop’s defense of the pedophile was in the newspaper. Anyone who went to church and donated money after that point is insane.

rockloper

Well I'm 70 and my father told me about it when I was probably too young to be told but he was so disgusted by it all. I thought he must be making it up and was crazy. Boy was I wrong.

rockloper

[thumbup]

rockloper

[thumbup]

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.