With God, All Things are Possible… and that’s the problem.
Guest Author: Don Severs
I just spoke with a dear friend who assured me that God has a purpose for everything. I told her that that would mean that kids being tortured and killed is part of God’s purpose. She smiled and said it again: “God has a purpose”. She’s a mandatory reporter, so I’m confused.
Here is my best attempt to understand this position:
I sometimes have to hold my kid down for the nurse to draw blood. He has to trust that I have a purpose in inflicting pain on him. If he had cancer, he might even die from complications of the treatment. Believers want to say God is like a parent who sometimes has to hurt his children to help them. But parents aren’t omnipotent. We make the best choice we can.
An omnipotent God could design a Plan that didn’t involve torturing kids. In his book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Kushner gives up omnipotence for just this reason.
But my friend insisted her God was omnipotent. She wants to say a God who can do anything still chooses to have kids get tortured and killed. He has a Purpose.
Some of God’s purposes leave kids dead. To salvage the idea of Purpose in this case, you need an afterlife. But even then, how does that justify the suffering and loss of Earthly life they endure? Consider this:
You are treated/tortured for three days by a doctor. When he’s done, he fixes you up good as new. Are you grateful? YES, as long as you believe there was a good reason for the treatment and the doctor was doing all he could for you. But wait, you find out later there was a painless treatment the doctor was trained to administer. He didn’t use it because he’s a sadist and likes the old methods.
An omnipotent God has options no human has. He never has to allow torture.
My friend can believe that her God has a purpose for kids suffering, but then she can’t say her God is loving or just. When we have the choice, it isn’t loving to torture and kill kids, no matter what your purpose. Some say that God is sovereign and has a right to torture us. In that case, he is a sadistic tyrant.
If God allows suffering when he has a choice, then he isn’t loving. We are lab rats in his Plan.