A paper I wrote for a philosophy class. Please read review and think about this.
I want you to imagine a Swiss pocket watch. It is a marvelous piece of craftsmanship, dozens of springs, gears and wheels working in perfect harmony to always give the right time. In order for the watch to work properly a skilled craftsman must spend hours meticulously assembling the inner mechanics of the watch. No one would dare to expound the idea that if given the right circumstances a watch could create itself. However the theory that the world was, through some unexplainable coincidence, created without any interference or help has been widely accepted and hailed as a major breakthrough in science. I do not believe that if something as minor as a watch could not be created without knowledge, time and manpower, then there must be some sort of “craftsman” who created the world. Many philosophical arguments have been waged over this battle ground of whether or not there is a God, I will take this foray into that scarred land and attempt to show that God is, that he has a plan for this world and that he has expounded this plan to the people of the world through selected speakers.
Now for this paper we must have an understanding of who and what God is so that we reach the conclusion at the same time. Most Christian churches believe four main ideas about God. First, God is perfectly good, second, that God is all powerful, third that God created all things absolutely, or in other words out of nothing, fourth, that God has absolute foreknowledge of all the outcomes of His creative choices. Now we must understand that the third idea, that God created everything out of nothing, is refuted by the scientific Law of the conservation of energy. The law of conservation of energy, a fundamental law of physics, states that although energy can be changed in form it can be neither created nor destroyed since God could not break an unbreakable law and still be God he must therefore work within those laws. Joseph Smith, a Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explained this teaching thusly,
You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing; and they will answer, "Doesn't the Bible say He created the world?" And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the [Hebrew] word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means . . . to organize the world out of chaos--chaotic matter. . . . Element had an existence from the time [God] had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end. (350-352)
Now I would like to speak on the fourth teaching of Christianity, namely that God has foreknowledge of all outcomes in this life. Many belief systems take this teaching even farther propounding that because God has this foreknowledge he is ultimately responsible for all that happens in the world. Jonathan Edwards explains it thus in his discourse “Freedom of the Will.” In this paper Mr. Edwards says,
“That to suppose the future violations of mortal agents not to be necessary events; or, which is the same thing, events which it is not impossible but that they may not come to pass; and yet to suppose that God certainly foreknows them and knows all things, is to suppose God’s knowledge to be inconsistent with itself.” (qtd. in Solomon 435)
In other words Mr. Edwards says that God cannot have perfect foreknowledge and for man to do any thing that God does not want him to.
However I want to propose this idea. We often hear of God as our Father and him responding to the people of the world as though they were his children. Now to use a similar example, there are parents that raise their children to the best of their ability. They teach them what is good and what is bad, give there children every opportunity and then send them out into the world so they can make decisions and grow. Now if this child begins to spend time with members of a gang, to imitate there dress, mannerisms and speech and the parents see this, they can see what the natural conclusion will be. Now is it the fault of the parents if, even after warning their son what they are certain will happen, those dire predictions come to pass? No one would accuse the parents of “cursing” their child if they had told him what they believed would happen. Now, if mortal parents are able to extrapolate the future with their limited knowledge, how much more would God know with his perfect knowledge? Thereby God knows what we will do but he allows us the freedom to make those decisions. Now having said all that, what does this leave us with as the basis of what God is? Well, we still have the belief that God is good and all powerful, also we can agree that God organized this world and all things on it. Finally, that God has a perfect foreknowledge yet allows man to make his own decisions on this world.
What proof do we have that God is good? The Bible is full of stories where God takes a hand in the lives of people attempting to help them in their lives. For example, in the book of Exodus it speaks of the Lord sending plagues and pestilences to free his people from slavery. In the ensuing books of the Old Testament time and again God helps the Hebrews to overcome their enemies and thrive as a nation. Now if it was merely stories of one nation it could be accepted as revisionist history but multiple historical documents, some even discovered within the last 200 years, support the Bible as a historically accurate document.
One argument, posed by B.C. Johnson, attempts to prove God as being non-existent because he allows evil to exist in the world and therefore cannot be good. However, B.C. Johnson has a very interesting idea of what God must do in order to be good. He uses an example of an infant in a burning building to begin his thesis. In his words he says,
Here is a common situation: a house catches on fire and a six-month-old baby is painfully burned to death. Could we possibly describe as “good” any person who had the power to save this child and yet refused to do so? God undoubtedly has this power and yet in many cases of this sort he has refused to help. Can we call God “good”? Are there adequate excuses for his behavior? (Eichhoefer 148)
B.C. Johnson then follows by listing many well thought-out and provoking thoughts. In his paper he compares God with firefighters and medical physicians which is a good analogy. Unfortunately B.C. Johnson would expect his God to be involved in every aspect of every persons’ life at all times and he forgets to take his analogy far enough. For even though firefighters and doctors know what a person must do in order to stay healthy they cannot force a person to follow the advice they give them. Now B.C. Johnson wants God to force him to do good but does not believe that God is good unless God lives up to B.C. Johnson’s morality.
Another argument of B.C. Johnson’s is against the belief that evil is necessary to understand goodness. He responds that only a small amount of evil, for example a toothache, is necessary to understand evil and therefore appreciate goodness. Now that is simply absurd. Using the same logic we could say that disciplining all people who break the law with three days in jail would be fine. After all, they have now felt a small amount of discipline and therefore understand the full weight of the punishment we would have brought against them and now appreciate their freedom completely. That train of though would help no one because we understand that unless a person experiences the full weight of a feeling they do not appreciate the converse.
If as I said earlier God is all powerful and he knows what our decisions will be why is he allowing us to experience both good and evil. Why would he do that? Unless God has a purpose for all the challenges we face in our lives. Is there any evidence that God has a plan for Man? In the Bible God often speaks of his plan in the first book of Corinthians he speaks of death coming to the world through Adam and salvation through Jesus Christ. In Galatians chapter:3 verse:8 this plan is spoken of and an explanation given as to how it was taught to Abraham of old.
I could give scriptural references all day and they would not be accepted by most of the secular world, therefore I would like the skeptic to take a look at the different religions of the world with me. First, I would like to point out how many ancient religions have a story similar to the flood of Noah; the Babylonians, Greeks, Native Americans, Aztecs, Hawaiians, and even the Chinese all have a story very similar to that which is found in the Bible. This could be explained by saying one of these countries could have come up with the story and the others assimilated the story into their culture, except for the two groups on the other side of the world, the Native Americans and Hawaiians, and China which was separated by mountains and deserts from the other races. There are other similar stories that are told by countries that should have had no contact until much later in history. These similarities can be explained if there is a God and he wants all Men to know of Him. He therefore teaches them His plan for the world in whatever way they can understand at the time in order to prepare them for the full truth at a later time.
In conclusion if defining God by the requirements before mentioned namely (I) that God is good (II) that God is all powerful (III) that God organized the world and (IV) that God has perfect foreknowledge, then I have shown how God fulfills all these requirements. However one can never truly know about God without a measure of faith which is why a purely philosophical or scientific discussion of God will never give an acceptable answer to anyone. However God himself has given a proof of how we may know of him. In the Bible the Book of James chapter:1 verse:5 we find a promise from God to man. It says, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men libererally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (1538) This offer is open to all men at all times and if they will but put forth the effort to ask, truly wanting to know they will receive what they ask for.
Eichhoefer, Gerald W. Enduring Issues in Philosophy. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1995
Holy Bible: King James. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: 1998
Smith, Joseph. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ed. Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976
Solomon, Robert C. Introducing Philosophy. 1977. Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers, 2001