By “Omni,” I am referring to the Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omni-loving, Omni-merciful, Omni-just, and so on version.
Many fundamentalists believe that God is in total control, that all things that happen are because that is what God wills. Even terrible things. This leads to the question, why do bad things happen to good people.
The level of curve-fitting done by the religious right to maintain all the Omni aspects of God rises to levels unimaginable in other areas of life, stretching or breaking credibility and requiring Orwellian doublethink—the concept of believing two mutually contradictory things are correct. Black is white, yes means no, or, as Bill Murray said in Ghostbusters “dogs and cats living together,” and so on.
Where is the will of God in the death of a 15-year-old girl, the victim of a hit-and-run driver? God called her home, some say, to save her from this world, and we will all be together again and sooner than we think.
But, really, we do not have to get that far. The book of Genesis is enough, the story of the expulsion from the garden of Adam and Eve. On one corner we have be fruitful and multiply. And in the other is don’t eat the apple. And who is the trainer God appointed (remember God is the master of all)? Why it is none other than the old accuser, Satan, in the form of a serpent.
LDS (and other teachings) say that Adam and Eve, because of the two commandments had no choice but to sin and their decision was which sin was worse: eat the apple and know things and thereby multiply and replenish the world and all that or not multiply. A set up. God forced sin into the world. The one thing the dogma says God cannot stand is the very thing he made us do and because we do it, he will destroy us.
But even more basic is just what in the world was his Royal Satanic Majesty doing in the garden—God’s special place (which the LDS believe was in western Missouri, but that is another topic)—in the first place. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, if you believe God causes everything to happen, then he was there because God wanted him to be.
So, using this “logic,” at the very least, God tempts us to sin. Ah, yes, they say, but He will not tempt you beyond your ability to withstand. Ok, but people sin. That must be the temptations from Satan and not from God. . .but then, God must allow the temptation from Satan, otherwise it could not happen. Then they say You are a trouble maker, a non-Christian, an atheist, and that is if they are using a little restraint. Some just lose it with me.
There is an alternative. It may not be one that fundamentalists will accept, but it is the most sensible, and it is Biblical.
First, find this verse:
I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
The other way—the sane and logical way—to think is that things just happen. To good people, to bad people. Sinners may cure the worst disease; millions die in the name of God. And none of it makes sense. None of it is God’s will really, except that He made us.
And even if He is in control, there is another way to think of the control. As you will find if you nose around this blog a bit, I write fiction sometimes, I tell the story of the people who live in my mind and are as real and me and thee. Sometimes, a character changes from good to bad. (They have that right as much as we do.) People have asked me why I had them do that. The response is that I did not. Yeah, they say, but you wrote it, they are your creations, so you are responsible.
Yeah. I guess. As the author, I control. Sort of.
Anyone who has written much in the way of fiction knows that characters will do what characters will do, regardless or often in spite of authorial intent.
So, yeah, I control the words on the screen or the paper, but they are responsible. It ain’t my responsibility. Think of God as the Author of Life, and you see my point.
I like a God who does not control every little thing in this world. Does that mean She is not Omnipotent? I don’t know.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
(The verses are from Ecclesiastes)