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Theology And Death


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Really glad I found you folks. Sometimes I feel like I'm hanging out in the breeze with no company at all.


A friend died recently. At his funeral, the priest said that God didn't will death and suffering for us. I've been choking on that ever since. Maybe someone can help me sort through my own theology on this point.


Let's assume that God "wills." I know this brings up another whole can of worms, but let's assume this for the sake of argument. [i've put the word in quotes because I personally feel that using humanoid words--will, love, feel, think--for God is probably not terribly accurate. I think that God probaly does will, love, think, feel, but in a wholly Other way than we do.]


OK, so here we have God who either does or does not will death and suffering for humans.


If God does not, then there must be some way for God to get rid of the extra humans. Or, if we're to be immortal, wouldn't that mean that God wouldn't will sex and procreation? Otherwise, it would be even more crowded here than it already is. Or am I being too literal-minded here?


What about for animals? Does God will death and suffering for them but not for humans? If yes, then where is the cut-off point between human and animal? If we assume that there is a distinct difference between human and animal, say self-consciousness, then during evolution, there must have been a point where the mother was animal and the offspring was human. In this scenario, God would have willed the mother to die, but not the child.


Plus, you've got the problem of emerging zoology which seems to be pointing toward self-consciousness in some animals--apes, elephants, dolphins, etc. I'd add my cat to that list.


So if it doesn't seem likely (and to me, it doesn't) that there could be a dividing line between human and animal evolutionarily, then God must have extended not willing suffering and death to animals as well. Fish? What about those weird beasties that are sorta animal/plant? What about bugs? The world is getting awfully crowded now.


The priest went on to say that suffering and death was the result of human evil. Unless you subscribe to the Fall theory (I don't and he's said elsewhere that he doesn't either), that can't hold water, can it? You get into the same dilemmas about what's human and what's animal, don't you? The mother, being animal, cannot do evil, but the child, being human, can? The virus that munched the sheath around my friend's heart was caused by human evil? How?


Anyway, here I am, left with my friend's death, and what feels like the inescapable belief that God either DOES will suffering and death on us, or God doesn't will anything at all and it's all random. Or am I being too black/white here? Have I missed some middle ground?

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I am sorry your friend died from those heart worms, but it was only his body that was recycled. and modern biology is telling us this is true of us all from the day we are born until the body /mind dies, and the DNA no longer acts on our behalf. This seems to be true of everything living, plant and animal, and may be true even of minerals.


It also appears to be true of man physically but not spiritually. We are just beginning to understand the mind of man as a different entity. There we have the power of choice, and that makes all the difference.



I suggest you may be forgetting in your description of God that you and your friend were created by God. I use the words "Realities of God", and as such are indestructible.


What about evil? I wish to suggest that God "is", and the mind is the instrument of choice available to us to invent another reality than the realty we already possess. And that makes all the difference.



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Hello, Writer, you seem to have encountered the problems which ensue from taking Genesis literally. I guess the priest who said that God does not will death was referring to the theory, set out by a traditional interpretation of Genesis, that God intended us to live in perfect harmony with Him, and we brought death on ourselves by eating the forbidden fruit.


The question of how all these immortal people and their offspring would fit on the earth is solved by the limited knowledge of the authors of Genesis. They didn't know the limits of the earth, there was no awareness that its resources would be finite, and they had no conception of the idea of over-population.


This is just one of many ways in which Genesis can be sen as clearly not document to be taken literally, as History or as Science. To do either is to do grave disservice to a beautitful legend.


Where it is relevant to us is as a myth expressing the fulfilled life we can live by living in harmony with the planet. i tend to think that the useful or realistic interpretation of 'God' is the energy behind the creation, or what we used to call the 'laws' or the balance of nature. By respecting it we will ensure not specific immortality for each of us but a lasting and more satisfying life for our species, and that i think is a useful modern interpretationof 'returning to God's love' as the OT expresses it..

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