Theologian’s Dilemma

February 19th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

For those of you here reading this now and who believe in God please see if you can resolve what I call – The Theologian’s dilemma.

In order to arrive at any sort of logical conclusion or proof one must have a basic structure which include premises to support any given conclusion.

I am 47 years old and I have yet to hear anyone come forth with a strong argument to resolve the Theologian’s Dilemma. The argument goes as follows:

Premise Theologian’s response

  1. God is all powerful –                                  Yes
  2. God is all knowing and omniscient –               Yes
  3. God is all that is good –                             Yes

Now here’s the zinger:

4.  Do bad things happen?                The obvious answer is YES – but it can’t be

If you answered yes to all 3 of the above premises then your answer cannot be yes to the 4th question – do bad things happen. One of the premises must be removed in order make sense. If an all powerful, all knowing benevolent God was aware of an imminent deadly Tsunami which would kill tens of thousands of people, an all-powerful God who was also all good would certainly use (his/her/gender-free) power to stop it. If he (we’ll just stick with male gender) didn’t have the power to stop it then God is not all powerful!

No one can satisfactorily answer the Theologian’s Dilemma. Some folks will proclaim it’s because of freewill. God has given us freewill, so he can’t possibly intervene. Well, if that’s indeed the case then God is not all good. Try this one out on your self (and you’re not even God) – if you were walking along a path and you took notice of someone strangling a child and you had the power to stop it, would you? Or would you say to yourself – no I couldn’t possibly intervene; the killer is merely exercising his freewill.

So now it’s your turn. WHADAWETHINK? This is quite a thorny dilemma, isn’t it ? Can you resolve this ? Do you believe in an all-powerful, omniscient and benevolent God ? How can one reconcile the Theologian’s Dilemma ?

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8 Responses to “Theologian’s Dilemma”

  1. Katie Says:

    Shakespeare said “There is no such thing as good or bad, it’s merely man’s perception.

    So the answer to question #4 is NO!

  2. le duke de fromage Says:

    mr. tabor, why hitler? why stalin? why sarah palin? as the late sam kenniston said,”whats god got to do with it?”

  3. Michael Tabor Says:

    I agree but I’m still reading that, depending upon what survey you’re looking at, that anywhere between 80% – 90% of people in the U.S. still believe in some sort of higher power. Despite Hitler, Stalin & Palin – people still believe. I think it’s part of being human; to simply live a life and die doesn’t seem to satisfy most people so they just toss logic out of the window and pick a superstition.

  4. K. Scot Sparks {old bud 'Kevin' from Blmdl!} Says:

    Yes- a very classic if somewhat tacit argument there.. …and a difficult problem for the classical theist who is honest, non-defensive, and concerned for the uncanny suffering of so many (each one being somehow precious and, apparently, wildly “neglected”??). Even so, the reasonably alert classical believer is no less aware of this problem and its implications, it seems, (nor are the ancient Hebrew or Christian scriptures) than is the ?? ‘militant agnostic.’

    What to think, though, in realms of real and utter pain (within utter[/persistently apparent] ‘divine absence’).. what to think in and around that seemingly defying anything like sense? How does one articulate the problem to the self honestly, let alone represent it realistically among friends whose presuppositions and ?? ‘cosmological-interpretive desires’ are at cross purposes – for many reasons – with those ‘on the other side of the proverbial chamber’??!

    The classic apologist or the theodicy specialist who fancies herself as a defender [of sorts] of God may have as much room for learning as anyone else here. Those who think their work is done in the mere mentioning of the problem may be neglecting some classic texts meant to underscore the persistent and painful mystery that is God and His action in ‘the world.’

    Is it possible that the agnostic has room to responsibly take the words of Solomon, David, Job, Isaiah, and Christ, among others, a tad more seriously? Perhaps. Is there room for the apologist to take persistent and gratuitous suffering more seriously? -certainly.

    If each takes a moment to lay down the most avid presuppositions, perhaps there might be some overlap on the respective ‘radars’ of these very different observer-interpreters.

    If Job says things like ‘Though he slay me yet will I trust him’ should we dismiss it as so much unrealistic heroism or a sheer case of religiously coated denial? What shall we say in the face of the ‘man of sorrows,’ the God-man who says (shouts) ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ not long before he says ‘into your hands I commit my spirit’?

    Even so, if every minute is a rape or the abuse of a child; if these micro-holocausts go on under God’s gaze and if He can stop it- what indeed gives?

    Yet again- when I feel my deep self leaning toward joining the accusers of God, I intermittently glimpse the torrent of his blood whispering ‘why are you forsaking me?’

    Yet again- the process notion of God is little more satisfying than it is serious about classical Judeo-Christian claims about God’s person and action and value and love.

    And so the mystery goes on and our presuppositional desires are further amplified, too often, much too militantly for Socrates.

  5. Michael Tabor Says:

    Thank you for putting the time and effort into this very thought-provking and profound comment. Let’s see what other people have to say about this – It has got me thinking !

  6. elliptical machine Says:

    elliptical machine Beautiful image. Very well done, I like the colors and framing in the shot.

  7. Kumsabi of wisdom Says:

    I believe in God. However, the universe is non-linear in its mathematical structure. This allows for unpredictable and chaotic events. The arrow of time has been shown by science to be real. This means the future is un-predictable. It is an abstract concept, a nonsence. Time travel back or forth is for Sci-fi stories. So God only steers the present to obtain a desired result, since the present IS real. God is using science to unblind our eyes as to his true nature. As an avid science student I am stunned by this beautiful creation. God believes in us, thats why we exist. ☺

  8. Michael Tabor Says:

    I am a deist – love your comment. Think about this though – a God but no afterlife – your thoughts ?

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