Are we nothing but victims of own optimism?


#1

Where is God, are we deceived? (another potential Title)
Of what firm ground do we believe? (another potential Title)

God, a wonderful antidote for our deepest (albiet unreasonable) fears. (yet another potential Title)

Please let me explain. From the bottom of my heart (whether God given or nothing more then a biological blob) I ponder these questions. More then ponder these questions I distress over them. If there is no supreme being, never mind the God of the Holy Trinity, we’d simply live the lives we have, in all it’s realism, to the best of our ability. If that included distress over the realization that life was limited and essentially terminal, at least suicide may be an option. Distressing thought certainly, but constantly wonder whether there is in fact a Christian God, is no less distressing.

I have over 1000 posts, plain to see. Please don’t take me as a novice agnostic who is having doubts.

I love the idea of Love. I love the story the Gospel tells. I see and witness the glorious nature of the revealed God. I marvel over the story that is told from Genesis through Revelation. I ponder over how the continuity of the story can be such that it tells a story. I see the Truth in the teaching of the Catholic Church.

I also see excuses being made for prayer of which the answer is no. I also ponder over excuses made for horrendous suffering of good people in the world. I also see excuses made for God’s apparent disappearance in desperate times of need.

I also see a world divided, billions of people believing in one truth and billions of people believeing in another. Both parties believeing pride to be a catalyst to sin yet insisting they hold the truth. This is certainly a paradox in itself.

I have read C.S.Lewis and fell in love what he spoke of in “Mere Christianity”. G.K. Chesterton can be about as convincing about the reality of Christianity as Einstein, about the speed of light.

We cherish the concept of humilty and hinge our faith on it’s concept. We cherish the idea of God and hinge our hope on His existence. But aren’t these two things potentially contradicting?

If we beleive in God because we humble ourselves to the marvel around us, then why can’t we not believe in God because we humble ourselves to the marvel around us? If our minds are too immature, too small to fully understand our own nature and the nature around us, how does that prove a higher power? It only proves we are incapable.

Why is it not that we, as optimistic beings, didn’t simply, over time, systematically and creatively (yet unintentially) create the full story of the revelation of God simply by the accidents of a great deal of time, and our optimistic (and possibly fearful) nature?

Why!, if God is witness to my doubt and pain (and says no to my very infrequent and personal prayer) allows me to doubt Him?

Our God (frankly) seems to have cruel tendencies. Believeing God cannot be cruel, is a very significant data point in that the God of which we proudly profess to believe, does not exist as we believe Him to.


#2

I’m going to focus on this question. If God exists, how should he behave, to make you and every person on earth believe in him?

To put it another way, perhaps: if you were God, what would you do differently?


#3

Thank you for replying and I look forward to your response.

It seems to me (as reluctantly and I am to state it) we have an endless list of exuses at to why we believe God exists, when other seeming evidence, proves otherwise.

i.e. God answered your prayer, he answer was “no”. in His infinite wisdom He knew your request was not best for so-and-so. Frankly, this is a crock. Suffering of a child, unreasonable injustices, lonliness and heartache, that we pray to illeviate and He says no, is simply unreasonable.

God’s response to our prayer, is no more responsive then the manner in which chance would provide. Statiscally speaking, He is not there.

Monica’s prayers being answered that her son Augustine come to faith in Jesus Christ, is directly and proportiantely countered by all those mothers who answer was “no”. This statistaclly proves, there is no God. Yet we make excuses. Over an over. And boy are we ever crafty about our excuses.


#4

But I’m afraid you didn’t answer my question. You offer as evidence that God doesn’t exist, that God lets us doubt. So I’m asking how you, if you were God, would “run the world” differently, “better” than this God-that-doesn’t-exist. Believe me, :slight_smile: I have good reasons for asking.


#5

Sorry VociMike, in my haste I didn’t even realize you posed a question.

Hmmm, good question at that. “If I were God, what would I do differently”?

I think I’d answer that by saying;

I’d relieve the doubts proportionately to how they reponded to the grace I gave. In other words, as the individual responded to the Truth (as we believe Truth to be) somehow, someway, I’d bestow peace on that individual.

Why not, in fact, if the person desired with all thier heart and soul to believe, provide them with undenying evidence of my existence? Why, make them wonder if thier prayer and efforts were for not?


#6

Because our reward is in heaven, not on earth. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit; it is not something we offer to God if He agrees to give us a reason for it.

Also, keep in mind that just because things didn’t turn out favorably doesn’t mean the answer to your prayers is “No”. In the example you gave of Monica’s prayers for Augustine’s conversion versus similar prayers by others which go seemingly unanswered (i.e., the prayed-for person doesn’t convert), you have to remember that God will not compromise our free will. In this example, it’s entirely possible that the conversion didn’t come about because the prayed-for person did not cooperate with God’s grace.

And free will is at the heart of it all. If God “proved” his existence, it stands to reason that our free will would be jeopardized.

Peace,
Dante


#7

But what of the parent (for example) who prays for thier child to not be tormented by some dreadful infliction. Be it, obesity, extreme disfiguration, ridicule, low intellect, homliness. How can God not answer these prayers if prayed for by a loving faithful person?

If the answer is that we must accept His will and His will might not be what He wills. Then, why bother asking?


#8

All very credible and intelligent questions… I don’t know where you “ARE” in your search… but I pray you will be blessed with a supernatural experience.

This alone will put a green tick in every box of every question and point of discussion you have raised…

Yes God is VERY real. When you have experienced God like this… and it can and is in so many forms… you will just “know” without a shadow of a doubt that it is God.

But… you can only experience God at this level by asking him, by surrendering totally to him and for him. I don’t want to put you off your search at all… but I’d just love you to look at it from a different angle.

Free will is something quite hard for alot of us to grasp, Catechism:1732 "As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. this freedom characterises properly human acts. it is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.

The existance of evil also is also complexing for most…

But as explained in the Catechism: 324 “The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil. by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life”.

To know God is to have belief. You have to believe that through the goodness of God evil will never overwhelm and consume us all. God is good. As Jesus said: “Trust in Me”…

Please keep posting comments & questions… :slight_smile:


#9

What you have said is that you would compel people to believe. You will provide them with enough whatever that they cannot help but believe.

In other words, you will take away their free will and force them to believe in you.

But what kind of true loving relationship can such people ever have with such a God?


#10

What you are actually proposing, among other things, is that nobody (or at least, hardly anybody) ever dies. That most people live forever on this earth. And thus never get to heaven. You are proposing that we all exist forever in the limbo of the infants, in “perfect natural happiness” but separated forever from the Beatific Vision.


#11

Physical and emotional suffering are a reality of our existence. If God were to heal everyone who asked for healing, miracles would be the rule rather than the exception, thus reducing their importance. Furthermore, as I said before, the more provable God’s existence is, the less faith is required, and the less free will is involved.

There’s another thing at work here, with which you appear uncomfortable: God knows better than we do.

Our suffering is an opportunity to take up our own crosses and unite ourselves with Christ. Instead of cursing God for our afflictions, we can accept them for the benefit of others. This is a chance to cooperate with God’s grace.

Finally, to answer the question “Why bother asking?”:

True faith in God and true love of God is submission to His will – no matter what it might be. If it is God’s will that Sally’s child should not survive long after childbirth, Sally must accept that. In fact, it is possible that the child’s death could strengthen Sally’s faith, which would mean that the child laid down his life for his mother – the greatest act of love there is. Then there’s the less obvious factors: perhaps seeing Sally’s strong faith affects a nurse or a doctor, and he or she decides to look into this Catholic thing. Maybe an orderly sees the dead infant and is suddenly moved to spend more time with his own children. And so on.

The bottom line is that, if you believe God is omniscient, you must accept that He knows things that you don’t. Once you do that, it becomes much easier to say, “I don’t understand, Lord, but I accept your will.”

Peace,
Dante


#12

Two things that just don’t add up. Or I am not yet grasping.

  1. I just can’t put it together in my mind how if God were to more clearly present himself, it would take away my free will.

It appears people believe there is a connection between believing and free will. My confusion comes down (I suppose) to the definition of “believe”.

Believe (in the Chrisitan God) - Accept the Word/ Revelation of God as outlined in the Bible and through Christian Tradition. Further, we must believe even when presented (either interiorly or exteriorly) with reasonable evidences to the contrary.

Such evidences would be the possiblity of human fallibility that may have perpertrated this Word/Revelation.

  1. The concept of prayer (prayer with the best intention, for the good of others). Again I must ask, why bother? If God will is such that Johnny gets beat up at the little league game because he is not a good player, or because he stutters or is not very bright or can’t hit a baseball, then why would I pray that Johnny’s feelings are not hurt? Further, why would Johnny getting beat up be God’s will?

I’m afraid I am now spirally falling down a black hole here where we have all gone before and never get to the top.

I think it all comes back to my very first thought on this.
God, can be reasoned away. I beleive it is presumtious and prideful to state definitively that God cannot be reasoned away. This is much much different then stating that one’s belief in God is without merit. I am most certainly NOT saying that. What I am saying is (and I’ll say it again) God can be reasoned away. Many highly intelliigent and well meaning loving people have done a good job of doing so.

I desire greatly to believe with all my heart. My motives are illusive to me. I suppose fear of the idea of a loved one not continuing to exist after they depart. Or the fear that Love is not the overall force of our nature and everything is chance. I do not know. But what i do know is, it is not totally unreasonable to doubt. Especially following a prayer that was either lleft unheard, or answered with a resounding NO. For no apparent reason.


#13

That doesn’t add up for me either. If our eternal salvation is at stake, and God desires that for us, even more than we desire it for ourselves…why the game of holy hide and seek?

There are many who sincerely pray for faith, and seek God, and apparently…God is not interested in their patronage?

Mijoy2 began this thread, but I suspect many silent lurkers are interested in the answers.


#14

Do you know this for a fact, or do you assume it?


#15

If God were clearly to present Himself we would be compelled toward Him; this is why, e.g., the angels did not have the beatific vision immediately upon their creation. Thus their free will - in their case used immediately - brought them into His presence or separated them from His presence forever.

Believe (in the Chrisitan God) - Accept the Word/ Revelation of God as outlined in the Bible and through Christian Tradition. Further, we must believe even when presented (either interiorly or exteriorly) with reasonable evidences to the contrary.

“Reasonable” according to whom? God, being the author of reason, is the MOST reasonable “thing” to believe. So it is our perception of what is “reasonable” that errs if it reasons against Him.

St. Padre Pio employed an analogy of a tapestry to illustrate our perception of what is true, reasonable; we only see the underside of the tapestry with all its knots and hanging threads. God, otoh, sees it from the true perspective. Thus the gifts of Faith and Hope bring us to a realization that we DO only see the bottom part of the tapestry and allow us to “wait in patient hope” for the vision of the completed piece.

Such evidences would be the possiblity of human fallibility that may have perpertrated this Word/Revelation.

Possibilities aren’t “evidences”, though. Possibilities remain that, evidences are in the what is there in front of us. And there is evidence that Christ left a vehicle - His Church - to assure that His Self-revelation is so preserved as to form the faithful in the ways of true faith, hope and divine love.

  1. The concept of prayer (prayer with the best intention, for the good of others). Again I must ask, why bother? If God will is such that Johnny gets beat up at the little league game because he is not a good player, or because he stutters or is not very bright or can’t hit a baseball, then why would I pray that Johnny’s feelings are not hurt? Further, why would Johnny getting beat up be God’s will?

Why bother? First, because prayer is a recognition of our dependency on our Loving Father. Prayer is an exercise in humility. Second, because He has freely ordained that some of His gifts are dispensed in response to prayer - another reason for humility in the face of our poverty meeting His largesse.

"He has already seen everything before we ask Him. The whole course of events lies spread before His eternal eye, and proceeds according to the designs of His Love. He sees events and all their causes. Among their moral causes He sees also this present prayer of ours.

"Our own poor prayer, offered up from this lost corner of the universe, at this fleeting moment of time, was taken into considertion from all eternity by this omnipotent God Who holds all things in His hands. . .He heard it, where He dwells beyond time and change, where there is no before and after. . . .He saw our intention and He saw our need in the eternal simplicity of creative Thought. He welcomed our prayer before it was uttered. . . . .[Prayer] sets us already in our place in eternity, while we are still borne along on the current of time. It brings us back to the true source of our life, and associates us with this universal government by which [He makes] all things serve the true good of [His sons and daughters]. Abbe Emile Guerry, God the Father: Meditations.

continued. . .


#16

But if all you think of prayer is that it is solely petitionary, then it is no wonder that you presently struggle. You have not realized the depth of intimacy to which God calls us beyond the recognition of our needfulness of Him as expressed through prayers of petition. You have not realized that our life in Christ is to be more than a series of petitions for His aid. Your have not realized His call to consider deepening your relationship with Him through a tending to contemplation.

But, this of course necessitates dying to self, being less and less “full of self” and more and more “full of the Spirit of Christ.” The great Saints in the way of contemplation, St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross, constantly urge us to strip away the way of the flesh and live in the way of the Spirit, the way of the virtues and merits of Christ, and to seek time for solitude with our Beloved.

“Now it seems to me that those whom God brings to a certain clear knowledge love very differently than do those who have not reached it. This clear knowledge is about the nature of the world, that there is another world, about the difference between the one and the other, that the one is eternal and the other a dream; or about the nature of loving the Creator and loving the creature (and this seen through experience, which is entirely different from thinking about it or believing it); or this knowledge comes from seeing and feeling what is gained by the one love and lost by the other, and what the Creator is and what the creature is, and from many other things that the Lord teaches to anyone who wants to be taught by Him in prayer, or whom His Majesty desires to teach,” Way of Perfection, Ch. 3:6.

Here St. Teresa gives us a view of the reality of things - not just the possibilities you speak of, but the evidences rising in the soul of the reality of God. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, e.g., teaches that the experience one has of God through the Holy Spirit opens the soul to what is real and lasting - what is Eternal (discovering God) and what is meant for Eternity (our lives transformed in Christ).

I desire greatly to believe with all my heart. My motives are illusive to me. I suppose fear of the idea of a loved one not continuing to exist after they depart. Or the fear that Love is not the overall force of our nature and everything is chance. I do not know. But what i do know is, it is not totally unreasonable to doubt. Especially following a prayer that was either lleft unheard, or answered with a resounding NO. For no apparent reason.

You are, no doubt, familiar with St. Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography wherein she writes of coming face to face with the true darkness of faith - up until the very end of her life. And that is just it: she didn’t surrender to her doubts, but kept living according to what she wanted to be true. THAT is faith: not seeing and yet believing, not knowing and yet trusting. I hope you will be sustained in that way.


#17

This may be the genesis of some of your difficulty. Love is not an idea or an emotion, it’s a decision. Beleive me, after 40 years of marriage, the decision stands, the warm fuzzys were gone in a few months.
The same is true of God. I decide to love Him; its not an emotion. I have never seen Him, so I try my best to behave as I believe he wants me to behave according to what He has revealed to me through Scripture, Tradition, ect.

You see excuses, I see revealed Truth. First, some suffering (natural disasters, etc.) is simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Other suffering (physical violence, human cruelty) is a result of the Fall.
You want horrendous suffering? How about God humiliating Himself to become a part of His creation, then letting Himself be tortured, disrespected and killed? After THAT example, what makes you think any of us should be able to elude or evade ANY kind of suffering, whether mental, physical or other?

See above.

TRUTH is stranger than fiction. Read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Nobody could make that up.
Optimstic? The only guarantee is the suffering you wish to avoid. Salvation is hard, grind-it-out hard work, every day of our lives. Should it be any other way? Would it be worthwhile any other way?

He gives you the grace for faith, you just have to accept it. Maybe your prayer is too infrequent, I have no way of knowing.
Read Mt 8: 2 - 4 and Mk 9:22, 23 and all of John 6. Our Lord desires that we believe Him, trust Him and accept Him. You have the choice, but you must make it. If He revealed Himself, what would be the merit in belief?

God does not conform Himself to our expectations. He would not be worthy of belief if He did. There is much about God we don’t understand and will never understand. He doesn’t require us to undersrand Him, just to trust Him and believe in Him.
It’s hard work!


#18

And excellent - and I hope helpful - reply, Strider. :thumbsup:


#19

No, I certainlyy do realize prayer is much more then petitionary. I seldom ask for anything in prayer outside of generalities; particular things that trouble me. Always for others. I very seldom ask for anything for myself. Although I always pray for the conversion of loved ones. Always and frequently.

The issue that got me discouraged was a petitionary request for a loved one. Not even a huge deal really, just something that would have meant a great deal to her. But it was not to be apparently.

As for the rest of your post, it is very well thought out and I am grateful for every word.

Yes I am familiar with St. Therese. I have read her biography. I often wonder what “darkenss of faith” actually means to Therese or St John of the Cross. I wonder if they feel abandoned by God yet still fully believe, or if they doubt His existance at all.

I was thinking long and hard about this during my run this morning. Strider hit on this. I feel in my heart that Catholicism is Truth. Inherently, it feels right. Possibly Gods idea of faith is for one to follow what they believe to be truth, even amongst doubt of the top of the hierachy (God). In other words, if I were to come to the conclusion God is not worthy of belief, and I use that conclusion to now allow myself to do what is wrong (as dictated by my heart) for the pleasures of myself (possibly at the expense of others), that would be a more tragic loss of faith, then the doubting of God Himself.

I don’t know if that was clear or not. Although it does make me think of something that (if this thread has any legs) we should not get into (because it is a tangent). Protestant Theology would strongly disagree with the point I made above. I believe the point I made above (may be) consistant (to a degree) with Catholic theology (becauseof our doctrine of invincable ignorance). But evenagelical protestant theology puts all the emphasis on a belief in the incarnate God, Jesus Christ. This is all they are to believe. Which of course is precisely where I am having trouble. Not in the Word of God, not in what is written on my heart. But, in God.


#20

I was asking if perhaps that was God’s reason, hence the question mark at the end.

If God doesn’t explain His action or lack thereof (and He doesn’t need to) then sometimes we tend to speculate.

I think the explanation for why God does not reveal Himself in a more obvious way is a specualtion as well.

Personally…I think the Divine is quite obvious about revealing itself. No hide and seek at all, but people see what they want to see, or are limited by what they are able to see.


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