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Author Topic: Who's To Blame? The Creator or the Created?  (Read 773 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 10, 2012, 12:00:36 AM »

I guess this is something I have really been wrestling with for quite a while  Huh as I contemplate on topics such as free-will, volition and humanity.

How could there be free-will and how could we be held responsible for any of our actions if we God is the one who created us in a certain way, gave us this potential and crafted us in a way where evil is possible? Starting with free-will, I am really having trouble believing in it. In my opinion, isn't man like a machine? Machines only function according to the way they were built and crafted by the designer and they are enslaved to their nature. Now substitute man into this. Man only functions in the way God crafted us; everything we do is determined through the law of cause and effect in accordance with our nature and function. For example, humans were crafted with a hunger for food because we need it for fuel. When you do not give a machine fuel, bad things naturally happen as a result. In the same way, if you do not give a man food, he turns to murder and stealing in order to get it.

And how can this be the result of a free-choice? Like a machine, it is just cause & effect. You build us with a particular nature and potential, and when something acts upon it like poverty or starvation, it leads to a certain effect. In this case, it leads to crime. How can this be freedom? Man is a machine; machines have no freedom, they are just enslaved to the law of cause and effect in accordance with their mechanics. What difference is a human to this? God created us this way and allowed these particular effects to occur. Also, even if free-will is necessary for Theosis and is a good thing vital to salvation, how does it even exist in the first place? Even if we do gain salvation and do good, isn't it also the result of cause and effect? For example, all of our life events act as causes and the way we 'choose' to react to them is just a natural effect like the effect of a machine when a particular cause occurs? Are all the poor people in the ghetto who have been racially discriminated against, living in poverty in abusive households who turn to crime and violence really guilty for anything they do?

They are just victims to the causes that effected their life. Are all the suffering people in eastern Europe who have been oppressed and endured all the problems they are enduring right now really guilty for anything evil they do? Isn't it just the natural effect from these causes? In conclusion, how can we really be held responsible in anyway for our evil when we were MADE in a particular way? Who's to blame? The Creator or the created? Isn't God the one who made us like this, allowed these particular causes to effect us, gave us this potential and didn't do anything to stop this? Isn't it the Creator's duty to take responsible for His actions? It is like blaming the Frankenstein monster when Dr. Frankenstein is the one who created him in that way and allowed all of this to happen. Isn't God like the good Dr. Frankenstein and we are the monster? How can we be responsible if we are just so ignorant and enslaved to the way that Dr. Frankenstein created us? And shouldn't Dr. Frankenstein be the one to blame and take responsibility for his actions?

This is something I honestly think that we will never be able to fully grasp, understand or explain. Yet, for some reason even despite all of this, I still believe in God, the teachings He revealed to the Orthodox Church and feel guilty for my wickedness. Yet, I do not understand any of this at all. Maybe the Frankenstein monster is just sympathetic and loves his creator even though he mistreated him and made him that way.

Thoughts?

EDIT: Waits for ialmisry or xariski to give some really well thought-out, intelligent answer...
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 12:31:08 AM by JamesR » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2012, 12:53:59 AM »

Orthonorm should handle this one.
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2012, 02:42:20 AM »

Orthonorm should handle this one.

I have to agree.  Whatever I have to say on this, he'll come along and say it to a much higher degree, and my post will be rendered useless.
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2012, 02:52:13 AM »

Anybody mind informing Orthonorm for me?
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2012, 03:21:20 AM »

I guess this is something I have really been wrestling with for quite a while  Huh as I contemplate on topics such as free-will, volition and humanity.

How could there be free-will and how could we be held responsible for any of our actions if we God is the one who created us in a certain way, gave us this potential and crafted us in a way where evil is possible? Starting with free-will, I am really having trouble believing in it. In my opinion, isn't man like a machine? Machines only function according to the way they were built and crafted by the designer and they are enslaved to their nature. Now substitute man into this. Man only functions in the way God crafted us; everything we do is determined through the law of cause and effect in accordance with our nature and function. For example, humans were crafted with a hunger for food because we need it for fuel. When you do not give a machine fuel, bad things naturally happen as a result. In the same way, if you do not give a man food, he turns to murder and stealing in order to get it.

Because we are subject to death, and fear of death leads to sin. That said, man is like a machine only in-so-far as his body has mechanical functions- pumps and tubes, a high-speed processor, levers and hinges, etc. Free will is what makes us unlike machines and into persons- a car, even a self driving car, cannot choose where it will go; your internet browser only goes where you (or the malicious re-direct software you accidentally installed) point it to. We are enslaved to our nature only by the initial misuse of free-will, before that our nature was enslaved to us.

Quote
And how can this be the result of a free-choice? Like a machine, it is just cause & effect. You build us with a particular nature and potential, and when something acts upon it like poverty or starvation, it leads to a certain effect. In this case, it leads to crime. How can this be freedom? Man is a machine; machines have no freedom, they are just enslaved to the law of cause and effect in accordance with their mechanics. What difference is a human to this? God created us this way and allowed these particular effects to occur. Also, even if free-will is necessary for Theosis and is a good thing vital to salvation, how does it even exist in the first place? Even if we do gain salvation and do good, isn't it also the result of cause and effect? For example, all of our life events act as causes and the way we 'choose' to react to them is just a natural effect like the effect of a machine when a particular cause occurs? Are all the poor people in the ghetto who have been racially discriminated against, living in poverty in abusive households who turn to crime and violence really guilty for anything they do?
In a certain sense, turning to crime because of socio-economic conditions isn't an exercise of free-will- it's the surrender of will. Free will is exercised by those who rise above the poverty and injustice of their surroundings and become something better. Likewise, many who have no such economic or social factors to justify their behavior also turn to crime and (what's worse for someone of their position) sin, but in this case it is truly their exercise of will that leads to damnation- they have all the "cause" to be good and turn to evil. It's all in the Law and Prophets- Israel is condemned not when the poor are thieves and murderers but when the rulers are usurers, unjust, and abusive of their power.
Quote
They are just victims to the causes that effected their life. Are all the suffering people in eastern Europe who have been oppressed and endured all the problems they are enduring right now really guilty for anything evil they do? Isn't it just the natural effect from these causes? In conclusion, how can we really be held responsible in anyway for our evil when we were MADE in a particular way? Who's to blame? The Creator or the created? Isn't God the one who made us like this, allowed these particular causes to effect us, gave us this potential and didn't do anything to stop this? Isn't it the Creator's duty to take responsible for His actions? It is like blaming the Frankenstein monster when Dr. Frankenstein is the one who created him in that way and allowed all of this to happen. Isn't God like the good Dr. Frankenstein and we are the monster? How can we be responsible if we are just so ignorant and enslaved to the way that Dr. Frankenstein created us? And shouldn't Dr. Frankenstein be the one to blame and take responsibility for his actions?

This is something I honestly think that we will never be able to fully grasp, understand or explain. Yet, for some reason even despite all of this, I still believe in God, the teachings He revealed to the Orthodox Church and feel guilty for my wickedness. Yet, I do not understand any of this at all. Maybe the Frankenstein monster is just sympathetic and loves his creator even though he mistreated him and made him that way.

Thoughts?

EDIT: Waits for ialmisry or xariski to give some really well thought-out, intelligent answer...
Again, I think it is working from the wrong end to use the plight of the poor to question free-will- those things we are told (and know from the natural law) are evil aren't petty thefts and desperate murders. We should lament the state of the poor, do what we can to ease their burden, and- if we are in a position of power- treat them with justice and mercy. Crime amongst the downtrodden isn't really a free-will problem to my mind, far more puzzling to me are the wrongs done by those who have no such incentive. Remember, God judges each according to his own merits, to whom much is given much is expected. Also, the miracle of free will is that it is often those poor, who have good reason (from our perspective) to curse and bewail their state, who turn to Christ and His Church and become models to the rest of us.
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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2012, 04:32:01 AM »

Because we are subject to death, and fear of death leads to sin. That said, man is like a machine only in-so-far as his body has mechanical functions- pumps and tubes, a high-speed processor, levers and hinges, etc. Free will is what makes us unlike machines and into persons- a car, even a self driving car, cannot choose where it will go; your internet browser only goes where you (or the malicious re-direct software you accidentally installed) point it to. We are enslaved to our nature only by the initial misuse of free-will, before that our nature was enslaved to us.

I'm not sure I see where you are getting at. You seem to be advocating that, as I said, machines have no freedom, but that man is not a sin precisely because he has free-will, but my thoughts are precisely that we do NOT have free-will. Likewise, when did I choose to become enslaved to my nature? I never did. It happened when a guy named Adam cursed me to my nature. Even before humanity fell, we were still enslaved to our nature. What if the Fall was due to cause and effect? Given our particular nature when confronted with a particular cause, it leads to a particular effect. And that effect was sin. The cause was the temptation in the garden and the effect was the fall. The Devil exploited our nature and God did nothing about it. Or at least it seems. Did Adam really have the freedom to resist? I don't think so. He was alroudy enslaved to the nature and way that God crafted him. And like a machine, cause and effect led to the fall; not choice.

Quote
In a certain sense, turning to crime because of socio-economic conditions isn't an exercise of free-will- it's the surrender of will. Free will is exercised by those who rise above the poverty and injustice of their surroundings and become something better. Likewise, many who have no such economic or social factors to justify their behavior also turn to crime and (what's worse for someone of their position) sin, but in this case it is truly their exercise of will that leads to damnation- they have all the "cause" to be good and turn to evil. It's all in the Law and Prophets- Israel is condemned not when the poor are thieves and murderers but when the rulers are usurers, unjust, and abusive of their power.

I agree with you about those who turn to evil because of socio-economic reasons not entirely being guilty or wicked, and that those who do not have these problems but still turn to crime are really guilty for their wickedness. But I cannot agree with you about the free-will. You said that turning to crime because of socio-economic reasons is not the practice of free-will but the surrender of will, well, whose fault is that? It is Dr. Frankenstein's fault for putting us in these positions. It seems like you are advocating a Divine class system. I do not believe someone has a choice when they are starving and see the faces and ribs of their babies getting thinner and thinner everyday, only to hear the good doctor in the background, who, is perfectly capable of helping them mind you, say 'Rise up above it and become something better chap, forget about them eating. Do something better or you'll suffer for eternity'. Likewise, how can you attain something better if your physical life is a mess? Humans are both physical and spiritual. We use our physical side to build up our spiritual side. So if our physical state is a mess, how can we work on our spiritual state? It is like a Divine class system of slavery. Likewise, you are also assuming that we even had free-will to begin with when we were deciding whether or not we should turn to crime. But my view is that it is only cause and effect; the poverty being the cause and the crime being the natural effect coming from the way our nature responds to that cause.

Quote
Again, I think it is working from the wrong end to use the plight of the poor to question free-will- those things we are told (and know from the natural law) are evil aren't petty thefts and desperate murders. We should lament the state of the poor, do what we can to ease their burden, and- if we are in a position of power- treat them with justice and mercy. Crime amongst the downtrodden isn't really a free-will problem to my mind, far more puzzling to me are the wrongs done by those who have no such incentive. Remember, God judges each according to his own merits, to whom much is given much is expected. Also, the miracle of free will is that it is often those poor, who have good reason (from our perspective) to curse and bewail their state, who turn to Christ and His Church and become models to the rest of us.

But is their coming to God really the result of free-will or is it just cause and effect once more? Say, certain events in their lifetime naturally led them to come to God without no real decision on their part. Likewise, even if they did have a choice, I find it rather upsetting how God can just expect this much from them and, to be honest, not do crap for them on Earth.
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2012, 12:53:40 PM »

Likewise, when did I choose to become enslaved to my nature? I never did.

Can you truly say that you have never chosen any sin when you could have easily- perhaps more easily- done something better? I'm not talking about something where it seems like one has not choice, perhaps lying to one's parent's about something because they would never understand the real situation and would render a punishment far worse than the "crime"- but was there never a choice to keep silent when someone needed defense or to speak when silence was best?
Quote
It happened when a guy named Adam cursed me to my nature. Even before humanity fell, we were still enslaved to our nature. What if the Fall was due to cause and effect? Given our particular nature when confronted with a particular cause, it leads to a particular effect. And that effect was sin. The cause was the temptation in the garden and the effect was the fall. The Devil exploited our nature and God did nothing about it. Or at least it seems. Did Adam really have the freedom to resist? I don't think so. He was alroudy enslaved to the nature and way that God crafted him. And like a machine, cause and effect led to the fall; not choice.
The cause wasn't the temptation- the cause was man's decision to be "like unto gods" in his own way and not God's. Would man have made this choice without the serpent's temptation? Perhaps, perhaps not. But there would have been true free will without choice and there would not have been much choice without the temptation- just a Divine command without a counter-offer.

What is interesting about the encounter in the garden is that the choice is such that it seems more incredible that man chose to fall- the "cause" of the temptation is of far less weight than the "cause" of the command. Think of it for a second: man is given a command by God, who he knows for a fact created the world, gave him life, gave him a wife, gave him a world full of food and sustenance, and told him not to eat a piece of fruit from one tree out of thousands. And where does the temptation come from? A creature, lower than man (whether the serpent was possessed or was actually the diabolical one assuming material form doesn't matter- it's all about perspective, and from man's the creature was low), under man's authority, a beast. The Fall is such an illustration of choice over simple "cause and effect" that it would be less startling if the Earth chose to leave it's orbit from the sun to circle around the gravitational field of a pebble!

Quote
I agree with you about those who turn to evil because of socio-economic reasons not entirely being guilty or wicked, and that those who do not have these problems but still turn to crime are really guilty for their wickedness. But I cannot agree with you about the free-will. You said that turning to crime because of socio-economic reasons is not the practice of free-will but the surrender of will, well, whose fault is that? It is Dr. Frankenstein's fault for putting us in these positions.
Your analogy is flawed- God is the established scientific community telling Dr Frankenstein he is mad, Dr Frankenstein is the princes and sons of men working toward their own "immortality". The monster of economic disadvantage isn't God's creation but our own- it is us who strip the poor of the appearance of choice so that, following the natural course, by not exercising their will they become criminals. It is free will that enables anyone to break from the cycle and seek something better.

Quote
It seems like you are advocating a Divine class system. I do not believe someone has a choice when they are starving and see the faces and ribs of their babies getting thinner and thinner everyday, only to hear the good doctor in the background, who, is perfectly capable of helping them mind you, say 'Rise up above it and become something better chap, forget about them eating. Do something better or you'll suffer for eternity'.
You are assuming that "Dr. Frankenstein" judges and condemns the poor based upon the same criteria that he judges those in power- as if Divinity operated off the same psychology as a Fortune 500 suffering losses which chooses to place the blame on the factory workers while giving bad CEOs raises, paid vacations, bonuses, and yachts. We cannot know how God judges others- we can only know how God chooses to judge us- that is, I can only know how God is judging me.

Quote
Likewise, how can you attain something better if your physical life is a mess?
Many do.
Quote
Humans are both physical and spiritual. We use our physical side to build up our spiritual side. So if our physical state is a mess, how can we work on our spiritual state? It is like a Divine class system of slavery. Likewise, you are also assuming that we even had free-will to begin with when we were deciding whether or not we should turn to crime. But my view is that it is only cause and effect; the poverty being the cause and the crime being the natural effect coming from the way our nature responds to that cause.
The thing is, you are not far off- it is indeed cause and effect- the initial exercise of free-will in turning away from God leaves us (barring Grace) at the mercy of cause and effect and the natural order. The problem is in trying to place that "first cause" (but not the First Cause in the Aristotlean sense) as nature or Creation itself. Man was originally given every opportunity to have a world free of death and pain. In a sense, the only way Man can now exercise his free will at all is in surrender of will- that is choosing which will he surrenders to: that of death and sin or the will of God.

Quote
But is their coming to God really the result of free-will or is it just cause and effect once more? Say, certain events in their lifetime naturally led them to come to God without no real decision on their part.
Again, there is a certain extent to which it is cause-and-effect- but what we have are two different "cause-and-effect" systems in play. The cause-and-effect you've been decrying this whole thread is what we call the "natural order" but which is truly unnatural in that it was not what we were created for- the cycle of death, pain, and sin. The other cause-and-effect system in play is the Divine- the Loving God who would not see one of his children condemned and thus emptied Himself, becoming the poorest of the poor, dying to lead us from Death, rising so that we may rise. Certainly there is a "cause" in the poor coming to God- poverty is an excellent way reaching humility, the command of Christ sends us to the poor so that those who follow Christ are there in the economically disadvantaged areas taking no heed for their own safety in a "bad part of town", and were it not for these "causes" it might be that none would ever turn to God. But here we are given a reversal of the Garden- where Adam had every reason to choose God and the rationale of a five year old blaming raiding the cookie jar on his stuffed bear; the poor are given every reason to reject God and only (seemingly) pretty words and cold comfort to turn to Him- yet many do and put the rest of us to shame. There is a choice- between the "natural" cause and effect of death or the supernatural cause and effect of Life.
Quote
Likewise, even if they did have a choice, I find it rather upsetting how God can just expect this much from them and, to be honest, not do crap for them on Earth.
At this point I have to wonder how many people in poverty you actually know, or if you are merely a coddled middle-class kid who has watched one too many of those charity drive commercials. I have been poor (and perhaps am poor, in the American sense of the word), and I have known people who have been poorer, such that any of the rest of us would consider it the most desperate of circumstances. God does quite a bit for them- more so and more visibly than He does for the rich. Find a poverty stricken family of faith and you will find a great well-spring of miracles.
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2012, 03:12:30 PM »

Can you truly say that you have never chosen any sin when you could have easily- perhaps more easily- done something better? I'm not talking about something where it seems like one has not choice, perhaps lying to one's parent's about something because they would never understand the real situation and would render a punishment far worse than the "crime"- but was there never a choice to keep silent when someone needed defense or to speak when silence was best?

I guess I have done many sins that I could have easily resisted; or at least it seems.


Quote
The cause wasn't the temptation- the cause was man's decision to be "like unto gods" in his own way and not God's. Would man have made this choice without the serpent's temptation? Perhaps, perhaps not. But there would have been true free will without choice and there would not have been much choice without the temptation- just a Divine command without a counter-offer.

I just still have trouble understanding how there was even free-will in the first place and how God's creation cannot be the first cause leading to all of our actions; both good and bad. And even if it did somehow exist, how do we still have free-will since we inherited the consequences? You said yourself that the cause was Adam's decision; not our decision. We inherited an inclination to do evil and yet we are still told that we have free-will and are condemned when we do evil. I wouldn't call it freedom if we inherited an inclination to sin, death and pain, then we are told that we have to live a particular lifestyle and become a particular way or else we're screwed. I would have to consider things like death, pain and the inclination to do evil as being causes in our life. And I would think that the evil things we do as a result are merely the natural mechanical effects coming from the human machine reacting to death, pain and an evil inclination. However, you go on about this cause & effect thing later in the post, so I assume we will continue this later.

Quote
What is interesting about the encounter in the garden is that the choice is such that it seems more incredible that man chose to fall- the "cause" of the temptation is of far less weight than the "cause" of the command. Think of it for a second: man is given a command by God, who he knows for a fact created the world, gave him life, gave him a wife, gave him a world full of food and sustenance, and told him not to eat a piece of fruit from one tree out of thousands. And where does the temptation come from? A creature, lower than man (whether the serpent was possessed or was actually the diabolical one assuming material form doesn't matter- it's all about perspective, and from man's the creature was low), under man's authority, a beast. The Fall is such an illustration of choice over simple "cause and effect" that it would be less startling if the Earth chose to leave it's orbit from the sun to circle around the gravitational field of a pebble!

I understand this and I know that free-will is essential for us as Orthodox Christians and everything in the scriptures supports it. However, I just cannot understand HOW it can exist reasonably and not just be the rsult of cause & effect.

Quote
Your analogy is flawed- God is the established scientific community telling Dr Frankenstein he is mad, Dr Frankenstein is the princes and sons of men working toward their own "immortality". The monster of economic disadvantage isn't God's creation but our own- it is us who strip the poor of the appearance of choice so that, following the natural course, by not exercising their will they become criminals. It is free will that enables anyone to break from the cycle and seek something better.

In a way, I think I agree with you and disagree with you at the same time. I still cannot get over the fact that God is the one who created us and never did nothing to stop us from doing evil; how could you say that He is NOT like Dr. Frankenstein? God is the one who created us and economic disadvantage and evil is something that we created, but, use the law of Syllogism and the Transitive Property, that must mean that God is really the one who created evil, suffering, death and pain. The difference and flaw in your analogy is that the scientific community did not give Dr. Frankenstein a laboratory with all of the tools he needed to perform wickedness and do nothing to stop him, even though it was perfectly in their power to. On the other hand, God has this potential but He has not stopped us, therefore, in a way, according to the transitive property, He becomes like Dr. Frankenstein because He is really the one who created this mess.

Quote
You are assuming that "Dr. Frankenstein" judges and condemns the poor based upon the same criteria that he judges those in power- as if Divinity operated off the same psychology as a Fortune 500 suffering losses which chooses to place the blame on the factory workers while giving bad CEOs raises, paid vacations, bonuses, and yachts. We cannot know how God judges others- we can only know how God chooses to judge us- that is, I can only know how God is judging me.

I like the sound of this. But, I guess I have trouble understanding what gives God any right to judge us at all if He made us this way. We should be the ones judging Him for creating us in such a way, allowing all of this evil to occur and being a lousy parent to us.

Quote
The thing is, you are not far off- it is indeed cause and effect- the initial exercise of free-will in turning away from God leaves us (barring Grace) at the mercy of cause and effect and the natural order. The problem is in trying to place that "first cause" (but not the First Cause in the Aristotlean sense) as nature or Creation itself. Man was originally given every opportunity to have a world free of death and pain. In a sense, the only way Man can now exercise his free will at all is in surrender of will- that is choosing which will he surrenders to: that of death and sin or the will of God.

This is probably the greatest thing you have said so far and I promise I will think about it. It makes more sense than having total free-will to do whatever I want.

Quote
Again, there is a certain extent to which it is cause-and-effect- but what we have are two different "cause-and-effect" systems in play. The cause-and-effect you've been decrying this whole thread is what we call the "natural order" but which is truly unnatural in that it was not what we were created for- the cycle of death, pain, and sin. The other cause-and-effect system in play is the Divine- the Loving God who would not see one of his children condemned and thus emptied Himself, becoming the poorest of the poor, dying to lead us from Death, rising so that we may rise. Certainly there is a "cause" in the poor coming to God- poverty is an excellent way reaching humility, the command of Christ sends us to the poor so that those who follow Christ are there in the economically disadvantaged areas taking no heed for their own safety in a "bad part of town", and were it not for these "causes" it might be that none would ever turn to God. But here we are given a reversal of the Garden- where Adam had every reason to choose God and the rationale of a five year old blaming raiding the cookie jar on his stuffed bear; the poor are given every reason to reject God and only (seemingly) pretty words and cold comfort to turn to Him- yet many do and put the rest of us to shame. There is a choice- between the "natural" cause and effect of death or the supernatural cause and effect of Life.

This is interesting. But I still have a few doubts to it. First, being, if we were not meant for this world, then why does God allow us to stay in it and not fix it? Was the Incarnation really all that was necessary to fix everything? But why is there still so much pain, doubt and hardship? Wouldn't God's decision to finally do something be something to be happy about? But why is everyone always sad and why is there still misery? The second, I'm not sure I really can agree with you that poverty and the likes can sometimes be good and beneficial to our spiritual health. I see where you are coming from, but, it just seems so wrong to me on God's behalf. Imagine a father allowing his children the possibility of being raped, kidnapped and hurt just because there is a chance that it will 'make them stronger' or 'benefit them spiritually'. If He is omnipotent then couldn't He have done this in a non-painful way?

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At this point I have to wonder how many people in poverty you actually know, or if you are merely a coddled middle-class kid who has watched one too many of those charity drive commercials. I have been poor (and perhaps am poor, in the American sense of the word), and I have known people who have been poorer, such that any of the rest of us would consider it the most desperate of circumstances. God does quite a bit for them- more so and more visibly than He does for the rich. Find a poverty stricken family of faith and you will find a great well-spring of miracles.

I've been poor but never as poor as most people in my family. This sort of leads to a sense of guilt and a sense of why it seems that He does not do anything. I believe you that maybe He does work many miracles for them, but, to be honest, I have not really seen them. He was never there for me when I was born with asthma and PKU, when my mother got pregnant with me at fifteen, when my dad relapsed into drug issues a year ago, when I got arrested or when my mom miscarried. And yet He expects me to trust in Him?
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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2012, 05:20:30 PM »



I just still have trouble understanding how there was even free-will in the first place and how God's creation cannot be the first cause leading to all of our actions; both good and bad. And even if it did somehow exist, how do we still have free-will since we inherited the consequences? You said yourself that the cause was Adam's decision; not our decision. We inherited an inclination to do evil and yet we are still told that we have free-will and are condemned when we do evil. I wouldn't call it freedom if we inherited an inclination to sin, death and pain, then we are told that we have to live a particular lifestyle and become a particular way or else we're screwed. I would have to consider things like death, pain and the inclination to do evil as being causes in our life. And I would think that the evil things we do as a result are merely the natural mechanical effects coming from the human machine reacting to death, pain and an evil inclination. However, you go on about this cause & effect thing later in the post, so I assume we will continue this later.

Here we are apparently going to have to have a long discussion about what exactly "free-will" is and its function in the relationship between Creator and created. I don't have time to go into it right now, maybe later tonight or tomorrow after Liturgy.

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I understand this and I know that free-will is essential for us as Orthodox Christians and everything in the scriptures supports it. However, I just cannot understand HOW it can exist reasonably and not just be the rsult of cause & effect.
As above.

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In a way, I think I agree with you and disagree with you at the same time. I still cannot get over the fact that God is the one who created us and never did nothing to stop us from doing evil; how could you say that He is NOT like Dr. Frankenstein? God is the one who created us and economic disadvantage and evil is something that we created, but, use the law of Syllogism and the Transitive Property, that must mean that God is really the one who created evil, suffering, death and pain. The difference and flaw in your analogy is that the scientific community did not give Dr. Frankenstein a laboratory with all of the tools he needed to perform wickedness and do nothing to stop him, even though it was perfectly in their power to. On the other hand, God has this potential but He has not stopped us, therefore, in a way, according to the transitive property, He becomes like Dr. Frankenstein because He is really the one who created this mess.
The reason I think God being the scientific community is the more apt analogy is that while the scientific community did not give Dr Frankenstein his lab and material tools what it did provide was the knowledge for him to build on and yet at the same time the boundaries of how far is too far to go- without which his lab and resulting actions would have been fruitless.

As to why God doesn't stop us, that will be addressed in the later and longer post.

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I like the sound of this. But, I guess I have trouble understanding what gives God any right to judge us at all if He made us this way. We should be the ones judging Him for creating us in such a way, allowing all of this evil to occur and being a lousy parent to us.

Quote
This is interesting. But I still have a few doubts to it. First, being, if we were not meant for this world, then why does God allow us to stay in it and not fix it? Was the Incarnation really all that was necessary to fix everything? But why is there still so much pain, doubt and hardship? Wouldn't God's decision to finally do something be something to be happy about? But why is everyone always sad and why is there still misery? The second, I'm not sure I really can agree with you that poverty and the likes can sometimes be good and beneficial to our spiritual health. I see where you are coming from, but, it just seems so wrong to me on God's behalf. Imagine a father allowing his children the possibility of being raped, kidnapped and hurt just because there is a chance that it will 'make them stronger' or 'benefit them spiritually'. If He is omnipotent then couldn't He have done this in a non-painful way?

In the best free will arguments God is less like a parent who does nothing while their child sticks his finger in an electrical outlet and more like the parent who does not allow his infant to crawl around on the ground, but holds the child on their legs for a while and then lets go, to help build the motor skills necessary for balance and control- except in this case the "infant" is an entire race and the stakes seem much higher.

Quote
I've been poor but never as poor as most people in my family. This sort of leads to a sense of guilt and a sense of why it seems that He does not do anything. I believe you that maybe He does work many miracles for them, but, to be honest, I have not really seen them. He was never there for me when I was born with asthma and PKU, when my mother got pregnant with me at fifteen, when my dad relapsed into drug issues a year ago, when I got arrested or when my mom miscarried. And yet He expects me to trust in Him?

Perfect (not about the pain in your life, but you're not just some middle class kid on a "woe is the world" kick- we can actually have a decent conversation). Think on this for a second- PKU is something that if not caught early enough can develop into mental disability- yet you are able to use the internet and hold an intelligent debate. You were born with asthma- yet you are now almost an adult (and, FWIW, asthma seems kind of like nitpicking compared to PKU- like me complaining about glasses keeping me from my dream of being a fighter pilot before mentioning a [entirely fictional in my case] missing limb). Your mom got pregnant with you at fifteen- seventeen years ago, well after Roe vs Wade, yet here you are typing. Your father relapsed into drug addiction- sad, yes, but he is still alive, yes? You say God was never there- it sounds like He has been right there all along.
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2012, 05:25:41 PM »

Just because a person is poor, does not mean that he will commit crime in order to satisfy his needs. This is proven by many poor people who, though in want, exercise virtue with patience, putting their hope in God even, God forbid, to the point of starvation, and sometimes going hungry themselves to feed others or sacrificing themselves in some other way. These are the righteous. Righteous also are those who, though they have been given much, do not see these blessings as deserved or for them to use for their own pleasure, but rather give and share freely and joyfully what they have with those who have nothing. Thus, by the virtues of faith, patience, and generosity are inequities done away, bodies fed, and souls saved. It is because of man that the world is inequitable and iniquitous--not because of God, who created the world. He created men with free will so that they may be godlike as free beings, able to freely choose the good because it is good. Adam was free in Paradise, and he remained free in exile. Though in bondage to sin and death, even before the coming of Grace, men were free to do good or evil. They were also free to grow in virtue and closeness to God, to repent, or to completely reject God. Now, with the appearance of Grace with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is even less excuse because God has not only revealed Himself but freed us from bondage to sin and death.
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« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2012, 05:30:45 PM »

Where was God when all this bad stuff happened? He was being scourged, spitten upon, mocked, crowned with thorns, and crucified. The suffering of man due to the consequences of sin is, I think, one of the reasons why the Son of Man endured such agonizing suffering so that suffering itself may become redemptive, no longer in vain, for those who suffer innocently suffer with Christ and those who suffer because of their sins partake of the cleansing effect of suffering--if both do so with patience and humility and faith.
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« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2012, 05:35:42 PM »

James,

I had been thinking about how to address your question. Your recent posts here and in the Random Postings convince me that my initial approach is the most appropriate.

Former's best efforts will come to little avail as will few efforts to address what you want.

In fact, if I could give you want you want I wouldn't. (Is that cryptic enough for the penut gallery?)

First to your Random Postings questions, cause as I said, they are obviously interconnected with your posts in this thread along with much of what you post here on the board in general.

Last question first:

Thank you, Orthonorm, along with thanks to everybody who has actually even bothered to respond. So far it has gotten like 90 views and only three people cared to get involved.

Anyway, I feel really ashamed for this, but is it wrong that right now I feel like I don't want to attend any of the Pascha services this weekend until I find answers to my questions because I feel angry at God and because I'm worried He will be angry with me if I come to His temple with a doubting spirit?

And this is advice you should follow. Don't start arguing, especially until you have read the rest of this what looks to be a long post. And don't argue then.

It is not wrong that you feel that way.
Go to the services.
Don't try to change your feelings.
Go to the services.
Be angry at God.
Go to the services.
Be at a loss and in confusion.
Go to the services.
Feel ashamed.
Go to the services.

Don't let anyone tell you should feel other than you do. You feel how you do, probably for many "good" reasons.

Don't let your feelings dictate your gross motor movements either (getting yourself to the parish among others). Especially, if you know (we'll get to what this means) that you want or should be there.

Feel however the @#$% you feel and go. I could cite cognitive science about why this is good, the Psalms, lives of Saints, etc. But just go.

Crisis is not the enemy of a real faith, but rather often its very source for many (more on this later).

Your other "Random" post:

When are you to be received?

I was supposed to be received this Holy Saturday but my Priest delayed it because he wants me to attend Church more and 'participate' in the Holy life of the Church more often. He's taking it at a slow pace because I cannot attend as often as I would like because I'm dependent on my parents to take me to Church. I'm afraid now that if I ask him about a bunch of questions and doubts I am having, he will dely it even longer.

This is what I figured from some of your posts. I'll return later tonight perhaps to put up a tentative "answer" to the question in your one thread about Free Will and the like. I didn't want to go in assuming the above was the case and give offense by my answer.

Your situation and your question are tied together.

Hang in there buddy.

Your fears are "reasonable" as is your desire to "get into the Church". And your Priest sounds like a wise man.

James, one virtue you obviously have is honesty. You post some odd stuff around here. Some people would get the orthonorm smack down for some of the stuff you post, but it seems sincere and you obviously, without any personal revelations on your part, come from some sorta background. And by that, I mean a less than fortunate one.

When I read your posts, I wish I could sit you down for a chat. But alas, here we are.

You are capable of honesty even at your expense. Don't start selling that down the river to try to "fix" your reception into the Church. (If we were to talk, I would tell you about the absurdities my reception involved. Ask around. It was nutz.)

You are young. You are smart. You are in a lot of pain.

This is not best trifecta in life to have had the fortune to win.

I know, because I have been there. And have seen many others from similar background, of similar temperament, and of similar age.

Then you stumble upon this thing called Orthodoxy at your age.

What a head trip . . .

Orthodoxy under the "best" of circumstances can bring more than a little pain and confusion in the hearts of the sincere. You were not afforded the "best" of circumstances.

I can't imagine what it must be like making the decision you think you have to make right now at your age and in your situation. It's mind boggling.

But back to your honesty.

Don't give that up. For nothing. Not even the Church nor God. Cause you are only gonna have a relationship with both to degree you are honest. With yourself. And then with those who you know (again what this means later) truly care about you.

You will have to excuse if I start being too presumptuous, I doubt that I am, but it seems from experience that many folks with certain dispositions will attempt to intellectualize and spiritualize their profoundly person problems.

This is not to say the intellect and the spirit are not involved, but rather, folks displace problems of a personal, a relational nature, into intellectual riddles to figure out or spiritual struggles to be fought, all the time missing the real intellectual and spiritual rigor it takes to deal with day to day consequences of their past, genetics, environment, etc.

Spiritually they turn their dragons into windmills all the while mistaking the latter for the former. God knows I have.

So don't be less than the honest person you are with yourself and with your Priest. Not that he must know every niggling question, but if fear of your doubts being found out are keeping you away from being honest about how you stand vis-a-vis the Church--stop. Especially, if you know you can trust this man to care for you. Thank God, I was afforded that luxury in my own Priest.

If you are still reading, then here is my general suggestion to everyone who shows up here or asks me in person about what do (I don't care how many make fun that I keep doing it. In fact I quote someone doing just that):

Deeper Faith, you're not going to get a "straight" answer to anything you ask. I mean, in terms of people answering you sincerely you will but the interpretations and explainations become so entangled after a while you might lose the will to live and start believing the convoluted rhetoric rather than the truth.

It's difficult to see that it's the same gospel that Jesus taught to simple fishermen.



Especially since trying to understand Orthodoxy via a message board is probably one of the worst ways.

Go to a parish.

Frankly everyone should just do the following:

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/teaching_doctrine_in_the_world_we_live_in_today_part_1

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/teaching_doctrine_in_the_world_we_live_in_today_part_two

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/teaching_doctrine_in_the_world_we_live_in_today_part_three

You can skip listening to the third part, but might as well listen to what Fr. Thom has to say about teaching doctrine as such.

The first two links spell out clearly what seems to be a reasonable path to understanding Christianity and thus Orthodoxy when you find yourself in a crisis and probably also when not.

Yes, I have posted this before.

Deeper Faith might not be trying to understand Orthodoxy via a message board alone.

Is that Fr Hopko again? You need to diversify

Please listen to those first two at least. This is for people like you and me. Fr. Thom mentions these points in print and within other talks, but he particularly drives home the point in these talks about what people should be DOING to understand DOCTRINE.

Especially, folks like you and me, who probably have more than "just" praying and reading to do. Again, I hope I do not offend, but it doesn't sound like your life has been a bowl of cherries. And yes, some people do suffer more deeply and frequently than others. To suggest otherwise is at best naive, at worst evil.

If you are not willing to DO the above, I don't know what to say that will be much more than either trying to play whack a mole with every new problem you come across.

You have to come to know, James. Know.

Knowing is not limited to the bloodless propositional manner of going about things most typically associate it with.

Truth in Greek, means disclosure, revelation. It is radically not some formula you remember. A buncha doctrines held together in some logical format you can write down.

Those ain't truths you die for. You die for what you know. What you love. And that love, that knowledge is not just in the head, or the heart, or even in your guts, but in your bones as well. (Click here for a quick romp of a post on the relationship between knowing, believing, and loving.)

What would you do to know something with your entire being? Will you take Fr. Thom's suggestions for six months?

How important is the interplay of "free will" and God's fore-knowledge compared to what you struggle with, really? How much do such "intellectual" questions get between you and God than what you struggle with as a person?

Maybe I am absolutely wrong. But I think your getting a hand with a lot of help on the latter (we all need help), the former will not be so perplexing, or perhaps perplexing still but not so painful.

Let me know what you think.

If you are willing to take my advice with a promise, I will plod forth with an "explicit" answer to your OP here.
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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 06:34:31 PM »

Woah...That was one large post.

You have all highly contributed food for thought and meditation for me and I appreciate it all. I promise to contemplate on it. Being more specific now, Orthonorm. I really appreciate all of your elderly advice and wisdom. I PROMISE to try to follow it; I admit, I am most confused when you were speaking to me about what it means to KNOW something. In older times, I would probably just dismiss it as existentialist chatter, but, I know that it is something deeper. So, I will try to understand it and apply it. I know that I am probably getting myself into something very serious, but, I know that it will benefit me somehow in the long run. So, I promise to follow your advice like you asked. If you do not mind, I would enjoy an explicit, orthonorm-knockdown answer to this question. But, can you wait until tomorrow? Perhaps if I take a day to contemplate on what I learned today, then my disposition for the explicit answer tomorrow will be in better shape to receive it.
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2012, 08:49:47 PM »

Woah...That was one large post.

You have all highly contributed food for thought and meditation for me and I appreciate it all. I promise to contemplate on it. Being more specific now, Orthonorm. I really appreciate all of your elderly advice and wisdom. I PROMISE to try to follow it; I admit, I am most confused when you were speaking to me about what it means to KNOW something. In older times, I would probably just dismiss it as existentialist chatter, but, I know that it is something deeper. So, I will try to understand it and apply it. I know that I am probably getting myself into something very serious, but, I know that it will benefit me somehow in the long run. So, I promise to follow your advice like you asked. If you do not mind, I would enjoy an explicit, orthonorm-knockdown answer to this question. But, can you wait until tomorrow? Perhaps if I take a day to contemplate on what I learned today, then my disposition for the explicit answer tomorrow will be in better shape to receive it.

I can't wait to tell everyone older than me that I was called elderly!

Explicit? Tomorrow?

You don't know me.

As far as the serious business, as we say in my neck of the woods:

Take it easy, but take it.

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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2012, 09:11:42 PM »

Thank you, Orthonorm Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2012, 09:30:55 PM »

Maybe neither the Creator nor Creation are to blame, but something else...
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« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2012, 09:42:56 PM »

James,

I had been thinking about how to address your question. Your recent posts here and in the Random Postings convince me that my initial approach is the most appropriate.

...
..
.

I'm going to nominate this for POtM, but I admit only with caution and some thought about whether it's proper to do so. I somehow feel like this is more intimate somehow, in a way that shouldn't necessarily be paraded before the masses for, well, mass consumption. Nonetheless, it's excellent, and orthonorm decided to post it publically rather than PM him, so... yeah, POtM nominee.
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« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2012, 09:48:55 PM »

"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? or here place
In this delicious Garden? as my Will
Concurd not to my being, it were but right
And equal to reduce me to my dust,
Desirous to resigne, and render back
All I receav'd, unable to performe
Thy terms too hard, by which I was to hold
The good I sought not." - Milton, Paradise Lost

(It's funny you mention Frankenstein as the novel has the first of these lines on the title page)
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« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2012, 09:55:58 PM »

James,

I had been thinking about how to address your question. Your recent posts here and in the Random Postings convince me that my initial approach is the most appropriate.

...
..
.

I'm going to nominate this for POtM, but I admit only with caution and some thought about whether it's proper to do so. I somehow feel like this is more intimate somehow, in a way that shouldn't necessarily be paraded before the masses for, well, mass consumption. Nonetheless, it's excellent, and orthonorm decided to post it publically rather than PM him, so... yeah, POtM nominee.

I did spend more than a few minutes wondering whether to PM or not. For reasons too boring and many to provide, I made my decision.

If this adds to my reputation as being a reckless       so be it. (Really, that possibility is the only reason I didn't PM it.)



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« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2012, 09:56:43 PM »

"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? or here place
In this delicious Garden? as my Will
Concurd not to my being, it were but right
And equal to reduce me to my dust,
Desirous to resigne, and render back
All I receav'd, unable to performe
Thy terms too hard, by which I was to hold
The good I sought not." - Milton, Paradise Lost

(It's funny you mention Frankenstein as the novel has the first of these lines on the title page)

Nice! It's awesome having so many smart people around here.
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« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2012, 11:27:15 PM »


Wow! awesome posts!


@shanghaisiki,Thank you bro, you verbalised  what I hate about Maslow's hierarchy of needs and its philosophy on man. lets just say I know and have seen enough of the example you gave,  to conform to it.

Just because a person is poor, does not mean that he will commit crime in order to satisfy his needs. This is proven by many poor people who, though in want, exercise virtue with patience, putting their hope in God even, God forbid, to the point of starvation, and sometimes going hungry themselves to feed others or sacrificing themselves in some other way. These are the righteous. Righteous also are those who, though they have been given much, do not see these blessings as deserved or for them to use for their own pleasure, but rather give and share freely and joyfully what they have with those who have nothing. Thus, by the virtues of faith, patience, and generosity are inequities done away, bodies fed, and souls saved. It is because of man that the world is inequitable and iniquitous--not because of God, who created the world. He created men with free will so that they may be godlike as free beings, able to freely choose the good because it is good. Adam was free in Paradise, and he remained free in exile. Though in bondage to sin and death, even before the coming of Grace, men were free to do good or evil. They were also free to grow in virtue and closeness to God, to repent, or to completely reject God. Now, with the appearance of Grace with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is even less excuse because God has not only revealed Himself but freed us from bondage to sin and death.
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« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2012, 11:35:17 PM »

James,

I had been thinking about how to address your question. Your recent posts here and in the Random Postings convince me that my initial approach is the most appropriate.

...
..
.

I'm going to nominate this for POtM, but I admit only with caution and some thought about whether it's proper to do so. I somehow feel like this is more intimate somehow, in a way that shouldn't necessarily be paraded before the masses for, well, mass consumption. Nonetheless, it's excellent, and orthonorm decided to post it publically rather than PM him, so... yeah, POtM nominee.
By all means, PotM- I'm sure James is not the only person who has gone/will go through a lot of problems and have these questions and orthonorm has definitely outshone himself in this thread.

As it stands now, my planned long post on just what "free will" means has been made somewhat redundant- in the end it is all about relationship, not in the typical pop American "Jesus is my buddy" sense, but deeper and more meaningful than anything we normally conceive in today's society- marriage, that most used metaphor for the relationship between God and Man, has become shallow and disposable; and the familial relationship has become laughable. The problem of free will is the problem of relation, the only choice that matters is the one to turn to or away from God.
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« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2012, 03:31:44 AM »

I second the nomination to make it post of the month.
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« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2012, 05:24:46 AM »

Those ain't truths you die for. You die for what you know. What you love. And that love, that knowledge is not just in the head, or the heart, or even in your guts, but in your bones as well.
And how do we know God exists? How can we begin to love a thing without knowing it exists first.
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« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2012, 11:56:41 AM »

Those ain't truths you die for. You die for what you know. What you love. And that love, that knowledge is not just in the head, or the heart, or even in your guts, but in your bones as well.
And how do we know God exists? How can we begin to love a thing without knowing it exists first.

God is love. Love exists. God loves us. Maybe you've felt it through one of a myriad of ways and have responded in kind by loving God back, as much as you, as a finite being, are able to return the love of the Infinite. It's experiential, the knowledge of God. The barrier to that knowledge is not the kind of ignorance which book learning will heal, but is rather, I think, a kind of spiritual blindness the healing of which requires the faith and humility to approach the unapproachable and ask Him to make you see.
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« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2012, 01:08:32 PM »

This kind of borders the apologetics question "did God create evil?"

The answer is yes, God created evil.

He also created free will.  He gave us the choice to:

1) Follow our own will
2) Follow his will

Without this free and open choice, we would lack the responsibility for our decision.

It is harder to follow God's will in many cases, and easier to just "do what we want".

We are to blame for choosing the wrong way.   Without those two choice or evil, we would never have the opportunity to do the right thing.
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« Reply #26 on: April 11, 2012, 07:21:25 PM »

Those ain't truths you die for. You die for what you know. What you love. And that love, that knowledge is not just in the head, or the heart, or even in your guts, but in your bones as well.
And how do we know God exists? How can we begin to love a thing without knowing it exists first.

God is love. Love exists. God loves us. Maybe you've felt it through one of a myriad of ways and have responded in kind by loving God back, as much as you, as a finite being, are able to return the love of the Infinite. It's experiential, the knowledge of God. The barrier to that knowledge is not the kind of ignorance which book learning will heal, but is rather, I think, a kind of spiritual blindness the healing of which requires the faith and humility to approach the unapproachable and ask Him to make you see.

Lemme first say that I'm not trying to post under false pretenses. However as of late I'm not sure if Orthodoxy is that good at explaining what God is and how we can know such an entity exists.

You say God is love. What exactly is this love you are speaking of? You also say that to know God is to experience God deeply. This kind of reminds me of when Christ says in his Beatitudes "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God", because when you do acts of love to one another there is that feeling inside of oneself that you cannot grasp, almost as if you are getting into a connection with God.

I kind of want you to describe the love part here. It sounds very abstract, which is a big criticism I have discussing Orthodoxy on the internet.
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« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2012, 08:19:14 PM »

I'd like to mull things over for a bit before I attempt a fuller response (I also don't have the time to type out something long right now).


However, one thing that might help you out is this discussion on Free Will and Determinism from Orthodoxinfo. http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/freewill.aspx

Now, I'm but an Inquirer, so take my advice as you will.
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« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2012, 09:33:24 PM »

And this is advice you should follow. Don't start arguing, especially until you have read the rest of this what looks to be a long post. And don't argue then.

It is not wrong that you feel that way.
Go to the services.
Don't try to change your feelings.
Go to the services.
Be angry at God.
Go to the services.
Be at a loss and in confusion.
Go to the services.
Feel ashamed.
Go to the services.

Don't let anyone tell you should feel other than you do. You feel how you do, probably for many "good" reasons.

Don't let your feelings dictate your gross motor movements either (getting yourself to the parish among others). Especially, if you know (we'll get to what this means) that you want or should be there.

Feel however the @#$% you feel and go. I could cite cognitive science about why this is good, the Psalms, lives of Saints, etc. But just go.

Crisis is not the enemy of a real faith, but rather often its very source for many (more on this later).

I'd also like to add to what I mentioned earlier that this is excellent advice, and IMO, is PotM material even without the rest of orthonorm's post.

No matter what kind of doubts or anger you might have do your best to attend church. As someone who frequently struggles with philosophical things, I find it most helpful to stay "in touch" with God during the darkest times and do what I can to draw myself closer to him and resolve the problem--with God's help, of course.

Also, James, I find myself in a similar position as you when it comes to involvement in church life. At college, I live an hour away from the nearest EO church, and my budget doesn't allow me to attend. When I am home visiting my parents, I do my best to attend the services (and I count it a blessing that, while they are Protestants, they have been open to my Inquiry and even somewhat encouraging of me to find the truth). Because of these struggles, I am still an Inquirer, though I would love to be more if I could.

I haven't yet figured everything out about Orthodoxy, but the one thing I am sure of is that it is the right place for me. What I have learned thus far has me believing that Orthodoxy is the faith that makes the most "sense" to me and understands both the Truth and human nature the best (excuse the poor choice of words here, but I have trouble fitting it into words another way). I have questions and I have doubts from time to time, but that conviction hasn't left me.

Hope that helps, and may God be with you in your troubles.
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