Monday, 30 April 2012

Bird-watcher sets cat among pigeons

Do you hate trite answers to deep questions? From babyhood we construct mental patterns to help make sense of what is around us. With language we gain (illusory) control of the world. By 3 or 4 we ask questions that begin 'why' as often as with 'what'.

Some of the 'why' questions are easily answered, some not. I think one of the tasks of adulthood is to go on asking questions and learn to live with questions with no answers, or no answers yet. This also applies to maturing in faith. Most of the world's religions provide some answer to the difficult questions of life or a way of living with them that gives meaning and purpose.

I believe God is the Creator of all that there is. This gives rise to some of the biggest questions - and I'm not talking about any supposed conflict between scientific and Biblical ideas of the origins of the universe and humanity's place within it. The biggest question for me is 'why suffering?' When suffering is directly or indirectly caused by human sin I can find satisfying explanations - up to a point. The really difficult issues for a believer in God who is all-goodness, all-love, is why suffering and destruction seem essential to the way the natural world works. The trite answers don't work for me here. I'm left with asking the questions and trying to trust it's all part of a bigger plan than I can imagine.

Dave Bookless asks this question well today on 'The Planetwise Blog'. Among other things he is a bird-watcher. That's why I've entitled this post 'Bird-watcher sets cat among pigeons'. He finds the traditional Christian explanation of paradise lost because of 'the fall' may solve one theological problem but creates others. He asks,
"Are suffering and death part of the warp and weft of a good but not yet perfect creation? Should we ditch a cosy human-centred concept of what ‘good’ means, and recognize that God’s wild and dangerous world has a bigger, more mysterious goodness?" 
 Genesis 1: 31 reads,
"God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good." 
What do you understand by those words? How would you have answered the wildlife presenter David Attenborough who said he found it hard to reconcile "the notion of a divine and benevolent creator" with the thought of a worm, that can live no other way, burrowing through the eyeball of a young child? To take just one example?


In the post 'Rotten to the core? In what sense is creation good' Dave Bookless asks the questions but doesn't give answers. As he says,
"sometimes even birdwatchers need to set the cat amongst the pigeons". 
Do you have any answers? Or just more questions?





 

2 comments:

  1. I struggle with suffering especially when it comes to child abuse and abductions.

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    1. I agree that the suffering caused by child abuse and abductions is dreadful, but in trying to understand the 'why'one can say that is suffering caused by human sin. It's when thousands of people die in natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis etc that I have no answer to 'why did God allow this?'

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