Humanity Is Not a Fallen Race

24 Jan

Many Biblical scholars have made the observation that religious thinkers are constrained by a phenomenon having to do with religious heritage. These religious thinkers, which include prophets, chroniclers and letter writers, are never allowed to make a clean break with old traditions. This is because people are unwilling to consider a “new” religious idea. They are only willing to consider a seemingly new religious idea if it appears to be a new understanding of an old religious idea.

This unwillingness to consider a new religious idea stems from a simple dilemma. If the idea is new, why didn’t God, who is supposedly omniscient and omnipotent, tell them about it before? Worse, if the idea seems to contradict something they have already been taught, then that means that something they accepted out of faith is wrong. In other words, it must mean that God has lied to them. How can God lie? Moreover, if one part of it is wrong, maybe other parts of it are wrong. If other parts of it are wrong, maybe all of it is wrong. If the whole thing is wrong, then what do they have left? Do they resort to science which seems to say there is no God and that they should not bother to contemplate him?

I am not going to propose here that all the old ideas about religion are wrong. I am, however, going to propose that certain fundamental ideas entertained by the world’s preeminent religions are wrong. However, before I do that, I would like to state up front what I believe is correct.

I believe that God exists. I believe that he is omniscient and omnipotent. I believe that he is a being that humans can relate to, if not entirely understand. I believe that human intuition about the nature of God, his motivations, and his objectives is possible and desirable. I believe that God has a plan for humanity and that his plan is that which is most favorable to humanity.

The idea that I propose is wrong is that humans are a fallen race. However, before I explain my position, I would like to elaborate a bit on why the belief that humans are a fallen race exists and what purpose that belief served in the past.

If we start from the hypothetical position, which I find untenable, that God does not exist, then there would have to be some natural reason why humans have arrived at the idea that they are a fallen race.  The reason is relatively simple. It has to do with suffering. Many sophisticated philosophers have come to the conclusion that God cannot exist based on the observation of suffering. When humans see suffering and note the degree of suffering, they have difficulty, often insurmountable difficulty, believing that there could be an omnipotent God that cares about them. How could a God that supposedly cares about them and has the power to act for their benefit allow so much suffering? More specifically, how could he allow the kind of suffering that takes place in prison camps where prisoners are tortured and deprived? How could he allow the kind of suffering experienced by abdominal cancer patients whose guts are seemingly torn apart? How could he allow the kind of suffering experienced by burn victims that suffer burns over a large percentage of their bodies? How could he allow child abuse and child rape? How could he allow starvation of seemingly innocent humans on a mass scale?

When humans first attempted to address the issue of suffering, they came to the conclusion that people must have done something in the past to bring this upon themselves. They must have committed some horrible sin that resulted in God becoming angry and allowing suffering to enter the world. For this reason, they invented the story of Adam and Eve and other tales that supposedly substantiate this belief.

However, ideas such as this raised new questions. Why would contemporary humans be forced to pay for the crimes of humans who lived thousands of years ago? In a monumental effort to connect the sins of our forefathers to the present, religious thinkers assembled some remarkable intellectual constructs. They invented the idea that sin can be inherited or that sin has permanent residence in the world. They even reinterpreted some old Gods as monsters within which sin could permanently reside. In essence, they invented the Devil.

So, we see that if God did not exist, humans, in their attempts to explain how an omniscient and omnipotent God could allow suffering, would have invented original sin and the devil. They would have arrived at the conclusion that humans are a fallen race.

However, I believe in God and I do not believe that this explanation is correct. God is indeed omniscient and omnipotent, but he is attempting to do something very difficult. He is attempting to create a space, the observable universe, where beings can live and have free will. It is easy for a person, thinking along simple lines, to say that God could do this without allowing suffering, but I propose that God could not do this. The reasons are comparable to why God could not create an exception to the Pythagorean Theorem or Fermat’s Last Theorem. God cannot do something that is logically inconsistent.

When we contemplate a universe that has free will, we imagine one in which God simply pronounces will as free and free will comes about. However, this does not take into account the impossible obstacles that must be presented, even to an omnipotent being, in creating something with intention over which he has no power. As difficult as this may be for some theologians to accept, free will must mean freedom from the power of God. That is an idea that has touched the minds of many religious thinkers over the millennia, but it is an idea they have shied away from because it seems to suggest that God is not omnipotent. However, I suspect that they are paying too much attention to the power of God and too little attention to the logistics of free will. How does a God that is literally in control of the shape and movement of every dot and twiddle of the universe make something with intention that is independent?

How can anything exist that is independent of cause and effect? Scientists have not been able to imagine how it could be done. In fact, most physicists consider it an impossibility. Hence, they postulate the nonexistence of free will.

Theologians insist that God could create free will without difficulty. Physicists insist that it is impossible. I propose that there must be a happy medium.

What I propose is that God had to somehow separate himself from our universe. I do not know how he accomplished this. It seems like it would be impossible. However, doing so apparently involved separating himself from human affairs in such a way that we are able to do things that he might not prefer. It also apparently involved separating himself from our universe in such a way that it becomes possible for events to unfold in a way that he might not prefer. Apparently, our universe is something like a terrarium that God is able to shine a light into but that he dares not open. If he opens it, the result will be the destruction of free will.

As a terrarium, our universe must grow from the seeds that God has planted within it and gradually form into the universe he intends for us to live in. I cannot help but wonder if, encoded in the words of Jesus, is a foretelling of this process:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. (Mathew 13:31-32)

I suspect that the ultimate destiny of our universe is that it will become something like the Biblical concept of heaven in which everyone has plenty and suffering is eliminated. I also suspect that after this heaven is constructed, some means will exist to pull everyone and everything out of the past and give them a new life that is free of suffering. The key element is that we must assemble heaven by ourselves.

The remaining question has to do with why God would have allowed so many, for so long, to believe something that is essentially a lie: that humans are a fallen race.

Humans needed to believe in God, and they lacked the sophistication to think their way around the problem of suffering. God could not interfere with the universe to give us the requisite sophistication to get around this dilemma any more than he could interfere to prevent suffering. Therefore, he allowed us to formulate and elaborate on a myth. The alternative was that we would conclude that there was no God. For many humans, for the duration of our history, believing that there was no God would have made it impossible for them to maintain any semblance of hope. How would many, perhaps most, humans have made it through two world wars that involved unthinkable weapons and unthinkable acts if they had no hope? God did not tell us a lie. We invented it independently. He allowed us to believe the lie because the alternative was unworkable.

The universe seems to be like furniture from IKEA. It comes in a box, but it requires assembling. God manufactured the parts and packed the box so that we would have everything we needed, but he seems intent that we assemble them at home.

Anyone who has assembled furniture that comes in pieces knows the inherent frustration. This frustration is analogous to the suffering that we all experience and some of us experience to a significant degree. However, eventually the furniture is assembled and we are able to rest comfortably in our new bed, couch or recliner.

When the universe is fully assembled and all of us that have died are pulled from the past—resurrected, so to speak—the suffering will be in our past. Those who experienced seemingly soul shattering trauma will heal and the suffering will become a less personal memory. We will be like a mother that has gone through labor and who, looking upon her newborn child, forgets the pain she went through giving birth.

That day will come. We will all stand within it. We will stand within it as God’s creatures in full possession of free will.


One Response to “Humanity Is Not a Fallen Race”

  1. Anonymous February 1, 2020 at 9:08 am #

    Yes, humanity is a Fallen Race! According to the story, humanity was once sitting high on the pedestal of physical and mental health, no pains, no worries, plenty of food and water, like a branch of a tree planted by a river of water, who yields its fruits every season! But then the branch broke off, and has ‘Fallen’ on the ground, where it now daily fades away in hunger, and in thirst, and in wants of all things!

    Now, the weak, dying and fading branch can NOT graft itself back on the tree! It has no such power! Only the gardener who planted the tree has the power and know-how to perform such feat. So humanity cannot create paradise on earth; if man could he would never break off from the tree in the first place! The logical thing for man to do is to supplicate the Creator-gardener to have mercy on them, and graft them back on the tree!

    As concerning free will:
    “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)

    In the same way the Living God can create living beings other than Himself, in that same way the Willing God can create willing beings other than Himself! It’s not that difficult to understand. Life is an inner essence or POWER, an ability to ‘move’ or activate oneself based on, and according to the essential nature of that power alone! It’s activation and self-motions are independent of any external influence. So if you have that inner power called life, then you can use it to ‘move’ on your own. This life-induced self-motion is what we call Free Will!

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