I am finding it difficult to accept the concept that one could actually have an intimate relationship with God. God in His most simplistic definition is invisible and an immaterial being, additionally why would the very creator of the universe speak a human language. Isn’t that a hint the mankind has formed and molded the image of God into a human by describing God as speaking a human language? The only instances of God speaking audibly are on behalf of humanity itself. Frankly, I feel the existence of a deity is very verifiable and factual, but to think that the one creator of the universe would pick Earth out of all the planets in the universe to send his Son in the fleshly form is a bit of an exaggeration. In sum, I feel as if God is so absent from His connection to humanity, how can this deity be all powerful when thousands die every day from man made conflicts such as the current situation in the Middle East, Ukraine, and Nigeria. I just can’t picture God as all powerful in the midst of this human suffering, Is there any explanation behind any of these questions I have posed? Thank you for any answers you can provide.
You ask what are perhaps the key questions a rational person ought to ask about the Christian religion. On the face of it, the idea that an all-powerful, perfect, unchanging being would want to have a “personal” relationship with one of his created beings seems strange, bordering on not rational.
Yet, this is the premise of Christianity.
Here are a set of conclusion I think a reasonable person, analyzing human reality, might reach. I believe that the Christian explanation of this reality is the best one we have.
- Given the nature of reality itself, with all its evidence for design, and the simple fact that anything exists at all, there must be a Creator of the universe in which we dwell.
- Given the nature of human experience, it seems clear that this supernatural Creator either allows for or causes suffering and evil to exist.
What, then, is the explanation of these two aspects of reality?
We can go for the atheist/determinist/scientific materialist explanation, but this would imply that there is no Creator, that the design in the universe is a mirage, and it would require us to deny that evil (defined as an action which violates what is morally “right”) exists.
We can go for a postmodern explanation, which is, to say the least, a confusing one. It says that all explanations of the two above are equally valid and it denies that evil exists as a reality. It denies the reality of Truth itself.
We can go for the Buddhist or Hindu explanation (please forgive me for simplifying and lumping them together as they are not completely identical in their world view) which is to deny that there is a personal Creator, and which tells us that evil is an illusion–it is maya–it is not real. It also tells us that the universe is eternal and has a cyclic cosmology which is inconsistent with what we know about the universe.
We can go for a polytheistic or animistic world view, but this cannot explain science or the unchanging, predictable nature of physical reality.
We can go for the Islamic explanation, but this requires us to conclude that evil and suffering are God’s will. They are kismet. They are the result of God’s predestination.
This brings me back to the Christian explanation of the disturbing facts (the existence of great suffering and of evil behavior) you point out. The Christian explanation of physical reality is that it was created by a powerful, personal, unchanging deity/God. This is in full agreement with what I know about physical reality. Nature is unchanging, like God, and nature shows every sign of being designed by a Creator (given the Big Bang and other info). The problem, as you point out, is that according to Christianity this deity is perfect and does no evil. Why, then, would this Creator want to have a personal relationship with humans, and why would God allow for such terrible evil and suffering in the world? This is the key question.
The Christian answer to this is that God, by his very nature, is a God who seeks relationship. The “trinity” itself is about relationship between Father, Son and Spirit. The reason humans were created by God is so that He could have a relationship with them and they could have a relationship with Him. Why would God want this? Because it is His nature. Why do humans want to bring other humans into the world? It sure is a lot of work. It requires that we love the unlovable? The biblical answer is not “instinct” but that we were made in God’s image. We, like God, seek relationship.
But this does not answer the disturbing question about why there is so much suffering and, even more difficult, why there is such gross evil in a world created by an all-powerful and perfect Creator. The answer is that God, in his love, gave his creatures the choice as to whether we would love him and have a relationship with him. The key to unlocking this mystery is “free will.” Free will is why there was that tree in the Garden of Eden. Love is a choice and those who want to give and receive love must give a choice. Unlike plants, planets, animals and other parts of the creation, human beings have moral choices because God wants us to choose to love him. Is this weakness on God’s part? I suppose we could call this weakness. Personally, I do not consider the human desire to love and to be loved as weakness. I see it as one of the greatest aspects of creation.
The bottom line is this. According to the Christian World View, creation is good–all of it. However, God gave his highest creation the ability to choose whether to do good or to do evil. Clearly, the majority of us have chosen rebellion and evil over obedience to our Creator. This is why the killings are happening on Ukraine, Nigeria and Syria. It is because people choose evil rather than God. Is this God’s “fault”? I suppose that indirectly it is his fault, but I am glad that God created me and I am glad that he loves me. I am also very glad that he allows me to decide for myself if I will love him. This is what love does. Like the Bible says in 1 John 4:16. God is love.
You also ask a couple of other questions. Why does God speak English or Mandarin or Hebrew or Aramaic? God does not have lips, a tough and lungs. God does not speak a human language. However, as Creator, God is able to communicate with his creatures in any form he chooses, including speaking to them through prophets who speak and write languages such as Hebrew and Greek. How would you propose that God communicate with his creatures? What other mode would you suggest? The fact that God has communicated with us by coming in flesh in the form of Jesus Christ or that he has used spoken and written word to communicate his will to us does not prove that Christianity is a man-made religion. Whether or not Christianity represents truth and reality will stand on its own merits, some of which are mentioned above. But the fact that God uses language to communicate does nothing to prove that Christianity is man-made. The very few times God chose to actually produce an audible “voice” was for a particular and unique reason at that time, such as the time he spoke to Moses or to the crowd at the time of Jesus’ baptism.
It is interesting that God chose the earth. The universe is unimaginable vast in both time and space. Why did God waste so much time and energy creating the entire universe, only to populate one planet and come to die for the people on that tiny, insignificant planet? In human terms this is difficult to fathom, but we should remember that God exists outside of space and time. He created the two and is unaffected by time or space. God created a natural universe in which galaxies, planets and life could evolve by a “natural” set of laws. Exactly why he did it this way, I suppose, is a bit of a mystery, but it is not that this is too difficult for God. Besides, for all we know there may be life and even sentient moral beings on other planets. We simply do not know and God does not reveal such knowledge to us in the Bible.
You say that God is distant and absent from his creation. In this case, if the Bible is true, then you are incorrect in your belief about reality. Like Paul said, “In him we live and move and have our being.” And God has determined the times and places and situations in the hope that we would seek him and find a relationship with him (quoting Acts 17:26 as well as paraphrasing other parts of Acts 17). If the Christian view is correct, then God is not distant and removed from us. If the existence of evil tempts you to feel this way, I can understand why you might have this thought, but I would challenge you to consider the Christian explanation of evil. Perhaps you might feel differently.
I hope this helps.