The Problem of Evil - Part 2
Thank you very much for your response to my questions regarding the problem of evil. I am sincerely grateful for your taking the time to consider what I wrote to you. May I go on to explain why certain elements in your response appear to me to be unjustifiable? (if my assessment is wrong, my opening myself up in this way will benefit me by pointing the shortcomings of my assessment out to me, so please, don't take my objections as signs of bellicosity). In your response, you wrote:
The question of why God allows innocent children to suffer assumes a few things:
- That God exists as an eternal being, one who is supposed to be just, loving and all-powerful -- or at least powerful enough to judge evil.
O.K., I suppose that, strictly speaking, it does assume God's existence, if no other supplementary statements are provided (e.g., "...etc. etc.,...therefore God cannot exist"). However, yours being an apologetics site, I thought that the dispute/doubt/scrutiny with regard to God's existence was a given. After all, IF God DOES exist (God being the personification of omnipotence, omniscience, love, righteousness, etc. etc.) then the perfection of his nature would render any charge of unfairness on his part APRIORI illogical. But DOES God exist? Please remember my last paragraph (of my first letter to you): "I realize that if God DOES exist, then our inability to adequately answer these questions becomes of no consequence"; and so on. The emphasis, of course, is on "IF" (and notice the challenge in the rest of my last paragraph). Therefore, the question of God's permissive will in connection with evil does not presuppose the existence of the God you are describing; rather, the question functions as a pointer to the high degree of unlikelihood of a fair God's existence (IF no other DEMONSTRABLE evidence is given), in view of the suffering of creatures who are unaccountable and unable to benefit from that suffering.
Above, you say that you're questioning the existence of a fair God because of suffering. What about the possibility of an unfair God? Because suffering exists in the world, it cannot be a determining factor in itself of God's existence. If God was, for the sake of argument, unfair, then one would expect to see unfairness in the world. Of course, that leads back into the question of what is fair, and how do we measure it.
> ...If something exists that falls short of a standard, then that standard must also exist. IF we define evil as that which is not good, then an absolute of good must be recognized, else evil is just a matter of opinion.
This statement is too abstract. Consider how it can be both true and unable to support an ACTUAL existence (i.e., an existence which is not confined to the mythical or legendary realm): -Unicorns have always been known to exhibit the following physical characteristics: (a horse's body, one horn, etc., etc.). -A zebra does not fulfill the requirements for its categorization within the unicorn family.. -Therefore, the standard which all prospective unicorn-relatives must meet must exist. Yet, this does not allow you to state that unicorns must of necessity exist in actuality (i.e., as more than a mythical construct in literature). The standard may be an existing one, without unicorns ever having existed. (Of course, one can always resort to "how do you know unicorns have never existed?", but I'm hoping that the standard of this little academic interaction between us will not be so sacrificed; let's see.). The application of this to the existence of God and to the existence of an absolute good is, I should think, evident.
I'm glad you brought this up, as it will allow me to expand on my meaning. Let's continue with your analogy of the unicorn. Some may define a unicorn as a horse-like beast with a horn growing from its brow. Others may say the unicorn must be white and have wings as well. Still others say that the idea of the unicorn sprang from the Narwhal, a sea creature that doesn't even resemble a horse. How can I legitimately claim that my definition of a unicorn is the correct one? I may say the majority of opinion accepts my definition, but that is capable of being changed in one generation. Therefore, majority opinion cannot be accepted as the defining element to truth.
So, popular opinion doesn't make good de facto good, nor does an idea of "we don't like your actions, therefore they're evil," because that causes many problems. One must come up with a more concrete determination of good and evil. Let's look at other relative means of determining good:
If you define evil by saying it is that which causes harm to an individual, then is an amputation evil? You may answer "Of course not, since its objective is to take away something in order for the body to survive and get stronger." That reasoning was also justification for the Holocaust in Germany. It also held popular opinion at the time.
If you arrive there by saying "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," does the drug addict giving his addict friend a shot of heroin qualify as good? (This question is a little more than academic, since the legalization of drugs is a subject under debate in our society.) Certainly, these are extreme examples, but they vary only in degree from the norm. There are those who feel that euthanasia is a good for the person and society, but they are euthanising people who have no terminal illness. Thus, dying, which no one would normally categorize as good is being justified.
You see, most people agree to a good that is a relative good, not an absolute good. That good changes, not only for societies, but even within a person, as their life experiences grow. A child's idea of fair is much different from that as an adult. (Indeed, a child could see a stern parent punishing him for leaving a messy room as suffering, while the parent knows it is for correction and training.) When defining what is good or evil is a choice based only on the opinions of the individual, then ultimately anything can be classified as evil eventually. Because there is no objective standard against which to measure people's opinions of evil, then evil (and therefore good) become moving targets that change with each generation and culture. Surely this cannot be considered truth, for truth must be absolute.
> If evil is only opinion then it is subject to the observer's interpretation and may no longer be considered evil.
I'm not sure whether you are not mixing up the CONCEPT of evil, on one hand, and INDIVIDUAL acts, on the other, which may or may not be construed as evil ones, depending on relatively-set standards of the time and place in which they occur. The concept of evil is very real and universal; it is that which conflicts with our desires/wishes/expectations. This definition does not beg any questions. Consider: If someone steals my wallet, I can say one of two things: 1 The thief's act conflicts with my wish and with my need to retain the quite essential items my wallet contained. 2 The thief's act conflicts with God's decree according to which "thou shalt not steal". Statement #1 is not an opinion but a universally known fact concerning human nature (again, comments like "what about suicidal, retarded or irrational persons who act contrary to what is beneficial to them?" are really a waste of time. If a person wants to watch his hand burn and to feel the relevant pain, then stopping that person from carrying on with his planned venture conflicts with that person's desire to see that venture through; hence, to that person, our preventative intervention is evil. While he and I disagree on the propriety/justification/wisdom of self-inflicted suffering, both he and I agree on what constitutes evil, namely the definition provided above). Statement #2 does beg the question: "Does God exist?", "Did God say "thou shalt not steal?", "Can that part of scripture be demonstrated to have been dictated by God as opposed by a human?" etc. Thus while individual acts may be interpreted differently, all humans know what evil is.
I disagree with your definition of evil, because you have left out one component: what about the desires/wishes/expectations of the thief! He is a very real person and his motives are just as valid to him as yours are to you. He may have not eaten in three days and needs money. Certainly, it's more important for a man to get nourishment than for another to hold onto his extra money. Do you see the problem? If, however, statement #2 is used to determine action, then we acknowledge the need for the man to eat, but we don't approve of his means to meet that need. It does beg the question of God's existence, but that's my point. If you answer "yes, God has mandated us not to steal", then mankind has a clear set of standards to follow. You must have God in order to have clear definitions of good and evil. Otherwise, a communist regime might not call it stealing, but redistributing wealth from the elect upper class to the people.
> In order for an absolute good to exist, God is necessary. You must have someone who draws the line in order to compare against it, and only an absolutely righteous being can draw a line of absolute good. If he is flawed, then his standard runs the risk of being flawed also.
Again, God is necessary only as far as justifying the concept of absolute good is concerned. But this still leaves us with the question: "But IS there an absolute good in REALITY (i.e., is absolute good more than a humanly-invented concept?". What about the following hypothesis? All humans have wishes but some conflict with some of others. Hence, while individual acts vary with regard to one's evaluation of them, all humans have the same attitude toward evil (i.e., they do not like the idea of their wishes/desires being unfulfilled/neutralized. Suppose then, that some find comfort (they erect a defense mechanism) in the soothing notion of eventual bliss brought about by a perfect Being ("one day everything will be alright"). Others do not find comfort there for any number of reasons. Instead, they become moral relativists (morality does not have an absolute basis for its existence). I suggest that we cannot prove either one category to be wrong. Those who have chosen to believe in an absolute good may have lucked out; maybe there is such a thing in reality AS WELL AS in myth. But they believed in it because it suited them, not because of any compelling evidence (if there is compelling evidence, I'm still waiting to hear about it, but, so far, the necessity of absolute good from the existence of something which falls short of absolute good is not evidence; it is not even a valid argument). To maintain that there must exist an ACTUAL (as opposed to a conceptual or mythical) state of affairs designated/described by "absolute good" simply because there is relative, incomplete, finite good in the world is the same fallacy of circular reasoning as the one which somebody would commit by stating that there must exist an actuality of eternal life simply due to the finite nature of life as we know it on this side of the great divide (a finite nature which, being finite, falls short of the absolute standard on which the concept is supposed to depend). There is no avoiding the begging of the question: "But IS THERE life after death?". Microbes are also alive; does this necessitate an eternal existence for them in the future? What about animals? Why only humans (if your answer includes "the image of God" clause, I remind you in advance that such a clause begs more questions than it'd attempt to answer)? We cannot take our premises (premises based on pure presupposition, not fact) and use them as our conclusion. Therefore, because one cannot demonstrate that absolute good is more than a wish (like eternal life), one is not justified to state that God must exist due to His inseparable connection with, and support of, THE IDEA/LONGING of absolute good. In other words: Without God, absolute good cannot exist as more than a wish or idea. Therefore, IF it does exist, so MUST God. But DOES IT exist as more than wishful thinking? Can one describe and/or demonstrate (with EVIDENCE please) such a state of affairs?
I don't quite know what kind of evidence you're looking for, but I don't agree that the idea of absolute good being only wishful thinking. It is necessary for us as human beings, otherwise chaos will be the only other logical conclusion. Relative good is only as good as the moment it's believed. When one doesn't accept your definition of good, then it ceases to be. Let me put it another way; if moral relativism is true, then no one can be condemned for causing suffering, for that person is being true to himself and his beliefs, and his ideas are just as valid as anyone else's. Therefore, your original question of why innocents are allowed to suffer becomes self-defeating. No society that truly embraces moral relativism fully can hope to survive. Should we as a nation enslave other people? We can choose as we wish, unless we must answer to an authority higher than ourselves.
I assume we both agree that torturing small children just because one desires to do so is wrong. It is wrong no matter what location you're living in, what culture, or what era. Therefore we both believe in an absolute that holds for all people in all places at all times. This begs the question "from where did this law of absolute come?" We have a limited number of choices in determining its origin. It either spontaneously appeared, it evolved over human history, or it was commanded to us by someone (or something) higher than ourselves. If it just exists as happenstance, then there is no real force binding us to this law, as there are no moral ramifications to violating it (remember, this is a law of what we should and should not do, not of what we can and cannot do). If it evolved over time, then it really becomes a version of moral relativism and is not a law of absolutes at all. The only other choice we have is that it was commanded to us.
I don't know what "proof" I can offer for concepts, other than your question about children suffering reinforces the idea that there are actions that are inherently wrong -evil- and that must mean that there is a set of absolute standards to determine such. Therefore, if it does exist, so must God.
> Now, the next thing we notice is the fallacy of time.
In that paragraph it seems to me that you are suggesting that God does indeed do something about the problem of evil, only His ways, not being confined to the space-time continuum, are not entirely observable by us humans. But my question is "how can a fair, loving, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent God allow innocent/unaccountable children of His to go through nightmarish torture?". I am not asking about what He is planning on doing later, after the sufferer's death, or what He is doing while outside time. -The cases of unspeakable suffering of innocents DID occur WITHIN the space-time continuum. -The sufferers' nervous systems did register the painful stimuli within the space-time continuum. -The sufferers' wishes were in diametrical opposition to such suffering within the space-time continuum. So WHY did God allow this to happen? And how can such an allowance be consistent with the concept of God? How does proverbs 11:21 answer any of this? It does not. The damage has already been done, the suffering has already occurred, irrespective of whether or not the culprits will be justly punished. The innocent has already been deprived of freedom, dignity, life, opportunity, sanity. Are such tragic states justifiable by the prospect of heavenly compensation? Or did the sufferers need to suffer in order to gain the heavenly rewards? If we want to give a great gift to a loved one ("gift" implying an act of grace and love), do we HAVE TO make them sweat for it? Do we torture them?
Again, the idea of time being linear might cause you to have problems here. When we dream, our existence in that dream is as real as life. We feel in the same manner, and all we perceive is for us in that moment reality. When we awake, we realize that the dream has occurred, and it no longer has the joys (or the sting) that was so real in our previous perception.
I agree that the pain one feels unjustly is real. I also think that if it were not, people might not understand sin as well as they now do. Sin is ugly, nightmarish at times, but there are many in our society who feel that it is an outdated notion. God wishes for us to flee sin. He knows it can cause grief and agony. There are many attractions to sin (such as promiscuity), but only when the consequences become evident (such as diseases, etc.) do people tend to think twice about their actions. If man did not desire to sin, then rescuing all who may suffer seems logical, but until man's nature changes, pain will remain.
> ...If God were to immediately destroy all who violate His laws, none of us would remain.
I am not asking why does God not destroy/punish the wicked. I am asking why does God not spare all the innocents. The wicked can still exercise their free will and be wicked in thought and intent, attitude and imagination. They can also be wicked to others who share in the former's wickedness. Thus, if I've spent all my life stealing cars, and now a car thief makes me look like the perpetrator of his latest venture (with the result of my arrest), I get what I deserve anyway. But where does this leave the bombed, burned, gang-raped and orphaned UNACCOUNTABLE children of places like Bosnia?
One thing we must remember is that God created us with a free will. How is it an exercise in choice if I can only steal from the "bad people"? Also, to what degree is someone classified as bad? No one on the planet can be held up as keeping all God's laws. If we all fall into the imperfect category, then is it all right for someone to steal from me?
I am saddened by the atrocities in the places like Bosnia. They are a prime example of the result of ignoring God and choosing to violate His will. Those who commit such crimes were also given a free will. In order to stop all atrocities, free will would have to be stifled. Humanity would become a race of robots with our actions all programmed. We would be unable to give out love, mercy and compassion because they are also products of free will.
> Sometimes God permits evil to continue for the greater good.
Do you realize how unfair, illogical and inaccurate this last statement is of THE PERFECTLY FAIR AND JUST Being of the universe? Do I really have to explain why? And why is C.S. LEWIS still so unfortunately and destructively influential in Christian thinking today? In his "Mere Christianity" he conveniently neglects to point out that Jesus' sacrifice (for the greater good) was VOLUNTARILY undertaken by Jesus. Furthermore, the sacrifice had to happen because evil ALREADY EXISTED AND WERE BEFALLING ON (among others) THE UNACCOUNTABLE (so the question "why do the unaccountable suffer?" existed BEFORE Jesus' sacrifice. But it really strikes me as the textbook example of "MY belief system, right or wrong!!!" to say that it is O.K. for the personification of fairness, justice, love, perfection etc., to allow little children to suffer tooth-gnashing agony "for the greater good". This is something which parents all over the world may consider and reflect upon privately.
Many parents whose children have cancer do allow their little ones to suffer the agony of chemotherapy treatments for the greater good. It would be unfair of the parent to say "I'm not going to treat my child at all, because it's too painful." As humans, we all must feel pain in order to grow. Sheltering someone from any embarrassment or frustration does them an incredible disservice. It may not be their fault that events coincide to embarrass them, or that they lack the skill at a particular task and fail, but that is the only way we can ever understand others and their shortcomings. It is also the only way we will ever get stronger ourselves.
I still don't accept the idea that the choices of individuals to act in defiance of God and His laws should be impugned against God. If you take it to its logical conclusion, that point of view would be "Life is only a brief period of time that is seeded with disappointments, pain, and struggles ultimately ending in death. Wouldn't it be more logical for God to skip the whole process? Why should we experience life when is will only bring pain? Wouldn't it be more just and logical to not have people around at all?" No one seems to argue to this end, but rejecting the idea that suffering can serve a purpose will ultimately lead to this conclusion.
>...immediate judgment only rescues the suffering and not the one committing those acts.
In addition to my above-mentioned statements concerning my inquiries being directed toward why God allows suffering, not why does He not punish the wicked, I would like to further comment that 1) in the O.T., there are cases of divinely-appointed genocide (men, women, children, animals, except - conveniently enough - virgins); not much chance of repentance there; 2) it is never fair to allow a free-willed criminal to carry out his/her already made choice to brutally torture an innocent simply for the purpose of giving the criminal chances to repent from criminal choices which he/she was not supposed to be making or executing in the first place. Mercy cannot be compatible with fairness unless the sacrificial agent is fully aware of all the implications of his/her sacrifice and willingly concedes. That's the difference between Jesus and all the little children who have been molested; 3) therefore, a perfect, divine type of mercy must ensure that any undeserved second (or third, or fourth) chances a criminal gets he/she does not get them ON THE EXPENSE of an innocent who is unwilling (and FULLY entitled to that unwillingness) to bear the burden.
The cases that you point to are those times of God's judgment upon that particular society. You assume the society had no forewarning and had no chance to change their actions before that judgment befell them. You also assume that it is worse for the children to die than to continue on in such an unrepentant state (I know of no case in the Bible where children and livestock were destroyed but virgins escaped the same fate. In Numbers 31, the judgment is against Israel itself. Moses was angered that the warriors spared the Midianite women, ordered them and the soldiers who slept with them destroyed. The women who were spared from Moses' command were Jewish women).
> ...Your reasoning in the futility of [the "Cancer Surgery"] argument has overlooked a couple of points. First, you assume that death is the ultimate end and that is not necessarily so. If there is an eternal life beyond what we are experiencing now, then all of our existence in our present state will be an instant there. Remember, we are talking about being outside the time dimension altogether, so all time would exist simultaneously.
I suppose I should not respond to this further since a response is being given above, until and if you chose to reply with something I may have missed. Here, I only want to refer to your suggestion that I seem to assume that death is the ultimate end. As I have mentioned both in this letter and in my initial one, total extinction/oblivion cannot be proven. However, if evidence of your claims about eternal life cannot be given, then the faith is being reduced to mere wishful thinking. What I mean is this: You are called to defend the seeming contradiction between the concept of a perfectly fair God and His allowing of the suffering of the innocent. If the only forthcoming reply boils down to "you can't PROVE that death is final, therefore MAYBE there is an after-life, therefore MAYBE God has unfathomable ways of dealing with the problem outside the time dimension..."etc., then such a reply is no different than saying "I sure hope there's something more to life than this". [mind you, I'm not saying YOU are replying in this manner; I'm only pointing out certain implications; furthermore, I realize that the sort of evidence for the resurrection, for the fulfillment of prophesies and, in short, for the existence of a metaphysical state of affairs would be beyond the scope of your email; but in that case, I would love for once to see the Christian apologetic community admit that NO ANSWER can be given on the rent discrepancy of evil other than the fact that God DOES exist - a statement which would require further proof, of course].
The only way to prove there is an eternal state of existence is for someone from that realm to send a message to those who exist in a time dimension. In Isaiah 43:13 God proclaims that He is outside the time dimension. He also gives the test to prove that claim: to foretell events before they occur (Isaiah 44:6-7, 41:21-23; Deut 18:20-23, etc.) This is basic to the question of the existence of God (other than the moral absolute argument we've previously discussed.) The foreknowledge of future events not only shows the existence of God, but also which is the true God. The Bible is the ONLY holy text to portray time as a physical property and God residing outside of it (2 Peter 3:8, etc.)
To look at the many prophecies given in the Bible and are verified would be another entire exchange, but I will at least submit some. The book of Daniel is so accurate to world history, Bible critics have had to late-date its composition in order to explain the accuracy of the events it describes. The problem is that the book was translated into Greek in approximately 270 BC; well before the 165 BC date necessary to predict Antiochus Epiphanies. Also, the fact that Daniel predicts Rome as coming to power would require an even later date of writing.
Another prophecy is concerning Herod's temple. In Matthew 24 vs. 1-2, Jesus declares, "Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down." In 70 AD the Roman commander Titus Vespatian took three divisions and invaded Jerusalem. When they were burning the city, the gold inlay of the temple ceiling melted and ran between the joints of the stones. The soldiers, not wanting to lose any booty, pulled the temple apart stone by stone to get all the gold.
More can be written, including all the remarkable prophecies concerning the Christ and His birth, suffering, and death, but we must leave that for a later date. Suffice it to say the Bible is the only Holy book that offers prophecy in such number and with such accuracy. That is the yardstick used to determine the true word of God, and therefore the existence of "He who dwells in eternity"(Isaiah 57:15).
> ...Also, if God were to rescue everyone afflicted, then there is no real consequence of actions.
I do not understand how you arrive at this conclusion. Did not King Saul's attempts to murder David out of envy (attempts which were thwarted by God directly) have any real consequences? Does not the Bible contain numerous instances of divine deliverance, followed, nevertheless, by a due retribution against the wrong-doers? (Red Sea, etc., etc.). I'm afraid this type of reasoning is no different than "God allows the innocent to suffer for the greater good" (I know your sentence did not read "...God allows THE INNOCENT to suffer..." but "...God allows EVIL to continue...", but my challenge is not "how can evil exist?" but rather "how can God allow evil to be imposed on the UNACCOUNTABLE/INNOCENT"). First of all, I repeat that you cannot VOLUNTEER SOMEONE ELSE for soteriological sacrifice. Secondly, cases of divine intervention do exist in Scripture. So why only certain cases? Favoritism? Sloppy work? Indication of human myth as opposed to historically accurate case of divine intervention? Some other reason (you see, I believe there HAS to be another reason. That's because I AM very much a Christian due to the fact that I have no choice but to accept, and act upon, the historically DEMONSTRABLE fact of the resurrection and Daniel 9. But I still cannot give ANY reason why God allows the evil in question).
I submit that evil cannot occur in a vacuum. The sin one man commits has ramifications for those around him and even those in distant lands. That is why sin is so heinous. It doesn't affect "just me". That is also why God hates it so much. Yes, He has delivered people from specific instances, and He has judged evildoers. His judgment, though, comes only after giving those who are evil every opportunity to repent.
If no one were ever allowed to commit acts that would affect another, then how could we really say that sin has dire consequences, not just for the one committing the act, but for everyone else? Why would we be against sin at all? I think it is impossible to have man exercise his free will and never have that will impose on others.
> Finally, about the total depravity argument...
I believe you are arguing for the total depravity/sinful nature (SIN) from three main arguments:
- Historical argument (human history: a tale of war and mischief)
- Inherent selfishness and simultaneous lack of morality (since values have to be instilled, according to what you are saying, while selfishness comes out spontaneously).
- We all have fallen short of our standards.
Regarding 1): This is hardly the place, of course, to embark on a debate of a sociological nature, as long as you agree with me that sociology has not (indeed, cannot) proven either the "nature" or the "nurture" side of the debate. If we are in agreement, then it becomes obvious that no conclusion about the INHERENT nature of SIN can be drawn from human history (since human cruelty may well be an emergent phenomenon, dependent not on genetic information but on cultural and environmental influences). If, on the other hand, we are not in agreement, and you believe that experts have PROVEN the inherent nature of human "evil" (i.e., SIN) then we'll have to debate on that in a brand new email. However, I dare say that the odds are on my side (that is, on the side of indecision).
I don't think that sociologists input is necessary to draw a conclusion about whether humanity is inherently leaning toward evil or good. I think it is self evident. We have several expressions that argue to the same conclusion. "He's only human, he's bound to make mistakes", ; "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", etc. It seems we've been observing this condition since the beginning of recorded history and the results are universally the same. Not just most, but every society has evil as the major problem they face and every generation brings evil with them. The record of history is so consistently filled with war and evil that I think the burden of proof falls on those who argue against the inherent nature of man to do wrong.
Regarding 2): You seem to be unifying (a little arbitrarily, if you allow me the sincerely respectful comment) conscious and deliberate self-centeredness with the instinct of survival and a limited but developing mentality. A small child who grabs his little brother's toy from him does not have the ability to comprehend the implication of his actions the way a more developed brain would. An adult thief/liar/ criminal/etc. knows, or SHOULD know (again, except in case of mental deficiency) what it is he/she is doing. The child of my example has no developed enough brain to comprehend the issues. Hence, non-accountability. This does not mean that humans cannot choose to eventually commit a sin which they know to be a sin. This only means that we are not born with a price on our heads. And this helps answer number 3.
Regarding 3), we can attribute eventual moral "sliding" on environmental influences. If children are driven to survive, and if some humans have consciously become immoral, and if this is a hostile environment, then it is no wonder we find it easier (but not justifiable) to turn bad. Nothing, however, inherently evil in this case.
Adam, please don't miss my point. Children do have limited capacity for grasping all of the implication of their actions. However, they do know that some things are wrong, but they do those things anyway. The episode recorded in Genesis 3 is such a perfect illustration to any parent who only after telling his child not to touch something, finds that child now violating the parent's directive. We relate to it because it is so human, so universal.
Another example is the school grounds. Bigotry may be taught on the basis of color, but look at all the prejudices that occur when one child looks or acts different than his peers. No one influenced the child to tease those who wear glasses, dresses "funny",etc. That is an action that is innate and needs to be repressed. One needs to learn not to discriminate.
Finally, I offer one more example. Living in the Southern California, I can't help but come back to the L.A. riots. Many people who never would think about shoplifting or stealing from a store at any other time, looted and pillaged the stores during the riots because of only one reason: they knew they wouldn't suffer the repercussions of their actions! When man has a free reign to do as he wishes with no consequence, he is more likely to do that which is wrong. Now, please don't think that I attribute this response to every individual, but it is he who acts against his impulses who is the exception in this case. That is why in Romans Paul writes "there is none righteous, no not one.(Rom 3:10)".
The theology I offer on this point is that man is a sinner by deliberateness, by inheritance, and by imputation. We have already discussed man's deliberate will to sin. He chooses in his own heart to follow the things he wants, and not necessarily the things of God. Man also inherited a sin nature from his parents. In this God is consistent, for each produce "after their own kind". This means everyone is born a sinner. No one is born in holiness, so all are separated from God by their existence. The remedy is to be born again, to be "born of God(1 John 3:9)". When we are born from above, we inherit holiness, an idea consistent with reproducing after his own kind.
Man is also a sinner by imputation. The Hebrew logic in this is we are all linked to Adam in a biological fashion. Adam is the head of the human family and also its chief representative. Whatever sin Adam took part in, we as humans connected to him ("in his loins" would be the Hebrew idea) have his sin imputed to us. As an example, if I am in a partnership and my partner assembles defective and dangerous products, then my holdings are liable just as his are. The company has joined us into a single unit and the court sees no difference in the contributors to that entity. We are enjoined in the human race, and as such have Adam's sin imputed to is directly from Adam (as opposed to through our parents). The remedy is that Christ, the Last Adam, took our sin and imputed it to Himself, so we can have God's righteousness imputed to us.
If you think this is not fair, look at it the other way. God wishes us to gain the holiness and righteousness He possesses. In order for Him to impute that to us, He must be consistent and impute the sin also, else He would not be fair at all. In order to claim Christ's righteousness, we must also own Adam's sin, otherwise it would only be a one-way rule, and that is not just.
These are my thoughts for now. Please feel free to correct me on any issue. I am sincerely grateful for your help. Respectfully, Adam
Thank you for continuing our discussion, I hope you will consider these things carefully. I hope to hear from you again, please let me know how you're doing.