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Old 06-23-2017, 07:39 AM   #1
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The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil is the theological problem that is built on the following axioms:
  • If a being is Benevolent, they will try to end Evil in the world.
  • If a being is Omnipotent, they can do anything.
  • If a being is Omniscient, they know how to do anything
  • Evil exists in the world

The PoE then concludes logically that no being can exist that is simultaneously Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Benevolent, since Evil exists in the world.

“Evil” is perhaps a misleading word, because in this context it refers to specifically “suffering”. The PoE is, thus, as explained by Pawel on these forums, the simple question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Babism View Post
why God allow innocent child to suffer?
So some try to explain it away by using a “devil”. In this model, the Devil causes suffering, and that is why there is suffering in the world. This solution doesn’t seem to me to be an actual solution. It just changes the question from “why would God allow innocent children to suffer??” to “why would God allow the Devil to cause innocent children to suffer??” The PoE is still there, the suffering allowance is simply more indirect.

So to understand this, we need to understand the nature of suffering. From this, I think it is important to look at the writings of a Prophet who focused heavily on the theme of suffering, Gautama Buddha. Gautama Buddha taught that Anatta, or Detachment, as we would understand it, is the key to ending suffering. From that we can know that Attachment is the cause of suffering.

Since “blind children” was put forth by Pawel on these forums as an example of suffering in the world, let’s use the example of blindness in the context of Attachment and Suffering. With this in mind, who suffers more from their blindness, the person blind from birth, or the person who lost their sight later in life?? I would posit that the person who is blinded later in life will suffer more. The person blinded later will have become used to relying on the sense of sight, they will have become attached to the sense, and they have thus lost something, so they will suffer more. The person blind from birth doesn’t know what it is like to have sight, so they have lost nothing, and do not have any suffering born of loss.

Or, for another example: I have a condition called synesthesia, specifically chromesthesia. This means there are some “crossed wires” in my brain that causes me to experience the sensations of color and shapes when hearing any sound. Now, while I would like to attain detachment, the truth of the matter is that if I was to ever lose this extra sense, I would experience suffering. My entire taste in music would be altered, as I’d lose a whole dimension to enjoying music. Instruments like the mouth harp and church organ, which I appreciate for their color rather than their sound would no longer interest me. However, for the vast majority of people, who do not have synesthesia, you all don’t suffer at all from lacking synesthesia.

From those two examples, we can infer that lacking a form of sensory input is not suffering in and of itself, but rather attachment to a form of sensory input, and then the loss of that sensation, is the way that one gains suffering from that sensation.

With the above observation, I feel that the Problem of Evil is logically sound, though it is built on a faulty axiom. Evil, or Suffering, does not exist in the world. Suffering only exists within a person, caused by their own attachment. Suffering can thus be ended by gaining detachment, and no longer looking at the world in terms of our judgements and attachments.

There’s a Taoist parable I like that describes this:

A Chinese farmer owns a horse. One day his horse runs away. His neighbor tells him, “Oh no, that’s bad!!”

The farmer replies “Good or bad, who’s to say??”

The next day the horse returned, with a herd of horses alongside it. His neighbor tells him, “Oh, you were right!! It was actually good!!”

The farmer replies again “Good or bad, who’s to say??”

The next day the farmer’s son tries taming one of the new horses, but is thrown from the horse’s back and breaks his leg. Once again the neighbor calls this event bad.

Once again the farmer simply shrugs and says “Good or bad, who’s to say??”

The next day the army comes along and drafts all of the able bodied young men to go off and fight in a bloody and dangerous war. The farmer’s son is not drafted due to his broken leg. Once again the neighbor calls this good. Once again the farmer refuses to call it either good or bad.

In the whole of the parable, the farmer doesn’t suffer because he doesn’t place a judgement of good or bad on every event that happens. The events simply happen, and the farmer remains detached. The neighbor, meanwhile, is in a state of confusion, trying to figure out whether or not the initial loss of the horse, and all the consequences of that event, should be classified as “good” or “bad”, and ends up having to change his mind on the subject every single day.

Another good parable of this is the Creation Story in the Bible. In this story Adam and Eve start in a state of Eden, a paradise where no suffering exists. They eat a fruit forbidden to them, and suddenly are no longer in Eden, but a world in which suffering exists.

This fruit, we are told, is symbolic of the “knowledge of good and evil”. In other words, examining the order of events, we have mankind in a state of paradise, then mankind embracing the “knowledge of good and evil”, in other words, mankind separating the world into terms of “good” and “bad”, and then after that mankind is in a state of suffering. Perhaps the “Knowledge of Good and Evil” was forbidden to man because it is not a true “Knowledge”, but is the source of suffering.

The act of attaching the labels of “good” or “bad” to different aspects of the world is what causes suffering to happen. Suffering is not a quality of this world, it is a quality we give ourselves by trying to divide the world into terms of “good things” and “bad things”.

We can also see this in the Seven Valleys, in a way. In it, we are told seven stages of spiritual advancement. The fourth stage, Unity leads to the fifth stage Contentment. Why does Unity lead to Contentment?? Perhaps because if you can unify, within yourself and your own worldview, the concepts of “good” and “bad” into a single whole, you will logically cease to suffer, and achieve a state of contentment. Much like the Taoist parable’s farmer, who has no conception of good or bad in his life, and is completely content in all things.

So if you rely on sight and grow attached to the sense, you call that sight “good”, which makes blindness “bad” by default. Thus if you have that view, if you experience blindness, you Suffer. If you are, on the other hand, detached from that sense, then whether you remain clear-sighted or lose your eyes, you will not suffer regardless.

As such, suffering is not a quality of the world. Suffering, or evil, does not exist in the world. Suffering is a quality we bring about on ourselves because of our attachment.

Last edited by Walrus; 06-23-2017 at 07:42 AM.
 
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Old 06-23-2017, 11:04 AM   #2
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Thank you, Walrus, for opening this thread and for your very interesting post.
I love the way you present your reflections. God bless you for that.

I believe that, just as you have pointed out, the "Problem of Evil" and the "Problem of Suffering" are different issues. They are closely related, but still different.

The Chinese parable you mentioned is perfect as an example of these two different problems.I will come later to this.

For now, let me say that the concept of "good" and "evil" is fundamental to human life. Isn't this why we act to obtain or maintain certain things and avoid or destroy other things? You suppose that the farmer was "content in all things" but if we were indifferent to good or evil, we would sit without motion or action, awaiting the decay of our bodies. The truth is that we strive for food, shelter, a secure home for our children, the discovery of a vaccine for malaria, or saving money to make a Pilgrimage to Haifa. We do all of this because those things are good.... meaning, they keep us moving in the path of development.

We are not "content in all things". There are things you and I are definitely not content with, which prompt us to movement.

The essence of human life is movement: Movement towards the Light ("good" and God) and not away from the Light ("evil"). This requires detachment from whatever hinders us from keep moving (and causes suffering), but also implies an active search for the Light (an active pursuit of what is good).

So, in the Taoist parable, one thing is for the farmer to feel calm, because he is detached from the horse and even detached from his son, and a different thing to know what the farmer was willing to do to bring back the horse, or to keep and tame the new horses, or to heal his son broken leg.

If you ask me, the farmer should have done things to recover his horse and his son's health. This would mean he values his horse and his son. This would mean he would consider having the horse and having a healthy son as something good, which deserves an effort to be preserved, obtained, or recovered.

Bringing back the horse or getting a doctor and paying the treatment comes with effort: a dose of physical and mental discomfort. Depending on the degree of effort, sometimes that discomfort becomes sheer pain. But pain does not equal "suffering". When you value something as "good", pain is a a fair price, or even an investment.

I don't know if this adds to your thinking. Please keep posting!

Last edited by camachoe; 06-23-2017 at 11:39 AM.
 
Old 06-23-2017, 03:21 PM   #3
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The problem with evil is that I have to live with my own self

Regards Tony
 
Old 06-24-2017, 11:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
If you are, on the other hand, detached from that sense, then whether you remain clear-sighted or lose your eyes, you will not suffer regardless.
Hey Walrus,

Kinda reminds me of of a famous NT passage: "Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread" (Luke 12.27). It continues: "Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!" Well, that's a strange comment, because it turns our usual values upside down: how can wildflowers surpass Solomon's fabric? Seems to be about the wildflower's obedience to the universe (God's will) and detachment from our faulty perceptions. In other words, this passage from the NT seems to be on the same page as the Taoist parable. Difficult sayings to digest.

I would like to know how others view this passage. Luke 12.27.
 
Old 06-25-2017, 01:02 PM   #5
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Hi, Ahanu

I get three insights when I read the passage you are referring to:

1. "DO NOT BE WORRIED"

When you read the whole passage, Jesus is asking us not to make our desire for things a source of fear, worry, distress, suffering. Look at the words I have put in bold.
"Then Jesus told his disciples, “That’s why I’m telling you to stop worrying about your life—what you will eat—or about your body—what you will wear, because life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the crows. They don’t plant or harvest, they don’t even have a storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds! Can any of you add an hour to the length of your life by worrying? So if you can’t do a small thing like that, why worry about other things? Consider how the lilies grow. They don’t work or spin yarn, but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. Now if that’s the way God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and thrown into an oven tomorrow, how much more will he clothe you—you who have little faith?

“So stop concerning yourselves about what you will eat or what you will drink, and stop being distressed, because it is the unbelievers who are concerned about all these things. Surely your Father knows that you need them! Instead, be concerned about his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you as well. Stop being afraid, little flock, because your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom."
When we treat things that will fade away as if they were eternal.... when we love things that can give us transient pleasure as if they were a source of true happiness... when we take things in isolation, instead of integrating them as part of the whole system of things (The Ultimate Reality, God)... then we suffer. So Jesus is inviting to get connected to God as our first and main concern, so that all other material blessings can appear in our lives.

2. SOLOMON ACTING AGAINST HIS NATURE

Wildflowers live as they are intended to live, (e.g. they grow leaves with chloroplasts that can make sugar out of sun and water) so they get from God what they need.
When we humans live as we are intended to live, and then we also get from God what we need. Our life, though, has a different nature, different purpose, and different needs than the life of wildflowers.
So the question is How should I live as the human I am, so that I can get from God what I need?
Abddu'l Bahá is eloquent in how the rational soul is what put us apart from wildflowers:
"The first condition of perception in the world of nature is the perception of the rational soul. In this perception and in this power all men are sharers, whether they be neglectful or vigilant, believers or deniers. This human rational soul is God’s creation; it encompasses and excels other creatures; as it is more noble and distinguished, it encompasses things"
We cannot make our food from photosynthesis as the plants do, but if we act according to our true nature (exercising or rational faculty) we will work, produce, exchange, collaborate with others, love, pursuit knowledge... the meaning of our lives. Just as a sunflower, we will turn towards the Sun of Truth... and God will then provide.

Let's remember that, at the peak of his power, King Solomon rejected God and rendered himself to temporal pleasures, and idolatry. He accumulated wealth as any other king of his time, through taxing, threats, war or looting. In other words, he disconnected from the Sun of Truth, acting against his nature as a rational creature, while the wildflowers kept behaving according to their nature and growing beautifully. At that time, all Solomon's wealth (represented in things like his garments) were not helping him in any way... on the contrary, they were working against him. Wildflowers' delicate petals, on the other hand, worked perfectly in favour of them.

3. IS HUMAN CIVILIZATION MORE SPLENDOROUS THAN WILDFLOWERS?

In one sense, wildflowers, as live beings, are far more complex than any of the garments of Solomon. A single bacteria is more complex than a skyscraper of iron, glass and cement.
In other sense, though, our current garments, skyscrapers, aircraft and genetic engineering demonstrate an impressive command over nature. A command that comes from the very gift of God to man: their rational soul.

My personal conclusion is that, inasmuch as we disconnect from God and act against our rational nature, our possessions or "achivements" are a source of suffering, evil and spiritual death. They are worth much less than wildflowers.
Now, in as much as we connect to God and act according to our rational nature, our possessions and achievements drive our development and bring us joy.

Last edited by camachoe; 06-25-2017 at 01:20 PM.
 
Old 06-25-2017, 07:04 PM   #6
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.

"Still more ideal than this life is the life of the bird. A bird, on the summit of a mountain, on the high, waving branches, has built for itself a nest more beautiful than the palaces of the kings! The air is in the utmost purity, the water cool and clear as crystal, the panorama charming and enchanting. In such glorious surroundings, he expends his numbered days. All the harvests of the plain are his possessions, having earned all this wealth without the least labor. Hence, no matter how much man may advance in this world, he shall not attain to the station of this bird! Thus it becomes evident that in the matters of this world, however much man may strive and work to the point of death, he will be unable to earn the abundance, the freedom and the independent life of a small bird. This proves and establishes the fact that man is not created for the life of this ephemeral world—nay, rather, is he created for the acquirement of infinite perfections, for the attainment to the sublimity of the world of humanity, to be drawn nigh unto the divine threshold, and to sit on the throne of everlasting sovereignty!" - Abdu'l-Baha


Bahá'í Reference Library - Tablets of the Divine Plan, Pages 39-46


Kam
 
Old 06-26-2017, 06:01 AM   #7
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I've been thinking about the original post, and a thought struck me. No human child can ever reach a true state of maturity without experiencing struggle. Without it, one does not truly "grow up" and cannot be called mature.

Likewise, humanity will never reach maturity without experiencing evil. Without knowledge of it, we will never really "grow up" as a human race. Yes, this means we are denied the state of paradise so many people think we are entitled to, but over time we will truly reach our potential through struggle.

Besides, most things we consider evil are really the results of human decisions, not God. "Every good thing is of God, and every evil thing is from yourselves." (Gleanings From the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section 77) This is actually self-evident if you look at it from the perspective that humanity should take responsibility for its own actions. God, like a good parent, never stops providing for us, His children, in many ways. But His ultimate gift is wisdom, not indulgence. That doesn't sit well with those who have a sense of entitlement, but I think it to be true.

I think, too, it is important to remember that this life is temporary, and that the point of it is to make progress toward God. Whatever evil we experience in this life will pass, but our journey toward God does not end. "Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter." (GWB, Section 81) When bad things happen in this life, they seem very final. But that is simply not the case.

Last edited by Scribe; 06-26-2017 at 06:19 AM.
 
Old 06-26-2017, 06:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I've been thinking about the original post, and a thought struck me. No human child can ever reach a true state of maturity without experiencing struggle. Without it, one does not truly "grow up" and cannot be called mature.

Likewise, humanity will never reach maturity without experiencing evil. Without knowledge of it, we will never really "grow up" as a human race. Yes, this means we are denied the state of paradise so many people think we are entitled to, but over time we will truly reach our potential through struggle.

Besides, most things we consider evil are really the results of human decisions, not God. "Every good thing is of God, and every evil thing is from yourselves." (Gleanings From the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Section 77) This is actually self-evident if you look at it from the perspective that humanity should take responsibility for its own actions. God, like a good parent, never stops providing for us, His children, in many ways. But His ultimate gift is wisdom, not indulgence. That doesn't sit well with those who have a sense of entitlement, but I think it to be true.

I think, too, it is important to remember that this life is temporary, and that the point of it is to make progress toward God. Whatever evil we experience in this life will pass, but our journey toward God does not end. "Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter." (GWB, Section 81) When bad things happen in this life, they seem very final. But that is simply not the case.
Thank you, Scribe. Right on point!
Loving regards,
Becky
 
Old 06-27-2017, 09:04 PM   #9
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Let me a reflection about natural disasters that kill or damage innocent people.
They pose a powerful incentive for human progress.

For example, earthquakes and floods spur humans to engineer better structures. Diseases spur human to find cures and understand biological processes. All natural accidents and disasters are triggers for new understanding of how God manifests in nature, which in turn helps to create the technology and the social systems mankind needs to advance.

In other words, the scale in which the "good" can be appreciated is the big scale of humankind over eternity, even when at the individual scale over hours or days some events look tragic.
 
Old 06-27-2017, 10:15 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Let me a reflection about natural disasters that kill or damage innocent people.
They pose a powerful incentive for human progress.

For example, earthquakes and floods spur humans to engineer better structures. Diseases spur human to find cures and understand biological processes. All natural accidents and disasters are triggers for new understanding of how God manifests in nature, which in turn helps to create the technology and the social systems mankind needs to advance.

In other words, the scale in which the "good" can be appreciated is the big scale of humankind over eternity, even when at the individual scale over hours or days some events look tragic.
I like this perspective very much. Do you mind if I borrow it?

A large part of the reason why I like the Baha'i faith is it helps provide a whole new way of looking at things that I have never seen in any other theological system... at least as a unified whole. This discussion about evil is a case in point. There seems to be much less room for blaming outside forces for evil in the Baha'i faith, and much more room for meaningful growth in the face of it--not only as individuals, but as a whole human race. When evil and disasters are not only endured, but overcome and learned from, there is true potential for human progress. It seems like this is how Baha'u'llah taught us to respond, if I understand things correctly.

I think you are right, camachoe... Even though we may not be around to see it ourselves, I think God has some great long term plans in store for humanity. That is why the messages of the Manifestations are so important. They will help guide us along the way, even if we are not ready for complete information about the whole plan yet.
 
Old 06-27-2017, 10:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
Or, for another example: I have a condition called synesthesia, specifically chromesthesia. This means there are some “crossed wires” in my brain that causes me to experience the sensations of color and shapes when hearing any sound.
And at the risk of hijacking the thread a bit:

Walrus, have you ever read any of the books by Allyson K. Abbott (a pen name of Beth Amos)? She writes mysteries in which the main character has synesthesia. Since you live in Wisconsin, you might also be interested in noting that they take place in Milwaukee.
 
Old 06-28-2017, 04:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I like this perspective very much. Do you mind if I borrow it?

A large part of the reason why I like the Baha'i faith is it helps provide a whole new way of looking at things that I have never seen in any other theological system... at least as a unified whole. This discussion about evil is a case in point. There seems to be much less room for blaming outside forces for evil in the Baha'i faith, and much more room for meaningful growth in the face of it--not only as individuals, but as a whole human race. When evil and disasters are not only endured, but overcome and learned from, there is true potential for human progress. It seems like this is how Baha'u'llah taught us to respond, if I understand things correctly.

I think you are right, camachoe... Even though we may not be around to see it ourselves, I think God has some great long term plans in store for humanity. That is why the messages of the Manifestations are so important. They will help guide us along the way, even if we are not ready for complete information about the whole plan yet.
I'm glad you found it useful, Scribe.

Let's consider the toddler who is learning to walk and run.
Doesn't the child learn from tripping, falling and raising again?
And when stumbling, tripping and falling repeatedly, doesn't the kid shows at times signs of pain, despair, and even hesitance to keep on trying?
From the point of view of an observer who didn't know the whole purpose of learning, those falls, and bruises, and tears could be considered as "evil".
From the point of view of a loving Mother, though, those would not be evil whatsoever. She will consider those things as necessary and will encourage her kid to keep on trying. Mankind is that child. God, our All-Knowing Mother.

Perfection, in our human sphere, is not a static station. It is movement towards God.
All movement presupposes space. In this case, space between God and us. Some would consider that space, that gap or distance, as "evil" because it separates us from God.
But indeed, were it not for that space or gap, we could not move towards God... we could not exist a humans.
Evil (in the sense of an unintended collection of challenges and tribulations) is indeed part of the goodness and perfection of our state.

"Now let us consider the soul... Its only movement is towards perfection; growth and progress alone constitute the motion of the soul. Divine perfection is infinite, therefore the progress of the soul is also infinite" Abdu'l Bahá, The Evolution of the Spirit
.

Last edited by camachoe; 06-28-2017 at 05:48 PM.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 07:52 PM   #13
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The premise does not apply;

An omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent GOD would allow IT's creation to be free which is what we have and why evil can come from the hands of greedy men.



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Old 07-13-2017, 08:37 PM   #14
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I think the problem of evil is in actuality a problem of perspective and a faulty assumption.

I can imagine how it would be if we were all flowers in a garden (as I have heard it said that we are) and one flower said to another, "But if there really were a Benevolent Gardener, wherefore is there pruning? Wherefore the separation of our seedlings? Wherefore the hoeing and burning of our bodies?"

From the limited perspective of the garden flower, these seem reasonable complaints, because in the heart of the flower may be the desire to live in a wild and natural state, uncultivated and going to seed. As humans, however, we are also able to identify with the perspective and goal of the gardener and understand the wisdom of pruning, transplanting, and composting, even if they might be alien to the mind of the flower, and constitute part of the problem of evil for that realm.

For us, there is an added feature, which is the assumption of perishability and extinction at death. But if death is more of a detachment and a transitioning, rather than the utter loss it appears to be to those who live, then there is nothing actually lost at all. If we can cast doubt on the assumption of death, and consider the limitations of our perspective, then, it seems to me, the problem of evil ceasing being a true problem at all.

Cheers
 
Old 07-21-2017, 01:30 PM   #15
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That is a very enlightened and interesting post, Walrus! I shall attempt to complete this argument from the Baha'i point of view.

None of us have perfect detachment, so there will be suffering. This suffering, though, leads us to greater detachment if we are enlightened. Therefore, not only is suffering not bad, but it is a positive good, because the detachment it engenders leads us to be closer to God, because detachment from this world will get us closer to God. Besides this, I believe we will be compensated for our suffering in the next world. Getting closer to God is what this world is all about. This viewpoint reconciles the Buddhist point of view with the Baha'i point of view. The Buddhists also got closer to God through detachment, and experienced Nirvana.
 
Old 07-22-2017, 01:25 PM   #16
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Walrus said... “With the above observation, I feel that the Problem of Evil is logically sound, though it is built on a faulty axiom. Evil, or Suffering, does not exist in the world. Suffering only exists within a person, caused by their own attachment. Suffering can thus be ended by gaining detachment, and no longer looking at the world in terms of our judgements and attachments.”

I am a new member here, a Baha’i. You can read my New Member post if you want to. I tend to challenge peoples’ assumptions, just a heads up. ;-)

Right now I just want to comment on what you said about suffering. I have been talking a lot about suffering with nonbelievers on a forum I have been on for over three years. The reason many atheists cannot entertain the possibility of a God is because of suffering.

You said: “Suffering can thus be ended by gaining detachment, and no longer looking at the world in terms of our judgements and attachments.” You, like many Baha’is I have conversed with on the Planet Baha’i forum, make it sound so simple; just be detached! I think that is too black and white and it is devoid of compassion. Moreover, detachment is not a magic formula since nobody can be 100% detached from the material world while living in it; so there will always be some suffering, in various degrees. It is also not realistic to say that detachment is a magic formula because many people suffer in spite of trying to be detached. Not everyone is at the same place in their spiritual growth. So what happens to the others who fall through the cracks? Is it our place to judge them?

I would like to interject something else here. I think it is possible to be detached from the material world, but what about illnesses and deaths of those we love, humans and animals? As far as human death is concerned, I do not think it is compassionate to say to someone, “he went to the Abha Kingdom” as if the departed one went on a fancy vacation. As far as animals are concerned, we don’t know where they go. Is everyone supposed to rise above these losses just because some people can?

No, I do not think it is possible to eliminate suffering with detachment. It helps, but it is not a panacea.

Another thing I would like to bring up is that some people suffer more than others. I already know the Baha’i view, that those who suffer most are supposed to attain the most spiritual growth, but again that is just a platitude and it is not always true. Some people just cannot take the pain if it is too great. I already know what the Writings say about not testing us beyond our capabilities, but I question that. That is all I will say about that for now.

I question why some people suffer more than others, often through no fault of their own. That seems unjust. For me, it is not good enough to say there will be recompense in the afterlife, because nobody can even know that. I also question why a "a loving God” would allow animals to suffer, given we do not even know if they have an afterlife.
 
Old 07-22-2017, 04:11 PM   #17
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Another thing I would like to bring up is that some people suffer more than others. I already know the Baha’i view, that those who suffer most are supposed to attain the most spiritual growth, but again that is just a platitude and it is not always true. Some people just cannot take the pain if it is too great. I already know what the Writings say about not testing us beyond our capabilities, but I question that. That is all I will say about that for now.

I question why some people suffer more than others, often through no fault of their own. That seems unjust. For me, it is not good enough to say there will be recompense in the afterlife, because nobody can even know that. I also question why a "a loving God” would allow animals to suffer, given we do not even know if they have an afterlife.

Some people suffer more than others because the people that are in their lives have free will in their actions. It's a fact of life that people differ greatly in their actions. As you know, God allows free will in humans, and there is good reason for that. So unless God takes away their free will some people will inevitably suffer more than others.

I agree that those who suffer most are not necessarily going to be the most detached or be a better person. Some suffering is overwhelming. I believe that God recompenses those who suffer a lot, otherwise God would be unjust.
 
Old 07-22-2017, 07:23 PM   #18
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Trailblazer said... Another thing I would like to bring up is that some people suffer more than others. I already know the Baha’i view, that those who suffer most are supposed to attain the most spiritual growth, but again that is just a platitude and it is not always true. Some people just cannot take the pain if it is too great. I already know what the Writings say about not testing us beyond our capabilities, but I question that. That is all I will say about that for now.

I question why some people suffer more than others, often through no fault of their own. That seems unjust. For me, it is not good enough to say there will be recompense in the afterlife, because nobody can even know that. I also question why a "a loving God” would allow animals to suffer, given we do not even know if they have an afterlife.


Duane said... Some people suffer more than others because the people that are in their lives have free will in their actions. It's a fact of life that people differ greatly in their actions. As you know, God allows free will in humans, and there is good reason for that. So unless God takes away their free will some people will inevitably suffer more than others.

That is one reason some people suffer more than others, because of people in their lives and because of their own free will actions. However, I do not think it is that simple. Many people suffer because of their heredity and environment and life circumstances, and sometimes there is nothing they can do about their environment and circumstances without causing even more suffering. Also, people suffer from things like accidents and injuries and diseases, and from natural disasters, all of which are not their fault.

I agree that those who suffer most are not necessarily going to be the most detached or be a better person. Some suffering is overwhelming. I believe that God recompenses those who suffer a lot, otherwise God would be unjust.

Well Duane... that is all we can hope for, that there is recompense. That does not help the people who are suffering though, except in their minds, if they believe that.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 12:51 AM   #19
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I think the problem of evil is in actuality a problem of perspective and a faulty assumption.

I can imagine how it would be if we were all flowers in a garden (as I have heard it said that we are) and one flower said to another, "But if there really were a Benevolent Gardener, wherefore is there pruning? Wherefore the separation of our seedlings? Wherefore the hoeing and burning of our bodies?"

From the limited perspective of the garden flower, these seem reasonable complaints, because in the heart of the flower may be the desire to live in a wild and natural state, uncultivated and going to seed. As humans, however, we are also able to identify with the perspective and goal of the gardener and understand the wisdom of pruning, transplanting, and composting, even if they might be alien to the mind of the flower, and constitute part of the problem of evil for that realm.

For us, there is an added feature, which is the assumption of perishability and extinction at death. But if death is more of a detachment and a transitioning, rather than the utter loss it appears to be to those who live, then there is nothing actually lost at all. If we can cast doubt on the assumption of death, and consider the limitations of our perspective, then, it seems to me, the problem of evil ceasing being a true problem at all.

Cheers
Greetings Fadl,

Your contribution is not only a delight to read, but it is sheer poetry.

Thank you.

Earth
 
Old 07-23-2017, 11:49 AM   #20
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That is one reason some people suffer more than others, because of people in their lives and because of their own free will actions. However, I do not think it is that simple. Many people suffer because of their heredity and environment and life circumstances, and sometimes there is nothing they can do about their environment and circumstances without causing even more suffering. Also, people suffer from things like accidents and injuries and diseases, and from natural disasters, all of which are not their fault.

Yes, I left those out, and I shouldn't have. Probably all of those are due to chance or to God intervening and causing suffering. Does God send calamities and cause suffering? I don't know. I don't know if God allows those accidents to happen, or if He causes them to happen. A person may be part of calamities if for instance they are in an earthquake zone. This is the chance occurrence of nature originally set up by God by how He created the Universe and Earth.

Well Duane... that is all we can hope for, that there is recompense. That does not help the people who are suffering though, except in their minds, if they believe that.

At the time, it doesn't help much, but when they actually arrive in the afterlife, they spend eternity in a happy state if they are a good person. I don't even think that recompense is necessary to make it all worthwhile.

By the way, welcome to this forum! It's good to interact with you here.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 12:24 PM   #21
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I ask simple question for that people who don't believe in physical Satan, who invented the germs for example - who created viruses? Viruses are not alive and not certain lively, who can make for viruses to do infect and diseases in human organism?. God don't created evil and he is not source of devil

Last edited by Babism; 07-23-2017 at 01:36 PM.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 12:25 PM   #22
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Trailblazer said... That is one reason some people suffer more than others, because of people in their lives and because of their own free will actions. However, I do not think it is that simple. Many people suffer because of their heredity and environment and life circumstances, and sometimes there is nothing they can do about their environment and circumstances without causing even more suffering. Also, people suffer from things like accidents and injuries and diseases, and from natural disasters, all of which are not their fault.

Duane said... Yes, I left those out, and I shouldn't have. Probably all of those are due to chance or to God intervening and causing suffering. Does God send calamities and cause suffering? I don't know. I don't know if God allows those accidents to happen, or if He causes them to happen. A person may be part of calamities if for instance they are in an earthquake zone. This is the chance occurrence of nature originally set up by God by how He created the Universe and Earth.

There is so much we do not know regarding what God does and does not do; yet we are just supposed to have faith in an unknowable God nevertheless. I find that a bit problematic. I see the suffering and I have to wonder why a good God would allow that. I know all the Baha’i arguments, that it is supposed to be for spiritual growth, but when it does not result in that are we to blame those people? I find that very problematic. Like this BahaiTeachings.org article I got today: Yes, Life is a Struggle. Struggle is not the same as suffering. We all struggle at times. I will be willing to bet the author of that article has not suffered much.

Trailblazer said... Well Duane... that is all we can hope for, that there is recompense. That does not help the people who are suffering though, except in their minds, if they believe that.

Duane said... At the time, it doesn't help much, but when they actually arrive in the afterlife, they spend eternity in a happy state if they are a good person. I don't even think that recompense is necessary to make it all worthwhile.

Again, this is based upon faith. Baha’u’llah did not say anything definitive about what happens to people after they die and why certain people end up where they do. There is no guarantee that those who suffered will have a happy afterlife. If God was punishing them here, there is no reason to believe God will not continue to punish them there. The worst part is that we will no longer have free will, so we will have to rely on the prayers of others and God’s mercy to progress. The other bad part is that this will be forever. I have no interest in living forever, but I will have no choice.

I am sorry if I sound a bit negative or even contentious, but Lewis and I got in this conversation about suffering and the afterlife again late last night, and there is no talking to him about it since he can only see it one way. So I am glad I have you to talk to. Moreover, if I knew for sure I would have you to talk to in the afterlife it would not seem so bad. But you are close to God so you will no doubt be on a higher level than me so I won’t be able to see you. You would have to come down and see me, if you can.

By the way, welcome to this forum! It's good to interact with you here.

Me too! It seems like we are here alone right now. I wrote a New Member post but it has never gotten posted. I do not know why.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 12:42 PM   #23
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The worst part is that we will no longer have free will, so we will have to rely on the prayers of others and God’s mercy to progress.
Who says we do not have free will in the afterlife?!
Free will is an aspect of human soul; it won't be taken away from it.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 01:48 PM   #24
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Who says we do not have free will in the afterlife?!
Free will is an aspect of human soul; it won't be taken away from it.
I agree with maryamr, Bible say the same truth that soul has experienced new layers of progression in heaven
9But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9
 
Old 07-23-2017, 01:49 PM   #25
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Again, this is based upon faith. Baha’u’llah did not say anything definitive about what happens to people after they die and why certain people end up where they do. There is no guarantee that those who suffered will have a happy afterlife. If God was punishing them here, there is no reason to believe God will not continue to punish them there. The worst part is that we will no longer have free will, so we will have to rely on the prayers of others and God’s mercy to progress. The other bad part is that this will be forever. I have no interest in living forever, but I will have no choice.
I would offer there is quite a lot of insight offered about life after death and the Bounty and Forgiveness offered by God.

To me it is within Gods allowing us free will, that we create our own punishment of not accepting Gods advice. It is when we rid ourselves of self, we hand our will back to that of God wills for us, freely.

Many writings say we progress in all the worlds of God, many of us will not have grasped what it is to give all to God and will have not reached potential. After passing we will be able to pray for the progress of Souls as they will be able to pray for us.

Little by little day by day we must try.

Regards Tony
 
Old 07-23-2017, 04:08 PM   #26
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Who says we do not have free will in the afterlife?!
Free will is an aspect of human soul; it won't be taken away from it


As I recall, it was Abdu'l-Baha who said we will no longer have free will after we die, and that we will only be able to advance by virtue of God's mercy and the prayers of others. I do not have that quote handy right now, but maybe I can find it.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 04:16 PM   #27
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Maryamr said: Who says we do not have free will in the afterlife?!
Free will is an aspect of human soul; it won't be taken away from it.

This opinion is gathered from this passage from Some Answered Questions:

Question. -- Through what means will the spirit of man -- that is to say, the rational soul -- after departing from this mortal world, make progress?

Answer. -- The progress of man's spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 240)

In other words, it won't be through our free will actions. If we have free will there, it won't suffice to raise us to a higher plane.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 04:16 PM   #28
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I agree with maryamr, Bible say the same truth that soul has experienced new layers of progression in heaven
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9


Thanks for your input Babism. I love that verse, but Iit does not say we have free will... To me it makes no sense that we would be able to progress through all the worlds of God without free will, but that has been my understanding of the situation, because of what Abdu'l-Baha wrote.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 04:18 PM   #29
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Why do people have such trouble with evil? It is gooodness that is so hard to come by and figure out.

Best

from

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Old 07-23-2017, 04:23 PM   #30
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Thanks Duane! This is the passage I was referring to. This seems to be verified by Baha'u'llah:

40. O My Servant!
Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more.


The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah
 
Old 07-23-2017, 04:25 PM   #31
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I would offer there is quite a lot of insight offered about life after death and the Bounty and Forgiveness offered by God.
Thanks Tony. I guess you could refer to me as “Oh ye of little faith.”

To me it is within Gods allowing us free will, that we create our own punishment of not accepting Gods advice. It is when we rid ourselves of self, we hand our will back to that of God wills for us, freely.
Thanks Tony. What is difficult for me is in knowing what God’s will for me actually is, except very generally speaking. ;-)

Many writings say we progress in all the worlds of God, many of us will not have grasped what it is to give all to God and will have not reached potential. After passing we will be able to pray for the progress of Souls as they will be able to pray for us.
I sure have not grasped it. I want to but I just do not know what that means or how to do it. I guess that is one reason I am here talking to other Baha’is.

Little by little day by day we must try.
Yes, thanks; that is what I am doing, trying.
 
Old 07-23-2017, 04:31 PM   #32
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Susan,

Yes, that one says this too. Good job digging that up!
 
Old 07-23-2017, 04:47 PM   #33
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Upon the 8th day there will be the will of GOD alone.

We are afforded free will now in this life by the leave and sovereign Will of GOD for our sake and to HIS glory in this life, at this time and always.

We surely give thanks for the messengers and prophets of GOD, and all who have and do sincerely seek to do the Will of GOD alone, not for their sake alone, but for the sake of all creation, by the sovereign Will of GOD.

Surely the Christ of GOD does all, gives all, and shows all for the sake of each, regarding himself as lowly; humble in all things and at all times.

Conjecture about ones individual will while in the abode of the Lord GOD seems to be just that; I would like to be shown to be wrong though; either with our sacred writings or the proving of the conscience.

peace

There is evil; it equates to nothing due to greed ultimately, and will not affect the Will of GOD to any extent whatsoever and is wholly opposed to the ever giving, long suffering merciful perceptions of GOD.
 
Old 07-24-2017, 06:41 AM   #34
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[COLOR="Blue"]

Thanks for your input Babism. I love that verse, but Iit does not say we have free will... To me it makes no sense that we would be able to progress through all the worlds of God without free will, but that has been my understanding of the situation, because of what Abdu'l-Baha wrote.
Let me tell you what my personal opinion on free will after death, which of course could be quite wrong.

Look:
Our current concept of free will (in a religious context) has to do with choosing between good and evil.
In that sense, only this worldly give us that experience, because our connection with God is clouded by the "self" and our physical limitations (e.g. the way our brain works, our genes, the education we receive, the culture we are raised in, etc.). While in this flesh, we have to make progress through excercising our ability to choose what is good and not what is evil.

However, there is another concept of free will: the ability to choose between two or more goods. In that sense, life after death will provide us plenty of opportunities to excercise free will. Bathed by the light of God, we will not have the urge to do bad things, but to keep developing our knowledge of good things across myriad of options.

To understand how this works, take a practical example from your own life right now:

Do you murder people? No. Will you murder people at any time during the rest of your mortal life? No. Why? Is it because you don't have free will to choose between murdering and not murdering? No! The reason you don't go shooting people down the street has nothing to do with being "programmed" as a robot. The reason is that you feel no urge to murder. On the contrary, you feel nausea by the sole idea of doing it. You have come, in this life, close enough to God as to abhor this kind of evil.

In the same way, in the spiritual worlds of God you won't feel the urge to lie, cheat, abuse, neglect, hurt, etc. because your enlightened character simply would be inclined to do the good.

Now, think about what you can do next weekend: Do you feel free to choose between listening to a piano concert, going swimming or watching an inspiring movie? Yes, you do. The three are good choices and you still exercising your free will. Whatever you choose will be great.

In summary, to me, what Abdul'Bahá is referring to is that progress made by choosing between good and bad, which is the hallmark of this mortal experience, will cease to exist.
Instead, we will progress by choosing among an infinite number of wonderful, divine, godly options .

Last edited by camachoe; 07-24-2017 at 06:56 AM.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 07:12 AM   #35
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"The progress of man's spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 240)"

This is the same as we have on this planet, while living in our bodies, and it is not a proof of lack of free will in the next world. Even in this world all that we do, in order to reach a result, depends on grace of Lord, and sincere prayers. It doesn't say we won't do anything based on our free will. but the result is dependent on God. in fact one of the spiritual senses is the power or thinking. the power of thinking is used 1-to think about the meaning/reasons of happenings. 2-to chose between two or more choices.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 10:35 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Let me tell you what my personal opinion on free will after death, which of course could be quite wrong.

Look:
Our current concept of free will (in a religious context) has to do with choosing between good and evil.
In that sense, only this worldly give us that experience, because our connection with God is clouded by the "self" and our physical limitations (e.g. the way our brain works, our genes, the education we receive, the culture we are raised in, etc.). While in this flesh, we have to make progress through excercising our ability to choose what is good and not what is evil.

However, there is another concept of free will: the ability to choose between two or more goods. In that sense, life after death will provide us plenty of opportunities to excercise free will. Bathed by the light of God, we will not have the urge to do bad things, but to keep developing our knowledge of good things across myriad of options.

To understand how this works, take a practical example from your own life right now:

Do you murder people? No. Will you murder people at any time during the rest of your mortal life? No. Why? Is it because you don't have free will to choose between murdering and not murdering? No! The reason you don't go shooting people down the street has nothing to do with being "programmed" as a robot. The reason is that you feel no urge to murder. On the contrary, you feel nausea by the sole idea of doing it. You have come, in this life, close enough to God as to abhor this kind of evil.

In the same way, in the spiritual worlds of God you won't feel the urge to lie, cheat, abuse, neglect, hurt, etc. because your enlightened character simply would be inclined to do the good.

Now, think about what you can do next weekend: Do you feel free to choose between listening to a piano concert, going swimming or watching an inspiring movie? Yes, you do. The three are good choices and you still exercising your free will. Whatever you choose will be great.

In summary, to me, what Abdul'Bahá is referring to is that progress made by choosing between good and bad, which is the hallmark of this mortal experience, will cease to exist.
Instead, we will progress by choosing among an infinite number of wonderful, divine, godly options .
I think you are correct for a certain reason: most of our conception of "evils" are merely forms of attachment. Take the classic "Seven Deadly Sins", for example:

Wrath: Anger born from attachment to disadvantages and slights one has received in life.
Envy: Attachment to the belongings of others.
Greed: Attachment to one's own belongings.
Sloth: Attachment to one's comfort in apathy.
Lust: Attachment to sexual pleasure.
Gluttony: Attachment to other pleasures.
Pride: Attachment to one's own self-image.

Now notice all the sins above are dependent on attachment. Additionally, with the possible exception of "Pride", they are all dependent on attachment to material things.

In the realm of spirit, there is no food or sex, so we logically cannot chose a path of Lust or Gluttony. We have no property, so how can we experience Envy or Greed?? We cannot be physically harmed, nor can we physically harm, so how can we follow the path of Wrath??

It seems out of the classic seven deadly sins, in the world of spirit we'd be able to, perhaps, be Slothful or Prideful, but we could not chose to indulge in any of the other sins.

So much sin is reliant on physical existence... so logically how could we choose it in the world of pure spirit??

And, perhaps, this is where the suffering of "hell" comes in. For those two attached to "sins", to physical attachments, surely they might suffer if in a world devoid of the things they are attached to.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 01:08 PM   #37
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I agree with you, Walrus and Camachoe. We will still have free will, but won't have bad choices, so our free will won't advance us.
 
Old 07-27-2017, 07:04 PM   #38
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So much sin is reliant on physical existence... so logically how could we choose it in the world of pure spirit??

And, perhaps, this is where the suffering of "hell" comes in. For those two attached to "sins", to physical attachments, surely they might suffer if in a world devoid of the things they are attached to.
Yes indeed, from what I have read in some afterlife books, hell is when people still want the physical things they can no longer have in a world of spirit and they are still groping for them to no avail... I probably do not need to elaborate as we all know what these things are.

Granted, these are not “official” Baha’i sources, but I think it makes a lot of sense... If it is true, hell is probably going to be overcrowded. ;-)
 
Old 07-27-2017, 07:11 PM   #39
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In summary, to me, what Abdul'Bahá is referring to is that progress made by choosing between good and bad, which is the hallmark of this mortal experience, will cease to exist.
Instead, we will progress by choosing among an infinite number of wonderful, divine, godly options .
Duane said:
This opinion is gathered from this passage from Some Answered Questions:

Question. -- Through what means will the spirit of man -- that is to say, the rational soul -- after departing from this mortal world, make progress?

Answer. -- The progress of man's spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 240)

In other words, it won't be through our free will actions. If we have free will there, it won't suffice to raise us to a higher plane.

Trailblazer said:

First, thanks for your input on this...

In looking at both of these different viewpoints, I have to say that what Abdu’l-Baha said does not make sense. What are we going to do for eternity, just sit around doing nothing, being propelled along but God and other peoples’ prayers? And if we do something, why would that not cause our soul to change?

Also, it seems unjust that we would have to depend upon God or other people to progress. But who am I to question God, right? We will be stuck with whatever we are stuck with there, just as we were stuck with it here. I mean it is not as if free will is a panacea because many people are very constrained owing to many factors, so many people suffer here through no fault of their own. God does not do anything about it here, so why would God suddenly do something about it after we die, i.e., God’s mercy...

Sorry, I am not too optimistic and quite frankly I do not look forward to living forever at all, especially in some strange dimension where I won’t even be able to make any decisions.

Then there are the animals, or should I say lack thereof! I do not want to live forever without any animals... So what did God do, He supposedly created everything out of love, including animals... but when they die their spirits are extinguished, as Abdu’l-Baha so aptly put it. That is yet another thing I consider unjust, because animals often suffer a lot more than humans.

I know what some Baha’is say, that it will be just so great after we die we will no longer even care about animals, and then of course Abdu’l-Baha was reported to have said something like “if you need your pet, it will be there.” But what if you had 25 or 30 pets? Also, is everything about what humans want and need? Given all the horrific things humans do, I do not see why they should get more “benefits” than animals, who are innocent and hurt nobody.

So even if it is true that there will be other things to do, I still think that the animals should have an afterlife, not that this is my decision!

Many times, I wish I could be an atheist, but I cannot not believe God exists; I just am not too fond of God and His “Plan.” Whenever I see a dead animal on the road, I cry out to God; but I also wonder how God could allow that animal to get hit that way.... So many things I wonder why God allows.... I sure hope God forgives me for my “bad attitude.” I listen to a Christian radio station called Air1 and on there is a new song called O God Forgive Us.

How apropos!
 
Old 07-27-2017, 07:47 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by popsthebuilder View Post
Upon the 8th day there will be the will of GOD alone.

We are afforded free will now in this life by the leave and sovereign Will of GOD for our sake and to HIS glory in this life, at this time and always.

We surely give thanks for the messengers and prophets of GOD, and all who have and do sincerely seek to do the Will of GOD alone, not for their sake alone, but for the sake of all creation, by the sovereign Will of GOD.

Surely the Christ of GOD does all, gives all, and shows all for the sake of each, regarding himself as lowly; humble in all things and at all times.

Conjecture about ones individual will while in the abode of the Lord GOD seems to be just that; I would like to be shown to be wrong though; either with our sacred writings or the proving of the conscience.

peace

There is evil; it equates to nothing due to greed ultimately, and will not affect the Will of GOD to any extent whatsoever and is wholly opposed to the ever giving, long suffering merciful perceptions of GOD.
Three days and no response.

If I'm not welcome here then it's fine.

If my opinion is without worth then let me know and I'll stop trying to peacably communicate.


peace
 
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