Is god sovereign and do we have freewill

Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn’t see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love.

Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy, but now they call this free will.
At least the ancient Greeks were being honest

Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby

My new friend Michelle has, on a blog post, posed some questions she would like answered. Should you visit her, say I sent you and be nice :-P.

It is not her questions that interest me but this comment  by Rev. Smith

The shortest and simplest answer to your question about god’s sovereign nature is this.

God is sovereign and He loves you, nothing will ever come into your life that He does not either decree or allow. Did He decree your rape? No but He allowed it. That is the only truthful answer any Christian like myself can provide.

Do I know why he allowed it? No and I am truly sorry for what happened. He will use it for something though. It is His will, His plan and we shouldn’t question it.

That is what it means to be sovereign. Even Satan himself has to ask God’s permission before he can act (Psalm 103:19).

I hope this helps,
Rev. Smith

I am not going to repeat my opinion on religious leaders, politicians and thieves but those who are frequent readers here know where this headed.

And the Rev is telling Michelle and any Christian who believes in this god that he allows such horrendous things to happen to you so that some good may come out of it in the future. Don’t complain. It is all god’s desires. It will be alright in the future, all will be forgiven!

This reminded me of an exchange in Brothers Karamazov between Ivan and Alyosha. I beg your leave to share it here. A kid has been mauled by a general’s dog while the mother is watching helpless and crushed for there is nothing she can do about it. Ivan closes this dialogue thus

‘Listen! I took the case of children only to make my case clearer. Of the other tears of humanity with which the earth is soaked from its crust to its centre, I will say nothing. I have narrowed my subject on purpose. I am a bug, and I recognise in all humility that I cannot understand why the world is arranged as it is. Men are themselves to blame, I suppose; they were given paradise, they wanted freedom, and stole fire from heaven, though they knew they would become unhappy, so there is no need to pity them. With my pitiful, earthly, Euclidian understanding, all I know is that there is suffering and that there are none guilty; that cause follows effect, simply and directly; that everything flows and finds its level — but that’s only Euclidian nonsense, I know that, and I can’t consent to live by it!

What comfort is it to me that there are none guilty and that cause follows effect simply and directly, and that I know it? — I must have justice, or I will destroy myself. And not justice in some remote infinite time and space, but here on earth, and that I could see myself. I have believed in it. I want to see it, and
if I am dead by then, let me rise again, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair. Surely I haven’t suffered simply that I, my crimes and my sufferings, may manure the soil of the future harmony for somebody else.

I want to see with my own eyes the hind lie down with the lion and the victim rise up and embrace his murderer. I want to be there when everyone suddenly understands what it has all been for. All the religions of the world are built on this longing, and I am a believer. But then there are the children, and
what am I to do about them? That’s a question I can’t answer. For the hundredth time I repeat, there are numbers of questions, but I’ve only taken the children, because in their case what I mean is so unanswerably clear. Listen! If all must suffer to pay for the eternal harmony, what have children to do with it, tell me, please? It’s beyond all comprehension why they should suffer, and why they should pay for the harmony.

Why should they, too, furnish material to enrich the soil for the harmony of the future? I understand solidarity in sin among men. I understand solidarity in retribution, too; but there can be no such solidarity with children. And if it is really true that they must share responsibility for all their
fathers’ crimes, such a truth is not of this world and is beyond my comprehension.

then Ivan continues

I understand, of course, what an upheaval of the universe it will be when everything in heaven and earth blends in one hymn of praise and everything that lives and has lived cries aloud: ‘Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed.’ When the mother embraces the fiend who threw her child to the dogs,
and all three cry aloud with tears, ‘Thou art just, O Lord!’ then, of course, the crown of knowledge will be reached and all will be made clear.

But what pulls me up here is that I can’t accept that harmony. And while I am on earth, I make haste to take my own measures. You see, Alyosha, perhaps it really may happen that if I live to that moment, or rise again to see it, I, too, perhaps, may cry aloud with the rest, looking at the mother embracing the child’s torturer, ‘Thou art just, O Lord!’ but I don’t want to cry aloud then. While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. It’s not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with
its unexpiated tears to ‘dear, kind God’! It’s not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony.

And I stand with Ivan in refusing to be there in that harmony. And to tell Michelle that some good will come out of her misfortune is to ask her to believe that the god she believes in, is a monster. I don’t know what type of believer would say with a straight face that this god is good or that it has given some people freewill.

And I must ask with Ingersoll, if the reports we have are of a good god, what would a fiend do?

Marcion, the great Heresiarch

Has Marcion’s objections been answered? It has been 1800+ years since they were voiced. Who will answer him?

Marcion objected: If the God of the Old Testament be good, prescient of the future, and able to avert evil, why did he allow man, made in his own image, to be deceived by the devil, and to fall from obedience of the Law into sin and death? How came the devil, the origin of lying and deceit, to be made at all? After the fall, God became a judge both severe and cruel; woman is at once condemned to bring forth in sorrow and to serve her husband, changed from a help into a slave; the earth is cursed which before was blessed, and man is doomed to labour and to death. The law was one of retaliation and not of justice,—lex talionis—eye for eye, tooth for tooth, stripe for stripe. And it was not consistent, for in contravention of the Decalogue, God is made to instigate the Israelites to spoil the Egyptians, and fraudulently rob them of their gold and silver; to incite them to work on the Sabbath by ordering them to carry the ark for eight days round Jericho; to break the second commandment by making and setting up the brazen serpent and the golden cherubim. Then God is inconstant, electing men, as Saul and Solomon, whom he subsequently rejects; repenting that he had set up Saul, and that he had doomed the Ninevites, and so on. God calls out: Adam, where art thou? inquires whether he had eaten the forbidden fruit; asks of Cain where his brother was, as if he had not yet heard the blood of Abel crying from the ground, and did not already know all these things.

Marcion continues on his warpath

The Emmanuel of Isaiah (vii. 14, cf. viii. 4) is not Christ;(1) the “Virgin” his mother is simply a “young woman” according to Jewish phraseology; and the sufferings of the Servant of God (Isaiah lii. 13—liii. 9) are not predictions of the death of Jesus.

And of the two gods, he writes

“The one was perfect, pure, beneficent, passionless; the other, though not unjust by nature, infected by matter,—subject to all the passions of man,—cruel, changeable; the New Testament, was holy, wise, amiable; the Old Testament, the Law, barbarous, inhuman, contradictory, and detestable.”

Who will answer Marcion?