Sunday, August 25, 2013

Insurmountable Problem

Stitched Panorama
Sometimes I think I read too much. While looking up the differences between theodicy (a defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil) and anthropodicy (which isn’t in the dictionary but is supposed to mean attempts to justify the goodness of humanity), I ran across Ernest Becker's Pulitzer Prize winning book, "The Denial of Death." No - I have not read all of it. No - I'm not interested in the history of psychology. Yes - I'm looking at it as a buffet from which to choose, and I like his phrasing:
It is all right to say, with Adler, that mental illness is due to "problems in living," - but we must remember that life itself is the insurmountable problem.
Becker then continues with explanations that psychotherapy can help individuals, but we are left with the truthful reality that humans live with an insurmountable problem. Then, we die. His book is a study of humanity’s denial that death is approaching.

Atheists look upon religion as a pathological denial of death, a desire to believe (falsely, in their opinion) that there is immortality. Philosophers have discussed this for millennia, reaching a variety of conclusions. The majority do not address whether or not there is a Creator, but what effect such beliefs have on mankind as individuals and social groups. Which brings me back to a philosopher I’ve mentioned before, Blaise Pascal and his Wager:
Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.
For me, the Bible goes to great lengths to face what mankind considers an insurmountable problem and provide answers. Not as a single Pulitzer Prize winning book, but one that was written over centuries, confirming prophecy by fact, trusted by each succeeding author. There are promises made and fulfilled, along with promises still pending. Philosophers have spent centuries reading, discussing, refining, accepting, rejecting and it still remains an individual choice whether to believe God created, loves and will judge His creation.

I’ve chosen to believe. Not without question, for I believe the Bereans had the right idea:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)

I believe this is what Jesus wants us to do:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

If God cannot be found through reading the scriptures in prayer, the reader has made his wager. If Jesus cannot be seen as the Messiah through the scripture’s testimony, the reader has made his wager.

I have wagered that He is. As my sweet sister-in-law put it shortly before she went home to be with Him: 
I would rather live thinking there is a God and die to find out there isn’t than to live thinking there isn’t a God and die to find out there is.
About once a year I run across a philosophical article that brings this wager to mind. I write what I think, and I hope readers are aware that we all chose - to think there is a God, or not. If we think there is, we need to know Him.

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