The nature of God was indirectly discussed in a recent timesandseasons.org post by Sam Brunson. Being a believer in evolution, he’s had to think about what this means to his ideas about God: “I’ve always been more confortable with the idea of God mostly standing back and letting things run as they will.”
But this concept causes him some grief:
I remember fairly distinctly a discussion in Brazil where the man with whom my companion and I were speaking said that he couldn’t believe in God, because of all of the suffering in the world. How, he asked, could an all-powerful God permit innocent people–children, even–to suffer.
At 19, I didn’t have the experience or maturity to comprehend the depth of his question. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve wrestled with the question. And I’ve found a solution that works for me.
The problem is, my solution demands a quasi-Deistic God, a God who created the world and, after creating it, rarely interferes, instead letting it run according to the laws of nature. A God, in other words, who wouldn’t answer our insignificant prayers.
If God generally doesn’t interfere with the way the world runs, the problem of evil (largely) ceases to be a problem.
This idea is consistent with the ideas developed by Alfred North Whitehead and subsequent Process Theologians.
But Brunson is not totally comfortable with the idea that God doesn’t interfere (ie. doesn’t answer prayers). He feels that God has answered some of his prayers. And he did answer Joseph Smith and President Kimball’s prayers. And thus the conumdrum.
For me, prayer is more of an introspective moment (or in the case of group prayer, a bonding moment) than it is an appeal to God for some advice or a real intervention. Thus, the idea that God doesn’t interfere is not a problem. I don’t have a strong feeling that God is guiding my life. But again, I haven’t ask Him to.
What is a problem for me, is the current state of the world. If God did have anything to do with the startup of creation, then Why are there so many babies and children dying young? Why are there so many people in the world living hand-to-mouth? Why are so many people living in poverty? The ratio of rich (and I consider middle class rich) to very poor is so out of whack.
It’s not so much the existence of evil that bothers me. It’s the existence of so many lives that seem essentially lost. Why would God initiate the startup for such a process?