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Wolfsheim, Dostoevsky, and a Difficult Theological Question Regarding The Human Condition.

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posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 01:06 PM
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Hi ATS!
Warning: This is not a light kind of topic, and if you don't want to face some really difficult questions about our existence here, I'd recommend you not continue with this thread. Otherwise, please stay and discuss with me a topic which has always bothered me regarding God and the human condition.

I'll start with some of my personal beliefs, because they are slightly relevent to this topic, and also because perhaps a like minded person who has grappled with this question and found an answer that pleases him/her might be able to offer me some insight I am missing. I am a Christian, I chose to follow Christ's teaching the moment I read them in entirety (only a couple of years ago, as a matter of fact). I fell in love with the person and teaching of Christ, and was so passionate and eager to learn more from the start.

One thing I really love about the New Testament is that the truth found within has revealed to me the way I want to approach life on this plane, and the way I want to treat my fellow inhabitants. If Christ is the embodiment of God, and shows us our Creator's true essence, then I am, undoubtedly, ALL IN. Herin, however, lies my inner struggle, as I still find myself (occasionally) uncertain about the nature of God, and about the nature of this life and whether there is any redemption in suffering.

If I am to accept Jesus I must accept that The Father is truly good, merciful, and loving (if I am to believe that the text is true, I must believe the full context), which is part of the reason why I shy away from this question when it pops into my mind, or at least why I always hesitate putting it to words. But I also believe God created our minds and our destiny with purpose, knowing full well our rebellious and questioning nature. What then, is the purpose of this particular destiny? The anwers so often provided so often fall short.

I do love life. And everything I love I love with a passion. I have family and friends (and strangers even) who I love fiercely, and I stand by my assertion that I would rather have lived (even in this imperfect place) than never to have lived at all. But the knowledge of good and evil has taken its toll on me, and it is hard to enjoy my own life (it hasn't been easy, but in comparison to some of the horror stories I've heard, I have had it really really good) knowing that some people are in a living hell of someone else's making (for example, my mom's cousin's grown son just committed suicide. Can you imagine? I would want to die too.).

Instead of giving examples, I'll let Dostoevsky and Wolfsheim do it for me. They both have confronted this question head-on. Check out the lyrics below while listening to this heartbreaking song:


It's getting dark too soon
A threatening silence surrounding me
A wind comes up from the islands
When distance fades to stormy grey,
Washed out from the deep of the ocean,
Here I will stand to face your wrath,
While all the others are praying
Calm down, my heart - don't beat so fast
Don't be afraid, just once in a lifetime
Calm down, my heart - don't beat so fast
Don't be afraid, just once in a lifetime
No rain can wash away my tears
No wind can soothe my pain
You made me doubt,
you made me fear
But now I'm not the same
You took my wife, my unborn son
Torn into the deep of the ocean
I don't pretend that I love you
Cause there is nothing left to lose
And when silence comes back to me
I find myself feeling lonely
Standing here on the shores of destiny
I find myself feeling lonely
I had a life to give, many dreams to live
Don't you know that you're losing so much this time?
Beyond the waves, I will be free
While all the others are praying
Calm down my heart
The love in you, it does not burn
There is no lesson you can learn
And there are sounds you cannot hear
And there are feelings you can't feel
Calm down, my heart - don't beat so fast
Don't be afraid, just once in a lifetime
I don't pretend that I love you
And this time I'm not scared of you




Here is an excellent summary and slight commentary on one of Dostoevsky's most penetrative and disquieting questions. His chapters "Rebellion" and "The Grand Inquisitor" make for some of the best literature ever penned. I will link to these chapters after the summary.
projectdblog.wordpress.com... beforehand-that-the-whole-of-truth-is-not-worth-such-a-price/

Here is a link to the two chapters- (Book 5, Chapters 4 "Rebellion" and Chapter 5 "The Grand Inquisitor" which will leave you thinking
www.gutenberg.org...

"And if the suffering of children goes to make up the sum of suffering needed to buy truth, then I assert beforehand that the whole of truth is not worth such a price." (5.4.21)


ATS, have any of you come up with an answer to suffering that makes sense to you? I do know that my own personal suffering has made me a deeper, fuller being. More compassionate and understanding. I also feel that only an individual can speak for him/herself, so my looking in at others' suffering from the outside and making an accusation against our Creator is baseless.

Long story short, The Book of Job has always bothered me, I guess. But I still wholeheartedly love God and His creation, hence plenty of internal dischord. Anyone (believers in a God, ideally- I've already gone the route of the atheist and understand that it is easy to have faith in "nature" and some purposeless "life-force" etc but that is not what I believe anymore) have any insight which might help?

Thanks for reading.

zosimov




posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 01:10 PM
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a reply to: zosimov


I'll answer more fully later when I'm not flying but I think your own suffering (or misfortune) can make you more empathetic to the plights of others and willing to treat those people more humanely.



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 01:13 PM
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a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

Excellent, I look forward to hearing more (and so far am in complete agreement with you).

Enjoy your flight





posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 01:47 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

What you are saying and asking is really deep, as you mentioned. Full disclosure, what I say is coming from a Christian-turned-Discordian.

There simply cannot be good without bad. There has to be a balance. It swings back and forth, but it mostly evens out, and that is how life goes on. When it swings too far in either direction, look out. Job had to suffer. Suffering is the price of life. Job suffered much, because the price of his life was very high to God. I came to peace with my suffering by studying the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It says that I am going to continue to suffer, so I should probably get used to it and learn to deal with it to the best of my ability.

"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." --William Goldman

Whether it be your God or my Eris responsible, the suffering of one can change many lives for the better. Elizabeth Smart used her horrific ordeal to do so much good for young women all over the world. Sometimes one person has to bear the burden. It isn't fair; it is necessary.

I have lost friends to suicide. I bet a lot of us have. I hate to sound like a hippie, but the world needs more love. And less corruption. And less pollution. But it isn't going to happen.

We have free will. God told us not to do it. But we were still free to disobey. So that is how He wanted it. Suffering is a consequence of that decision, if one believes the bible. We cursed ourselves.

Also, I am a huge Wolfsheim fan, so that is why I dropped by lol. Don't sweat the impossible-to-know stuff!



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 01:52 PM
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a reply to: MisterMcKill

Thank you for this well thought out and really interesting response. Everything you said really resonated with me-- including and especially the very last line.. lol.. there's so much to enjoy (including Wolfsheim) and no reason to worry endlessly about the unknown (impossible to know, as you rightly said).



PS: Keep bringing that extra love into the world, God (Eris to you) knows we need it!

edit on 12-12-2017 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 01:57 PM
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a reply to: zosimov



ATS, have any of you come up with an answer to suffering that makes sense to you?


I can only speak from experience, but I truly believe those who go through life without much adversity or suffering, ultimately miss out on a HUGE part of what life has to offer. Things that are unattainable otherwise. I have struggled for most of my life, and looking back in retrospect, I would not be anywhere close to who I am today if not for all the adversity I had to overcome. So I am truly grateful for all the beautiful struggles I had to experience, because they all turned out to be blessings in disguise. Looking at things from this perspective has really helped me come to grips with reality and in return has made me very spiritual, not in a religious sense but a more personal one where the connection between the universe (God?) and myself has become so profound, it has has blessed me with so much reason and purpose to live and to do so with unlimited passion. I believe everything happens for a reason, and destiny isn't so much about where you end up, but rather who you become. (imo)


Great thread my friend, I hope you're having a great day!




posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 02:05 PM
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originally posted by: knowledgehunter0986
a reply to: zosimov



ATS, have any of you come up with an answer to suffering that makes sense to you?

So I am truly grateful for all the beautiful struggles I had to experience, because they all turned out to be blessings in disguise. Looking at things from this perspective has really helped me come to grips with reality and in return has made me very spiritual, not in a religious sense but a more personal one where the connection between the universe (God?) and myself has become so profound, it has has blessed me with so much reason and purpose to live and to do so with unlimited passion.




This is a tremendous quote. Love it.

Thanks for your valuable insights, and as always great to hear from you, my friend!

Enjoy your day!
edit on 12-12-2017 by zosimov because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-12-2017 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 03:21 PM
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I recently taught a lesson in my Sunday school about pain and suffering... I need to go find my notes.

As others have said and you realize yourself, this is terrain that can stretch you. It’s where I am at in my faith journey.

May I recommend a book that has been amazing to me?



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 03:29 PM
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originally posted by: chelsdh

May I recommend a book that has been amazing to me?


Yes, please!
I appreciate your term "stretch" and think it fits the description of this type of growth quite well. I also like your choice of the word "terrain" to describe the ideas we are discussing.
And I am very much looking forward to any added insight from the class you taught. Thank you chels!



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 04:01 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

I’m terribly unorganized, and have notes everywhere! I keep notebooks in all my bags and my car, bedroom and livingroom. I can’t find that particular lesson, but I will try to remember what I can. (Teaching lessons every week on different topics leaves my mind a jumbled mess, but I do love the subject matter!)

Suffering is how we respond to pain. Often, if we feel there is a greater purpose, then we bide the pain better than when it seems pointless. I ascribe somewhat to the Buddhist belief that attachment is the root of suffering. But I ask myself if all attachment is wrong? I haven’t gotten that answer yet.

Let me throw in a disclaimer here- I am a practicing Mormon. I am a convert. I was raised in a very spiritually open home, that had shallow roots in Christianity. The Mormon church is where I have grown exponentially and my spiritual self has awoken even more than I ever thought possible. And contrary to what many people believe, it’s a room that seems to grow larger the further in one goes. The is true for me at least. I know many disaffected members that don’t feel the same way. I also fully believe that there is more to God than we can imagine.

I gave that disclaimer, because the book is by a married couple, who happen to be Mormon. And while a small bit of the LDS beliefs are present, the book was written to explore the nature of God from any perspective. I am in love with this couple’s writings, because it draws on all beliefs and thinkers. They quote Dostoevsky a ton, as well as many others. The book is called The God Who Weeps by Terryl and Fiona Givens. I understand if you aren’t interested, but the book has been a tool in my spiritual transformation.

I also recently listened to a really good podcast regarding the book of Job that was astounding in it implications. A study of Job is on my list of things to do.



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 04:10 PM
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Ok, so I'm an atheist (small "a") - raised on science, but... we're animals, that have gotten to a point where we've gotten sentient and what's the point in being sentient? (who knows) - I think it's to develop, to get better as a species, we're in a position where we can shape our world, our environments to our will, but let's not do it as mindless robots *see quote below


originally posted by: AugustusMasonicus
a reply to: zosimov
I think your own suffering (or misfortune) can make you more empathetic to the plights of others and willing to treat those people more humanely.


This is very important:


originally posted by: MisterMcKill
a reply to: zosimov
It says that I am going to continue to suffer, so I should probably get used to it and learn to deal with it to the best of my ability.
"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." --William Goldman
I have lost friends to suicide. I bet a lot of us have. I hate to sound like a hippie, but the world needs more love. And less corruption. And less pollution.


The second quote says it all really, it won't remove pain and suffering from the world - suffering is a necessity, our loved ones will grow old, get sick and die, there will be accidents, car crashes, rock falls etc.
Life simply would not be precious if we were immortal, it would be taken for granted.



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 05:09 PM
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a reply to: chelsdh

Thank you so much for the book suggestion, and by your description, I think I will enjoy it immensely. I also think the simple but (by me) overlooked point you made about suffering being a response to pain rather than a thing in and of itself to is interesting. One of the most common and most passionate accusations we levy against God is "Why must we suffer?"
or "Why does God allow suffering" which implies focus on the reaction rather than the cause.
I wonder if this is because we secretly know we contribute to that suffering, as we all have caused others pain at some point in life.
Dostoevsky takes it to another level by referring to the suffering of little children and takes it to a very uncomfortable place (for me).. though the answer he provides at the end of "The Grand Inquisitor" is abiding and all encompassing Love, which is as good an answer as I could hope for.

If you think of the name of that podcast about Job, let me know, sounds fascinating! Disreali recently authored an interesting thread about Job, in case you missed it.

www.abovetopsecret.com...

Thanks for the great response.



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 05:10 PM
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originally posted by: jokei

Life simply would not be precious if we were immortal, it would be taken for granted.


I really like this quote. Thanks for reading and for a thoughtful response.




posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 08:16 PM
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i didnt read all the other replies but...

i didnt see any reference in your OP as to the role of Satan in human suffering. Seems like a basic framing problem to me. If you frame the question with certain presuppositions, then if your logic is consistent stemming from those suppositions you will most likely arrive at only a limited and perhaps obvious number of conclusions. In your case, and perhaps those you cited, they presuppose that God is so powerful that his adversary need not be included in the question and its process of answering it. I think this is folly and is a pretty obvious one to anyone even barely acquainted with the bible. For pity sake, if you just watch popular movies you would know theres a spiritual war going on between God and the devil so to not include that pretty important fact in contemplating the question of suffering you have got to be pretty naive or have an agenda. I cannot imagine an honest believer in the bible framing the question the way you and your cited authors did, it just goes against basic scripture that every new believer learns, like Ephesians 6:12 which nearly everyone i know has memorized at some point in their christian journey:

Ephesians 6:10-12

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

WHY???

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.


This particular group of verses doesnt go far enough describing how this spiritual battle invades the physical existence, but other parts of the bible DO.

In fact....since were talking about the bible here....practically the entire book of Ecclesiastes is about the unfair nature of life. It doesnt really go into answer why, but understanding the spiritual nature of the war between God and Satan and how it involves humans makes it pretty obvious why there is suffering. In war innocent people suffer.....case closed.


But theres more to this suffering thing than i have heard pretty much any christian talk about, especially from the pulpit, and thats this:

do christians and or believers or good people have a responsibility to those suffering?

The answer from the bible is a resounding YES!

From James no less:

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone


So there you go. Now you know why the world is effed up: Christians have shrugged off their responsibility for alleviated the suffering of human kind. Oh, i know, theres food drives...education....water projects....doctors without borders.....but all of those "interventions" are soft.....they are relatively easy. Yes, sometimes those do gooders giving out rice or healing the sick using modern medicine get killed, but its usually more of a exception to the experience of missionaries, rather than the rule. For the last 100 years or so its been relatively safe to be a missionary in most parts of the world. It wasnt like that 200 or more years ago.

But what about those children who get taken into captivity and raped, killed or forced to carry a gun? Where are the missionaries to THOSE kids? To THOSE people? What about human trafficking? What about government sponsored terrorism that kills a majority of women and children? Where are the people making a big deal out of those things?

I tell you....there really arent that many. In my experience going to church i have met less than a handfull over the last 20 years that has those kinds of things even on their radar. They are much more amped up about going on ordinary mission trips to mexico or some relatively safe place and building a church and getting their obligatory t shirt for it.

No one is pulling a Sam Childers......but thats exactly what we need.

You want to know why theres suffering in the world? It sure as HELL isnt Gods fault.

If you know your bible you know that God put us here as STEWARDS.

I mean damn guys, Jesus himself talked about the faithful stewards in parables. This is NOT christian theological rocket science!

We have been put in charge of what goes on here....its our freaking responsibility, not Gods.

So...either you want to be little babies forever and ask God to wipe your metaphorical butts and give you a bobba....


or you want to grow up and get your hands dirty and maybe bloody.

Theres a world out there that needs saving, and its going to take a lot more than "save the children" or some other lame feel good program that you give up a coffee for.

Sam Childers......Machine Gun Preacher.....go watch it and change how you see the bible in the REAL world.



Jesus asks "what are you going to do about it?"



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 09:14 PM
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a reply to: tribal

LOL, your answer is really awesome first of all! I truly enjoy your tough love approach, which is amusing even when I suspect a little jab or two aimed in my direction.

If the OP seemed incomplete, that is because it is, because I have deliberately left out some important factors because they scare me. And I don't want my thoughts to lead me (or anyone else for that matter) farther from the truth.

I guess a lot of my issue comes down to the author of all being creating life that, in essence, is fodder in some crazy spirtual war. As you wrote, this much is clear but what is not so clear is the WHY and in my puny mind I can't say that I agree the end (eternal life for those who choose the right path-- the "few" no less) justifies the means (suffering, death, the existence of Satan and evil). Of course my agreement matters naught but I'm just here to see if anyone has any suggestions to offer me-- so far all of the responses to this thread have been helpful and enlightening.

And the more I think about my quandry, the more I realize that I am way out of my league, both in status and wisdom (I'm a mere mortal, one who has contributed plenty to the suffering of this earth, a hypocrite, and horrifically prideful to dare to think I have a better answer).

Over all, the crux of your message is wonderful and all that practically matters here which is that Christians have a HUGE responsibility to help those in need, and to do their part in alleviating the suffering in this world. So while I'm here wondering "why" I could be out doing more to make other people suffer less.

Thanks for the great reminder.




posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 09:15 PM
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a reply to: tribal

You supplied some really interesting perspectives in your post. Perspective is something that most of us have to work at, and learn to use as a second language.

I would only recommend you avoid littering your valuable insight with offhand insults. It doesn’t aid in the receptivity of the things you share. It encourages a wall to grow there.



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 09:20 PM
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a reply to: zosimov




I don't want my thoughts to lead me (or anyone else for that matter) farther from the truth.


That is very awesome of you. Being vigilant of the possibility of diving in and being carried off is a first step to anchoring yourself. But to what do we anchor ourselves? And how far can we go? I found my anchor, and am glad because I could float off down the stream and end up in very foreign lands.



posted on Dec, 12 2017 @ 09:25 PM
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a reply to: chelsdh

Thank you for this wonderful insight.



posted on Dec, 13 2017 @ 11:05 AM
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a reply to: chelsdh

youre right of course. But at this point in my life i just dont care that much about niceties and tiptoeing around. And honestly, i think the "church" needs the tough talk. There is too much soft messaging and coddling. The disciples were tortured and killed in all manner of horribleness. Read Foxes book of martyrs for more recent tales. This is the calling of those who fight the real fight. All true and real christians will experience persecution. The fact that they arent probably means they arent doing what they are called to do.

What did they say about Jesus? "he stirreth up the people".

Alot of preachers and religious folk say Jesus wasnt political. I disagree. I believe what Jesus didnt say about politics he acted out in his interaction with those whom society had put off limits, among other things. Jesus was single handedly unraveling the entire comfortable status quo the power elite of his time had grown accustomed to and loved. They couldnt have that.

Are christians doing that today in the modern world? If so i really dont see it.

And honestly, while in my youth i relished the thought of the "battle" between good and evil and being in the thick of it, now due to age, infirmity and disappointment i hardly care what happens. Yes, i care a little bit....enough to post my rantings sometimes like here. But overall im pretty much done with contemporary religiousity. I think it has been played out.

Laodicea.


You know what they say: scratch a cynic and youll find a disappointed idealist. My cynicism and disappointment of my older years could only be matched by the passionate idealism of my youth. I miss those days......

Nevertheless, i dont believe all hope is lost. I am just sad that its too late for me to be a metaphorical sword wielding dragon slayer here and now. But there are young people coming up all the time who can be given this message. The message is: bring back primitive christianity. Bring back the pure passion for overcoming evil with good. Bring back the "christian soldier". Not to fight with guns and knives (only if necessary), but to fight with stark and true words calling out the world for its evil and calling evil by its NAME. I dont know anyone really doing that these days.

Christians had a very high calling. They could have been on the forefront of the environmental movement. This is Gods world...his nature....and christians are stewards of Gods creation. How any real christian cannot be mortified and mobilized by what humans are doing to Gods creation is beyond me. There should be a sermon every week on our stewardship of the environment and more. But alas, there is no message coming from the pulpit on this or any number of other wrongs and ills committed by our human family and more to the point, those who set themselves up as leaders over us.

There are no prophets....no messengers....no warnings. And what we have failed to do will have to be done by other means....perhaps much less charitable and merciful means.

But i still pray for Gods mercy to cover us all, in spite of our recklessness.



posted on Dec, 13 2017 @ 11:14 AM
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a reply to: tribal

Well, I know this was not addressed to me.. but I agree with everything you wrote! Until you said your age removes you from the fight.. I wonder why this is.. you seem quick to lash out at weak Christianity but John the Apostle died at the age of 93/94. Do you think he retired when he felt too old or disillusioned?
St Peter went down fighting in his 60s.

I think you have a few more years of fight left in you. And if you don't do it, who will?

Thanks again for the kick in the a$$



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