Before we can have any sort of meaningful, intelligent or significant conversation about G-d it is crucial that we have some sense or understanding about 'Who' we are talking about. In other words, who is G-d and, equally important, who is G-d NOT.
To start off, let's just lay down, in a general sort of way, some basic 'facts' about G-d. We'll have plenty of time later on to delve more deeply into each of these statements – to understand better what they mean and how to relate to them. But for now, let's just get a general picture of what we are talking about.
G-d is the Free, Uninhibited Creator of the Entire Universe and All that it Contains
This is a big statement. What we are stating here is that G-d is the sole and ultimate source of every single element of existence. Time, space, matter, energy, even the laws of nature are creations which exist solely because G-d desired to bring them into existence.
At the same time, all possible natural, animal and human activities, situations, actions, ideas, thoughts, emotions, etc., are also creations. We may be free to chose how we relate to these ideas and situations, but their existence is no less a creation than is a mountain or the air that we breathe.
There are two major ramifications that come out of this statement. The first is that ultimately speaking, G-d is totally and absolutely beyond, separate and different from the world that we live in. Just like a musician is not a musical note, an artist is not a brush stroke, an author is not a written word, and a programmer is not a line of code, so too G-d is not time, matter, energy, love, power, logic, or any other element of the created world.
One can imagine G-d like a artist, author or programmer in that all are involved in the creative process, but we have to understand that there is a fundamental philosophical difference between G-d and all of these other 'creators'. The musician has not created music or sound, the artist did not create beauty, the author did not invent language and the programmer is not the founder of logic.
All of these personalities are utilizing already existing elements to create their finished work. But that is not what we are saying about G-d. There was no primordial matter from which G-d created the universe. The sound, beauty, language and logic of the world did not pre or co-exist with G-d. G-d is the ultimate creator, starting with nothing and bringing forth a majestic universe which continues to amaze and astonish us until this very day.
There is, of course, another crucial result of this view of G-d – and that is that ultimately speaking G-d is responsible for all possibilities that exist in this world. Anything that has happened in the annals of this universe is possible solely because G-d created such a possibility.
And let's not mince words – disease, poverty, starvation, abuse, deceit, murder, genocide and every other form of evil and suffering that we are aware of and/or have experienced is possible solely because G-d created such a possibility. In other words, even if we say that it is man who pulls the trigger and did so by his own free choice, who created the possibility of murder? This is the obvious and logical consequence of stating that G-d is the sole and total creator of all existence in all its forms.
One could, theoretically, 'save' G-d from responsibility by reducing G-d to a sort of cosmic artist or musician. In such a scenario, G-d didn't fashion all of reality out of nothing, but rather He worked with the existing physical matter, energy and/or laws that already existed and from that created the world that we know today. Evil, then, could be understood as an inherent element of that eternal primordial 'matter' that G-d used to create the universe.
But we don't say that – and the obvious question is why? Why in the sense of – what is wrong with saying that and why in the sense of is there a logical and/or compelling reason not to say that [we will touch on both of those questions later on].
However, it would be quite unfair to leave off G-d the creator here, for it would color our picture of the responsibility of G-d the creator. For by saying that G-d is the ultimate, sole creator we are not just attributing all negative attributes of this world to G-d, but all the positive ones also. Love, logic, beauty, meaning, purpose, etc., all of these also exist solely because G-d willed them to exist.
In other words, it runs both ways. And that, indeed, is the point – by stating that G-d is the sole creator of all existence [and that He was free to create the world as He chose], we are fundamentally changing our entire view of both the world in which we live and of G-d Himself.
It is now possible to talk about purpose, meaning, or a plan for the world in general and mankind in particular. It also becomes possible to wonder why G-d would create such a world, what this indicates about 'Who G-d Is' and 'What G-d Wants'.
In other words, the world becomes a place that simultaneously reveals and hides G-d. We can be humbled and awed, amazed and confused about G-d vis-à-vis the world only if we recognize that this is G-d's world as G-d wanted it to be.
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