The Rapidian

Ethics and Religion Talk: Why Weren't We Created Perfect?

If God created us, why didn't he make us as we are today in the first place? Or did He make us perfect and we have piled sin upon sin by not stoning to death people we disagree with?

What is Ethics and Religion Talk?

“Ethics and Religion Talk,” answers questions of ethics or religion from a multi-faith perspective. Each post contains three or four responses to a reader question from a panel of nine diverse clergy from different religious perspectives, all based in the Grand Rapids area. It is the only column of its kind. No other news site, religious or otherwise, publishes a similar column.

The first five years of columns, published in the Grand Rapids Press and MLive, are archived at http://topics.mlive.com/tag/ethics-and-religion-talk/. More recent columns can be found on TheRapidian.org by searching for the tag “ethics and religion talk.”

We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up on the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

/The Rapidian

Dr Sahibzada, the Director of Islamic Center and Imam of the Mosque of Grand Rapids, responds:

“God made [the human being] the best from all creation, perfect with best of the physique and bestowed him with positive and negative characteristics with option to behave for the best of his interests. He gets what he endeavors for achieving goals, but he has weaknesses, impatience, anxieties, quick actions without any thoughtfulness, disappointment and lack of ethics. He also has been given intellectuality, power of analysis, to distinguish between evil and good. He must use power of choices to produce for pleasure of himself, others and the Creator.

“Everything in this world God has created for humans, but they must explore and ascertain the purpose of their creation. He has instilled in us to attain comfort from each other. Therefore, showing complete trust in God, one must always try hard for joyous and fruitful ends.

“Making of everything passes through evolution apparently. Similarly, humans must go through all evolutionary stages beginning with drop of water. Upbringing and development surround primitive age to modern time; environment, culture, races, ethnicity, variances in perception and intelligence.

“ ‘It is better than angels to be best humans under God.…’ ”

Rev. Ray Lanning, a retired minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, responds:

“Reformed Christians believe that ‘God created man good, and after His own image, in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him and live with Him in eternal happiness, to glorify and praise Him’ (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 6). A righteous, wise, and loving God could not do otherwise.

“What we humans are today is the result of our own actions, in willfully disobeying our Maker and going our own way in the world. We corrupted ourselves, forfeited God’s many gifts to us, and filled the world with the fruits of our wrongdoing. We have indeed piled sin upon sin, but nowhere in God’s Word are we commanded to stone to death people we disagree with. Rather, we have sinned by resisting and persecuting the many prophets God sent to call us to repentance. ‘Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?’ (Acts 7:25).

“In His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, God has not forsaken us. In fact God ever does good to us, to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  As the God ‘that teacheth man knowledge’ (Psalm 94:10), He has blessed us with many insights, discoveries, and inventions to mitigate the consequences of our sin and ease our misery. Perhaps never more so than in recent centuries and decades, when so many have disavowed all faith in God and live as though He did not exist. As Prof. Cornelius Van Til observed, we are like little children who must climb on their father’s lap to slap him in the face. ‘For in Him we live, and move, and have our being’ (Acts 17:28).”

Fred Stella, the Pracharak (Outreach Minister) for the West Michigan Hindu Temple, responds:

“Then again, why didn’t God make us as we will be tomorrow? Maybe we are just decades away from being Humanity 2.0. I think Hinduism agrees with several other religions when it comes to acknowledging that part of the ‘cosmic plan,’ if you will. That is, there is a natural, slow progression that we have taken over the centuries to get where we are today. While many read ancient scripture and claim that we are just as vile as we were back in the day, I point to things like democracy, rule of law, the treatment in most societies of both humans and animals and the rise of women in many (not all) societies as indications that we are moving ever so slowly in a better direction.

“And stoning those we disagree with? Sometimes it’s tempting, but no. I’m quite happy that is not a part of most civilizations these days.”

Father Kevin Niehoff, O.P., a Dominican priest who serves as Adjutant Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Grand Rapids, responds:

“Why did God make me? This is the question to which the Baltimore Catechism taught the response, ‘to know, to love, and to serve God in this life and be with Him in the next.’ God did not create us, or the world in which we live, in perfection. Instead, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, ‘the universe was created in a state of journeying to the ultimate perfection yet to be attained’ but ‘to which God has predestined it’ (p. 80).

“The process of learning through the journey we are on is not about God. We are provoked by God to learn not only about ourselves but also about our fellow women and men. God created us to focus on the goal of being with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven while living and learning on the journey of the lives we live. Buon viaggio/Bon voyage!”

 

This column answers questions of Ethics and Religion by submitting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders in the Grand Rapids area. We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up in the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

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