askandanswer

Possible reasons why God does what He does

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Sometimes people feel inclined to question why God does what He does. I suggest that it may be that everything that God does can be explained by one of four reasons. They are

1. He loves us and is doing all He can to enable our learning and progression. I suspect that this is the reason that explains the majority of His actions.

2. He is bound by universal and eternal laws to which even He is subject, ie  laws that relate to truth, justice, sin opposition, suffering and progression. (The need to comply with such laws is the only reason why I can think of that an atonement was needed)

3. He is bound by covenants that He has made, eg, to His wife, and possibly, to us, and possibly to other beings or Gods with whom He co-exists

4. He has personal preferences on some issues, eg, white, rather than any other colour to symbolize purity, 2, rather than any other number, being the preferred number of counselors in a presidency, 12, rather than any other number being the preferred number of apostles, and olive oil, rather than any other kind of oil, to be the oil that is used for sacred purposes.

Is this too few, or too many reasons to explain all of God’s actions? What might need to be deleted or added to give a more accurate understanding of why God does what He does?

I look forward to your responses because this is something I have been thinking about a bit lately and I think it would be useful to have an improved understanding of why God does what He does.

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10 hours ago, askandanswer said:

2. He is bound by universal and eternal laws to which even He is subject, ie  laws that relate to truth, justice, sin opposition, suffering and progression. (The need to comply with such laws is the only reason why I can think of that an atonement was needed)

This particular concept is one I think (sort of presuming) that people may tend to see as if there's some higher power than God. But I don't believe that's the case, per se. (Depends on what one means by "Power" .)

The "law" to which God is bound is a natural one. There is no higher power forcing God, per se. There is the simple fact that if you lie to someone they no longer trust you. Etc. So that we may trust God He cannot lie. If he lies, we cannot trust Him.

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I had been thinking of using the phrase "natural law" instead of "universal and eternal law." In the context of this post, I think both phrases capture the essential concept reasonably well. 

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I agree with number 4 his preference to the colour white and the fact its purer, but on the other hand I thought God was not a respector of persons,  hence I don't understand the denial of his power to those other than white!

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From my perspective I think this sums it up pretty nicely. I would only add one and sum another one into a different thought:

The first principle is the honor of our moral agency, which answers the questions of why there is evil in this world.

The second principle of love (charity).

The third principle is true and accurate, by which I agree with @The Folk Prophet clarification. I think this is what you were saying, I just think his clarification added to your thought.

The fourth principle agrees with the second principle -- God is a God of truth and can't lie. Thus he is bound (i.e covenants, promises) when we do what he says.

The fifth principle I think I wouldn't use the term "preferences." White for example is the word we use for a specific color that is without spot. It isn't necessarily a preference but an example of what it means to be clean, perfect, without spot. So it makes sense that "white" is used when describing something without spot. Pure water is clean water without any disease. Olive oil also is used for the symbolic reference to the atonement. So that becomes the oil we use, and that is the fruit that was in the area and abundant. I would assume there are

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I love 1 & 2 (omitting the comment about the Atonement).

In my opinion 3 falls under 2.

And 4, I'm not sure that I would list a preference, perhaps he does have a bit of the OCD...  Probably not a great driving factor though.

 

I would add Moses 1:39 God does his work not only because is it glorifying.  But because it is fun and entertaining.  We went on vacation last summer and packed all the kids in the van.  An hour out, I saw the youngest Mikbone (4 year old daughter) lying down in the 2nd row staring angrily at one of the speakers.  Then I heard her say, "Alexa, why wont you talk to me?!" I had a good chuckle.  When you create an infinite number of children you are bound to have an infinite amount of surprises.  

Also, based on Joseph Smith's translation of

Quote

Revelations 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Quote

“If Abraham reasoned thus — If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.”  - Joseph Smith Jr. Sermon in the Grove June 16, 1844

Elohim is probably following the example that his Father set...

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Edited by mikbone

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Just my opinion, but i've seen a couple things that seem to be huge factors in the reasons most people become atheists.  

One is the belief that God is behind everything that happens.  So i guess i view this question as being one that one engages with at great risk.  Or even most of the stuff that happens.  i think that while God governs, His interventions are rare.  At least the ones we are capable of comprehending.  

i know a woman - salt of the earth type - whose teenage daughter hung herself.  The mother found her.  And i remember her recalling that when it would have been happening, she felt nothing.  No prompting to go and check.  Totally, utterly, completely blindsided by it.

And then i remember a few weeks after, sitting in a testimony meeting, and hearing a woman get up and bear testimony that after a stressful past few months, God had directed her down a street on which the perfect boat for their vacation was being sold for a good price.  And she actually was very nice also.  You could tell she absolutely believed it.  And who among us hasn't had something like what happened to her happen to us?  And i think that was when the idea that God really participates in our lives in the ways we attribute to Him died in me.

There is a near death experience i've shared here where the person describes the whole universe as being governed by some kind of a beautiful math.  And so i sometimes think that what we attribute to God is really just that equation in action.  That perhaps God created the perfect equation, but then lets people, and cities, and nations, and the world feed into it what they will.  All those inputs affect one another, and the equation itself is mercilessly brutal in it's operation - utterly oblivious to the individual human joy and tragedy it churns out.  And that mercy and healing comes after it all ends, when we've (hopefully) learned something in the process.  Or maybe have become something in the process.  Or been carved out a little deeper in the process.  Or something...i hope.  i really do wonder what exactly will be left when the thread of brokenness that seems to run through people and time is gone.  When all stuff by which we judge people is gone, and only that which actually was remains.  i think it will look a lot different than it does now.  

The second one is illustrated better than i can say it by this quote.  

"Neither let thy cowardly conscience receive any word as light because another calls it light, while it looks to thee dark. Say either the thing is not what it seems, or God never said or did it. But, of all evils, to misinterpret what God does, and then say the thing as interpreted must be right because God does it, is of the devil. Do not try to believe anything that affects thee as darkness. Even if thou mistake and refuse something true thereby, thou wilt do less wrong to Christ by such a refusal than thou wouldst by accepting as his what thou canst see only as darkness. "
- George MacDonald, Light: A Sermon

At the end of the day - for me at least, i feel like God only knows exactly what God is, or what God is up to.

Edited by lostinwater

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10 hours ago, lostinwater said:

"Neither let thy cowardly conscience receive any word as light because another calls it light, while it looks to thee dark. Say either the thing is not what it seems, or God never said or did it. But, of all evils, to misinterpret what God does, and then say the thing as interpreted must be right because God does it, is of the devil. Do not try to believe anything that affects thee as darkness. Even if thou mistake and refuse something true thereby, thou wilt do less wrong to Christ by such a refusal than thou wouldst by accepting as his what thou canst see only as darkness. "

- George MacDonald, Light: A Sermon

I have refrained from responding to this quote, but it has been quoted enough now that I will respond to it. There is some truth in this statement, but overall the idea is invalid.

1) The Pharisees saw what Christ did as "dark." They shunned it.

2) We are to believe truth, even if at first truth appears "dark." If truth appears "dark" or affects us as "dark" then there is something amiss in our lives, not in the truth. The brothers of Joseph saw the truth of Joseph's dream as "dark", even Jacob was at first taken back by his son's dream. They should have believed him, but I guess the irony is that in their disbelief -- what they saw as dark and thus committed darkness -- they brought to pass his dream.

3) Did the Pharisees action "do less wrong to Christ" by seeing his works as darkness? No, when we refuse any truth, even if by mistake, indeed we have done wrong, for there are many who are in life deceived by the craftiness of man to see darkness where there is none, and in the end if they continue that path it isn't good for them.

It is always better, and never good, to forsake or reject truth/light because we feel it is dark. In the end, we hurt ourselves, and create the potential of landing ourselves where Christ is not.

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27 minutes ago, Anddenex said:

I have refrained from responding to this quote, but it has been quoted enough now that I will respond to it. There is some truth in this statement, but overall the idea is invalid.

 1) The Pharisees saw what Christ did as "dark." They shunned it.

2) We are to believe truth, even if at first truth appears "dark." If truth appears "dark" or affects us as "dark" then there is something amiss in our lives, not in the truth. The brothers of Joseph saw the truth of Joseph's dream as "dark", even Jacob was at first taken back by his son's dream. They should have believed him, but I guess the irony is that in their disbelief -- what they saw as dark and thus committed darkness -- they brought to pass his dream.

 3) Did the Pharisees action "do less wrong to Christ" by seeing his works as darkness? No, when we refuse any truth, even if by mistake, indeed we have done wrong, for there are many who are in life deceived by the craftiness of man to see darkness where there is none, and in the end if they continue that path it isn't good for them.

 It is always better, and never good, to forsake or reject truth/light because we feel it is dark. In the end, we hurt ourselves, and create the potential of landing ourselves where Christ is not.

Thanks @Anddenex

Of course, i agree that the scribes and pharisees missed the boat when it came to accepting Jesus' message.  But to be honest, i don't think it was a pricked conscience that made them do it.  

i'm just speaking for myself here - but to me, conscience is not the "why, how dare that arrogant itinerant prick of preacher!"  feeling.  It is the train of thoughts that flows through one's mind in the early morning hours when you say to yourself, "i know so-and-so said that God said this was right, but that's wrong!"  

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12 hours ago, lostinwater said:

At the end of the day - for me at least, i feel like God only knows exactly what God is, or what God is up to.

I agree with you that at present, this is our situation, but I see no reason why it should continue to be our situation.

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18 hours ago, Anddenex said:

The first principle is the honor of our moral agency, which answers the questions of why there is evil in this world.

Thanks @Anddenex this is a useful statement that I had not given proper consideration to. 

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But now that I think about it a bit more, I'm inclined to the idea that God's respect for our agency might be more of a reason why He doesn't do things, rather than why He does. Out of respect for our agency, God might restrict Himself from doing things which He otherwise might want to do.

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13 minutes ago, askandanswer said:

But now that I think about it a bit more, I'm inclined to the idea that God's respect for our agency might be more of a reason why He doesn't do things, rather than why He does. Out of respect for our agency, God might restrict Himself from doing things which He otherwise might want to do.

I would honestly say it is probably both, why he does and why he does not so that a righteous judgement can be brought to pass (Alma and the women and children burned in the fire).

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22 minutes ago, askandanswer said:

God might restrict Himself from doing things which He otherwise might want to do.

To me this is like saying: Out of respect for telling the truth God restricts Himself from saying things which He otherwise might want to say.

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I was thinking of situations where God might like to intervene because harm is about to befall His children, who He greatly loves, but out of respect for their agency He refrains from doing so and allows them to suffer harm. 

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3 minutes ago, askandanswer said:

I was thinking of situations where God might like to intervene because harm is about to befall His children, who He greatly loves, but out of respect for their agency He refrains from doing so and allows them to suffer harm. 

I know what you were saying. I just don't know that I I believe that's the way it works.

I tend to think when we we see the bigger picture in the end that God will have had much more involvement than we now might suppose. I tend to think how our lives go is how they're meant to go and it is for our good that they go the way they go -- be it when we are born, who we are born to, the trials we face, the deaths we have, etc.

At the very least I disbelieve that children who are killed before the age of eight are saved by sheer happenstance.

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And you have the story of Nephi and retrieving the brass plates. I believe he was led by God the whole time, that it was God's plan for them to try and fail two times in order that God is justified, through Nephi, in slaying Laban in the third and successful final time.

Edited by Rob Osborn

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4 hours ago, The Folk Prophet said:

I tend to think when we we see the bigger picture in the end that God will have had much more involvement than we now might suppose.

Some time in the future I hope to give some more thought to the possible reasons that influence God's decision making about when He will get involved and when He won't. At the moment, its not clear to me, but possibly with some thought and help from others, the range of possibilities might be narrowed.

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5 hours ago, askandanswer said:

when He will get involved and when He won't

He is always involved. Intimately. Personally. Absolutely. Just because we don't see or understand. Just because we aren't aware or don't "feel" the matter. He is there. He is involved. He cares. He loves. And this is His plan, His world, His children, and His work and glory.

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On 1/5/2019 at 11:12 PM, askandanswer said:

Sometimes people feel inclined to question why God does what He does. I suggest that it may be that everything that God does can be explained by one of four reasons. They are

1. He loves us and is doing all He can to enable our learning and progression. I suspect that this is the reason that explains the majority of His actions.

2. He is bound by universal and eternal laws to which even He is subject, ie  laws that relate to truth, justice, sin opposition, suffering and progression. (The need to comply with such laws is the only reason why I can think of that an atonement was needed)

3. He is bound by covenants that He has made, eg, to His wife, and possibly, to us, and possibly to other beings or Gods with whom He co-exists

4. He has personal preferences on some issues, eg, white, rather than any other colour to symbolize purity, 2, rather than any other number, being the preferred number of counselors in a presidency, 12, rather than any other number being the preferred number of apostles, and olive oil, rather than any other kind of oil, to be the oil that is used for sacred purposes.

Is this too few, or too many reasons to explain all of God’s actions? What might need to be deleted or added to give a more accurate understanding of why God does what He does?

I look forward to your responses because this is something I have been thinking about a bit lately and I think it would be useful to have an improved understanding of why God does what He does.

I have posted this before - I believe there are 5 principles that govern how G-d deals with mankind.

Principle #1 - G-d will not do for any man what they can do for themselves. 

Principle #2 - G-d will do for all men what they cannot do for themselves.

Principle #3 - G-d will not do that which is not of eternal benefit for man.

Principle #4 - G-d will do that which is of eternal benefit for man.

Principle #5 - (Agency Principle) - G-d will not do anything to any man without his concurrence - through covenant. 

I believe that everything that G-d does concerning this mortal state is according to covenant.  This means that it was not just already planned and known what will happen but that we were fully informed and were in complete agreement before we were born.  As near as I can determine and understand of all the good and great things G-d has given to us - the greatest and most jealously graded gift from G-d is our Agency.   It is the one thing that G-d was willing to go to war over and cast out from heaven a third part of the most enlightened and intelligent beings that exist in the entire universe. 

 

The Traveler

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2 hours ago, The Folk Prophet said:

He is always involved. Intimately. Personally. Absolutely. Just because we don't see or understand. Just because we aren't aware or don't "feel" the matter. He is there. He is involved. He cares. He loves. And this is His plan, His world, His children, and His work and glory.

Mostly I agree but I also believe in agency as part of "His" plan - which means that we are also involved.

 

The Traveler

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55 minutes ago, Traveler said:

Mostly I agree but I also believe in agency as part of "His" plan - which means that we are also involved.

Which becomes entirely irrelevant when the being who sends us into this life sees the beginning from the end.

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12 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Which becomes entirely irrelevant when the being who sends us into this life sees the beginning from the end.

I do not know that I understand what you are implying - so I will probe your response with a couple of questions to try to understand.  

First - Did he send (force) us or did we come voluntarily by our own choice? 

Second - Did G-d "trick" or deceive us by sending us into this life ignorant and void of what we were getting ourselves into?  Or is it the method of G-d (as Isaiah testified 46:10) not just seeing the beginning to the end but "Declaring the end from the beginning"?

 

The Traveler

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