Why do good things happen to bad people?

January 25, 2007 | Prayer, Struggles | 34 comments

I realized recently that I never have resolved a few questions I have on the topic of prayer. The one that’s most pressing these days is the unease I feel about thanking God for the good things in my life. Since this is somewhat related to the discussion we had in the last post, I thought this would be a good time to bring it up.

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for how great my life is. Yet, when I go to thank God, I feel uncomfortable about thanking him for specific things like my children, the good health of our family, my great husband, our luxurious (compared to most other times and places) middle-class American life, etc.

If I approach it as if I’m thanking God in a passive sense, that these things are good and all goodness comes from God, that makes the most sense intellectually (e.g. “Thank you God for being the source of all that is good…”). But I feel like perhaps I should be thanking him for his direct action in giving these things to me (e.g. “Thank you God for giving me my healthy children, my great husband, that random, unexpected check we just got in the mail…”).

The former option seems to imply that God is just some impersonal force. Yet the latter makes me feel uncomfortable and rather bold to assume that God actively chose to give me these things, since it seems to assume that he actively chose *not* to help out people who do not have healthy children, good health, a great spouse, etc.

I know that this touches on the issue of suffering and “Why do bad things happen to good people?”, which is a huge box of worms to open. To narrow it down, what I’m specifically trying to understand is this: when I am giving thanks for the wonderful things in my life, am I to assume that God consciously chose that I, Jen, should receive these things? Or should I thank God for good things in the abstract while assuming, as I do with certain types of suffering, that it is not God’s work directly but the result of the randomness in our world that comes with humans having free will?

I know I’m missing something here, I’m just not sure what it is. That’s where you guys come in. 🙂

34 Comments

  1. Professor Chaos

    I can tell you what you’re missing. Or, rather, what should be missing. 😉

    Besides, you’re trying to separate theodicy from the question which cannot be done. Theodicy is the question.

    Anyways, your time on this planet is limited. And 67% of it is spent working or sleeping. Much of the remaining third is spent cooking, cleaning, caring for your children, bathing, eating, dressing, driving, etc.

    My suggestion would be to not worry about how you’re thanking God, but why you’re thanking God. If your God is omniscient, He’ll know your intentions and your sincerity, which is what would matter, I would think.

    (Of course, that’s only my suggestion to you because you’re nice, I like you, and I’m on your turf, trying to behave myself. My real suggestion would be to stop wasting that precious time talking to someone who isn’t there and spend it doing something constructive. 🙂 )

  2. Icarus

    I, too, am becoming a Catholic through RCIA. I retyped this excerpt from “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” written by Pope John Paul II. You should pick up a copy.

    “God created man as rational and free, thereby placing Himself under man’s judgment. The history of salvation is also the history of man’s continual judgment of God. Not only of man’s questions and doubts but of his actual judgment of God.

    Scandalum Crucis (The Scandal of the Cross). In the preceding questions you addressed the problem precisely: Was putting His Son to death on the Cross necessary for the salvation of humanity?

    Given our present discussion, we must ask ourselves this: Could it have been different? Could God have justified himself before human history, so full of suffering, without placing Christ’s Cross at the center of that history? … God, who besides being Omnipotence is Wisdom and – to repeat once again – Love, desires to justify Himself to mankind. He not the Absolute that remains outside of the world, indifferent to human suffering. He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, a God who shares man’s lot and participates in his destiny …

    God is not someone who remains only outside of the world, content to be in Himself all-knowing and omnipotent. His wisdom and omnipotence are placed, by free choice, at the service of creation. If suffering is present in the history of humanity, one understands why His omnipotence was manifested in the omnipotence of humiliation on the cross. The scandal of the Cross remains the key to the interpretation of the great mystery of suffering, which is so much a part of the history of mankind.

    Even contemporary critics of Christianity are in agreement on this point. Even they see that the crucified Christ is proof of God’s solidarity with man in his suffering. God places Himself on the side of man. He does so in a radical way: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). Everything is contained in this statement. All individual and collective suffering caused by the forces of nature and unleashed by man’s will – the wars, the gulags, and the holocausts.”

    In other words, suffering is our choice, just as is driving our children to school, making dinner, and every other choice. God does not interfere with these choices. He goes a step further, by humbling himself to death on the Cross and showing his solidarity with the suffering of humanity. I thought it was pretty interesting.

  3. Jim McCullough

    It is simply humble, and courteous, and good manners (altogether) to say thanks for gifts we are grateful to enjoy. I believe we can be thankful without also thinking that we deserve them and without sending God the message that He’d better keep providing more of the same!

  4. proud to be an atheist

    Better yet, why not thank your husband for being so great and for giving you beautiful, wonderful children. And thank your in-laws for raising such a great man. I myself have thanked my in-laws for this very thing.

    It drives me insane when I see a football player give thanks to the man upstairs when he scores a touchdown. Do you really think he had anything to do with that???

    You have the things in your life because you have worked for them. It wasn’t handed to you. You and your husband did all the work. You and he made the money that pays for your mortgage, food, clothing and material possessions.

    All I’m saying is you should thank the ones you can physically touch, the one’s that can say I love you back. Those are the ones that should matter.

  5. Mahsheed

    I was helped by reading the writings of the saints. At first I was put off by eg the way they exaggerate their sinfulness. Until gradually I began to realize that they’re not speaking cliches–they really mean it.

    A few things I learned:

    To the saints their relationship with God is so central that the world and everything in it is so peripheral almost like it doesn’t really exist. (To give you an example, on an impulse once I gave a can of soup to a devout lady; in front of me she proceeded to thank God for loving her so much for giving her soup and I thought what am I chopped liver?!)

    The saints see the Hand of God everywhere and in even the most minutest things that you can think of. I notice that their sufferings are almost always other-inflicted (they are innocent of wrong-doing) and take on a Biblical pattern like where Jesus calms the storm. Something bad happens to them and their faith gets them through it and this happens over and over again. Like the story of OT Joseph the bad things that happen to them all are revealed to have a good purpose in the end.

    The saints freely revel in their blessings but they are equally accepting of their sufferings (perhaps because?). They truly mean it when they say “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me”.

    They truly believe what Frank Sheed says that God holds us in existence at every moment (I have a mental image of that scene in Star Wars where R2D2 (the little round robot) is playing that message from Princess Leia), they know they owe their whole being to God and are in a debt relationhip that they can never hope to repay. Thus they see everything good as a gift that they didn’t merit. I think that is why they don’t take credit for anything. In their strivings toward God they are acutely aware of the chasm thas separates us from Him and of their own nothingness. They’re not being cutesy they really mean it when they call themselves miserable sinners.

    They have the attitude of beggars (poverty of the spirit), they honestly don’t expect anything good to happen to them so when it does they are very thankful. They’re starting point is that nobody deserves anything good because nobody could withstand God’s justice.

    Jen, just passing these thoughts along. I hope they help.

  6. SteveK

    It drives me insane when I see a football player give thanks to the man upstairs when he scores a touchdown. Do you really think he had anything to do with that???

    Yes, God did have something to do with it. At the very least, God gave him life through his parents and made him in his image. It’s a matter of perspective, choosing to thank the originator of all life and not just your parents.

    Perhaps God had more of a hand in his life. Perhaps there was a “second chance” that led the man to where he is today. Perhaps.

    You have the things in your life because you have worked for them. It wasn’t handed to you. You and your husband did all the work. You and he made the money that pays for your mortgage, food, clothing and material possessions.

    Again, it’s a matter of perspective. You can look to yourself and thank yourself for all you’ve done. Or you can can look to your parents and thank them for teaching you things that helped lead you to where you are today. Or you can look to God and thank him for all the above.

    All I’m saying is you should thank the ones you can physically touch, the one’s that can say I love you back. Those are the ones that should matter.

    Of course we should thank the people you can physically touch. But you should also thank those that made it possible for you to be here today. God is on that list and so he should be thanked.

  7. LP

    Hi Jen,

    This is my first time posting here, but I’ve been following your site for a few weeks now. I have felt this way myself about prayer and would like to share how I’ve come to view it.

    First, (as someone who has been Cathoic her whole life) it seems clear to me that God wants us to know him, and that He guides us and prods each of us on our faith journeys. There is a beautiful passage in Peggy Noonan’s book “John Paul the Great” where she explains that when we have questions, it is because God puts them there, so that even if they cause doubts for us, we will be moved to search for the answers and thus come to know Him better.

    I often have this in the back of my mind when I pray. If God wants us to know Him, and he made us in His own image, then on some level He must want us to relate to Him as we would to a close friend or spouse. I don’t see this in a “Jesus is my buddy” kind of way, but more in an awe-filled, God-the-creator-of-the-whole-universe-actually-cares-what-I-have-to-say kind of way.

    So when I thank Him, I try to share my joy as I would share something joyful with my husband. I know how happy I am to hear from a friend who calls just to tell me good news–happy for them and their joy, and also happy because they cared enough about me to include me in it. So, in some way, must God feel when I share my joy with Him, which is amazing when you consider that such a powerful Being could be pleased by something seemingly insignficant that I do.

    Second, the other thing in the back of my head when I pray is the question of what God wants me to do with all that He has given me. “Of those to whom much is given, much is required,” right?

    There are so many people who struggle financially, struggle to have children, or just struggle to find a place in the world where they are not lonely. When I look around at all that I have, I am grateful to God, but I know I don’t deserve these things more than anyone else, and probably less than most.

    This inevitably leads me to the question of what does God want me to do with all this? So, although I occasionally am so overcome with joy that my prayer is basically, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” more often it goes something like, “Thank you for my wonderful children . . . but please help me figure out how to be a good mother and guide them so that they may come to know you and discover their own vocations.”

    I usually end up feeling a bit overwhelmed by all I have been given, and spending more time in prayer trying to figure out how God wants me to use it all.

    On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” kind of prayer. Last winter, after a morning of playing outside, my then-two-year-old said to me, “Thank you for the snow, Mommy!” I often think that the way I felt just then is how God must feel when we thank Him so simply.

    Sorry for rambling on, and I hope some of that helps! Thanks for a great blog!

  8. Renee

    Well as you said they are merely “things”. Good comes from love, not things, and love is an act not an object. God is Love, even for those who may not believe in God their acts from love is an act of God. One must believe that loving others, not merely a belief in not hurting others or in the “golden rule”, is the primary purpose for being, living, and existing. Once one believes the purpose of life is sacrificial love and acts upon it, God comes into presence even if one does not recognize it.

    First you have to learn to love prior to believing in God, not the other way around. Many people, who are not theists, can and do love in the same way theists do. But I don’t think anyone can believe in God and not believe in the concept of sacrificial love. Sacrificial love is impossible to achieve, unless you’re Jesus Christ. That is why being a Christian; one will always be judge as a hypocrite by some, rather as being seen as someone being challenged by sin, selfishness and unloving acts.

    So when you say why do good things happen to bad people? Bad people never truly realize how good they have it, if they do in fact come to have good things. And if they can’t be thankful and appreciative, they can fail to care for it and lose it, but if one is always thankful and appreciative (such as praising God and His Love for us as an example) one can retain these good things.

  9. Jennifer F.

    Besides, you’re trying to separate theodicy from the question which cannot be done.

    I don’t follow. Focusing in on whether or not God makes specific, personal decisions in people’s lives doesn’t seem to me to be intertwined with theodicy. But maybe I don’t fully understand the concept. Quite possible. 🙂

    My real suggestion would be to stop wasting that precious time talking to someone who isn’t there and spend it doing something constructive.

    Not a bad point. I think if a person sees no results when earnestly attempting to enter into a relationship with God, they need to take a step back and do some serious re-examination.

    I hate wasting time — even a few minutes. Twenty-six years of not believing in an afterlife will do that. I’m also an easily-distracted, lazy person. If my life hadn’t changed so profoundly since entertaining this God stuff I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. 🙂

  10. melanie b

    Here are my scattered thoughts on the subject.

    I know that I have more than other people do and that I’m no more (perhaps even less) deserving of what I have than others might be. And that’s why I’m grateful that it has been given to me. I don’t assume the good things I have are simply what’s due to me. I see it as good fortune and am grateful.

    I met my husband when I was almost 30 and had almost given up on finding someone with whom to spend the rest of my life. I do think the fact that we met was a gift from God. (The fact that we met through church kinda reinforces that impression for me.) Of course, I had free will and could have not married him. In fact, after our first disastrous date I didn’t go out with him for another 18 months.

    I think that God doesn’t necessarily take direct action. But was it sheer coincidence that we both decided to go to the grocery store at the same time on that particular day, or did one of us get a bit of a nudge, a sudden urge for ice cream, say?

    I was very aware during my pregnancy that the life inside of me was a gift from God. He in his infinite love allows us the amazing grace to be co-creators with him, to participate in the creation of an immortal soul. We could have chosen to contracept, it is true. But that is only to choose to thwart his will. We could not force his hand and make a new life. And I was also very aware that carrying my child to term and having a healthy baby were also gifts. I’ve known women who had miscarriages and women who have children with birth defects. I don’t know why God portions out the results the way he does, but I do believe that my health and the heath of my family are gifts from him and I thank him for them constantly.

    On the other hand I recognize that suffering comes to everyone and that while it is not directly God’s will that we suffer, it is the result of our fallen condition, still, we have the free will to choose how we deal with the misfortunes that we encounter. We can take up our cross and offer up our sufferings in reparation for sin or we can whine and moan about how unfair it all is….

    Life itself is a gift from God and all good things come from him. As another poster said, he loves us personally and individually and wants us to enjoy the good things that we have in life. And part of our enjoyment, I think, is an acknowledgment that he is a part of everything that is good, that he wills our good and celebrates when we celebrate and mourn when we mourn. Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died, even though he knew he was about to raise him from the dead. Likewise, don’t you think he rejoices when we celebrate the good things in our lives?

  11. Darwin

    Good question.

    I think prayer is one of those elements of Catholicism (and Christianity in general) which is more difficult to subject to rigorous logical analysis. There are part of life that I think make far, far more logical sense given a Christian worldview. There are others which are mysterious.

    That said, a few thoughts:

    I think the key to thinking about thanking God for “one’s blessings” is to avoid thinking of God as being in the business of fulfilling our desires. e.g. “Thanks, God, for giving me a good car and a good job and a beautiful wife. I’m still waiting on getting that windfall bonus I keep reminding you about, though…”

    Rather, we should thank God for our lives as a whole, the good and the bad, what we’ve learned from, and what we still need to learn how to accept. Not in some supine “thanks, slap me around again please” kind of way, but from the perspective of seeing how all that goes into our lives has made us what we are.

    Thus, I think a football player thanking “the man upstairs” for helping him catch a long pass is a bit off base. But catching that pass should remind him to thank God for giving him the talents and opportunity to become a great player.

  12. Renee

    I don’t pray for specific results, but I do pray for guidance and discernment. Prayer keeps me level headed and calms me down, so I don’t do anything irrational.

    The past few weeks I was having an issue not with my husband directly, but a problem never the less, not only did a pray I sought answers also. Sure there are people who are non-theists who might suggest just go straight to the answer. But for there to be an answer, the problem has to be recognized. I see people swimming in problems all the time, and they don’t see it as a problem either they normalize it or just surrender to it. There are people who believe there can never be somethings To answer problems one can be conflicted, it can take a lot of courage and support, not support just from persons but also yourself in relationship to your surroundings.

    Catholicism, like other beliefs, focuses that your existence serves purpose beyond one’s self. I value my marriage and willing to stretch beyond my comfort zone to fix the problem. Having a relationship with the one that gave you that existence is simply a foundation for living out your life and solving problems that arise.

  13. Renee

    Edit

    “There are people who believe there can never be something such as sin”

  14. proud to be an atheist

    “…But catching that pass should remind him to thank God for giving him the talents and opportunity to become a great player”.

    No. God isn’t the one who kept guys from tackling him, God isn’t the one who taught him the drills, or the plays. That takes coaches and team work.

    To everyone else:
    The point is, you shouldn’t go around thanking God for every tiny thing that goes good in your life. When things go bad, do you curse Him? Probably not, because people that believe in God still think that it is His doing, that He put this particular situation in your life. Why should someone who supposedly loves you
    unconditionally keep testing your love for him? I bet the effort that goes into proving your love and faith in God is 100 times more than the effort you show your family the love and faith you have in them.

    Something is seriously wrong with that.

  15. Darwin

    No. God isn’t the one who kept guys from tackling him, God isn’t the one who taught him the drills, or the plays. That takes coaches and team work.

    Ahem.

    Which is why I said that it would be inappropriate (or at least a little off base) to thank God for a specific spectacular catch. Rather, one should thank God (if one believes in Him as one’s creator) for making you the person with the talent and opportunities to become the player who caught the pass. Catching the pass only serves as a reminder of the more general thing.

    The player would be equally right to thank God after just failing to catch a pass. But he’s less likely to remember…

    The way that you’re thinking of this seems slightly alien somehow. I spend a lot of time, if you total it up, telling my wife that I love her. But it’s not because I’m trying to prove the fact, or because she’s testing me. It’s simply because it’s true, and because it’s true, I like saying it.

  16. Mike J

    proud to be an atheist:

    > Why should someone who supposedly loves you
    unconditionally keep testing your love for him? I bet the effort that goes into proving your love and faith in God is 100 times more than the effort you show your family the love and faith you have in them.
    Something is seriously wrong with that. < BINGO! Give that person a Kewpie doll. Of course I can posit an answer. It’s not because He’s testing your love. It’s because He’s trying to make you stronger that He let’s trials in your life. Not a nutty thought really though. If you want to get better at anything, you have to push yourself beyond your current limits.

  17. lyrl

    You have the things in your life because you have worked for them. It wasn’t handed to you.

    I believe that is inaccurately self-centered. Consider my college scholarship – sure, I did very well in difficult classes in high school, and I participated in extracurriculars. But those things were only a moderate amount of work for me. Through no doing of my own, my high school achievements came easily. Someone who struggled in school might work their posterior off every day for years and not qualify for the scholarship I got.

    So while I am grateful to myself for making the choices that led me to where I am, I am also profoundly thankful for my pure luck in having the skills and being born into the environment that enabled me to make those choices.

    Consider one of Jen’s examples in her post – healthy children. Saying that she has that because she worked for it implies that parents of a child with Down’s syndrome simply didn’t work hard enought. I think the flaw in that logic is fairly obvious. The knowledge that so many of the good things in my life are things I did not work for – that were just handed to me – is what makes charity (sharing or passing on my blessings) such an important long-term goal in my life.

  18. Catholic-Turned-Atheist

    Hey, Jen, if you want to know what God wants then why don’t you just ask Him? Why do other people have to speak for God? Can’t God speak for Himself?

  19. Renee

    I think people forget Christians believe Jesus Christ is God. He has spoken already. If you want to know what He wants take a chance and listen. God wanted to share His words through us.

    For someone who considered themselved Catholic before turning into an atheist, I hope at the very least that you can have a better understanding of what Catholicism teaches for the sake of discussion. It is one thing not to believe in God and another to make something up about Catholicism which is not true to defend your position that there is no God.

    Reference on the Holy Trinity according to the Catholic belief…

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm

    “he Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion — the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.” In this Trinity of Persons the Son is begotten of the Father by an eternal generation, and the Holy Spirit proceeds by an eternal procession from the Father and the Son. Yet, notwithstanding this difference as to origin, the Persons are co-eternal and co-equal: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent. This, the Church teaches, is the revelation regarding God’s nature which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came upon earth to deliver to the world: and which she proposes to man as the foundation of her whole dogmatic system.”

  20. proud to be an atheist

    I have seen religious people go to great lengths, make that extreme lengths to “prove” themselves worthy of God’s love, and it never seems to be enough. What I’m trying to say is, if you can’t be who you are, then what is the point? You shouldn’t have to bend over backwards for someone to accept you.

    Why do people need to go to church more than once a week? Will that make them better than the rest? In a list of 1 to 5, number 1 being your highest, will God not rank as your number one person in your life that you love?

    Lyrl, I never said that it was because Jen ‘worked’ for it that she had healthy children, although, to some extent she does play a hand in it. Age, non-smoker, didn’t drink, etc. People that do have healthy children should consider themselves lucky and be thankful, but God is the last person I will be thanking for that. There are so many things that can go wrong it is unreal, even if you do have the above in your favor. And yet couples who go to church dutifully, and pray, have miscarriages, babies that are stillborn, or babies born with numerous problems. Is that still God blessing them with a very sick baby?

    As for you scholarship, good for you, but you still had to put forth the effort to get your diploma. The money you make, you worked for it. To say that I,you, they, whatever, worked for these things in our lives is anything but self-centered.

  21. Darwin

    Proud to Be An Atheist,

    I think there’s a real set of problems that you’re kind-of identifying, which don’t necessarily have anything to do with a proper love of and gratitude to God. I can tell you that within religious circles there is definately criticism of “sanctuary rat” or “preacher’s kid” syndrom — where a person neglects very real loves and responsibilities they have in their vocations as spouses, parents, etc. in favor of what they see as higher priority religious duties. There’s not necessarily anything wrong in going to church events 2-3 nights a week, but there is something wrong with neglecting real needs of your family in order to do so. (In many cases, one can balance munti-night commitments with other duties just fine.)

    Again, a healthy relationship with God can be well compared to that with a parent or with a spouse (there’s some of each involved). It’s without question good for me to spend time with my wife, but not to the total exclusion of spending time with my children. All relationships in life need to be balanced, and ideally, putting time into one relationship does not mean excluding the others. Spending time on Church activities does not have to mean excluding other family members any more than spending time with a spouse means excluding children.

    It’s not a matter of proving yourself worthy of God’s love, but that because you love God, you want to be the best that you can be for him. No different from wanting to be a good husband. It’s not that you have to prove yourself to your wife, but that you want to be the best husband that you can be because you love her.

    On your other point: Yes, it is still God blessing them with a very sick baby. There are good things to be found in almost any situation. Behind thankful doesn’t mean that you mightn’t have wished things to be another way.

  22. Catholic-Turned-Atheist

    Renee,

    You want to know how Catholic I was? Let me tell you. The ONLY way that God manifested Himself to me was through the Catholic Church. I did not see God in nature or in people or in the Bible. I saw God in the Catholic Church. I was impressed by an institution that could trace its origins back to the Apostles. And if you ever attended a traditional Latin Mass (or the Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Church) you would understand its power to evoke religious feelings. So I was willing to accept that God would speak through His Church.

    For reasons I won’t go into right now, I no longer see the Catholic Church as the divinely guided institution that I once thought she was. So I no longer accept anyone’s claim to be speaking on behalf of God.

    What about Jesus? Well, if He rose from the dead then where is He? Ascended into heaven? How can a human body survive in heaven? Do they have bathrooms in heaven? I don’t mean to be irreverant, but if Jesus is fully man as well as fully God then He would need to use a bathroom. The same would apply to the Blessed Virgin, who was assumed bodily into heaven. Show me someone who doesn’t need to breathe oxygen, keep warm, eat, drink, sleep, etc. and I don’t think that you can call that person human.

  23. SteveK

    Do they have bathrooms in heaven?

    This explains why those that don’t understand the church often leave the church. Please tell me this is a joke.

  24. Mike J

    Catholic-Turned-Atheist :

    Just so you know who/what I am:: I’m a Protestant-turned-Orthodox-turned-atheist/agnostic.

    I’d actually like to know what made you go atheist. I kind of doubt it was the questions you set out.

    Now to your questions:

    > What about Jesus? Well, if He rose from the dead then where is He? Ascended into heaven? How can a human body survive in heaven? < A guy who can walk on water, turn water into wine, feed thousands with a few loaves and fishes, raise the dead, raise himself from the dead, appear in closed rooms suddenly, vanish just as suddenly, and finally fly off into the clouds, could survive anywhere. > Do they have bathrooms in heaven? I don’t mean to be irreverant, but if Jesus is fully man as well as fully God then He would need to use a bathroom.< There are just too many ways to deal with this. You may recall a scripture that says that everyone gets new bodies in heaven. Those bodies might not need to eat or excrete. And again, a guy who can teleport through walls can probably find places to teleport poop if the need comes up. > The same would apply to the Blessed Virgin, who was assumed bodily into heaven. < Did you know that doctrine didn’t exist in the early Church? The Orthodox don’t have it. Why? Because it came along way late, and they don’t go in for changing beliefs.
    At any rate, physical limitations or needs just aren’t going to be a problem for beings who have access to supernatural powers.

    > Show me someone who doesn’t need to breathe oxygen, keep warm, eat, drink, sleep, etc. and I don’t think that you can call that person human. < Or maybe they are just living by miracle. If any of the above are actual reasons for you not being a believer, you may as well go back to church. But I imagine that you have much better reasons.

  25. Catholic-Turned-Atheist

    They laughed when I said that there must be bathrooms in heaven. But they stopped laughing after they read my post. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    OK. Here’s my case:

    The human body is a biochemical factory. It takes in air, liquid, and solids from the environment, processes them, and returns air, liquid, and solids back to the environment. There is a symbiotic relationship between the human body and the environment in which it lives. That’s why I say that a bodily ascension from earth into heaven makes no sense. Human bodies were made for earth, not heaven. Unless, of course, heaven has bathrooms.

    And not just bathrooms, but a whole ecosystem similar to what we have here on earth. For if food were simply zapped into existense for our consumption and then our body waste were just as simply zapped out of existense, why have a body at all? It would have no relationship to its environment. Why not exist as incorporeal spirits?

    Of course, God could reconstruct the human body so that it did not need food, water, and oxygen. But then what would we have? We would have a ghastly animated corpse. It would not breathe. It would not have a heartbeat because there would be no need to circulate blood to carry oxygen and nutrition to the cells and remove waste products from the cells. It would generate no body heat.

    The Ascension not only makes no sense but it’s hard to think of it happening in a way that isn’t comical. Jesus rising up into the clouds like a helium-filled balloon. Where is He going? To the planet Mongo, perhaps? The fact that a physical body is going to heaven indicates that heaven is a physical place.

  26. catholic-turned-atheist

    I’m certain that the Orthodox Church teaches that the Blessed Mother was taken up bodily into heaven.

  27. Renee

    “I have seen religious people go to great lengths, make that extreme lengths to “prove” themselves worthy of God’s love, and it never seems to be enough. What I’m trying to say is, if you can’t be who you are, then what is the point? You shouldn’t have to bend over backwards for someone to accept you.

    Why do people need to go to church more than once a week? Will that make them better than the rest? In a list of 1 to 5, number 1 being your highest, will God not rank as your number one person in your life that you love?”

    I know the ‘type’ of person you are talking about. I have one in my family, who actually neglect everything else except for themselves showing how much the honor God. He is the type of guy, athiests love because it proves their point. In my case I know of it isn’t out of love for God, but more of themselves. There is nothing loving about it and rather embarassing. Many other Catholics see and know this.

  28. Mike J

    catholic-turned-atheist:

    The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary died and was entombed. Then, when her tomb was opened a couple days later, the body was gone.
    The RCC teaches that she was taken up “body and soul together”, without dying.

    Regarding your other post, read I Corinthians chapter 15.

  29. SteveG

    MikeJ,
    The RCC teaches that she was taken up “body and soul together”, without dying.

    This is incorrect. The church teaches that she was assumed body and soul. It has no official dogma on whether she died or not. The question of whether she died or not is open, but tends as in the Orthodox church to lean towards her having died.

    From Catholic Answers…
    The Church has never formally defined whether she died or not, and the integrity of the doctrine of the Assumption would not be impaired if she did not in fact die, but the almost universal consensus is that she did die. Pope Pius XII, in Munificentissimus Deus (1950), defined that Mary, “after the completion of her earthly life” (note the silence regarding her death), “was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven.”

    I can dig up something more ‘official’ if need be, but the above has always been my understanding, and I’ve never seen anything contradictory in Church teaching.

  30. Mike J

    Steve:

    Thanks for the clarification. I know a fair number of Catholics who claim Mary didn’t die, but as you point out, that’s not official.

  31. éric

    to catholic turned atheist : better for you to meditate the holy trinity; where god in three persons has a mutual relation of love and speaks to us through his son. also jesus true god and true man, speaks every day in our life and to the other persons of the trinity, first to his father, our father…mystery of eternal love and goodship always in diffusion.

  32. Aries

    Suffering is part of the human condition and in a way has a necessary role in the evolution of soul, we have all suffered to some degree it is what unites us as human beings, it is something we share, though it may take different forms.

    Being thankful to God almighty is simply acknowledging that he is all powerful, graceful and loving and everything.. absolutely everything that is good comes from him.. every morsel of food that we take for granted in our lives. Our acknowlegment of his greatness, is to acknowledge that we need him and this is an important key, and gives him the permission to work in our lives, on our souls, for to form a close bond with our father, we need to do this..

    I too often pondered on why there is so much suffering in the world, and where is God in all of this.. it is clear that much of the bad has come from the Devil through his men, like for e.g. corrupt leaders, but where is God in all of this… the answer that I have come up with is that he is in all ‘his’ people that he sends to help, and give of their time and money and skills to make these peoples lives better.. this is God at work, God in his living form in practice. That is part of our role (as Christians) to serve him, by serving the world and being living testimonies of his greatness and awsome love..

  33. Anonymous

    Catholic-turned-Atheist

    You show the ignorance of one who can’t let go of the finer points of what he learned in science class. Just think for a minute. Even if you don’t believe, in our view Jesus was God incarnate. He doesn’t need to breathe or follow the laws of physics. Seriously, I don’t expect you to re-convert, but try to have a little imagination will you?

  34. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Thanks for all the comments!

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site

Categories

Archives

Podcast Highlights

Each week I post highlights from my SiriusXM Radio Show.  Listen here or subscribe on your favorite podcasting app.
Apple | SoundCloud | Feed
Player.fm | PodBean | Acast