Heavy thoughts

I am so not an authority on anything.  But if anyone is interested, here was a thought process I struggled through tonight.

Is God in control, or isn’t he?  Either he is rushing around reacting to the evil that happens in the world or he is in control.  How is control measured against free will?

I guess the best analogy is parenthood.  My children have free will.  They choose to follow certain rules, or break them, then they reap either the rewards or the consequences.  They go to school, do their homework and get good grades.  Then they reap the benefits of approval and playtime or face the consequences of disapproval and grounding.

So how does sickness fit into that?  Well, God has a dual relationship with the world: Parent and Creator.  He created the rules, the laws, the math and science of how things work.  Like a parent making a home.  Through the process of living, dishes are dirtied, laundry is piled up and bills incurred.  It’s the rule of the society in which we live.  Either we learn to clean and pay bills regularly, or we face the consequences of bad health and loss of utilities or property.  Therefore rewards or consequences.  Yes, God has the role of disciplinarian.

Does that mean sickness is our discipline for something?  Well, if we eat too much candy and don’t brush out teeth, then we will get cavities.  That’s a consequence of our bad decision.

But cancer, until we learn what we’re doing wrong to cause all the forms of cancer, is similar to having lightning strike our house.  Is it the parent or the child’s fault if lightning strikes our house?  No.  We have positive and negative charges, which builds and organizes our universe.  It’s how it works.  And with those charges, we have electricity and lightening.  Some of it we harness and use to power our cities, but some of it is wild and free and uncontrollable.

So if lightning strikes, it is a thing of nature.  Part of living.  And if it lands, it must land somewhere.  Where it lands is reduced to mathematics and probabilities.  Wild and uncontrolled.  Like blowing the puffy white seeds on a dandelion, where will they land?  And if it happens to be in mom’s flower pot, should the child be in trouble? 

Or should the parent recognize the forces of nature and simply pull up the weed when it sprouts?

So, God disciplines us when we are bad.  Like when Adam and Eve were grounded from the garden of Eden.

And because he created the world to work in mathematical and scientific ways, sometimes there are natural disasters that aren’t punishments but simply part of living in this creation.  And if this creation sometimes sucks, well, make your own and see how easy it is to do.

So is God in control or do humans have free will?  Yes to both.  How does that work?  Like a parent.  We aren’t puppets controlled by his strings.  We make the choices and he stands back and lets us.  But he knows what we’re going to do.  He knows us the way a good parent knows their child.  When are they likely to sneak out?  When are they lying?  When are they not working hard enough at school?

As a parent, I have a good idea of what my kids are up to.  Sometimes I see them heading for a mistake and I have to let them make it or they won’t understand why it’s a mistake and they’ll keep trying to do it.

Staying up late on a school night, for instance.  I can tell them to go to bed.  I can argue and fight them and force them to do it my way just ‘cause.  Or I can let them stay up late a few nights and realize how tired they are the next morning.

I can guide, direct, govern, discipline, provide, but they aren’t my little Sims people.  I can’t force them to obey.  Which means they sometimes cause things to happen and sometimes they face life without me blocking them from it.

Imagine you built a perfect house for your 5 billion children.  Then because of natural things like the Law of Entropy, sometimes the plumbing breaks and the lights flicker.  And your kids rebel and fight and argue and fall in love and learn things really well.  And sometimes you have to let them argue it out so they learn how to get along with one another, even though you know things will get broken, like the lightbulbs or door hinges, and you know they’re going to blame each other, and you could stop it and prevent them from learning what it’s like to live with a broken door hinge, but they need to learn fixing doors is expensive and difficult and it would be a better use for their time if they learned self-control?

Overall, I keep going back to the paragraph above.

I can guide, direct, govern, discipline, provide, but they aren’t my little Sims people.  I can’t force them to obey.  Which means they sometimes cause things to happen and sometimes they face life without me blocking them from it.

I was speaking as a parent at that part of the thought process, but it really seems true for God also.  And when I think further, because I love Sims 2 and have even created the main building in my books in one neighborhood, and I played with all the facial features to make the Sims fit my characters as best as possible, I also see the process of free will versus control.

I keep them set to free will.  Sometimes I just don’t want to make every single decision for them.  They can go to the bathroom on their own if I’m off working on something else.  But sometimes, they argue with me.  They stamp their feet and forget what I’m telling them to do, then they end up wasting all their energy and not getting the dinner made so they can eat before they starve so they can sleep.  Then they die no matter how much I tried to help.

I’m pretty adept at the game by now.  I’ve played it for a while.  I make neat homes and neighborhoods and I can make the Sims easier for me to get along with (low on the Outgoing points so they’re not always whining about talking to someone.  High on the Active points so their energy lasts longer and they are more willing to do things.)  I fill their homes with the best furniture and help them gain skills so they advance in their jobs and build up their families.  In short, I do with Sims what I never do with my characters in my books.  I’m nice to them try not to let anything bad ever happen to them.

But then, my characters have a higher level of consciousness than my Sims.  My Sims can’t learn from  their mistakes.  Or their difficulties and tragedies.

I did have one house that, no matter how beautiful I’d made it or how hard I tried to help the Sim, she kept getting sick and died.  So, I made another Sim and moved them into that house.  Things were going well, when one day the ghost of the first scared the second to death. 

So, now I had two ghosts and gates and fences around their headstones didn’t keep them in.  Making Sims who loved knowledge didn’t work because they didn’t want to see a ghost when they did see it.  So the ghosts would float around and do whatever they wanted, then step up in front of the live Sim, suddenly appear and screech, “Boo!”

I lost four Sims this way.  I had to come to the conclusion the house was too haunted for anyone to live in it.

Now, God is perfect and has the knowledge to reign in those ghosts.  But then, if he does that, what was the point in making them?  There is a purpose.  To make the whole world more interesting, to give the characters things to learn, etc.

Is He in control?  Is He guiding and nudging us in all the directions we should go while allowing us the room to make mistakes and learn and grow from them?  He knows the choices we’ll make because He’s not stupid, and though He tries to help us along and avoid the worst when we ask Him to step in and sometimes when we don’t, we have free will and need to learn lessons.

May we learn something new each day.  That’s a pretty tall order over a lifetime.  It’s a very fine balance.

Yes, I am supposed to be working.  Free-writing this helped figure out some thoughts I need to use in my book.  I think I’m rambling in a few spots.  Or something.  CS is such an intense story.  Every page so far is engaging and thought-provoking.  Yes, I realize I’m biased.  J 

But it’s now 65,000 words and only a little over half way through the plot.  I think I’ll be over-shooting the 100,000 word goal and struggling to figure out what can be cut.  But that’s a worry for another day, right? 

Is God in control or do we have Free Will?  Is there a Grand Design or is our destiny our own?  What if he sees and watches it all, knows what’s coming and tries to step in and help each person while knowing what lessons they need to learn so they can face the future better?  Thus he’s in control of the good and the bad and has a plan.  And since we don’t know the design or the plan, we just go along making our own choices according to what we see fit, therefore deciding our own destiny?  So both are true, in an incredibly complicated way. 

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