Stop trying to put God in a box
I remember reading an article a while ago in which an economist predicted that economic growth going forward would be limited. The reason for this prediction was based upon his argument that all the major inventions had already been thought of — there were no paradigm shifts coming up to drive future economic growth.
This analysis bothered me for two reasons. First, I tend to be an optimist. I remember sitting in a Congressional hearing in the early 1990s where business leaders testified that the United States was falling behind Japan and there was nothing we could do about it. That was right before the go-go internet boom of the 1990s in the U.S., and right before Japan started its long economic nightmare. Now, nobody would say that the U.S. has to fear Japan’s ascendancy. So when I choose optimism, it is based upon real world experience.
Secondly, in my opinion, this analysis is fundamentally flawed because as people, we cannot know what is coming. We are limited in our thinking by our constrained minds. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, nobody could anticipate the rise of the internet. Nobody could imagine Japan’s economy slumping into deflation. But the fact that we couldn’t imagine it didn’t make it reality. Saying that all the inventions have been done reveals a lack of humility, an arrogant belief that there is no incredible invention just around the corner that is about to change all our lives. You know, like the internet did.
You might ask what this story has to do with God. Now I’ll tell you.
Last week, Peter Atterton wrote a column in the New York Times arguing that we westerners have a “God problem.” According to Atterton, a professor of Philosophy at San Diego State, the idea that we westerners talk about when we talk about God, all-knowing and all-powerful, is logically flawed. After all, if God is all powerful, why does God allow evil? Why does God allow suffering?
This question has challenged Western philosophers almost since Jesus’s time. Saint Jerome argued in the fourth century that God was too important to be bothered with trivial information. Blaise Pascal abandoned logic to focus on faith, and indeed, when I questioned my faith in my teens and early 20s, a number of friends and…