Q & R: a question i can never get an answer to?
Here's the Q:
This has been a wavering journey for me since leaving the more 'fundamentalist, literalist' understanding of the bible. I always find myself back and forth.
The issue I am particularly wavering a lot in concerns the love of God. I have come to accept, through your writings as well as others, that the bible is the lenses through which humans perceived God... but not necessarily how God sees things (in the 'infallible bible' sense of the word).
Since then, I then ask myself often: 'how do I know that the love of God is real?' What is my evidence that God is a loving God? So sometimes I will look at creation, but then I see hate in creation. How do I know that God isn't hateful?
There are so many perspectives out there about creation, the bible, evolution, the nature of God, etc - that it has all become confusing.
My longing is to know that there is a loving God out there. I find that this is the question that consumes me often. But I often do not feel at rest in knowing whether this is a question I can never get an answer to.
Would love to know if you've ever dealt with this. What are your thoughts on it all?
Here's the R:
When you say that sometimes you see hate in creation - I imagine you're thinking of lions and gazelles, lizards and flies, sharks and seals. I don't think that's hate, but I can see how it becomes a reflection to us of our own human hatred. And human hatred is all to real in our world.
So let me rephrase your question - if there is a God, is God best reflected
a) in human love, but not human hate,
b) in human hate, but not human love, or
c) in both human hate and human love?
Now we would need to define more carefully what we mean by "hate" and "love," no doubt - but assuming that by hate we mean hostility, the desire to harm or destroy another, and the desire to use one's power to downgrade and destroy the well-being of another - then my guess is you will never get an "answer" (in terms of proof) to this question, but you will have enough data and instinct to make a faith choice in response to the question.
The Catholic philosopher Richard Kearney refers to this as life's "wager" (drawing, no doubt, from Pascal). We literally bet our lives on love rather than hate being at the center of it all, hope rather than despair leading to meaning, faith and grace rather than resignation and fear being the way forward. That's what faith is all about ... not knowledge, answers, or proof as much as a choice for love, hope, love, and grace.