It’s best to be humble when speculating about God and the Universe. Nevertheless, such speculation—on a philosophical basis—is impossible for human beings (including myself) to resist. Following Paul Tillich (see his Systematic Theology), I define God as “the Ground of Being” or “Being Itself.”
On my view, Being Itself, the Creative Principle, must struggle against Non-Being in the actual creation. In Jesus’ mythological system, Non-Being becomes “the Evil One,” the Devil. Human beings can ally themselves with God in this struggle as I think almost all Quakers have chosen to do. In so far as we, God’s partisans, triumph over evil, we bring into existence “the Kingdom of God.” However, until the Kingdom is completely victorious, Good and Evil oppose each other in our reality, making the Universe fundamentally dualistic.
In his book Religion in the Making, Alfred North Whitehead presents a subtler and better-reasoned version of my philosophy. He believes that
…God is in everyone and everything and would not be God without
creation. God is the actual, nontemporal entity who transforms
abstract, indeterminate creativity into concrete, determinate
freedom in time, and thus becomes fulfilled as God.
…Both good and evil are real forces. Good is constructive and
elevates creation. Evil is destructive and degrades creation.
Neither a human nor a hog is naturally evil, but a human acting
like a hog is evil, because this degradation is a falling away from
the human excellence that could have been. (enotes.com)
Of course, there is much more to Whitehead’s “process” theology than is presented in the quote above, but his speculations are strikingly like mine. Since Whitehead was born in 1861, he gets the credit for this dualistic theology.
Understandably, many people want God and the Universe to be one seamless whole. Perhaps, rather than debate the point, it’s best to put philosophy of religion to one side and focus on faith. Christian faith tells us that when evil disrupts our lives, God suffers with us and is present to help us in our time of need. As the apostle says in Romans 8, nothing can separate us from God’s love.
~ Richard Russell
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