Necktop Computer concept 

 

Here is a snippet from a paper I did as a new officer going back on the session. We were required to do a faith journey and optionally to raise theological issues. I raised a number of them and one was the problem of suffering where I bring up the "necktop computer" idea. If you by any remote chance would like to see the whole paper I'll send it along. 

 

Problem of suffering You’ve heard this posed before: If God is all powerful and loving, why is there suffering in the world? Currently the most satisfying answer for me is Rabbi Kushner’s in his book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”. Basically he says that God is a God of justice and goodness and not power, in other words, and this may sound heretical, that God is not omnipotent. He notes that the Bible repeatedly speaks of God as the special protector of the poor, the widow, and the orphan, without raising the question of how it happened that they became poor, widowed, or orphaned in the first place. I see some analogy, albeit weak, to the power we have as loving parents. We did everything in our power to keep our children safe. We walked them safely to the school bus, but we were powerless to prevent the bus from running over a nail, that led to a puncture, that led to a wreck, that led to an injury to our child, that led to suffering. I find it easier to understand a God who cares for me in this way and perhaps who suffers with me. And I see no less demand upon us to honor and glorify Him and to treat his Son as Lord and Savior than the demands upon us related to an omnipotent God (who mysteriously is a party to suffering).

 

I realize that basing theology on what ideas I find satisfying and easier to grasp is not necessarily the way to try to address the theodicy question. Perhaps it is better to just admit that it is one of those questions whose framing and interpretation may be beyond our grasp. Isn’t it presumptuous in the extreme to think that we can answer every question that we can ask?

 

I’d like to elaborate on that. It is somewhat an aside, but to me it is central in any discussion of theology or religion – to acknowledge that we are in fact creatures with limitations. When we are asked a question, we are being asked to process it with our brains. I find it helpful to look at our brains as being "necktop computers", which is what they are. Computers are made of finite parts and just as there are limits to what store-bought computers can do, there are limitations on our necktop computers. Computers can perform some computations, make some judgments, make some predictions, answer some questions, but not others. And necktop computers are made with stuff you can find at the local Kroger’s. When we face a question like the theodicy question, why do we think we can necessarily process that question and deliver an answer? Job, after being lectured out of the whirlwind, I think finally got it right in the last chapter, when he says to God in verse 3:

 

"[You said,] 'Who is this that belittles my advice without having any knowledge [about it]?' Yes, I have stated things I didn't understand, things too mysterious for me to know. […After all I just have this little necktop computer…]

 

Although the issue of suffering may be beyond our understanding, we do know that when we suffer that God provides friends, family. the church and the Holy Spirit (the Comforter)  for support.

 

 

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