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Essay donated by "Aaron Minsky"

Is God moral? A serious
response to a serious question

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Chapter 10: An excerpt from the book "Beyond Faith: Understanding Judaism and comparing it to other religions, philosophies, and disciplines" by Aaron Minsky

This is an actual letter I wrote to a friend:

Dear _______,

In your last letter, you asked some very good questions, namely: "How can we consider God to be moral in light of His allowance of this latest terrible war? And how can we believe in a moral God in light of scientific predictions of future disasters, such as mass starvation due to overpopulation?"

These are reasonable questions, but let's explore their further ramifications. If we consider God guilty of immorality because He is allowing this latest terrible war, wouldn't He be guilty of allowing any war? And if He is guilty of allowing war, wouldn't He be guilty of allowing murder ? and guilty of allowing rape ? and guilty of allowing drunk drivers who cause accidents that kill innocent people? Ultimately one would have to find Him guilty of mass murder since He has created a world in which everyone dies!

There is but one defense for God's toleration of war and murder and the like: Free Choice! If we are to have the freedom to choose to do good, it follows that we must also have the freedom to choose to do evil. There is also a defense for God's creating of a world in which death is inevitable: The Soul! These two concepts are inter-related as we will see.

The prevalent modern concept of God as an all-powerful, yet perfectly moral being, can be traced back over 3,000 years to the Torah. The Torah recounts how, in a world full of idol worship and polytheism, replete with deadly human sacrifices and rituals, one people, the Jews, proclaimed to the world the belief in one God, but not just a god like the others who could be bribed by sacrifices, this God would show favor to people who acted morally.

The Torah also proclaimed the doctrine of the soul; namely that human beings possess a spiritual spark that exists eternally. It exists before it is put into a physical body and will exist after the body dies. The question poses itself: why would God create this spiritual/physical being? Judaism would say God created man due to His irrepressible goodness. In the spiritual world where spirits (or souls) exist without bodies, God's presence is clearly revealed, and in its light souls are powerless to disobey. God, however, wanted to create a way for souls to achieve merit in His eyes and in the eyes of all the other souls. He therefore temporarily puts souls into physical bodies in which they are cut off from any clear vision of His presence. In this state of spiritual blindness, a person is free to act as he pleases. Nevertheless, God has provided people with guidance through the Torah, through other books, through great leaders like Moses, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and through the conscience. By concealing Himself from souls by putting them into bodies, He provides souls with free choice, and by giving a soul a body, He provides it with a vehicle through which to do good works and gain merit.

Therefore, war is caused by the actions of men in a world of free choice. Yet every catastrophe provides an opportunity for moral valiantly. For instance, if we give charity to the victims of this latest war, surely we have merit; if we organize to give them assistance, we would have even more merit; yet if we were to literally go to the war zone and risk life and limb to help others our merit would be tremendous. One could also organize to try to prevent a war, or fight to end one. There could also be merit in supporting a war, depending on the situation (self-defense for instance). The choice is ours.

As for population growth and starvation, this too is not beyond man's ability to control. There are plenty of resources to go around, people just need to agree to conserve and share them. We also possess the ability to discover and create new sources of energy, and to control population growth. It is primarily human greed and the struggle for power that create the imbalances that we find in society.

As for sickness and death, these may be viewed as a punishment for sins known or unknown, or another opportunity for valor. If, in fact, we are souls in bodies, then death cannot be looked upon as evil, since through death we come back to God. Admittedly though, death is difficult for most people to deal with. Yet if someone faces death with dignity and strength, they gain great merit by the example they show others.

The concepts of free choice and the immortality of the soul are difficult and complicated. I would not expect you, or anyone, to suddenly accept them without further research. I can only hope that in these few paragraphs I have provided a spark of insight into why Judaism proclaims that God is moral, and a spark of hope to you who sincerely struggles with the concept of a moral God. May these sparks light your way on a path of increasing knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

AaronMinsky, "Beyond Faith: Exploring Judaism and comparing it to other religions, philosophies, and disciplines"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

Product Description

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"This is an important book which should see the light of day." Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, Orthodox Union.

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"I feel this work will be of great value to the thinking Jew." Rabbi Yitzhak Rosenbaum National Jewish Outreach Program.

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"There is little doubt in my mind that this encyclopedic work will be an indispensable resource." Rabbi Tovia Singer, Outreach Judaism, Israel National Radio

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"This book would also be beneficial to non-Jews who wish to know what Judaism thinks of them and their role in creation." Rabbi Yisroel Fried, Chabad Lubavitch

About the Author:
Aaron Minsky is not the typical author one would expect for a book such as this. He is a composing cellist published by Oxford University Press. Known as rock cello innovator Von Cello, he has released CDs, and performed worldwide. Along with music, Minsky's passion is the study of religion, especially Judaism. "I believe all religions must be investigated and compared by the standards of logic and reason. Today survival and destruction are closely balanced. Since religion plays such an important role in conflicts around the world, a rational investigation of the world's faiths seems essential if we are to peacefully settle these multi-generational struggles." - Aaron Minsky

Book data:

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Publisher: Xlibris Corporation

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Date: 2008-OCT-15

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Paperback, 554 pages

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Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches

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Copyright 2008 by Aaron Minnsky
Initial posting: 2009-SEP-30
Latest update: 2012-OCT-30
Author: Aaron Minsky

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