Does God Make Mistakes?
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).
“The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does” (Psalm 145:17).
Earlier this month, the renowned English comedian and actor Stephen Fry was investigated by the Irish police over the charge of blasphemy, after comments he made on the Irish TV show ‘The Meaning of Life’. The host of the show asked Mr Fry what he would say to God when he met Him at the Pearly Gates of Heaven, to which Fry replied ‘“How dare you create a world in which there is such misery? It’s not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.” Such comments prompt consideration as to why God would create a world where there are clearly mistakes, with some bearing serious consequences including diseases, war and distress.
There’s no doubt that mistakes are part of our learning process, yet allowing humanity to experience the outcomes connected to mistakes is worth discussing. Having recently visited some injured Newington boys in hospital, I noted that the things we enjoy, including the expansive sporting culture within our community, has the possibility of set backs. Yet, where would we be if we didn’t have the choice to experience so many aspects in life where mistakes are a possibility?
In a report from the NSW Education Department (2015), it was reported that ‘During our normal day to day activities we face internal and external factors and influences that make it uncertain whether, when and the extent to which we will achieve or exceed our objectives. The effect this uncertainty has on our objectives is “risk”.
Each and every one of us has a responsibility for managing risk.
All our activities involve risk. We manage risk by anticipating, understanding and deciding whether to modify it. Throughout this process we communicate and consult with stakeholders and monitor and review the risk and the controls that are modifying the risk.
There’s no doubt that every activity has a certain level of risk which may result in inevitable mistakes. Although we try to anticipate such risks, the total avoidance of injury and mistakes is impossible to eliminate without the removal of choice. We make choices that sometimes lead to mistakes. If God were to wipe out the possibility of mistakes, would this also involve the removal of choice?
Here lies the conundrum in terms of God making mistakes – if God were to eliminate the mistakes we experience, would this include removing choice? Imagine life without choice; relationships, jobs, sports, foods, careers, holiday destinations…. how exciting could this be?
God states in Deuteronomy 30:19 ‘This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.’ Here, it is suggested that God grants us choice. Our responsibility is to navigate the best choices that enable each of us to live fulfilling lives
These kinds of difficult questions are amongst an array posted by various students throughout Term One. In light of this, the focus in our chapel services throughout Term Two has been to address such questions, with the desire to encourage thinking, deeper discussions and to seek an understanding about complex matters that are important in our lives.
Rev Geordie Barham