30.02 Elaboration (pps.20-31)
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God’s ultimately unfathomable benevolence. “The moral connotation of goodness is supplanted by amoral metaphysical or amoral personalistic meanings.”84All the ingenuity spent on the solution of the problem of the theodicy will not convince us that evil is not real, that undeserved suffering is so only in appearance, that life does not abound in irrationality and meaningless destruction.85
We may grant that in sum total God’s ways are infinite, mysterious, beyond the full scope of the finite mind, or inscrutable. However, that still does not mean that in God’s interaction with man, comprehensibility is not in order, if indeed not implicit in a convenantal relationship.86 Serious religious thought, from Abraham onwards, has never been quite satisfied with the “inscrutability” defense of any form of worship, be it idol worship or child sacrificing, in any classic religious doctrine. For those who adopt the “finite/infinite” defense take legitimate attributes of God infinitude and inscrutability and then take the most dangerous step of extending them into overriding grand philosophies. One would like to think that there is a firm distinction between serious religious philosophy and fanaticism.
Thus, while there is an important place in religious doctrine for the “finite/infinite” argument, in major areas of Divinehuman relationship the defense is far from sufficient as a basis for serious religious commitment. For if the doctrine’s major argument is “inscrutability,” a point arrives rather early where, although doctrinal validity may indeed exist, adherence to the Covenant cannot be mandated except on moral as opposed to intellectual grounds. Certainly, except for areas specifically delineated as pure ritual, Judaism, of all religions, should very carefully explore alternative approaches before yielding to the “inscrutability” defense in any area of religious doctrine, let alone regarding the fundamental interaction between God and man.
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84 Schulweis, Evil and the Morality of God, p. 9. Cf. ibid., p. 95. “Once a radical qualitative difference between human and divine moral qualities is admitted, moral anarchy is let loose. Mill’s objection is particularly pertinent to our discussion:
” ‘If I know nothing about what the [Divine] attribute is, I cannot tell that it is a proper object ofveneration. To say that God’s goodness may be different in kind from man’s goodness, what is it but saying, with a slight change of phraseology, that God may possibly not be good?’ ”
85 Berkovits, God, Man and History, p. 75.
86 Cf. Steven Ely, The Religions Availability of Whitehead’s God, as cited in Schulweis, Evil and the Morality of God, p. 59. “It is no help for present ills to know that God sees them in such a way that they are valuable for him. That my ill has an ideal counterpart in God does not help me very much as long as I am on earth and God is in heaven.”
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