Is atheism before creation

Contested creation

Final thesis as part of a MAS in practical theology at the IGW - von Swen Wigert.

An investigation to explain natural suffering in Terence Fretheim and Gregory Boyd - in the concern of the language ability of the Christian faith in a post-Christian, secularized society. The full investigation can be seen here.

Postmodernism: After the Age of Christianity
In the last two centuries, the Christian faith in Western society has lost ground, and the increasing process of secularization is transforming a once Christian society into a post-Christian society in which there is no longer any basic Christian understanding (ethics, authority, biblical knowledge, etc.) is available. What remains constant in this is the human being, who is born with a desiring heart through all ages. As a result, people are accompanied throughout their lives by certain longings and questions that they seek to fulfill or answer. Depending on the epoch and zeitgeist, however, different longings and desires can be determined, which usually appear differently due to specific deficiencies. Thus, even in postmodernism, empirically supported longings can be derived from the phenomena and peculiarities of the post-Christian mentality.

The natural suffering and biblical-theological explanatory models of Fretheim and Boyd
Natural suffering - in the form of a tremendous natural disaster that causes considerable damage, kills thousands of people and leaves victims desperately and hopelessly to their fate - has an extraordinary power to shake once deeply God-fearing people in their convictions and in their image of God, faith to destroy God and lead people to the point that they no longer want to have anything to do with this God (if he should even exist in the face of the terrible suffering). Suffering is the "rock of atheism" (Georg B├╝chner) on which the faith of many shatters, but also the "megaphone of God" (C. S. Lewis), through which some are torn out of their spiritual lethargy and called to God. The image of God has a decisive and central role in this process of conversion or conversion.

According to Terence Fretheim, the explanation for natural suffering can be found in the order of creation. God has divided his monopoly of creative power among other parties and thereby voluntarily limited himself in his own sphere of activity. The unleashed creation is not finished with it, but can surprise in its beauty and majesty with ever new wonders. There is a natural but enormous potential for natural suffering in this. God has chosen that earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, glaciers and mighty storms contribute significantly to the further shaping of the earth.

According to Gregory Boyd, love is God's ultimate ground for creation and its ultimate goal: God created out of love, with the aim of expanding His love and fellowship. For love to be possible, there must be space to choose love voluntarily. God's counterpart must therefore have the ability and opportunity not only to reflect his love out of free will, but also to reject it. This explains why God created a world in which evil is possible: This does not mean that God designed evil, but if love is to be possible in this universe, the possibility of evil must also be open. The biblical record reveals that some creatures rejected this love and have since rebelled against God and sabotaged His purposes. Boyd goes one step further than Fretheim and includes to explain natural suffering - since certain catastrophes are more like an act of terror than a natural event - the activity and influence of anti-god, spiritual powers. Boyd concludes: The world looks like a war zone because it is in the middle of a theater of war.


Chances of the explanatory models in a post-Christian society
The two explanatory models by Fretheim and Boyd testify to the enormous complexity of creation, God's openness to change, the freedom and personal responsibility of creatures, but also the fact that enormous natural phenomena are natural occurrences - their catastrophic proportions should not be surprising, but are expected. A great opportunity for both explanatory models is the approachable and just image of God: God is not the direct origin, not the main responsible for natural suffering and not its cause. This can dispel some of the concerns of many contemporaries that God is a vengeful, arbitrary and sadistic God. The explanatory models testify to an image of God that is able to respond to all postmodern desires: In this God, man can not only satisfy his spiritual thirst, but also his hunger for justice and thereby acceptance, community, acceptance, security, help and orientation, but also find fulfillment and meaning.