GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast

79. The Problem Of Evil | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 6 [Part 2]

June 16, 2022 Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon, Richard Oxenberg
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
79. The Problem Of Evil | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 6 [Part 2]
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Jerry L. Martin and Dr. Richard Oxenberg return for part 2 of The Problem of Evil, discussing the birth of the universe, God, and purpose. Explore God as a Person with an ongoing development. Borrowing wisdom from philosophy and ancient religions, this discussion investigates whether evil is an impulse or a version of unheimlichkeit and how to attain the Victory Level.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin is a philosopher and author of the true story, God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher. He has served as the head of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the University of Colorado philosophy department and is the founding chairman of the Theology Without Walls group at the AAR. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg is a professor at Endicott College, has studied philosophy and ethics of religion, and published numerous articles on these subjects, including his book: On the Meaning of Human Being: Heidegger and the Bible in Dialogue.

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God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Contact: questions@godanautobiography.com
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Related Episodes:
-[Two Philosophers Wrestle With God] Dialogue 6 The Problem of Evil  79; Dialogue 5 The Big Picture 75, 74; Dialogue 4 The Nature Of Divine Reality 71, 70; Dialogue 3 Purpose 66, 65

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79. The Problem Of Evil | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 6 [Part 2]

SCOTT LANGDON [00:00:17]  This is God: An Autobiography, the podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 79. 

SCOTT LANGDON [00:01:03] Hello and welcome to Episode 79 of God: An Autobiography, the podcast. I'm your host, Scott Langdon. We return this week to bring you part two of dialogue number six between Jerry Martin and Richard Oxenberg. In this conversation titled The Problem of Evil, Richard and Jerry continue their discussion of the God of this world and how God relates to evil and suffering. Remember, you can hear the complete audio adaptation of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher any time by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through Episode 44. Here, now, is part two of the dialogue number six, The Problem of Evil. I hope you enjoy the episode. We begin with Richard speaking first. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:02:02] You know, but this then leads to the next thing that sort of hit me almost just this morning as I was looking at this. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN:  [00:02:10] Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG:  [00:02:13] And and this is now-- let me find the right page for this, this is, I think it's page 113. But the quote is (if I can find it), this is just a continuation of God's narrative being born.

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:02:24] OK. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:02:25] And once again, it sounds very much like coming out of a womb. "Suddenly, it is as if I punch My arms and legs through the sides of a bag I'm in. It is like an explosion.". 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:02:36] Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:02:37] Right? "In a split second, fragments are zooming out in all directions." And you have to ask yourself-- well, we'll get to this in a minute, "I am at a throbbing, pulsing center.” I am AT a throbbing, pulsing center, which suggests that there's stuff outside of the center. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:02:56] Yeah, right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:02:57] Right? "I am not sure what's happening. It is like a tightly coiled spring being suddenly released and springing out into a vast space instantaneously. I scramble to take control, to provide order." Okay. So, once again, it took me a while to get this sorted through in my own mind, you know, but it's not just God that's being born at this moment. It's the stuff of the universe. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN:  [00:03:32] It is the whole universe, it's also the Big Bang. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:03:33] It's the Big Bang. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:03:34] Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:03:35] And God at this moment is not even clear, it seems, of what His relationship is to all this other stuff. Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN:  [00:03:44] He just has the first glimmer that well, He's supposed to provide some order. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:03:48] He's got to provide some sort of order. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN:  [00:03:50] That he's got a job here, yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:03:53] And the interesting analogy that occurred to me with respect to this-- 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:03:53] Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:03:53] Was Plato's image of the Demiurge--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:04:04] Okay, in the Timaeus. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:04:07] Right, in the Timaeus. You know, Plato's way of dealing with the problem of evil (right) is to say- well, there are these perfect eternal ideas--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:04:07] Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:04:07] And they're perfect, but as in your book, they're disembodied. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:04:25] Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:04:45] Right? And then there is the material realm, which is sort of just chaotic. Right? And then in between the two is the Demiurge. Right? Who is a kind of God, who is looking up toward the perfect ideas, then looking down toward the material, trying to put the material into good order? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? And it seems to me, the problem with that image in Plato is that it makes it sound as if there are three independent things in reality. How did those three things get there? What is their relationship to one another? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? But once again, the book kind of gives us both in the sense there is a monotheistic vision of the God beyond God as one of unity, but then out of this unity emerges a God of this world who is kind of like the platonic Demiurge. Right? Who somehow has within himself some intuition of order. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG:  [00:05:25] Right? Like the platonic ideas, and then has all this frantic material that's flying around that needs to be put into order. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:06:00] Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:06:00] And the need to put it into order, it's a need to be put into order as we kind of later learn in order to resolve the loneliness and Nothingness that this God is experiencing, because ultimately this God has to find a relationship with the created world. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: In order to resolve Its own sense of loneliness. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? And specifically with human beings, and so we have now this God is now on a project. Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And the project is to order the world into a good form. Right?

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:06:20] Yeah. To move it forward--. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Move it forward toward a kind of integration. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: To a kind of integration. Exactly. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? Because in a sense--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:06:33] The problem with the parts is it's a bit like a body, a person's body, that isn't well functioning, when the liver is fighting against the spleen, and so forth. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: It's doing some job that it thinks it's supposed to be doing, but in fact, it's spoiling everything because it's not harmonious, it's not integrated. And all of human life, natural life, exhibits that lack of integration. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yes. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: God is set about too, and God also exhibits the symptom, because God, too, is a particular being, you might say, in this world and subject to its limitations and in God's own initial limitations. God has to find God's own way. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yes. I found an interesting quote. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:07:27] Discussing this idea of integration and disintegration. It's on page 321. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: 321. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And let me just read that. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Good. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:07:35] Here, this is God speaking. "There are forces of integration and forces of disintegration. The latter are sometimes correctly called evil." Right, the forces of disintegration, right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: "These aspects of the world are constantly contending, and the world can unravel as easily as easily as progress." Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Ahuh. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Because these forces of disintegration, right, we might think of them as the very force that allows for the diversity of things. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Ahuh. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? That makes for what I call individualization- that things become themselves. Right? But they can fail to exist in harmony with everything else. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And then you get this state of chaos and even evil. You then ask God- how do You help? And God responds, "I am integration, I am ratio, the measure, the order, not just in an ideal sense on paper or on the plane of Platonic Ideas," Right? It's not just that this has to be embodied, right, "but I am present in the world, via the empirical God, as its order and integrating telos and motivation.". 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. That's right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? And I think that maybe the God beyond God speaking, actually. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: I am in the world. Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Saying that the God beyond God is in the world through the empirical God. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Ahuh. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:08:18] Right? And the empirical God has the job. Right? Which is an inherent job. Right? Not a job that He's been assigned, but it's a task inherent to His nature--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right, it's inherent, and then in creating the world. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Of creating order and integration in order to overcome the suffering that is entailed in the disintegration. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:09:43] And let's again make clear, we've said this before, but it's easy to go wayward here, to misunderstand, the empirical God, which is the God of this world, the God we encounter, and the God beyond God are not two different beings. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: The God of this world is simply the God beyond God entering this world and doing His work in this world. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. But could we also say the same about us and the God of this world- that we're not too different beings?

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:10:16] Well, I'm told we're both same and other. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: And there are presumably good reasons, that we're the same, we come from. You know, we're part of the same creation and there isn't anything other than, you might, say God, and so we're part of that. At the same time, for us to be partners, for us to relate, for us to love God and for God to love us, to be in a loving relationship, we have to be different the way two lovers have to be different. They can't be the same person, you know. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:10:54] Right. So there's an interesting, in a way, parallel or analogy between our relationship to the God of this world, and the God of this world's relationship to the God beyond God. Would you say that, does that sound right?

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:11:10] Well, I have to think that through. There is a little thing with arrows in the book, if you recall, but it's got the ourself behind the self is related to God, and in a way analogous to, but also more of a transitive relationship up a kind of hierarchy, the way God of this world is related to the God  beyond God. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:11:34] Yes, as a matter of fact, I think that thing with arrows actually just expresses what I just said. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: That's what you just said, yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yeah. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:11:38] A direct both analogy and as a kind of transitive relation, because my self relates to the self behind the self, which relates to God, which relates to the God beyond God. And you might say implicitly, I'm relating to the God beyond God, even if I don't have the concept, because that's the structure that I'm an essential (I, and you, and all of us are essential) components within. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:12:10] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And of course, that's a little hard to wrap your mind around. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: It is. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: It's, you know, our category is still quiet, you know it's--. I have a good friend who talks about the dialectical and paradoxical dimentia way of life, that the ontology of life is- you've got to get used to paradox. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG:  Because you find it all over the place. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Well, good point. Good point. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yeah. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN:  [00:12:38] But you have to be careful in the metaphysical mode not to try to banish all the paradoxes or iron them out, you know, pave over them to make a nice, straight highway. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG:  Although, I guess--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: They are there and you want to put them in a context in which they mean something. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:12:58] It's sort of like a Hegelian synthesis where we're looking for the way of thinking that would allow for both of them to be true. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah. Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:13:44] So, I thought that the next step that we could take is to speak about how, as it says here, the forces of integration might, sometimes, it says, correctly be called evil. In other words the forces of disintegration are sometimes correctly called evil. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:14:10] Sometimes it's just entropy. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Something like that. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG:  [00:14:15] And this thought then led me to another quote, which is on page 53 of the book, and the quote is about the ego, the seperatist ego. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? And by the separatist ego, I think we would mean that part of us that experiences ourselves as an I in some opposition, and distinction from, and separation from the rest of the world that we live in relationship to. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:14:48] Yeah. There is in that discussion a distinction between the healthy ego. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yes. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:14:48] Which is part of a personality structure, and it's part of how you cope with the world. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: By having a sense of yourself, and your abilities, and your space. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: You know, your privacy of whatever. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right, but that--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: That's okay, that's not oppositional, as you've just put it. That's just part of your own functional integration. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:15:15] And that, of course, is a once again, part of the paradox that we've always got to remind ourselves of, that the idea of transcending the ego, or overcoming the ego does not mean getting rid of the ego. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: It really means sanctifying. The way I've come to think of it is as sanctifying the ego. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Ahuh. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? In some ways, to me, the figure of Christ is a revelation of the sanctified ego. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Okay, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:15:48] That's one way of putting it. But in any event, in this quote, God is saying, "Ego is destructive, separatist, defiant of My will, self-satisfied and self-lustful."

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:16:05] Self-lustful, yes, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:16:08] Yeah. And, I thought this was a great, in some ways, a great definition, not only of ego, but of the essence of what we might think of as evil. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Good point, yes, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:16:23] Right? That which accounts for evil, or what makes for evil, is that, the separated, let's call it the separated ego, in order to try and resolve its sense of aloneness and Nothingness, right– 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Goes out into the world, develops a kind of lust for controlling the world that it depends upon. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Ahuh. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:17:04] Right? So it finds itself in dependance on the world, and instead of responding to that sense of dependance with humility, it responds to that sense of dependance with a kind of offense. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Okay, yeah, right. Yes.

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? You know, and so, you know- who are you to have me be dependent upon you, world. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? So, I will take over the world, and then you'll be dependent upon me. Right? I will come into control of things.

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? And in the course of that, I become destructive of others. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Disrespectful of other egos. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Trying to subsume them under my will. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? And the phrase self-lustful is a wonderful phrase, really, to express this, because the idea is that on the one hand, I lust after the world, but it's because I am lusting after making myself complete in my own separateness. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:18:03] That kind of enlarged sense of oneself in a dominion sort of way, like a Napoleonic--. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:18:13] Yeah. We're all interdependent, well, I'll have you all be dependent on me. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yes. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: I will see myself reflected everywhere in the symbols of the empire or whatever it may be. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG:  I am the nation, right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah. I am the nation. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: No end of that self-lustfulness. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:18:35] No end to it. There's no end to it, precisely because it never resolves itself. Right? That does not solve the problem. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: There's always more that needs to be conquered, right?

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:18:52] Yeah. The world's too big for one thing, the other thing is, even if somehow Napoleon did conquer Russia, and went on and conquered China, and ran across the ocean, and so forth. Napoleon would be surprised to find he's still not satisfied. Still not satisfied.

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:19:10] Still not satisfied, because--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:19:11] Because he's still the same crummy little ego that he is in reality. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:19:17]  Right. Because no matter how much the ego conquers, it can never make itself its own ontological foundation. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? And it always remains groundless. Right? Heidegger. Martin: Heidegger. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:19:30]Has an interesting term through which he expresses the ego sense of groundlessness. He says it's a feeling of unheimlichkeit. That's the German word--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: No home, right? 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:19:50] Which means having no home, being an unhome-likeness. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:20:16] Right? Feeling that one is not at home. Right? And in a sense, when the God of this world is first created, It's experience of Nothingness and loneliness, is in some sense an experience of unheimlichkeit. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:20:19] Yes, the world is not yet a home, even though there is a world, it's at the beginning, it's not yet a home. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And this project is to make it to our home. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: It becomes a home. Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:20:21] Right. Yeah. It's really a wonderful, I mean, it's really when you start to put it all together (for me) it's quite a wonderful vision. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:20:21] So, there's another quote that expresses this nicely on page 131, and it's in the Zoroasterian section, and God says that evil consists, at least in part, in confusing the good of the part, with the good of the whole. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Ah, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:21:00]Right? So, I'm in ego, I'm a part, and the ego has a part to play. It's not a bad thing. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: But if I take myself to be the hole, then we get into trouble. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah.Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:21:12] Right? And I'm just taking a look at the time here. I thought the next move here, in my notes, would be for us to talk a little bit about Zoroastrianism, and the way in which the evil inclination, I started thinking of this in terms of the Jewish notion of the--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Impulse. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right, the Yetzer Ha-Ra, and the Yetzer Ha-Tov, the evil impulse, and the good impulse. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:21:33] The idea here is that the evil impulse, which is the, as Judaism speaks of it, not altogether bad. It's the impulse for self preservation. Right? But it needs to be subordinated to the good impulse. Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:22:00] Yeah, ambition would be an example that leads people to, leads Elon Musk, to build SpaceX, and to send rockets to the moon, or whatever he's up to. But it leads to this achievement. That's one thing, and I love that Jewish prayer that's something about where you pray for God to make good use of your evil impulse too. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:22:28] Oh, I don't know that prayer! That's, yeah. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:22:30] Yeah. I can't say it, but that's the essence of it. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: You dedicate your evil impulse as well as your good impulse to God. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:22:38] Right. Well, in a sense the evil impulse, what we're calling the evil impulse, is simply the sense of selfness, the desire to be a separate self, and that's necessary for the creation to-- I'm at the part of the- that's a piece of the puzzle. Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: You can't do away with that, and then the book makes that very clear. Right? That's when you got into your whole discussion of mysticism. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: There seems to be an idea within mysticism that we can do away with all the egos. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And have everybody just meld into one big melting pot. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And God says, no, that's not it. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: That is wrong. That is wrong. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? That is wrong. And that's not going to get you home. Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right, right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:23:21] I mean, if we say it's not right, it's wrong, we're saying that is not the way to the overcoming of unheimlichkeit. Let's put it that way. Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right, right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: But God also, and this is sort of interesting, and it makes sense when we think of God as a creature, right? Which He is, this God this world is in a sense, a creature, a very sublime creature, but nevertheless a creature. Not the ultimate ontological ground, except in so far as He's connected to that. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Except they are probably Demi-Gods. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: But He also has this evil impulse, right, that He's got to bring into discipline or control, right? He speaks about that--

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN:  Well, I've never thought of that. Well, that's the lack of integration. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Is that what you're talking about? 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:24:20] Well, I'm just talking about some passages in Zoroastrianism, in the Zoroastrian chapter.

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:24:29] People need to pay attention to that chapter. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: It's a fascinating chapter. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:24:32] Because of historical reasons, you know, Zoroastrianism was a major religion. You know, the religion of the Persian Empire. In the Old Testament, God speaks of my friend Cyrus, who's a Zoroastrian. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: But, because first Alexander the Great marched across Persia and, you know, dismantled the traditional religion, and then much later, Islam marched through in it's iconoclastic way actually destroyed the text. But, you know, the priestly types, knew them by heart. So they were reconstructed, and so it's a religion that's had a terrible fate in the history of the world. And it kind of retrenched in a rather narrow way. What else are you gonna do? But I consider it one of the major revelations. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG:  [00:25:27] And it serves as a kind of segue from polytheism, the nature of religion to polytheism to monotheism. Right? It's almost like on the way to that, to ethical monotheism, right? And the way that it's presented in the book, these two gods that are posited in Zoroastrianism are two aspects of the one God of this world. Right?

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes, yes, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And so that's where there's a quote--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: And so one aspect is the resistant side of God. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:26:09] Yes. That's where this quote on page 177 comes in. Let me just take a look at this. God says, "Just as your desires or temperament sometimes seem to have a life of their own, so some of My aspects have life of their own."  

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:26:28] "Among the things I must order and provide direction to are My own aspects."

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: So this God is sort of a composite entity, right? In some ways. Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah, yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And He says then, "I do this through Wisdom, My own calm center that purviews (views or oversees) all, assesses all, weighs it in the balance, placates (pacifies) disturbances." And then He talks about Zoroastrianism as, "This was really Me, struggling to supersede other aspects of Myself." And so--

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:27:10] Ahuh. So, this is part of the story of the development of God. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yes. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Zoroastrian revelations and interaction with Zoroaster himself. It's all part of the story of God's efforts to greater integration and God's self reflection on what that's like by putting it into a kind of drama as if there were two different Gods- a good one and an evil one. But it's really the one God struggling for mastery over God's self, other aspects of God's self.

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:27:42] And so you get this idea that even within the God of this world, there is what we might call an egoistic temptation that this God has to address and overcome, right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yeah. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Which might account for some of the ways in which God-- Well, it does account for, I think even in your book, it said that does account for some of the ways in which God might not have responded to human beings in the most optimal manner in the early days. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: God said- I had to learn, I had to learn that. I had to learn. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yeah. Yeah. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:28:20] In some of those accounts, I was young then. That was the first time I first got a glimmer of the God as a developing God. That made no sense to me at the time, I was young and God was young, but the God in this world, like any of us, has a biography. Well, that's why God gave me the title of the book, you know, God: An Autobiography. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:28:47] That was told to me. But these are elements of God's biography and Zoroaster sort of charts the central dynamics of that, or say it's charted in revelations he received. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:29:04] And there's a kind of way in which this God as an individual is going through at a mega level. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? Some of the same maturation process that we as human beings also have to go through. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And there's, maybe we can talk about this next time, it is (for me) difficult to fully comprehend tight integration between these two processes. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? God seemed to depend upon human beings to make progress. He says that in a number of places. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:29:43] Yes, He does. That's because God is a person. And like all of us, you know, you don't become mature by sitting alone and thinking about it. You become mature interaction with other people. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:29:55] Your parents, your family, your coworkers, your friends, and discover aspects of yourself and discover by mistakes. They always say, you know, the key to life is good judgment and judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from making mistakes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: God goes through that with human beings and that's God's biography, and we're an essential part of that, just as parents are the central part of the younger person growing up. 

_________

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:30:47] So, all of this then has helped to define the project that God is engaged in. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And it's the project of creating harmony, as you say. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And that harmony then comes to be expressed as love. Right? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: It's really the project of bringing all these disparate elements into a relation of love, and there's a quote on page 111 that struck me, and God says, "You see My drawing the physical world toward life," which is itself a kind of integration of the physical, right?

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:31:32] "and drawing life upward to greater possibilities of love; to creating man (and) drawing him (people) into loving relationships with his (their) fellow creatures, with nature, and with Me;" Right? And in a sense, a world in which all of that would be actualized--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:31:57] Would be something like what Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? In which human beings love their neighbors or themselves, love themselves, love nature, and are in a loving relationship with God. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:32:26] And that would be the resolution to the unheimlichkeit of the Nothingness and aloneness that God originally emerges into the world with. And then I find another fascinating quote also on page 111. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:32:46] That kind of put the whole thing into perspective, in a way. God says, "Remember that love is what fully actualizes a thing." Right? And what struck me about that was that the God beyond God, although It's not suffering and It's not experiencing evil, It does have a longing and that longing is for actualization. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right? And what It seems to be saying, that's why the God beyond God is not sufficient unto Itself to just stay there. It needs to create this problematic world. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And turn it into a world of love, and that's the full actualization of the God beyond God, except that there are an infinite number of ways in which that love can express itself in all the many worlds. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:33:30] So this seems to be the fundamental project that each of the worlds in their diverse ways are engaged in. Right? And finally, one last quote, from page 347, "It is that the ultimate triumph over evil and incompleteness is to be in tune with the God inside you and to express that divine love to others."

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: "and drawing life upward to greater possibilities of love; to creating man (and) drawing him (people) into loving relationships with his (their) fellow creatures, with nature, and with Me;" Right? And in a sense, a world in which all of that would be actualized--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes, exactly. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG:  [00:34:30] And what fascinates me about this, and is in a way, to me, the solution to the problem of evil, is that this is necessary. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:34:55] This is the way the world is. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: We are all here, there's no opting out. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: And the way it has to be. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:34:57] And the way it has to be, and there's this inherent project toward love that must be accomplished in order for the, what's the word? The impulse inherent to reality to resolve itself. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And that gives life great meaning. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And I guess the hope comes in, something we haven't discussed here, but the hope comes in that the God tells us that (and here's where this strange idea of time comes in) on some level this is all accomplished. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:35:42] On some level. Yes, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:35:47] Right? That doesn't mean we can lay back and not do anything. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:35:50] No, it has to be accomplished in time. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: But there is another perspective from which, like pulling a novel off the shelf from the events that happened one after another, you can open it to any page, you know you can see them all. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:36:05] Nevertheless, there's nothing to see unless they actually happen. It's not as though that's necessary work, 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:36:11] To me, that means that we can have hope. Right? In other words, there's a profound sense of hope that one can have that one is not finally going to be left in the unheimlichkeit and the Nothingness, and you know, that the world is progressing, but one has to do the work. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:36:33] One has to do one's part in one's own lifespan. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yes. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:36:38] So, but there is this other point of view, and it's really to the extent one accepts what I'm told in prayer, it's more than a hope. You know, it's simply a deeper understanding or higher understanding. A more adequate understanding--

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:36:54] Right. One can get into touch, even now. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:36:54] With the consummate moment. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And that can, I guess, give one, can encourage one in dealing with the, you know--

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: I guess that reminds me in some ways of the famous psalm. "Though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death."

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: The Valley of Death. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: "I shall fear no evil for thou art with me." Right? That there's some sense in which one can, even though the God of the world is also struggling, but the God of this world, and we can be in touch with the ultimate moment of resolution. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:37:42] Yes. Yes. What's later called the Victory Level. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Yes. Yes. Yes. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN:  Well, this is wonderful. Do you have a final take away or is that-- 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:37:53] Yeah. Well, once again, my final takeaway is what I said at the beginning, which is that I do think, you know, that the way the book lays this out, resolves many of the paradoxes and problems that we have in the original problem of evil. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes, yes. It's amazing.

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:38:16] That, you know, God is not perfect, this God, It's not-- there's a reason why there must be there is suffering, and there is evil, and there's no entirely overcoming bad, it's not an illusion. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: But not only are things not hopeless, but there is a path toward resolution of all these suffering and evil that we all will inevitably take, but that we all have to work on taking. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: And that very fact makes life deeply meaningful. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:39:05] And beautiful, there's a certain beauty to it, as well. And, so there you have it. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:39:10] Yeah, it's in the victory level. It's not just at the end of time. It's not just about what will happen a million years from now. But from another perspective, that's already real. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: Right. And in some ways, I think--. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:39:26] And we can relate, we can connect with that in some way that's not filled out in detail. Well, I guess it is somewhat filled out, but anyway, that'll be--. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:39:35] Maybe we can talk about that in another session. In some ways, I was just going to say, that's why we shouldn't dismiss entirely the mystical. Because in some ways the mystic is the one who is trying to connect with that Victory Level. Right? And have an experience of it even in the moment. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Oh, maybe. Ahuh. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: So, I thought that maybe what we would do next time is, I mean, we've been focusing on the nature of God in the last two. Maybe we would talk about the human role. What is the human being in the context of all of this? 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Yes, yes. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: In terms of both our individual lives and also, as the book says, we're not confined to just one life. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: Right. Right. 

DR. RICHARD OXENBERG: [00:40:26] We continue on, and that seemed to me to be an important part of the revelation as well. So maybe we can talk about that a little bit next time. 

DR. JERRY L. MARTIN: [00:40:35] Sounds very good, Richard. Well, thank you. This is wonderful work you're doing, and I just hope the readers find-- the viewers- readers, viewers find it as fascinating as I do because it's very impressive how you fold these parts together. 

Scott Langdon [00:41:11] Thank you for listening. To God and Autobiography The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God, an autobiography as told to a philosopher by Jerry L. Martin, by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted. God An Autobiography as told to a philosopher. Available now at Amazon.com. And Always at God. An Autobiography Icon. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at questions at God and Autobiography, Icon and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.