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

111. How To Live | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 12 [Part 2]

January 26, 2023 Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon, Richard Oxenberg
111. How To Live | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 12 [Part 2]
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
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GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
111. How To Live | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 12 [Part 2]
Jan 26, 2023
Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon, Richard Oxenberg

Questions? Comments? Text Us!

Going beyond religion, two philosophers explore the great adventure of the cosmos. Join the discussion of religion and Socratic wisdom while engaging the philosophical, evolutionary, and historical process investigating God's interactions with humankind throughout culture and time.

MEET THE GUESTS- Dr. Richard Oxenberg

FIND THE SITES- Theology Without Walls | What is God: An Autobiography

BUY THE BOOKS- God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher | Theology Without Walls: The Transreligious Imperative | On The Meaning Of Human Being: Heidegger And The Bible In Dialogue

LISTEN TO RELEVANT EPISODES- Two Philosophers Wrestle With God: How To Live [Part 1]; The Takeaway [Part 1]; [Part 2] 

-Share your story or experience with God-

God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, is written by Dr. Jerry L. Martin, an agnostic philosopher who heard the voice of God and recorded their conversations.

The podcast began with the Dramatic Adaptation of the book and now has several series:

WATCH- Theology Without Walls

READ- I Will Be There

#twophilosopherswrestlewithgod, #philosophyandreligion, #godanautobiography, #experiencegod

Share Your Story | Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Questions? Comments? Text Us!

Going beyond religion, two philosophers explore the great adventure of the cosmos. Join the discussion of religion and Socratic wisdom while engaging the philosophical, evolutionary, and historical process investigating God's interactions with humankind throughout culture and time.

MEET THE GUESTS- Dr. Richard Oxenberg

FIND THE SITES- Theology Without Walls | What is God: An Autobiography

BUY THE BOOKS- God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher | Theology Without Walls: The Transreligious Imperative | On The Meaning Of Human Being: Heidegger And The Bible In Dialogue

LISTEN TO RELEVANT EPISODES- Two Philosophers Wrestle With God: How To Live [Part 1]; The Takeaway [Part 1]; [Part 2] 

-Share your story or experience with God-

God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, is written by Dr. Jerry L. Martin, an agnostic philosopher who heard the voice of God and recorded their conversations.

The podcast began with the Dramatic Adaptation of the book and now has several series:

WATCH- Theology Without Walls

READ- I Will Be There

#twophilosopherswrestlewithgod, #philosophyandreligion, #godanautobiography, #experiencegod

Share Your Story | Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

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 111. 

Scott Langdon [00:01:10] Hello and welcome to episode 111 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm Scott Langdon, your host. This week we give you part two of the 12th and final dialogue between doctors Jerry L Martin and Richard Oxenberg. In this concluding dialogue of our series, Richard and Jerry talk about how we can look at our relationship to God and others in a new way that is more inclusive and enriching, not only to human beings but to God as well. Here now is part two of the 12th and final dialogue in our series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God. Thank you for joining us for the series. I hope you enjoy episode. We begin with Richard speaking first. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:02:00] You know, so the takeaway for me, I spent a lot of time thinking, well, where is the moral dimension of this? What is the answer? You know, how should one live from a moral point of view? And I think the takeaway that I get from the book is that you struggle with it. In other words, there is not one list of- here are the commandments, they are absolute for all time, and you must simply submit to them. That the process, in this sense, you know, maybe there's something to be said for why God, in your case, chose to reveal himself to a philosopher. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:41] Okay. Philosophers deal with that all the time. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:02:44] Because philosophers deal with that all the time. I mean, in a sense, the book is an endorsement of the philosophic process. Struggling with these questions, struggling to understand them, because the struggle itself is an enriching process and is, in a sense, endorsed by the divine. It's very Socratic in that way. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:07] Yeah. I was going to say, this is what you have sometimes called Socratic wisdom, and Socratic wisdom doesn't exist, this is almost the key to Socratic wisdom, it doesn't exist on having found wisdom. It exists, you know, philosophy is the love of wisdom, it's the search for wisdom. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:03:24] The search for wisdom. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:25] And if you're searching for wisdom, that is wisdom. The wisest will search for wisdom. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:03:33] And you arrive at provisional conclusions. In other words, you say, well, this is where we've gotten so far. And this seems to be the best answer we have at the moment, but that doesn't preclude our continuing to examine the question, and perhaps one day arriving at an even better answer than the one that we have so far arrived at. And that's the Socratic process.  And, all I'm saying is it seems to me that what we're getting from the book is an endorsement of that process. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:03] Yes. And I was going to add, it's also, I'd say, the historical process. I mean, what happens in the history of culture. A guy as wise as Aristotle endorsed natural slavery, thought some people are slaves by nature. That didn't have the racial overtones back then, but still would not be considered now an enlightened view. And he also had, for a scientist, he was a great scientist, an absurd view of women. It's not possessing reason, says the human beings are the one exception, for most species their species and differentia and so forth are identical. Genus and differentia, man is an animal that's rational. So, human species is unusual because the females don't enact the full essence of the species because they're not rational. Well, that's totally a product of his times and did not see that. But these things happen, and they happen over and over, and one years', one century's deep wisdom, is the very thing the next century says, well, that sure got it wrong. And of course what they're doing is not actually rejecting it, which is often how it feels to them, but they're doing what you call a dialectic. They're taking it into account, but coming up with a new view that takes into account what they do value in the latest turn of thought or of moral development, and then adding something to it because they're now in a position to have--

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:05:36] Plato had a much more enlightened view of women-

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:40] Of women, yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:05:40] Than Aristotle did. Right? Even though Aristotle came after him. And yeah, so what you're calling the historical is also, we could think of it as the evolutionary. And there's a whole notion of the evolutionary development of life and of God throughout the entire book. And so this is all part of it, that we and God are evolving to higher levels of truth. And in some ways, we are able to arrive at those higher levels of truth through this process of living. It's like, you've got to live them. You've got to make mistakes. Right? And then learn from those mistakes. and in some ways, that's the adventure of the cosmos. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:06:26] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:06:27] That we and God are involved in together. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:06:32] What we mainly seem to have at any given moment is not that we finally came up with the right set of truths or moral insights, but some sense of direction so that we can kind of recognize the limitations. The next turn, maybe it'll take a new generation to recognize them, but collectively and with, you know, with God participating in us, we can have enough sense of direction of, you might say, up versus down, that we can say, oh, that last set of beliefs we came to were inadequate in certain ways that we now are able to see. And it's always a kind-of ratchet up, ratchet up, ratchet up. Couldn't see it before very readily, but once you've gotten to a certain point, now you can see it. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:07:23] Right, yes, yes. And you know, the other takeaway that I've been thinking about, and that is related to what we're talking about here, is another thing that I feel is emphasized throughout the revelation, and that is the sanctity of the personal. Sanctity of personhood, we might say. You know, I think that there's a tendency, maybe we find this in the Eastern religions more so than in the Western. There's a tendency to feel that because we die, because as far as we can see, the person doesn't last, that therefore clinging to personhood, right attachment to personhood is a mistake. We have to sort of give up on the idea of being individual persons. And this is where the whole notion of merging with the absolute. Right, we are a drop of water and we have to merge with the ocean and then we will no longer-- 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:19] Because it doesn't die. The ocean doesn't die. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:08:22] Yeah. Yeah. Because the ocean doesn't die. Exactly. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:25] There's always a metaphysical prejudice on behalf of the permanent. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:08:30] Yes. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:31] Whatever is permanent is considered to be more real, or real in a more fundamental sense than what isn't permanent, but that is certainly not endorsed by God: An Autobiography. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:08:43] Yeah, well, I mean, we don't want to die. So, you know, I mean, so there's some ways which-- 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:49] This book says that don't actually die, but that's not where the key is. The meaning of life is in life. Our work with God in this world. It's not, we're not living now for some future life. We're living now to live this life in this world properly, and that's what God is doing. He's not waiting for us to die so He can assign us up or down in the afterlife. He's working with this in this world and in this life. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:09:19] Yeah. And in a way, you know, I mean, I think, and now, you will find this in a lot of the other religions in a certain way, but once again, it's, you know, one of the things that I get out of the book and that I've always appreciated about it, is the balance that you get, the fact that it's you know, there is a life after death. I mean, there is the idea-- We are not confined to this one life. Right? So, if you blow it in this life, that's not the end of the story. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:47] Right. That's part of the diversity. We're diversified so far that we live multiple lives as different people. I mean, there's a moment in Heaven, in things shown to me, what looks like a Heaven, where you kind of, have a kind of moment of overview or wisdom or something, and then you go into another life because there's more worlds and more work to be done and more sides of oneself to explore and to develop, because we don't get it right in this life, and maybe we do a great job in this life, but there's still more to be done. And so we come back and do that. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:10:27] Yeah, because in a sense, one life doesn't afford us the possibility for actualizing all of the potentialities that are striving to be actualized within us and in a sense within the whole cosmos, which we are always a part of, we're an instance of. And so the good news of the revelation, I suppose, is among the different good news of it, is that we're going to have the opportunity. The opportunity to get better and to actualize our potential never goes away. It's an ongoing adventure, and in a way, interestingly, for me, it seems, knowing that or believing that, actually liberates you to focus on the present. Right? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:11:30] Good point.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:11:32] You know, there's a passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which I think Jesus said something like, don't worry about the future, the future will take care of itself. The future will worry for itself. And in a sense, the book is saying something similar to that. You know, the future is there. It's going to be-- you don't have to worry about it. It's already set up so that you will get into that future. You don't have to spend your whole-- your present ensuring your future, because the future is already there. So that allows you, if you buy it, to really say, okay, let me just focus on making this moment, this life, this moment in this life, the best moment that it can possibly be.  

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:06] Yes. And one of the implications of that is, your challenge in this life is to figure out, where do you best relate to the divine? Maybe the church you were born in, it may be some other that comes along, and what is your role (to go back to the notion of harmony) in the whole? We have different roles, after all. There's not one right, you know, so-and-so lived the one life. I've never quite like the question what would what would Jesus do? Because, well, I'm not Jesus, you know, and doesn't really matter whether Jesus would do. What makes sense in Jerry's situation for a person like Jerry to do? But the key is to find out your own niche. And I was telling somebody the other day the story of the tuba player whose in a symphony orchestra, but one day he was sick and sat in the audience. And he told his friends after it was amazing. This is Aida. It's amazing! You know the part where I go up oompa, oopma, oompa? They're like da da da da. But, his job is not to go da, da, da, it's to go back and to the tuba and go oompa, oompa, oompa at the right point. And so, a lot of our challenge in life is to find, you might even call it our niche, but it's not quite that minimal. It kind of sometimes starts out with one's role. You're born to certain parents, you have obligations to them, etc. In a certain situation, historical and sociological and whatever, born with a certain set of talents and challenges. So it's to figure out what is your call? Something like calling, what is your calling, what should you be doing? And I like this, I used it in a talk not long ago, FH Bradley, the British philosopher, has a celebrated essay called My Station and Its Duties. Well, you just kind of start there. You know, you're a father, you're a college professor, and you're many other things as well, your next door neighbor and so forth. Okay, you start with my station and its duties. And in fact, then you look okay, given my station, and my station can change, you know, I can leave this town and move to somewhere else because I feel sort of called to do that. Maybe I'm more of an artist type and I need to leave this convention, you changed careers at one point, sometimes you need to go do something different, that's your calling. And, but, a lot of life is trying to pay attention to where you're located, who you're in relationship to, and in part what are your duties, but what goods, it's not just doing your duty, not doing wrong, but what goods can you achieve in this situation? 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:15:12] Yes. And this is related to the discussion that we get in the book about Dharma. That everybody has their Dharma. You know, and once again, you know, we can keep, you know, seeing how the different religions speak about very similar things in somewhat different, with different words. Right. So we've got Dharma is something that comes from the Hindu tradition, but in the Christian tradition, you have the idea of a call. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:15:35] Yes. Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:15:36] Right? And in some sense, Dharma refers to your call and your call refers to your Dharma.  You know, what is your station? Where are you in the moment? What are your responsibilities? Who are you responsible to, and how can you best fulfill those responsibilities? Right? And not only to everybody else, but also to yourself.  Because through fulfilling those responsibilities, you live the most fulfilled life. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:16:02] Yes, you develop yourself. And part of your responsibilities, I suppose you have certain talents, as you do for teaching, well, you have some obligation to your own talents, you might say, to actualize them, and that's a good for you, it's a good for the world. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:17:00] And this, it strikes me, I mean, again, this, you know, I'm just remarking on, I keep using the word dialectical, because it just seems to be a very key word for describing the vision of the book in so many different ways. So, for instance, there's the discussion of the sacrificial. On page 306, God says "The motive for entering the world is itself sacrificial. We– humans and Me– do not enter the world to be selfish but to live surrendering lives, sacrificial lives." And my understanding of that, because we sometimes when we think of the word sacrificial, we think of it in terms of self abnegation. But that's not what is meant here. Right? What sacrificial means, at least as I understand it, is that, you know, once again, to use the tuba player image. You're playing an instrument in an orchestra, and your job is to harmonize with the orchestra, not just to do whatever it is you know, you personally feel like doing. And that's the sacrificial dimension of it. To recognize that you with the rest of the world and with the others you are in relationship to are working toward creating a harmonious, unified whole and that we then each will achieve our own greatest fulfillment by participating in the harmonious whole that we are both participating in and contributing to. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:18:38] Yes. Yes, that's right. One of the problems that almost all group activity is you'll have somebody, usually not a tuba player, as far as I know, but maybe a horn player who thinks you're supposed to be on mute, but he thinks, I'm such a good player, I'll play loud. Or an actor who steals every scene, draws all the attention. And that wrecks the whole thing. And just in an organization, you've got somebody chairing the meeting, but if you keep interrupting them, you know, that kind of thing, because you're sort of me, me, me, and maybe you're eloquent and so forth, but it's not the time for you to be standing up making speeches. There's something else going on. And so, a lot is, you know, thinking of the instruments of harmony as a kind of sensitivity to other individuals, how to speak to them when they're in grief about another, is a kind of social sensibility. You know, when to speak up, when to remain silent, it's often challenging. You're not sure, you kind of go through a little inner debate, sometimes. Should I speak up at this point, or is that going to be disharmonious? We need some conflict. Conflict isn't the same as disharmony, because the conflict can be that creative side that we are talking about, the dialectical that is. But that's always a question, is this a moment for that kind of speaking up or for creating a moment of conflict, challenging something? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. And we make those decisions daily. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:20:05]  And every moment, and this has seemed to me a basic message of the of the book--. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yeah. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [01:00:15] Every moment has its opportunity, as it's called to it. You know, what will make this the best version of this particular moment. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:19] Yes. And it has it's deep meaning. You know, it's not the meaning is at the end, which is so common. And of course, a novel tends to be written a bit that way behind the end, and little moral stories is a bit that way, and some conceptions of life, or of history are that way. The meaning is at the end, but that's not how a life is lived. The meaning of George Washington's life was not that last sickly year or two, for example. Or the meaning of Lincoln's life, in a way it is a symbolic meaning, but the fact that he was assassinated and died, that's not the meaning of Lincoln's life. That wasn't the meaning of that moment. And so each of these moments when you're going along, I think you're quite right, it has its own, you might say, integrity as a moment that you have to live that moment in its way. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:21:12] Once again the dialectical, because it's not as if the moments are divorced from the future. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:17] No, no, no. Yeah. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:21:19] It's not as if the moment aren't for the sake of getting better and achieving a goal. But in some sense, I think of it sometimes like a football game. Right? The purpose of playing football isn't to get a touchdown, the purpose of getting touchdowns is to play football. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:36] Right, right, right. It's a goal totally defined by the game. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:21:40] I mean, the reason you have the touchdowns is so they can play the game. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:45] Yeah, right. Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:21:46] And you know, the purpose of the game isn't that if we can figure out another way of getting the touchdowns without having to play the game. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:53] That would be not of much interest. But that's right, as we live our lives these moments, not all of which seem salient and dramatic and interesting, yet each moment has its role like each note, you know, even in repetitive or kind of quiet parts, each note has its role, and it needs to be that note. And so with our behavior, we always need to strike the right note. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:22:24] And one of the messages of the book, and we find this in a lot of the different religions, is that we are never alone in this struggle of finding the right note. And this is where, I guess the prayer life and the faith life comes in. You were talking about you had an experience of union with God at one point. Right? And God says, that's good. And you thought it felt a little strange or something like that. And God responds, “There's nothing strange about it. That is how the universe is. The parts can communicate with the whole…”

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:58] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:22:59] And, I thought that that was an interesting way of understanding prayer. That in a sense, when you're praying, it's you, you're a little part. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:09] Yes!

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:23:10] Trying to commune with the greater whole. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:14] Yes!

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:23:15] And in doing that, you expand yourself. You expand your own sense of your own sense of place in some sense. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:25] Yes. Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:23:26] Rather than seeing yourself just in the one little confined to the little space that you are, you now see yourself in the context of the greater whole. And that itself can be a liberating and enlightening experience. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:41] Yes. Yes, yes. And again, a lot of the meaning of your life is precisely in that connection and the fact that you can connect with the whole. The whole can also connect with you. But yeah, you're talking about prayer. And that's probably the point of a lot of kinds of worship, meditation, so forth, is they are ways of connecting with the whole. And it seems odd, I know a friend of mine, a Jewish scholar, serious Jewish scholar who prays, but he says he'll always wonder, is there anybody listening? And part of his hesitation was, why would God care what I pray? You know, God is so much bigger than me. How could this possibly be registering? And I thought, well, you're underestimating God, for one thing. You know, I sometimes wonder how the phone lines can handle the trillion calls made simultaneously during the day. Well, God is like that, but bigger and is interested in your prayer, and your prayer is a direct connection to the whole. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:24:52] Yes. And, in some sense, once again, with this participatory understanding of God, God is right there in your prayer. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:00] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:25:01] Right? And we get this again in the gospels, right? Wherein Paul, speaking about how when he prays, it's the Holy Spirit praying in him. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [01:06:13] Through him, yes, yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Just a couple more things– I thought that the book has some interesting things to say about suffering because we tend to look at suffering, and not just the we tend to look at it, but suffering seems to be very often a kind of negation of life. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:00] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:26:00] Suffering. I mean, especially, if you have too much suffering or you go through too much suffering, you know, it seemed to invalidate life. You know, it's you know, I can even, you know-- it takes away the meaning of life. And, we also can be very angry at God. Right? This omnipotent being, who could, you know, if He'd only lift His little pinky to take your suffering away. And your suffering could be taken away, but He's got better things to do than to lift His little pinky. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:30] Yeah. Yeah. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:26:31] We get a very different image of suffering and God in relationship to God in the book. Right? So God himself-- suffering is integral to the nature of the universe. It not because God-- God didn't put it there, it's just part of the nature of what is, and God confronts it just as truly as humans confront it. And in a sense, once again, we're kind of in it together.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:01] Yeah. God suffers when we suffer because God's project in some way is to get Himself/Herself/Itself integrated, you know, and to have everything sort of integrated so that everything is functional rather than these dysfunctional parts going off on their own. And our suffering is just unraveling, just as it's unraveling our sense of ourselves and of the meaning of our lives, it's unraveling God's efforts, you know. Now, He's going to have to somehow stitch that back up.  

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:27:33]  And there's also the notion, (a) suffering doesn't negate life, life goes on. You're going to get past the suffering. The suffering is never final or absolute. It's never an ultimate refutation. The universe, however awful it may be in the moment. Life goes on, the universe goes on, we go on, and God goes on, and there's always going to be another opportunity, right? No matter how awful the moment may seem to be. So I think that's an important message. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:28:08] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:28:08] There's also a notion that suffering is important for growth. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:28:13] Yes. Suffering is the law of growth in the universe, is the world.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:28:17] Well, how do you understand that? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:28:19] Well, the analogy given at the time given to me was much like muscles. You know, how do muscles get stronger? They get stronger by being torn apart. I mean, you know, in exercise and then they bind up again. That's why you're often told to do that kind of exercise only every other day, one day to tear them apart, another day for them to grow together, and then they're stronger. Well, that's an analogy, of course, but early on, brought up elements of my suffering. God asked me to bring them up, because this topic had come up, and one of the question was, what did you learn from that? You know, what would have been missing through your life had you not gone through that experience? And these answers never quite satisfied me because, well, I might have learned something from a lot of the experiences of suffering once you think about it, but every one of them? You know. Yeah. It's not a blanket answer. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:29:16] Yeah, it's not a blanket answer. And I think the answer, you know, from what my take away from the book is, you know, there are two answers. Suffering can be a growth experience, it can teach us something. And in some sense, I think there's an implication that there's just no going through life without suffering. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:29:37] Yeah, no, I'm told it's the condition of the world being real. And without the world being real, you're not real. Nothing's real. A perfect world would have been a kind of hologram world where nothing is actually real and nothing is really happening, and there are no real people. They're all hologram people, but throw us into a reality that includes the high development, that involves organic beings, animals and people and so forth, part of that is not only entropy, that all physical matter suffers, but growth, but maturation, sickness, death, you know, aging death. All of these are part of-- and you don't want to say, well, I'd rather be a robot, and then I wouldn't go through that process of aging and things going wrong and slowly moving toward death. But that would be less fulfilling. A world of radically less meaning, you know, almost, that would be the world devoid of meaning, not the world with suffering. The world with suffering is, oddly enough, full of meaning, that's part of the drama.  

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:30:46] Little like that quote- “Which would be better to be a suffering Socrates or a happy pig?”

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:30:53] John Stuart Mill - the pleasure principle was ultimate.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:30:57] That it's a richer experience to be the suffering Socrates, than the happy pig lying in its mud heap. And that in some sense, the suffering Socrates is strangely happier than the happy pig, even though there's a lot of suffering involved. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:31:13] He dies with hemlock. Yes.dies with hemlock, and yet one does have the sense that through that whole process, he's happy. None of this-- And part of it is he thinks the only thing that really matters in life, in a sense, is the condition of your soul. None of this touched that. The fact that they convicted him unfairly, that doesn't touch his soul. And that's why he says no ill can come to a good man. You because the ill doesn't affect the soul. Only the person can destroy their soul, can distort the soul, you know? Look at the kinds of things some people choose to do. They choose to sail through storms. You know, they join rescue parties to try to track people down in the mountains, you know, in the bitter is cold and with many risks. People do that, and that is not unhappiness, that is not unhappiness, it's quite the opposite. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:32:14] I keep thinking it's always been one of the religious sayings that always gave me some solace, is from the anchorite, I think, of Julian of Norwich. And she received this revelation from God. Right? She was very concerned about all the people who might end up in hell, and then she received a revelation. I think she was a 12th century nun or something. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:32:39] Sounds right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:32:40] And the revelation was, "All will be well and all will be well. And all manner of things will be well." And I think that I think we ultimately get that from the book as well. I think at one point God says to you, everyone will succeed because eventually everyone's doing the right thing. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:33:01] Yes. So even if you spoil your soul, not only have other miseries, but spoil your soul, live alone in life, you got another shot at it.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:33:08] There never comes a time when the opportunities are gone. And, so the notion that there's going to be, I think you at one point you asked God about the idea of a final judgment, and He says there's no final judgment.  There is judgment, in a sense that there's judgment at every moment, every moment get judged. You know, every moment is or isn't as optimal as it might be. Every moment is an opportunity for success and for failure. And those moments can be even a whole lifetime, perhaps. Now, somebody who wrecks their soul in this life, as you might put it. But there's no final judgment.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:33:50] I was told in that passage, Richard, the soul is judging all the time. You know, we're living here, but we have a soul, an Atman, by my version, not quite true to the Hindu tradition, it's more like a soul. But it's the soul that goes on to the next life, that seems to have a stop in Heaven before that, and some kind of larger vision of things, and so somewhere along the way, you think, whoa, I did the wrong thing, that life, let's go back and try it again. And then that's a learning experience, right? I mean, that's what we watch our children as they grow up, they make mistakes. They always say wisdom, oh, is it-- judgment is the result of experience, and experience is the result of mistakes. And so that's how you get to good judgment or to wisdom. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:34:38] The popular movie out sometime ago that I've always liked quite a lot, I think was called Groundhog Day. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:43] Oh, yes.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:34:45] I don't know if you remember that? He wakes up over and over and over...

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:46] Every day is the same day. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:34:48] And has to keep learning his lesson, to get that day right. You know, and but eventually he does get it right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:57] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:34:58] And, in a way, the book is saying that that's kind of how it is, right? Where we're going through our lives, it's always going to be a struggle. The struggle is itself enriching and inspiring. There's no final success. It's not like it's all going to be over at some point, but there's also no final failure.  And there are infinite possibilities for beauty, truth, and good, and right,and love. And we should strive to actualize those possibilities as far as we are able. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:35:31] And God will be with us in those. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:35:33] And God will be with us in those. And not just as a benign observer, but as someone who is participating in the experience with us. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:35:45]  Yes. Yeah. Yes, that's right. Well, now, that's a very good final thought, Richard. Yeah. Well, thank you for this very interesting dialogue. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:35:55] Yeah, well, thank you, Jerry, And it's been great. 

Scott Langdon [00:36:11] Thank you for listening. To God: An 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 godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at questions@godanautobiography.com 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.

Moral Dimension | Socratic Wisdom | Historical Process
Evolutionary Development To Higher Truth
Clinging To Personhood | Diversity
This Moment In This Life
Every Moment And Life Has Opportunity
We Are Never Alone | Understanding Prayer
Suffering | The Law Of Growth
A Condition Of Reality
Final Judgment
Outro And Contact Information