The debate on spanking continues. Here are some of my comments with a lot of benefit from John Piper (as usual). See also the well done post by Martin Shields and the relevant philosophical approach of David Benatar from the Philosophy department of University of Cape Town.
Let me say first that both sides have been guilty of unwarranted argumentation: I have known children who have [not] been spanked who turned out fine. Sure. I am sure there are people who have been abused who have turned out “fine” (whatever that means). God’s grace is great and unpredictable and many kids turned out just ‘fine’ despite our imperfect way(s) of raising them. On the other hand, there may be children who have been raised ‘perfectly’ (what does that mean?) who did not turn out so well…
To get back to our issue – this question is certainly related to our theology of suffering and also of God.
Since many people on this blog (seems to me) lived and live in countries where Christians did not suffer (especially physical) pain, I can understand why suffering (it seems especially physical) is such a big problem. For some of us who lived in Communist or other countries where Christians suffered various kinds of persecution and (yes) physical pain, we learned to see its benefits too! While it can be argued that the pain was inflicted by the ‘bad guys,’ and that is mostly true, as believers in a sovereign God we also understood it as a way that God was disciplining us and working on our character. Some of the most beautiful characters I know/knew were people who were ‘chiseled’ by suffering (e.g. Richard Wurmbrand).
Contrary to what one commentator said [if I remember correctly] our God, the Loving Father, did punish His children [Israel etc] in various ways and some of them did involve PAIN (physical included).
I read an interesting article by Stanley Fish about two famous scholars (see the link below). One was raised in an evangelical background, but lost his faith because of the problem of evil and suffering (Bart Ehrman). The other case is that of a most famous atheist (Antony Flew- a noted professor of philosophy) who announced in 2004 that after decades of writing essays and books from the vantage point of atheism, he now believes in God. “Changed his mind” is not a casual formulation. Flew wouldn’t call what has happened to him a conversion, for that would suggest something unavailable to analysis. His journey, he tells us, is best viewed as “a pilgrimage of reason,” an extension of his life-long habit of “following the argument no matter where it leads. They both wrote books about their change of mind. I understand the anguish and sincere struggle of Ehrman (though I disagree with his conclusions). And I find Flew’s trip from an atheist to a theist very logical. Note the following relevant questions by Flew:
“How, he asks, do merely physical and mechanical forces – forces without mind, without consciousness – give rise to the world of purposes, thoughts and moral projects? “How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends [and] self-replication capabilities?””
“In an appendix to the book, Abraham Varghese makes Flew’s point with the aid of an everyday example: “To suggest that the computer ‘understands’ what it is doing is like saying that a power line can meditate on the question of free will and determinism or that the chemicals in a test tube can apply the principle of non-contradiction in solving a problem, or that a DVD player understands and enjoys the music it plays.”
How did purposive behavior of the kind we engage in all the time – understanding, meditating, enjoying -ever emerge from electrons and chemical elements?”
Of course some of these same questions were already asked by F. Schaffer about 50 years ago. I still do not see how a materialistic explanation can give reasonable answers to these questions…much less PROVE their answers…
The article with more info and argumentation is found here: