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Featured Interview: Indignus Servus

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Today's Chat with Sarah features Indignus Servus author of The Advent of Time, which will be book of the month in October 2024. Make sure to get your copies and start reading now in order to participate in the discussion.

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1. Your website for The Advent of Time (https://ygodallowsevil.com/) summarizes some of the most important features of the book. If prospective readers want to learn more about specific arguments in the book, where should they go?

The blog posts at this link summarize several important features of the book:

https://ygodallowsevil.com/category/the ... t-of-time/

***Please note that the Kindle version of the book will be free May 9–13, June 29–July 3, and October 1–5:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0CXHXQFBT

2. Your book provides an answer to the problem of evil that explains how suffering is logically compatible with the existence of an all-loving and all-powerful god. Before we explore some of the arguments that appear in the book, are there any starting assumptions that are central to understanding these arguments?

All of the arguments in the book ultimately rest on orthodox Christian precepts. Two of the most central assumptions in the book are these:
  • The purpose of man’s existence is to live forever in a perfect, timeless loving relationship with God and with one another.

    “Evil” is defined as any willful choice to pursue a self-centered objective that can only be acquired or experienced at the expense of love. No matter how trivial we may think any such decision to be, every such decision undermines the whole purpose of creation because every such decision undermines love.
3. You state that the book adheres to Orthodox Christian precepts. Christian Orthodoxy asserts that suffering is a consequence of the fall of man. Your book focuses considerable discussion on the scale of the fall, arguing that the scope of the fall is far more expansive than many people may have considered. How does the book describe the scope of the fall?

In order for people to begin to grasp the scale of the fall, the first thing they need to understand is that the fall did not merely consist of the fall of man within creation; it also consisted of the fall of the created material order itself. According to Genesis 3:17, following Adam’s original sin, God said to him, “Cursed is the ground because of you.” The “ground” refers to matter, which implies that the entire material universe changed as a result of man’s original sin.

4. How did the material order change?

Numerous theologians have suggested that time itself did not exist prior to the first humans committing original sin. The Advent of Time follows this line of reasoning, asserting that man’s first sinful act caused God’s “timeless” pre-fallen creation to transform into the “space-time” physical universe that man has known ever since.

5. Why did the entire material order change in this manner?

The essence of sin/evil is that it undermines love (“sin” and “evil” are synonymous). If man’s existence in a timeless, perfectly loving relationship with God is the whole reason we were created, this means that even the “smallest” sin undermines the entire purpose of our very existence. According to Genesis 2:16–17 and Romans 6:23, death is the consequence of undermining the entire purpose of life. Timeless beings, however, cannot die. This means that Adam and Eve would have had to change from a transcendent, timeless form of existence to a finite, time-based form of existence. Such a change requires the advent of time itself. (Hence, the title of the book.)

6. Does the assertion that the entire universe changed from “timelessness” to “space-time” align with Christian Orthodoxy? What is the Biblical evidence/argument to support the claim that man was the cause of time itself?

The idea that there is a form of existence that occurs outside of the construct of time itself is an Orthodox Christian concept that commonly appears in “eschatological” works. “Eschatology” is the study of “last things,” which has long been a dominant concern of Christian thinkers. The Advent of Time utilizes theological concepts that were set out by the esteemed theologian Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

Several decades ago, Ratzinger wrote a book titled Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life. In it, he discusses the concept of “timeless” existence, using the phrase “non-time” to describe it. He writes, “non-time, …since it is outside of time, is equally close to every time.” The Advent of Time uses Ratzinger’s descriptions of the relationship between “timeless being” and “time-based being” as a basis for describing the practical effects of the transformation of the material universe from a timeless state of existence to a “space-time” state of existence.

Here are a few of the biblical based arguments that are used to support the claim that man was the cause of time itself:

Isaiah 57:15 states that God “inhabits eternity” (RSV-2CE). This is a remarkably peculiar phrase, one that suggests that eternal existence does not merely consist of living forever within an endless march of time. Instead, eternity is somehow “inhabited” or “occupied.” There is no way for fallen mankind to fully grasp what it means to “inhabit eternity” because our entire experience of life has thus far been limited to a finite form of existence in which we are trapped within the one-directional flow of linear time. It’s clear, however, that “inhabiting eternity” cannot mean that God is trapped within the one-directional flow of linear time (if he were, God couldn’t know the future, a concept which is completely alien to both orthodox Judaism and orthodox Christianity). To “inhabit eternity” must therefore refer to some form of existence that is outside of time, above time, or otherwise supra-temporal.

Genesis 1–3 states that Adam and Eve existed in the direct presence of God prior to the fall. If God “inhabits eternity” according to Isaiah 57:15, then the first humans’ existence in the direct presence of God means that they must have “inhabited eternity” alongside God. Wisdom 2:23 confirms this when it states: “God created man…in the image of his own eternity.” (RSV-2CE) Adam and Eve therefore existed in a state of “non-time” prior to the fall.

Genesis 5:1 unequivocally states that man was made in the “likeness” of God himself. An omnipotent God can change the operation of physics with a single decision. Since man was made in the “likeness” of God himself, logic suggests that man—in his timeless, unfallen state—should likewise be able to change the operation of physics with a single act. Genesis 3:17 makes it clear that man was in fact created with divine-like power over the physical order when it states that man changed the operation of the “ground” itself with a single wrongful act.

Jesus’s physical miracles (turning water into wine, walking on water, etc.) provide further biblical evidence that sinless man possesses power over the material realm itself. Jesus made this point explicitly in Matthew 17:20 when he stated that, in the redeemed state, faithful man will be able to say to a mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will literally move. This is an unequivocal assertion that sinless man possesses power over the material realm itself.

Both Genesis and Jesus therefore assert that unfallen man possesses power to exercise command over the physical order itself. When this assertion is combined with the assertion that unfallen man “inhabited eternity” alongside God prior to the fall, the most reasonable conclusion is that the fall caused the material order to transform from an eternal, “timeless” state of existence to a finite, “time-based” state of existence.

7. Why would God make man with such immense power?

The ultimate purpose of man’s existence is to become a loving unity with God. Specifically, the redeemed are to become children of God, like Christ. Christ exists in a perfectly loving relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This loving relationship is so perfect, so total, that the three persons of the Trinity are in essence fused in love into one being—the being we call “God.” God’s very being can therefore be understood as the “product” of perfect love. Put simply, God is love (1 John 4:8).

If man is truly to become “one body” with God in an eternal loving union (1 Corinthians 12), then man must have the ability to experience love at the same range and degree as that of God himself (otherwise, God would have to reduce the greatness of his own being in order to join to man in an eternal love-based union). This means that man must be made in the genuine “likeness” of God himself.

When Genesis 5:1 asserts that man was man in the “likeness” of God, this assertion should therefore be taken at face value. Man was made in God’s “likeness” so that man can enter into the Trinity as siblings of Christ, becoming “partakers of the divine nature” along with the three persons of the Trinity (2 Peter 1:4). Put plainly, man’s ultimately destiny is to become a loving unity with God himself. At the moment of this unification, the Trinity will dramatically increase in number to become a perfect loving unity of perhaps billions of beings. This fusion into “one body” with God constitutes “heaven”—the final, eternal state of redeemed man.

8. Isn’t there some other explanation for existence that makes more sense?

In order to determine the most sensible explanation for existence, one must answer the following question: why is there something rather than nothing? In our present state of existence, it is impossible to answer this question with certainty. However, logic dictates that something—or someone—always had to exist. Assume it was a “someone,” not a “something.” Specifically, assume that a timeless, all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God exists and always has. Now, carefully think about why such a being would create something outside of himself. What are the different objectives that God could pursue as Creator?

Would God create other living beings so that he can exercise power over them? Would he make creatures for the purpose of having them worship him constantly? Would either of these two objectives not suggest that “all-powerful” God is in fact deeply lacking in self-esteem? What if, instead, God created beings for the sake of finding out what they will do with their free will—a science experiment of sorts? Would it make sense for an “all-knowing” God to create for such a purpose?

Obviously, none of these rationales makes logical sense. Carefully examine any reason you can think of for a truly omniscient, omnipotent God to create. Can you think of even a single creative objective that makes logical sense?

What about love? For an omnipotent being, love appears to be the only creative objective that makes any sense at all. If love is the only creative objective that an all-knowing and all-powerful God would have reason to pursue, would he not pursue the highest possible form of it? If so, what is the highest conceivable form of love? Answer: to create beings that are so much like God that they can enter into a timeless, love-based unity of being with him; that they can become “one body” with him in eternity. There is no conceivably greater creative objective.

Out of an infinite number of possible creative objectives, logic dictates that an all-knowing, all-powerful being will choose the greatest one that can actually be brought to fruition. This is why the creation of man as a being who is made in the true “likeness” of God is entirely reasonable, because the creation of man in such a manner is what is required in order for man to be able to enter into a perfect loving unity of being with God himself. In fact, if God actually exists, then man’s creation in God’s “likeness” (that is, with power over the “ground” itself, and with power to be the cause of time itself) is the only truly logical creative choice.

There’s just one problem with making man in the genuine “likeness” of God: if man undermines the purpose of creation by committing sin—thereby transforming all of physical creation into a finite, time-based system governed by indifferent rules of physics—there’s no way for man to reverse this change to the material order because man has caused himself to become finite and time-based.

9. Why would the material order change from one that is wholly responsive to man’s moral will into one that is wholly indifferent to man’s will?

Because man is made “from the dust of the ground” according to Genesis 2:7, when Adam and Eve changed the operation of the “ground” as a result of their sin, they simultaneously reordered the structural basis of their own beings, making themselves finite and time-based. In this radically compromised state of existence, man is no longer able to exercise his will in a manner that will reorder physical creation because the laws of physics have now become indifferent to the will of man. Specifically, matter itself has become a mirror of the indifference that Adam and Eve exhibited toward God at the moment of their original sin.

The essence of this act of original sin was a choice to prioritize a self-centered end (the acquisition of a specific form of knowledge) over their loving relationship with God, while remaining indifferent to the negative effects of this decision on God. Indeed, this is the nature of every sinful act—sin is the prioritization of a self-centered end over our relationships with one another, while remaining indifferent to the negative effects of such selfishness on others (with whom we are meant to share a perfectly loving relationship).

Only God can reverse the wholesale disaster known as “the fall,” but God will not reverse it in a manner that undermines love or compromises his perfectly just nature. This last assertion is a key part of the answer to the problem of evil that the book provides, but one that prospective readers can consult the book about because it is too lengthy to easily summarize.

10. If God made man directly, in the manner described above and for the reasons described above, how does one make sense of the fossil record, which seems to point to evolution as the cause of man’s creation?

As described above, “timelessness” is a state of being that exists outside of time. A single action that is carried out in a state of timelessness can therefore simultaneously affect all points within time. The book summarizes the scientific implications of original sin’s holistic transformation of the material order as follows:

“The scientific theory of evolution by natural selection has been thought by many to contradict Genesis 1–3, but a proper understanding of the fall shows that the reverse is actually true. The indifferent, individualist mechanisms that underlie evolution fully comport with the account of the fall in Genesis because the driving forces that propel evolution are in perfect accord with the uncaring, self-centered motivations that man decided to act upon when he turned his back on God. Since man is the sovereign ruler of all creatures within his domain, every element of these creatures’ existence mirrors the will of man when he existed as a timeless being, at all points in linear time. When the will of man in a timeless state of existence became individualistic in its focus, and indifferent in its concern about other beings, every aspect of man’s domain emulated this change, at all points across the full continuum of existence. Evolution, then, is evidence of a foundational reordering of man’s realm of existence, resulting from the first humans’ decision-making when they existed in a supratemporal state of being.”

With respect to the problem of evil and suffering, this insight answers the objections of those who assert that suffering and death were inherent features of life on Earth long before man came into existence. After all, if man introduced evil and suffering into creation while existing in a supra-temporal state of being, it is moot to argue that the evolutionary timeline conflicts with direct creation because this argument is based on a fundamental misconception of the scope and scale of the fall.

Think carefully about the implications of this argument. It’s not an easy concept to understand at first, but if time itself is a product of original sin, and if everything in creation became a mirror of the blind indifference and self-centeredness that constitute the essence of man’s first sinful act (at all points across the entire continuum of time-based existence, from the beginning of time to the end of time), then there is no logical conflict between evolution and direct creation.

11. If the fall is the reason for suffering, why didn’t God put suffering to an immediate end after the fall? After all, God is all-powerful, right?

God is all-powerful, but he is also all-loving, all-just, and all-wise. To be all-loving means that God will not do anything that is unloving. To be all-just means that God will not do anything that is unjust. God’s character traits therefore represent constraints on how he will choose to exercise his absolute power.

If God voluntarily refrains from doing anything that is unloving, then he will not take any action that will undermine love. If he totally destroys man following original sin, this act simultaneously destroys love. If he instead takes away man’s free will for the purpose of preventing man from engaging in unloving acts (i.e., sin), this act also undermines love because free will is a prerequisite of love. If God were to take any other action that would undermine a prerequisite of love, love itself (which is the whole purpose of creation) is simultaneously undermined.

The book’s analysis of the prerequisites of relational love goes point by point explaining why God’s prioritization of love demands that he refrain from engaging in any of an array of different actions that would allow suffering to be put to an immediate end. There’s a great deal of analysis in the book on this issue—so much that it is impossible to quickly summarize these arguments. The bottom line, though, is that the prerequisites of love provide the reasons why an all-powerful and all-loving God allows evil and suffering to continue following the fall.

The protection/expansion of love also explains why God allows mankind to continue to have the ability to create new life, in spite of the fact that man’s creation of new life causes sin (as well as sin’s just penalty—suffering and death) to be imposed on future generations. The book offers a detailed analysis of this issue too (in the chapter titled “An Imitation of Christ”).

12. Let’s shift away from the discussion of the fall and turn to the doctrine of hell, which is perhaps the most difficult issue associated with the problem of evil. Purely as a matter of logic, how can the existence of an eternal hell be reconciled with the assertion that God is all-loving?

To fully understand why the existence of hell does not logically conflict with the existence of a God who is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent, one must first identify and carefully examine all five of the prerequisites of relational love. A description and analysis of all five of the prerequisites of love would require a lengthy discussion (which is provided in the book), so I’ll limit the discussion here to only two of the prerequisites of eternal love. These two prerequisites are as follows:
  • Love requires each person in a relationship to place faith in the other;

    A person must first exist as a timeless being in order to have the capacity to experience timeless love with the eternal God.
Starting with the first of these two prerequisites, if a faithless person dies and then (in the afterlife) receives certain knowledge of both God’s existence and omnibenevolence, this newfound knowledge will itself preclude that person from being able to establish the faith that is necessary for him to experience love with God. Faith, by definition, requires the absence of certainty. If faith is a prerequisite of love, this means that faithless fallen beings cease to have the ability to experience love with God once they acquire sure knowledge of God’s existence and absolute goodness.

The second prerequisite (man’s existence as an eternal being) provides the reason why the prospect of eternal separation from God does not logically contradict God’s all-loving nature. Specifically, if God’s reason for creating man with an immortal soul is to enable man to experience timeless love with God, then God’s creation of man as an eternal being constitutes an act of love. But this act of love in no way precludes the possibility of eternal separation from God, for the simple reason that eternal being—by definition—leaves no alternative but for beings to always exist somewhere.

When the implications of these two prerequisites of eternal love are combined, it results in the following conclusion: if a timeless being has excluded himself from a timeless, loving union with God due to the absence of faith, that being continues to exist, albeit separated from God. Eternal separation from God is thus the inevitable endpoint for faithless, timeless beings who acquire certain knowledge of both God’s existence and omnibenevolence. For these reasons, eternal separation from God is in no way a contradiction of God’s all-loving nature.

13. But what about the issue of endless burning in this place of eternal separation from God? Numerous Biblical passages state that the condemned will be subjected to endless burning (for example, Matthew 3:12 & 18:8, and Mark 9:43). Does such a fate not logically contradict the assertion that God is all-loving?

In order for man to be transformed from his current state of sinful, temporal existence to a sinless, timeless state of existence similar to that which was experienced by Adam and Eve before the fall, man must be completely freed from sin. The act of freeing man from sin is described in numerous prophetic biblical passages as a purifying fire that will commence on the day of judgement, consuming all sin, along with the entire temporal material universe (see, for example, Malachi 4:1, Isaiah 1:31 and 9:18, Psalm 37:20, Matthew 12:36—37 and 13:40, John 15:6, Revelation 21:8, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 2 Peter 3:7).

With every last facet of sin thus consumed, Isaiah 65:17 states: “the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (ESV) Revelation 21:4 declares: “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, for the former things have passed away.” (ESV) With the entire temporal universe now incinerated for the sake of totally freeing man from sin, God will then remake creation into one that exists entirely outside of the construct of linear time. With creation now remade in a manner superseding temporal existence, and with the sins of all of mankind now completely burned away, the faithful will then enter into the experience of unadulterated timeless love with God.

However, a different fate awaits the faithless. As a result of their refusal to place faith in God prior to acquiring certain knowledge of God’s existence and omnibenevolence, these eternal beings have become forever faithless. Faithlessness is the opposite of love. Anything that is opposed to love is sin. This means that the very beings of the faithless have become manifestations of sin in a timeless form.

As God’s purifying fire is unleashed onto the entirety of man’s fallen realm—totally destroying all of temporal existence and every sin that was ever committed within it—every form of sin will ignite. Consequently, the same fire that is employed by God on the day of judgement to completely free the faithful from their sin will indefinitely consume those who have become timeless beings of sin as a result of their faithlessness.

God’s fiery consumption of that which is the opposite of love cannot, by definition, logically be regarded as unloving. This last point is worth emphasizing because many people are likely to have difficulty bringing themselves to acknowledge the simple truth of it: purely as a matter of logic, it is not unloving for God to impose eternal destruction on that which is, and will forever be, the antithesis of love.

In summary, because God is all-loving, he makes man as an eternal being for the purpose of enabling man and God to experience timeless love with one another. Because faith is a precondition of relational love, faithlessness undermines man’s ability to experience timeless love with God. Anything that undermines love is sin. Because faith cannot be developed in the face of certainty, faithless individuals become permanent manifestations of sin at the moment they acquire certain knowledge of God’s existence and all-loving nature. Because all sin must be consumed as part of God’s loving restoration of man’s fallen realm, God’s application of destructive fire to those who have become timeless beings of sin through their faithlessness is an act that is logically compatible with the assertion that God is all-loving.

14. Is there anything else you’d like prospective readers to know about your book?

The above discussion is a very cursory summary of only some of the arguments in the book. The book delves far more deeply into these and many other issues, explaining why there is not even a single form of suffering that is logically inconsistent with the existence of an all-loving and all-powerful God. It is important to emphasize that these arguments strictly adhere to orthodox Christian doctrine, as evidenced by the book’s more than 300 citations to the Bible and to reputable sources of Christian orthodoxy, such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Prospective readers should also know that I strived to make the book accessible to a wide range of readers. Obviously, it centers on Christian principles, but the target audience is not Christians per se; instead, the target audience is open-minded people (agnostics, atheists, and theists) who question whether belief in a supreme being can really be squared—as a matter of logic—with the enormous suffering and evil that we see in the world.

***Please note that the Kindle version of the book will be free May 9–13, June 29–July 3, and October 1–5:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0CXHXQFBT
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Post by Jacob Ghan »

Wow, what a thought-provoking and insightful interview with Indignaus Servas! Their candid and thoughtful answers energized their ideas and experiences. The conversation flowed effortlessly, delivering grace and humility dealt with deep topics Indignaus Servas honesty and vulnerability made the interview feel like a close friend." Their intelligence, compassion, and dedication to speaking to their craft is truly admirable for anyone willing to find inspiration, guidance and a positive dose of Shine Us!"
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Post by GIFT Writes »

"Embark on a timeless journey where every moment holds the key to infinite possibilities. Welcome to 'The Advent of Time'—where imagination meets eternity, and every page unveils a new dimension of wonder." 🕰️✨
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