Some time ago, I asked readers to share with me the one question they would ask God. I personally would ask: “Was I a good man?” I’d want to know how much of our goodness is credited by God, how much of our evil is forgiven by God, and how much God simply overlooks as the residue of our broken human-ness.
Christians generally believe that we are justified only by faith – saved by what we believe. Judaism believes that we are justified by our works – saved by what we do. I think both beliefs are right and wrong. Faith leads us more directly to forgiveness, and works lead us more directly to goodness. Both, I think, are essential for a completed spiritually life.
Here are some of your questions. I’ve included the replies I hope God would give:
Q: “Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of my existence?” – B., Appleton, Wis.
A: “Dear B., that’s more than one question! The answer to all three queries is that I made you to love as I have loved you. Everything else is not really that important.”
Q: “Where were you, God, when 6 million Jews were being slaughtered under Hitler’s orders?” – L., North Babylon, N.Y.
A: “I was with the victims. A better question: ‘Where was man?’ ”
Q: “God, why do you allow all those awful people to sexually and physically abuse innocent children?” – M., Plainview, N.Y.
A: “My most controversial choice here in heaven was to grant human beings free will to choose good or evil. I did it because you can’t truly love each other or me unless you have free will. However, being free to choose love also means you’re free to choose hate. I wish freedom worked differently, but that’s the way it is. Some days I think I made the wrong choice.”
Q: “God, will I recognize and be reunited in any form with my loved ones who’ve died before me?” – Anonymous, Cyberspace
Q: “God, if you really exist and are the ultimate creator, then where did you come from and who created you?” – M., Cyberspace
A: “I made everything. Nobody made me. Check out Aristotle. He called me The Unmoved Mover. Aristotle was a very smart guy.”
Q: “God, why is there eternal punishment in hell?” – P., Cyberspace
A: “Because evil is not always punished on earth and goodness is not always rewarded. I needed to set things right eventually.”
Q: “God, why haven’t you given up on us in the face of our continuous evil and rebellion?” – E., Cyberspace
A: “I did once. Read about Noah. Then I got more patient.”
Q: “God, why does life have to be so painful at times?” – A., Cyberspace
A: “Because you cannot understand the good parts of being human without also coping with the bad parts. Being human is a total package.”
Q: “God, are You happy?” – L., Cyberspace
A: “Thank you.”