Asking Better Questions

Let me let you in on a little secret about me: my favorite questions are the ones that there’s no easy answer for, and possibly no definite conclusion to be reached at all. It’s because I got bored of treating the bible like a textbook a long time ago.

I’m not trying to win bible trivia at group meetings or prepare myself for the scan-tron test God gives everyone to see if they are allowed into heaven.

Here’s the kind of questions that I love :

Why does God change his mind in some places in the bible (e.g. Hezekiah, not destroying Israel after Moses pleads with him), but not in others (Sodom and Gomorrah, Not letting Moses into the promised land, Not removing the thorn in Paul’s flesh)?

Why does God allow so much evil and suffering in this world?

Why does God make it so easy for people to ignore him?

Why did God create Lucifer?

Why did God create humanity knowing they would fall?

What is God’s non-linear reality like?

Oh yeah, where does God come from? (That one makes my head hurt if I think about it for more than a couple minutes.)

I can give some answers, to varying degrees of satisfaction, to most of these questions. But most of it is speculation. So perhaps it’s unhealthy to ask questions like these.

Paul said that in the next life, we’ll get all the answers we want. So better to just ignore the mysteries until then, right?

I disagree. Here’s why I think there’s value in wrestling with “unanswerable questions”:

I heard a story about a guy who worked for Bose (you know, the speaker/headphone people). He had an idea for a new product. This product would simulate the sound in a large building, such as a stadium or auditorium, and let somebody hear exactly what music or talking would sound like in any seat of the stadium coming out of a sound system. By giving this device the blueprints for a building that wasn’t yet constructed, they could test and see whether they needed to make adjustments to maximize the experience of people in the seats. They could also test the performance of a large scale sound system before investing the money into it.

This guy pitched the idea to the head of Bose. The president of the company didn’t think this guy had any shot of making this product. But he gave the guy the green light anyways. When asked later why he would let somebody undertake an expensive project when he didn’t even believe it could be done, the president said that the guy had so much passion and enthusiasm for it, he just couldn’t say no. And the president figured that they would probably learn things from the project that would be useful to other projects, enough so that they could probably recoup their investment.

When I spend time pondering questions that are far greater than I can fully grasp, I may not get “the answer” to that question. But I often gain insights and understanding along the way. The Holy Spirit may reveal something to me that I had never considered before.

The best questions, while maybe not having a final, direct answer, lead to other insights.

God has all the answers. He doesn’t need us to figure anything out so we can explain it to him. But I do think he’s looking for people that will ask questions.  Because only those who seek will ever find.