Who were the teachers of the prodigal son? He had two. One was the pig sty. The other was his Father's house. He discovered the truth about the pig sty and about his father's house for himself through experience. Experience is the most persuasive teacher.
God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as he delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than he was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for sinners. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.
However, there is a problem. We suffer from butterfingers. When the gift of paradise is delivered to us, we don't keep it. We fumble the ball. We do not maintain possession of the gift of paradise after it has been delivered to us. Lucifer opted out of paradise after the gift of paradise had been delivered to him. So did the gaggle of angels who followed Lucifer. So did Eve. So did Adam.
God does not want the children of Adam and Eve to repeat the "original sin" of their parents. When God delivers the gift of paradise to us, God wants us to keep it. However, he wants us to keep the gift of paradise without having to turn paradise into a prison, himself into our warden and us into his prisoners. God does not want to mar the beauty of paradise with walls, watchtowers and armed guards. God does not want to lock us in a gilded cage and throw away the key of free will - the theory of the beatific vision notwithstanding. A cage is a cage no matter how gilded. God respects our free wills so he preserves our options of staying in paradise or leaving it. God does not ram the gift of paradise down our throats by dint of omnipotence against our free wills. The residents of paradise are souls who want to live there. It is up to us to accept the gift of paradise and keep it - up to us not up to God.
Furthermore, God is not stupid. He knows that free will in the hands of fools is dangerous - dangerous to them and to others. Fools with free will are as likely to shoot themselves and others in the foot as not. Therefore, God plants the seeds of rationality into us and exposes our rationality to the truth. The gift of free will and the gift of rationality go hand-in-hand like beans and cornbread. Our rationality instructs our free will. The process of having our rationality instruct our free will works when our rationality is exposed to the truth. The process fails to work when illusions hide the truth from our rationality. Illusions cause the engine of rationality to sputter and fail. Illusions gum up the engine of rationality and cause it to seize. When rational creatures are exposed to the truth, however, their self-interest steers them in the right direction - from godlessness to paradise. The truth is the fuel for the engine of rationality. The engine of rationality only works with the fuel of truth.
Therefore, God established a Church and equipped it with the sledgehammer of truth so it can shatter the illusions that hide the truth from us. The first business of the Church is to wield the sledgehammer of truth against the illusions to shatter them as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. There are two illusions: 1) the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise from us and 2) the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness. The serpent conjured up the two illusions to induce us to abdicate paradise for godlessness (Godlessness). The first business of the Church is to shatter the illusions that hide the truth from us. The Church does not define the truth. The Church shatters the illusions that hide the truth. When the illusions are shattered, the truth sets us free. When the illusions are shattered, the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness becomes visible to us. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is against our self-interest to do otherwise.
Does all truth matter in the business of shattering the illusions? Much is true. Much truth, however, is irrelevant. Only a subset of truth matters. The subset of truth that matters is the truth that shatters the two illusions. The truth that shatters the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise from us is a subset of truth that matters. The truth that shatters the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness from us is a subset of truth that matters. All other truth is irrelevant to the business of shattering the illusions that hide the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness from us.
God is not taking any chances with our salvation. God has rigged the game in our favor. God does not play fair with our salvation. God takes nothing for granted. He wants us to make the right choice. When he delivers to us the gift of paradise, he wants us to keep it. God understands the principle that the truth that persuades us the most is the truth that we experience for ourselves. Therefore, like the prodigal son, God allows us to discover the truth about the sweetness of paradise and the truth about sourness of godlessness for ourselves. We learn for ourselves the truth about the pig sty. We learn for ourselves the truth about life in our father's house. He has appointed not one but two teachers to serve as our sources of the truth. Our two teachers are 1) the sourness of godlessness and 2) the sweetness of paradise. These two teachers are the engines that power the current of salvation. The current of salvation carries us from godlessness to paradise.
Two existential alternatives presented themselves to Adam and Eve and present themselves to us: 1) a life lived with God and his holy family in paradise and 2) a life lived without God in godlessness. Adam and Eve picked godlessness (Godlessness). Hopefully, we do no follow in the footsteps of our parents, Adam and Eve. They, however, unlike us, have an excuse (Godlessness). They did not have the benefit of one of the two teachers. Before they made their choice, they did not know the sourness of godlessness. That excuse is no longer available to us.
Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God in paradise and took us with them into godlessness (Godlessness). They opted out. It was a bad move. Godlessness sucks. In godlessness, we are like fish out of water. Despite their foolishness, God did not wish them goodbye and good riddance. God did not turn his back on them. God did not give them the cold shoulder. God did not shut and lock the door after they passed through it (Godlessness). Oh no. God identified the problem. His creatures were opting out after the gift of paradise had been delivered to them. Lucifer opted out after the gift of paradise had been delivered to him. The gaggle of angels who followed Lucifer did the same. So did Eve. So did Adam. Post delivery paradise opt out was the problem. Some have called the problem 'original sin". After identifying the problem, God devised a plan to fix it.
The plan consists of two parts. To induce us to opt out of paradise, the serpent conjured up two illusions: 1) an illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness and 2) an illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise. The sledgehammer of truth shatters the illusions as the blow of the hammer shatters glass. The truth sets us free. When the truth becomes visible to us, our rationality steers us in the right direction. We seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise.
The sledgehammer of truth is wielded against the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of of godlessness during "the delay". God delivered the gift of life and the gift of paradise simultaneously to Adam and Eve. With the children of Adam and Eve, God tweaked the timetable. God inserted a delay between the delivery of the gift of life and the gift of paradise. Sequential, not simultaneous, delivery is now the order of the day: first the gift of life, then the delay, then the gift of paradise.
During the delay, God lets us stew temporarily in godlessness. God wants us to taste for ourselves the sourness of godlessness. There is no stronger truth than a truth we have learned for ourselves. No story about the truth is as convincing as the experience of the truth for ourselves.
"The delay" is the most controversial part of God's rescue plan. It is a brief delay, but for many, not brief enough. The delay is harsh medicine. It generates all of the complaints about God's rescue plan. Letting humanity stew in the sourness of godlessness is the surest way to maximize the negative feedback against God. The sourness of godlessness has caused many to shake their fists at God as they curse him in the foulest of language. We do not take our medicine quietly. The delay is the basis that drives many to the incorrect conclusion that God is a malicious misanthrope or that he doesn't exist. Yet, in the eyes of God, the effectiveness of the medicine justifies its harshness and the flak he takes on account of it. So God prescribes it.
Why does God let us stew in the sourness of godlessness? How does stewing in the sourness of godlessness reduce the likelihood that we will opt out of paradise after the gift of paradise is delivered to us? [What is the solution to the problem of evil?]
Letting us stew in the sourness of godlessness achieves multiple purposes:
1) God doesn't want us to get fooled twice. One "original sin" is enough. The debacle of Adam and Eve need not be repeated. The experience in godlessness makes it impossible for the serpent to deceive us a second time. The serpent promised Adam and Eve that a life lived as gods in godlessness would be superior to a life lived with God in paradise (Godlessness). Not true. This is a lie. A taste of the sourness of godlessness exposes the serpent's lie. It is the medicine that inoculates us against it. The lie no longer works. The truth drains the lie of its power. We have learned the truth the hard way by experiencing it for ourselves. We choose experience rather than obedience (Godlessness). Having tasted the pig sty for himself, the prodigal son will never return there. Neither will we. When God delivers the gift of paradise to us, we will keep it. We know better.
2) The experience in godlessness shatters the illusion conjured up by the serpent that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness. It shatters the illusion as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. After the sugarcoating is shattered, the sourness of godlessness becomes visible to us. Rational people flee the sourness of godlessness. They head for the exit. They pick up the roots they have sunk deep into the hostile desert of godlessness and make their escape. It is contrary to their welfare to do otherwise. The truth sets them free. It transforms them from settlers into pilgrims. The sourness of godlessness is the engine that pushes us on the escape route from godlessness to paradise. It is the "stick" of God's rescue plan.
3) Moreover, the experience in godlessness proves that the serpent was a liar and that God told us the truth. It shifts the credibility from the serpent to God. Now, when there is a conflict between the word of God and the word of the serpent, we prefer the one with the proven track record of telling us the truth (Godlessness). We learned the hard lesson obedience save us from paying the price of experience.