I post mostly messages and commentary about religion and politics, and the scary occasions when they collide.
I am a: Liberal, Green, Christian, Math teacher
Lover of Math, Philosophy, Animals, Civil Rights, and Arguments of all kinds.

30th October 2012

Question with 2 notes

Anonymous said: I hope you don't mind me asking, but why does God allow suffering and death? This is not an attack or anything, just a genuine question. This has always been on my mind, and I can't seem to have a decent explanation.

It’s a hard question to answer. The typical Christian, philosophical ones would be to say that free will has to allow for suffering and death, or that we caused it by our disobedience(Garden of Eden). Either way, they’re not great responses.

But the free will answer does have some merit: In order for people to choose, they have to be able to choose wrong. Some of those wrong choices lead to suffering, or lead to the suffering of others. I’m actually not as troubled by death, personally. God allows death because He allowed life. I think it would be worse to be stuck for all eternity in an imperfect world. Not to say we shouldn’t make the best of life, but also that we don’t have to accept that this world is all there is.

Of course, if you mean why does He allow hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or aids, the answers may be far more interesting:

1. Some of those natural events play a role in protecting us or regulating nature(the ozone layer) even while some of the effects involved may be harmful in other circumstances. It’s a balance, and it seems to be needed for the universe/life to exist, in many cases. We don’t necessarily know that all of them work the same way(like disease) but science has been making some discoveries recently that suggests they might(i.e. disease may have played a role in evolution). Did God have to create things that way? Dunno, I’d have to ask Him :/ We shouldn’t write them off as always bad without more knowledge, though.

2. Some of those natural events(likeĀ tremors and global warming) are caused by our own carelessness and mismangement of the world given to us- not God. So again, freedom to choose, freedom to choose wrong.

3. If not for death and disease, the purpose of life would be significantly altered from what it is today. To what I don’t know, but death certainly plays the same sort of regulating effect that many other natural events do. If that’s cruel or wrong, then all of nature is cruel and wrong, and I simply can’t believe that. Individual events may seem unfair, but step back from it, and the whole balanceĀ of nature and humanity is really quite beautiful. There is much to be thankful for, and much to hope for, even in the face of suffering.

4. Many individuals who live through tragedy end up expressing… not exactly gratitude, but appreciation for how it made them better people. It could be that all suffering plays the same function, to teach us how to deal with it, and ultimately overcome it to attain something better. It is only through grief that we know joy and peace.

All that aside, the promise of Christianity is that this suffering is only an illusion, and is as temporary as our lives here. We will overcome and regain all that we’ve lost, in the end. God does not abandon us.

Hope that answers your question :)

Tagged: religionchristianitysuffering

  1. liberalchristian posted this