World Pain and Suffering–Why?

One of the problems concerning those who believe in an all powerful, good God, is reconciling that belief with the existence of so much pain and suffering in the world. The problem is known as the Problem of Evil.

We’ve all heard it before:

The theist says, “God exists.”

The atheist says, “God does not exist.”

The agnostic says, “I’m on the fence, undecided so I suspend judgment.”

As far as the vast amount of pain and suffering in the world—some of the thinking is:

If God exists and he is all powerful and all knowing, then he would get rid of all unnecessary pain and suffering in the world.

But, there is unnecessary pain and suffering in the world. So, does that mean God does NOT exist?

I watched a film recently that dealt with this subject. It was called, “The Seventh Seal”. The story goes:

In the 14th century, in Sweden, when the Black Death was sweeping the continent. People wanted to know why God was inflicting on them so much pain and suffering.

A knight who returned from the Crusades has a game of chess with Death in hope of getting some answers to why God puts up with all this pain.

The knight tells Death he can’t grasp God with his senses. He calls out to Him but there is silence like no one is there!

Death answers: “Perhaps no one IS there!”

We humans have an inclination to rely on our senses:

“Seeing is believing.” But you can’t see God.

So, how do the theists counter the argument—why does God allow pain and suffering in the world?

The defense is: pain and suffering are necessary for the production of GOOD.

GOOD requires the existence of BAD. You couldn’t have compassion or courage if someone wasn’t suffering or threatened with harm. So, to get GOOD you have to have BAD. Do you agree?

The knight, in the Seventh Seal, seems to think that the enormous amount of pain God allows in the world turns religion into a farce.

Another defense that the theist uses is that suffering is necessary to be a CONTRAST to good, so we can see GOOD as GOOD!

It’s like we don’t appreciate health as good until we get sick.

But others would say they don’t need pain to appreciate health.

So, why do we have this suffering in the world? Or is there no God?

Another of the many philosophical questions to mull over.

On a lighter note: Philosophy is common sense in a dress suit!

Also published on Medium.

10 thoughts on “World Pain and Suffering–Why?

  1. Ah, the thorny question of good and evil… does god exist.
    Point one. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are relative terms, not absolutes. Consider the lion and the gazelle. To the lion, the gazelle’s death is good since it allows the lion to feed. To the gazelle, it’s definitely not good – yet it’s the same event.
    Therefore we can draw no conclusions about god from consideration of good and evil, just relative morality.

    What sort of god allows pain and suffering. Refer to above: now consider the average lifespan of a human being against the lifespan of an eternal principle – i.e., a god. The timeframe does not relate: a creator of universes sees time as differently to us as we do to a mayfly. 24 hours… seventy years….. however many gazillions of years it takes to build and destroy a universe. Human woes are a mere pinprick. One life is nothing when compared to the whole. Oh, it means a great deal to the being whose life that is: but in terms of a multiverse? Unless we can learn to think in billions of years rather than in seconds, we will never comprehend. Using mortal pain as a reasoning tool is therefore as useful as a chocolate kettle to divine the existence or not of a deific principle.

    The proof of deity lies in each individual heart & is not a matter for debate. You either know or you don’t. You can’t argue rationally for or against. If one experiences deity, the matter is settled.

    Do I believe? No, I don’t.

  2. Well I believe in GOD. With the help of god I can do more on earth than
    just exist. And yes Dave it is pitting good against evil. By believing in god
    I feel better. With his help I can accomplish more. I grew up with god he
    has helped me every step of the way. Nothing anyone can say or do will
    ever be able to change my mind. I do not have all the answers to why
    things happen. Why he allows the things that happen in this world. All
    I know is that I believe that we all need to believe in something. If we
    do not, life has no meaning. I believe in praying, it works, I have seen it work.
    I believe in angels, I believe in being true to oneself and everyone you meet.

  3. Mention of the “Seventh Seal ” brought to mind Max von Sydow ….*sigh* …who’s just had a birthday…btw I’m an agnostic …{^_^}

  4. Love, hate, empathy, compassion, envy..whether good feelings or bad feelings, they still exist even though they are from the unseen. These feelings create such momentum, that they can move mountains in the shape of loving relationships, wars, inspiration, creation etc. Could we here on earth be a crucible – to remove all the shite and make us more worthy? Could we as humans be only the hosts for these feelings or (spirit) to rage within us, akin to a civil war going on within? Are we the battleground – our lives and our stories, the backdrop for these feelings that some call spirit to fight it out?

  5. I just re-read this piece and have another theory. God does exist and he/she created life but that’s all he/she created. How we run our lives is up to us. God doesn’t controll you and me. He gave us a brain and body to do what we will. everything else is up to us.
    We make all the evil…….

  6. There is a banality about the subject. The world experiences a lot of pain/suffering and we don’t know why. Some people find not knowing uncomfortable so they fill that space with a fairy tale about a god of one variety or other. Is it not enough that it is just a fairy tale? Do we really have to naval gaze about whether the fairy tale really makes sense? Are there not more important things to think about like how to make the world a better place?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *