Is Suffering All About Us?

I have had a number of interesting public debates on the problem of suffering since writing my book God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails To Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer. Some of these debates have been with high profile scholars, in a range of fields: N. T. Wright, professor of New Testament; Dinesh D’Souza (three times!), public intellectual and now president of King’s College in NYC; Richard Swinburne (on the radio in the UK), philosopher and Christian apologist at Oxford, emeritus, and others. One argument that frequently gets used in these debates really irritates me, aggravates me, makes my blood boil (I’m not saying that everyone I debate uses it). It is the view that suffering can be justified because it contributes to making us human. I can understand this argument, and can even affirm it in part, when it is used of our own, mild and infrequent, suffering. Sometimes when bad things happen to us it ends up being for our own good, making us stronger, better people. The example [...]