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The Classic “Problem” of Suffering

I have indicated a bit in previous posts on why the Problem of Suffering is a “problem.”  Here I want to explain just a bit further, before going on, in later posts, with the question about how and why it became a problem for me personally, in my movement away from Christianity to agnosticism.   Here is what I say about “the problem” as it is classically understood, by philosophers who wrestle with the issue of “theodicy,” in my book God’s Problem.

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Theodicy is a word invented by one of the great intellectuals and polymaths of the seventeenth century, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who wrote a lengthy treatise trying to explain how and why there can be suffering in the world if God is all powerful and wants the absolute best for people.   The term is made up of two Greek words: theos, which means “God,” and dikē, which means “justice.”  Theodicy, in other words, refers to the problem of how God can be “just” or “righteous” given the fact there is so much suffering in the world that he created and is allegedly sovereign over.

As philosophers and theologians have discussed theodicy over the years, they have devised a kind of logical problem that needs to be solved to explain the suffering in the world.  This problem involves three assertions which all appear to be true, but if true appear to contradict one another.  The assertions are these:

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Why Not Believe in a Different Kind of God?
Two Unsatisfactory Solutions to the Problem of Suffering

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Comments

  1. DavidBeaman  June 28, 2017

    Would it work for you if there were an afterlife?
    I think the possibility should be considered in the realm of theoretical physics. Someday, it could be proven there. I know that won’t change your thinking, and it is not for me to try to do so. It is, however, my thinking as I have stated before in my comments. As for suffering, as I have also said before, the only solution that I can accept is that there is an afterlife. Without my belief in an afterlife, the impact of suffering is too much for my emotions to bear. So, I choose to believe rather than endure unbearable suffering over the suffering of others.

  2. godspell  June 28, 2017

    For me, the problem is that blaming God–or the absence of God–for human suffering is a classic dodge.

    The source of most human suffering is humans.

    Maybe we take after our Father, I don’t know. Maybe God isn’t perfect. Maybe God is complex. Maybe the universe wasn’t set up specifically to make each and every one of us perfectly happy. That’s a hard pill for some of us to swallow. Make that most of us.

    But I do know that this has nothing to do with whether God exists, or even whether God lives us (what would love mean to such a being? do you know? I don’t see how anybody could claim to know that and call himself agnostic). I know any attempt by a finite being to understand an infinite being would, of necessity, fail miserably. We can try, maybe we even should try, but we should accept the inevitability of that failure upfront.

    We can only know what we see in the world around us, and there is, in fact, widespread agreement among all people of good will, that we should try to make it better. Religious people have done more, on average, than non-religious people on this front. (And tremendous harm as well, but that’s a very large club.)

    Again, religion exists because of suffering, not in spite of it. If we all lived forever, and never experienced pain or sorrow, felt in complete control of our existences, we might wonder at times where it all came from, but we’d just accept it as our rightful due (as we do every one of the myriad real blessings we enjoy now), but it would never have led to any great religious flowerings, because there would have been no need.

    So for me, this is a bit like people inveighing against vaccination. “Look at all these diseases we have, all these things that go wrong with our children. I don’t believe in vaccination anymore.” Obviously we had all these diseases before vaccination was invented, there there are a huge number of other recent changes in our environment that could be causing autism and other disorders, but it must be vaccination. Get rid of that, and we’ll be happy.

    No. We. Won’t. Probably ever. To be human is to be dissatisfied. Too rarely with ourselves, too frequently with those we differ with.

    Yes, it’s a flawed analogy. We know vaccination works, there are empirical proofs of it (and equally empirical proofs that its a very imperfect solution to the problem of contagion).

    But we know religion has done great good in the world as well. Imperfect solutions are still better than none.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 30, 2017

      I would say that the vast majority of suffering of homo sapiens over the past 200,000 years has been precisely the cruel effects of living in nature.

      • godspell  June 30, 2017

        So nature, the source of all life on earth (and elsewhere, if there is any) is the enemy?

        Certainly a widespread attitude among our species.

        How’s it working out for us?

        Social Darwinism (the religious expression of Darwinian thought) hasn’t worked out well at all.

        Most preventable suffering is the result of human behavior. Not God. If God is there. And if not, we sure sound childish complaining about Him all the damn time. If he’s there, he may not be loving, but he’s sure as hell patient. 😉

      • Eric  June 30, 2017

        But we are creatures of this nature. among other things, we die, per Nature and our nature.

        I don’t see so clearly that suffering do to physical processes suggests that a god who set it in motion is not loving.

        Man uses animals for his needs and the persons engaged in those activities on the rest of our behalf are not necessarily un-loving in a sense. Farmers are malevolent?

      • flcombs  June 30, 2017

        And even many “man made” causes still go back to living in nature. For example, how many wars were actually over food and resources to survive? Apparently god didn’t often provide.

        Of course every religious group comes from it’s own point of view, but the Bible-based ones are are interesting regarding the example of taking the “promised land”. The Hebrews are praised for taking the land and conquering and destroying the people there that resisted “God’s will” and worshiped other gods. The death and suffering was “man made” but according to the Bible God “ordered it”, so death and suffering was what he wanted. And Christians will say it is good. I suppose we are to believe that God had no other way to accomplish it without suffering or turning his people into massacrers. Even the Nazis had with their people that were murdering every day and it greatly changes people to be inhuman. How was that a “good” thing? But let body of people of religion X land on the U.S. coast and start taking land and resources saying “God told us to take it. It is promised to us by our god.” Don’t you think Americans would rise up and say “I don’t care what YOUR god says, it’s our land and we are fighting for it!”. It is always an interesting “moral lesson” when you look at it from the other guy’s point of view.

    • Tony  June 30, 2017

      “The source of most human suffering is humans.”

      Really? Admittedly, humans do a fine job of causing harm either through gross neglect or deliberate acts. But nature has to be the most significant cause, with earthquakes, hurricanes, birth defects, the ravages of old age, and many other so-called “natural” causes exceeding those caused by humans by far.

  3. DestinationReign  June 28, 2017

    These are obviously all valid questions and concerns (including the previous two posts) about suffering. But we can at least begin to come to better answers by dismissing the blanket concept of “God.”

    As mentioned in a previous blog reply, Abrahamic faiths are mistaken in not seeing or understanding that Yahweh/Jehovah is NOT the supreme God – and the Bible itself shows us this when applying the proper exposition. Yahweh is the masculine God of duality introduced in Genesis 2 – the God of good AND evil. The God who kills and makes alive, wounds and heals, etc. Yahweh is a double-minded God. Evil is introduced in Genesis 2, at the mention of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But the ELOHIM (with no name) declare everything as GOOD throughout Genesis 1. And of course, there is great ambiguity about the essence of the Elohim, in terms of singularity or plurality.

    This shows us that the true benevolent GOOD God cannot be named or even classified as an individual entity. The essence of the true Source Creator is benevolent, existing in a utopia where all is “good,” or perfect, as in Genesis 1, before Yahweh came along. But we, humanity, are under Yahweh’s administration. Yahweh is a control freak, and OPENLY admits in the Bible itself that he orchestrates torments for man. Yahweh boasts of being all-powerful, and so the mess that is this world with all of its suffering is on his hands – not the hands of the Elohim.

    Ultimately, the only conclusion that satisfies these questions about suffering MUST involve a pre-incarnate existence of individualized humanity. In a higher realm, the choice was made to experience an existence of separateness from the benevolent Elohim. Adam and Eve choosing to eat from the forbidden tree is in fact a parable of something that happened at a higher cosmic plane. All who are a part of mankind have chosen to experience this existence of duality, in the flesh, with “cosmic amnesia” of our own true divine essence – made in the divine image of the Elohim, NOT from the dust, as Yahweh would have us believe. The Elohim have given us the freedom to experience this, to learn on our own. (“Silencing the Skeptics: Gospel Contradictions Resolved” delves deeply into all of these issues.)

    It is man’s own appetite for duality and conflict that confines him to this “reality” of suffering. A reality of warring nations and religions – “We are right and they are wrong. God is on our side. Kill them!” Humanity is the collective “prodigal son.” When mankind awakens to this and COLLECTIVELY decides to return home, the Father (the benevolent Elohim) will be waiting for us with open arms. Of course, there doesn’t appear to be much hope of that happening any time soon, does there?

  4. talmoore
    talmoore  June 28, 2017

    I can see where this is going, because, alas, I have long been of the same opinion. The obvious answer is: There is no God.

    Of course, for the vast majority of humanity, this is not an acceptable answer, so…the problem continues.

  5. RonaldTaska  June 28, 2017

    I got to the same point: The rationalizations just did not work for me any longer. Your intellectual path is almost identical to my path and it is very helpful to have someone so scholarly explain it so well. It means that, at least, I am not stupid nor just lack faith nor am unwilling to believe as I have so often been told. The main difference between us is that I have not read and studied these topics as much as you have, but then no one I know has done that to the extent that you have done it. Keep going. You really have the foundation of a good book in these posts. Thanks

  6. bradseggie  June 28, 2017

    Some say humans aren’t able to understand the mind of God, so there’s no way we can judge that God isn’t being perfectly good. This is William Craig Lane’s explanation.

    My response: if we aren’t able to determine good from evil with respect to God, couldn’t God be completely evil? If we can’t tell truth from lies, couldn’t God be completely dishonest? By attacking human capacity to understand God’s actions, you take away our ability to judge God good or honest.

    2. The extenuating circumstances argument is also used to blame the victim. If the Bible says God will answer your prayers, yet he never does anything, it means either you are a sinner (and God can’t hear your prayers) or you didn’t believe it strongly enough. (You didn’t really, Really, REALLY believe it.)

    • doug  June 30, 2017

      Those are excellent points. Thanks for sharing them.

  7. anthonygale  June 28, 2017

    Why are you dissatisfied with the possibility that a being like God exists, but just isn’t quite God in the sense of not being truly all powerful? There are lots of reasons people believe in God, that you might not find satisfying, but I don’t think many (if any) require God to be all powerful. Or even all loving. Suffering could be a glitch in the cosmic design not easily fixed even by a being able to create a universe. Most people don’t believe/want to believe that God isn’t perfect, but I would hardly call a being able to create a universe impotent. You could still ask why believe in God. But why insist that if a creator exists, then it must be perfect?

  8. mannix  June 28, 2017

    I doubt what follows will be deemed “satisfactory” by anyone, nor do I present it as a “solution” to the theodicy “problem”.

    Around the end of the 18th century English economist Thomas Malthus warned of inevitable scarcity and disappearance of resources necessary for sustaining the human species as a result of population growth. He was referring to food as the main resource and starvation as the consequence. I will recall Malthus later.

    I look upon “suffering” in three categories (though they do not constitute a complete list): War, Disease, and Famine. “War” can include homicide and violence, “Disease” encompasses trauma, etc. Each of these categories can result in widespread deaths.

    World population graphs show a steady increase over the last two millennia until about he time of the industrial revolution, then a rapid, almost exponential spike to the present. The world population is now DOUBLE what it was in the mid-sixties! What happened? Let’s go back to the 3 categories.

    War: still goes on, of course. But the number of deaths per total population from war has dropped. Our own Civil War fatalities were 2% of the population…this is equivalent to 6 Million today! The last high casualty war was WW2; is it coincidence the population doubled since Baby Boomers (in all countries) began to reproduce?

    Disease: In the US, the life expectancy in 1900 was 55(!). Now someone born today can expect to live, on average, in the high 70’s to mid 80’s. Much of this is due to medical advances. BTW there was a slight dip in the population growth graph at one point…corresponding to the Plague.

    Famine: Mechanized agriculture, hybridization and advanced farming techniques have made food abundant in highly developed countries and more available to feed hunger in those in the 3rd world.

    Consider the total number of humans who, over the span of recorded history, have died from war/violence and disease/trauma. Must be in the billions! Now here’s a question: What would the world population graph look like if there was NO war, violence, disease, or trauma. The exponential population spike would have occurred centuries before the industrial revolution.

    Note I didn’t mention famine in the last paragraph. Here’s where I bring up Malthus. The world population without war and disease would have caused widespread famine and death long before humans developed the agricultural technology to adapt to the situation. The deaths from famine would of course reduced the population in a “negative feedback” fashion, but the cycle would repeat over and over. People would still “suffer” from famine.

    A world where NO suffering exists would be a much different one than now. Humans would probably have to be subject to “zero population growth”, and limited in total number such that there would always be enough food and other resources for all.

    I am not proposing that “suffering” in the various forms is a “good” thing, or we would be “worse off” without it, or it is “God’s Plan” we have war , disease, etc . One could view God’s “problem” as it’s own “solution”! I myself don’ t particularly like like it either, but it makes me realize it’s a much more complicated issue than it may seem.

    • HawksJ  July 1, 2017

      Very interesting post!

      So, basically, what you are saying is that even if people didn’t suffer (and die) from violence or physical ailments, there would ultimately be suffering anyway because people would starve due to overpopulation, correct?

      That is an interesting point that seems to be true.

      However, at least as far as the topic of theodicy, an all-powerful God could certainly provide enough food to avoid suffering. He supposedly did it in the desert between Egypt and the Promised Land.

      • mannix  July 5, 2017

        Yes, I considered the “manna solution”…God simply pours food down as needed. Then the earth’s population would continue to grow until we’re on top of each other.. Then. with a population in the 11 figures, we eventually hit the Industrial Revolution and global warming starts and by now would be much worse! The point is, life on this planet would have w to be much different if no suffering would be allowed.

        Oh, one “solution” would be the “Soylent Green” one…anybody in favor?

  9. gavriel  June 28, 2017

    If life is abundant in the universe, everywhere life will be subject to harsh physical conditions , like unstable planetary crusts and climate fluctuations continuously generating disasters and mass extinctions. If something/somebody purposefully created the world, this would have been foreseen.
    One very basic motor in the evolutionary process of life on earth is having most species individuals wriggle in the jaws of another species, on the stage of the unstable crust. So unless life on earth is a fringe result of a failed experiment, compared to the majority forms of life in the Universe, this is intended as well.
    If there is a God or benevolent force behind the development of man, it would be a force of limited power, trying to make us escape the conditions of the animal kingdom.

    Would you disagree very much with this view?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 30, 2017

      I don’t see any evidence, myself, of a benevolent force working in this way.

      • godspell  June 30, 2017

        You’re a very specialized historian, whose specialty involves specific activities in a very specific span of history.

        How much time do you have to look?

        • Bart
          Bart  July 2, 2017

          I’m curious: what to you think my narrow specialty is? And do you see it as more narrow than that of most scholars of antiquity?

          • godspell  July 3, 2017

            Narrower than some, wider than others.

            But (and I say this as somebody who studied modern European history at the graduate level), you could have mastered every area of that noble discipline, and still not be qualified to opine on the nature of God. Because no one is.

            The earth itself is evidence, you know. Not of the God we read about in Sunday School, no. But of a creative force at work in the cosmos. Which we could certainly call God, if we like. I think we discussed elsewhere that people can use whatever descriptive terms they want to use. You seemed in favor of that, in a different exchange. 😉

          • Bart
            Bart  July 4, 2017

            Once, more, we may as well give it a rest. When you said I was too specialized to be talking about the topic of these posts, I thought you had something in mind.

      • gavriel  June 30, 2017

        The impetus to feel compassion and work on charity, where does it come from? From the animal kingdom?

        • Bart
          Bart  July 2, 2017

          If humans didn’t have this impulse, they would not have survived as a species. It’s in our genetic make-up. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

        • HawksJ  July 5, 2017

          Humans aren’t the only animals that help each other.

          Google ‘turtles helping each other’.

          Pretty obviously not exclusive to us.

  10. Christopher
    Christopher  June 28, 2017

    I’ve never found the problem of evil to be difficult. It has always seemed natural to me to assume that the Christian God has given this world to Lucifer as Lucifer’s own test. I know that’s not explicitly stated anywhere, right? But the Bible does state that Satan has been given this world as his own to rule, right? If you try to make sense of this, the only rational reason I can come up with is that this world is essentially Satan’s responsibility, his test, and that’s why there is suffering – because he’s not the best ruler. I mean, this is not exactly Biblical, or whatever, but I do see it as a coherent possibility, and thus I think it precludes certainty concerning the problem of evil as a “proof”.

    • Rthompsonmdog  June 30, 2017

      So you understand that God allows human (and animal) suffering to test Lucifer? If a test is needed, do you believe God is ignorant of the outcome of this test? Or is the outcome known, but the test must run its course for some other reason?

      Outside of the lack of evidence for this explanation, it also does not provide a particularly positive view of God.

    • HawksJ  July 1, 2017

      And a perfectly loving god would give this world (and us) to Lucifer as a ‘test’? That seems ‘natural’ to you?

    • antoinelamond
      antoinelamond  July 4, 2017

      Problem is if Satan is ruling the world then He is more powerful than god, thus Satan is God and Yahweh is not god.

  11. Tony  June 28, 2017

    It’s interesting to read the various ad-hoc explanations dealing with God’s problem. But the easiest, and to me the most obvious, solution to the problem gets almost no mention. Once we accept that man made God – and not the other way around – the problem is solved. Of course, this is tongue in cheek as God existence is the Prime Directive for most Christians.

    Humans do like to point the finger at some causation and in this case the best candidate is evolution itself, or, as per Richard Dawkins, the Blind Watchmaker or the Selfish Gene. Evolution is mindless and through the process of natural selection this planet has arrived at a species with a relative high level of awareness – us. Most other species don’t care about others within the species suffering and dying. Unlike procreation, it does not matter.

    So, maybe we have a problem, or maybe our ability for empathy creates a species survival advantage. However, it seems to me that wiping each other out usually takes priority over empathy.

  12. leo.b@cox.net  June 28, 2017

    How can evolution exist without suffering?

    • dragonfly  June 30, 2017

      It worked perfectly well without suffering… until it evolved a central nervous system.

  13. Hume  June 28, 2017

    Bart you should start your own podcast. Sam Harris has only been podcasting for a year and now gets 1 Million downloads per month. You would have to speak on all kinds of different topics, but it would open you up to a new world publicly. Get your worker who works in this site to set up a good mic and roll out episode 1. Your Patreon account could continue to support your charities.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 30, 2017

      Interesting idea. Seems like a lot of work!

      • Hume  July 2, 2017

        Sam Harris’ next podcast will reach more people then all of his books in the last 10 years.

        • godspell  July 3, 2017

          Which is not hard to believe for anyone who has suffered through his prose.

  14. Carl  June 29, 2017

    That there is a lot of evil in the world is clear for all to see.But there is also a lot of good. If one was to believe in the supernatural then a case could be made for cosmic duality or even ditheism.
    Therefore, in order for the superior good God to remove all suffering from the world, evil would need to be destroyed.
    And if evil was destroyed then that would surely be the end of all humanity. For we certainly have evil running through our vanes. Just look at our history.
    So how does a loving God destroy evil without destroying humankind? How does God make a triangle round?

  15. ddecker54  June 29, 2017

    It is easy to forget that this God being discussed here is the Jewish myth. This myth was created thousands of years ago (relatively recently when one considers the length of time humans have roamed the planet), by people who sought answers to basic questions, e.g. where does the sun go at night? Over history this myth has become a completely anthropomorphic creation, beginning with “God is male” and morphing into statements like “God wants us to be happy”, not even conscious of the thought that if God WANTS anything, he (again, male) can’t be much of a god. As a primordial myth then, it can not be expected to explain EVERY conscious experience, particularly one so complex as suffering. Additional adjectives, e.g “willing”, “loving”, etc. will not help to answer this question. To address this question honestly, it is clear to me then that the myth must be rejected as it provides no reasonable basis for understanding many “Why?” questions, and in particular “Why is their suffering?”

  16. bill1600  June 29, 2017

    You can solve the problem of suffering if you are willing to give up the Christian theology of God.
    Other theologies have supposed that the god who created the world was actually a screw-up. This makes a lot more sense, given the reality of the world we live in.

    The Bible tries to tell us, in the Garden of Eden story, that the world was paradise until humans, that is, Adam and Eve, screwed things up. But humans cannot be the cause of all evil, as a simple thought experiment will prove. Imagine the world we live in, except for one difference: No humans. So, would this world be a paradise? It should be, if humans are the source of all evil. But, nope. Every day, on the East African plains, a herd of hyenas chases down a baby gazelle and eats him alive. Every day, a mother wasp finds a young caterpillar minding its own business, stings the caterpillar, which paralyzes but does not kill, and plants larvae in the living but paralyzed caterpillar, which then grow up and eat the caterpillar alive. Who is responsible for this suffering? Mankind? No, if a human were responsible for this, he’d be guilty of animal cruelty.

    I think the simplest solution is the best. There is no god, or certainly not the Christian one.
    Evolution explains best why the world is both good and evil and why humans are both good and evil.
    The idea that there is no god who is responsible for our world is morally preferable to the idea that there is a god who is responsible.

  17. dankoh  June 29, 2017

    There is one answer that is logical and reasonable: There is no God. It’s not an emotionally comforting answer, but it fits the known facts. And it obliges us (or should oblige us) to stop asking a figment of our collective imagination why it is making us suffer when we “did nothing wrong” and start looking for ways to improve our lives on our own.

    (You pushed one of my buttons this morning; I had been reading about one senator arguing we shouldn’t help diabetics since “it’s their own fault”.)

  18. nbraith1975  June 29, 2017

    Maybe the answer lies not in the fact that man suffers, but that man dies. The journey to death is diverse and not limited by imagination. To relegate how one dies in order to make one “feel” better is to presume to know the “better” way.

    • Kirktrumb59  June 30, 2017

      See the April 3, 2017 issue of the New Yorker, “The God Pill.”

  19. Robert  June 29, 2017

    The theodicy problem of classical and medieval philosophy and theology has, I suspect, very little to do with the more profound truths of Jesus’ teaching and experience and that of the the earliest Christians or later saints of today and times past. God causes the rain to fall on the virtuous and evil alike. Jesus foresaken and despairing on the cross is not propounding upon some philosophical problem of evil. Likewise, any critique of ‘solutions’ to the problems of evil also seems to miss the point entirely.

  20. hasankhan  June 30, 2017

    As Muslims we believe that life on this earth is not designed to be free of suffering. That place is called paradise and is given to those who believe in him and do good deeds. All the evil in this world happens with his permission. His intervention to prevent it is an act of mercy that He gifts to whoever He likes. There are also times when there is greater good in some apparent evil but we’re unable to comprehend it. Also the harder a trial is for a person, the greater the reward is and easier the accounting is. That’s why Prophet Muhammad told us that majority of inhabitants of paradise are poor people. So when we bring eternal punishment in hell fire in the picture and eternal pleasure of paradise, there is nothing on this earth that a person can go through that would be greater in magnitude than next life. In reality it’s the pleasures of life that cause the most eternal suffering because people end up disobeying and denying God. That’s also the reason why poor are generally more committed to faith. And sometimes increased pleasures of life is punishment from God to those who only increase in sin due to it.

    • godspell  June 30, 2017

      Seems to me Mohammad got most of that from Jesus.

      Jesus had his sources too.

      I don’t believe either of them talked to God. I don’t believe either of them had to.

      And you must respect my beliefs as I respect yours.

  21. Prokopios
    Prokopios  June 30, 2017

    Dr. Erhman,

    Long time reader of your books, and at last a contributor to your blog here. Grappling with the Problem of Suffering was what eventually got a friend of mine into agnostic territory as well. He was one of my assigned roommates in college, quite bookish, with a keen interest in doing good, political philosophy, and Christianity, though mainline Protestant, not evangelical.

    I myself grew up not at all religious, in a non-religious part of the county and remained that way. But for reasons I won’t go into here, I had the opportunity and interest to learn Latin and Ancient Greek beginning in middle school. I have been quite interested in the Early Christian Mediterranean ever since, though from a historical rather than religious perspective.

    Anyway, this means I would talk to my Christian roommate about Christianity a lot (he was interested in learning Greek to read the earliest NT we have, and here was me, a guy who could do that), and this would inevitably get down to our religious beliefs, and ultimately why I didn’t believe. It was never the many authorial or translational questions, or Church history issues or textual inconsistencies, or theological issues that really gnawed at him, but were, as someone who didn’t grow up in to, enough to be a non-starter.

    Sure they would bother him, but they didn’t cut deep—except for the Problem of Suffering. Despite my interest in the period and decent Latin/Greek it was and remains a hobby; I ended up in biomedical research (go figure), and it was always my examples of severe congenital diseases and the like that bothered him the most. He admitted he had no satisfying answers and was trying to do more religious study to figure it out. Talking years later, he said these were the sorts of dilemmas that shifted his traditional, personal, loving God concept to something more pantheistic, then eventually more agnostic.

  22. Tempo1936  June 30, 2017

    Jesus answers this question by saying look to eternal life not this short earthly life.

    Luke 13:4-5
    Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

    • Bart
      Bart  July 2, 2017

      I’ve never seen any suggestion of eternal life in this passage.

  23. SidDhartha1953  July 7, 2017

    My all-time favorite statement of and upon the dilemma is from J.B. by Archibald MacLeish:
    “I heard upon his dry dung heap
    That man cry out who cannot sleep:
    ‘If God is God He is not good,
    If God is good He is not God;
    Take the even, take the odd,
    I would not sleep here if I could
    Except for the little green leaves in the wood
    And the wind on the water.’”

    I used to think the last two lines were silly and sentimental (in a bad way), but as an older individual, I see it as a choice to live with the unanswerable because the only other option is not to live. The “wind on the water,” it just now occurs to me, may also be a reference to the experience of God’s presence in our reality, however inadequate that may seem.

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