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Archive for Saturday, March 7, 2009

Faith Forum: Why does God create suffering?

March 7, 2009

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Credit Adam for sin, God with hope

James Bailey, pastor, Southside Church of Christ, 1105 W. 25th St.:

Short answer: God doesn’t. Suffering came into the world as the consequence of sin (Romans 5:12). It is understandable that seeing the suffering around us causes us to question its origin. And since God is the origin of all things, we tend to want to blame God for suffering. However, suffering is the effect of sin being in our world. Someone drinks, does drugs, gambles and then some tragedy strikes. Maybe a child is hurt, or a home is lost, and although no lasting harm comes to the addict, the tragedy is the result of the sin involved.

Perhaps it is a disease, cancer or some other terrible malady. Once again, when sin entered the world, mankind began to die. We became susceptible to the effect of decay and disease on our bodies. Is it horrific to witness someone in pain? Absolutely! But we dare not blame God. We are witnessing the second law of thermodynamics.

Are there accidents that make people hurt? Sure. They happen because we humans don’t make good decisions, take chances or someone else did these things and we suffer from what they did. By design, there are certain things our human bodies cannot withstand. As they say, “If it hurts you when you do that, don’t do that!”

Do not overlook the fact that some suffering is necessary for our future safety. Touch a hot stove, and you probably won’t do it again.

And there is hope in the fact, that God has promised that for a Christian, one day all suffering will give way to peace in heaven. (Revelation 21:4) And there is ample evidence that God can also use the suffering we experience to bring us closer to him and his care.

You can blame Adam for the suffering, and you can rely on God for the hope.

— Send e-mail to James Bailey at jamesbailey@sunflower.com.

Humans don’t need to know the answer

Zalman Tiechtel, rabbi, Chabad Jewish Community Center, 1203 W. 19th St.:

The big question of “why do bad things happen to good people?” has been asked again and again throughout our history. Why is this world so unfair; why do so many among us need to experience pain and suffering?

In truth, however, are we truly sure that we want an explanation? Do we really want to know why the innocent suffer? I think not. We may be far better off with the question than with an answer.

We are bothered by the fact that people suffer undeservedly, as we should be. Any person with an ounce of moral sensitivity is outraged by the injustices of our world. But what if we found the answer? What if someone came along and gave us a satisfying explanation? What if the mystery were finally solved? What if we asked why and actually got an answer?

If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents. And that is unthinkable. Worse than innocent people suffering is others watching their suffering unmoved. And that’s exactly what would happen if we were to understand why innocents suffer. We would no longer be bothered by their cry, we would no longer feel their pain, because we would understand why it is happening.

And so, if we could make sense of innocent people suffering, if we could rationalize tragedy, then we could live with it. We would be able to hear the cry of sweet children in pain and not be horrified. We would tolerate seeing broken hearts and shattered lives, for we would be able to neatly explain them away. Our question would be answered, and we could move on.

But as long as the pain of innocents remains a burning question, we are bothered by its existence. And as long as we can’t explain pain, we must alleviate it. If innocent people suffering does not fit into our world view, we must eradicate it. Rather than justifying their pain, we need to get rid of it.

So keep asking the question: Why do bad things happen to good people? But stop looking for answers. Start formulating a response. Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good. Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness. Let your outrage propel you into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.

We don’t want answers, we don't want explanations and we don’t want closure. We want an end to suffering. And we dare not leave it up to God to alleviate suffering. He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for.

— Send e-mail to Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel at Rabbi@JewishKU.com.

Comments

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

God doesn't create suffering. Life is suffering. Suffering comes from cravings and attachments. The only way to stop suffering is to stop cravings and attachments, which can only be done under the direction of a Buddhist monk and a life of disciplined meditation. This is because of the illusion of permanance, when all things are transient and temporary.

Just for variety.

Newell_Post 5 years, 9 months ago

If God is omnipotent, then he could have created the world and the beings in it in any way he wanted. Why then would God create a race of beings and torture some of them with things beyond their control, but not others? Maybe God is a sadist.

On the other hand, some of the "process theologists" think that the world is all God's big experiment. God is changing, learning, and evolving along with the world. Even God doesn't know how it will all turn out in the end. Maybe suffering is a necessary part of his grand experiment. Maybe God is actually the ultimate evolutionist, and suffering is a necessary part of the "fine tuning" of the world after he created it.

WHY 5 years, 9 months ago

Because God hates you. God wants you to suffer pointlessly and then he will ask you to love him. If you do not love him and thank him for your suffering he sends you to hell, where you can suffer for a longer time. On the other hand maybe God doesn't hate you he is just into the kinky stuff.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

The Rabbi is on to something.

Oh, and god does not create suffering because there is/are no god/s.

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

"So one has to have a craving and attachment to a monk and a lifestyle, in order to get rid of craving and attachments?"

Absolutely. Just like one has to believe in the boundless love of a god who would kill his own son.

/or, we're just making all this $#!% up as we go along

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

Or did you think I was actually advocating Buddhism?

Nope. It's all made up.

soldier1 5 years, 9 months ago

Maybe if some of the people in this forum actually knew the word of God then they could come up with better arguments than "because their are no gods". Why does ANYTHING even exist? HOW does anything even exist?

The bible speaks of trials and tribulations. What would be the point of life if everything was merry and happy, with no types of adversity or perserverance? How can someone grow spiritually in that type of environment?

Hoots 5 years, 9 months ago

From where I stand it looks like most of the suffering is caused by mankind.

Omegatron 5 years, 9 months ago

"Short answer: God doesn’t. Suffering came into the world as the consequence of sin (Romans 5:12)."

"Someone drinks, does drugs, gambles and then some tragedy strikes. Maybe a child is hurt, or a home is lost, and although no lasting harm comes to the addict, the tragedy is the result of the sin involved."

You could make the argument that sin plays a role in the above.

But...

"Are there accidents that make people hurt? Sure. They happen because we humans don’t make good decisions, take chances or someone else did these things and we suffer from what they did. By design, there are certain things our human bodies cannot withstand. As they say, “If it hurts you when you do that, don’t do that!”

Do not overlook the fact that some suffering is necessary for our future safety. Touch a hot stove, and you probably won’t do it again."

How does evolution, common sense, and basic survival instinct relate to sin?

Are you saying that your creator wouldn't feel the need to give you all the above if there were no sin?

Even if you argue that sin took away immortality. Only an illogical being wouldn't feel the need to give it's creation the common sense needed to make rational decisions.

Only an illogical being would design another being without basic survival instinct, denying it the knowledge that something is dangerous and need to be avoided.

Religion... can't live with it... can't live with it...

Bill Griffith 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree most suffering comes from man. But mosquitoes and tequila are definitely part of the equation.

viewfromahill 5 years, 9 months ago

"Do we really want to know why the innocent suffer?"

Do we really know THAT the "innocent" suffer?

(your eyes, too short to vox with God)

gyroduck 5 years, 9 months ago

Fyodor Dostoyevsky thought that suffering was the cause of awareness, but who wants to read the classics when there is the muckraking media and fanatic doomsayers fighting it to the death in a bloody battle?

jonas_opines 5 years, 9 months ago

ocean: Those are just the four noble truths. There is of course much more to Buddhism than just the above. But the truths speak directly of suffering, making them more topical here. The eight fold path does require living a non-harmful life.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 9 months ago

Suffering is a loaded word. Don't play with loaded words! You'll suffer!~) We all have, or should have, options with regard to suffering. Don't want to suffer? Play with a loaded gun rather than a loaded word. It's no big deal until religion steps in...steps even into the law.

Most people opt to suffer rather than die, so I don't get what the big dilemma is here. If you think it pays off down the road then suffer away! All critters tend to hang in there to the end. It's kind of built in to our nature...like suffering is built into life!~) There is nothing evil about it. It's part of the journey, just as death is part of the journey. It's all part of existing.

Everybody seems to want just their favorite parts of life but perhaps we should appreciate the diversity of even the way we feel. Try it! You'll like it!~) Heck, a little nothingness might even be nice for a change! It may end up being your thing! Who knows?~)

TacoBob 5 years, 9 months ago

We live in a fallen world. It was not designed for suffering but that was brought on by man himself. All have fallen short of the glory of God. God did not create 'Chatty Cathy' dolls that worship him like robots, he gave man free will. And with free will. man has chosen evil. And there are consequences. We rejected his original plan, and evil entered the world, and man's free will set his destiny.

Example: In areas of India, there is starvation, yet a cow walks down the street and is worshiped. There goes your food folks. Free will all the way.

Sin, suffering, pain, sorrow - all will be swept way when God returns and the judgement is delivered. His followers will receive his mercy. God takes no pleasure in the judgement of sinners. But he will judge - he is all together just and altogether righteous. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Seek him while he can be found.

Newell_Post 5 years, 9 months ago

Taco:

If God is omnipotent and infallible, why did he choose to create such imperfect creatures? What was his motivation in giving them free will and then punishing most of them for exercising it? Why didn't he create them perfect to begin with? If he created them with free will, but they exercised it in a manner which displeased him, then he didn't create them perfect.

Omegatron 5 years, 9 months ago

"God did not create 'Chatty Cathy' dolls that worship him like robots, he gave man free will. And with free will. man has chosen evil. And there are consequences. We rejected his original plan, and evil entered the world, and man's free will set his destiny."

So god is flawed.

Because he created beings with free will giving them the choice to worship him or not, and because they exercised that free will to choose a path he didn't agree with, he's going to come and pass judgment on his creation, for exercising that free will and making a choice, because he didn't get the results that he wanted in the first place.

greenlid79 5 years, 9 months ago

TacoBob: "But he will judge - he is all together just and altogether righteous"

Bob "just" and "righteous" seem like they could be some pretty obtuse terms for you. I may be wrong. But I'd like to know your definitions for justice and righteousness. I'm betting they are pretty similar to mine, but our judgments on how much those terms apply to the god of the bible you read may part ways.

gr 5 years, 9 months ago

just - Hebrew: tsadaq, tsaddiyq, dikaios righteous - Hebrew: tsadaq, tsaddiyq, dikaios

Looks to me they are the same.

So, God is altogether tsadaq and altogether tsadaq.

M. Lindeman 5 years, 9 months ago

Reading most of these post, tells me there are a great number of sad and lost souls. God gave man free will, it is what man has chosen to do with that freedom. We all pay a price for our actions. The problem with the world today, everyone wants the easy way out, no one wants to work hard for there reward. Remember we cherish all that has come to us threw our own blood, sweat and tears.
So please try and take a harder look into yourself and then tell me what faults you need to correct before you make judgement on the believers.

Take care.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 9 months ago

Maybe there's a god...maybe. But for sure, all religions were created by men. G-d had nothing to do with them and I'm sure he would be disappointed with most of his believers.

emu 5 years, 9 months ago

Yo, here's a thought: If your god makes you suffer, either:

a. your god is real, and never wrong, and you deserve it. b. your god is a malicious sociopath and you should fire her. c. your god is a figment of your imagination.

There it is, folks, all the theological deep-think you'll ever need, in three short lines.

TacoBob 5 years, 9 months ago

A father cannot make his children love him. They choose to love him because they have a free will. So we can make choices - we are not forced to choose God.

God wants us to love Him, but without free will, we could not sincerely love Him. We cannot be forced to love someone. If God created us without free will, we would be living machines and not made in His image and likeness. God permits moral evil to the extent that He gives us free will. Thanks to us, the moral evil in the world is the result of our choice.

greenlid79 5 years, 9 months ago

rdragon, what do you know of our souls??? Sad and lost are pretty personal ways of describing a soul you've never met. What about working hard for what reward?

gr 5 years, 9 months ago

"Yo, here's a thought: If your god makes you suffer, either:"

Or... the assumed premise is wrong. You said, "if".
Maybe your God doesn't make you suffer.

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