The Problem of Evil and Suffering

Published: 2021-06-29 07:07:33
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Category: Philosophy

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The Problem of Evil and SufferingIntroduction        It is not abnormal for us human beings to ponder about the existence of suffering at some point in our lives.  It is inevitable to ask ourselves why certain things must happen.  Why does sin exist? Why do we experience pain?  Why is the world cruel? Why does God allow this?  Does He even exist?        Skeptics argue two points against God on the problem of evil and suffering. First, assuming God exists, He is not the infinite good and loving God Christians describe Him to be because of Him allowing evil things to happen.  Second, if He is infinite good and loving, then He is not the omnipotent God we know of. [1] He is unable to prevent evil from happening and unable to stop suffering in the world. And here goes the common example of the Holocaust.  How can such mass murder of innocent Jews be allowed to happen?With this kind of evil happening in reality, are these skeptics right after all?   That either God is not infinitely good or He is not all-powerful?  Is there even a God or is everything happening just a natural system of how nature and lives work?        Another illustration of God regarding the existence of suffering is that, He is described as the “spy-god” who is always looking for something to punish by constantly scrutinizing peoples’ actions and intentions. Theologian Dorothy Soelle discusses this illustration in three aspects.  First, God is the almighty ruler of the world.  Second, since God always acts justly, He sends the sufferings to all those who deserve them.  Third, suffering exists as a punishment for sin.  Sadly, according to Dr. Jegen, a professor of Religious Studies, found the spy-god mentality to be rampant.[2]Definition of Evil and Suffering        Evil is a negation of a particular good.[3]  Kreeft in his book defines three basic kinds of evil:(1) suffering, which is a disharmony or alienation between ourselves as embodied creatures and something in this physical world; (2) death, which is the disharmony, alienation, or separation between the soul and the body; and (3) sin, which is the disharmony or alienation between the soul and God.[4]        Suffering is more than physical pain.  We feel the pain of losing someone, the pain of betrayal, rejection, disappointment, and other things related to our emotional, spiritual, and mental health.[5]  Many people say that emotional pain hurts more than the physical pain, since physical wounds get cured but emotions take a longer time to recover. And this continues to raise the question about the existence of evil and the existence of human beings and their purpose in this world.  This also again leads to the question of God’s real attribute and existence.[6]What Scripture Says About Suffering        The most famous stories of suffering in the Bible would be Job’s trial in the Old Testament and Jesus’ passion and death.  We all know that Jesus suffered on the cross, but Docetism says otherwise.  Docetists believe that Jesus’ flesh is just a mask and His suffering is just an illusion made visible.  Since He is divine, human suffering cannot be reconciled.[7]  Dr. Jegen then explains that Jesus’ suffering is real.  He is the Word made Flesh and He needs to become human to experience human suffering. The cross is the symbol of His sacrificial love.  Through his passion and death on the cross, Christ absorbed all the pain and evil into himself to save us from sin.  It is through this that we were able to receive God’s forgiveness.  It was necessary for Jesus to suffer because forgiveness involves suffering - bearing the cost of all our sins.[8]

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