Apr
28
2008

Suffering: who to blame?

Recently scholars NT Wright and Bart Ehrman debated one of the great theological questions of all-time – the existence of suffering balanced with the existence of God. Many have left the Christian faith, including Ehrman, because they could not reconcile the suffering in this world with a God who loved us.

David Kuo, who I don’t always agree with, but find intriguing, offers an interesting take on the idea of suffering and who actually is to blame.

Kuo writes:

I used to think the suffering question was a serious head scratcher, a truly troubling thing – the best evidence against God. No more. I think it is largely an excuse to make ourselves comfortable in our complacency by blaming God for the suffering we aren’t spending our lives addressing.

He argues that in every decision that was made to exploit Africa and her people, God was whispering to those decision makers to do the right thing. They (we) have caused the suffering of the African people with the choices made through out history.

As with the Holocaust and 9/11, why blame God with Nazis and terrorists are right in front of our noses?

HT: Evangelical Outpost

6 Comments+ Add Comment

  • That's right, it's always all-our-fault! Over a hundred thousand killed by the Asian tsunami – it's all-our-fault. Millions die in the Black Death and other plagues and earthquakes – all-our-fault. Millions die in the Holocaust – all-our-fault (and God doesn't lift a finger to save His "chosen people"). Children tortured, raped and murdered – all-our-fault. Where was God? Well, since it's all-our-fault, He's off the hook. Or maybe He's just an underachiever! Though He's the Creator, and all-knowing and all-powerful and supremely good, he has no responsibility at all – the one quality He lacks.
    Or maybe the xian concept of God just doesn't make sense.

  • Actually Louis, you bring up the good point that there is more than one kind of suffering – I mean, there are the things that humans are directly responsible for, indirectly, and not at all. So for instance, directly might include:
    - obesity, murders, wars, etc.
    Indirectly might include:
    - many diseases (like STD's)
    - starvation (bad politics or poor environmental management)
    But natural disasters, as well as some diseases, may NOT be traceable to mankind. What do we make of such things?
    I think these distinctions were made clear in:
    Eight Types of Suffering
    Bart's Problem: why do we suffer?
    I agree that, to a large extent, we can't just push the whole problem of suffering under the rug by blaming mankind for it all, but let's put blame where it goes. MUCH suffering today is caused by mankind.
    However, SOME appears to be allowed by God, who then seems uncaring or impotent. And those defending God can't just wash over that by blaming mankind. But as I said in the Bart's problem post above:

    We can, like Bart, see meaningless suffering as evidence that God is not real, or not good or omnipotent, OR we can decide to trust that God is still real, loving, and true, and live with the ambiguity and mystery, and with humility before God's awesomeness, admit, like Job, that we can not understand all things.

    I think it should always be a last resort to say "just accept it, it is beyond human understanding," but after exploring all possible solutions (in this case, like man's responsibility, free will, etc.), if we are still not satisfied with the answers, we have one of two choices to make.
    We either conclude that the proposed system of thought on the matter is illogical or incorrect, or we may choose to suspend judgement and wait for a better answer, or for the proposed answer to make sense.
    If the proposed answer has things going for it (things you believe ARE true), but is still unsatisfactory, it may be prudent to suspend judgment rather than rejecting it. We must admit that in at least SOME matters (but let's limit it to a few), we can not understand all things, esp. when it comes to metaphysical matters.
    We should, I think, avoid the twin extremes of saying "we can know nothing" or "we can know everything." I think we should try to understand as much as possible, reject obviosly flawed ideas, and suspend judgment on others, esp. those which can not be clearly eliminated by exerience, observation, or reason.
    With that in mind, you, like the intelligent and well-mannered Ehrman, might decide that xianity does NOT match up with experience or logic. However, I think that there are good reasons to suspend such a judgment.

  • Maybe its all the scientists fault for not finding out how to control the weather yet.

  • I see, tsunamis and earthquakes are "weather."

  • Maybe we should sacrifice Al Gore to the God of hot air.

  • Well, tsunamis are weather, anyhow. :-p

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