The Puzzle of Suffering
The puzzle of suffering is a very interesting and widely debated topic about how we view god and his relation to suffering, that is, if you believe in him. There are two types of evil which cause suffering natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil includes things like hurricanes and volcanic eruptions which are all natural. moral evil is man made evil, for example the holocaust and the 911 bombings. I am going to cover and explain some beliefs (Christianity, Islam and humanists) and how they deal with this puzzle, and how does it change their view on God.
Traditional view-Saint Augustine
Christianity actually is sub-divided into a number of groups and I am going to be explaining only 3 of them: Catholic, Traditional and Liberal.
Saint Augustine lived around 400 AD here we will look at his theodicy which will help explain the problem of suffering. As many people blame God for suffering Saint Augustine wrote his theodicy (i.e. a defence for an omnipotent, Omni benevolent and omniscient god).
He said that God made the world perfect with no moral or natural evil. Angels and Humans lived in complete harmony and the animals and plants were there too. But as god had made people and angels with free will they could choose to be good or bad. It was one angel Lucifer (commonly known as the devil) who thought impure thoughts and wanted to be just like God. God as he is omniscient knew what Lucifer was up to and Lucifer was sent out of heaven humans then chose to disobey god too and that was how moral evil first came about and Gods world was now imperfect (fallen world).
THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPT OF GOD Christians claim that their concept of God is found in the Bible. Known as classical theism, this view of God has long been considered the orthodox theistic position of the Western world. Though there are numerous divine attributes that we could examine, for our present purposes it is sufficient to say that the God of classical theism is at least (1) personal and ...
Natural evil was now the punishment for moral evil as now the people were bad the world was punishing them in natural ways as they miss used their free will. But God was still being benevolent giving us free will and not interfering with our own choice, we could choose our own destiny by deciding to be good or evil, if we chose to disobey god and lead a life of evil, envy, greed and selfishness then you would probably go to hell but if we chose to lead a good, honest, pure life then we would probably go to heaven. This is the theodicy of suffering that Catholics and Traditional Protestants believe. They believe that it is good that humans were made with free will because god did not make robots. Also that if there was no punishment in the world people would behave much worse than they already do as they think that they will get off free, no matter what their actions. Also it is good as moral evil makes the world more balanced and it makes the people who are really good stand out much more. Finally another very important reason why this theory is good is because if no one ever died then the world would overpopulate making god’s already imperfect world much worse. Some people would argue that god is not Omni benevolent by letting people die but Catholics and traditional Protestants who argue that he it is some how part of his will as he is letting that person be reunited with their some of their family and be with god.
Reasons why Liberal Protestants don’t believe in Augustine’s theodicy
Although looking at this theodicy there are problems, as for saying that god made the world perfect with no natural evil that is un true as science can prove that natural evil (disease ect) have been around ever since the world was created. If god were omniscient then surely he would have known that he was going to create an angel (Lucifer) who was going to disobey him and make his perfect world unperfected. Another problem with this is that the natural evil is the punishment, but how can a baby be evil and deserves to be punished when it has only been in the world for a few months? And if he was omnipotent that why didn’t he try to stop the people you are actually innocent from being killed? If somebody said, “well he doesn’t know who is innocent and who is evil”, then that means that god is not omniscient. Finally how does an eternal hell fit in with a benevolent god? I find that whenever I find I problem with this theory, god loses one of his characteristics benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient. This is why liberal protestants do not believe in Augustine’s theodicy, as they find that there are too many problems with this theory and that is was invented 400 years BC so it does not have a modern view on the problem of suffering
The culture of conflict is just as important as the conflict itself. The reasons for conflict and the inner agony of pride are all do to culture. The epic poem of Gilgamesh, and The Odyssey, the story of Genesis have many forms of many conflicts. Cultural conflicts have many different forms, but pride is usually at the root of all of them. The book of Gilgamesh has many conflicts, and battles. ...
Modern view on suffering- John Hicks theodicy
John Hick is still alive today and he is a liberal protestant, this is his theodicy, he was influenced by a man called Ireneus. He believes that the story of Genesis (Adam and eve) was a myth, and he wanted to find a theodicy that fitted with science. Many people call it the “soul making theory” or “the staircase theory”, you will see why it is called this after I have explained his theodicy. It starts with the world not being perfect. This fits in with science as scientists can prove that disease and earthquakes have been in the world ever since it was created (this is the bottom of the staircase).
Moral evil is not gods will, but we bring it upon ourselves by freewill. He explains moral evil as people misusing God’s free will that he has given us. The natural evil is soul making, and you have to have random suffering for proper testing. He also says that haphazard suffering is necessary. Then when you die everyone will go to heaven as everyone has suffered, some more that others because of the deeds that they have done. God will make sure that nobody is unfairly done by. If a baby has died of cot death god will make sure that that baby will not have to endure the same amount of suffering as a man who has committed many sins. John Hick’s theory also includes reincarnation so if someone has not endured enough suffering in this live then they will endure it for as many lives as necessary, but most importantly it will ensure that everyone will end up in heaven, this fits in with an all loving god. This is why it is called the staircase theory as everyone ends up on top (heaven).
-- The Prophet Muhammad (p) was asked by his contemporaries about Allah. The answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Qur " an that is considered the essence of the Unity of God or the motto of monotheism. "Say: He is Allah, the One; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He beget teth not, nor is He begotten, and there is none like unto Him." [Al-Qur " an 112: 1-4] -- ...
The things that are good about this theory that make people believe in it is that god throughout this theodicy never loses any of his three Christian characteristics he remains, omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent. This makes people have much more faith in him as a god because not one human or animal can possess all three of those characteristics.
Reasons why catholic and traditional Protestants do not believe in John Hick’s theodicy
The main reason why traditional protestants and Catholics don’t believe in this theodicy is because it involves a slight Buddhist view of reincarnation, and that Is why people have such a huge problem with this theory as it goes against what traditional and Catholics believe in the after life. Secondly some people say why god has to test people as he is not always making their faith stronger, many don’t believe in god after they have experienced suffering. Thirdly how does an all loving god fit in with testing his people through natural suffering? Finally many say that it is gods fault that suffering is in the world as he is all knowing so then why did he create a world which he knew suffering was going to happen?
God becoming a man in Christianity called Incarnation
The picture on the right of the text is a painting by a German man called Matthias Grunewald, who is taking on an interesting task of depicting Christ at his crucifixion. In the trinity there are three parts of god; god the father, god the Holy Spirit and god the son (Jesus).
So what we have to realise is that this is essentially god on the cross. Grunewald does not idealise Christ, he looks fairly skinny and does not have a holy glow like many other religious paintings. Grunewald has painted him in the most human like way, he looks like he was dragged through the street and beaten up by the roman soldiers, which is what happened to him. It explicitly draws attention to the suffering of Jesus and reminds us of what he went through for our sake, he suffered for are sin. Many people immediately think of this picture as being blasphemy as if depicts god in an undivine way. Jesus does not look in the painting an omnipotent god, as otherwise he would not have let himself be nailed to a wooden cross to be left to die. But what people are missing and what Christians argue is that it is a different kind of power, as Jesus defeats death by resurrection and this definitely shows some kind of power not the most obvious but still a power that no other human could possess. God knew what would happen to him as he is omniscient but he still went through with it to experience our suffering. That shows how benevolent god is, he sacrificed himself for us and this defeats the power of death because of the love he showed for us. Grunewalds painting has been said to be one of the best and most controversial pictures from the renaissance period.
By: The Institute of Islamic Information & Education In the linguistic sense, the Arabic word "jihad" means struggling or striving and applies to any effort exerted by anyone. In this sense a student struggles and strives to get an education and pass course work; an employee strives to fulfill his / her job and maintain good relations with his / her employer; a politician strives to maintain ...
Muslim view of suffering
Muslims believe that Allah’s creation in the beginning was perfect, until Allah created the jinn (evil) for example Iblis, who are beings which have free will. Allah also created angels that did not have free will fro example the angel Jiberal.
Then Allah created humanity (Adam and eve), he then ordered the angels and the jinn to summit and bow down to him. The angles and jinn obeyed apart from one of the jinn Iblis; he could do this as he had free will. After this he was renamed Shaytan, which means rebellious one. Shaytan tempted people and Allah allows his to do this to this day. This is what Muslims believe about how evil first came about.
The Islamic view of suffering is slightly different from others. In Islam and in the Qur’an Allah is described as being transcendent (we have to accept what he does, he above all of us and he is unquestionable).
Muslims are very strict about what Allah is and he is portrayed and blasphemy is unquestionable. The Islamic view of suffering is made up of four essential points that are the basis of what Muslims believe.
Part 1: Allah has a plan
The first part of their belief is called the Qadr. This is Allah knows everything, that has happened and that will happen in the future, an example of this is Allah knows who we are going to marry, and who our parents are. Secondly everything that has happened or is going to happen is going to be recorded in the Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuud, for example Allah will record your actions. The third feature in the Qadr is that everything happens because Allah wills it to happen, for example if Allah does not will you to marry then it will not happen. You can remember this by “inshallah” if Allah is willing. The final part of the Qadr is they believe that Allah created everything, he created people and their actions, and for example Allah has created me and my actions. So you may be asking what has this has got to do with suffering? Well if Muslims believe that everything comes from Allah and nothing happens without Allah’s knowledge or will and those things which humans experience as suffering – death, pain sorrow- are all part of Allah’s plan, which some humans cannot understand. Whether it is caused by natural evil or moral evil it is all part of Allah’s plan.
Muhammad, whose full name was Abu al-Qasim Muhammad in 'Abd Allah in " Abd al-Muttalib in Hashim, was born in Mecca around 570 AD after the death of his father, 'Abd Allah. Muhammad was at first under the care of his paternal grandfather, 'Abd al-Muttalib. Because the climate of Mecca was considered to be unhealthful, he was given as an infant to a wet nurse from a nomadic tribe and spent some ...
Part 2: Humans have free will
This quite a difficult concept to understand as many people think that it is contradictory to the Qadr, as it is about the idea of predestination. But it is not you just have to understand it in a different way. Muslims believe that Allah wants people to follow his path but to follow because they want to love and obey Allah, not because they are forced. So you do have free will there to choose whether to summit to Allah’s will or not. So all moral decisions are made freely even though Allah knows what the final outcome will be. With this in mind this is how every individual can be accountable for her or his deeds.
Muslims believe that free will is good and bad. It is good because we get to make our own decisions and not be robots. Also Muslims would say that if they did not have free will then Allah would be able to stop Muslims from being bad and then it would not be a proper test. But then it can also be bad as people can misuse their free will and can cause as extreme amount of human suffering for example the 911 bombings. But these people who do disobey Allah will be held responsible on the day o judgement. In conclusion Muslims believe that we just have to accept that suffering is the price of free will, and to be grateful that we do have free will.
Part 3 Suffering is a test for the next life
The most important and first thing to remember is that Muslims believe that this is not the only life, there are better and longer lasting lives to come which in other words is heaven. Muslims believe that the amount they have suffered in this life will be taken into account on judgement day and will lighten the punishment or increase the rewards on how good or bad you have been. Muslims also believe that suffering is a test, and that Allah allows people to suffer in order to test their self control and patience. Muslims believe that they should spend our lives looking for people who are worse off than themselves so they can be grateful to Allah for what they have. On judgement day Muslims believe that no one has the right to happiness or a right to avoid suffering in this or the next life. They also believe that any one who chooses to disobey the will of Allah will suffer in their live after death, and like wise anyone who summits to the will of Allah will not suffering anymore in their next life. Finally Muslims believe that Allah sees the world as perfect, and humans see the world as imperfect, and Muslims should aspire to see the world in the eyes of Allah.
These days whenever you turn on the news, or pick up a newspaper, just about every time, you will hear something about the Muslims. Which would normally be a plus, but unfortunately that is not the case here. Anytime you hear the word Islam or Muslims you also you hear terrorist and bombings along with it. Islam is receiving a bad name all around the world. Even before these recent attacks, ...
Part 4 good can come from suffering
Muslims believe that Allah has a purpose for everything that happens including suffering which is all part of Allah’s plan. Muslims believe that the purpose
Which Allah has for them, is good even though it may put them through pain, as they believe that Allah is compassionate and would not let his creations suffer without a good thing coming out of it for the sufferer. So Muslims often say to Muslims who cannot quite grasp the idea of god making us suffer, that god does not make us suffer for no reason you can remember this by the saying every cloud has a silver lining. For example when the tsunami happened people who were ungrateful were grateful that they hadn’t lost their lives and became a better person. Somebody who had lost their house and was usually very spoilt was more appreciative for the little things that they got after she had suffered. So in suffering, Muslims believe that suffering happens to everyone even prophets, like Ayyub (job) who suffered tremendously but he was rewarded extremely well for the amount that he suffered, and took the opportunities that arose after his suffering. Muslims believe that as well as the opportunity that Allah gives them after the suffering, they will also be reward in their next life.
So in conclusion the Muslims view is made up of four essential parts that explain what they believe about suffering, why Allah lets them suffer and that good can come out of suffering if you can see the opportunities. Finally Muslims believe that no one will be unfairly done by as Allah is Omni-benevolent and that he would not let his creations suffer without a good cause.
Humanist view of suffering
The humanist view of suffering is slightly different from Islamic and Christian as they do not believe in any god. So they will not ask the questions “why does god let us suffer” or “is suffering our punishment for being bad”. Humanists will not usually say the word evil as they associate it with religious texts surrounding a god. Humanists believe that natural events can cause great suffering, such as the tsunami. They never agree that it was a super natural force behind natural events, but instead turn to science and say it was just the plates moving. This is called a natural explanation and they use it a lot to explain natural events. Humanists believe that it is impossible to believe in an Omni benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient god with suffering and evil in the world. This is the question which Ivan asks, when he reads two extremely evils stories in which the victims suffer hugely and wonders if free will is really worth the price of suffering. But Humanists insist that they is point as human suffering have They do not believe in any testing or soul making theory as they do not believe in a god to test this. Also they do not believe in an afterlife where you will be punished if you are bad and rewarded if you are bad.
So you may ask then what gives them a motive to be good. Well humanist believe that it is up to human being to fight suffering, and that they can do it alone without a god, hence their symbol. They believe that humans are mainly good natured, kind and loving, but they do also realise that there is moral evil occurring in the world. They blame moral evil on “the game theory” which is a desire for man kind in our case to want our species to survive it looks to them to being unselfish but in fact is a selfish deed. Most humanists have a fairly even view when being optimistic, as. One very famous writer and humanist Philip said on Radio 4 that he was only 51% optimistic; he said he felt this way due to his observation about human nature. So most humanists would believe that we live in a good world in which occasionally bad things happen. Although humanists can have a negative view to live too, this was popularised by Darwin with his survival of the fittest theory, which would therefore mean the weak would suffer if this was used in society.