I have yet to hear a sensible explanation from theists for the existence of suffering in a world created by a benevolent, omnipotent God. Their explanations mostly come in the following categories:
#1 The purpose of suffering is a mystery, known only to God. He will reveal all at the end of the world. (A useless dodging of the question.)
#2 God punishes sinful people. This sin may be original and general (Adam's), or specific, i.e. individuals who are suffering have been sinful. A variation is that individuals suffer in this life for sins they committed in a previous life. (This conveniently accounts for the suffering of apparently good people.)
#3 God causes suffering to bring people to faith, or strengthen their faith, or test their faith (e.g. Job).
(I have been told by religious people who have suffered that God helped them through their suffering, but they deny that God caused their suffering, while simultaneously believing explanation #2.)
#4 God can answer prayers to relieve suffering, and would rather do this than prevent the original cause of the suffering. His reasons for doing this are not for us to question (see reason #1), but might be reason #3.
#5 The Devil causes suffering, and God allows this, because he wants us to choose between good and evil. (A variation on #2 and #3) The world would be a boring place, theists say, with no power to choose and no reason for faith. (Does that mean Heaven will be boring, for eternity?)
These sound like made-up stories to me, but then I do not have to start from the position that God causes or allows suffering, because I don't believe in God. I don't have to go through the philosophical gymnastics of designing bizarre models of the solar system to fit my preconceived notion that the Earth is at the center (as befits God's perfect plan).
This video presents a view of the nature of the Universe, and our place in it, based on the current evidence, instead of starting with the preconception of divine benevolent creation.
But if any theist can provide me with an alternative plausible reason for the existence of suffering, my mind is open to receive it.
1- suffering is a part of life, we do not need god to explain it to us, pain is needed as it is what drives any creature to improve.
2- the concept of heaven are to instill fear into people, because we don't know what lies beyond death; we create an image to comfort ourselves, however just as a parent punishes their child, a fear has to be invoked so that they will not redo the same mistake or continue to progress into it; hence the concept of hell is there to invoke greater fear
3- god need not cause suffering, it's men that cause suffering to others. i don't think using "job" for an example is accurate for this question
4- i highly recommend they you don't depend on it, because for every 1 prayer that god answers he shuns away thousands, to me it's not that different from smoking, ask any smoker why they smoke, and most will tell that it helps them think; but there's actually a more logical reason for this, by no means does a cigarette help the brain think.
however when a smoker takes a break from work to smoke; his mind it still focused on the task itself, however being away from the actual problem; they get to step back and see more of the parts and possibilities available.
in the same expects, a "wishful thinking" is set-up called prayer. because one delay some of the problems; they get to see things clearer or more problematic; if this practice is done regularly then they would surly believe prayer works.
5- i shall answer this question with my philosophy of life.
perfection is not good, imperfection is testerment of life
1- suffering is not a mystery, it's to show us our limits; if we cannot feel pain how do we know that we're being attacked, if there's no pain who does one teach/discipline our children?
2- suffering is men made; it's enforced by by men, not god. a gun by itself have no standing in good nor evil; it's the user that uses it for the deed what we perceive as evil or good. suffering however can be still be driven to a positive outcome. help call lines, the police, drug research it created and set up to combat and reduce suffering.(the intent/reasoning however is another matter)
3- job is bad example. i'll answer this question with the next one
4- this is no different from smoking. ask any smoker, why they smoke; and there's a good chance they'll answer "it helps me think". but by no means a cigarettes helps the brain work better.
what happens it when they smoke they are taking a breather; however the work/task is still focused in the mind, by using the time to smoke, the smoker is actually taking a step back and re looking at what's the other pieces or information available, and can better piece the problem/answer
this can also work with prayer, when you pray, you are relieving some of your problems, or at times delaying it. because you have given yourself more room to work with, you can withstand more "suffering". if this is done regularly prayer will surly work. because sometimes the problems that arises is withing oneself; that's when prayer's answered.
however on the other side of the spectrum; when all the problems delayed is not addressed it can accumulate and all come back at the same time
5- we are humans and we feel pain, we laugh and cry because of this imperfection, if you rid yourself of pain would there be a need to fear death? it is because of our imperfection that we strive to better ourselves, would you give it up? is it not our faults and wrongs that we know how to better ourselves?
the nature of heaven is not to reach perfection, but rather only to reap the rewards after you die,. the ideals of perfection which you're saying is as buddhism, (the word buddah is a title which translate to the enlighten one, the sun behind the pictures are to represent one's full understanding)
understanding oneself is harder than trying to understand others.i for one am proud that i'm imperfect, and god cannot provide me anything, it is by my own hands, tru my errors that i can be proud of my achievements. there is no need to prove that i am better any anyone else, as they have skills that they are better at then me, and the same is true for me
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From the officers:
The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, October 11th at 12:15pm in the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Texas Freedom Network's Dan Quinn will give us an update on their activities. The lecture is free and open to the public.