22 Nov 2015

The Problem of Pain

Religious 20 Comments

That of course is the title of a famous CS Lewis book. Here let me make two observations:

(1) For believers, suppose that when you die, you realize that all the bad things in your life steered you into the type of person you yourself wanted to become.

(2) Given that humans were going to experience some type of pain in the world, it was then necessary for God to endure agony Himself. So not only did God Himself suffer torture and execution on a cross, but He also witnessed His only Son being tortured and executed by evil men. That’s pretty awful. So God’s plan doesn’t conveniently place the burden all on the humans.

20 Responses to “The Problem of Pain”

  1. E. Harding says:

    Translation: God is not all-powerful.

    • Tel says:

      But God’s limitation would not appear to be material.

      If God is not all powerful, the barrier is that God cannot disobey logic. For example, if free will logically requires evil to exist (else there is no choice), and God desires free will, then God must tolerate evil. If God was able to defy logic then this could be solved by divine decree.

      • Scott H. says:

        Translation: God is not good.

        • M. Tanous says:

          Is your contention that a good God would have simply made people robots so no bad things could happen?

          What would be the point then? Why not just make robots that couldn’t think or act for themselves?

  2. Major.Freedom says:

    Stalin felt the pain of all those he threw in the Gulags. He wrote that down once, so it must be true.

  3. Craw says:

    What you are saying is that God suffered LESS than some guy whose two sons were crucified and was crucified himself. That surely must have happened at least once. Crassus crucified thousands, including families in the Spartacus revolt. Not to mention the women through out history who saw their children murdered before being raped and killed themselves. Your God leaves the worst of it to others. When, presumably, he could have prevented that suffering in the first place.

    But your last point is true. Your God tortures animals too. He lets his followers torture logic.

    • M. Tanous says:

      Suffering is not some net sum thing that occurs in quantifiable units. Having two sons crucified out of multiple sons is not necessarily “more suffering” than having one’s only son crucified.

      // When, presumably, he could have prevented that suffering in the first place. //

      Yeah, just do away with free will, and people won’t choose to do evil. Hooray! That would fix everything. Hope you don’t like making choices or anything.

  4. anon says:

    Whether we accept free will or not, let’s assume that human beings aren’t the only creatures to suffer. What role does a mouse tortured to death by a cat play in God’s plan?

  5. Harold says:

    One explanation of the existence of pain is as an excellent mechanism that evolved to keep animals alive long enough to breed and raise young. There are also explanations that involve an omniscient and omnipotent God, but they seem to me to be rather more complex and convoluted.

    • M. Tanous says:

      The problem is the other way around. It’s not explaining pain “in general” but explaining why a God would allow pain. The evolutionary argument just goes back a step – why would God allow animals (of any sort) to die before they could breed and raise young? Why would God allow loss and emotional pain?

      This is the “problem of pain”.

  6. RPLong says:

    I offer this merely as an observation, not as a criticism: (1) seems to argue against free will in the same sense that most of the Muslim world believes in predestination.

  7. knoxharrington says:

    “(2) Given that humans were going to experience some type of pain in the world, it was then necessary for God to endure agony Himself.”

    I need some explanation on why it was necessary.

    • Craw says:

      I thought we had established that God was constrained by logical necessity. It must be logically necessary that infants die in fires, bone cancer is excruciating, and heretics be wracked. With God things (painful) are possible.

      • knoxharrington says:

        Why is it a logical necessity (your words) that since “humans were going to experience some type of pain” that “God [had] to endure agony himself”? I see nothing in the former that necessitates the latter.

        • Craw says:

          Those are my words? It looks like you have taken my sarcastic mockery of Murphy’s bilious excuse-making and applied his reading skills to it. So, once more, slowly. Murphy’s God lets babies burn. Murphy’s God is good and would stop this if he could. So Murphy’s God can’t. The only thing Murphy’s God cannot stop the logically necessary. So it must be logically necessary for babies to burn.

          • knoxharrington says:

            Once more – even slower – I was asking why it was necessary that God had to endure agony. I’m not interested in the human side of the equation before the comma – only what follows after. Nothing in your comment answered why it is necessary that God suffer agony. We may be on the same side of this vis a vis Murphy but you missed the point of my question. If god is all-powerful it would seem that there is no NECESSITY – logical or otherwise – that it suffer agony. That was the point.

            • Craw says:

              But you are asking someone who never argued it was. Ask Bob. (I am sure Bob will also give you no satisfactory answer.)

              • knoxharrington says:

                I did ask Bob then you jumped in to muddy the waters. LOL

    • Andrew Keen says:

      I didn’t 100% follow that sentence either. I think that Bob meant to say, “It was necessary for God to endure agony Himself so that God’s plan doesn’t conveniently place the burden all on the humans.”

      But then I’m changing the meaning of what he wrote, so I could be wrong about this.

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