Dear forum members,
Here is an early draft of what I hope will be a paperback booklet and eBook on the topic of God, and the Problem of Suffering.
(Link removed: see below for updates.)
Yes, it’s an ambitious work, but, as noted in the Introduction, what I offer here is a sketch on how to approach the topic, along with what I hope will be helpful responses.
Please give it a read when you have time and get back to me with editorial corrections, questions, comments, suggestions, etc. I will take all these into account when revising the work. My hope is to have it published by the end of September.
Also note the webinar: http://shalomplace.com/inetmin...inars/suffering.htmlThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
Since that awakening four years ago, I've stopped thinking about these kinds of questions. They just don't occur to me any more. Nevertheless I'll do my best to offer a few comments:
"The reflections which follow will not conclusively resolve the many questions connected with belief in God and the reality of suffering and evil." I thought this was too negative, too early. It almost advertises to the reader that it's not worth their while reading on. Can you reword it more positively and perhaps also move it to the section on faith and mystery?
"The response given herein will be from the perspective of Christian theology, which is based in large part on the revelation of God presented in the Judeo-Christian tradition." This might be appropriate at an interfaith conference, but I don't think it's necessary if you're writing primarily for Christians.
"To make matters worse, looters might move in, further complicating the situation." Maybe replace "complicating" with "aggravating" or "worsening"?
"Jesus' position was always to resist evil" -- what about Matthew 5:39? What about Jesus' non-resistance to his crucifiers, for that matter?
"When a hurricane destroyed Galveston, TX" -- it's better to spell out "Texas" in an essay like this.
"the kinds of suffering humans experience on earth is" -- "is" should be "are"
"think about such things (Phil. 4:8)." -- put the reference outside the quotation marks
Thanks, Derek. Good suggestions.
These are not my questions or issues, either. I worked through all that a long time ago. I am moved to do works like this more out of pastoral concern for some of my directees and family members, and to do my small part to counter "merchants of doubt" like the atheistic scripture scholar, Bart Ehrman.
- see http://www.beliefnet.com/colum...is-gods-problem.html
There just isn't a short work that responds directly to these kinds of issues, so I'm hoping this will help.
OK, the book is now available online.
I'll have eBook versions up soon and will update when I do so.
Here's the PDF. Free!
The price is right! I found I "sold" a lot more copies of mine once I made it free. Wonder why https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/567671
Derek, you are in the Acknowledgements section -- the only person from the forum to send feedback. Thank you for doing so.
It's pretty quiet on ShalomPlace. I wouldn't blame you if you decided to let SP go, so you can focus your energies on other things.
It's OK. Almost 200,000 page views per month, so there are lots of guest readers. It's a very unique resource.
And now: the ePub link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/phili...roduct-22341858.html
Wow, I didn't know we were so busy!
Yes, it's not uncommon for someone to email me, noting they've been reading the forum for years, but now they'd like a spiritual direction session, or an email conversation about an issue. I often note that there are 50 or more guests on the forum when I come to check on things, so it's being used by people all the time.
Ok. Since we go through long periods where I keep checking in and find no new posts, I'll start checking in less frequently. Please do PM me if you need me. I believe that will send me an email alert.
Derek, please continue to check in regularly, and even to start a discussion if there's something that interests you. I appreciate your participation and assistance through the years. I will send a PM if I need a tag-team partner.
The youtube version:
Suffering is good and hardly a problem to most.
How can we love properly if the fear of losing that love is never there?
How can we develop compassion when there is nothing around to stir that compassion?
How can we show our love for our fellow man if he never has a need for us to fill.
Welcome, Greatest I am.
Did you watch the youtube? Read the eBook? It's a little more nuanced than "suffering is good."
I am sure that it is but I decided to just go to the bottom line and throw a bit of logic and reason at you.
If you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all.
I see god in all and that would include in suffering.
"It is demonstrable that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end.”
If a creator god is real, which is doubtful, then the best possible end of suffering would be it's value in creating the compassion that suffering draws out of us.
Being a naturalist, I recognize that the suffering that man might inflict upon man is just a part of evolution and that without evolution we would be less than we are.
We have to suffer. It is natures way of drawing the fittest humans out of the species, if compassion is to be a part of our attributes.
I admit to not having listened to your whole presentation as I have already formed my opinion on evil which would encompass suffering.
Let me give that here so that you will know my conclusions.
Can you help but do evil? I do not see how. Do you?
And if you cannot, why would God punish you?
Christians are always trying to absolve God of moral culpability in the fall by putting forward their free will argument and placing all the blame on mankind.
That usually sounds like ----God gave us free will and it was our free willed choices that caused our fall. Hence God is not blameworthy. Such statements simply avoid God's culpability as the author and creator of human nature.
Free will is only the ability to choose. It is not an explanation why anyone would want to choose "A" or "B" (bad or good action). An explanation for why Eve would even have the nature of "being vulnerable to being easily swayed by a serpent" and "desiring to eat a forbidden fruit" must lie in the nature God gave Eve in the first place. Hence God is culpable for deliberately making humans with a nature-inclined-to-fall, and "free will" means nothing as a response to this problem.
If all do evil/sin by nature then, the evil/sin nature is dominant. If not, we would have at least some who would not do evil/sin. Can we then help but do evil? I do not see how. Do you?
Having said the above for the God that I do not believe in, I am a Gnostic Christian naturalist, let me tell you that evil and sin is all human generated and in this sense, I agree with Christians, but for completely different reasons. Evil is mankind’s responsibility and not some imaginary God’s. Free will is something that can only be taken. Free will cannot be given not even by a God unless it has been forcibly withheld.
Much has been written to explain evil and sin but I see as a natural part of evolution.
First, let us eliminate what some see as evil. Natural disasters. These are unthinking occurrences and are neither good nor evil. There is no intent to do evil even as victims are created. Without intent to do evil, no act should be called evil.
In secular courts, this is called mens rea. Latin for an evil mind or intent and without it, the court will not find someone guilty even if they know that they are the perpetrator of the act.
Evil then is only human to human when they know they are doing evil and intend harm.
As evolving creatures, all we ever do, and ever can do, is compete or cooperate.
Cooperation we would see as good as there are no victims created. Competition would be seen as evil as it creates a victim. We all are either cooperating, doing good, or competing, doing evil, at all times.
Without us doing some of both, we would likely go extinct.
This, to me, explains why there is evil in the world quite well.
Be you a believer in nature, evolution or God, you should see that what Christians see as something to blame, evil, we should see that what we have, competition, deserves a huge thanks for being available to us. Wherever it came from, God or nature, without evolution we would go extinct. We must do good and evil.
There is no conflict between nature and God on this issue. This is how things are and should be. We all must do what some will think is evil as we compete and create losers to this competition.
This link speak to theistic evolution.
If theistic evolution is true, then the myth of Eden should be read as a myth and there is not really any original sin.
Doing evil then is actually forced on us by evolution and the need to survive. Our default position is to cooperate or to do good. I offer this clip as proof of this. You will note that we default to good as it is better for survival.
Can you help but do evil? I do not see how. Do you?
And if you cannot, why would God punish you?
We are dialoguing about a presentation you didn't listen to?
My presentation contains many points you mention above, and some which differ. But I will not go into all that as I've already taken considerable time to write a book (free), produce a podcast (free), and publish a youtube (free) on this topic. Check it out sometime and get back to us. I have never been known to go soft on logic and reason.
True but I thought it better to speak of evil as I see that the suffering you mostly speak to is being shrunk quite effectively of late in spite of religions adding to it in the form of homophobia and misogyny from the mainstream religions.
What kind of suffering do you see being "shrunk quite effectively of late"? And I did address suffering caused by social injustice, which would include "homophobia" and "misogyny," though I don't think religion has anything close to a monopoly on those.
Also, a moral protest against homosexuality doesn't equivocate to homophobia. In fact, your generalizations in this and other posts betray a bias against religion that is also a problem.
I am just as much against the religions of today as Jesus was against the religions of his day.
Luke 11:52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
Mark 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
As to the shrinking suffering.
We have pulled a full billion out of poverty in the last 20 years and demographers estimate that we will do the same in the next 20 years.
Poverty is the main cause of evil today and it, along with all the other markers for evil are at the best levels per capita than we have ever enjoyed.
As to homosexuality, there is no moral protest that can be put against gays.
If you think there is, make your argument but before you do, you might want to listen to this link of a mother with the right thinking of putting love above all else.
Jesus was not against the religions of his day. He was a faithful Jew and encouraged other Jews to be faithful.
I don't have time for this kind of ill-informed, argumentative dialogue.
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