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Author Topic:   The Problem of Suffering
Tangle
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Posts: 8666
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 1 of 105 (898110)
09-18-2022 12:08 PM


Last week the two month old baby of friends of ours died.
He had a heart attack in his fathers arms. There was no lead up to this, no warning, he was a healthy baby, it just happened. The father did CPR and the ambulance people managed to keep him alive long enough to get to hospital. But the baby died several hours later.
A horrible tragedy, but the point of this post is that the father is a fairly lackadaisical Christian but his mother is a full on, happy-clappy, born again fundamental Baptist. She spent all day in the hospital chapel praying for her god to save her child. But he didn't, he let him die.
The loss of a child is a devastating experience and the father is suffering gravely, but the mother has now also lost her god and we're all very worried for her.
It strikes me that if there's one purpose for believing in a god it's to get some comfort from the belief of an afterlife and a purpose but in this case she seems to have lost everything.
Atheists of course know that the vale of tears is all there is and life is both wonderful and ugly for no reason but how believers rationalise god killing his innocent children and ignoring his believer's agony is beyond me. I guess they must try not to think about it too much.
No condolences please, just answers.

Edited by Tangle, .


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London. Olen Suomi Soy Barcelona. I am Ukraine.

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by AZPaul3, posted 09-19-2022 10:05 AM Tangle has replied
 Message 13 by Stile, posted 09-19-2022 4:15 PM Tangle has not replied

  
Admin
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Message 2 of 105 (898112)
09-19-2022 9:49 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Problem of Suffering thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
AZPaul3
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Posts: 7019
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 2.9


(2)
Message 3 of 105 (898115)
09-19-2022 10:05 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
09-18-2022 12:08 PM


Biology Fails
Just answers? To what questions?
Condolences anyway. Your hurt came through.
Poor mom was seeing god as a power to ask for favors.
My uncle, a Methodist minister, used to lament wish-list prayers. God is going to do what god is going to do and our entreaties are useless.
Why the added concern for her? Has she lost her god in total or is she looking at a new vision?
What do you think anyone can provide answers to? Why does biology sometimes fail? How can a god be so callus? How can nature be so callus?
What are you asking?

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tangle, posted 09-18-2022 12:08 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2022 10:26 AM AZPaul3 has replied
 Message 7 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 11:20 AM AZPaul3 has not replied

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8666
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 3.2


(1)
Message 4 of 105 (898116)
09-19-2022 10:26 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by AZPaul3
09-19-2022 10:05 AM


Re: Biology Fails
I'm asking believers how they can believe that their god is benevolent when this kind of thing and worse happens routinely.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London. Olen Suomi Soy Barcelona. I am Ukraine.

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by AZPaul3, posted 09-19-2022 10:05 AM AZPaul3 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by AZPaul3, posted 09-19-2022 10:34 AM Tangle has not replied
 Message 6 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 11:18 AM Tangle has replied

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 7019
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 2.9


(1)
Message 5 of 105 (898117)
09-19-2022 10:34 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Tangle
09-19-2022 10:26 AM


Re: Biology Fails
Then I'll leave you to them.

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2022 10:26 AM Tangle has not replied

  
Phat
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Posts: 16346
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 6 of 105 (898118)
09-19-2022 11:18 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Tangle
09-19-2022 10:26 AM


Re: Biology Fails
Tangle writes:
I'm asking believers how they can believe that their god is benevolent when this kind of thing and worse happens routinely.
My dear Mother died in 2020 at the age of 97. I still miss her. She was never a churchgoing woman but she had a quiet faith. Her favorite pet slogan which we all remember to this day was "Whatever Will Be Will Be".
The Doris Day Que Sera Sera song.
I used to scold her gently, telling her that the proper phrase was "Whatever God wills will be." She would just look at me bemusedly and say, well of course, but she did not fall for organized religion or a skydaddy god that granted wishes. She stuck with her pet phrase.
Did she go to heaven? My belief is only that if heaven exists and she didn't make it there is no way I will make it either. And I don't care what the church says. She never preferred my loonie churches either.
All that I can add is that if God exists, He is under no obligation to magically cure all of our sicknesses. Whatever will be will be.

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2022 10:26 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2022 12:40 PM Phat has replied
 Message 10 by AZPaul3, posted 09-19-2022 1:19 PM Phat has not replied
 Message 15 by Taq, posted 09-20-2022 5:36 PM Phat has replied

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 16346
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 7 of 105 (898119)
09-19-2022 11:20 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by AZPaul3
09-19-2022 10:05 AM


Common Ground
AZ writes:
My uncle, a Methodist minister, used to lament wish-list prayers. God is going to do what god is going to do and our entreaties are useless.
He sounds like my Mother! And we grew up Methodist! Imagine that!

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by AZPaul3, posted 09-19-2022 10:05 AM AZPaul3 has not replied

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8666
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 3.2


(1)
Message 8 of 105 (898125)
09-19-2022 12:40 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Phat
09-19-2022 11:18 AM


Re: Biology Fails
Phat writes:
All that I can add is that if God exists, He is under no obligation to magically cure all of our sicknesses. Whatever will be will be.
He does if you want to believe that he's a benevolent god. Otherwise he's just indifferent to our suffering which our morality would simply call murder.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London. Olen Suomi Soy Barcelona. I am Ukraine.

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 11:18 AM Phat has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 1:11 PM Tangle has replied

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 16346
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 9 of 105 (898126)
09-19-2022 1:11 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Tangle
09-19-2022 12:40 PM


Re: Biology Fails
That's too simplistic and is assuming that humans understand a given grand purpose, as well as God, might. To conclude that He is indifferent presupposes that He is obligated to prevent or cure your suffering. I suppose that you could dismiss Him and shop elsewhere.

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." ~Mark Twain "
***
“…far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise itself is validated by his existence.”- Dr.John Lennox

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” — Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You
(1894).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2022 12:40 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by ringo, posted 09-19-2022 1:29 PM Phat has seen this message but not replied
 Message 12 by Tangle, posted 09-19-2022 1:47 PM Phat has not replied
 Message 14 by dwise1, posted 09-19-2022 5:07 PM Phat has not replied

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 7019
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 2.9


(1)
Message 10 of 105 (898128)
09-19-2022 1:19 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Phat
09-19-2022 11:18 AM


Re: Biology Fails
All that I can add is that if God exists, He is under no obligation to magically cure all of our sicknesses. Whatever will be will be.
Why would he show favorites? Based on what? Capricious evil?
The idea that he is not god to all, that he meters his love to some and withholds it from others, does not show an infinite love for his creation but defines his evil.
Actually, having a small favorite family tribe from the start was a big tell-tale on this god of all the universe being a fake.

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 11:18 AM Phat has not replied

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 19995
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 11 of 105 (898130)
09-19-2022 1:29 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Phat
09-19-2022 1:11 PM


Re: Biology Fails
Phat writes:
To conclude that He is indifferent presupposes that He is obligated to prevent or cure your suffering.
Yup.

"Oh no, They've gone and named my home St. Petersburg.
What's going on? Where are all the friends I had?
It's all wrong, I'm feeling lost like I just don't belong.
Give me back, give me back my Leningrad."
-- Leningrad Cowboys

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 1:11 PM Phat has seen this message but not replied

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8666
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 12 of 105 (898133)
09-19-2022 1:47 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Phat
09-19-2022 1:11 PM


Re: Biology Fails
Phat writes:
That's too simplistic
Simple is good. It means that we both might be able to understand the point being made.
and is assuming that humans understand a given grand purpose, as well as God, might.
We don't have to assume a grand purpose we apply the rules he gave us to love and to not murder, neither of which characteristics your god seems obliged to follow himself.
Evidentially, he is indifferent to our suffering.
To conclude that He is indifferent presupposes that He is obligated to prevent or cure your suffering.
He is if you wish to proclaim him as a beneficent and loving god. If you are prepared to abandon that claim, we have a different argument. Are you?
I suppose that you could dismiss Him and shop elsewhere.
Well obviously I have - it's patent nonsense. No loving god would behave like this.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London. Olen Suomi Soy Barcelona. I am Ukraine.

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 1:11 PM Phat has not replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4130
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 13 of 105 (898150)
09-19-2022 4:15 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
09-18-2022 12:08 PM


Tangle writes:
The Problem of Suffering
To me, this is one of the largest reasons why the God of the Bible is not real.
All you have to do is look at the painful realities many innocent people have to live through and there's only one conclusion: there's on such thing as an all-powerful God that cares about humans. It's so in your face that the amount of energy it takes to ignore it fully explains the rest of fervent believer's callousness to anyone who doesn't believe as they do.
Of course, this doesn't mean God can't exist.
There can even be a "good" God. He just can't also be all-powerful and care about humans.
Maybe God doesn't know about humans. After all, the universe is very big, and we only take up a very small part.
Maybe God can't help all humans. After all, the "my Dad can beat up your Dad" imagination that invented an "all-powerful" God is, well, pretty immature.
Or, more likely, an unknown, very powerful super-being is just as likely to exist as Zeus, Thor and unicorns.
At least Zeus, Thor and unicorns found ways around The Problem of Suffering - so that gives them points towards actually existing.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tangle, posted 09-18-2022 12:08 PM Tangle has not replied

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5274
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.4


(2)
Message 14 of 105 (898156)
09-19-2022 5:07 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Phat
09-19-2022 1:11 PM


Re: Biology Fails
That's too simplistic and is assuming that humans understand a given grand purpose, as well as God, might. To conclude that He is indifferent presupposes that He is obligated to prevent or cure your suffering. I suppose that you could dismiss Him and shop elsewhere.
It's almost like God is a very abusive parent and we, his children, enable his abuse by making excuses for him all the time: "I prayed and my child lived (albeit with severe injuries or disabilities he'll have to suffer from the rest of his life). My prayers were answered!" "I prayed and my child still died. It's God's Will, even though we cannot understand it." Heads he wins, tails you lose. No matter what God does, you make up excuses to enable the continuation of his abusive behavior.
When atheists mention this issue, we laugh at sports teams and nations' military forces who both pray to the same god for sure victory and the defeat of the enemy. So whose prayers are answered and why? Did one side pray that much harder? That kind of mentality just does not make any sense to normals.
And I'll touch briefly on the matter of Atheists in Foxholes (an actual group of atheist veterans using their name to point out the idiocy of that bromide: "There are no atheists in foxholes." Indeed, I have a war story from an atheist who had served in Nam. One night while he and his other atheist buddy were in the base club (NCO Club, I would assume) Charlie started to mortar the base. He and his buddy just grabbed a bottle of whiskey and drank calmly waiting for whatever the outcome (in another friend's other war story, a Marine, their base was under mortar attack and he helped carry a wounded Marine into the aid station for the doctors to save him -- the mortar that destroyed the aid station was roughly centered on the wounded Marine on the operating table, so a mortar can hit anywhere). Also in the club were the base holy-rollers, fundies who were constantly proselytizing with the "Christian Death Threat" ("Here's what's going to happen to you when you die and you're not saved!") and were similarly taking cover under another table. While the atheists were calmly waiting out the attack and accepting the likelihood of death, the "Saved Ones" were almost literally pissing and shitting themselves in absolute terror of dying (my friend did not conduct a post-operation debrief and inspection to verify that). Atheists can handle the thought of death, whereas believers are absolutely terrified of it because of what they believe awaits them.
Add to that the Believer's Doubt, that nagging feeling that maybe you're not really saved. I mean, you said all the right things and you believe all the right things, but what if it didn't take? How would you know? Children raised in the fundie faith and so actually believe it (unlike their parents who had converted and so had learned to compartmentalize) tend to suffer such doubts which can lead to psychological scarring. One test of whether they are actually saved is found in the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5. They are taught that it isn't an ideal to strive for, but rather that if you are saved then the Holy Spirit bestows them upon you. So we have these teenagers going through teenage wasteland exacerbated by hormones which result in nothing like the Fruits that they would expect. For many, that proved that they weren't saved, which led to all kinds of personal Hell -- please note that 75% to 80% of youth raised in the faith leave it as fast as they can.
Our UU minister told us of the one faith healing he had performed. He performed some hospital ministry using that minister's collar (so the patient never knew your denomination). One terminal patient, a believer, was terrified of dying because he wasn't completely sure that he was saved. Our minister quoted from his favorite verse, Micah 6:8, "He hath showed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" The patient was visibly comforted with that thought.
BTW, another form of psychological damage done to fundie kids is from The Rapture. Children depend on their parents in very deep psychological ways, as we can see when they are suddenly torn away from their parents (eg, during a war as in Ukraine, at the border by Trumpian policies). Now consider raising your children with the idea that their parents could suddenly be called up into Heaven at any moment and leave them all alone -- Left Behind in spades! Of course, you kiddies will also be taken up, but just how does that play as the kiddies mature and start to doubt whether they're saved ("no signs of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit yet!"). I've read a testimonial of just that exact life experience. Every single time his parents left him to go out, he quite literally never knew if he would ever see them again (for our dogs, we would establish the "Guard the house" ritual which included us eventually returning (though never soon enough for the dog), but kids are too smart to fall for that one). As he grew older, he would engage in substance abuse to dull that pain and became increasingly listless. He met several others in the same situation as his and who had also grown up with The Rapture.
Be very careful what you teach children about religion -- they'll take it far too seriously. Just consider the repeated atheists' testimonials that what had turned them into atheists was ... reading the Bible! (and making the mistake of taking it seriously)
 
OK, that's one way to look at it. Here's another.
Refer to my page, BILL MORGAN'S QUESTION: Should Kids be Taught About God?. A local creation science activist I was corresponding with threw yet another gotcha question at me (that was all that he had): "If God exists, should the kids be taught about Him?" I gave him a complete and brilliant answer to that question (follow that link to read it), but he didn't even understand his own question (so sadly typical of creationists).
Part of the answer was what is meant by "be taught about Him". Which also leads us to what is actually meant by "believe in a god". Most Christians seem to assume that means "believe that that god exists", but shouldn't it also mean "trusting that god"? Two very different things. I have a friend and I feel that I can trust her. I also have an ex-wife and I know for a demonstrable fact (a plethora of demonstrable facts) that I cannot ever trust her (никак, никогда). Does "believing in them" have anything to do with whether they exist? No, they both exist (most unfortunately for everybody in the case of my ex-wife). Rather, the question in question is whether we can trust them, whether we can depend on them.
Do you believe in God? What does that even mean? Believe that your god exists? Meaningless! Believe that you can depend on your god to come through for you? Now we're getting somewhere!
So what happens then when you are in a position of having to absolutely depend on your god? Will he/she/it come through for you? Most likely not ... they very rarely do show up; it's a god-thingee, you know?
So then just what can you depend on? Not much of anything. You're in exactly the same boat as an atheist, except you have to expend an enormous amount of effort to justify your god not ever bothering to even lift a finger to help you in the time of your greatest need.
Speaking of abusive familial relationships, it's kind of like the system of Trumpian loyalty.
I am a military veteran of 35 years with the requisite and appropriate NCO/PO training and experience. Loyalty flows both up and down the chain of command: the crew needs to be loyal to their superior officers, but those superiors must also be loyal to their crew -- you look out for and take care of your people.
Trumpian loyalty is always one-way. You have to have and practice rigorously complete and utter loyalty to Donald J. Trump, but he owes absolutely none to you. If he used you, he'll throw you under the bus. If you show even the faintest sign of wavering, he'll throw you under the bus.
So then just how is your god any different from Trump? Frankly, I cannot see any difference. Can you?
 
Here is the Unitarian-Universalist Call to Prayer that I remember our minister using:
quote:
We do this knowing that prayer does not change things, but prayer changes us and we are the agents of change.
Try presenting that to a bunch of "common Christians" and they will completely freak out.
But then, what is a prayer, after all? Public prayers, of course. Private prayers are meant to be said in private, not as any kind of public display which Jesus himself declared to by hypocrisy, the very sin that he seemed to hate the most (but then since when have you ever concerned yourself with what Jesus reportedly said and thought?).
I see properly administered public prayers as an expression of the group's common goals. Subverting them to sectarian expression just subtracts from their purpose.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 1:11 PM Phat has not replied

  
Taq
Member
Posts: 8589
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.3


(4)
Message 15 of 105 (898220)
09-20-2022 5:36 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Phat
09-19-2022 11:18 AM


Re: Biology Fails
Faith writes:
All that I can add is that if God exists, He is under no obligation to magically cure all of our sicknesses. Whatever will be will be.
An analogy.
I am standing on a sidewalk along a busy suburban road. I see two young children playing in a yard as I walk by. Suddenly, the children see a cute dog across the street, and they start running towards it. The mother starts screaming, asking me to grab the kids before they run out on the road. I just stare at the mother and do nothing as the kids run right by me. They are struck by a car and die, a car I could see coming. A car that I knew would strike the children if they ran out into the road.
Am I a moral person?

Edited by Taq, .


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Phat, posted 09-19-2022 11:18 AM Phat has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Phat, posted 09-21-2022 1:11 PM Taq has replied

  
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