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Craig.Paardekooper
09-17-2011, 08:34 PM
I saw a man today, crippled and deformed, sitting in a wheelchair. He couldn't even sit up properly since his back was twisted and bent almost 90 degrees. His legs were tiny and deformed and twisted. I could only imagine the social exclusion and suffering he must have felt over the decades of his life.

So what purpose could his suffering serve?

The usual Christian answers seem empty and vaccuous - almost insulting in their complacent dogmatism. "It is because of the sin of Adam" - "suffering is for the glory of God" etc

It is noticable that all such glib statements only come from those who do not suffer. Disabled or sick people rarely say such things.

God does not intervene to heal the sick, so He is very distant from our world. None of us escape suffering though. We all die at a relatively young age compared to the Biblical patriarchs.

It is possible to argue that Satan is responsible for many natural evils, but why is God reluctant to put right Satan's work then?


What is a perfect world anyway? Is it a world without death? Is it a world without decay? Is it a world without disease? Is it a world where random things can happen?

CWH
09-18-2011, 04:37 AM
I saw a man today, crippled and deformed, sitting in a wheelchair. He couldn't even sit up properly since his back was twisted and bent almost 90 degrees. His legs were tiny and deformed and twisted. I could only imagine the social exclusion and suffering he must have felt over the decades of his life.

So what purpose could his suffering serve?

The usual Christian answers seem empty and vaccuous - almost insulting in their complacent dogmatism. "It is because of the sin of Adam" - "suffering is for the glory of God" etc

It is noticable that all such glib statements only come from those who do not suffer. Disabled or sick people rarely say such things.

God does not intervene to heal the sick, so He is very distant from our world. None of us escape suffering though. We all die at a relatively young age compared to the Biblical patriarchs.

It is possible to argue that Satan is responsible for many natural evils, but why is God reluctant to put right Satan's work then?


What is a perfect world anyway? Is it a world without death? Is it a world without decay? Is it a world without disease? Is it a world where random things can happen?

We must understand that we are currently not living in the kingdom of heaven on earth. If we do then there won't be any suffering, disease, death sin, crime etc. We will be living in a world of abundance, of universal brotherly love and peace, of technological and scientific supremacy beyond our wildest imaginations.

Jesus said regarding a man born blind, "John 9:1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Therefore the main reason why there is suffering is so that God's glory and works may be manifested meaning that people will find ways to alleviate sufferings and to help our fellow beings thus glorify the "Godliness" in us. Such ultruistic desire to help our fellow beings in need is an attribute of godliness in us which is righteous, moral and ethically right. Imagine a world without diseases or sufferings, would people be motivated to help fellow being? No, people will be complacent and selfish. As the earth is a farmland for righteous souls such sufferings offer opportunities for people to show theiir godliness and righteousness so as to make themselves eligible for the kingdom of heaven. But important also to remember that good works must come with faith (James); "not everyone that call Him Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but those who did the will of the Father who is in heaven".

This is also a way to show that our goal in life is not temporary luxury living on earth but luxurious righteous living in heaven eternally where God abides in us. Do not put your treasures on earth where moth and rust destroys but put your treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy. Why look for temporary things when it is prudent to look for things that last eternally?

As for those who are unlucky to suffer in this life, it's a way in which God used suffering men to show that there is always hope of suffering being alleviated that there is always righteous men willing to help them. That hope may come from godly men or from God Himself. Sufferings build characters of faith and perseverance; refines our characters. It is also a way to show that this temporary earthly life is not the goal in life when we all (sufferers or not) will one day die and faced God and we should be striving for the kingdom of heaven instead. It is also a warning that if we do not reject evil and do the will of God, such sufferings may befall on us also. In beatitudes, we heard that those who suffers in life will be given special blessings from God in heaven.

Matthew 5: He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The take-home message is do not be deceived by the riches in the world BUT strive for heavenly riches:

Matthew 13:18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”


Merciful God have blessings on us Amen.:pray:

Richard Amiel McGough
09-18-2011, 12:44 PM
I saw a man today, crippled and deformed, sitting in a wheelchair. He couldn't even sit up properly since his back was twisted and bent almost 90 degrees. His legs were tiny and deformed and twisted. I could only imagine the social exclusion and suffering he must have felt over the decades of his life.

So what purpose could his suffering serve?

The usual Christian answers seem empty and vaccuous - almost insulting in their complacent dogmatism. "It is because of the sin of Adam" - "suffering is for the glory of God" etc

It is noticable that all such glib statements only come from those who do not suffer. Disabled or sick people rarely say such things.

God does not intervene to heal the sick, so He is very distant from our world. None of us escape suffering though. We all die at a relatively young age compared to the Biblical patriarchs.

It is possible to argue that Satan is responsible for many natural evils, but why is God reluctant to put right Satan's work then?


What is a perfect world anyway? Is it a world without death? Is it a world without decay? Is it a world without disease? Is it a world where random things can happen?
Hey there Craig,

I think those are very important questions. I'm glad you asked them. My answer is that there is no God of the kind supposed by most Christians. If there is such a God, then we must imagine that he is sitting in the presence of every evil and choosing to do nothing. But this then makes a mockery of all those Christians who say "PRAISE GOD!" if one child happens to survive a calamity that killed ten thousand. If we say that God is directly responsible for the good, as if he acted to save that child from the tsunami, then we must also say that he is directly responsible for all the evil when he stood by and allowed the tsunami to kill the ten thousand.

Logical consistency is not a strong point amongst theologians.

Richard

heb13-13
09-18-2011, 02:17 PM
Richard,

Is your conclusion that God is unrighteous because He "stands by" and allows all this suffering when He should intervene and stop all suffering of any kind in this world?

Just trying to understand what your logical conclusion might be.

Thank you,
Rick

CWH
09-18-2011, 02:38 PM
I would like to share a very good article from the web that says most of what I have said about why God allows sufferings. Sufferings in this world is not entirely bad. God seems to bless people who suffers more than people who don't as seen in the beatitudes. What more reward would He gives if we suffer for His sake! Important thing is not to be confounded to this temporary life in this world or we will view suffering as negative The apostles never viewed their suffering for Christ as negative but rather as looking forward to their heavenly eternal reward. Temporary riches and luxury in this world cannot be comparable to the eternal riches and luxury in the kingdom of heaven. Do not be deceived by the comfort, riches and luxury in this temporary world. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you, Aleluia! :pray:

http://executableoutlines.com/suf/suf_01.htm

Excerpt:
I. SUFFERING KEEPS THIS WORLD FROM BECOMING TOO ATTRACTIVE

A. THE BIBLE TELLS US THAT WE ARE "PILGRIMS" AND "SOJOURNERS"...
1. This world is not truly our home
2. God has prepared something better for us
3. Consider the following passages: 1Pe 2:11; He 13:14; 2 Co
5:1,5

B. IF THERE WAS NO SUFFERING...
1. No one would want to leave this temporary world
2. No one would desire the "eternal" home, and therefore prepare
themselves for it

C. BUT THE AFFAIRS OF THIS LIFE ARE SO ORDERED...
1. That the world soon loses its attraction
2. Most young people may want to live forever...
a. But by the time a man reaches his "three score and ten"
b. He begins to desire something better

II. SUFFERING CAN BRING OUT OUR BEST

A. THE MAN WHOSE WIFE WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED SAW THIS...
1. In the constant support by friends
2. In the preparation of food
3. In the financial support

B. WE SEE THIS OCCURING QUITE FREQUENTLY...
1. In times of natural disaster
2. When someone loses a house to fire, tornado, etc.
3. In times of terminal illness

C. THIS MAY BE ONE REASON WHY EARLY CHRISTIANS REJOICED IN THEIR
TRIALS...
1. They understood that tribulations could develop character
2. As Paul wrote in Ro 5:3-4

III. SUFFERING GIVES AN OCCASION TO SILENCE THE ENEMIES OF GOD

A. REMEMBER THE STORY OF JOB?
1. Satan wanted to prove God wrong about Job, that he served God
only because God had blessed him
2. But Job's patience under suffering silenced Satan!

B. LIKEWISE, GOD DESIRES THAT WE SILENCE "FOOLISH MEN" - 1Pe 2:15
1. Who ridicule the teachings of Christ as foolishness
2. Who say we are Christians only for what good we can get out of
it

C. BY PATIENTLY ENDURING, OR DOING GOOD IN TIMES OF SUFFERING...
1. The value of being Christians really shines through
2. In the faith we have that sustains us in suffering, and in the
love we show towards those who suffer

IV. SUFFERING MAKES US APPRECIATIVE

A. WE ALL RECEIVE SO MANY GOOD THINGS IN THIS LIFE...
1. It is easy for us to become prone to take them for granted
2. Instead of receiving them with gratitude toward God

B. SUFFERING CAN HELP US APPRECIATE MORE FULLY...
1. Good health
2. Good friends, and a loving family
3. A good example of how suffering can make one appreciative is the
apostle Paul when he was in prison - cf. Php 1:3-8

V. SUFFERING MAKES US MORE DEPENDENT UPON GOD

A. TOO OFTEN, WE THINK OURSELVES SELF-SUFFICIENT...
1. "But when a dozen of the most skilled men in their profession
tell you they have done all they can and it is completely out
of their hands..."
2. "...you suddenly realize how much you depend on God."

B. AT NO OTHER TIME...
1. Is one more likely to realize that we depend upon God for our
very breath!
2. As Paul proclaimed: "in Him we live and move and have our
being" - Ac 17:28

VI. SUFFERING HELPS PURIFY US

A. CONSIDER THE IMPORT OF TWO PASSAGES...
1. 1Pe 1:6-7 - Suffering can be like fire purifying gold
2. Jm 1:2-5 - Maturity can be developed through trials

B. TO ILLUSTRATE HOW, CONSIDER THE MAN WHOSE WIFE WAS INJURED...
1. "Many times I searched my own life during these past six weeks
in order to confess my every failure and shortcoming to God..."
2. "I surely did not want my own sins to stand in the way of God
hearing my prayers for Jane..."
3. "It was absolutely necessary to be truthful with God and myself,
and I am a better man today than before."

VII. SUFFERING MAKES US SYMPATHETIC

A. PAUL WROTE OF THIS VALUE OF AFFLICTION...
1. To the church at Corinth, in his second epistle - 2Co 1:3-4
2. It helps us to be better able to comfort others in their
affliction

B. WE MAY THINK WE CAN SYMPATHIZE WITH SOMEONE...
1. But until we have been there personally, there is no true
understanding of their hurt
2. Experiencing suffering...
a. Makes us more likely to "weep with those who weep" - Ro
12:15
b. Better enables us to serve others

VIII. SUFFERING TEACHES US HOW TO PRAY

A. WE ALL MAY BE A PRAYING PEOPLE...
1. We pray at the right times
2. We pray for the right things

B. BUT IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING WE LEARN HOW TO PRAY...
1. "Earnestly"
2. "Perseveringly"
3. "With groanings which cannot be uttered" (Ro 8:26)

C. AS OUR FRIEND SAID:
1. "I have been a praying man since I became a Christian. But
never like this."
2. "I have learned more about prayer in the past six weeks than
in the previous twenty years. My prayers will be different
for the rest of my life."

CONCLUSION

1. Can we begin to see why a RIGHTEOUS and MERCIFUL God would allow
suffering, even to the innocent?

2. If we look at suffering purely from MAN'S point of view, we will not
understand why suffering is permitted

3. But remember what God said through the prophet Isaiah:

8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways
my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than
your thoughts. (Isaiah 55)

4. When we look at suffering from GOD'S point of view, from the viewpoint
of His plans for us in preparation of eternity, then we can begin to
appreciate why He would allow suffering to occur...

5. And never forget those words of Paul, which reminds us of God's never
failing love:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall]
tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness,
or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed
all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him
that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor
things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8)


Praise God in the Hghest, Amen :pray:

Richard Amiel McGough
09-18-2011, 04:33 PM
Richard,

Is your conclusion that God is unrighteous because He "stands by" and allows all this suffering when He should intervene and stop all suffering of any kind in this world?

Just trying to understand what your logical conclusion might be.

Thank you,
Rick
Yes, but I would word it in the subjunctive. I'm saying that God would be unrighteous if he just "stood around" watching all the suffering in the world when he could, and should (as a moral agent), do something to help the people he created. Therefore, such a God cannot exist.

Richard Amiel McGough
09-18-2011, 04:47 PM
I would like to share a very good article from the web that says most of what I have said about why God allows sufferings. Sufferings in this world is not entirely bad. God seems to bless people who suffers more than people who don't as seen in the beatitudes. What more reward would He gives if we suffer for His sake! Important thing is not to be confounded to this temporary life in this world or we will view suffering as negative The apostles never viewed their suffering for Christ as negative but rather as looking forward to their heavenly eternal reward. Temporary riches and luxury in this world cannot be comparable to the eternal riches and luxury in the kingdom of heaven. Do not be deceived by the comfort, riches and luxury in this temporary world. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you, Aleluia! :pray:

http://executableoutlines.com/suf/suf_01.htm


If suffering is so good, then I guess I should do everything in my power to ensure people suffer more, right? The Bible does say that we should "be followers of God" ... he is our moral example .... :hysterical:

I have no problem with "suffering" being a part of reality. And it can have a very important role to play the our lives. I would choose to allow my children to "suffer" in many things such as the suffering of getting up to go to school, or the "suffering" of a skinned knee learning to ride a bike, and all the other suffering that is normal and healthy. But that's not really what we are talking about, is it?

The real issue is gratuitous suffering. God acts as if he does not exist. He allows all the suffering to go on without any intervention. I cannot call myself "good" if I see suffering and choose to ignore it. How then could I call your concept of God "good" if it says that God does things that I know are wrong?

It's the same old story. Christians have double standards in their thinking. They say that we can't "judge" what God does because we are mere humans, but then they very boldly "judge" that everything God does is "good." If you have the right to judge his actions as "good" then you have the right to judge his actions in truth, whether his actions are good or bad. The double standard is irrational. If you can't judge God then you can't say he is good (except as a mindless parrot repeating meaningless sounds learned from the Bible).

CWH
09-19-2011, 12:49 PM
QUOTE=RAM;34674]If suffering is so good, then I guess I should do everything in my power to ensure people suffer more, right? The Bible does say that we should "be followers of God" ... he is our moral example .... :hysterica
We all suffers in order to learn....fall when learning to bicycle, hurt when touching fire, fine for overspeeding etc. Parents punished their children for wrong doings hoping that their child will learn not to do it again as it is for their own good. They don't go on punishing their children after their children have repented. Same with God. Do you think the parents enjoy punishing their children. No, it pains them, yet they have to do
it as part of parental responsibilities. Same with God. The issue comes when a child is incorrigible or did a heinous crime, what do the parents do then?....


I have no problem with "suffering" being a part of reality. And it can have a very important role to play the our lives. I would choose to allow my children to "suffer" in many things such as the suffering of getting up to go to school, or the "suffering" of a skinned knee learning to ride a bike, and all the other suffering that is normal and healthy. But that's not really what we are talking about, is it?
Exactly, my point. Punishment can come in many forms not just physical pain such as loss of money, inconvenience etc,


The real issue is gratuitous suffering. God acts as if he does not exist. He allows all the suffering to go on without any intervention. I cannot call myself "good" if I see suffering and choose to ignore it. How then could I call your concept of God "good" if it says that God does things that I know are wrong?
If you saw someone punishing his child, do you approach him and say it is wrong? Do you call yourself "good" for doing so? As I said that this world is not the world that we should be focusing on. What God has destroyed, He can easily put back unlike humans. To us death is death, to God death is sleep which is reversible. Note also that Bible mention death as sleep. See my thread. http://www.biblewheel.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1925 Human laws incorporate capital punishment for heinous crimes, is it good or bad? Soldiers kill the enemies, is it good or bad? What I am trying to say here is that human thought about what is good or bad may be imperfect. If we say that capital punishment is bad, we may be wrong or we may be right. Just because capital punishment destroys a human life, it is wrong? Just because a soldier kill the enemy such as Osama or Hitler, he is wrong? How about abortion, is it right or wrong?


It's the same old story. Christians have double standards in their thinking. They say that we can't "judge" what God does because we are mere humans, but then they very boldly "judge" that everything God does is "good." If you have the right to judge his actions as "good" then you have the right to judge his actions in truth, whether his actions are good or bad. The double standard is irrational. If you can't judge God then you can't say he is good (except as a mindless parrot repeating meaningless sounds learned from the Bible).
It is not that we cannot judge God, it is that our human knowledge about good or bad is inadequate in many areas to make the right decision. God ways and thoughts are higher than ours.

Imagine how good would it be, if humans can put another person to death for several hundreds of years as a punishment for heinous crimes and then raise that person up again after the time is done and when he has repented. Obviously, this is not humanly possible but not with God.

Lord judge us not, Amen :pray:.

heb13-13
11-08-2011, 07:24 AM
Reading the Bible in a solitary cell, from memory, I am struck by the extent to which suffering pervades it.


It begins with the catastrophe of mankind's expulsion from paradise, and it concludes with the majority of mankind entering hell.


Why do even saints have to suffer?

Why are there sufferings in the animal kingdoms?

Why is a baby born with suffering?

Is suffering God's only educational method?

Why does evil exist?

Why have Christians suffered for decades in Communist jails?


After dedicating forty years of his life to missionary work among the Australian aborigines, a pastor fell sick. He suffered greatly as he was being transported on primitive roads to the city and was barely able to breathe. He asked his family to sing and to read to him from the Bible. Finally he said, "Stop the praises. I have served Him my whole life and He does not care for me." He took the Bible from his wife's hand and threw it into the bush. He could find no answer to the problem of suffering.


The only answer, which I believe should be given, is not to ask the question.


Jesus, when He was on the Cross, asked God why He had forsaken even His only begotten Son. His question is followed only by a question mark. All that is revealed to us is that the question exists and that we can live with it.


A sufferer once came to a pastor and asked him many questions. The pastor answered, "Kneel here in the church and ask Jesus for the answers." The man replied, "Do you really think I will hear a voice from heaven?" "No," said the pastor, "but by keeping quiet in prayer for several hours before God, you will realize that you can go along without answers to all your problems. This would have been Jesus' answer and it will quiet you."



You do not need more than His peace, which surpasses all understanding.



You do not need both peace and understanding, for understanding presupposes qualifications which most of us do not have. (Richard Wurmbrand, 100 Prison Meditations)


And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Co 12:9)

Rick

Richard Amiel McGough
11-08-2011, 09:54 AM
Reading the Bible in a solitary cell, from memory, I am struck by the extent to which suffering pervades it.

It begins with the catastrophe of mankind's expulsion from paradise, and it concludes with the majority of mankind entering hell.

Why do even saints have to suffer?

Why are there sufferings in the animal kingdoms?

Why is a baby born with suffering?

Is suffering God's only educational method?

Why does evil exist?

Why have Christians suffered for decades in Communist jails?


After dedicating forty years of his life to missionary work among the Australian aborigines, a pastor fell sick. He suffered greatly as he was being transported on primitive roads to the city and was barely able to breathe. He asked his family to sing and to read to him from the Bible. Finally he said, "Stop the praises. I have served Him my whole life and He does not care for me." He took the Bible from his wife's hand and threw it into the bush. He could find no answer to the problem of suffering.

The only answer, which I believe should be given, is not to ask the question.

Jesus, when He was on the Cross, asked God why He had forsaken even His only begotten Son. His question is followed only by a question mark. All that is revealed to us is that the question exists and that we can live with it.

A sufferer once came to a pastor and asked him many questions. The pastor answered, "Kneel here in the church and ask Jesus for the answers." The man replied, "Do you really think I will hear a voice from heaven?" "No," said the pastor, "but by keeping quiet in prayer for several hours before God, you will realize that you can go along without answers to all your problems. This would have been Jesus' answer and it will quiet you."


You do not need more than His peace, which surpasses all understanding.


You do not need both peace and understanding, for understanding presupposes qualifications which most of us do not have. (Richard Wurmbrand, 100 Prison Meditations)

And he said unto me, My graceissufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Co 12:9)

Rick


Good morning Rick! :yo:

I'm glad you chose to venture into these deep waters. And I'm glad you acknowledge the most obvious fact that the Bible does not answer this question. Indeed, God seems to be toying with us on this issue. He filled the first 37 chapters of the Job with an extended set up and then thunders from the whirlwind, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." He totally refused to give any answer at all to the question he so laboriously posed! What's up with that? God's response to Job is probaby the the greatest anti-climax in the history of literature. And Paul does the same thing - tells us to just "believe" and never "question" his doctrines. Is it a "mere coincidence" that this is the essential characteristic of every cult that has ever existed?

This brings us to an a question of grave importance. What is the effect on the human mind when it is taught to receive and believe incorherent concepts as the very "truth of God?" How can a person be rational and sane if their fundamental concepts of reality - God, Morality, and Reason - are fundamentally irrational?

I note that you believe that "majority of mankind" will suffer eternal conscious torment in hell. Can you not see that this is an infinite evil? The concept of hell elevates the problem of evil from a mere temporary discomfort in a short life to an infinite evil. And you are compelled to beleive this not because of any objective truth, but because you have chosen to believe without question what you have been told by the fallible men that gave you the Bible and it's interpretation. In light of these facts, now in the world could you think the best response is "not to ask the question?" Is that not the path of mindless, brainwashed, cult members? Does Scritpure really teach us to not think? To abandon our reason and to subject our minds to the fallible teachings of fallible men?

Do you realize that if you are wrong about hell, then you are falsely accusing God of an infinte evil?

Again, I'm really glad you entered into this conversation.

All the very best,

Richard

heb13-13
11-08-2011, 05:37 PM
Good morning Rick! :yo:

I'm glad you chose to venture into these deep waters.

Hey there Richard,

Sorry, I was not ignoring you. Just having a very busy time of it these days. I do acknowledge that these are deep waters. I think maybe the deepest. I will admit right off the bat that I don't feel qualified at all to talk about it, but will certainly discuss. We certainly have plenty examples of suffering in history as well as the present to draw from, not to mention personal suffering. I'm sure you have had some in 50+ years.


And I'm glad you acknowledge the most obvious fact that the Bible does not answer this question.

It certainly does not answer it the way most people would like. But there is also the Spirit that gives the letter life and we will be delving into His explanations of the letter, too.


Indeed, God seems to be toying with us on this issue.

I would think that it would be a mistake or bias to start out with that assumption, but go ahead. You start out with that assumption and I will start out with the assumption that God is good and He has a reason for what He allows. Of course, my assumption will be more difficult to present or rather more difficult for some hearers to accept, since it will most probably go against their reasoning and logic. However, for those that see through the eyes of faith, I think it may be easier to understand. And maybe in the end, that will be the dividing line. We'll see.

I think that you believe if faith is not based on reason and logic then we can be deceived and many are. Almost as if reason and logic are the anchor of our souls or the faultless interpreters for our faith. Is that a close characterization of what you believe? You know we all are always trying to get a proper handle on you. It ain't easy. :D


He filled the first 37 chapters of the Job with an extended set up and then thunders from the whirlwind, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." He totally refused to give any answer at all to the question he so laboriously posed! What's up with that? God's response to Job is probaby the the greatest anti-climax in the history of literature.

Let's not forget Job's response to God. We should look at that, too. :winking0071:


And Paul does the same thing - tells us to just "believe" and never "question" his doctrines.

Did you mean Paul's doctrines or God's ways or both?


Is it a "mere coincidence" that this is the essential characteristic of every cult that has ever existed?

Faith is powerful and Satan knows that. He caters to the organ of faith also, because he is the master counterfeiter.


This brings us to an a question of grave importance. What is the effect on the human mind when it is taught to receive and believe incoherent concepts as the very "truth of God?" How can a person be rational and sane if their fundamental concepts of reality - God, Morality, and Reason - are fundamentally irrational?

Good questions and I look forward to a profitable discussion.


I note that you believe that "majority of mankind" will suffer eternal conscious torment in hell. Can you not see that this is an infinite evil? The concept of hell elevates the problem of evil from a mere temporary discomfort in a short life to an infinite evil. And you are compelled to believe this not because of any objective truth, but because you have chosen to believe without question what you have been told by the fallible men that gave you the Bible and it's interpretation.

I simply believe what Jesus says, Richard. I just want to be where He is. If He is in Hell that is where I want to be. Heaven is not heaven if He is not there. What is eternal life without the Son of God? I don't know. I would not want to be without God for one day, let alone eternity. I don't see ultimate reconciliation in the Bible. I know some people do, but I don't. I believe God will give people what they want/choose. But we can get more into this later.


In light of these facts, how in the world could you think the best response is "not to ask the question?" Is that not the path of mindless, brainwashed, cult members? Does Scripture really teach us to not think? To abandon our reason and to subject our minds to the fallible teachings of fallible men?

I don't exactly think that is what that piece was saying. It was more figurative prose than anything. It was trying to say that there are some things that we just won't know because we don't have the capacity. But we do have the spiritual capacity to know the peace of God and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.


Do you realize that if you are wrong about hell, then you are falsely accusing God of an infinte evil? .
And Jesus and the Apostles are, too. :confused:


Again, I'm really glad you entered into this conversation.

All the very best,

Richard

I'm hoping it can be a good conversation.

Blessings to you, my friend.
Rick

Richard Amiel McGough
11-08-2011, 08:52 PM
Hey there Richard,

Sorry, I was not ignoring you. Just having a very busy time of it these days. I do acknowledge that these are deep waters. I think maybe the deepest. I will admit right off the bat that I don't feel qualified at all to talk about it, but will certainly discuss. We certainly have plenty examples of suffering in history as well as the present to draw from, not to mention personal suffering. I'm sure you have had some in 50+ years.

Sounds great Rick. I would much prefer a discussion over a debate with you.




And I'm glad you acknowledge the most obvious fact that the Bible does not answer this question.
It certainly does not answer it the way most people would like. But there is also the Spirit that gives the letter life and we will be delving into His explanations of the letter, too.

And there is our own logic and intuition which we use whenever we try to evaluate truth.




Indeed, God seems to be toying with us on this issue.
I would think that it would be a mistake or bias to start out with that assumption, but go ahead. You start out with that assumption and I will start out with the assumption that God is good and He has a reason for what He allows.

I didn't mean for that to be an "assumption" - it was just an observation, playfully stated.

As for God having a reason for what he allows - I understand that view, of course. It is, I think, the pole about which this discussion will turn.



Of course, my assumption will be more difficult to present or rather more difficult for some hearers to accept, since it will most probably go against their reasoning and logic. However, for those that see through the eyes of faith, I think it may be easier to understand. And maybe in the end, that will be the dividing line. We'll see.

I have no problem with the idea of seeing through "eyes of faith" - I do that all the time. Problems arise only when someone tells me I'm supposed to believe something written in a book or taught by some guy in a funny hat and a long dress. :p



I think that you believe if faith is not based on reason and logic then we can be deceived and many are. Almost as if reason and logic are the anchor of our souls or the faultless interpreters for our faith. Is that a close characterization of what you believe? You know we all are always trying to get a proper handle on you. It ain't easy. :D

I can see why you might think that, but I don't think it's quite correct. I think reason is an idiot if left to it's own devises. You only get a right view of reality if you use your intuition too. It's a dance between the two hemispheres of your brain. The Logical Left Brain working in harmony with the Intuitive/Holistic Right Brain. Or as the guy in the funny hat and long dress once said, "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html)" Click the link - it's a great homily.



Let's not forget Job's response to God. We should look at that, too. :winking0071:

Sure - but what's a mortal to do when the Almighty is castigating him from a whirlwind? I'm not so sure there is much we can learn from Job's response other than "cower before the mean God who yells at you."




And Paul does the same thing - tells us to just "believe" and never "question" his doctrines.
Did you mean Paul's doctrines or God's ways or both?

Are you suggesting that Paul taught something other than "God's ways?"




Is it a "mere coincidence" that this is the essential characteristic of every cult that has ever existed?
Faith is powerful and Satan knows that. He caters to the organ of faith also, because he is the master counterfeiter.

And God is infinitely wise, so why did he set up his religion to be indistinguishable from any other human cult?



Good questions and I look forward to a profitable discussion.

Me too! It's been great so far. :thumb:



I simply believe what Jesus says, Richard. I just want to be where He is. If He is in Hell that is where I want to be. Heaven is not heaven if He is not there. What is eternal life without the Son of God? I don't know. I would not want to be without God for one day, let alone eternity. I don't see ultimate reconciliation in the Bible. I know some people do, but I don't. I believe God will give people what they want/choose. But we can get more into this later.

Are you really unaware that not all Christians believe the Bible teaches eternal conscious torment in hell? Do you not know that according to some reports I've read, the majority of early churches were Universalist? And even if not the majority, there certainly were many. Why do you write as if your view of hell is the only possibility?

And as for the idea that God will give people what the "want." I can't tell you how stupid that line sounds to me. Don't worry, it's not your fault - that line has been propagated by weak minded apologists for many years. But let me just say this - the doctrine of hell has absolutely nothing to do with God giving people what they want or choose. If that were the case, hell would be one long party with free beer and loose women. That's not what the doctrine is about. The doctrine is about GOD PUNISHING SINNERS FOR ETERNITY. Nobody "wants" that.




In light of these facts, how in the world could you think the best response is "not to ask the question?" Is that not the path of mindless, brainwashed, cult members? Does Scripture really teach us to not think? To abandon our reason and to subject our minds to the fallible teachings of fallible men?
I don't exactly think that is what that piece was saying. It was more figurative prose than anything. It was trying to say that there are some things that we just won't know because we don't have the capacity. But we do have the spiritual capacity to know the peace of God and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

OK - I understand. But still, I bristle when anyone gives the slightest suggestion that we should not ask questions or think about the doctrines we have received from our ancestors.




Do you realize that if you are wrong about hell, then you are falsely accusing God of an infinte evil?
And Jesus and the Apostles are, too. :confused:

Not necessarily. That depends upon your interpretation of the Bible.




Again, I'm really glad you entered into this conversation.

I'm hoping it can be a good conversation.

I'd say we already are!

Great chatting,

Richard

Silence
11-09-2011, 09:27 AM
I have a few thoughts to add to this discussion that may not have occurred to a lot of people, especially Christians.

About a year ago, I bought a book at a thrift shop called "Animals in translation" by Temple Grandin. (Interesting name, huh?) She is an autistic person who describes her life growing up with animals and being fascinated with their behavior and all of the ways that she could relate to their apparent similarities to her way of thinking. Anyway, in the chapter on pain and suffering, starting on page 184, she begins describing the some of the differences between how animals and people respond to pain. And she makes an interesting observation - there is a big difference between having pain and suffering from it. She describes the work of doctors who had patients with debilitating pain, and how they would sometimes perform a leucotomy on them. A leucotomy is like a lobotomy but less drastic, in that they do not remove the frontal lobes as in lobotomy, instead they sever the connection between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain. She describes one patient who, before undergoing this operation, spent a lot of time curled up in a ball trying desperately not to move, so as to not cause a spike in the pain. After a leucotomy, two days later the patient was sitting at a card table playing games. The doctor asked him how he was doing and he replied "The pains are still the same, but now I am not suffering from them." Scientists began to suspect a link between hyper-activity in the pre-frontal area of the brain and chronic pain. The thinking is that since our frontal lobes more developed than animals, we think more about our pain, and especially, we are able to relate to what that pain means to "me". The awareness of "me" gives pain the ability to cause suffering.

As a young Christian, I can remember one day having the "blasphemous" thought that maybe there were things in the world before the fall that could cause pain, but they were without power to cause suffering because there was no self-awareness. I can also remember reading accounts of people who were so engrossed in a situation and focused on something outside of themselves, that they didn't notice when they were being injured. As I was typing this the thought occurred to me - In Genesis 3, God said, "Thorns and thistles it (the ground) will bring forth to you, etc...". I don't think God created thorns and thistles on the spot when Adam sinned, they had been there all along. The same thing could be the case with death. It may have been in the earth, but not in the garden. If there was no death before the fall, what good would it do for God to use death as a threat against disobedience, since those threatened would have no idea what He was talking about! The fact that Adam was to "guard" or "keep" the garden implies that there were things outside the garden that needed to be kept out.

A similar concept of self-awareness causing problems comes into play in the "positive" areas. I can remember one of the guys in our bible study group describing how he was having difficulty with a co-worker and he "decided" to be a blessing to this person by "walking in agape" and biting his tongue and instead say something nice to the other person who was giving him such a hard time. For some reason it bugged me to hear someone "deciding" to walk in love, and I blurted out something like - "When you are walking in agape, you won't even notice you are being a blessing to someone". I guess it's like the difference between a person walking in agape, and agape walking in a person.

One more thought on pain and suffering that is a little off the beaten path - One winter several years ago I spent a lot of time reading the early church father's writings, and was struck by the way many of them, when they saw someone being victimized, almost seemed like they were more concerned for the perpetrator than the victim. They saw the damage that the aggressor was doing to themselves. This attitude seems to be a foreign concept in the world and I was surprised when I first came across it, but after a while it seems to have a deep wisdom behind it.

Richard, I know the idea of people behaving as though they had had a "leucotomy" as an answer for the problem of suffering gives you an open door to "make a lot of hay", but given the idea that ingested substances can make the brain more "plastic" and re-arrange the way it works, it is entirely possible that the record of the fall in Genesis 3 could be describing how eating a certain fruit caused Adam and Eve's brains to begin processing things differently, resulting in suffering being introduced to them, and also to us, since we are descended from them. The same substances that can cause changes in consciousness can also throw "epigenetic switches" that affect one's descendants and be passed on.

The bottom line question always seems to go back to why God set things up the way He did, knowing that suffering would result. I don't know, but it seems that there is a universal desire to have suffering redeemed and come to an end by finding some meaning in it.

Richard Amiel McGough
11-09-2011, 10:30 AM
I have a few thoughts to add to this discussion that may not have occurred to a lot of people, especially Christians.

About a year ago, I bought a book at a thrift shop called "Animals in translation" by Temple Grandin. (Interesting name, huh?) She is an autistic person who describes her life growing up with animals and being fascinated with their behavior and all of the ways that she could relate to their apparent similarities to her way of thinking. Anyway, in the chapter on pain and suffering, starting on page 184, she begins describing the some of the differences between how animals and people respond to pain. And she makes an interesting observation - there is a big difference between having pain and suffering from it. She describes the work of doctors who had patients with debilitating pain, and how they would sometimes perform a leucotomy on them. A leucotomy is like a lobotomy but less drastic, in that they do not remove the frontal lobes as in lobotomy, instead they sever the connection between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain. She describes one patient who, before undergoing this operation, spent a lot of time curled up in a ball trying desperately not to move, so as to not cause a spike in the pain. After a leucotomy, two days later the patient was sitting at a card table playing games. The doctor asked him how he was doing and he replied "The pains are still the same, but now I am not suffering from them." Scientists began to suspect a link between hyper-activity in the pre-frontal area of the brain and chronic pain. The thinking is that since our frontal lobes more developed than animals, we think more about our pain, and especially, we are able to relate to what that pain means to "me". The awareness of "me" gives pain the ability to cause suffering.

As a young Christian, I can remember one day having the "blasphemous" thought that maybe there were things in the world before the fall that could cause pain, but they were without power to cause suffering because there was no self-awareness. I can also remember reading accounts of people who were so engrossed in a situation and focused on something outside of themselves, that they didn't notice when they were being injured. As I was typing this the thought occurred to me - In Genesis 3, God said, "Thorns and thistles it (the ground) will bring forth to you, etc...". I don't think God created thorns and thistles on the spot when Adam sinned, they had been there all along. The same thing could be the case with death. It may have been in the earth, but not in the garden. If there was no death before the fall, what good would it do for God to use death as a threat against disobedience, since those threatened would have no idea what He was talking about! The fact that Adam was to "guard" or "keep" the garden implies that there were things outside the garden that needed to be kept out.

A similar concept of self-awareness causing problems comes into play in the "positive" areas. I can remember one of the guys in our bible study group describing how he was having difficulty with a co-worker and he "decided" to be a blessing to this person by "walking in agape" and biting his tongue and instead say something nice to the other person who was giving him such a hard time. For some reason it bugged me to hear someone "deciding" to walk in love, and I blurted out something like - "When you are walking in agape, you won't even notice you are being a blessing to someone". I guess it's like the difference between a person walking in agape, and agape walking in a person.

One more thought on pain and suffering that is a little off the beaten path - One winter several years ago I spent a lot of time reading the early church father's writings, and was struck by the way many of them, when they saw someone being victimized, almost seemed like they were more concerned for the perpetrator than the victim. They saw the damage that the aggressor was doing to themselves. This attitude seems to be a foreign concept in the world and I was surprised when I first came across it, but after a while it seems to have a deep wisdom behind it.

Richard, I know the idea of people behaving as though they had had a "leucotomy" as an answer for the problem of suffering gives you an open door to "make a lot of hay", but given the idea that ingested substances can make the brain more "plastic" and re-arrange the way it works, it is entirely possible that the record of the fall in Genesis 3 could be describing how eating a certain fruit caused Adam and Eve's brains to begin processing things differently, resulting in suffering being introduced to them, and also to us, since we are descended from them. The same substances that can cause changes in consciousness can also throw "epigenetic switches" that affect one's descendants and be passed on.

The bottom line question always seems to go back to why God set things up the way He did, knowing that suffering would result. I don't know, but it seems that there is a universal desire to have suffering redeemed and come to an end by finding some meaning in it.
Fascinating observations. And quite synchronistic since Rose and I have been reading books on neuroplasticity. I just finished The Brain That Changes Itself. It completely overthrows the old "received wisdom" that brain functions were "hard wired" and it discussed many cases where people recovered after severe brain damange by rewiring their brains. There is a site www.positscience.com (http://www.positscience.com) that promotes techniques for brain wellness.

And I also recently heard William Lane Craig's attempt to deal with pain and suffering in animals where he promotes (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7645) the same solution as you, namely, that animals don't suffer the way we do because they don't have self-consciousness. I think there is some merit in that argument (rather anomalous for arguments produced by WLC, I would say).

When I was a Christian I entertained the idea that there could have been some sort of genetic transformation at the Fall, but now I see no reason to assume that the Fall is anything but a myth. It might have some profound wisdom, but I don't see any reason to think that we should take is at refering to a literal historical event now matter how we interpret it. There seems to be too many problems to make that viable. For example, people evolved - we didn't descend from Adam and Eve. And the story doesn't really explain sin since Adam and Eve sinned when they were sinless. And besides, I see no connection between sin and suffering at all. Even the Bible admits that the good often suffer and the sinful often prosper. So there is no connection between sin and suffering in reality though it is a nearly universal superstition.

But I do think that your intuitions about brain plasticity and epigenetics are strongly connected to the problem of suffering. I know I can reduce my suffering to nothing by a simple change in the way that I think about things, even without chemical assistence. I also know that I can create suffering when there need not be any just as easily. The power is in our brains, thoughts, habits, and beleifs. And maybe that's the real reason it is so important for us to get our beliefs in line with reality. Holding false beliefs is perhaps the greatest source of suffering the world has ever known.