The Inquisitive Hand Blogger Blog

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Today's Message: Open your minds, Expand your thoughts, Find meaning.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Why is there so Much Suffering?

London Terrorist Bomb AttacksYet again, I'm moving from being a Jockey into my serious mode (for the moment) to discuss an infinitely more complex and contentious issue of "Why is there so much suffering, if God is all-loving?", as I've briefly discussed with Black Cat in the wonderful comments blogger blog feature. A week ago there was the Live 8 concert to help end the debt of the third world countries and hopefully give these countries a head start in progressing, I emphasise the word hopefully. However, poverty in these countries is as rife as obesity is in the United States. Little babies, who have done nothing wrong, die a painful, excruciating and unnecessary death. Also, recently in the London attacks, many innocent people died and hundreds more were injured severely, did they deserve this? Now comes the dilemma. If God is an all-loving being, as is in the Classical Theistic view, then why wouldn't God save that child in poverty or protect the people in the London blasts? Surely, a Mother would do anything to save their children from pain, no? Also, if anyone, it is God who can do a miracle and bend the rules of nature to save his/her/it/their children. Here are answers some religions give:

A God and a Devil

  • There is a God, but also a Devil that works against God to destroy the world. It is the Devil that causes this suffering not God.

This is a crap explanation, because if God is all powerful, then why doesn't God kill the Devil today and end our suffering. This means that either God is not powerful at all (thus cannot be called God) or more logically, there is not a Devil. If there is a Devil, then the Devil must work for God, thus, the Devil cannot really be called evil but is instead trying to do his/her/it's/their duty. Many Christians would say that the Devil is a very real human being, but then the question I would pose that if the Devil is a human being who walks on Earth, then why is it that bombs can explode in two places at once, why is it that evil can happen at two places at once. Christians may further argue that in fact the Devil has associates, but then it still wouldn't solve the contradiction on an All powerful creator who cannot seemingly control a mere Devil.

Really there is no Devil. The concept of a Devil was created by high priests and holy men who would commit various evil acts such as murder and so needed someone or something else to blame. The devil is just a character that we have created to place the blame of evil off ourselves and onto an imaginary being. The real Devil is of our own minds. As humans, our minds are in constant battle with themselves to try and get control. Also, if the Devil punishes people for their wrong doings in Hell then surely the Devil must be good. If the Devil was truly evil then he would make the people in Hell his/her friends because they would have something in common (being evil of course). Again, this is a grave absurdity of the whole "Devil" affair. If you still disagree with me then go back to your Holy Books and read a bit more deeply. You shall come to realise that the real Devil is of our own minds. The real hell is in our minds. We are in constant conflict with our own minds to try and get control, but currently, our desires are in control of us. What a shame.

A Not so Powerful God

  • God is not so powerful now but used to be an all-powerful being.

This makes as much sense as a Dog with hair extensions. This theory can be solved by asking "Can God create a mountain that he cannot move?". If not then this means God is not so powerful therefore the God in question is not the God. If so then this means God has created something more powerful than God, therefore, God cannot be God. If you don't understand this, don't worry, let it mull over for a few weeks and one day you may get it (much like me, I took half a year to understand it). Generally, the point being that if a God is not so powerful, then that God cannot be the God. This explanation for suffering is therefore illogical.

An All Powerful, All Loving God

  • God is both all powerful and all loving, but there is also evil in the world.

This seems to be back to square one and you may be wondering how on Mother Earth this is pulled off. I have not seen this concept fully explained in any other religion more clearly than it has been done in Sikhism. It is written that as humans, because our desires are in control of us, we have become attached to the world and materialism. In order for us to become aware of our goal in life again, there is suffering. Suffering is the mechanism which God has created to remind us of the meaning of life. This is explained better as an analogy:

There is a blacksmith who purifies iron. First he takes the iron, puts it on the anvil and begins to beat it with his hammer. The iron screams and weeps due to the suffering it has endured. But the result is iron without the impurities.

The suffering we face is for our best. In our own minds, we see death as a bad thing because it is seen as the end of life, but without death how would we understand life? We have a misconception about death as being bad, but what if for one moment we assume death is good? This would mean death is the beginning of something even more wonderful. After all, death may ironically be seen to be the ender of pain and suffering.

Similarly, without suffering how would we understand pleasure? The system is a perfect one, which requires no intervention by God. Our entire creation seems to have a beautiful ability to regulate and repair itself whilst continually changing and expanding and unfolding in beautiful ways which we may never understand. Much like an ant cannot understand how vast our world is, similarly, we are even smaller than ants in comparison to the universe and all its wonder.

In my mind, the answer to suffering is a simple one, and related to the meaning of is to make us realise where we stand in life and what our lives mean to us. It allows us to snap out of our materialistic world we have indulged in and see reality for what it is. It opens our eyes. And I hope I've opened yours too.

8 Inquisitives:

  • At 8:28 pm, Blogger Black Cat said…

    bravo! i truly and completely agree (thank you for discussing this further, also) the devil is completely in our minds, and (i believe) also is God. It is human nature to want and need a "higher entity," something that puts a little control into our minds. The weight of life can be too much for us alone, so we turn to another who CAN hold the burden: an all-loving, all-forgiving figure. God. We pile our troubles and triumphs upon him so we do not have to carry them. And when terrible things do happen, we have created a devil to blame this on as well. does this make sense? (real question: do humans make sense?) unless you are spock from star trek, YOU ARE NOT LOGICAL. our minds were not BUILT to be logical. that is our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. thus, god and the devil do not comply because there is no way they CAN comply and still meet our mortal needs.

    (excuse as i fly off on a tangent)
    in my opinion, heaven and hell are exactly the same! we cannot bear to think that after we die there is nothing else. it boggles our minds. (i am no exception.) we cannot begin to imagine stopping everything, including thought, love, need, want. emotions in general. therefore, we create ourselves a heaven to go to and continue emotions of happiness. however, we also cannot imagine evil people being rewarded with this also. so we create a hell for them to be efficiently punsihed for eternity.

    now - are you going to heaven or hell? most people spend altogether too much time on this question. my opinion: you are living it. are you happy, or are you miserable? make your heaven or your hell here, on earth. if you want to feel remorse and guilt and sadness and self-pity, GUESS WHAT?? you dont have to wait to die to go to hell! (wake-up call) YOU"RE IN IT!!

    and if you are happy, secure and are making the most of life, you're already in heaven, my friend. you dont have to wait.

    thank you again for this satisfying post, inquisitive hand!

  • At 1:39 am, Blogger Demosthenes said…

    Hm. Well, I had to actually think before I posted on this one, which is a good sign. I think you're close with your explanation, at least close to what I would say. Suffering is what brings BALANCE. This world could not sustain life it was flawless. Life IS, in part, suffering. Without some discomfort, without something hanging over our heads, there is nothing to drive us, nothing to obligate us, nothing to motivate us. Yet with it, we are spurred into purpose. We act to better ourselves, or others (and often the opposite), all because everything does not fit the way it should. There is, once again, a level of complexity to this issue beyond human comprehension. Take, for example, the tsunami. Yes, it brought the world together in efforts of aid. Yes, a few aid workers probably met, fell in love, and will get married. Yes, better tsunami warning systems are falling into place. But for what? How could any of this outweigh the death toll and devastation? As far as I can tell, it doesn't.

  • At 2:22 am, Blogger Black Cat said…

    ?? what do you mean, demosthenes? you say suffering drives us to purpose, and then you say that our purpose means nothing anyway? what IS your opinion on the matter, because all i see are contradictory views.

  • At 7:57 pm, Blogger Jazz said…

    To Demos: The system is perfect and no matter on whatever scale you put it, whether on the level of a Tsunami or the London blasts, God need not intervene because the universe regulates itself. If God did intervene then this would mean that God has favourites and loves certain people more than others which would make God unfair. Our entire existence is perfectly regulated and kept in check. Also, how can we possibly imagine the long term positive effects of the Tsunami?

    To Black Cat: I agree on your logic that in fact God may be an imaginary being that we need to help us cope with death...this is what evolutionary scientists believe. However, if this was true and God has been created through evolution then why do we have free will to decide whether we believe in God or not. Also, more importantly, why is that those very scientists can cope with death without the need for a God?

    In my next post I shall make God the only most likely possibility for our existence. Through the limited logic we have we can work out that God is a neccessary being whom without, we should have never existed.

    Also, I don't think we should concentrate our lives on going to Hell or Heaven but instead go through our lives doing good actions for the sake of doing them. I hate to use God as a means to an end. ;-)

  • At 11:44 pm, Blogger Demosthenes said…

    Black Cat- Tell me what our purpose is (or try) and then tell me that what I said made sense. Purpose doesn't need its own purpose. Purpose doesn't have to mean anything, it just IS. That like saying you can't have an orange without eating it. It can still be there, it just doesn't have the intended effect.

    IH- Indeed, the system appears unflawed. But my question remains, though the tsunami will be regulated, why have it in the first place. What's the difference between being correctly regulated and then not having to be in the first place?

  • At 8:13 am, Blogger Jazz said…

    Demo - Everything has a purpose that is beneficial. One philosopher once said "There is a snake which bit my family, poisoned them with venom and they died. How is that beneficial to anyone?", The answer is that the venom is beneficial to the snake because it protects it from predators.

    In particular, the Tsunami wave is beneficial to the sea because Tsunamis "are the result of oceans attempting to smooth out their surface after a disturbance." If there were no Tsunamis then our waters would be highly chaotic and would most likely destroy all land and all not allow aquatic life to exist. The purpose of things which exist are beneficial and vital to our existence.

    Demos, if you look far enough for a purpose, then you're sure to find it because as my first statement states "everything has a purpose".

  • At 2:49 pm, Blogger jedith said…

    I would like to express my condolences to you and all of the people of Britain for the pain you are suffering subsequent to the terrorist bombings. Let us hope that the US and England will be strengthened in a united front in the war on terror.

  • At 5:18 pm, Blogger Demosthenes said…

    To say that everything has a purpose is a boldly solid statement. Once again, I site mankind's dramatic lack of knowledge concerning the universe. I'm not disagreeing, but there is much with purpose that we have yet to define. Sometimes purpose is merely to exist.


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