Reading Together Blog

God, Suffering, Sharon, and other theories

Why would God allow human suffering? This is just one of the questions that Strength in What Remains tries to answer.

The author set's the stage for what he considers unacceptable theories (he mentioned this at his talk): "One of the things I've noticed about some of the genocide narratives I've read, people will say, 'God spared me.' The problem I have with that is then you think, 'Well, what about all the people who got their heads chopped off?...So I'm not quite sure that's the way to look at it" (p. 177).

Deo says that human suffering is caused by God letting people do what they want, a sort of Deistic approach; God created human nature and said "you're on your own." (can you find that passage?) It struck me as almost sad, slightly sarcastic and comedic, perhaps due to the desensitization Deo went through.

Sharon, more optimistic, says: "I have a theory," she replied. "I remember thinking long ago, 'We're loved infinitely for however little bit of time we have.' And it's not ultimately tragic to die at any age. Whether we're talking about being blown into little pieces or waht is ultimate tragedy, I just think there isn't ultimate tragedy except for evil, and God doesn't will any evil. And we're surrounded by--I tell the little kids about the Good Shepherd...but the vine and the branches is great, too--but whether we feel it or not, we are surrounded by this tremendously loving presence, and that covers every second of every day. Of everybody" (p. 177).

Sharon's theory, I think, is one of the most unique theories I have come across.

For further reading, other theories (called "theodicies") include: (a) Free will is the greatest gift, which allows for evil and suffering, (b) suffering is God's way of making us stronger, (c) God cannot stop evil and suffering, (d) evil and suffering do not actually exist, (e) for good to exist, its opposite evil must exist. To find them in our catalog, do a subject search for theodicy, or suffering, or good and evil.


philosophy of religion

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