Does Suffering Disprove God?

One of the commenters yesterday brought up the issue of suffering as an argument against a belief in God.

you should ask yourself sometime how is that an all powerful-all knowing god would allow a young girl in Sudan to be repeatedly raped, and then murdered? Do you think that she was begging a god to save her, but didn’t get his name right? Or perhaps this all knowing, full of love and mercy god has another plan, and we ought to all rejoice in this senseless death… it was the god’s will? Great, he heard the screams and prayers but was unmoved?

My thought is to turn the question around. How does an atheist explain such heinous behavior? If God does not exist, then who is to blame for one person mistreating another?

The obvious answer is, Man himself is to blame.

Why should belief in God change that obvious truth? Just because God exists and is omnipotent, suddenly man will stop doing terrible things to his fellow man?

I encountered this argument in an online discussion I had last December and thought some of those comments might be appropriate:

I know that most of what I’m about to say won’t influence your thinking, because we have another point of difference and that has to do with Man’s nature.

I believe that Man is sinful and that at some point God lets Man go the way he wishes to.

Here’s an example. God was the authority of the fledgling nation of Israel, governing through prophets and judges. The people saw other nations ruled by kings and demanded a king of their own. God said, not a good plan, but OK. Actually this is the quote: And the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” There’s more, but you get the gist. Thing is, God also gave them rules to follow—things the kings weren’t supposed to do … even though it was His desire to remain their King.

Here’s another example. Jesus was talking, telling the people that they were to have one wife, not to divorce. The people said, but Moses made provision for divorce, and Jesus answered, “Because of the hardness of your heart Moses permitted you to divorce…”

Later Paul spelled this out in one of his letters: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts …”

… The reality it [sic], omnipotent, sovereign God lets Man have a say-so in what happens, if nothing more than to say, I reject You.

But here’s how I know what God’s character is. Jesus was His perfect representative—God come to earth. And when He was asked, What’s the most important commandment, He answered by saying, Love God and the second is like it: love your neighbor. All the law and prophets are summed up by these two.

So, no, suffering doesn’t disprove God. In fact suffering confirms Mankind’s nature and the truth of the warnings God gave against sin.

To believe the contrary is like a little child cutting herself on the knife she was playing with after her parent told not to, then turning around and saying something like, “I don’t have a dad or he would have taken the knife away from me.”

Faulty reasoning. And focusing on such detracts from God’s compassion and love—the very real help that He wants to offer the person who suffers. When we “pass through the waters” He will be with us, when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us. I guess atheists, though, have to go it alone.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 1:01 pm  Comments (13)  
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