I love the amateurs who engage in theodicy, though, to be sure, they don’t give palpably worse explanations for earthly suffering than do the Sophisticated Theologians®
Reader “Travis”, a true believer, attempted to put this comment on my May 4 post, “Why should nonbelievers pray and go to church?”
The “solution” to the “problem of evil” (at least in the sense of unjust suffering), by my thinking, is this:At the end of the proverbial day all suffering will either be the just punishment of those who reject God or will be suffering which those who love God will be grateful to have suffered for the accomplishment of God’s good purposes.
Note several things, not least the assurance with which Travis claims to understand God’s plan. Also, this explanation fails to explain important aspects of suffering, like why infants who die of cancer or other afflictions—before they even know about God and therefore can’t love him—nevertheless suffer. Further, who would be grateful for earthly suffering, unless that suffering is somehow a prerequisite to being with God?
And what about the suffering of people who accept God, like (honorable) priests, rabbis, and imams? They certainly don’t reject God!
The fact remains, and nobody can explain it, is that there is a huge amount of gratuitous suffering on this planet that God could have prevented had he chosen to, and the explanation above says nothing about suffering as the price of having “free will.” (That explanation, as readers have noted, makes little sense, and at any rate doesn’t explain physical evil: stuff not resulting from human action but from diseases, microbes, or catastrophes like earthquakes and tsunamis.)
Reply to Travis (politely), if you wish, and I’ll inform him/her of the thread.