Human beings have always found the world to be a somewhat ambiguous place. Whilst there is incredible goodness, beauty and creativity in the world there is also much evil, ugliness and destruction. Reconciling the existence of both good and evil, of suffering and tranquillity has proved to be a challenge for people throughout history. Some have suggested that a multiplicity of rival gods offers a logical explanation. People’s suffering is therefore a result of the capricious nature of the various gods or of which god has gained ascendancy at any one time. Human suffering is therefore often seen as little more than a by product of ongoing conflict between a variety of gods. Others have seen suffering not as the result of random interactions of a number of deities but rather as a simple conflict between two forces. Perhaps in its most common form this solution argues that there is a good God who brings everything which is good into the world and a bad devil who brings everything which is evil in the world. This sort of dualism argues that sometimes evil gains the upper hand and so people suffer and sometimes good does and so the diversity of human experience is again logically explained. Recently another logical explanation to suffering in the world has emerged in the form of scientific reasoning. Atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins explains suffering in the following way in his book entitled 'River out of Eden'
‘In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no other good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.’
Suffering is therefore explained as a result of nothing more than the physical forces and natural laws which dominate our universe. As we examine these suggested explanations we are left with two questions. The first question is whether these explanations represent a logical explanation of the amount of suffering in the world? Do physical forces and natural laws really explain the irrational murder of 13 schoolchildren and suicide of the murderer which occurred in Dunblane on 13 March 1996? Do physical forces and natural laws offer any logical explanation of the seemingly irrational kindness and sacrifice seen by people throughout history? The second question is whether even if they do offer logical explanations there is any reason to believe that what they are saying is true. A multiplicity of gods may explain the co-existence of real evil and suffering and real goodness and joy but is there any reason to believe in a multiplicity of gods? The mere fact that something may offer a logical explanation for there being so much suffering in the world is not enough to accept it as the correct explanation.
A Christian is forced to answer the same question as anyone else. Why is there so much suffering in the world? This question is made more complicated by their assertion that God is omnipotent, omniscient and completely good. Surely it is not logical to believe that a being who knows everything (presumably including about all suffering), can do anything (presumably including prevent suffering) and loves perfectly (presumably including those who are suffering) can exist in a world with so much suffering. Whilst this assertion sounds convincing it remains only an assertion until the Bible’s explanation for the existence of so much suffering in our world is examined and proved to be illogical.
To be continued...