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Questions for believers, raised by the existence of suffering

If God is all good and wants the best for people, why does God allow suffering that is clearly not good?
If God is benevolent, why does God allow us to suffer?
If God is omniscient, he must realise that we suffer. How can he stand by and do nothing to stop our suffering?
If God is omnipotent, and can do anything, why does God not stop suffering?


Types of suffering

Natural suffering
Man-made suffering


Reasons that suffering is good

Can make someone a stronger person
Can make us appreciate things we take for granted
A test of faith
All part of God's plan


Christian reasons for the existence of suffering

God gave us free will, which means we can choose how to behave. Some people use this freedom to choose actions that cause suffering (Adam & Eve)
It is a punishment for sin, enabling people to grow spiritually
The devil tempts people to do wrong


Christian responses to the existence of suffering in the world

Trusting in God helps Christians to accept and endure personal suffering as part of God's will, but they will try to help others who are suffering
Mathew 22:39 means that Christians should not only feel compassion for those who suffer, but also should take active steps to help them
Follow the example of Jesus


The problem of evil

God, who created the world and human beings, is benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. Yet evil exists. This means that God cannot be all of these things


Questions for believers, raised by the existence of evil

If God is all good, why did he create a world where evil is present?
If God is benevolent, surely he would want his creations to be good too?
If God is all powerful, why can he not stop someone before they do evil? And if God cannot stop them, does this mean that God is weak
If God is all knowing, he must know that people will sometimes choose evil over good. Why did he give people free will to make that choice?


Some answers to questions about evil

God gave people the freedom to make their own choices, which shows his goodness and love
God chooses not to use his power so people are forced to use their freedom wisely
If everything that happens is God's will, then we do not have free will. We do have free will, which means we go against his will


Types of evil

Moral evil
Natural evil


Explanations for where evil comes from

An impersonal force
A personal being or devil
A psychological phenomenon
A mental illness or instability


Christian reasons for the existence of evil

Adam and Eve sinning - 'original sin'
Story of Job - suffering is a test


Christian responses to the existence of evil in the world

Follow the teachings to love God and your neighbour
Love your enemies
When evil is done to you, "turn the other cheek"
Forgive others so God will forgive you


What is evil

The opposite of good. A force or the personification of a negative power that is seen many traditions as destructive and against God.
Deliberate cruelty done in the full knowledge that it is wrong


Why do people blame God for evil and suffering

He created people and gave them free will. This allows them to choose to do bad rather than good


Why do people blame ourselves for evil and suffering

Selfishness, anger and a lack of respect are simply alternatives to selflessness, generosity and respect. When we give in to the 'dark' side of our nature we do evil


The problem of suffering

God is all loving and all powerful. But suffering exists. How can God be these things and allow suffering


What is the Buddhist response to suffering

The Eight fold Path
Stop craving
Overcome attachment to material things


What are the 4 noble truths

Life means suffering
The origin of suffering is attachment
The end of suffering is possible
There is an eightfold path to the end of suffering


What is the Hindus response to evil

Gaining self control


What is the Sikhs response to evil

Practising Sewa (selfless service)
Practising 5 virtues


What is the Muslims response to evil

Following the 5 pillars of Islam


What is the Jews response to evil

Belief God made a covenant with them. Evil can be overcome by compete obedience


Islamic reasons for evil

Shaytan tries to turn people from Allah
They will be forgiven on the day of judgement if they repent


Buddhist beliefs about evil

The root causes of evil are 3 'poisons' - greed, hatred & ignorance


Hindu beliefs about evil

Evil is a part of birth, death & rebirth.
It is an absence of God
You can make up for it through good karma


Reasons that suffering is bad

It can cause people to become weak and suicidal
It disproves the idea that God is omnipotent, benevolent etc.
People should not need to be tested, its cruel
Does not explain why some suffer more than others


Definition of psychological phenomenon

An idea about the nature of evil that it is arising from the mind of a person


Definition of impersonal force

The idea that evil is a power outside of people that draws them to evil