Why innocent children are allowed to suffer? e.g. Hamzah Kham, his siblings and much more thorough the world.

(167 Posts)
Hopemore Sun 06-Oct-13 03:11:51

I just find it so hard to keep my faith strong when I see innocent people suffering so badly.
I try to be good, helpful, generous.
I try to cause no harm, etc
But that is not enough for me, I need to have faith.
But it is hard to keep strong, it really is.
I don't want to be an hypocrite, I really want to have a solid faith but sometimes I think I just can't have it.
Not because of my life, I am grateful for everything I have, but I feel 'angry' for so much suffering in the world.
Sorry if I don't make any sense.

headinhands Mon 14-Oct-13 14:47:03

I understand what you're saying but still don't see that as morally fair. If one of my children repeatedly hit another with a brick how would it be morally right for me to watch and do nothing. How reasonable would I sound if I defended myself by citing free will. Why is it right for me to prevent someone hurting another yet right for god to not prevent harm?

Have we discussed disease? Congenital birth defects? How is that the result of sin?

fizzoclock Wed 16-Oct-13 16:41:19

I guess with the brick analogy.... I still think that God does, has and will do something about sin and suffering and that is through Jesus and in the renewing of the heavens and the earth. If God intervenes further now that = an end to the current time of free will and choice that we have. That means those who have chosen to hit their sibling over the head with a brick are stuck with that choice and are judged for it. They have no more time to reconsider/reform etc.... We even given murders that choice. I think from God's bigger perspective there is a mercy in standing back although I know it doesn't feel that way.

I do completely get the massive issues with the problem of suffering. I'm not trying to say that there is a perfect argument which deals with it, merely that there are good and sufficient arguments as to how God and suffering are compatible. I think if rationality could sum it up we would not need a God. Obviously faith is required in God's otherness and perspective beyond our own which allows for suffering to happen. I have that faith in God's justice, love and mercy and so I trust in that where my own knowledge and limited human perspective reaches it's limits.

I think not believing in God requires a different kind of faith in this being it. That the suffering you see now has no redemption and that the end of the story is suffering and death.

SweetSkull Wed 16-Oct-13 16:47:41

But this discussion is going back in circles
Mercy to the guilty and suffering to the victim

headinhands Wed 16-Oct-13 17:56:04

When you say our current time of free will I assume you believe that god never intervenes in situations on earth? That doesn't tie up with the NT promises (assuming you're a Christian). As for 'mercy in standing back'. That's an abominable phrase. How could it ever be merciful to watch someone do vile things to a child. And remember sometimes a person will end another persons life. So it's okay for them to take away someone's potential salvation?

I don't feel I have faith. I'm choosing to only believe what there is evidence for. I'm not saying 'there is no god' I'm saying there is no reason to believe that a loving god exists. Maybe one who is hands off and uninterested but I don't even have any evidence for that but then there wouldn't be.

Yuo could argue, and I do, that my outlook is more helpful. Rather than relying on a justice later and waiting for potential resolution later, I think that all we can do is prevent harm being done now or later.

niminypiminy Wed 16-Oct-13 21:33:01

I think that's a false dichotomy - that is, between having faith and striving to address wrongdoing and injustice and alleviate the world 's ills. I don't know any Christians who do not think we should do both. It's not either/or - it's both/and.

I suppose I'd like to know how it helps you to believe that the universe is a bleak, pitiless place, where there is no ultimate meaning, no redemption and no hope? I don't think there are really any answers to the problem of pain. The question is, what helps us to deal with life's griefs and horrors?

For me the answer is hope - not optimism - that somehow everything can be made right. I don 'to know how exactly that will happen. But I have what seems to me a well founded hope.

Now, you can reject that hope, or pooh-pooh it, and that's fine. But how does it help you to live with pain and suffering to believe that that the universe is indifferent, meaningless and pitiless?

niminypiminy Wed 16-Oct-13 21:33:54

That is a genuine question btw - I do really want to know.

headinhands Wed 16-Oct-13 22:02:28

It doesn't help me but why should it. The universe doesn't owe me anything it is what it is. That said I find it mind blowing how vast the universe and how rich the tapestry of life on earth. I also relish in the love of the people in my life, and use that love to extend love out to people less fortunate than myself. If I was going to start believing things (again) just because they 'help me' well there's no limit to what I could make up. No, I'd rather deal with what I feel is the reality of life

headinhands Wed 16-Oct-13 22:05:17

What makes you think there is no hope in my world view? I hope that we will cure cancer, abolish homophobia and get better at protecting vulnerable children, just like you do.

fizzoclock Wed 16-Oct-13 23:08:11

My faith is summed up in this verse - Romans 8:38-39 'For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'

I know that suffering is not a subject where arguments can or should win the day. I think Christian faith in God is reasonable for a lot of the reasons on here but my point of view relies on this kind of faith in the absolute love of God for every single person.

niminypiminy Thu 17-Oct-13 07:29:48

I too hope that we can find cures for cancer, abolish homophobia and so on -- but these things don't really get to the problem of pain -- progress doesn't seem to be able to deal with the depths if human depravity, with natural disasters, with diseases and congenital birth defects caused by random genetic mutation. Progress isn't able to deal with (well, it certainly hasn't so far) the propensity of human beings to kill, maim and torture each other, to stand by while others suffer, to say 'pull up the ladder, Jack, I'm all right.'

Now, your answer suggests that because the 'universe is what it is' all this is just how things are, and that you are basically ok with that. It's easy to feel awe at the mind-blowing vastness of the universe and the richness of life on earth -- anyone can do that. I do it too. But I don't feel awe and wonder at pain and suffering -- and these things are as much a part of the universe as grandeur and rich variety are.

So. Either we simply ignore the problem of pain -- or kid ourselves that human progress can simply eradicate it (an idea that has no evidence to back it up) -- or we can, quasi-stoically, say that pain is part of the cosmos and that is how it is (which is ok until we, or someone we know, is affected by unendurable suffering). Or we have a response which helps us to have hope and equips us to try and do what we can to mitigate it, and to reach out to those who suffer.

Now, for me, Christian faith does that. As Fizzoclock says, I believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and that his love can, and will, ultimately mend everything. That doesn't stop me having to deal with the reality of life -- but it gives me resources for dealing with life's pains and sorrows hopefully. I am commanded to reach out to those in pain and suffering in the light of that hope and love.

The question I was asking was what helps you deal with life's pains and sorrows?

curlew Thu 17-Oct-13 08:06:56

"The question I was asking was what helps you deal with life's pains and sorrows?"

The knowledge that they are due to other humans behaving badly, the way the world works or sheer bad luck. And that there is not an omniscient, omnipotent supreme being who sees my suffering and could help but chooses not to.

If I see another human being in trouble I do everything I possibly can to help. I would expect a supreme being to behave at least as well as I do- preferably better.

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 15:37:24

I'm surprised you don't think we've managed to do anything about human suffering. Consider the millions of lives saved by antibiotics and vaccines alone. Studies of human fossils show that we are significantly less likely to die at the hands of another human than at any other time in our history. Even the death toll incurred during WWI and WWII doesn't come near.

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 15:42:32

When I say the universe is what it is, it doesn't mean I'm happy with suffering. It means I'm not attributing anything supernatural to the way things are. I do, however, thanks to evolution, have empathy which means I find suffering upsetting.

RationalThought Thu 17-Oct-13 16:19:40

"progress doesn't seem to be able to deal with the depths if human depravity, with natural disasters, with diseases and congenital birth defects caused by random genetic mutation."

What I have never been able to understand is why a loving god would have created a world with so many problems. Why would he/she want completely innocent people to suffer from so many external factors? Also, why would so many people never get the chance to hear the truth and therefore be disadvantaged in eternity?

For an omnipotent being he / she seems very flawed to me.

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 16:44:01

Humans do sometimes stand by and watch suffering and yet god does the same and yet we're supposed to believe he's morally superior?

niminypiminy Thu 17-Oct-13 18:37:05

Antibiotics are wonderful, and I owe my life to them. There has indeed been progress in some areas (though, of course, bacteria are coming back to bite us). What we have not managed to make much progress with is human beings' propensity to murder, maim, rape, torture, humiliate, betray, hurt and abandon other human beings. The record of the last ten years alone shows that. Faced with the catalogue of human iniquity, 'upset' seems rather inadequate. Horrified and appalled would be nearer the mark.

Of course, as we have said before, human beings have free will, and they use it to do terrible things. They use it to do amazing things. But the amazing things can only happen because we have free will. It's deeply risky: God created us free to hate and slaughter, because all our creativity, our capacity to love, to be selfless and care for others comes from our free will.

If God were to intervene to stop an atrocity, then we would not be truly free. Like a loving parent, God having given us life, sets us free to live it as we will -- we're free, as children must be, to make our own mistakes.

Do you think God doesn't care? He cared so much he died to save us from death. He willingly took upon himself the undeserved pain and suffering of the world. When we cry out, he cries with us. He's there with us in our darkest hours. I don't think he stands idly by at all. It's just that he won't break his own rules.

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 18:56:28

Studies of human fossils show that we are significantly less likely to die at the hands of another human than at any other time in our history. Even the death toll incurred during WWI and WWII doesn't come near.

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 18:58:39

Many Christians claim that god has intervened in their lives, so you don't think he does?

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 19:02:49

So if we need to have free will to love and be good what will heaven be like?

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 19:08:44

A loving parent spends years instructing their children hands on. A loving parent prevents their child from hurting themselves and others. Even if I could prevent my adult child from hurting others I would. As a society we generally work hard to prevent people from causing harm. If we copied god's model we wouldn't have prisons or laws or safeguarding in schools or police etc etc. We'd be like 'god will sort it out later, it's not for me to take away anyone's free will.'

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 19:13:43

So he made a rule that said he couldn't help an abused child? So he sits there thinking 'shucks, I wish I could stop this happening but I myself made a rule that said I can't intervene, and it would be a shame to break that rule because erm, I'd be really angry with myself', or something. Except many many Christians claim god has broken this rule.

niminypiminy If god can't intervene because it would wreck the plan does that mean you dismiss as fraud all claims that god has intervened? The catholic church (and others) will have you believe that he cures people quite often when he is in the mood.

Like scottishmummy said, once you realise there is no god, everything else falls into place and makes sense. Horrible things happen because there are horrible people. Good things happen because there are good people. On the whole there are more good people than bad people. We can know this because we have a more-or-less functioning society based on rules and mutual benefit instead of violent anarchy.

But do you know why most people are good and we have a society? Because that's what our genes need to replicate most successfully. We have evolved to be mutually supportive since we have very little else in natural endowment to survive this harsh world.

Life is cruel, nature has no mercy for the weak. From Hamzah Kham to the seal cub eaten by the orca, it's just life. It's not personal, it's not because of anything or part of any bigger picture. There is no meaning. Stop looking for one, it will drive you crazy.

headinhands Thu 17-Oct-13 18:58:39
Many Christians claim that god has intervened in their lives, so you don't think he does?

No, absolutely not. We're conditioned to look for patterns in things, it's part of survival - recognition of patterns leading to good or bad outcomes so we can repeat or avoid them happening again. It's not god intervening, it's people hoping for a result and giving god the credit when it works out. But tell me this... how many prayers don't get answered? Pretty much most, I'd say. This gets dismissed as "well, god must have another plan for me instead". You simply apply god's will to the outcome retrospectively.

curlew Thu 17-Oct-13 20:02:33

God wins either way. Great trick if you can pull it off.

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