• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What do religious believers mean by 'the problem of suffering'?

Extracts from this document...


Q. What do religious believers mean by 'the problem of suffering'? (5) Suffering is the experience of evil and so deals with the problem of evil on a personal level. The root of the problem of evil can be found in the three properties ascribed to the God of traditional theism, namely that: 1. God is omnipotent 2. God is omni-benevolent 3. God opposes evil. From the three premises one can conclude that evil should not exist, yet there are few who would deny that it does. There are two types of evil, moral and natural evil. Moral evil is the product of man's actions that cause suffering and harm, whilst natural evil causes suffering, but, it outside of human control. Evil can be physical, relating to pain and mental anguish, or, metaphysical, which pertains to imperfection and contingency as a feature of the cosmos. If one of the three premises ascribed to the God of traditional theism is removed, then there is no longer a paradox, however, if all three remain, then God's existence becomes questionable. ...read more.


Augustine believes in the predestined fall of angels. For Augustine, he sees that through Adam all men are in a state of guilt and condemnation, but God brings some to repentance and salvation. Modern science rejects the suggestion that all were present in Adam and the idea of a fall of humanity, suggesting instead an evolutionary development. Also, if humans are finitely perfect, then even though they are free to sin they need not do so. Surely, if they did, then they were not flawless to start with and so God must share responsibility for their 'fall'. As God is the creator of all things, he must be also be the creator of Hell, which would suggest that it was part of his plan. Therefore God's omni-benevolence must be called into question, as if Hell was part of God's plan he seems unfair in sending some to Hell for eternal damnation and punishment, whilst sending others to heaven. ...read more.


The final end in the Irenaean theodicy is that everyone will eventually be rewarded in heaven. This seems unfair as it would seem to remove the point of obeying God's command. The theodicy also fails to explain why suffering should be so excessive, nor does it explain the existence of evil that serves no purpose and benefits no-one. Indeed, D.Z. Philips argued that an omni-benevolent God would not make people suffer for any purpose. The concept and value of 'free will' can be found as key to both the Augustinian and Irenaean theodicies. This concept has been developed further by what has become known as the 'Free Will Defence'. The main debate centres on whether God could have created free beings which would always obey him, those who maintain that could have done this cite Jesus as an example, on account of the fact that he was free to sin but did not. However, Plantinga in 'God, Freedom and Evil' argues that God's creation of another being that would by necessity only perform actions which were good, is a logical impossibility. Matthew Ebbs ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Existence of God section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Existence of God essays

  1. Good and Evil

    A Roman, Christian psychiatrist wrote a book entitled, "whatever became of sin?" in which he concluded that we often harm each other simply because we want to harm each other. That psychiatrist was close to discovering the biblical concept that we inherit more than our parent's genes, and we also

  2. Explain how natural evil may be seen as a challenge to belief in God ...

    Therefore God has to give you free will and some 'space'. We have to make the choice of worshipping him. This distance that God keeps is called an epistemic distance.

  1. 1.) Compare and contrast the Augustinian and Irenaean theodicies and their attempts to solve ...

    It is this which forms the backdrop for what Hick sees as the second stage in human development, whereby humans, through their own free will, are being made in the Divine 'likeness'. Human beings were not created as the perfect beings which Adam and Eve allegedly were, but immature creations

  2. What do religious believers mean by the 'problem of suffering?' Select any two ...

    Therefore God does not exist." In Dostoyevsky's fictional book, 'Brothers Karamazov' Ivan rejects God for similar reasons but on a more personal level. He does not deny God's existence but could not accept a God who could allow the suffering of innocent children.

  1. The problem of evil.

    This argument is limited to begin with as it is purely based on the analogy of the watch. The problem of evil limits this argument even further. In Hume's Philosophy of Religion written by J.C.A Gaskin it is claimed that evil restricts the inference which can be drawn from the design of the universe to the character of the designer.

  2. What is meant by the problem of suffering?

    Give an account of two theodicies and consider the view that they fail to solve the problem of suffering The Augustinian model is based on the traditional interpretation of the Bible. God created a "very good" world in which he placed the first human beings, who bore the "image of God".

  1. Discuss the Problem of Evil

    God, however, sees the bigger picture and recognizes that he should not interfere because his interference would do more harm than good. In this way, God is doing the right thing in letting the evil occur. (e.g. Peter Parker in the move ?Spiderman? might have cursed god for letting that thief run past him and kill his uncle.

  2. The Holocaust - personal response to Anne Frank's diary and the problem of evil ...

    Being fluent in Hebrew, Dutch, German and English, I also speak many languages (English, Tamil and German). Fundamentally, the once crucial factor that the Germans judge you on, is your ethnicity and religion. The Nazi Germans forgot about all of your other personalities and interests.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work