• 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. What is meant by the problem of suffering?

    Moral evil can be done intentionally by humans or by accident by which one human perceives it to be good however another does not. This leads to an ethical side of thinking linking to utilitarianism and Jeremy Bethham saying how we cannot measure pleasure.

  2. What is the problem of evil?

    Despite certain advantages that Augustine's theodicy has it has been criticized for containing logical, scientific and moral error. The logical problem has been expressed by F.D.E. Schleiermacher who argued that was a logical contradiction in saying that a perfectly created world has gone wrong, since that would mean that evil has created itself out of nothing, which is logically impossible.

  1. 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.

  2. The problem of evil.

    Supposing one does accept this argument, as Hume does, problems are caused for the believer. Within the text Philo presents the problem quite eloquently "Epicurus's old questions are yet unanswered. Is he willing to prevent evil? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

  1. Good and Evil

    may believe that the devil could be the stereotypical, red demon with a pitch fork Christians believe that evil can be a punishment for sin; the Bible gives several dramatic definitions of sin. To start with Sin is defined biblically as a violation of divine law (cf. 1 John 3:4).

  2. "A religious experince is a sponatnious or induced,mental event over which the recepient has ...

    Greesley and Scharlslens views are more likely to relate to a religious experience as it refers to a change in understanding and lifestyle for a purpose. Perhaps some would say the purpose of religion is making a dramatic change in your life for a greater good.

  1. Discuss the Problem of Evil

    However god would see that this would eventually lead to Peter becoming Spiderman and saving countless more lives than just his uncle). Humans have no means to see into the future, while God?s Omniscience allows him to do so and until we find this technology then we have no way

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

    I am of Sri Lankan ethnicity and my Religion is Hindu, so I may have been in danger with the Nazi Jews for my Asian decent. Unfortunately for Anne, she was of Jewish Decent and therefore had Jewish beliefs. This was the key factor in her cruellest and most undeserved of fates, death at the concentration camps.

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