In what ways may suffering create a philosophical problem for religious believers? Outline 2 solutions to these problems

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Carmen Barlow        Richard Dunn

A) In what ways may suffering create a philosophical problem for religious    believers? Outline 2 solutions to these problems

   Suffering is an unfortunate concept in the world today and creates a philosophical problem for religious believers, especially those that believe in God. God is seen to as an all loving and all knowing figure and the reputed creator of the universe in a lot of religions. God’s qualities are that he is omnipotent (he can do anything), omniscient (he knows everything), omnipresent (he is everywhere) and omnibenevolent (he is all loving). If God is established to have these qualities, then why is evil and suffering a part of this world? Surely if God has these attributes, no suffering would exist.

  This is a main problem for religious believers as it seems to lower the evidence for Gods existence. Also, while suffering is present it doesn’t seem to affect just the people, who are better off than others, it is distributed throughout society, to a large extent, and to those people that already live an unfortunate life. God is supposed to represent a moral figure that shows omnipotence and goodness. J.L Mackie, a philosopher, observed that these propositions cannot all be true at the same time. This is known as the inconsistent triad:

  Suffering comes from two forms of evil. Natural and Moral. The holocaust was a moral evil as it was planned and provoked by human actions (Adolf Hitler). Natural evil results from the malfunctioning of the world. E.g. – Tsunamis and earthquakes that kill thousands of innocent people. Neither of these would exist if God did exist. Even Augustine said that “either God cannot abolish evil; or he will not; if he cannot then he is not all powerful; if he will not then he is not all good”.

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  Another problem about the existence of suffering is that it presents a serious challenge to the theistic belief and believers are accused of not recognising this challenge. In other words, if believers believe there is a God and they are aware that suffering exists, then why cant they see that God is not preventing it. Anthony Flew said that believers would rather qualify Gods nature – “God is all loving, but we cannot expect to understand his love”- than recognise the full force of the conflict. Therefore religious believers should at least offer an account of why we ...

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