Moving on to development, suffering can be the catalyst for human progress. When we suffer we develop traits such as empathy and altruism. If we didn’t suffer we could become narrow-minded and self-entitled. For example, the enormous suffering of the first and second world wars spurred many advances such as penicillin and the first computer. These things have gone on to benefit humanity immensely. The Bible supports this in Isaiah; King Hezekiah suffered greatly but was able to say, “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.”
If you look at it from a secular worldview, the concept of evolution and survival of the fittest revolve around suffering. In such a system the weak are made to suffer and die for the overall benefit of the species. Secularists such as Darwin would agree that suffering is needed for development of any species.
On the other hand, some suffering is too great to have any developmental benefit, such as the Holocaust. It is understandable why God would permit some suffering, but mass genocide can cause even the most devout of believers to doubt. In terms of freedom, Adam and Eve had freedom in the Garden of Evil before suffering was introduced; therefore it is not necessary.
Some atheists would even claim that suffering is a choice, not a necessity. The psychotherapist Bobbi Emel argued that pain in inevitable, but suffering is unnecessary. She wrote, “while pain is a natural part of our lives, suffering is something we create around the idea of pain.” She argued that how much we suffer depends on our reaction to pain. The more we try to resist, the more we suffer. If we learn to be accepting of pain and stop resisting, we will not suffer. Therefore, if one follows her philosophy suffering is not necessary for human development and freedom.
Finally, Buddhism argues that suffering is not necessary. Suffering – known as dukkha – can be overcome by meditation. Buddhists strive to create a world free from suffering.
To conclude, it would seem that the age-old saying ‘no gain without pain’ is true. Human beings have developed to the point they have today through overcoming various obstacles and challenges; without suffering we would have no freedom and would never develop.