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Does God Suffer?

In regards to the Haitian earthquake, and the people suffering over it, Jim Wallis, a renowned liberal Christian, says that god is suffering with them. That’s right, god is suffering. He says,

“But I want to say this: My God does not cause evil. God is not a vengeful and retributive being, waiting to strike us down; instead, God is in the very midst of this tragedy, suffering with those who are suffering. When evil strikes, it’s easy to ask, where is God? The answer is simple: God is suffering with those who are suffering.”

But does the Christian god really “suffer?” Given his characteristics, could he? And would he suffer over this? Let’s take a closer look.

Buddhists suggest that suffering is caused by ones attachments to things, to a person, to material objects, to our body, to an idea, to love, to life, to comfort, to how one thinks things ought to be, etc… And when these attachments are threatened, we suffer. When things don’t happen how we think they ought have, or ones attachments to things that they value are severed, we suffer. This seems to be pretty accurate to me. In the case of an omnipotent and omniscient God though, these threats are not there. The Christian god’s existence\life is never threatened since it is eternal, and since it already knows everything that is going to happen, it’s expectations are never let down. Everything that happens is part of its own master plan. Such a god must have always known about the Haiti earthquake, just as it must know about every other event that occurs including those that we would consider “tragedies.” But it is us that consider these events tragedies, it is relative to how we think things ought to be. We suffer because of this. But if we take our idea of how we think things “ought” to be out of it, then $hit just happens. To us, the earthquake was a new and unexpected event. But to the all-knowing Christian god, it is old news, it was just on the timeline to happen, and would cause him no strife.

Then there also the fact that even if the Christian god didn’t directly cause it to happen then he at least allowed the event to happen. He had the ability to prevent it but chose not to. He did not intervene. Christians hate to admit that their god could be held responsible in this way, so when presented with this argument they throw out the ol’ “god works in mysterious ways” or that god allowed it because it must have been in our best interest somehow, that it will cause a positive rebuilding of Haiti, or it will encourage people to help each other, or that it builds our character, etc… Hundreds of thousands dead, because their god wants to build their character! Yea, crazy I know. But I have heard it. Yet, they have no problem giving god credit for prayers that happen to come true, so-called miracles, etc…

If they want to cherry-pick, let’s cherry pick, maybe somebody prayed for an earthquake in Haiti, and god answered their prayer. Faced with this, again, they will argue that it must be good for us somehow, but If they put forward this argument, then why would their god suffer if he is just allowing an event to happen that he has always known would happen and since he allowed it, like all other events, he considers best? So it appears that there would be no cause for their god to suffer, one has to wonder if he would even have the ability to suffer. If not, then it is not omnipotent. Of course this is all as hypothetical as is the existence of a god in the first place, but it logically applies within the framework of the characteristic that Christians apply to their hypothetical deity. To suggest that their god suffers is just another way people personify their god that further demonstrates how men create gods, and not the other way around.

One Comment

  1. I think all religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism fail sometimes. And that shows how these religions became degenerated after all passed years. It doesn’t mean they are completely wrong or completely right.

    The task of a thinking mind is to find out his/her own way using related paradigms. That’s why your thoughts are valuable.

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