God and Suffering

God and Suffering

God and Suffering


1280 Posts



Isn’t human suffering proof that a just, all-powerful God must not exist? On the contrary, says Boston College Professor of Philosophy Peter Kreeft. How can “suffering” exist without an objective standard against which to judge it? Absent a standard, there is no justice. If there is no justice, there is no injustice. And if there is no injustice, there is no suffering. On the other hand, if justice exists, God exists. In five minutes, learn more.
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All good people are appalled by the sufferings of the innocent. When an innocent person is struck by a painful disease, or tortured or murdered, we naturally feel sadness, helplessness, and often rage.

Many people have claimed that such suffering is a proof that God does not exist. Their argument goes like this:

God is all good and all powerful. Such a God would not permit unnecessary suffering. Yet, we constantly observe unjust suffering. Therefore, at least one of the premises about God must be false. Either God is not all good or He is not powerful. Or He just doesn’t exist.

What’s wrong with this argument?

First, let’s examine what we mean when we say that God would not permit unjust suffering.

There are two categories of suffering: Suffering caused by human beings, which we call moral evils, and suffering caused by nature, for instance earthquakes or cancer.

Free will explains how God could be good and allow moral evil. Because God has given people free will, they are free to behave against God’s will. The fact that they do evil does not prove that God is not good.

In addition, if there were no God, there would be no absolute standard of good. Every judgment presupposes a standard. And that’s true of our moral judgments, too. What is our standard for judging evil to be evil? The most we could say about evil — if there were no God — was that we, in our subjective taste, didn’t like it when people did certain things to other people. We wouldn’t have a basis for saying an act was ‘bad’, only that we didn’t like it. So the problem of human evil exists only if God exists.

As for natural suffering, that poses what appears to be a more difficult question.

We see an innocent child suffer, say from an incurable disease. We complain. Understandable. We don’t like it. Understandable. We feel it is wrong, unfair, and shouldn’t happen. Understandable, but illogical, unless you believe in God!

For, if you do not believe in God, your subjective feelings are the only basis upon which you can object to natural suffering. OK, you don’t like it. But how is your not liking something evidence for God not existing? Think about it. It’s just the opposite. Our judgments of good and evil, natural as well as human, presuppose God as the standard. If there’s no God, there’s neither good nor evil. There’s just nature doing what it does.

If nature is all there is, there is absolutely no need to explain why one person suffers and another doesn’t. Unjust suffering is a problem only because we have a sense of what is just and unjust. But where does this sense come from? Certainly, not from Nature. There’s nothing just about nature. Nature is only about survival.

What, in other words, does it mean for suffering to be ‘unnecessary or wrong?’ How is that determined? Against what standard? Your private standard means nothing. My private standard means nothing. We can talk meaningfully about suffering being ‘unnecessary’ or wrong only if we have an underlying belief that a standard of right and wrong objectively exists. And if that standard really exists, that means there is a God.

For the complete script, visit https://www.prageru.com/videos/god-and-suffering


39 thoughts on “God and Suffering

  1. Sharakonus

    Acts 2:17-21 New International Version (NIV)
    17 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
    18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
    19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
    20 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
    21 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  2. MGTOW Freedom

    All of this rambling is irrelevant to the fact that God (if he exists) created natural disasters and diseases while also creating man with enough of a rebellious streak to disobey him.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  3. Jiaxin Dominic Hé

    do you allow me to translate this idea into other language and post to others ?(with the note of origin source)

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  4. Lyme

    I'm literally a week in to my first ever philosophy course and this video's argument is completely falling apart lmfao

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  5. Blah Blah

    God can creat a no suffering, all-justice afterlife world, why He does not make this world like that one? Further more, God has the absolute sovereign over everything happened and happening, are these all due to free will? If so, does it mean there is no free will to everyone in afterlife world? From the Bible, so many merciless massacres happened under God’s command, what are the differences between these massacres vs Islamic massacres? These are main obstacles that prevent me to be a Christian. Thanks before hand for your answering.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  6. Backslash123

    You hit this topic on the head!!!

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  7. n bay

    No human suffering is unjust in the eyes of God. Remember that nothing gets passed God without Him knowing and permitting it to happen. That includes people like Hitler. We are the ones assigning bad or good to people, their actions, behavior, etc. People seem to forget that it was God who hardened Pharaoh's heart.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  8. Andre

    While I respect everyone's right to their beliefs, from an academic standpoint how did this guy get his Doctorate making arguments this flimsy, are glaring logical fallacies. This wouldn't stand up in a debate.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  9. RJ Schro

    Then the question is, is God just an Intellegent Designer or an All Powerful, Loving God and Creator!

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  10. Alej

    So is this PragerU's gymnastic team?

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  11. CoolhandLukeSkywalkr

    I try to "follow God", I'm almost 40. The suffering I have faced is basically insurmountable. It pushed me from having typical opinions, all the way to the point of understanding that if God is real, he obviously rejected me and I can't be on his good side, if he has one. He's abusive and none of it teaches us any valuable information, God not loving me hasn't taught me to appropriate life more. Whatever God's lack of support is about, who has time for it?

    Lol, have a baby, don't show it any attention or love. Sit and spy on the child from afar. Then when the kid is an adult and you are a total stranger, chastise the kid for not loving you and serving you properly, while he was busy crawling around looking for scraps of food to eat and you were busy eating popcorn and not being there for him. God's absolute silence down here speaks volumes. If he loved any of us, we would all be aware of it by now. It would make the news. We're aware that he either doesn't exist or doesn't care about our day to day lives. There's certainly not a loving God. Lol, we evolved to have altruistic values, but that doesn’t mean that God is altruistic. All signs indicate that he's not altruistic.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  12. Ron Kotula

    Wow! What twisted logic! Saying that suffering will be justified in the afterlife is a cop-out. Tell that to the 3 y/o suffering with some horrible condition. No! A good and just God would not allow that. Saying that suffering is subjective is nonsense. No normal person would say that the 3 y/o is not suffering or that it will be justified after it dies. If this is the best you can do, you have a weak case.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  13. utopian Link

    Wtf? He completely dodged the argument and explained something entirely unrelated??

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  14. Alan

    Morals didn’t come from God

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  15. Tamanwar

    The title of the video should have been "How to avoid the question"

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  16. President Jefferson Davis

    At least with God there is a purpose to the sufferings. Without God suffering is meaningless.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  17. Di0guardi

    According to Sumerian mythology, Enki allowed humanity to survive the Deluge designed to kill them.

    After Enlil, An and the rest of the apparent Council of Deities, decided that Man would suffer total

    annihilation, he covertly rescued the human man Ziusudra by either instructing him to build some

    kind of an boat for his family, or by bringing him into the heavens in a magic boat. This is apparently

    the oldest surviving source of the Noah's Ark myth and other parallel Middle Eastern Deluge myths.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  18. Mr. Fossil

    Good and evil are concepts that people made. Morals, right and wrong were also made by people. Good and evil are ideas of perspective. What do YOU consider "good"? What do YOU consider "evil"? The same goes for the archetypes of hero, villain and monster.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  19. Vijay _

    People who suffer have to suffer that's how it is🤷

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  20. walkergarya

    If you do not show evidence for your god first, everything that follows is garbage.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  21. Llama Time

    What does believing in god have to do with objective morality. If you make god the standard then great you have a subjective standard. I can just as easily put humanism as the standard and it would also be subjective.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  22. Goldfishislife

    Imagine dodging the question you imposed to yourself

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  23. Daniel Diggins

    Wow! What a concise way to explain a complicated and much asked about subject! Without God, life simply has no meaning and no logical explanation.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  24. walkergarya

    If you do not show evidence for your god first, everything that follows is garbage.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  25. Obito

    I'm not aetheist but if God was really all mighty, why does he allow pain and suffering only to good people? I know he punishes the ones he loves, but I didn't know he punishes them and lets them in pain and despair without caring about them anymore. If I'm wrong I really wait someone to contradict me.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  26. Mental Jiu-jitsu

    The alleged death of a skinny, mythical carpenter can’t stop a woman from being raped, or feed a starving child, or keep a sick homeless man from being murdered. Your justifications for things happening simply because they are printed in a book, compiled by desert dwellers thousands of years ago, is intellectual and spiritual laziness. “It’s in the Bible” is the biggest excuse for everything.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  27. L G

    God doesn't exist.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  28. Morgan Southworth

    I love Prager videos.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  29. KIMO1982

    بإختصار الإنسان بحاجة للأمل حتى و إن كان زائف

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  30. Aaron Yost

    Or you can just say that less suffering is good, more suffering is bad and base morality off of that? I.e suffering that does not lead to net less suffering in the long term is unnecessary and wrong Am I missing something here?

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  31. Haruka Satou

    Theists: People suffer due to nature and others, therefore God because you can't prove he had nothing to do with it, and you can't disprove his existence.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  32. oaklandsoldier

    The rope is calling my name soon.

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  33. BlueFlameFK

    so you're saying, that god must exist because there is suffering? That seems to be what this argument boils down to, and would prove an evil god, if there is a god

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  34. roronoa zoro

    Okay, I'll grant you the idea that God gave humans the possibility of doing evil (even if it can be up to debate).
    My question would be though: what JUSTIFIES the suffering caused by nature? If there is such thing as God's plan to set things right, then why not set things right in the first place? The way I see things, natural suffering is absolutely unnecessary and unjustified.

    I know some people will tell me that I would never understand God because God is all-good and all-wise, but how am I supposed to make any judgment without using reason?

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  35. Handicappuchino 84

    If God lets people choose their free will that would make him worse than people who commit suicide just so they can automatically go to heaven and how is free will gift ifYou’re not willing to go against it

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  36. Rooty_FTW

    In conclusion “god” doesn’t care about you

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  37. Kenneth Chipps Jr.

    We need to do this job on our own

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply
  38. Lori

    This reminds me of a book that my husband wrote , " The Blessing of Suffering" by Dr Douglas Street. https://www.amazon.com/BLESSING-SUFFERING-Why-Allows-Suffering-ebook/dp/B08L61K4NM/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=dr+douglas+street+blessing+of+suffering&qid=1603292170&sr=8-1

    March 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm Reply

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