How could a moral God allow suffering?

This is a classic theological question, one that I have never had properly answered, I’m sure it’s been asked before but I’ll try to add my own spin to it, let’s get started!
This question tends to go along the lines of
" Look at all the grief and misery in the world! How could God allow all this suffering, how could he allow rape and murder?!?"
Which usually receives the following answer, “Well you see, suffering exists because God allows humanity to have free will, if there is no suffering, then there is no free will, we would be mindless robots!”

However I have some problems with that answer which I will summarize into two main critiques.

One, this doesn’t explain gratuitous suffering or suffering without cause.

For example some babies are born with cancer or other serious diseases through absolutely no fault of their own or anyone else’s. So would God be interfering with free will if he cured the babies of their disease? Or what about victims of hurricanes or tsunamis or other naturally occurring tragedies? What do unfortunate random circumstances have to do with free will? Why couldn’t God save these people?

Two, free will is overrated

Let’s say a woman is about to be raped, God has the power to stop it, but chooses not to because the rapist has free will. I can understand this point of view as free will is very valuable and is one of the characteristics of being human. But what about the free will of the woman? She obviously doesn’t want to get raped, so if God doesn’t interfere, someone’s free will is going to get violated anyway, so why not interfere on the side of the woman? This sort of makes me think that God is choosing the free will of a rapist over the well-being of an innocent woman, in what way could that possibly be moral?

Also it could be argued this opens up a paradox.
God is all-powerful He is also completely and utterly kind.
Yet there is suffering.
So God is not all-powerful,
Conclusion there is no God
Or
God is not all kind
Conclusion God is evil

I am very interested to see your responses!

For the moment I hope you don’t object if I respond subjectively, not to your logic but in general terms. It may not answer your propositions and questions, but perhaps begins to offer an atmosphere that pave a way towards answer

In my own wider family there are children who have some autoimmune illness. Why juvenile arthritis, or diabetes1? I myself have a couple of manageable autoimmune illnesses, one since since childhood though undetected for years despite symptoms. Is that fair? Does it mean that God does not love my family? No the problem originates, I believe, in the fact that my mother’s family lived for centuries on a Scottish island, but whilst they also married members of the same large clan on the mainland, it was mostly within the clan. A clue to a corruption in our genetics is that one of my brothers showed passing evidence of hemophilia when young. My husband’s alien DNA stood between my children and autoimmune illness, yet had I known our medical history that became evident in subsequent generations, I mightn’t have married. The responsibility is ours. Do we marry and pass on our shaky genetics? Our choices are our own.

Our health issues aren’t God’s fault, but genetics and geography of my family.
It was actually the case that in earlier times, people traveled less. That isn’t God’s fault. What happened to DNA in families in all the conditions of the past, and how that passes on and through whom, is not God’s fault. Most illnesses have a basis in some kind of event and circumstance, diet, location, genetics. Genetics evolve even over a lifetime.

Accidents are a consequence of a set of choices and circumstances made by fallible human beings. These are not God’s doing or God’s fault.

God is not a fairy godmother God. He does not fulfill all our wishes. He does not appear like superman in every threatening situation. We sometimes wish He would.

Regarding natural disasters…The elements respond in a certain way…why blame God…as some evidently do in their distress (while others may do so in judgement which actually belongs only to God. Time and time again Jesus told us not to judge others, and if we do we earn the judgement ourselves, He said. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Luke 6:37)

For instance What causes an earthquake? :geography-site.co.uk/page…rth/cause.html
It makes no more sense than blaming God because someone is careless or in the wrong place at the wrong time and there is an accident,…some human choice of some sort is involved, God does not program us to be involved in an accident… or we become ill because of perhaps lifelong unhealthy elements in our diet or other natural and practical causes. God doesn’t make us ill or cause disasters.

God gives us grace in our circumstances, happy, sad, disastrous…and we can accept the graces to live with love, faith, goodness…or not…

mysteryandbeyond.org/sense/love53.asp

catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=4297

americancatholic.org/messenger/Jul2002/Feature3.asp

catholic.com/magazine/articles/a-pope%E2%80%99s-answer-to-the-problem-of-pain

If God prevented everyone from being victims of misfortunes it would defeat the purpose of creating an orderly universe in which we are free to choose what to believe and how to live. We would know that a benevolent Power is protecting us from harm and aware of everything we think and do at every moment of our lives.

Two, free will is overrated

Let’s say a woman is about to be raped, God has the power to stop it, but chooses not to because the rapist has free will. I can understand this point of view as free will is very valuable and is one of the characteristics of being human. But what about the free will of the woman? She obviously doesn’t want to get raped, so if God doesn’t interfere, someone’s free will is going to get violated anyway, so why not interfere on the side of the woman? This sort of makes me think that God is choosing the free will of a rapist over the well-being of an innocent woman, in what way could that possibly be moral?

If God intervened on every occasion that a woman is going to be raped it would defeat the purpose of creating an orderly universe in which we are free to choose what to believe and how to live. We would know that a benevolent Power is protecting us from harm and aware of everything we think and do at every moment of our lives.

Also it could be argued this opens up a paradox.
God is all-powerful He is also completely and utterly kind.
Yet there is suffering.
So God is not all-powerful,
Conclusion there is no God
Or
God is not all kind
Conclusion God is evil

The onus is on you to provide a feasible blueprint of an earthly Utopia in which there are never any failures, accidents, misfortunes, diseases, disasters or deformities…

It is absurd to expect to have everything for nothing. Every advantage has a corresponding disadvantage. There is no such thing as a free lunch for sentient beings:

385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil.

I do recognize that you are dealing with a difficult question. It is sometimes asked out of pain and distress in our own suffering and/or in the suffering we see around us in this world. Below, a few links

catholicnewsagency.com/resources/apologetics/faith/if-god-why-evil/

calledtocommunion.com/2009/08/a-catholic-reflection-on-the-meaning-of-suffering/

catholicstand.com/why-does-god-let-bad-things-happen/

“Morals” is a human concept and does not apply, under any circumstance, to the Creator.

Morals are established by God. He made us. His laws are to be obeyed for our good.

Peace,
Ed

You make some good points.
In regards to innocent children having diseases I could see how some personal choices would lead to certain diseases such as autoimmune illnesses or AIDS, but that does not explain some diseases that do not really depend on genetics a example would be birth defects due to complications during pregnancy or during childbirth.

I do not blame God for our misfortunes health-related or otherwise, however I do find it odd how people don’t blame God for the bad things in life, but blame him for the good. When a fire fighter goes into a burning building people often “thank God” but not the firefighter, same thing when a operation goes successfully, it’s "thank God’ but not the doctor. The point is if you blame God for the good things you also have to blame them for the bad… This is why I believe that God is like a watchmaker he wound the watch (the universe) then let it go. Thinking anything differently leads to some very serious philosophical hurdles, “God answered my prayer and not yours what does that say about you?”
So would you argue that God is simply apathetic?

I disagree with the notion that all suffering is brought about by human choices, do people choose to have earthquakes? I guess if you live in earthquake prone area you could be tempting fate, but how does that explain people who die where earthquakes, forest fires, or tornadoes, etc. Aren’t common?

Agreed! But, how do they apply to Him?

A person who asks such a question is normally either an atheist or does not understand our relationship with God, or does not know the value of suffering.

Not saying this applies to all.

How could a moral God allow suffering?

This is just one of the conundrums of the Christian faith.

You want a God That gives us a utopian world where no one completely no one ever has to cry in sorrow and much less in pain.

First, before anything else the Christian faith teaches that God is the creator of the universe, that means of everything that is not God.

That is the very first and foremost item you have to accept in order to be a Christian.

Now, I have to inform you that everything else that comes after that very first and foremost doctrine, it is all a wish list from Christians.

Yes, God will give us a perfect world where there are no more tears and pains and ugliness and unkindness,

But that is to come after the end of the present world and with a new world for the finally saved souls.

Do you know that teaching of the Catholic Church?

But why a new world in the end and that after the present world has ended?

Very simple, it is because the present world was created by God to be all good and beautiful, but the first couple Adam and Eve spoiled it by committing the original sin of disobedience, eating from the forbidden tree.

That made God angry and He threw them out of the garden of delights into the vale of tears; but He said that He would send someone to undo the evil of their disobedience, and that is His Son made man, Jesus Christ.

So, that explains why you are suffering or not having the kind of existence and life you want.

Does that explain to you, how a moral God allow suffering?

If not, then tell me why; but no need because it is all due to your not accepting the punishment of God on our first parents Adam and Eve and consequently on us their posterity – that is what causes all your griping: why sorrow, why pain, why wars, why injustices, why wickedness, etc. etc. etc.

Tell you want, you stay with me and I will let you into a secret…

KingCoil

“If God prevented everyone from being victims of misfortunes it would defeat the purpose of creating an orderly universe in which we are free to choose what to believe and how to live. We would know that a benevolent Power is protecting us from harm and aware of everything we think and do at every moment of our lives.”

You could have orderly universe without unnecessary suffering, say I go hiking and there is a flood due to heavy rain lets say God uses the laws of the universe, and in an orderly way prevents the flood from happening until I am done hiking. How would that interfere with the natural law, especially because God created natural law, therefore changing it wouldn’t get rid of natural law would it? Also I still went on my hike so my free will is preserved. Furthermore it would be nice to know that there is a benevolent power protecting us, sort of like when we were children are mother and father’s or other parents protection made us feel safe, that sounds like a good thing to me.

*“If God intervened on every occasion that a woman is going to be raped it would defeat the purpose of creating an orderly universe in which we are free to choose what to believe and how to live. We would know that a benevolent Power is protecting us from harm and aware of everything we think and do at every moment of our lives.”
*

Again that doesn’t sound so bad, a man tries to rape a woman, God interferes in some way, woman doesn’t get raped. That sounds pretty orderly to me. Besides should people really be allowed to commit rape and murder? I’m not arguing that God should change the mentality of a rapist, rather I think he should prevent his actions, those are two very different things. It’s against the law to murder someone, a police officer would try to prevent you from murdering someone, thereby stopping your actions or intentions but not your free will.
*
“The onus is on you to provide a feasible blueprint of an earthly Utopia in which there are never any failures, accidents, misfortunes, diseases, disasters or deformities…
It is absurd to expect to have everything for nothing. Every advantage has a corresponding disadvantage. There is no such thing as a free lunch for sentient beings:”*

Okay maybe a complete utopia would be impossible, however are you suggesting that God couldn’t make this world at least a little bit better? Maybe provide food for the millions of people starving in Third World countries. The world wouldn’t be a utopia yet it would be a heck of a lot better. And sure there would be disadvantages to this hypothetical world, you couldn’t commit genocide, there would be no sad commercials on the television describing pain and misery, so I suppose there are some things that we would have to give up. And besides I’m not God I’m not the one who is supposed to be all-powerful, while a complete utopia would be very hard if not unattainable, a world where every country as is as rich as a Western nation is very possible.

Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, showed us.

Peace,
Ed

*"But why a new world in the end and that after the present world has ended?

Very simple, it is because the present world was created by God to be all good and beautiful, but the first couple Adam and Eve spoiled it by committing the original sin of disobedience, eating from the forbidden tree.

That made God angry and He threw them out of the garden of delights into the vale of tears; but He said that He would send someone to undo the evil of their disobedience, and that is His Son made man, Jesus Christ.

So, that explains why you are suffering or not having the kind of existence and life you want."*

So I’m getting punished for the crimes of other people? All the terrible horrible things that happened in the world, happen because two people once ate some fruit, okay.
Also if Jesus undid Original Sin then why does suffering still exist? As far as my life goes i actually have a pretty good life of my own I have food, shelter, people who love me, education, but other people certainly do not. I just like debating the topic.

Personally I haven’t found it to be true that people only thank God.
It is more often the case that they thank the people both to their face, and when speaking to others about them.

In my experience, people are usually very thankful to the firefighter and the doctor. My sister and her husband, and my son are firefighters. They receive many kind thank yous, on Facebook and in person, as do their brigades. My son recently had some injury in saving properties. My sister recently received a medal for her firefighting work.

Anyone I know who has had surgery, including recently, profusely praise nurses and doctors for their kind efforts.

My new American daughter in law is intrigued at how everyone who leaves a bus in our Australian cities, young and old, male or female, calls out ‘thank you’ to the driver as they vacate the bus, even though the driver is just doing their job and the passengers paid for their passage anyway. I do believe that people give thanks and credit to other people. I’ve seen that occur all my life!

God may answer our prayer in a way that does not suit us, but He knows better than we what we need to learn and in what way we need to grow. We also have to accept the consequences for our own choices and decisions. We often create our own situations by our own choices, but we can’t expect God to clean up after us. If God answered our every prayer the way we wish we would be spoilt, self-indulgent persons incapable of growing in maturity and spiritual development.

Imagine if a thousand women each prayed to become wife to Tom Cruise, heaven help us! Is He supposed to give them all what they ask for? It goes to the realm of fantasy and a whole range of different realities. This is chaos. And when a dozen people are desperately praying to be accepted for the same job position. Is God cruel because all twelve people don’t get the job, only one can? We have to deal with reality.

Handicapped children are also in their own way beautiful gifts. You have not experienced the beauty and goodness in them?
I’ve seen five handicapped children adopted by two families of my siblings, and grow up with my siblings natural children, and what treasures those children are! What love and care they elicit from their adoptive families. They are different, but no less precious and wonderful. No less loved. However, they bring out in my siblings something more blessed than ever would have been.

The world is constructed as it is. Only in video games or books can we construct worlds that are controlled according to our fancy. Rocks are rocks, fault-lines exist, lava exists. Lightning can cause fires, as can human carelessness or arson. And so on. We can in anger or resentment blame God, but that is unrealistic.

*“Morals is a human concept and does not apply, under any circumstance, to the Creator. *”
How does God not have morality? I’m not sure I get what your saying, sure I think God doesn’t have subjective morality or anything like that. Because morality to one person could mean something very different to another. Rather I think he follows a absolute set of values. I would highly disagree with the statement “that God does not have morality”. He doesn’t just do what he wants, that’s the description of an unscrupulous individual.

I think this question is often in reverse. This is better: If there was no suffering, would we learn of dependence on God? You’d have everything if you didn’t suffer - you wouldn’t need God. Dependence is now independence. Suffering can be used as a teaching strategy. Christ used suffering as a means of love to teach us on the cross.

We allowed sin into our lives. It was our doing by eating from the tree of good and evil. That’s when Eve was going to have increased pains when giving birth, etc. Since we have hope in Christ, we understand suffering and were taught who is the way, the truth, and the life. And if we didn’t have suffering, we wouldn’t understand the sufferings Christ had to go through and make the ultimate sacrifice.

Suffering is love, sacrifice, and a teaching lesson of dependence.

So the only reason people need God is because of suffering, that’s an incredibly bleak outlook of religion, one that I really can’t subscribe to. And if most suffering did not exist we wouldn’t be independent of God, we would still depend on him for spiritual needs, it would just be physical needs that would be taken care of. We would still need God as a reason to live, a reason not to fear death (after a very happy life), so there are still areas where we would be very much dependent on God.

But He did not and does not suffer from concupiscence. Is God bound by the morals that He established for fallen man?

First, we are adults. If you are an atheist or agnostic, and all evidence points to that fact, please say so. You are far from alone in these forums. We do not fear or hate either atheists or agnostics. We invite them.

I also don’t think that you are coming from the standpoint of an immortal soul (or of a “soul” at all, really). You cannot be, by the nature of your comments.

Is this true?

Without God there would be no love or goodness in any person. Love and goodness comes from God, whether we are aware or not.
Nor would we have eternal souls destined for joy with God in heaven.
Nor would we even exist. Nor would anything exist. Only God Himself.
We need God for all that is good and blessed in our souls.
Where God’s love and goodness is rejected by our choices and behavior or attitudes, this is of the person’s choosing.

The “quote” function, Makes everything much easier.

Suppose that you are a sketch artist. You make a sketch, but become displeased with it, as it did not turn out as you hoped. So, you wad it up and recycle it. Have you acted immorally? You created it and you disposed of it, as you had the absolute right to do. And, so it is with God and all of creation.

For those who believe in an eternal, omniscient and loving God, He is perfection, while we have fallen, sinful natures. The fallen nature of this earth is why sin and suffering exists in the first place.

God is above that, since He is incapable of being less than perfect. Thus, everything He does is perfection. He does not cause suffering, but can bring good from it. No one, and nothing else can do that.

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