I'm leaving Catholicism

Oh no, that would be a thing if indeed I said suffering “for no good reason” was a good thing, or if I denied it is a bad thing. Read my posts carefully and don’t insert words I did not utter into my mouth please. I simply asked on what basis does one say that suffering is bad.

Anyway, suffering for no good reason is indeed bad because… well there is no good reason. Studying for no good reason is bad, eating for no good reason is bad, living for no good reason is bad. Anything for no good reason is bad by definition.

Suffering certainly has existence in the world as implication of free will. You can’t have both fully free will and absence of it’s effects. Suffering is effect of free will. I also do not think you will find completely meaningless suffering in the world. It all has cause and effect- which gives it meaning. I am not saying meaning of suffering is always good or makes suffering worthy to undergo (far from that) but if suffering exists for good reason (such as existence of free will) then no suffering is indeed for “no good reason”. Whatever it is.

Please respond to Aquinas, Scotus, and Palamas on this. They thoroughly refute your view.

Read this paper and respond: https://www.academia.edu/26922293/The_Flexibility_of_Divine_Simplicity_Aquinas_Scotus_Palamas_International_Philosophical_Quarterly_57_2_July_2017_123-139

I simply asked a question, nothing more.

Since no one said that, your disclaimer is unwarranted. What I affirm that even ONE piece of gratuitous suffering invalidates God’s alleged “omni”-benevolence.

Who says that “fully” free will is desirable? And do we have “fully free will”? A limited freedom of actions is much more preferable to the almost unlimited freedom to cause pain, suffering and mayhem.

Let’s examine one example. It is said that “no pain no gain”, meaning that some pain or suffering has some beneficial effects. That does not exonerate the “pain”. The pain must be logically necessary to achieve that desired “gain”. Each and every one of them. If that pain could be lessened or eliminated while keeping the same beneficial result - then the unnecessary part was gratuitous - and as such “evil”.

It would be your job (or that of any apologist) to show that each and every suffering will result in some “greater good”, which could not be reached, if the pain would be lessened or eliminated. And the prime example is the suffering of “teething”, which has nothing to do with that “free will”. Or you could examine the Holocaust, and show the “greater good”, and also show that if even one death in the gas chamber would have been eliminated, that nebulous “greater good” would have disappeared, too. This is a tall “mountain” to climb.

Preferable to what? For whom? Technically speaking we do not have “unlimited” freedom in that regard- we have full free will (we can want anything really), but we do not have all opportunities in the world. Will and ability are different things after all.

That is if we only take outcome into account. How we reach something is much more important then if we reach something. Way is more important than the goal. You see this not only in real life but also in stories, in games and such.

Not entirely. My point is that suffering already exists as byproduct of our free will hence each and every suffering has already served it’s purpose (or rather, because of that good there may be byproduct of someone wishing a bad thing and acting upon that wish).

If you could prevent Holocaust but price would be that no one would ever be able to “want” or “will” anything, would you do it? It’s a strawman same as your position. We were given responsibility over things that do not matter so we might grow responsible about things that do. If indeed what matters is what comes after this life, then death is indeed not a high price to pay, neither is torture. To speak in parable, death and torture to those who have experienced pain in the afterlife is like child feeling pain when parents slap them in comparison to those being brutally tortured. Child thinks it’s the worst feeling ever and other children might as well think that too… but that is because they do not know what real pain is. Same way, we have no idea what real “pain” or “suffering” are. If we measure things by this world alone then yes, one can not excuse suffering nor any sort of discomfort… but that is not how we would measure things.

With things like God, pain, suffering and so on you need to look at bigger picture. You can’t life isn’t fair because you fell of a bike once, and you can’t say life isn’t fair because someone else did. You can’t say God isn’t omnibenevolent because he doesn’t prevent people falling off bikes… and same way, any earthly suffering is not end of the world really.

To be able to “imagine and want” anything is not the “free will”. If you can “will” something, but unable to perform it, it is just “empty wishful thinking”. The problem is the almost unlimited ability to ACT on that will.

And preferable to the potential victims of the undesirable actions - and undesirable for the potential and actual victims.

Nonsense. Games and stories do not create REAL suffering. And one must take the ways and means into consideration. Not just the outcome. Example below.

But that is not sufficient. Example: suppose that someone was bitten by a poisonous snake. You have no antidote, so to preserve the life of the victim, you must amputate the appropriate body part. The amputation involves serious suffering, but it is more than compensated by saving the life. If, however, you have the antidote at hand and still choose the amputation, the pain cause would be gratuitous - in other words “evil”.

And can you prove that God exists, and is benevolent if every piece of evidence is against it? Using your example, God could give everyone the perfect balance, so that no one would fall of that bike. Of course no one is willing to examine my offered problem, the horrible suffering of teething. If you cannot argue against that, you have no argument at all.

Omnipotence is against your theory. An omnipotent being can do everything except logically contradictory actions. And changing the soft tissue of the gums to allow the teeth to come up is not a logically contradictory state of affairs.

Of course you have no proof for that “continuation” in some nebulous “afterlife”, but even if you could prove it, you would need to prove that without the earthly suffering, the afterlife “bliss” (or whatever) would be logically impossible.

Definition of word “to will something” is just that. It doesn’t actually pre-suppose action is possible. Free-Will is Free-Will, not omnipotence.

They can make psychological suffering and that is real. They can create real frustration and that creates suffering. Why would that not be real?

We are in agreement about this situation then.

What I am currently stating is that omnibenevolence of God is quite possible in current world. Presence of suffering or evil do not make that impossible.

As much as you could do homeworks of your children for their entire life to prevent them from having to work and learn. Of course, that’s not desirable for a parent… much less so for God. We are meant to learn and to learn freely and make our choices. We aren’t meant to be completely perfect from the start- because we could very well choose not to be perfect.

And this we answer with Original Sin. Effect of Adam’s Sin which we can not deny to him is that sickness, death, illness and everything of sort was brought to the world by his disobedience. God could and is in process of removing it, but removing it altogether would invalidate actions of Adam and hence rob him of his free will and it’s effects. Same as if God kept erasing every bad choice we make … that would not be freedom at all. There would be no meaning at all because in the end our choices would not matter.

Not at all. Argument was that

And that is what I am disproving. Note the “cannot” part. If I pose even one single theory (real or unreal) that can not be disproved about how God can exist as omnibenevolent being while allowing suffering that occurs in the world, that point above falls. I am not arguing about “is” but “can”, in this situation. Of course I do believe God is indeed omnibenevolent and does exist with suffering in the world, but that is not the point of this discussion.

In other words I am not convincing someone to believe in my view, I am merely saying that my view holds no contradictions whatsoever.

I forgot about this point so I’ll edit it in…

Well now we are in root of the problem. You take world from eyes of certain group of people. Reverse this. What if we need to make it preferable scenario for those who committed those atrocities? Why not them? What is indicator of whose view we need to follow as to make their situation desirable. Now answer is very subjective in your view, but in my view it is quite objective. God’s view matters, because in the end if God does create reality and is omnipotent and omnibenevolent being, what He does and says is Law, is Reality, and is Good. So what fallible creations think can not supersede what infallible Creator set as Truth. In other words in world where God is omnibenevolent suffering may exist because He sets standard of what is indeed “benevolent” and what is not.

This isn’t an airport, no need to announce your departure

In this particular case, OP is under impression he found contradiction in doctrines of Christianity. This means two things

  1. He is making sure there is not something he is missing by allowing us to debate it with him and convince him if he indeed is making a mistake, showing he is open-minded about his position.
  2. He is making sure that if indeed he is correct, other people can see it and perhaps make their judgment based on what they perceive is true. Hence if Trinity indeed is irreconcilable with Divine Simplicity, Christianity itself falls and there is no point in being Christian at all (meaning people who are open minded about being Christians can change their minds for a better view). This shows that OP does care about what is Truth and wants the best for others.

As OP has shown, his point was largely the 1st one but in the end this does work for both. I think it is amazing that OP has asked and started this thread, as well as fact he is searching for the Truth and not just apathetically staying in one for no reason (or again, just believing in his guts and leaving Faith without debating about it with others who are experienced).

In the end I think that arguments in this thread were sufficient for me to keep me Christian :smiley: but if that is not sufficient for the OP, that’s his free choice. He must be convinced there is no contradiction to believe in something otherwise it isn’t belief worth having.

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Hi DefaultMan. I have a simple way to explain the Trinity. You may think that it’s ridiculous, but I’ll give it to you anyway. The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three Persons – One God. Like an egg. Shell, Egg White, Yolk. My brilliant analogy. Lol!

There are things that I do not understand about God – say, evil people with picture-perfect health versus Good people with debilitating illness. It’s hard to wrap my head around.

God the Father loves us. God the Son pleads our case before God the Father. God the Holy Spirit is God manifesting Himself in the world. Same God – three Persons with separate functions.

You don’t have to logically understand the Trinity. But you do need to accept it by faith. God is simple – yolk, egg white, shell. And He is a mystery – Omniscient, Omnipotent, etc…

In the Book of 2nd Corinthians, it tells us that “We will know, as we are fully known,” and “we are looking as through a glass dimly.” We will not understand everything about God in this life – but all will be clarified when we are with God. The Bible also says that God will “spend eons and eons showing us His love.”

Sometimes faith is simply the conscious act of accepting what we do not totally understand.

One more thing: In the Bible it says that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” The God of Classical Theism was the exact God we have now.

I pray that I have struck a chord with your doubts. Your honestly about how you feel is wonderful!

I hope you don’t leave.


No “omnipotence” is assumed. The definition of Libertarian free will rests on 3 legs:

  1. the agent has a certain outcome (aim, goal) in mind.
  2. there are at least two possible ways to achieve that goal.
  3. the locus of decision is with the agent, not some outside entity.

If we cannot agree on that, there is no reason to continue. But of course there is another problem with your approach. If the only necessary condition is to have a free imagination, even if that goal cannot be actualized, then God could simply disallow any unwanted actions.

This is the point where I have to take a leave. I am only interested in a rational discourse, not some irrational ancient texts.

But I have to point out that you still could not explain the suffering of teething. Of course I am not surprised…

I’d like to understand how God could allow the suffering of His beasts. A fire is started by lightening and severely burns mother deer and her fawn. They are separated and mother dies rather quickly but in much pain. The fawn continues to live several more days, in horrible pain, starving to death and without her mother. No one witnesses this. Scenarios like this happen all the time. No one benefits from it. It’s just a senseless miserable painful suffering. Why not at the least, have them die very quickly? I just can not rationalize this in any way with a good God.

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I did but you were not interested. What I am saying that free will brought evil into the world and teething being painful, birth being painful, temptations we feel and sicknesses we get are all effect of that. We don’t know complete list of reasons for every single thing, but we have some idea at least. If suffering is properly accepted it makes us grow and transforms us. Teething is first real experience of suffering for an infant. Perhaps it is necessary or even good that they get to experience it.

We can. That still does not say free will is impeded because we can’t reasonably do anything. We have free will also because there are effects of our actions. Side effects as well. That means we choose not only outcome but also the road to it, and we impact indirectly or directly more than we want.

I also still fail to see how does existence of suffering disprove benevolence of God. It only works if we assume suffering is bad but then suffering gives us warning. Suffering we experience is just tiny fraction of real suffering and as such it is preferable for us to be alarmed by as little as what we can experience on this world to make us grow and understand … in order to escape real suffering of the soul. God can not solve all problems for us if he is omnibenevolent because that would not be good and wouldn’t teach us anything (and teaching us automatically robs us of free will and/or gives us extreme responsibility where even one little sin results in just pain).

I am interested, but we need some common platform to continue. At the very least we need to agree about the different kinds of pain and suffering. The first thing where me must agree that "gratuitous, unnecessary pain and suffering is “evil” - in the sense that it cannot be reconciled with a loving and caring or benevolent deity. Without having such an agreement there is absolutely no way to find some common platform.

Actually your argument is the combination of the two possible defenses. One is the “greater good defense”, the other one is the “free will defense”. I can elaborate on both if we can agree upon the common platform of what is “gratuitous pain and suffering”, and why it cannot be reconciled with a benevolent God.

The ball is in your court. :slight_smile:

I can not necessarily agree with that, as it is unclear what you mean by it. Of course, God can not directly cause such suffering but permitting it can be reconciled with God in the event that permission itself is necessary (not the suffering itself).

I already have. God’s omnibenevolence relates to Him, not to our perception. God needs to preserve free will more so than absence of suffering which is in itself neutral and only choice to make suffering bad is in our perception (default stance is to perceive it as wrong because of effects of original sin, but that can be changed by free will). God can not remove obstacles for us (as much as parents shouldn’t do their kid’s homeworks) just for sake of it neither can he engrave knowledge and Truth into us because that denies our free will and basically takes away our responsibility. God as omnibenevolent being can not cause meaningless suffering but can permit it to exist to maintain free will and our own sovereignty. Suffering itself is not comparable to real suffering souls can experience (as much as kid would cry about a simple slap but someone who has experience being burned alive wouldn’t really have same reaction towards same slap) and as such is not inherently a thing we should concern ourselves with. Our perception makes us think we are all important and things and hardships we experience are all grave… but in the end that is not how the world works because what matters would be life beyond the grave and soul over the body. That’s a scenario which easily disproves what you have stated.

I am glad we can at least attempt to find a common starting point. You understood exactly what I mean. Suppose you find a psychopath torturing a kid, or a pet. You are in the position to interfere, but you don’t.

According to what you said, God did not directly cause this suffering, but “merely” permits it, and the lack of direct involvement somehow “exonerates” God. This is something I categorically refuse to accept. To cause gratuitous pain and to allow gratuitous pain are equally horrible and despicable.

No human agent could use the defense “I merely allowed, but did not do it” and hope to get away with it. You might try to use the tired, old canard that we are not allowed to compare God to humans, and refer to the old Latin proverb: “Quod licet Iovi, not livet bovi”, or “whatever is allowed to God is not allowed to humans” (loosely translated).

Sorry, unacceptable. There is only one measuring stick, applicable in all cases. "Unnecessary, gratuitous suffering is ‘evil’ and whoever commits or allows it, is equally ‘evil’ ".

Awaiting your reply.

This works because I am on same level as psychopath torturing a kid. My experience and perception of pain is same (or similar enough) and therefore if I exercise my free will I do not indeed oppose free will of said psychopath nor the free will of the kid; I am merely reacting to effects of psychopath’s actions. However, this does not work with God and humans. If there is an ant colony you observe and are working as sort of their “god” for lack of a better word, you can not go and interfere to solve their internal disputes if you want them to learn that themselves. You can technically give them opportunities to solve them or set them an example, but you can not micromanage everything for them. Of course that is if you really want the best for them and you wan’t them to one day be like you (which God does want with humans).

Now for God, who is infinitely greater than us, who understands that years are nothing more than seconds and who understands that pain of burning alive and pain of being slapped are comparable to each other while being incomparable to real pain of the souls, intervention of using his omnipotence would practically rob us of free will. God’s intervention in that aspect would make us obey out of fear and not out of free will, which effectively thwarts God’s goal for us to “evolve”.

They are necessary indicators. Animals are indeed capable of feeling pain, but they do not possess souls. That does not make it correct for us to torture them (and big part of that is because it hurts our souls if we do that) but it can not be compared with torturing people. For the sake of the argument, let’s assume there was no pain at all (just necessary indicators in some other form) for animals prior to existence of humans.

Because we are on the same level. God helps us too, but in ways that do not invalidate our own choices, free will and responsibility. In other words humans are a team, and God is cheering for us and helping us as he can without ever making the game unfair for us. Helping people eases their suffering, but primarily works as setting an example and as improving the world in bigger picture, as well as helping out our own souls by acts of love and compassion. We help each other without taking away responsibility away from humanity, and without taking away free will of humans as a whole race.

Yes, and prayer is part of how and why God does it. It isn’t entirely without our actions- prayer is an action too of course.

Your assumption that it is meaningless thing is based on your limited human perception. God judged it not to be which indeed means that if God is infallible, you are wrong. Another thing is that God removed those obstacles for reasons different than “because they would suffer”… or at least that reason plus other reasons. God did that to teach humanity and to help us grow. He did not violate free will.

I think that relying on our definitions is horrific position, especially in a world where God exists. That would mean following:

  1. God defined goodness first, so “redefinition” is practically what humans did, not God.
  2. If we accept that we ought to only follow our own definitions, you can pretty much argue for anything in your own definitions and language twists and make Truth itself subjective. This leads to fact that I could technically misinterpret anything just to get what I want, even something immoral.

But here you are in the position of “foreseeing” the actions of this psychopath, and you can choose to let him go ahead, or prevent him to do so. And you (Or God) let him go on.

Of course it does. The phrase of “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi” is still rejected, you did not present any argument why should God be exonerated for non-interference.

I will accept your analogy, and use it. Of course your argument that God wants us to learn, and gradually be like him is an unsupported hypothesis.

You keep on forgetting the balance between letting them learn on their own and have all that pain and suffering go rampant, and simply use a different scenario, where they can learn without the suffering. You also forget the notion of “omnipotence” which says that only logically contradictory states of affairs are impossible for God, everything else is possible.

And there is no reason to allow a slow and painful learning process, when the same result can be achieved by simply “willing it into existence”. Of course one of the best solutions would be to create everyone with a good disposition, when they simply do not WANT to hurt anyone else. I have all the freedom to cause pain and mayhem, if I wanted to, but have absolutely no desire to do it. And I am not special, not a saint, just an everyday guy, who abhors violent actions.

But we are drifting. As I said before, there are two basic defenses against the problem of evil, or suffering. The “greater good defense” and the “free will defense”. I have problems with both of them.

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