Is the Existing Theology on Human Suffering Adequate?

[quote=Hitetlen]If that is the reason, I would prefer that he did not “love” me. We can do quite well without this kind of “love”. It is totally incorrect to call this attitude “love” since it is in dire contradiction to what we mean by “love” when it is applied to human interaction.
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Here is part of the problem that I think you may be having in following this understanding. Your definition of love is missconcieved. You said in an earlier post that the term love is vaguely defined. This is not the case. Love is strictly defined as desiring the highest good for the other. With this proper definition of love in tact my statement on this also remains in tact.

This is true to a point. Remember the language I used is “at times will cause …” I specifically used this formulation because I knew that this would be your response. What it speaks to is that it is not a necessity that coming into contact with that non-being will necessarily cause suffering. However if the non-being is great enough then it will cause suffering such as blindness or a poisenous bug bite.

Actually this is the most logically coherent arguement. Much human suffering is due to the direct cause of the free actions of another. If God did not love all of us equally then he would not allow for true freedom. This true freedom is where moral evil comes from and it is moral evil that causes the most suffering in the world. Thus, this point that you acclaim as nonsense can only be so apart from the natural world. However, living in the real world it is self-evident.

[quote=Hitetlen]Wow! I am almost rendered speechless. If God’s glory comes from our suffering, then God is the most evil being there could be. To wallow in someone else’s pain and misfortune to glorify oneself is so horrible that I am lost for words. Again, the defense is worse (much worse) than the “attack”.
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This assumes that suffering is always evil. The perfect example of this is the Pasch of Christ. It was through the suffering of the Cross that attonement was realized. Without the suffering of Christ then there is no redemption. Your reaction to this is not unexpected as it stems from the basic tendance of the modern to recoil against all forms of suffering. Also you are reducing the equation to suffering + man = God’s glory which is not even implied in my post. Rather suffering can be a means to manifest God’s glory which is a very different thing.

[quote=Hitetlen]I have some objections (big surprise, eh?). One is that we all live in the universe and have to employ its properties if for nothing else, for the purposes of this conversation.

A more serious one is this: logic is not a special feature which can be applied or discarded at will. To exist is to exist as something as compared to existing as something else. You yourself adhere to this principle when you make an actual utterance about God, when you declare that “God is a loving being” (even if the word “loving” is not clearly defined). If this concept does not apply in the realm where God dwells, you cannot make any utterance about God, the whole concept becomes sheer nonsense. I don’t think you want to do that.
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I guess I didn’t make it so clear what I was trying to say.

Us, as entities of this universe, are trying to apply logic, a feature of this universe, to something outside this universe. Now, honestly, it is done in a sort of (excuse the phrase) half-assed manner. Like I said you cannot know the mind of God, these features are ambiguous, etc. The reason that I use such terminology is that is the terminology that Christ used, Christ being like a ‘universal mapping’ of a beyond this universe being. Without delving further into this topic, I cannot really describe it much better.

And again, I am not saying that God ‘simply exists as something’; to say that would imply that you are putting limits on God, which I can’t do. To say that God must adhere to logic is putting limits on Him, which I cannot do. Even to say that God is a “loving God” is putting limits on Him. What’s the difference? Well, I think its because people just want to have some way to convey what God is to other people. Whenever I try and describe God to people, it always just comes out as a jumbled mess.

I think the real problem here is that communication breaks down. Like Aquinas said when he stopped writing his proofs, he just couldn’t use clumsy human language to describe God anymore.

I think it interesting that the people of Hindu faith (who might have a more proper starting point) say that ‘God is a being to which no properties can be ascribed.’ Would that be more adequate to you?

[quote=Hitetlen]As I said in the previous paragraph, even to have a starting point (as you put it) the words have to have some meaning, and there are some rules to apply them - and that presupposes to application of the law of identity. Let me remind you of a funny picture: a pure solipsist who tries to convince you that you don’t exist and you are merely a figment of his imagination. Why does he bother? Such a person would belong to an insane asylum, wouldn’t he?
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No, Descartes was not in an insane asylum (or maybe he was, but he likely wouldn’t be today). Philosophical skepticism is a fairly reasonable, albeit hard to live with, position. I was a skepticist for a while, but I didn’t really do much of anything besides sit in my basement. Still, that doesn’t make it an invalid position.

[quote=Hitetlen]I know that some previously necessary pains can be alleviated today: the easiest examples come from the medical progress we are all witnessing. Some previously painful procedures are replaced by non-painful ones. With the discovery of new pain-killers we can alleviate previously existing pains. You cannot argue (convincingly) that all the pains we are able to allieviate today somehow lost their significance they had yesterday. That yesterday all these pains had some vaild reasons to exist, but today that all changed and their existence is not necessary any more.

Actually I recall that the first time the childbirth pains were dampened, some of the Catholic clergy were in uproar, saying that God ordained that women MUST deliver their children “in sorrow”, and that alleviating the pains of child birth were a slap into God’s face. Pretty funny, if you stop to think about it.

To sum it up: if you want to argue that all existing pains are necessary, you should be able to bring up valid reasons why that idea ought to be entertained. To say that if those pains would not be necessary, God would not allow then to exist (since God is allegedly “good”) that has no meaning to anyone who does not accept your position - especially since we all see that previously existing pains are disappearing.
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Again, the same problem comes about. You should have read the response to Rowe’s Argument from Evil that I mentioned before, which does point out a logically valid reason that these sufferings exist.

At any rate, we just seem to be going in circles and we have veered WAY off topic so I am going to bow out of this. Good conversations though.

[quote=precious_roy]I guess I didn’t make it so clear what I was trying to say.

Us, as entities of this universe, are trying to apply logic, a feature of this universe, to something outside this universe. Now, honestly, it is done in a sort of (excuse the phrase) half-assed manner. Like I said you cannot know the mind of God, these features are ambiguous, etc. The reason that I use such terminology is that is the terminology that Christ used, Christ being like a ‘universal mapping’ of a beyond this universe being. Without delving further into this topic, I cannot really describe it much better.

And again, I am not saying that God ‘simply exists as something’; to say that would imply that you are putting limits on God, which I can’t do. To say that God must adhere to logic is putting limits on Him, which I cannot do. Even to say that God is a “loving God” is putting limits on Him. What’s the difference? Well, I think its because people just want to have some way to convey what God is to other people. Whenever I try and describe God to people, it always just comes out as a jumbled mess.

I think the real problem here is that communication breaks down. Like Aquinas said when he stopped writing his proofs, he just couldn’t use clumsy human language to describe God anymore.

I think it interesting that the people of Hindu faith (who might have a more proper starting point) say that ‘God is a being to which no properties can be ascribed.’ Would that be more adequate to you?

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While it is true that any attribute applied to God is used as analogy and because of this every similarity implies a great dissimilarity it is not true to say that we can’t say true things about God. Further, the human mind does not try to apply logic it does apply logic as logic is merely an emblimatic formulation of how the human mind works. Also, logic does not bind God but rather flows from God as it is part of His nature because of the Divine Intellect. There is no ambiguity in any of this if applied properly.

You are right, we are going in circles, so just a few remarks:

[quote=precious_roy]I think it interesting that the people of Hindu faith (who might have a more proper starting point) say that ‘God is a being to which no properties can be ascribed.’ Would that be more adequate to you?
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It is acceptable, but then we really have nothing to talk about, as you correctly stated.

[quote=precious_roy]No, Descartes was not in an insane asylum (or maybe he was, but he likely wouldn’t be today). Philosophical skepticism is a fairly reasonable, albeit hard to live with, position. I was a skepticist for a while, but I didn’t really do much of anything besides sit in my basement. Still, that doesn’t make it an invalid position.
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Just a short clarification: skepticism does not equal solipsim. Solipsism is the philosopy that nothing exists outside the person, everything is a figment of his imagination. Of course no one can be a true solipsist. As soon as they interact with the world they refute their own philosophy.

[quote=precious_roy]At any rate, we just seem to be going in circles and we have veered WAY off topic so I am going to bow out of this. Good conversations though.
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That we did, but it was quite enjoyable. Thank you for your thoughts.

[quote=mosher]This assumes that suffering is always evil.
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No, I never said that. Unnecessary pain and suffering is what I was talking about.

[quote=mosher]Also you are reducing the equation to suffering + man = God’s glory which is not even implied in my post. Rather suffering can be a means to manifest God’s glory which is a very different thing.
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This is what your post implied to me, and if I was hasty in drawing conclusions, I apologize.

[quote=Hitetlen]No, I never said that. Unnecessary pain and suffering is what I was talking about.

This is what your post implied to me, and if I was hasty in drawing conclusions, I apologize.
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I appreciate the intellectual honesty. Sometimes it is rare in these types of discussions.

So, I would have to ask the question - what is determined as unnecessary?

Is the intent of God in allowing suffering to bring us close to Him?

[quote=Ted CharlotteNC]Is the intent of God in allowing suffering to bring us close to Him?
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Yes

[quote=mosher]I appreciate the intellectual honesty. Sometimes it is rare in these types of discussions.
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Thank you. Too bad your observation is correct. We can all gain from admitting our shortcomings.

[quote=mosher]So, I would have to ask the question - what is determined as unnecessary?
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That is simple: if we in our imperfect ways can find a better way to alleviate suffering, while achieving the same result, the suffering was unnecessary. I gave a few examples in the posts prior to this.

[quote=mosher]While it is true that any attribute applied to God is used as analogy and because of this every similarity implies a great dissimilarity it is not true to say that we can’t say true things about God. Further, the human mind does not try to apply logic it does apply logic as logic is merely an emblimatic formulation of how the human mind works. Also, logic does not bind God but rather flows from God as it is part of His nature because of the Divine Intellect. There is no ambiguity in any of this if applied properly.
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Interesting. My problem was always the general mutually exclusive properties that God possesses, like he is both here and not here, fuly love but demands justice, three entities but only one entity, Christ was both fully human and fully divine. Within the bounds of strict logic, how can someone posess these properties?

[quote=precious_roy]Interesting. My problem was always the general mutually exclusive properties that God possesses, like he is both here and not here, fuly love but demands justice, three entities but only one entity, Christ was both fully human and fully divine. Within the bounds of strict logic, how can someone posess these properties?
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Read a book called Theology for Beginners by F.J. Sheed.

[quote=thistle]Read a book called Theology for Beginners by F.J. Sheed.
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I’ve read excerpts. It’s a bit abstract and ambiguous to me.

There are a few things I want to tackle here but I would like to take them in turn.

You make a statement concerning our imperfect ways. How does one measure imperfection without an example of perfection?

Have you considered that the suffering may be the necessary result in itself and not a symptom to be alleviated?

[quote=thistle]Read a book called Theology for Beginners by F.J. Sheed.
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Sorry, thanks for the recommendation though. Could you recommend something more ‘rigidly logical’?

[quote=mosher]You make a statement concerning our imperfect ways. How does one measure imperfection without an example of perfection?
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That is easy: with changes resulting in better ways than before. There is no such thing as “generic” perfection, only better or worse ways, based upon the circumstances.

[quote=mosher]Have you considered that the suffering may be the necessary result in itself and not a symptom to be alleviated?
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No, that makes no sense to me, unless one would consider a masochist. (But even masochists do not crave real pain and suffering, only mild and simulated ones.)

[quote=precious_roy]Sorry, thanks for the recommendation though. Could you recommend something more ‘rigidly logical’?
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the Summa of St. Thomas

[quote=Hitetlen]That is easy: with changes resulting in better ways than before. There is no such thing as “generic” perfection, only better or worse ways, based upon the circumstances.

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So you reject the notion of perfection in itself? How can a person who is a Mathematician assert that principle?

Rather a masochist does not crave suffering but he does crave pain. Pain and suffering and not co-equal principles. While it is true that pain causes suffering it is not true that suffering is exclusively pain.

[quote=mosher]So you reject the notion of perfection in itself? How can a person who is a Mathematician assert that principle?
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I have no idea what you mean. Pelase elaborate, if you are so inclined.

[quote=mosher]Rather a masochist does not crave suffering but he does crave pain. Pain and suffering and not co-equal principles. While it is true that pain causes suffering it is not true that suffering is exclusively pain.
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I have no idea of the signifcance of this either.

[quote=Hitetlen]I have no idea what you mean. Pelase elaborate, if you are so inclined.

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You noted in another post that your field of study is math. My question is directly related. How can a person trained in mathematics deny the notion of perfection? It seems that if a mathematician were to deny perfection he would be denying the viability of his field of study.

I am building on the line of thought that at times suffering can be the necessity for a particular end and that there is no way out of the suffering. Further I challenge, by implication, the idea that suffering is always a negative.

[quote=mosher]You noted in another post that your field of study is math. My question is directly related. How can a person trained in mathematics deny the notion of perfection? It seems that if a mathematician were to deny perfection he would be denying the viability of his field of study.
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Mathematics is a wonderful intellectual exercise, with some practical applications. It has nothing to do with perfection.

[quote=mosher]I am building on the line of thought that at times suffering can be the necessity for a particular end and that there is no way out of the suffering. Further I challenge, by implication, the idea that suffering is always a negative.
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That is not a problem. If suffering is a necessary means to achieve some good, and the sufferer agrees to this, everything is fine. You seemed to say that suffering qua suffering can be acceptable, not as a means, rather as an end. And I don’t accept that, but I am open to suggestions.

Another remark: I will travel out of town for a week and will not have access to a computer. I will reply to your further posts (if you are interested) when I return.

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