Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Through the Fire

After pointing out how immoral an all-powerful, all-loving God that doesn't remove human suffering would be, I received this quote from a recent disputant:

"Diamond cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified without fire. Trials and suffering makes you a better person."

I must admit that at first I was at a loss for words. Then I realized where the problem lay: an obfuscation of terms.

A Value Judgment
What does "better" mean in that context? Sure, in some sense it's true that overcoming adversities builds character. Is a person's character what we're talking about here? Is the inherent complex of attributes that determine a person's moral and ethical actions and reactions what is being referred to? If so, we can substitute that in and again ask the question: Does suffering build character?

As I said, in some sense yes, but we are again dealing with ambiguity, for what type of "suffering" are we talking about? Does stubbing your toe constitute a notch-up in moral character? What about true suffering...what about starving because you're too poor to purchase food? How does that build character? Does it make you a stronger, more resourceful individual because you have to find alternate was of getting fed? Most importantly, why does this particular "trial" a necessity from an all-loving God?

Betterment Without Horrid Suffering
As I see it, an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God could find a way to -- if not completely remove suffering and misery altogether -- at the very least lessen it. Why must humanity suffer so much? The more you suffer, the better you are? I don't see how that argument is cogent in the least. If your loving god requires affliction and suffering from his sheep, then count me among the goats.


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