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Religion Library: Baha'i

Suffering and the Problem of Evil

Written by: Moojan Momen

One area that is frequently debated when the problem of suffering arises is the question of why, if God is a loving God, He allows large-scale suffering such as the Holocaust to occur. There are several possible answers to this question. Since Baha'i theology maintains that God has created human beings in order to be known and since it is necessary for human beings to have the divine attributes (potentially at least) in order to know them, then clearly, human beings must be given the attribute of free will. Otherwise they could not know the free will that God has. God cannot give human beings free will and then prevent them from exercising it every time they choose badly. God did not create the Holocaust; human beings created the Holocaust by exercising their free will and going against the teachings of God. Human beings cannot call on God to prevent such episodes unless they call on Him to remove human free will -- and if He did this, they would not be humans any more. According to the Baha'i view of history, episodes such as the Holocaust are the direct result of human perversity, which is largely the outcome of humanity's rejection of God's message for each era.

Study Questions:
     1.    What do Baha’is believe is the explanation for the concept of the Devil or Satan?
     2.    What do Baha’is believe happens if human beings abandon spiritual laws and chase after physical pleasure?
     3.    In what way, according to the Baha'i teachings, do tests and suffering help human beings advance spiritually?
     4.    How do Baha’is account for the fact that God does not prevent major catastrophes and large-scale human suffering such as the Holocaust?


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