The Problem of Evil and Suffering

The Problem of Evil and Suffering May 28, 2024

Practical Spirituality series

The problem of evil is a question that deeply troubles every generation and, to some, refutes the idea of a benevolent God of love as a logical impossibility. It’s been a subject of philosophy and religion for thousands of years.

People dispute the definition of evil. Some include every act that is injurious, while some include suffering itself. Why would a loving and just God allow suffering?

Big Buck Bunny image © Blender Foundation, CC BY 3.0 DEED
Evil-Frank, Big Buck Bunny image © Blender Foundation, CC BY 3.0 DEED

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 2: 2-4 (NASB)

Why would there be evil?

Religions generally include the idea of suffering as essential to human moral development. Do something wrong and you pay a price. While there is truth in this idea, many individuals act purely out of love for others. But none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. We’re all learning.

Some hold the dualistic notion there can be no benevolent act without the shadow of evil in the background. Even NDEs tend to support this. Again, while there is truth in this idea, many individuals act purely out of love for others. But none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. We’re all learning.

Many situate evil in the realm of free will. A benevolent God gives us free will to allow us to become who we will be. We can select good or evil. We all have free will so our actions can range from purely evil to purely benevolent, with most of us somewhere in-between.

How can an all-powerful God allow bad things to happen?

Practicality of evil

My focus is practical. We can get lost in the definitions and reasons for evil, focus on how unfair it is to us, and never come to a constructive view that allows us to experience a loving God or develop spiritually. Evil is what it is.

My life example

My life hasn’t been without hardships. I grew up on a farm and we had minimal equipment for the work. We did everything the hard way. When I was 25, I ruptured a disc in my back. Everything I did became more difficult because of it. It made some people in the church angry with me when I couldn’t mow the steep part of the yard. Sympathy and understanding are hard to come by. It interfered with every activity.

One thing I wanted to do was write articles, books, and movies. My ruptured disc caused me a lot of pain to sit, and I sat driving for around four hours a day for many years. When I got off for the day, I sat and wrote despite the pain.

I never thought of the back problem as evil. It was just an obstacle to overcome. If you want something, you go for it. After 13 years, they finally had MRIs and could see the damage. Another ruptured disc drove me to a doctor who fixed both problems.

Today I have a disintegrating disc giving me pain again, but I keep on doing what I do. Adversity is something you conquer or you lie on the couch forever and do nothing.

My brother fell off a roof in his early 20s, shattering his ankle. It causes him a lot of daily pain, but he never slowed down. One day, I shared with him an article I read about a guy who survived being swept away by an avalanche. It swept his vehicle over him and it perched on his arm, pinning him so he couldn’t get out. The man prayed to God to rescue him. The vehicle moved on.

My brother’s comment was, “Why did he give up so easily?” That’s my brother. He also has faced a lot of adversity and just keeps going.

My loving wife stands by me with words of encouragement. “Suck it up, buttercup!” Sympathy is not her strong suit.

The value of adversity

Facing adversity gives you experience. You find strength and faith within you. You learn that you can prevail. You learn to make difficult decisions. You learn to accomplish your goals in life despite niggling problems and major problems that stop many people. My mother recognized this in me in elementary school and said that once I set my mind to something, I completed it. Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. On a farm, you face a lot of adversity and become very resilient and self-sufficient. I developed this life attitude: “Make it happen.”

I have made a lot happen. I’m well educated despite adversity. I’m an active author of articles, books, screenplays, and am writing an in-depth course on how to make change. I’ve carefully weighed outcomes and made tough decisions. Without adversity shaping my life, I might not have accomplished anything.

Message to Generation Z

I confidently laugh at people who think this generation is soft and can’t accomplish anything. This is not an indication of future events considering historical evidence. People overcome. We all wrestle with things like the problem of evil. This generation hates injustice and won’t accept it. But this generation is entrepreneurial and determined to create change. They will change the world for the better.

A disadvantage notable to this generation is that their parents fight all their battles for them. The result is they don’t know how to stand up for themselves. Fighting adversity is essential to self-development and growth.

Accept adversity. Show your adaptability and strength. Never lose your conscience or determination to make change. Making change will bring you endless adversity by those who don’t want change, even if it’s beneficial change. You can do it! Failure means you got discouraged and quit trying.

We made a lot of change in the 1960s, and I’m still working on change. Now it’s your turn to make the world a better place. The population demographics are swiftly changing, so your voice now outweighs your predecessors. Make it happen!

Probability Space

What probability spaces can we open in our minds to carefully evaluate what needs changed and find ways to do it?

Potential Space

If you think creatively and allow your mind to wander and explore justice, how can we help restore others?

–           Dorian

Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.

Restore and recreate. Take time to celebrate life. Sing and dance regularly, even every day.

Bible scripture verses are New American Standard Version (NASB), unless noted.

About Dorian Scott Cole
Information about the author is on the About tab. You can read more about the author here.

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