The Big Question 28: Why Does God Allow Suffering and Pain?
Oct 10, 2018 1990
Why does God allow suffering and pain?
Well, that is the big question, isn’t it? It’s supposedly the biggest weapon that atheists bring out against Christians.
One of the assumptions behind this question is that pain is bad. I guess we can all agree with that.
But another assumption here is we’d all be better off if we never experienced pain; that pain has no purpose.
I think it does. Let me give you an example.
Leprosy is a horrible disease that still exists in some parts of the world. Untreated, one of the symptoms is the loss of feeling in your extremities, like their noses, ears, fingers, and toes. There’s been cases of people with leprosy actually burning their fingers in a fire, or having their toes eaten off by rats in the night, and they never felt a thing. So pain, in real life, tells us that there’s something wrong, that there’s some danger, something abnormal.
Now, if you put on the hat of atheistic evolution, you’d logically have to say that pain and suffering are normal. It’s just the way things are in a world where life has developed as the result of the survival of the fittest. In fact, you might even say that pain and suffering have a positive purpose. They weed out the weak and allow the strong to survive. So you just have to get used to it, and grin and bear it.
For me, this contradicts what we know to be true from common sense, that pain is abnormal, and that it’s there to remind us that something is wrong.
I think that the Christian explanation for why there’s suffering in the world is much more true to life. Not only that, but it agrees with the aspirations of humanity.
We’d all agree that we don’t live in a perfect world. If I was asked to design my perfect world it certainly wouldn’t include pain and suffering and grief and dying! But the Bible tells us that God did create a perfect world, so the pain we see around us is not normal. It’s telling us that something is wrong with the world, something that needs to be fixed.
And the Christian story is about how God is in the process of fixing this world. The Bible says that there will be new heavens and a new earth, in which there will be no more suffering or pain.
For me, that’s a much better story. I refuse to accept pain and suffering as just the norm. I’m looking for a better world.