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Why So Much Pain?


momof8
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If there is a god, why is there so much unimaginable pain in this world? I have felt so much guilt, because even though I do have my problems, my life is wonderful compared to a lot of people. Why should I be special. I want everyone to have the good life I have had. For a long time I wanted the rapture to come and at least release all of the suffering children, but what if I was wrong about all the children going to heaven, what if they did end up in hell. And what about the suffering adults, I didn't want them in hell. I almost drove myself crazy with this way of thinking. I couldn't take the horrible unfairness of my god. Why did I get lucky to be born in America to parents who loved me? Why was another child born in horrendous poverty in Africa to parents that sold her into sexual slavery for a goat? WHY would a good God let any of this happen???? Why is there a child just a few hours away from me suffering the most horrible pain from a sickening disease where his skin just falls off, leaving huge sores that never heal. Who lost his eyesite and can't eat because these sores are in his mouth and esophagus? Whose young Mom has to watch her baby suffer every time she has to change his diaper or give him a bath. And this poor Mom cries out daily to her God, praying for peace and truly believes that this is all for God's glory? Why won't God listen to her???? she doesn't even blame him like I do? Where the hell is he and why doesn't he do something, anything???? No, this god I have served is not loving or kind, he doesn't even give a shit, because he doesn't exist :(

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If there is a god, why is there so much unimaginable pain in this world? I have felt so much guilt, because even though I do have my problems, my life is wonderful compared to a lot of people. Why should I be special. I want everyone to have the good life I have had. For a long time I wanted the rapture to come and at least release all of the suffering children, but what if I was wrong about all the children going to heaven, what if they did end up in hell. And what about the suffering adults, I didn't want them in hell. I almost drove myself crazy with this way of thinking. I couldn't take the horrible unfairness of my god. Why did I get lucky to be born in America to parents who loved me? Why was another child born in horrendous poverty in Africa to parents that sold her into sexual slavery for a goat? WHY would a good God let any of this happen???? Why is there a child just a few hours away from me suffering the most horrible pain from a sickening disease where his skin just falls off, leaving huge sores that never heal. Who lost his eyesite and can't eat because these sores are in his mouth and esophagus? Whose young Mom has to watch her baby suffer every time she has to change his diaper or give him a bath. And this poor Mom cries out daily to her God, praying for peace and truly believes that this is all for God's glory? Why won't God listen to her???? she doesn't even blame him like I do? Where the hell is he and why doesn't he do something, anything???? No, this god I have served is not loving or kind, he doesn't even give a shit, because he doesn't exist sad.png

life can be a very sad reality momof8, but life just makes more sense to me now that I don't have to ask god, ''WHY, WHY, WHY''?

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I understand you so much momof8. I served the Lord for so many years, evangelized and for receiving nothing good

from him back. I was just abandonned with my problem and had to deal with a god that never helped me.

Margee is so right : now we dont need to ask WHY to a God which we do not need if he exist or not I also

feel better. I got upset so many time toward this god when I struggled with my problems. Awaking can

be brutal moreover when you have been a christian for a long time. But it is also a big relief where

you can let go your anger and heal about an illusion.

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No, this god I have served is not loving or kind, he doesn't even give a shit, because he doesn't exist sad.png

 

You are right that we have had better lives than others. I have found that gratitude is a very powerful emotion. We don't have to feel gratitude towards any being. You don't have to focus it at a God who doesn't exist. But feeling grateful can help us go on. Religion is what men create to hide the truth. That truth is that life is chaotic and doesn't have any deeper meaning. Bad things happen. There is no great plan for it. But since we are human we can choose to give thing meaning. We can help out when bad things happen to others near us. And we can be grateful when good things happen to us. And if something bad happens to us we can be grateful to other people (not God) when they give us a hand.

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We live in a random universe. Nature is cruel. Life isn't fair.

 

An all-powerful being in charge of all this would have to be unbelievably cruel. The gods we invent come with excuses to cover the obvious inequities of life. When good isn't rewarded and evil isn't punished, it has to be the fault of something other than our god.

 

The fact that most of us feel sympathy for the less fortunate puts us way ahead of any gods.

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We live in a random universe. Nature is cruel. Life isn't fair.

 

An all-powerful being in charge of all this would have to be unbelievably cruel. The gods we invent come with excuses to cover the obvious inequities of life. When good isn't rewarded and evil isn't punished, it has to be the fault of something other than our god.

 

The fact that most of us feel sympathy for the less fortunate puts us way ahead of any gods.

 

You know, realizing that I , a mere human, had more compassion and concern for the horrors of the world is part of what started my doubt. If god did create this mess then he majorly effed it up! I guess I had a belief in some sort of plan for everything being better one day. How it was gonna get better was never clear. Now I realize that the world is a cruel and random place. It is hard not having answers anymore, even though there never really were any answers to begin with. I don't get to even have an illusion or delusion for better. In a way, it felt kind of good to have a god to be angry at. I know we, as humans, are the only ones who can make any difference. But there is only so much I feel capable of doing. I can help when I see a need, but there isn't a damn thing I can do for that child suffering with an incurable disease. I used to believe that there was a God who might heal him, now I know there is no chance whatsoever of that.

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If there is a god, why is there so much unimaginable pain in this world? I have felt so much guilt, because even though I do have my problems, my life is wonderful compared to a lot of people. Why should I be special.

Sounds like survivor's guilt to me, Q.

 

It is no more your fault that, relatively speaking, your life is fairly good, than it is the next person's fault that, relatively speaking, their life is crap. It is just the luck of the draw. Even the self-inflicted pain that happens to people is somewhat random based on how well or poorly they were raised or (dis)advantaged by society.

 

Nor is it your fault that you can't single-handedly fix the ills of others. It's also a slippery slope to second-guess yourself about whether you have done what you could. In theory, we could all do more. In practice, we have our own problems and need a certain amount of rest from our labors, and no one devotes every waking moment not already committed to work and family, to helping the unfortunate. Nor should they. Anything you undertake needs to be sustainable and focused. That means you will choose one or two causes at the expense of others, and there will still be plenty for you to feel bad about if you choose to.

 

Finally, and perhaps most controversially, I would advance the idea that you are not obligated to be thrilled with your existence simply because it could in theory be so much worse. This is your life, you're not here by your prior consent, you're fighting with one hand tied behind your back, and you have a right to decide what you want from your life, and to feel what you feel if you're not getting it.

 

Having said all that, there is of course still that kid you're talking about who is dying horribly in searing pain; there are all those Sandusky victims and the human collateral damage they will leave behind for generations, and on and on. There are two possible responses: become numb and ignore it all, or pick one thing that you can do to ease the misery in this sorry world and do it well. Quite possibly that one thing might be very close to home, and there's nothing wrong with that. I strongly suspect a lot of our spare cycles in coming years will be wrapped up in making sure my OCD stepson is okay as he makes his way into the adult world. If you're fortunate enough to have the home front fairly well nailed down then you can volunteer in the community and/or donate to external causes. If everyone did the small things they could do, it would be a lot in aggregate.

 

It is what it is ... don't hand-wring too much about it, because you didn't make it this way. Just do what you can. Having empathy and compassion like you do, is a good start, but don't let that empathy and compassion cripple you or take you down, either.

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You know, realizing that I , a mere human, had more compassion and concern for the horrors of the world is part of what started my doubt.

"What person among you, if your son ask you for a loaf of bread, will you give him a stone?" Yeah, me and mine got handed one too many stones, too.

 

I decided that god was not worth it. Life is way too short and nasty for me to waste energy being angry and bitter at an imaginary Sky Daddy for beating me with a stick when I did nothing wrong. In point of fact, life isn't at all about me, not even in a negative way like that. I just exist, in a reality that just is, and stuff happens. The end.

 

It's not as pleasing to me but at least it's dealing in reality.

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You are right that we have had better lives than others. I have found that gratitude is a very powerful emotion. We don't have to feel gratitude towards any being. You don't have to focus it at a God who doesn't exist. But feeling grateful can help us go on.

Gratitude has no meaning if there is no benefactor to direct it to. You can't say "thank you" to thin air. However, we probably disagree only on semantics. Maybe a word I could get on board with is "value". I value the good stuff in my life. Sometimes that value even exceeds my personal costs over those things that I don't value at all or upon which I assign negative value. I also have learned to change my estimation of value -- in some cases even moving certain things from negative value to positive or at least neutral value.

 

Failing to bring awareness to the positive value in our life will cause us to under-assess the net value of our lives. Even if the net value remains negative, giving maximum awareness to the good stuff really helps.

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Gratitude has no meaning if there is no benefactor to direct it to. You can't say "thank you" to thin air. However, we probably disagree only on semantics.

 

It isn't logical and it might not make sense but we can do it. Emotions don't need to make sense. Just think about a stroke of luck you have had. You have either been spared from a bad outcome or had a good outcome that was not typical. Taste the goodness. Enjoy it. Be grateful for it even if there is nobody to thank. Gratitude is a powerful emotion and humans can meditate on it.

 

Maybe a word I could get on board with is "value". I value the good stuff in my life. Sometimes that value even exceeds my personal costs over those things that I don't value at all or upon which I assign negative value. I also have learned to change my estimation of value -- in some cases even moving certain things from negative value to positive or at least neutral value.

 

Failing to bring awareness to the positive value in our life will cause us to under-assess the net value of our lives. Even if the net value remains negative, giving maximum awareness to the good stuff really helps.

 

Whatever word works for you is fine by me. I'm just saying that we don't have to give up this appreciation of value and it's therapeutic benefits just because we stopped believing in gods.

 

 

MM

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It really is the luck of the draw for me now. Survival of the smartest, fittest and luckiest. None of us can help where we were born or what family we were born into. I wish we could all have had equalness in life to make it fair..... but, its not....wink.png

 

I feel stronger today knowing this. It has helped me realize that I alone have to make things as safe and secure as I can..... but to understand that I cannot control everything. This is a hard lesson for me because even when I believed in god, I tried to control him ...... I thought he was too slow for me. He didnt watch over things good enough for me! Now i know why!! He wasnt even there!!!

 

woohoo.gif Damn!

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You pretty much summed up my exact feelings when I lost faith. There is no god. Which is a rather comforting thought, in my opinion. At least we don't actually have a divine dictator that makes Hitler look like a My Little Pony actually controlling things.

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The problem with Christianity is that it holds out false hope. God is "good" no matter what you or others suffer. If things get really bad, then its heaven and every tear wiped away -eventually. There is simply no answer to suffering in the here and now. Its always pie in the sky when you die, or "you don't have enough faith". If there were an omnipotent, good God, there would not be the situation we see on a daily basis. It just wouldn't happen.

 

I would like Thumbelina or Believer or any of the other fundys to really answer this one satisfactorily.

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...And this poor Mom cries out daily to her God, praying for peace and truly believes that this is all for God's glory? Why won't God listen to her????

momof8, I don't understand this either (at least not from the Christian perspective--I understand it from the atheist perspective). This caused me incredible grief as a believer. I am one of the ones that God left high and dry without a prayer. They say that God won't give you more than you can handle and I can assure you, that is not true (as most of us on this site have discovered). What makes me crazy though is when Christians find "reasons" why something bad has happened to you or "reasons" why God won't help you. The pastor's wife told me that the reason God hasn't given me children is because God thought I'd be a bad parent. Nice.

I served the Lord for so many years, evangelized and for receiving nothing good from him back. I was just abandoned with my problem and had to deal with a god that never helped me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But it is also a big relief where you can let go your anger and heal about an illusion.

Sissi71, me too! And yet the Christians tell me that God is no maker of deals so pony up the good attitude, regardless of what God has dumped in my lap. Like you, I finally have peace now that I can let go of my anger!

The fact that most of us feel sympathy for the less fortunate puts us way ahead of any gods.

florduh, I always appreciate your "to the point" posts! It was confusing to me for years that when I would tell my Christian friends about something bad happening to me, they would spout off reasons and of course, defend The God Who Did Nothing. When I'd tell my atheist friends, they would just hug me or be indignant on behalf of the injustice I faced. Very confusing. Well, it's not confusing anymore....

If you're fortunate enough to have the home front fairly well nailed down then you can volunteer in the community and/or donate to external causes. If everyone did the small things they could do, it would be a lot in aggregate.

I agree, DesertBob. When I was struggling in my faith I was working with a humanitarian group (all atheists). It was confusing to me that the people in my church were only interested in attending church events (or "evangelizing the lost" sohelpmegod) and getting "holier and holier", while my colleagues and I were doing "real" work in the margins of society, actually showing love and compassion and offering Real HelpTM. I am still involved in volunteer efforts but my motives are purer than ever: good works as an end in themselves, to benefit the recipient in some moment in his/her life.

"What person among you, if your son ask you for a loaf of bread, will you give him a stone?" Yeah, me and mine got handed one too many stones, too.

DesertBob, they say that God is more compassionate and merciful and generous than any parent. However, I would not even put my enemy through what I've been through. Oh, but God disciplines those he loves? Well, I guess I've had a few lashes of the whip too many.

The problem with Christianity is that it holds out false hope. God is "good" no matter what you or others suffer. If things get really bad, then its heaven and every tear wiped away -eventually.

Deva--I agree. "If you just pray a little more, God will hear you." And, you're right: no matter what, God comes out the good guy.

 

Has anyone read any of the Christian apologetic texts about the problem of pain? I didn't read them as a believer, and sure as hell won't read them now, because even at the time it seemed silly or at best, superfluous to read a book that defends the Bible. I always thought the Bible should be able to stand on its own two (or more?) legs, without complicated explanations. Has anyone read these and care to recap what I missed? It's probably more of the "we sinned" and "it's a mystery" crap, no?

 

Peace, all.

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...And this poor Mom cries out daily to her God, praying for peace and truly believes that this is all for God's glory? Why won't God listen to her????

momof8, I don't understand this either (at least not from the Christian perspective--I understand it from the atheist perspective). This caused me incredible grief as a believer. I am one of the ones that God left high and dry without a prayer. They say that God won't give you more than you can handle and I can assure you, that is not true (as most of us on this site have discovered). What makes me crazy though is when Christians find "reasons" why something bad has happened to you or "reasons" why God won't help you. The pastor's wife told me that the reason God hasn't given me children is because God thought I'd be a bad parent. Nice.

I served the Lord for so many years, evangelized and for receiving nothing good from him back. I was just abandoned with my problem and had to deal with a god that never helped me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But it is also a big relief where you can let go your anger and heal about an illusion.

Sissi71, me too! And yet the Christians tell me that God is no maker of deals so pony up the good attitude, regardless of what God has dumped in my lap. Like you, I finally have peace now that I can let go of my anger!

The fact that most of us feel sympathy for the less fortunate puts us way ahead of any gods.

florduh, I always appreciate your "to the point" posts! It was confusing to me for years that when I would tell my Christian friends about something bad happening to me, they would spout off reasons and of course, defend The God Who Did Nothing. When I'd tell my atheist friends, they would just hug me or be indignant on behalf of the injustice I faced. Very confusing. Well, it's not confusing anymore....

If you're fortunate enough to have the home front fairly well nailed down then you can volunteer in the community and/or donate to external causes. If everyone did the small things they could do, it would be a lot in aggregate.

I agree, DesertBob. When I was struggling in my faith I was working with a humanitarian group (all atheists). It was confusing to me that the people in my church were only interested in attending church events (or "evangelizing the lost" sohelpmegod) and getting "holier and holier", while my colleagues and I were doing "real" work in the margins of society, actually showing love and compassion and offering Real HelpTM. I am still involved in volunteer efforts but my motives are purer than ever: good works as an end in themselves, to benefit the recipient in some moment in his/her life.

"What person among you, if your son ask you for a loaf of bread, will you give him a stone?" Yeah, me and mine got handed one too many stones, too.

DesertBob, they say that God is more compassionate and merciful and generous than any parent. However, I would not even put my enemy through what I've been through. Oh, but God disciplines those he loves? Well, I guess I've had a few lashes of the whip too many.

The problem with Christianity is that it holds out false hope. God is "good" no matter what you or others suffer. If things get really bad, then its heaven and every tear wiped away -eventually.

Deva--I agree. "If you just pray a little more, God will hear you." And, you're right: no matter what, God comes out the good guy.

 

Has anyone read any of the Christian apologetic texts about the problem of pain? I didn't read them as a believer, and sure as hell won't read them now, because even at the time it seemed silly or at best, superfluous to read a book that defends the Bible. I always thought the Bible should be able to stand on its own two (or more?) legs, without complicated explanations. Has anyone read these and care to recap what I missed? It's probably more of the "we sinned" and "it's a mystery" crap, no?

 

Peace, all.

 

 

 

 

I am so sorry for this Positivist :( Christians do seem to always say the wrong things, it is because they have to find a way to justify bad things happening. I have had 3 miscarriages and heard plenty of awful things as to why they happened. With the last m/c, I just didn't go to church for about 2 months because I couldn't deal with the shit I was gonna have to hear. I just want to say, from the short time "knowing" you on the forum, you would have been a fantastic parent :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, this speaks volumes! I will say though, that my parents were not like that. They were always acting out their Christianity. I can't tell you how many people they helped, and in real ways, not just trying to get them saved. Of course, they would have done this whether they were Christians or not, it is just the kind of people they are. My Mom and I actually got into a small argument yesterday because she was saying that she would be a horrible person if it weren't for Jesus. I completely disagreed with her and told her she would be a kind wonderful person no matter what. She actually got angry with me and said she didn't want to talk about it anymore. WTF! It is so ingrained in her that she is absolutely worthless without Jesus....it makes me so angry!

 

 

 

I think the hardest thing for me to accept is there is no heaven. I had this idea, that all of these innocent people that suffered would at least have a wonderful afterlife. I just ignored the fact that the cruel God of the Bible probably wouldn't have even let them into heaven :(

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The problem with Christianity is that it holds out false hope. God is "good" no matter what you or others suffer. If things get really bad, then its heaven and every tear wiped away -eventually. There is simply no answer to suffering in the here and now. Its always pie in the sky when you die, or "you don't have enough faith". If there were an omnipotent, good God, there would not be the situation we see on a daily basis. It just wouldn't happen.

 

I would like Thumbelina or Believer or any of the other fundys to really answer this one satisfactorily.

 

I would really like an answer too. I don't expect one though. I have asked and asked for years and no one can give me an answer except to say that he is God and we can't understand his ways. They say it will all be crystal clear when we die and go to heaven. Bullshit! If someone could really answer this question I would still be a Christian.

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I think the hardest thing for me to accept is there is no heaven. I had this idea, that all of these innocent people that suffered would at least have a wonderful afterlife.

Me too. I feel for the pain and suffering of others and all creatures. I could at least give my brain a painkiller by telling myself there is peace in heaven. Now that I have lost that option, I have found myself working harder in the world to make the world a better place. I do what I can, because this is it, and no one should have to suffer.

 

And regarding the pastor's wife (she's now divorced, interestingly) I was so confused by what the said, because serial killers, drug addicts and people who don't want kids can reproduce like nobody's business. But God for some reason feels I'd be a worse parent than a serial killer? Well, that's laughable. It was another nail in my faith coffin.

 

Glad you're wtih is, momof8! :-)

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If there is a god, why is there so much unimaginable pain in this world?

 

Not limited to humans, the animal world is more cruel, damn don't even talk about insects, they are brutal... And no, there really is no god, he told me so! :)

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We live in a random universe. Nature is cruel. Life isn't fair.

 

An all-powerful being in charge of all this would have to be unbelievably cruel. The gods we invent come with excuses to cover the obvious inequities of life. When good isn't rewarded and evil isn't punished, it has to be the fault of something other than our god.

 

The fact that most of us feel sympathy for the less fortunate puts us way ahead of any gods.

 

 

While I agree generally with you Florduh, I will speak directly to the bold. I personally feel that nature is not cruel. Nature is neutral. To a lion we are just another potential meal. To a tree or a rock we are nothing. An ant would see us as a physical god, if they could even comprehend us. When was the last time you were concerned about squashing a fly, or putting poison out for a mouse.

 

Those who can't adapt...die. It was that process that led us to creating civilization. And gods.

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I personally feel that nature is not cruel.

Of course natural systems don't behave with intent. The result of natural activities often seems indistinguishable from deliberate cruelty from a directed source.

 

Speech isn't always precise (perhaps especially in my case) but you get the idea. Natural disasters, etc. cause misery.

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Of course natural systems don't behave with intent. The result of natural activities often seems indistinguishable from deliberate cruelty from a directed source.

 

Speech isn't always precise (perhaps especially in my case) but you get the idea. Natural disasters, etc. cause misery.

 

This is also true.

 

And if there was a god the allowance of the death and misery caused by such disaster can be viewed as cruel. Despite whatever "reasoning" a fundy could give for it. If it was allowed and could have been prevented, it was cruel. Which could lead us down the whole omni debate which has already been hashed over on other threads.

 

However, we know that without a god most bad things happening are the results of choices, both intended and unintended consequences.

 

The decision of the Gov't of Japan to build a nuclear power station on an active fault line was, to be blunt, stupid. The decision of the City of Los Angeles to build a subway system in an area known for earthquakes is equally stupid. Living as I do on the outskirts of Tornado alley can be viewed that way as well. Misery may result and did in the first case.

 

In the first case, the intended consequence was the resulting power without incident for, I think, 30+ years. The unintended being the facility's destruction and resulting meltdown and irradiation of the surrounding farm land. Offhand, I don't think Fukishima is finished yet.

 

In the second, There will be another earthquake in LA. Eventually, some blond haired blue eyes little girl will lose her parents becuase of it and will be exploited for the news. The intended consequence of greater people moving has worked wonderfully. However, that will come as small condolence to the girl when the unintended happens.

 

In the third, My house could be damaged or destroyed by a tornado, possibly killing myself, someone I love, or all of thee above. While without question that would suck, my living here is because this is where my wife wishes to be and since I love her and wish to live with her, I must accept that possibilty however slight.

 

So it seems to me that some misery that happens due to natural processes can, in some cases be partially or directly attributed the choices of the humans affect by said processes. But that being said, all misery caused by natural processes is a result of living.

 

How we view it and interpret it is up to the individual choice.

 

{/soapbox}

 

 

[gets back to work.......sorta]

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