Home » Features » Is There A God Who Allows Suffering?

With more selfless empathy,
more will realise that
when ‘others’ suffer,
all of us as ‘one’ suffer,
and all should help all.

Stonepeace | Books

According to an article in ‘The Independent’ on the 18 Jan 2015, a tearful once abandoned girl (Glyzelle Palomar) at a university in Manila asked the current Pope (Francis) – ‘Many children get involved in drugs and prostitution. Why does God allow these things to happen to us? The children are not guilty of anything.’ In a speech, he answered, ‘She is the “only one” who has put forward a question for which there is no answer…’ He then called all to show compassion for the marginalised – ‘I invite each one of you to ask yourselves, “Have I learned how to weep, how to cry when I see a hungry child, a child on the street who uses drugs, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child that society uses as a slave?”‘ In the largely Catholic Philippines, according to the Child Protection Network Foundation in 2009, 1.2 million children live on the streets, and 35.1% of its children live in poverty. The article also mentioned that ‘The Catholic Church has grappled with a number of scandals in recent years, including the abuse of children by priests.’

It is interesting that although the Pope is believed by many to be God’s earthly representative, he simply said there is ‘no answer’ to the actually very common question of why those seemingly ‘not guilty of anything’ are allowed to suffer so terribly. If we try to answer, we will inevitably end up with 2 alternatives on the nature of God. (Here, ‘God’ is classically defined as an all-loving, all-wise and all-powerful creator of all.) [1] If there is a God, who allows children to suffer through abuse, he is thus not all-loving (by allowing so much suffering), and/or not all-wise (by not knowing how to prevent so much suffering), and/or not all-powerful (by being unable to rid so much suffering). If so, he cannot be God as defined. There is thus no God. [2] There is no God in the first place, due to the same reasons in [1]. Despite many believing there is a God as defined, with undisclosed ‘mysterious’ reasons for allowing so much suffering, the reasoning in [1] and [2] is still watertight. In short, if there is a perfect God in the first place, there would not be so many imperfections created and sustained today.

Even a child (who represents so many suffering children), whose simple yet desperate question on suffering (or ‘the problem of evil’) to God and even ‘his 266th spokesman’ (Pope Francis) remains unanswered. It is doubly interesting that the Pope did not ask God for answers, or for any help there and then. Instead, he urged all present to empathise with those suffering. Learning just to ‘weep’ upon seeing the helpless is of course inadequate. What needed is to genuinely help them. Instead of praying to a God who is absent (in terms of actual response to widespread suffering), we humans must help one another to overcome suffering. And we must surely not excuse or allow the wicked to abuse the helpless, especially in the name of religion, which makes it doubly wicked. More on child sexual abuse by some 250 Catholic priests can be seen in the 2016 Academy Award winner for Best Picture ‘Spotlight’, which is based on ‘The Boston Globe’s series of articles on the issue, which won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Fast forwarded to as recent as 1 April 2016, ‘The Washington Post’ ran this article – ‘A New Catholic Clergy Sex-Abuse Scandal Comes Into The Spotlight’. To date, thousands of cases have been reported worldwide. More moral cleaning-up remains to be done. (If there is a ‘godly’ God, how would even a single ‘godless’ priest exist?)

Incidentally, in the Buddhist teachings, the Buddha taught directly that there is no all-loving, all-wise and all-powerful creator God due to similar reasons above. The Buddhas however, are indeed all-loving (with perfect compassion for all beings), and all-wise (with perfect wisdom on all matters). As spiritually powerful as any can ever become, they never claimed to be all-powerful or creators of everything. If they are all-powerful, they would have eradicated all suffering instantly already. And they would not create a world with so much suffering. All suffering is thus individually and collectively karmically created in our present and past lives, even if forgotten. No suffering is ever passed unfairly to us from anyone else – we reap what we have sowed. This however does not mean that we should inflict suffering or leave others in suffering, as our ultimate ‘salvation’ in terms of Buddhahood requires the perfecting of selfless compassion for one and all! According to our karmic affinities, the Buddhas are always doing their best in guiding us to transcend suffering, as they instruct and inspire all mindful of them and their teachings.

With more selfish apathy,
more will rationalise that
when ‘others’ suffer,
only they themselves suffer,
and none should help any.

Stonepeace | Books

Related Articles:

The Buddha’s Victory Over A God And Demon
http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2012/03/the-buddhas-victory-over-a-god-demon
Are Buddhas Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent & Omniscient?
http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2013/11/are-buddhas-omnipotent-omnibenevolent-omniscient
Does Buddhism Explain ‘Creation’?
http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2014/05/does-buddhism-explain-creation
An Agr-Old Answer For An Age-Old Question
http://moonpointer.com/new/2015/01/an-age-old-answer-for-an-age-old-question

One Response to “Is There A God Who Allows Suffering?”

  1. Irene May 5, 2016

    Thanks for sharing this enlightening article.

    I agree with what you say, ‘All suffering is thus individually and collectively karmically created in our present and past lives,even if forgotten. No suffering is ever passed unfairly to us from anyone else – we reap what we have sowed.’.

    As one of my Christian friends says ‘God is just but is not fair’, I tell her not to throw stones at me as I believe the missing link is rebirth.

    I agree with what you say as I cannot think of any other possible reasons.

Leave a Reply

Name (required please)

Email (required, will not be published)

Website (optional)