General Question

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Believers- does it make you angry that God allows such suffering?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (23098points) November 6th, 2011

I often think about abused children, people who are homeless through no fault of their own, abused and tortured animals, etc… specifically it’s the abused children that make me the most angry with God.

I find myself wondering, on a frequent basis, if God is such a caring God, why does he allow the innocent to be so tormented? Why does he allow evil people to have children and then kill said children? It would be so easy for him to prevent those people from procreating. Why doesn’t he?

I understand about “free will”, but I just can’t understand why he doesn’t stop the worst atrocities from occurring, when he could do so quite easily. How can he bear to watch children be tortured and slaughtered? I don’t get it, and it makes me furious with him.

Do you wonder the same things? Does it make you angry?

WARNING: This is a question specifically directed at those who believe in God. If you’re not a believer, feel free to comment with your opinions on the subject, but do not feel free to crap all over the question.

This is not a discussion about God’s existence, nor is it about my insanity or lack of intelligence for believing. I posted this Q in General for this sole reason, and I will flag any answers that attempt to mock the question or beliefs stated therein. Thanks.

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95 Answers

atarah09's avatar

No. There was a point in time when I was angry though; I didn’t have the best childhood, and I won’t go into many details. But I have experienced things that no one should have to experience. I am a better person because of my horrible experiences. You can either let them make you or break you- I use it as motivation.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@atarah09 Well it’s good that you have the opportunity to have that attitude about your experiences, but many kids don’t. Many of them die because of their injuries, or they grow up in a dark, depressing world, with no one to love them. I don’t understand it.

atarah09's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate- All of the prophecies of the end times are coming true. I know it’s difficult to stomach all of the evil in this world, but we have to keep our eyes on Christ.

MrItty's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate good for you. I’ve never understood how believers could not be angry/resentful toward their deity, for exactly that reason. Glad to see there’s at least someone who feels the same way.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I am angry that such awfulness happens in our world, but my belief is in more of a creative deity who does not have much of a hand in the day-to-day stuff. I am angry that humans of any kind, with such marvelous potential can allow horrible suffering to happen.

chyna's avatar

Yes it does. The abuse of children or elderly or mentally unstable people makes me question why God lets this happen. The “answer” I have heard from different ministers is that God doesn’t let it happen, but that the devil makes people do those things. To me, God is more powerful than any evil, so I do question this. I also understand freewill, but I wonder why he doesn’t step in to help those with no voice, no power.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@MrItty Yes, it makes me angry, bitter, resentful, etc… It doesn’t diminish my belief in his existence, but it makes me incredibly angry with him, and I have a feeling this will be one of my first questions when I stand in front of him to be judged. WHY????

@JilltheTooth Yes ma’am. That too. I don’t understand women who can carry a child for nine months, then brutally murder that child. I don’t understand parents who lock their kids in closets or starve them or beat them up. I don’t understand adults who find children attractive and abuse them in that way. I don’t understand why many humans are so evil! And to me, that’s exactly what they are- pure evil.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@chyna I feel the same way. In so many situations, it would be so simple for him to stop future evils, like sterilizing everyone who would abuse or murder their children.

I guess it’s good that I’m not God. I’d be spaying and neutering people left and right, and I’d be smiting people all day. Screw that aspect of free will. You abuse a kid or an animal, and you’re gone, pal! I see that you will abuse your future children? I’ll just remove your ovaries or your testes while you sleep! You’re attracted to kids and plan to molest them? You’re getting hit by a bus tomorrow, buddy!

chyna's avatar

The recent story of the three people that kept mentally challanged people in a sub-basement in the pitch black for months and years at a time to collect their social security checks made me especially angry. I want those people to just die, no trial, no rights, nothing. So it is good that I’m not God too. It will be one of my first questions when I get there also.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate : This is why I do not think that human life, in and of itself, is sacred, and why I don’t oppose the death penalty as a concept. When anyone takes on the role of monster they forfeit the right to be treated as anything but, and I wish that smiting would happen.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@chyna I guess I should be appalled at myself for harboring such violent thoughts about people like that… but I’m not.

@JilltheTooth That’s exactly how I feel about it.

thorninmud's avatar

I’m not a believer, but it seems to me that this very question is the reason that the book of Job is included in the Bible. From way back, people have had a really hard time with this.

Job puts mankind’s suffering in the context of the greater cosmic battle between God and the devil. It admits the possibility that someone who is entirely undeserving of suffering can still become a collateral casualty of this cosmic battle. It makes the promise that God will make it all good in the end, no matter how crappy things get. And, crucially, it forestalls our natural human tendency to get pissed off at God for all this by stating in no uncertain terms that we really don’t understand shit about it all.

snowberry's avatar

I’m a Christian, and I am not angry at God, but I am motivated to relieve suffering. I sponsor a child, I have worked with the homeless, I work with people from 3rd world cultures, and do a lot of other stuff. I cannot keep bad stuff from happening, but I sure can make a difference by my love for others.

Why am I not angry? One reason is because I used to be one who caused others to suffer. Now that I’m on the other side, I understand that wounded hurting people hurt other people, and I was one of those people. Simple as that.

When I was the one causing the suffering, there were those who wanted ME to die. I have a lot of compassion now for those suffering, and those doing the wounding, because I know what it’s like on both sides.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t believe in “God” as a “him.” In the Christian based religious philosophies.

I believe we are all “one” as in, we all evolved from the same energies and building blocks of life and that while we share an interconnectedness there is so such thing as this bearded, almighty entity, sitting on his throne judging us from the heavens and “allowing” evil and unhappy things to occur.

I adhere more to the eastern philosophies that say suffering happens yet we all can choose to transcend our egos, see mothers as ourselves, which they are, and strive to do no harm.

I think that’s the best we can hope for and to be angry over the state of the suffering in the world is to perpetuate more suffering.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

“God” to me is simply the one life force that manifests in all living forms, and what we do as humans is entirely up to us.

Earthgirl's avatar

The terrible things that people do to each other, especially to the innocent and helpless, horrify me as much as they do anyone. It makes me angry also. I feel llike they need to be punished and justice needs to be exacted. But it is not my place to be the judge. Many of the people who do these abusive things were first abused as children themselves. It permanently warped their minds in some essential way. There is a chance that they can fight those demons and rise above it all to become a good person. If we are not in their place, if we have not experienced what they have experienced, how do we know that given the same set of conditions in our lives we would have evolved to be a better person? Of course it is so easy to say that we would be better than them, but do we really know? It is only God’s right to judge because he knows and sees all.

If we choose to execute people, to take their life away, we take away the possibility that they will one day repent and be sorry for what they have done. We take away their chance at redemption. It’s not our right to do that. But it gets so complicated emotionally. There are some people who have become like monsters. They have no remorse and there is little doubt that, given their freedom, they would do such things again. Society has to bear the responsibility and the cost of keeping them behind bars.

Having said all that, I don’t want God to be a puppet master in human affairs. As much as it is tempting to wish for a superhero to come in and right wrongs, and punish those who do evil things, evil in the world is the price we have to pay for free will.

I know that my reasoning only works if you believe in redemption which is mostly a religious construct. I struggle with my belief in God. I was raised to believe in all this and it’s a part of me that I still question. I am open to different ways of looking at things. The Eastern way of looking at things as Coloma speaks about has a lot of wisdom in it. I still seek for answers. I try to be compassionate.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@snowberry I can see your point, to an extent, but I’m sorry- I just can’t feel any sort of compassion for those who deliberately hurt/violate the innocent. I have no compassion for anyone who abuses or kills children, no matter what has happened to the “perp” in the past. Whether the person “doing the wounding” is hurting or not, there is still a choice to protect or harm the innocent.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It kicks me back to the free will arguement. How can he tell who is good or bad if he doesn’t allow the individual to make their own decisions? I think he leaves it up to us to make the call if we’re going to embrace good or evil.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes, but if we believe (and many do) that he is all-knowing and knows every move you will make in your life, he already knows which people will make those evil choices, and it would be quite simple to stop them from doing so.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate But if he stops you from proving your heart how would he ever know what was going on in there?

Judi's avatar

All I know is God is God and I’m not. I know that if I had not suffered the atrocities I have suffered in my life, I may not have come to this point of totally trusting him. Maybe, for me it was like a refining by fire, I don’t know, but I do know that he has my best interest at heart and that this life is just one part of my journey.
My daughter describes this life as sort of a womb. We see glimmers of light and hear sounds that we don’t fully understand. Once we are born into his light, we will never again regret the suffering we endured in the womb or during the birthing process. This time is important to the formation of who we will be, but only a glimmer of who we will become.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m not sure. =0) That’s one of the great mysteries that I have no answer for. Sort of like the “Holy Trinity”. How do you explain that God is God, yet he is also Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Three entities are one whole. There are a lot of discrepancies in the Bible, and a lot of paradoxes that I honestly can’t wrap my mind around. But I’m one of those “weirdos” ;) who believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. If he is all those things, he must know who is evil and who is not, and what they will do with their lives, yet how can he know if they don’t live out their life? It’s confusing.

Coloma's avatar


Compassion for the doers of evil deeds simply means the old “forgive them father for they do not know.”

Hate the sin but love the sinner.

“Evil” is perpetuated by the mentally unsound, faulty belief systems, warped interpretations of scripture and those that have suffered their own wounds at the hands of abusive family, culture and society.

Having compassion for the innocent child gone astray is what is meant by having compassion and forgiving those that do not know that in harming others they are also harming themselves.

I believe in justice and consequences, but, I also have compassion as everyone is born innocent and it is nature/nurture that plays the largest part in humanity gone wrong.

If Jesus could forgive the murderers then anyone that wishes to walk in their christly convictions should be able to do the same.

You want Jesus/God to forgive you for being unforgiving, right? ;-)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I know. Tough call either way.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Coloma That’s something else I struggle with, yes. I know I’m not supposed to be “judge and jury” but I can’t seem to stop myself. And I do ask forgiveness quite often for having so many “vengeful thoughts”, but again, I can’t seem to stop myself from having them. I feel bad for being so unsympathetic, but I’m still unsympathetic when it comes to many human evils I see.

I often pride myself on having a big heart when it comes to a lot of things, but I refuse to open my heart to those who deliberately destroy innocents. It’s not in me to forgive that. That’s just one of my many faults. It’s actually quite depressing at times to have both sides in your head: “I should not be so judgmental and hate these people. But I really hate these people.”

On the other hand, most humans don’t have it in them to forgive what Jesus and God are capable of forgiving. How many people do you know that would actually be able to suffer through the pain and torture of a crucifixion and would honestly be able to say, “God forgive my tormenters” as they hung on the cross, dying. I wouldn’t. If someone was whipping me and nailing me to a tree, I’d curse them with my last breath.

Anyway…. sorry I deviated so much. My point is just that I do ask forgiveness for my judgmental heart, but I’m so full of anger and disgust for people who rape the innocence of others, that I’m just not capable of feeling compassion for them.

bobby78's avatar

If you are a true believer you can’t be angry or question God.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@bobby78 “True believers” have every right to be angry and question God. We still believe in him and try to follow him as best we can, but we still have the right to be angry with him and question what we don’t understand.

I’ve known several preachers who are very devout in their beliefs, yet they still question things they don’t understand. It’s only natural to do so. I take some things on blind faith, but that only goes so far.

Judi's avatar

@bobby78 ; The Bible is filled with stories of Godly people who doubted and were angry with God.

Facade's avatar

I’m angry that people can be so cruel to others, but I certainly don’t blame God. He could stop all the bad in the world, but that’s the free will part of things. Just to be clear, I don’t believe anyone can explain God’s actions or inactions; it’s not our place to do so anyway.

bkcunningham's avatar

@snowberry, I love your answer. Even out of context of this particular question, it shows the true meaning of Godly love and compassion.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I’m not a believer, but this is a great question, I’ve always been interested to know this.

Coloma's avatar

I always think of every individual, be it Ted Bundy or Quadafi or Charles Manson as the innocent little babe they were born as.

Do you think any of these people thought to themselves as 5 year olds ” Gee, I can’t wait to grow up and kill people! ”

This is not to minimize the pain and havoc these individuals wreaked in their carnation, but, it does evoke compassion.

I was disgusted beyond words at the birthday party atmosphere in celebrating the death of Quadafi recently.

I mean come on! Seriously, I don’t know how people can reconcile their own blood thirsty reactions as somehow okay, regardless of the atrocities of the individual.

Same rope, different ends.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Coloma Yeah, I get that to a certain extent, I really do. It’s just almost impossible (for me, anyway) to reconcile who they were as children with who they turned into. They made the evil choices that led them down that path, and I can’t feel any compassion for them. Bundy, Dahmer, Gacy, Koresh, etc… they were innocent once upon a time, but they made all the wrong choices and became evil. I don’t have it in me to forgive that. (And don’t forget, many serial killers, serial rapists, etc… spent their childhood abusing animals and “weaker” children. They weren’t so innocent, even in childhood, eh?)

Mariah's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate, great question. It (and a similar discussion on another thread recently) got me thinking. Just out of curiosity, how do you feel about suffering that is not at the hands of another human: natural disaster, or disease, for instance. Do you feel differently about that kind of suffering? Does it make you angry too? Would God be hampering free will if he prevented those things?

Coloma's avatar


Yeah, IS all just very sad, the cruelties humans perpetrate against one another, all you can do is be the best human you can be for your present level of growth, understanding and development. Just focus of what you can do to make the world a better place one moment at a time. :-)

tom_g's avatar

Disclaimer: My big fat opinion coming up…

The mere existence of evil can only mean one of the following:

a) there is no god
b) there is a god who is good, but “he” is powerless to do anything, and is not omniscient. In other words, he screwed up. He had no idea what he was creating, and just flaked.
c) there is a god, but he is not good.

Of course, (a) is what I believe. Why b and c?

If I am writing a program, and I create an object with a property of “suffering”, I have some explaining to do.

public class Person
public SufferingLevel Suffering { get; set; }

Why does this object contain this property in the first place? Does the object require a Suffering property? If so, why? Am I inheriting from an object I created? Am I implementing an interface of my creation?

If god created everything, he created the need for suffering and suffering itself. He either didn’t need to but did it anyway [c] or needed to because he’s not all that powerful [b]. (Maybe I’m just not a very good programmer.)

I come from a Catholic background, so forgive me if I am not portraying an accurate picture of other Christian sects. But I am under the impression that this existence was created by god as a brief place as a test to see if your real life (eternity) is going to be spent in heaven or hell. Why create this temporary proving ground in the first place? And why must this place be full of suffering. got to run…

manolla's avatar

I am a believer, it makes me sick to see or hear about the sufferings of all the humans as well as other cretures that share with me the earth.

I am more angry and discusted with the people who cause and allow this suffering, people who are selfish and think that it doesn’t concern them because its not them that are affected, people who think that thier life is more significant than others. I feel grateful to god for giving me the strength to do good and I believe in his justice so I’m sure the rights of any person who suffered won’t be lost.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@tom_g : You forgot d) There is a god who simply is. Not he or she, not good or evil, but simply is.

tom_g's avatar

@JilltheTooth – Sure. There are an infinite number of letters that I forgot or didn’t list.

I’m curious, though – What does [d] mean? Is this some kind of god that didn’t create the universe, but has merely existed alongside of the universe without manipulating it in any way? What could we possibly say about such a god?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Sorry, @tom_g ,not having this particular conversation on @WillWorkForChocolate‘s thread about anger about suffering and injustice

tom_g's avatar

@JilltheTooth – right. But since you did decide that [d] was related to suffering and injustice, in what way is it? I’m trying to understand. I’m an ex-Catholic. The “simply is” in the suffering and injustice context doesn’t is difficult for me to get my head around.

phaedryx's avatar

Reminds me of the Is Pain Valuable? type of questions.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I was just trying to make the point that your 3 choices were sadly lacking in scope. That’s all.

tom_g's avatar

@JilltheTooth: “I was just trying to make the point that your 3 choices were sadly lacking in scope. That’s all.”

If you’re going to make the point, then make the point. My list which was “sadly” lacking in scope was a list I outlined for… “The mere existence of evil can only mean one of the following:” In what way does [d] add to the scope? I’m serious. We’re talking about the existence of evil, right?


We do all those bad things and cause our own suffering. So why should I be angry with God?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Um…no. I wasn’t talking about the existence of evil. We seem to be having different conversations here. Never mind.

CaptainHarley's avatar

With suffering comes growth and wisdom. Perhaps God wants you to grow and gain wisdom. Not being God, I cannot answer with any degree of certainty, which is one more reason why one needs faith.

Generally speaking, such questions are too high for me. I simply try to do the best I can to love God and my neighbor and trust God for the rest.

Coloma's avatar

Amen to that little nugget of “truth.” ;-)

EmptyNest's avatar

Look at it this way, if all people were true Christians [Christ-like] there would be no torturing of children or animals. Most of what we suffer as a people, we cause ourselves. It breaks my heart too when I hear about abused children. I used to be a foster mother, because of it. So instead of being angry at God for allowing it, I ask, “What can I do, Lord, to help?”

tom_g's avatar

@CaptainHarley: “With suffering comes growth and wisdom.”

But isn’t that because god made it this way? In other words, couldn’t an existence have been created in which growth and wisdom did not require suffering? This doesn’t address why there is suffering at all.

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t believe in any religious doctrine, theology or dogma but I do, sort of, most days, believe in god, in my owns (if that isn’t vague enough, I can make it even more vague). It seems to me that a good 85–90% of the suffering endured by people in the world is directly or indirectly at the hands of other human beings, caused by human beings. Humans cause most of the suffering and misery in the world; it is not god’s responsibility to stop us from doing that; it our our responsibility to stop doing it to each other and to stop others from doing it.

For example, child abuse and neglect happens for a number of reasons and we could alleviate much of the suffering of those children by putting adequate resources into our child protective services systems, because when you have one social worker who has a case load of 30, sometimes 50, children, the case worker simply cannot manage to keep an eye on and protect all those children. Additionally, some children are abused in households where drugs are an issue. If we viewed drug abuse and addiction as the public health problem they are, rather than as a criminal problem, and put resources into drug treatment then we could probably help a lot of children too.

And the Holocaust was completely the doing of human beings. God wasn’t responsible for the Holocaust, people were.

We, humans, cause most of the misery and suffering in the world and then seem to think we have the right to blame god for not stopping us, to be angry at god for allowing us to do it. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. If there is a god, I think he or she or it has a hell of lot more reasons to be angry at us than we have to be angry at god. The question should be god’s: “Humans, why do you cause each other so much suffering and misery, and those who don’t directly cause suffering yourself, why do you allow others to do it?”

mitochondrian's avatar

While I am no longer a believer in god, I really appreciate your clarity in telling others not to crap all over your question. I really feel quite annoyed when I ask a question or start a topic of discussion and others immediately distort what I am asking by getting instantly mad at the question having been asked as if they take it so personally. It reflects poorly on them and tells me that they do not know how to participate in respectable dialogue with others who hold a different view. I firmly live by the idea that to ask a question is vastly different than forcing your view on others. I do not appreciate when people take questions personally and crap all over them either.
For what it’s worth, when I was a believer in God, I did experience anger at the thought that “God allows such suffering in the world”. I was angry when I asked “Why!!!!!!!” It was very perplexing. No longer believing in god(s) watching out for man kind hasn’t made me less emotional about suffering though.
Thank you for you sensitivity.
Respectfully yours,

CaptainHarley's avatar


I suppose God could have poured wisdom directly into our brains, but she chose not to. You’ll have to ask him why.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Thanks guys, lots of good answers here.

I do have to disagree with the point that suffering is necessary to gain growth and wisdom. Personal suffering I could understand perhaps, like financial troubles or relationship problems… but I gain nothing from the suffering of others except rage at a situation that I can do nothing about.

There is no growth or wisdom to be gained from seeing yet another news story about a mother who murdered her own child. The only thing to be gained from that is hatred and an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

mitochondrian's avatar

Yah, I’ve struggled with the whole idea that “suffering is necessary for personal growth”. Try telling that to a child who’s been molested. Try telling that child that what they endured was for their own good, growth and had value or served as a lesson to make them a better person. What growth would a reasonable person expect a child to come away with in such a situation?
When a child makes a mistake, the child has the chance to learn and there is value in that. But by believing that all suffering is necessary for growth, even child molestation, it is saying that there is value in it. I find that absolutely insane. There is a HUGE difference between recovering from a tragedy vs. learning from you own mistakes. To make a mistake is to hopefully learn as to suffer is to hopefully cope and recover.
I think people commonly do not see that distinction and that is a very sad and unthinking way to view suffering.
mistakes ideally yield learning vs. suffering hopefully yields recovery

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@mitochondrian Precisely. I was just a hair away from being raped at age 13. There was no growth or wisdom gained from it. There was only paranoia and the helpless feeling of being too small and too “unimportant” to do anything to the boy. Wait, I take back the “no wisdom” thing. I did gain a piece of knowledge from that: the knowledge that I would be willing to take a life should someone ever violate me like that again.

mitochondrian's avatar

I think what you learned was to use violence if pushed. The notion of violence makes me feel disappointed and sad. I’m sure it has a similar effect on most people I would encounter.
I have short verse to share. I’m not suggestion you stop believing in God in anyway. I think religions can take a good notion and make it twisted.

“When one makes a mistake, one may learn from it.
When one suffers tragedy, one may recover from it.
Religions may turn mistakes into suffering and suffering into mistakes and may stifle many of us but it does not stifle me.”

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@mitochondrian I think what I learned was that sometimes violence is the only self-defense there is. Anyhow… I like that quote.


@tom_g No, God did not make it this way. Man did and does. Man learns from his struggles, his conflicts, his mistakes——which are all his doing (as I have said in my answer). From this, comes the growth and wisdom @CaptainHarley is talking about (that is, if it does come to him——It appears man continues to make the same mistakes throughout history——causing wars and other human suffering). This is not God’s (His) working. It is man’s.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Sometimes I wonder if God doesn’t use a kind of “tough-love” approach with us. Philosophers and visonaries have speculated about the problem of suffering since time immemorial, and I don’t know of any who have come up with a workable, acceptable, rational answer. I could never be a peidiatrician. I can’t bear to see children suffer. Yet they do, and have since forever. I don’t suppose being a tiger’s lunch would be a very pleasant affair, just to use an example from prehistory. I’m a reasonably intelligent man, yet this question is beyond my grasp, and apparently beyond the grasp of others more intelligent than I. : (

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@CaptainHarley Yeah, I don’t think we’ll ever have a satisfactory answer to the question, until we can ask him “face to face”.

snowberry's avatar

Jesus said, ”...My house will be a house of prayer…” Matt. 21:13.

I am an intercessor (someone who prays to God on behalf of others). An intercessor stands in the gap between the way things are and the way things are supposed to be. A fallen world (which includes suffering) is job security for an intercessor.

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t and never have bought that “suffering is necessary for growth and wisdom” business. For many reasons, including that lot of suffering, children who beaten to death by their parent, people who are tortured to death as political prisoners under oppressive regimes, some of the victims of the Holocaust who were ripped from their homes, shoved into trains, and then gassed almost immediately, or someone who takes five minutes to die from injuries sustained in a car accident; or the people who died in the Twin Towers, or in the crashes of the hijacked planes on 9/11 and when the children of Beslan were taken hosting, terrorized and slaughtered in 2004, was that god’s doing?

What growth and wisdom did or would all the people in the above mentioned circumstances have gained from from their suffering? They all just pretty much suffered and died and that was kind of that. Just enough time to suffer, and no time for much else. Did god set up those circumstances up for the growth and wisdom of the survivors and loved ones? They would be the only one’s to benefit under the “suffering is necessary for growth and wisdom” theory. I don’t believe it. I just don’t think god works that way. That he, she or it visits suffering upon us as part of some sort of spiritual, life lesson plan.

I don’t presume to know the nature of god or the nature of god’s mind or how god acts in the universe, I don’t “presume” or know for certain if there even is a god. My “beliefs” are almost entirely defined by what I don’t believe and I don’t believe god works that way.

Nullo's avatar

It has been stated that God knows what He’s doing. I trust that, and believe that He is making things as comfortable as can be under the circumstances.
@lillycoyote Necessity or no, it has long been established that adversity leads to character development.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Nullo Prefacing something with “it has long been established that…” isn’t enough to make something that may or may not be true, or may be true in some cases and not others, well, it simply isn’t enough to turn it into a fact. Adversity can also lead to depression, despair, suicide and other unpleasant and unfortunate business, when someone faces adversity and directs their anger, resentment and pain outward instead inward.

augustlan's avatar

When I was a Christian, I did get angry at God. Particularly as a child, when I was sexually abused by an uncle for 13 years, and no one in my family did anything about it. Yeah, yeah, it’s part of what made me who I am… but on the whole, I’d have rather not experienced that, you know? Children who die at the hands of their abusers didn’t even get the chance to ‘benefit’ from their horror. (Using ‘benefit’ in this context makes me feel sick, but I hope you see what I’m getting at.) Honestly, it was part of the reason I was unable to remain a Christian

Later, as a deist, I was able to let go of that line of thought. Believing that a god existed, but did not intercede in (or even care about) the affairs of man was an easier pill to swallow. I thought of this god as a sort of middle school student… one who created the universe for a science fair project, then stuffed us in the closet and promptly forget about us. Every once in a while, s/he’d take us out and shake us around (perhaps causing natural disasters), then forget all about us again. Kind of like a kid with an ant-farm.

As an atheist, I’m as appalled by the situations that create these monstrous human beings, as I am with the monstrous human beings themselves. Given my horrific childhood, I could have easily turned out a completely different sort of person. I don’t want anyone else to suffer as I did, and be faced with recovering from it. I’ve come to believe it’s up to us to alleviate suffering.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I am dreadfully sorry you had to endure that. : ((

tom_g's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES: “No, God did not make it this way. Man did and does.”

From what I understand (at least what I was taught as a Catholic), God created everything. He created humans. And when he designed humans, he created a capacity for pain and suffering. This creation of pain and suffering is what I am questioning. I’m not saying god intentionally makes people suffer. Do you understand the distinction – and the question? I don’t think it’s a trick or unfair question.

tom_g's avatar

To elaborate…

Right now we can be pretty sure that there is a little girl somewhere being raped and tortured.

Are you with me so far? Ok….

So, if there was a god who created everything from nothing, he created this universe in which this type of suffering is possible. Why? S/he could have….

- created nothing at all.
– created creatures without the capacity to suffer

Those two options above seem to be more reasonable to me. Regarding the original question (“does it make you angry that God allows such suffering?”) – yes, it does (if I assume the existence of god). But not because he allows it to go on in. Rather, I am angry that s/he created such an existence in the first place.

Judi's avatar

@lillycoyote , The adversity I have suffered has made ME a better person. I can’t speak for anyone else.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I… don’t… know! I am not God, nor am I privy to the thinking that goes into her/his thinking. This is one of the problems with “modern” man: an almost complete lack of humility.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@augustlan I, too, am horrified that you had to suffer that violation, and I am so glad that you found a way, if not to move past it, at least to cope with it and become who you are. I’m sure I speak for most of Fluther when I say I’m proud to know you, and very impressed with the inner beauty you possess, in spite of the horrors you were forced to endure. (((HUGS)))

mattbrowne's avatar

No, because the cause of suffering in far more than 99.99% of all cases is human behavior. Humans have a choice. They can wage war or make peace. They can invest in education and research, or they can waste money. They can build nuclear power planets right next to then ocean and the ring of fire or not. They can care for the poor and organize evacuation for everyone before a major hurricane hits or not. We have enough food for 7 billion people and we are still failing to make sure everyone has access. We can build good schools for every child on Earth. We can find cures for cancer. We can tell people how to prevent AIDS. We cannot yet defend ourselves against a very large meteorite headed for Earth.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I have been known to look up to the sky and (in my head) ask “why?” Sometimes I think to myself, just because I believe in God doesn’t mean I always like Him. However, I try not to blame God for the bad choices that us humans make. He gave us free will after all and we have fucked things up for ourselves.

smilingheart1's avatar

Spiritual forces of good and evil are duking it out 24–7. This world is the mixing bowl.

Scriptures tell us that The “servant” (child) of God is not above his Master. Christ sure lowered Himself to suffer and redeem humanity which is busy trying to do itself in with some kind of a greedy death wish.

Suffering either makes us better or bitter.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@smilingheart1 “Suffering either makes us better or bitter”

I’m sorry, I just can’t get behind that. Children suffer to the point of death on a daily basis. Animals suffer to the point of death on a daily basis. Of course they’re not “bitter”, because they’re dead, and because they’re dead, they sure aren’t “better”.

I agree that I’m not above God. As the human being I am, I am completely unworthy of his compassion and forgiveness, but that fact doesn’t strip away my right to be angry with him for allowing this sort of suffering to occur. I don’t have to feel like I’m above him to feel confused with his motives when he breathed life into an evil people. Going with the belief that he created us all, it seems really shitty that he created people with the capacity to commit that sort of evil.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I think it goes back to freewill. If god controls everything including your actions, you’re little more than a puppet. We have to be free to do good or evil so the good people can prove themselves, and I guess the evil people prove themselves too.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes, I understand the free will, what I don’t understand is the creation of the capacity for that sort of evil to begin with. I’ll try to explain… many “theists” believe that God created us. When he created us, it wasn’t just a physical appearance; it was also the inner workings of the body, personality traits, intelligence, and everything that makes up a human being. If we go on the belief that he created everything, that means he, himself, created the evil human impulses that would surface in people, and gave them the free will to flex those evil impulses if they so choose. What I’m saying is, he didn’t have to create the human capacity for pure evil at all. He could have omitted that from the human “makeup”.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I see what you mean. That’s going to take some thought.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes sir. Hence my frustration and confusion with my beliefs and the being I put my faith in. =0)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate He’d have to put the capability for evil in people to test their ability to resist it wouldn’t he?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe It’s possible… but it’s still shitty, since he’d have known a lot of people would not resist. And knowing that sort of suffering is inevitable yet allowing it anyway to “test” his people would be akin to prisons releasing rapists and pedophiles, knowing for a fact that most of them were going to wreak more havoc. It just sucks and I don’t understand it.

tom_g's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe: ” I think it goes back to freewill. If god controls everything including your actions, you’re little more than a puppet. We have to be free to do good or evil so the good people can prove themselves, and I guess the evil people prove themselves too.”

Unfortunately, free will really doesn’t work as an explanation as well as people think it does. Besides the fact that free will (the way most of us use the term) is probably an illusion, I think there are problems with that explanation even if we assume free will to exist.

First, when we are dealing with the suffering not caused by other people then it is irrelevant. Try something else.

Even when we look at suffering caused by other people, we still have a problem or two. We have been given a range of possible emotions and actions – by god. If we are to assume that free will means that we are free to choose from these options, then this is because these options have been provided by god. If I go to a restaurant and view the menu, I can only order the food that is on that menu. I am free to choose whatever is on the menu, but I can’t order steak if they don’t carry it. I am exercising my “free will”, yet my options are limited.
God created a menu that has a fuck load of bad shit to choose from.

Listen, I’m rambling – I know. I am multitasking and need to get back to work, so I apologize. However, there are traditions that I have been exposed to that like to think of god as an all-powerful god that created everything. If he created existence, including all of the laws of every damn thing, then he created this range of human capacity that goes from sick shit to amazing beauty. Some say that beauty is only possible in comparison to sick shit, or that pleasure is only appreciated because we have pain. Well, guess what? If god made everything, he is directly responsible for this truism. In other words, he could have made a universe in which pleasure did not require pain, and beauty could be appreciated without the existence of sick monsters.

Oh, and I’ll mention it again for those who feel that god might not be all that powerful after all – why could he have just not created anything? If there are no creatures to suffer, then there are no creatures to suffer.

tom_g's avatar

@tom_g: ” In other words, he could have made a universe in which pleasure did not require pain, and beauty could be appreciated without the existence of sick monsters.”

Oh yeah – I forgot to point out that s/he already created this place! Isn’t heaven supposed to be free from suffering and all of that? If so, then why go through all of that Earth nonsense? Why did Elizabeth Frizl have to make a temporary stop here on earth before living eternity the real deal (heaven)?

CaptainHarley's avatar


Well, guess what… God does not have to live up to our expectations.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Judi I wasn’t saying that adversity can’t or doesn’t make people better people. Just that it doesn’t necessarily always do so. Some of the adversity I have suffered through in my life has made me a better and wiser, and even kinder and more compassionate and empathetic person. Some of it I really could have done without, thank you, served no useful purpose whatsoever, and only brought pain to myself and/or my family. It didn’t make me or us better or stronger people, some of the adversity, in spite of having the ability to cope with it, just made us sadder, more damaged people. Not mortally wounded, but hurt and limping a bit. At least that’s how it has been in my experience. It’s kind a mixed bag. If adversity always made people better and stronger, there would be no such thing as suicide.

plethora's avatar

Simple and partial answer to a deep and complex question.

God can correct every single problem issue in the universe, down to the smallest particle or being. Would the inhabitants of that “fixed” universe be humans…..or automatons? In other words, would He destroy the universe by performing “fixing” miracles by the nanosecond? Or, is there a deeper and more complex rationale for our existence?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Or is life, as Shakespere said, “a play, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing?”

Eroundy12's avatar

This life is a test. What we do with the things we go through determines the next life. If we have faith in Him, and endure to the end, we will be blessed. Horrible things may happen In this life, but we just need to continue to have faith in Him and follow his commandments. Imagine the life we’ll have after this one. How great it will be if we just endure through all the hurt and pain and enjoy all the good things. God loves us. It pains him to see us go through these trials, but he is there for us. He will comfort and guide us through it if we will just invite him into our lives. This life is just a small part in his plan for us. He has so much in store for us. Keep your faith in him. Know that there is a plan in everything. We might not understand, but there is a plan. Don’t focus on the negative things if this world. Be positive and find joy. Know that he loves his children.

kimmy1408's avatar

This is very much my issue, my anger at God for allowing children to be abused. I feel they lost their free will when someone abused them and I can’t understand that. God should protect them. I understand that he is crying along side me at the abuse that is happening but the difference is he and stop it and I dont have the power to do that.

mendiga40's avatar

Well, I have trouble sometimes. Especially now that I am old and our children have left us behind. We were once a very cohesive and happy family. Now that they’ve move on, I notice more the injustice in life all around me. I suppose the answer would be that if God stopped all these things from happening than it would not be a freewill after all. Our freedom of action would be limited. Jesus did say we reap what we sow. And like the pebble in the pond our choices affect everyone around us. “No man is an island” is a very true statement. Our actions ripple out to the end of the age and sometimes innocent people get hurt immediately or years down the road. Getting old and dying is a very slow and lonely process. We have lots of time to think.

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