The Problem of Pain

Stephen Fry is as famous for being an atheist as he is for being a fine actor and comedian. His argument seems to have a compelling logic to it: children suffer and die from cancer, therefore if there is a God who created the world, He must done so in such a way that cruel and painful deaths are possible; such a God would not be a God of love, but rather a cruel and monstrous tyrant, and who could believe in a God like that?

 

The flaw in Stephen’s argument is the assumption that God created the world from the outset with the intention that we should suffer and die painful deaths. It’s a bit like someone looking at the first car I ever owned – an 11 year old Datsun Sunny 120Y, full of rust and quite literally falling to pieces – and assuming that there couldn’t possibly be an intelligent and caring motor manufacturer, because who would design a car like that!

 

It’s easy to draw the wrong conclusions about the character of God based on our experience of pain and suffering. But what if the world is not as God originally designed it to be? Is it possible that God did create a perfect world and then something went wrong? Is it possible that an all-powerful God of love could exist in the midst of our suffering?

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