Letters from a Skeptic – Correspondence 2: Why is the world so full of suffering?
As promised, here are some exchange of opinions between Dr. Greg Boyd and his atheist father which I found tough but very enlightening:
Correspondence 2: Why is the world so full of suffering?
Date: March 23, 1989
If God created this world and cares about it, why is there so damn much suffering in it? In your letter your answer was that God can't be held responsible because He gave man the freedom to choose to do right or wrong. But Greg, I don't feel that the question can be swept away so easily. When the freedom to decide to do harm results in pain and suffering to innocent people, God is simply not the “loving” God you make Him out to be!
I though about this when I read about this lunatic down here in Florida who was released from jail after seven or eight years for raping a teenage girl and then chopping off both her arms, leaving her for dead. It was his free choice to commit the crime, but what choice did the innocent girl have?... Why does God value the freedom of the criminal, but not the freedom of the victim?
The point is , this world doesn't look at all like the kind of world we'd have if there were an all-powerful, all-loving God behind it. And I don't see the freedom improves the situation much.
Well enough for now. Look forward to your letter.
Lots of love,
Date: March 29, 1989
Well, Dad, I've got to admit that you are raising some extremely good points in your letters. You are raising the most difficult questions atheist can face. This is a good material.
It seems to me, Dad, that if God is going to give free wills to His creatures, He has to allow the possibility of them misusing that freedom, even if it means hurting others. To be significantly free is to be morally responsible to each other. What is the freedom to love or not love unless it is freedom to enrich or harm another? God structured things this way because the alternative would be to have a race of robots who can't genuinely love – but that's hardly worth creating, is it?
So why doesn't God intervene every time someone is going to misuse his freedom and hurt another person? The answer, I believe, is found in the nature of freedom itself. A freedom which was prevented from being exercised whenever it was going to be misused simply wouldn't be freedom.
So too, If God really gives gives us freedom, it must be, at least to a large extent, irrevocable. He must have, within limits, a “hands off” attitude towards it. God creates free people who can do as they please, not determined instruments who always end up doing what He pleases.
I look forward to your response
As always, with all my love,