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The Issue of God, Religion, and Suffering

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Like you I believe in this mystical supernatural being called God. According to the Bible: God is glorious, infinite, without beginning or end or any limitation at all. He is self-existent, not dependent on anyone for anything. He is consistent and unchanging. He is unconditional love. Over the years people have formed countless opinions on the existence of God due to religion or other factors. However, religion is such a controversial and broad topic which cannot prove nor disprove the existence of God. In my opinion, most people want to have a religion because it gives them a safe haven in the world, where they can use religion as guidance or an excuse for their behavior in difficult situations. To some it’s less difficult to live with some sort of explanation, even one that may be incorrect, than it is to live with complete ignorance. We, as humans, do not like being in the unknown. In a way, it torments us and puts us through suffering because we need a reason for why things happen. So, we created reasoning, for these unknowns, by establishing a God.

Many of us get our religion primarily from our parents and secondarily from our culture. It’s common for people to let their religion lapse; this means that they no longer follow traditional practices, but they often continue to use the religion as a basis for their beliefs about everything going on in the world. For many of us, the first time that we understood the indescribable complex design of the universe, the complexity of humans and animals, or the beauty of a single cell, we were driven by a strong motivation to know and to be known by the creator of these creations. For many others however, the universe and all its inhabitants, while amazing is the result of mere chance, a random collection of molecules that ultimately does not point toward the hand of a Creator, and in fact has no meaning at all. More significantly, the big bang theory.

I was raised in a Caribbean catholic family. My parents are catholic but they can lapse for many years at a time. All of my siblings either went through a baptism or communion besides me. We didn’t attend regular church services regular, but once I turned eight years old I started attending church every Sunday and Wednesday with my neighbors. I learned about the 10 commandments, bible stories, and all the love God has for me and everything in it. Most Catholics believe that the Bible is the literal, unerring word of God. Such a belief produces claims out of step with the modern day. If you accept Biblical literalism, you must accept that the entire universe was created by God in six days and he rest on the sabbath, he he gave up his son to wipe away our sins, and that he commanded his followers to commit mass genocides. Which in turns makes many people question God.

The problem of suffering is usually posed as a question: ‘If God is all-powerful and all good, why does he allow evil to exist in the world?’ That’s one prominent argument that atheist has and one question I found myself asking after the death of a family friend. The self-identified atheist asserts that if God were real, then God would be real to everyone and God’s reality would make a difference for the sufferings of everyone in the world. Without the practice of cruelty, there would be no sense of duty or moral conscience as we understand it today. Nietzsche argues that there is always a purity and innate quality to suffering; thus, protesting it is essentially protesting life itself.

“Today, when suffering is always brought forward as the principal argument against existence, as the worst question mark, one does well to recall the ages in which the opposite opinion prevailed because men were unwilling to refrain from making suffer and saw in it an enchantment of the first order, a genuine seduction to life”. Because of the emphasis we place on guilt, Nietzsche ultimately believes we created religion as a means to measure our pain as individuals: God and guilt are mutually exclusive when viewed through a bad conscience. I believe God allow suffering because he doesn’t want to rob us of free will.

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