That an all-loving, all-powerful god would allow pain and suffering to exist in the Universe it created sounds, at first, like a logical fallacy. Upon closer inspection, however, I find the opposite to be more fallacious.
If God is capable of feeling pain and suffering, it would be absurd to expect anything different of its creations.
Some might argue that as the creator of everything, including logic, God should be enabled by its omnipotence to circumvent logic. But I reject this entirely.
Omnipotence doesn’t permit God to simultaneously exist and not exist nor to at once be God and not be God. I don’t expect God to be able to create other gods nor to create beings of a higher power than itself.
If defying logic is a condition of God’s omnipotence, then I’m willing to say God is not omnipotent. However, assuming omnipotence isn’t defined by the ability to override logical conundrums, the paradox of evil and omnipotence can perhaps be explained by the suffering of the one who created it.
The God of Abraham—that of Islam, Judaism and Christianity—feels pain and has done so even before our creation.
God is often described as jealous and wrathful. These, of course, result from pain. We get angry because we’ve been hurt. We get jealous because we’re upset by what we don’t have or fear losing.
Jesus felt both physical and emotional pain because he was both God and man. The shortest verse of the Bible, John 11:35, captures his emotional pain with the succinct phrase, “Jesus wept.” And the end of the Gospels articulate the intense physical pain felt by the crucifixion.
In all three Abrahamic religions, there are some who believe in the idea of “fallen angels.” These are angels who rebelled in some way against God or against man and, as a consequence, we’re banished from heaven.
Even in “paradise,” there seems to exist some degree of emotional discomfort that must have prompted these angels to rebel.
From this, we know that even God’s inhuman creations aren’t exempt from suffering, either.
If being incapable of feeling pain, to any degree and in any form, is an improvement on our condition, then it would be illogical for God to have created something with an ability it doesn’t possess.
This would also suggest that God is still suited for improvement, rendering God “imperfect.” If one believes in God’s perfection, one must accept the idea of pain as part of that perfection.
If, on the other hand, being incapable of feeling pain is a depreciation on our condition, one would then question God’s benevolence for not allowing pain into the world rather than doing so because of it.
Whatever your approach, it’s essential to remember God’s pain, in both your understanding and your critique of God.
From here, a skeptic could question God’s perfection if they believe the absence of pain would be an improvement on a being’s existence. Or they could question God’s omnipotence for not being able to improve itself or create beings better than itself.
As I’m not personally bothered by God’s inability to thwart logical boundaries, I’ll leave it be. In the next column, I’ll make the case that pain is part of perfection and that a world with pain is better than one without.
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