We are on a journey to show how/why a Christian God allows suffering in the world
We last left off with a conclusion, and an important one at that: if we get rid of every possible variable, including death (with the two assumptions of a Christian God, and Free Will) for humanity, we are still left with the possibility of suffering. And that suffering (and I would claim all suffering) is based from one choice: the choice of “not God”.
I find this conclusion to be rather remarkable, even with the assumption of a Christian God. When we look at suffering, hack away at it, try to make it fit, we initially say that there’s no way that it can be combined with love, especially like the one professed by Christians of God. And yet, here we are, tracing suffering back to God Himself. In a way, and a very real one at that, we can say that God creates suffering, because He allows the option for choosing it. But suffering is permissible because God gives an option for avoiding it, which is the right option, the Truth, you could say.
Indirectly, we have found that God is the answer to suffering. Additionally, when we remove the variables and extra details, we find that the source of suffering is choosing “Not God.” All of this is based upon the assumption of Free Will, which I would say is very similar with what most of us today think of as Free Will (there is one other assumption of the makeup of angelic beings, which I described in a Christian fashion in the last section; but, again, considering the broad construction of my argument, I would say their role is both minimal and reasonable). Now all we have left is to add the details, and see how it maintains its form.
A more subtle, but also remarkable consequence of this conclusion is that suffering and evil are necessarily distinguished from each other. That means, in other words, that bad things are not necessarily evil. God cannot participate in evil, but he does participate in suffering. This is easy to see for Christians, beyond the abstract notion that God makes the opportunity for suffering (and that is a nuanced point), for God truly participated in suffering.
He died on the cross.
This is even more remarkable when one considers that the only being that could have legitimately avoided suffering in the universe willingly chose it! Another way to see this point is by noticing that God, though He has Free Will, cannot choose bad. And the reason that this is not possible is because choosing bad (as we traced back), is choosing Not God. And God choosing Not God is an impossible contradiction. We have thus also found God’s one and only limit, not being Himself.
But wait, there’s more! By going backwards, we can see how things that we see inherently as bad, are really based upon “Not God.” The choice of Satan, for example, to refuse God as His authority, is both absurd and wrong in every way. His free choice is centered around himself, and centering oneself around Not God leads only to suffering. Going to humanity, we see actions like suicide holding the same wrong. By choosing our own deaths, we are acting as if we are in charge of our destiny. And, really, what we are choosing with that choice is “Not God.” And this aversion to God fascinatingly coincides with society’s general aversion to suicide. And, moreover, it reveals the irony of suicide for the sake of alleviating suffering, since it causes suffering in itself. Furthermore, it explains the remarkable and stark contrast between dying for oneself (suicide) and dying for not oneself (like warriors or Christ). Finally, and my personal favorite, this conclusion means that the only person that is capable of dying for the sake of oneself is God Himself (God committing suicide might be a little strong, and this is a far more theological point than I am qualified to get into, but I love it all the same).
I’m getting ahead of myself with several of these points—they’re much more a part of later subjective arguments of God’s presence than of this demonstration, but this is a good place to introduce them. The reason is that it helps us notice how well certain historical actions fit and explain themselves when observed from a Christian perspective. But those instances will soak for a little longer yet, as we now answer our final leg of the problem, which is how suffering enters into and is explained in the world we know and live in personally.