Why is there death and suffering?

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Gup20, Jun 25, 2004.

  1. Gup20

    Gup20
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    I am very greatful to Ministries such as Answers in Genesis. I never fully understood questions like this until I gained an understanding of the principles of creation in Genesis.


    Why is there death and suffering?

    How could a loving God allow such things as AIDS and the 9-11 terrorist attacks? This is an often asked question that has a very straightforward answer in the Bible.

    Here is a snippet from the above link:

    Why is there death and suffering?
    by Ken Ham and Dr Jonathan Sarfati

    Death and suffering is everywhere!
    ‘Earthquake Claims 10,000 in India.’ ‘Thousands Perish in Bangladesh’s Flood.’ Tragedy is constantly in the news, including large-scale, ‘senseless’ disasters that snuff out the lives of thousands, such as the terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. Nor is tragedy confined to today—it wasn’t too long ago that an evil regime wiped out 6 million Jews and many others. In addition to the headline events, each of us suffers pain at one time or another—illness, headaches, accidents and death. It’s not surprising, when the burdens become too great, that people cry out to God in anguish, ‘Why don’t you do anything? Don’t you care?’

    How can an all-powerful, loving God allow suffering?
    As the shock of each traumatic event subsides, people begin asking why such things occur. Reading about past wars or visiting memorials like the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., inevitably raises the same question, ‘How can there be a loving God controlling the universe in the light of such death and suffering?’

    The pervasiveness of suffering is possibly the most effective tool that atheists use to attack the Bible’s picture of a ‘loving God.’ Atheists make what appears to be a reasonable complaint: ‘If God is loving and all-powerful, then why doesn’t He use His power to stop the evil, suffering, pain and death?’

    Multitudes have rejected God because of suffering!
    Sadly, most people—even Christians—have no ready answer to the question of death and suffering in the world. Believing that the world is millions or billions of years old, they have a difficult time explaining the purpose behind the apparent cruelty that they see.

    Charles Darwin rejected Christianity after the death of his daughter.
    ‘Annie’s cruel death destroyed Charles’s tatters of beliefs in a moral, just universe. Later he would say that this period chimed the final death-knell for his Christianity,’ says a recent biography of Charles Darwin. ‘…Charles now took his stand as an unbeliever.’

    Darwin is only one of thousands of famous people who have struggled with this issue, trying to reconcile belief in God with the death and suffering he observed all around, that he believed had gone on for millions of years. Darwin’s struggle came to a climax with the death of his daughter Annie.

    When Charles Darwin wrote his landmark book On the Origin of Species, he was in essence writing a history of suffering and death. In the conclusion of the chapter entitled On The Imperfections Of The Geological Record, Darwin said the modern world has arisen ‘from the war of nature, from famine and death.’ Based on his evolutionary perspective, Darwin considered death to be a permanent part of the world.

    The billionaire Ted Turner, a famous media mogul, says he lost his faith after his sister died.
    The New York Times ran a sobering article, saying, ‘Turner is a strident nonbeliever, having lost his faith after his sister … died of a painful disease. … “I was taught that God was love and God was powerful,” Turner said, “And I couldn’t understand how someone so innocent should be made or allowed to suffer so.”’

    A famous evangelist rejected Christianity, in part because of the suffering he saw.
    Former well-known evangelist, the late Charles Templeton, published Farewell to God in 1996, describing his slide into unbelief and his rejection of Christianity. Once listed among those ‘best used of God’ by the National Association of Evangelicals, Templeton listed several ‘reasons for rejecting the Christian faith.’ For instance:

    Geneticists say it is ‘nonsense’ to believe that sin is the ‘reason for all the crime, poverty, suffering, and general wickedness in the world.’

    The ‘grim and inescapable reality’ is that ‘all life is predicated on death. Every carnivorous creature must kill and devour another creature. It has no option.’

    Templeton, like Charles Darwin, had a big problem understanding how to reconcile an Earth full of death, disease and suffering with the loving God of the Bible. Templeton stated:

    ‘Why does God’s grand design require creatures with teeth designed to crush spines or rend flesh, claws fashioned to seize and tear, venom to paralyze, mouths to suck blood, coils to constrict and smother—even expandable jaws so that prey may be swallowed whole and alive? … Nature is in Tennyson’s vivid phrase, “red [with blood] in tooth and claw,” and life is a carnival of blood.’

    Templeton then concludes: ‘How could a loving and omnipotent God create such horrors as we have been contemplating?’

    Templeton is not the first person to talk like this. When told that there is a God of love who made the world, embittered people often reply: ‘I don’t see any God of love. All I see are children suffering and dying. I see people killing and stealing. Disease and death are everywhere. Nature is “red in tooth and claw.” It’s a horrible world. I don’t see your God of love. If your God does exist, He must be a sadistic ogre.’

    Does an atheist really have a case?
    It’s often useful to ask a questioner to justify the validity of his question under his own belief system. For an atheist to complain that the Christian God is ‘evil,’ he must provide a standard of good and evil by which to judge Him. But if we are simply evolved pond scum, as a consistent atheist must believe, where can we find an objective standard of right and wrong?

    Our ideas of right and wrong, under this system, are merely outcomes of some chemical processes that occur in the brain, which happened to confer survival advantage on our alleged ape-like ancestors. But the notions in Hitler’s brain obeyed the same chemical laws as those in Mother Teresa’s, so on what grounds are the latter’s actions ‘better’ than the former’s? Also, why should the terrorist attack slaying thousands of people in New York be more terrible than a frog killing thousands of flies?

    A Christian, however, believes there is an objective standard of morality that rises above individual humans, because it is set by an objective and transcendent moral Lawgiver who is our Creator. An atheist’s argument against God because of objective evil inadvertently concedes the very point he is trying to argue against!

    Such questions about God stem from a wrong view of history
    Belief in evolution and/or millions of years of history necessitates that death has been a part of history since life first appeared on this planet. If you believe that the fossil layers (containing billions of dead things) represent the history of life over millions of years, it’s a very ugly record—full of death, disease and suffering.

    ‘Time and death.’
    The late evolutionary scientist Carl Sagan described Darwin’s view of death well: ‘The secrets of evolution are time and death.’ This sums up the most widely accepted history of death in this world. According to this view, (1) death, suffering and disease over millions of years led up to man’s emergence; (2) death, suffering and disease exist in this present world; and (3) death, suffering and disease will continue into the unknown future. Death is a permanent part of history, and death is our ally in the ‘creation’ of life.

    Implications about suffering, if you accept this view of history.
    If one believes in millions of years, then this world has always been a deadly place. The question that we naturally ask is ‘Who caused the cancer, disease and violence represented in the fossil record?’ Christians who believe in millions of years of history have a serious problem. The Bible plainly says that God is the Creator, and He called everything that He had made—before, leading up to, and including Adam and Eve, but before their Fall—‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31).

    This situation is represented in the following:


    As soon as Christians allow for death, suffering and disease before Adam’s sin (which they automatically must if they believe in millions of years), then they’ve raised a serious question about their Gospel message. What, then, has sin done to the world? According to Christian teaching, death is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23)—and this fact is the foundation of the Gospel! Moreover, how can all things be ‘restored’ to a state with no death, pain or tears in the future (Revelation 21:4) if there never was a time free of death and suffering? The whole message of the Gospel falls apart if you have this view of history. It also would mean that God is to blame for death.

    The Bible gives the right view of history—and the right view of God!
    Fortunately, God has given us a different account of the history of death, recorded in His Word—the Bible. This historical document connects to real issues of life, and it fully explains why horrible things happen. In fact, God’s Word has much to say about death.

    ‘Sin and death.’
    This phrase sums up the true history of death, as recorded in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. God originally created a perfect world, described by God as ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). People and animals ate plants, not other animals (Genesis 1:29–30). There was no violence or pain in this ‘very good’ world.

    But this sinless world was marred by the rebellion of the first man, Adam. His sin brought an intruder into the world—death. God had to judge sin with death, as He warned Adam He would (Genesis 2:17, cf. 3:19).

    Indeed, God apparently caused the first death in the world—an animal was slain to make clothing for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). As a result of God’s judgment on the world, God has given us a taste of life without Him—a world that is running down—a world full of death and suffering. As Romans 8:22 says, ‘the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs’—because God Himself subjected the creation to processes of decay (v. 20).

    Implications about suffering, if you accept this view of history.
    How can we find a God of love amidst the groaning of this world? By understanding the Genesis account of the Fall, we know that we are looking at a fallen, cursed world. From the Bible’s perspective of history, death is an enemy, not an ally. In 1 Corinthians 15:26, the Apostle Paul describes death as the ‘last enemy.’ Death was not a part of God’s original creation, which truly was ‘very good.’ Based on a straightforward reading of the Genesis account, history can be represented by the following diagram:


    Death and suffering is the penalty for sin. When Adam rebelled against God, in effect he was saying that he wanted life without God. He wanted to decide truth for himself, independent of God. Now the Bible tells us that Adam was the head of the human race, representing each one of us, who are his descendants. Paul says in Romans 5:12–19 that we sin ‘in Adam,’ after the likeness of Adam. In other words, we have the same problem Adam had. When Adam rebelled against God, all human beings, represented by Adam, effectively said that they wanted life without God.

    God had to judge Adam’s sin with death. He had already warned Adam that if he sinned, he would ‘surely die.’ After Adam’s Fall, he and all his descendants forfeited the right to live. After all, God is the author of life. Death is the natural penalty of choosing life without God, the giver of life. Also, because the Lord is holy and just, there had to be a penalty for rebellion.

    The Bible makes it clear that death is the penalty for our sin, not just the sin of Adam. If you accept the Bible’s account of history, then our sins—not just the sins of ‘the other guy’—are responsible for all the death and suffering in the world! In other words, it is really our fault that the world is the way it is. No-one is really ‘innocent.’

    God has removed His sustaining power—temporarily.
    At the same time that God judged sin with death, He withdrew some of His sustaining power. Romans 8:22 tells us that the whole of creation is groaning and travailing in pain. Everything is running down because of sin. God has given us a taste of life without Him—a world full of violence, death, suffering and disease. If God withdrew all of His sustaining power, the creation would cease to exist. Colossians 1:16–17 tells us that all things are held together, right now, by the power of the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. However, in one sense He is not holding it together perfectly, as He is deliberately letting things fall apart to give us a taste of what life is like without God. In other words, God is allowing us to experience what we wanted—life without God (cf. Romans 1:18–32).

    In the Old Testament, we get a glimpse of what the world is like when God upholds things one-hundred percent. In Deuteronomy 29:5 and Nehemiah 9:21, we are told that the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, and yet their clothes didn’t wear out, their shoes didn’t wear out and their feet didn’t swell. Obviously God miraculously upheld their clothing, shoes and feet so that they would not wear out or fall apart as the rest of the creation is doing. One can only imagine what the world would be like if God upheld every detail of it like this.

    The book of Daniel, chapter 3, gives us another glimpse, when we read about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walking into an intensely blazing furnace yet coming out without even the smell of smoke on their clothes. When the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, upheld their bodies and clothing in the midst of fire (v. 25), nothing could be hurt or destroyed.

    These examples help us understand a little of what it would be like if God upheld every aspect of the creation—nothing would fall apart.

    At present, we are living in a universe where things are decaying. Around us we see death, suffering and disease—all as a result of God’s judgment against sin and His withdrawal of some of His sustaining power to give us what we asked for—a taste of life without God. Thus, looking through ‘Biblical lenses,’ we see our sin in Adam as the ‘big-picture’ perspective on tragic events, such as the actions of terrorists. Of course, such specific evil acts were also a result of the individual sin of the terrorists. The suffering caused by the earthquake in India, by contrast, cannot be blamed on any individual’s sin today, but is still the consequence of sin in general (more on this below).

    In contrast to the view that death and suffering have continued for millions of years, this Biblical view of history has a wonderful implication for the future. The world will one day be restored (Acts 3:21) to a state in which, once again, there will be no violence and death. According to Isaiah 11:6–9, wolves and lambs, leopards and goats, lions and calves, and snakes and children, will dwell together peacefully. Clearly, this future state reflects the paradise that was once lost, not some imaginary land that never existed.
     
  2. BobRyan

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    "Yes" but Adam never existed. The fall never happened. It was just human offspring born to hominid parents - all bashing in their monkey-brain meals for breakfast and grunting in humble approval of how wonderful it was to live in a system of starvation, extinction, carnage and predation.... when "suddenly" man fell???

    Why has God allowed all this to happen to this family of cave dwelling bipeds?

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  3. tamborine lady

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    [​IMG]

    Bob Ryan said:

    "Yes" but Adam never existed. The fall never happened. It was just human offspring born to hominid parents - all bashing in their monkey-brain meals for breakfast and grunting in humble approval of how wonderful it was to live in a system of starvation, extinction, carnage and predation.... when "suddenly" man fell???

    Why has God allowed all this to happen to this family of cave dwelling bipeds?

    In Christ,

    Bob


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

    Tam wants to know:

    What in the world are you talking about Bob?

    Tam
     
  4. DeclareHim

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    I think he was being sarcastic.(I hope.)
     
  5. john6:63

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    There’s a few select members who believe that Adam isn’t a literal person, therefore there was no literal Fall, which means there’s no literal Hell and if there’s no literal Hell; why did Jesus have to die?
     
  6. Jude

    Jude
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    I have a daughter with multiple handicaps. She is severely retarded, and is living in a 'home' in central Nebraska. Last week, we went to visit her, and attended a church service there, where all the staff and 'residents' attended. It was beautiful. The Pro-Abortionists would 'do away' with these people. That, they would say, would be the 'compassionate' thing to do. That of course, is nonsense, the kind of nonsense that the Nazis practiced in the 30's and 40's. I say that the curse of the 'Fall' is the reason for there misfortune (and that this curse, for some reason, visits some more directly than others), but NEVER has my daughters condition caused my heart to waiver in faith. I say that people like my daughter (taking into full consideration the devastating effect of the Fall)bless society, in that they give us the opportunity to show compassion, they help us see what is truly important in life, and by our care of them (or lack of care), our own culture is judged. One day, I believe, my daughter (and all like her) will walk and talk and jump for joy in the presence of God. 'They' will be in the 'front pew' of the Lord's heavenly Church. Me, I just hope that I'll be counted worthy to be an usher! [​IMG]
     
  7. BobRyan

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    But if those right who claim that "Adam never existed so the fall never happened and God is simply arbitrarily using death and disease to Create and also to provide a home for us today" -- then it is all senseless.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  8. John3v36

    John3v36
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    Q: Why is there death and suffering?

    A: Sin!!! :eek:
     
  9. pinoybaptist

    pinoybaptist
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    And how did they get into this board, by claiming to be Baptists or Christians ?
     
  10. John3v36

    John3v36
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    And how did they get into this board, by claiming to be Baptists or Christians ? </font>[/QUOTE]I guess some people on the board do not thing a lie is a sin! :D
     
  11. BobRyan

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    Yes if you are a Bible believing Christian.

    But what if you "think" that God did not "create anything" but rather "death and suffering, extinction, starvation, carnage and predation" are the "creation process" God used from the very start to evolve various species.

    What if you "believe" this was in place LONG before there was a population of ignorant cave-dwelling offspring of a hominid - all called "Adam"?

    Then - all this carnage and suffering - can NOT be the fault of those grunting brutes descenant from hominids and munching on their daily diet of monkey-brains who supposedly one day "fell" due to some 'new bad thing' they did.

    Fortunately most people on "this board" do not go that direction - but "some" seem very comfortable with that contradictory belief system.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  12. Paul of Eugene

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    Hmmmph. Back to your usual evolutionist baiting tricks, eh, BobRyan?

    First of all, for non-human animals, while they can know pain, can you prove they suffer in the same sense that a human suffers?

    Second, for those few who do not believe in a literal Adam (and that does not include me, by the way) how can you claim to know so much about their partiuclar beliefs as to say their beliefs are contradictory?

    Finally, do you have any reason besides your personal prejudice against the facts of the long history of life on earth including carnivors such as Tyrannasaurus Rex who died long before Adam to say that the death that came when Adam and Eve fell came to any creature except for the human race?

    You have the right to interpret the Bible any way you want; some of us feel that we have a right to use the evidence from God's creation to help us understand how the Bible is to be interpreted.
     
  13. BobRyan

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    Look at the post I just made - deal with the points raised.

    HOW do you have a fall of Adam if Adam is not real?

    How do you believe Paul when HE claims Adam fell and THUS death passed to ALL in Romans 5 - when in fact (as already described above) - ADAM consisted of a population of brutes descendants from hominids munching their monkey-brain breakfasts and grunting in approval as the next animal went screeching to its doom for dinner.

    As for "ALL CREATION suffering and GROANING" --- until mankind is redeemed - until Christ returns -- read Romans 8.

    Evolutionism can only survive as long as it can misdirect, speculate on the obscure and postulate unverifiable fables. In short, it dwells in the land of non-science and nonsense. And here we now see that it also requires paying poor attention to the Word of God (or least refusing to reconcile the two).

    In Christ,

    Bob
     

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