Suffering and stupid theological explanations

theodicy cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward


Have you noticed that the greater the tragedy the sillier the theological explanations are for it?

Here are some samples:

Stub toe: God's too busy to bother with that.

Get the flu: God's trying to get you to rest.

Get cancer: God's testing you.

Spouse dies: You loved her more than God.

Tornado levels home: There's sin in your life.

National disaster: Same-sex marriage allowed where you live.

Climate Change: Jesus is coming back soon.

You get the idea. 

Theodicy, as defined by Plantinga, is the "answer to the question of why God permits evil".

It's obviously not easy. Although there are easy options, like...

There is no God.

God and Satan are locked in a cosmic battle in a dualistic universe. God doesn't care.

We're in the end times and left to ourselves.

Or straight out denial: there is no suffering.

And so on.

So I made this chart to show how the more severe is the suffering the more stupid are the theological explanations, because the more profoundly incomprehensible the evil is the more profoundly far must the explanation reach.

The darkness clouds our thoughts.

As we deconstruct our beliefs, as we evolve spiritually, we learn to embrace mystery.

It doesn't mean we stop thinking about it and stop trying to understand it.

But we abandon silly, stupid, concocted answers to profound questions.

We are willing to take the risk of saying, "I don't know".

We can even find peace of mind in the middle of confusion.

This is what it means to grow and become wise beyond belief.

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