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hayness
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence
05:40 PM on 07/29/2012
Your son's experience is a poor analogy to real life. In this case, your son would certainly understand if he were capable of rational thought.

I do not believe that there is any rational explanation for the Holocaust that we could appreciate if only we knew better.
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Dan Jighter
07:41 AM on 07/30/2012
"I do not believe that there is any rational explanation for the Holocaust that we could appreciate if only we knew better."

Actually, I both disagree and strongly agree with you on the basis of the following. If you look at the Holocaust, firstly they didn't just start the genocide right away. They first tried to isolate the Jews and others from the population and deport them. They put them into camps. When the war reached the point that they didn't have resources for both the soldiers and prisoners, then they started murdering the prisoners. This was all rationalized in terms of ideas ranging from promoting the master race to practical issues managing resources for a war and managing the population. The problem with the reasoning behind the Holocaust is that it was based on this bad notion of a master race and built on a lot of hatred. But once you start with that, the move to actual genocide was horrifyingly rational (and quick). I'm fairly certain that those responsible thought they were doing what was best for Germany, no different than a doctor thinking he is doing what is best for a suffering child.

What is so terrifying about the Holocaust is how readily ordinary people with ordinary concerns moved towards committing genocide.

The problem is that the noble intentions and practical considerations of murders doesn't make genocide okay. The Holocaust isn't benevolent on par with medical treatment. Anyone making excuses for genocide is a disgusting individual.
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01:02 PM on 07/29/2012
Yes, absolutely. As a Roman Catholic Christian I believe in the power of redemptive suffering. Our Lord suffered and died for us, and when we suffer we should thank God for the chance to grow closer to Him. We can also offer our pain for the salvation of others, especially those who died not believing in Him or unsure of His existence.
researcher
researcher
05:07 PM on 07/29/2012
The sacrifice idea for the salvation of others has been around long before jesus came on the scene. any god that demands a sacrifice of pain and suffering is a monster god.

Suffering has one culprit: ignorance better defined as our unawareness of our divine reality.

Find the meaning of that original ignorance and a whole new world will evolve in one's consciousness.

The belief that jesus had to die to save humankind and only christians go to heaven is more about paganism than the teachings of jesus and that belief that has held the christian religion back and has become for many christians a believe this and get that free trip to heaven mentality.
relevancematters
You're so full of what's right, you can't see what
09:32 AM on 07/30/2012
I have always been offended by people who are fixated on salvation. From my observations they have little or no actual interest in God; they are driven by fear of punishment and death to protect themselves. So their faith is in a promised loophole and they'll say or do whatever is required to get it. Hence, the religious right.

And you're correct; this idea, so easily turned in the human mind to personal benefit, has mired Christianity in hypocrisy.
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10:08 PM on 08/06/2012
I did not write nor do I believe that only Christians go to heaven.  
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08:51 AM on 07/30/2012
"Our Lord suffered and died for us, and when we suffer we should thank God for the chance to grow closer to Him."

You've never got one of those calls, the ones where a strange voice says, 'Mrs Rieth. I'm Jan, the social worker from the hospital. I regret to tell you that....) Wait until it's your son or daughter lying dead in a hospital morgue after being hit by the uninsured drunk driver.

Been there.

God is an underachiever.
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10:08 PM on 08/06/2012
I apologize if my remarks added to your pain.  
09:40 AM on 07/29/2012
I wonder how many years of childhood indoctrination it takes before such nonsense becomes plausible to a human mind. Surely no sane person can call the rape of a child ( not referring to the article by the way) an ultimate good. What lesson will he/she or someone else learn from this violation. I know a religious believer must find this convincing to protect their belief. How else could you continue to believe in a loving deity in the face of the unabating avalanche of pointless suffering of obviously innocent victims.
researcher
researcher
05:12 PM on 07/29/2012
When one judges by appearances all suffering is pointless. must seek into the underlying reality of all phenomena. or not. :-)

We can learn our divine lessons in life as souls on a journey to divine perfection through the wisdom of others or through suffering. most of us ok all of us most of the time take the path of suffering as our human ego already thinks it knows and wants to be known for knowing.
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hayness
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence
05:38 PM on 07/29/2012
What I would like you to explain is why a benevolent god would create imperfect beings which were then required to be perfected through suffering.

Does god like to watch children starving and being tortured?
05:58 PM on 07/29/2012
How does a raped child "take the path of suffering" exactly. Does she decide to be raped? Also, answer my question: what lesson exactly should she be learning?
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07:19 AM on 07/29/2012
Please explain how you can worship such a monster. You explain away all the pain and suffering by saying that God has a plan that we cannot understand and we should accept that in the long run everything will work out for our good. You use the example of your son who is now thankful that you forced him to undergo the trauma of the procedure because it was for his own good. Do you think he would now thank you if he knew that you had not only forced him to go through the procedure but that it was you who planned his getting sick and needing to have the endoscopy? Why would you require your son to go through such suffering? I am sure that if it were in your power, you would have done anything to prevent your son from having to go through what he did. Why must there be some reason for suffering? We only need to "explain' suffering if we postulate a creator. If there is no creator, suffering is a perfectly understandable part of the evolutionary process. You say we must have god in order for life to have any meaning even though we can never understand that meaning. I say that life itself is a good enough reason.
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LeftyHeinz
God is love
06:17 AM on 07/29/2012
Joy in suffering for the cause of Jesus is the focus of the New Testament. The persecution that Christians suffer while standing up for righteousness and against sin should be our cause for rejoicing!
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Sjoerd W
Always look for common ground.
07:57 PM on 07/29/2012
That's not persecution. That's opposition.
03:20 AM on 07/29/2012
Thank you, Rabbi. I had a similar experience that helped remind me of this teaching.

I had a beloved cat about 10 years ago. At that time, I was going through a rough time. I had been diagnosed with an illness and had to leave school to find a job. I wasn't sure about my life or it's direction and even though I was doing better physically, I still had no job or prospects.

At about the same time, my cat and I started having a flea problem. It got pretty bad despite flea medication for her. I ended up having to fumigate my apartment at least twice. Both times, I put my cat in her carrier and we stayed in my car. She hated being in her carrier, or even in the car, and howled like I was torturing her. I just kept trying to comfort her, telling her, "I know this is hard on you and you don't understand, but you have to trust me that it's for the best."

At that moment, everything clicked and I realized that I had to trust that what was happening in my life was ultimately for the best, even if I couldn't see it yet. And, indeed, it was. I found the perfect job where I met some wonderful people with whom I am still friends to this day, and I was able to forge a new life for myself, bit by bit. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary.
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01:58 AM on 07/29/2012
There is no "meaning" to suffering. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes bad people make them happen. But there is no comparison to, say, a child getting cancer and his parents helping to hold him down for testing or treatment. No guy in the sky gave him cancer to teach him anything, or to teach those who love him anything. No meaning can be derived from the out-of-control cell division that is killing him.

He may have a genetic predisposition to cancer. He may have been exposed to carcinogens at sometime in his life or in the womb. But his suffering is horrible and, yes, absolutely meaningless.
03:30 AM on 07/29/2012
Perhaps there isn't, and if that is what you believe or what works for you, I'm glad.

Everybody suffers in one way or another, and how we deal with it is a very individual thing. Some lash out at others and the world, others turn that anger inward and compile their suffering with depression or maybe addiction.

I chose to believe that there is some purpose to all suffering, even if we don't know what that is. That is my choice and that is what works for me. I've been struggling with Crohn's disease, a painful digestive condition for a long time, and my faith that there is some purpose to the suffering I go through is the only thing that has kept me from becoming suicidal. Does that mean it's a crutch? Maybe, but if it's what helps me get through this, then so be it.

We each have our own way of dealing with pain and sorrow. No one way is the right way, and even if there is no ultimate meaning in our suffering, many of us will choose to use it as a way of making ourselves better people and the world a better place, thereby giving our suffering meaning of the best kind - transforming a negative in our lives into a positive for the rest of the world. And if that's the only meaning in suffering we ever can find, I can live with that.
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04:30 PM on 07/29/2012
Yeah, I have MS. Probably headed back into a chair soon. And tracheomalacia. My breathing problems are what will probably kill me. And bone rubbing bone in one knee and both hips. I can't have surgery. Had one knee replaced and almost died from a reaction to the anesthesia. Have had two two root canals without local anesthetic because on the one before that I went into anphylactic shock. I have hidrodenitis supperutiva. Not sure if spelling's right, but look it up. It's too nasty to describe.

If I thought some god gave me all this, I'd go crazy, or at least be angry all the time.
Instead, I do what I can, enjoy my grandkids, volunteer tutor kids who are having difficulties at school, and until a couple of years ago, led a youth service club that volunteered in the community twice a month--for twenty years. And I taught school for nearly 30 years.

My LIFE has the meaning that I give it. My suffering is a set of random accidents--genes, maybe growing up in the wrong place at the wrong time (I know several other people my age from my town with MS)--but I do not believe it was caused by any gods, and if any good comes from it (scientists studying my body after I'm gone, for example) that will also not be because some god or other made me suffer for the good of mankind.
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04:32 PM on 07/29/2012
And that's just one person. Wars, starvation, infants dying after minutes or hours or days of suffering, diseases, drought, floods. . . If some god is doing this to add meaning to our lives--it is time to get a new god.
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Ohalos
Advocate for the Concealed
01:10 PM on 07/29/2012
Following your line of reasoning there is also no meaning to your feelings, thoughts or words (including this comment). Why did you bother to make it?
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04:35 PM on 07/29/2012
Because I don't think some sky god gave me my feelings and thoughts and suffering makes them invalid?
10:49 AM on 07/30/2012
You do seem to have gotten her reasoning exactly backwards. What she is trying to do is contract human behaviors which have the meanings that human beings impart to them, with the things about the word that occur without volition. Her comment has meaning because it is written in a language whose words have meaning. She chose those words to convey the meaning.

The question is whether there is some comparative sense in which the MS she describes above has meaning because someone chose that she should suffer it. She is arguing that it does not. And the alternative answer, while better for God in that it means He exists is also worse for God in what it says about him.
researcher
researcher
12:31 AM on 07/29/2012
“From our perspective, the answer, and the ultimate truth, is that there simply is no intrinsic evil, just the appearance of it”

Well written article.

This is a correct statement. Evil does not exist as a reality but does exist as a phenomenon. And phenomena can be painful and cause much suffering both physically and mentally.

All evil has one and only one culprit: ignorance. Ignorance of our divine reality, our true and real self as expressions of the most High. The greater one’s awareness of reality the less the suffering.

The origin of all suffering is ignorance and the origin of that ignorance is our original innocence. Adam and Eve were innocent (not perfected in awareness) until they ate from the tree of knowledge then they would become as gods knowing good from evil.

Every soul must eat from the tree of knowledge, that longing is within the very essence of their soul, which is spirit. There is no expression of the stillness of the Absolute without the journey of the soul. From a spark of awareness to gods; from stillness to dynamic expressions.

When Oneness (ie infinite without boundaries) became many then ignorance was born and the involution of awareness process gives unawareness (ignorance) divine meaning and reveals the origin of our unawareness.

Freud in his later years of life had wished he had studied the paranormal and the mysteries of life like fredrick myers a researcher into the paranormal, rather than the human mind.