God and Suffering #2: Existence, Relationship, and Suffering

The Question: Doesn’t the fact of suffering prove that God doesn’t exist?

In some respects, this question is related to the question of God’s omnipotence.  If God existed and was omnipotent – that is, able to do anything God wanted to do – then surely God would do something about suffering, given that it was within God’s power to do so.  The fact that God doesn’t do anything about suffering therefore surely proves that God doesn’t actually exist. Continue reading

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God & Suffering #1: Creation and Omnipotence

PRESCRIPT: Anyone who knows me also knows that there are two things which, as a Christian, I think about a lot.  One is the Book of Job from the Old Testament, which I happen to regard as one of the most important books of the Bible, not least because I have come to believe that it is a powerfully subversive text which overthrows all our expectations about it and its subject matter.  The other is the issue of suffering; or, more accurately, the relationship between the reality of suffering and the existence of God.  Hardly original, I know, but I believe this is an important issue for two reasons.  Firstly, because suffering – whether experienced directly or indirectly – has the power to shape the nature and content of our outlook on life.  Secondly, and related to the first point, because resilience in the face of suffering – again, whether experienced directly or indirectly – is often shaped by our understanding of God, an understanding which itself is often the product of experiencing, or simply being aware of, suffering.  Our outlook on life – including our response to the question of the existence/nature of God – is the child of our experience, an experience that is often powerfully influenced by suffering; and our resilience in the face of suffering is often determined by our outlook, which in turn is further shaped by consequent experience.  Or, in pseudo-mathematical terms: experience = outlook = resilience = capacity of experience to further (negatively/positively) shape our lives. Continue reading

Job: A Radical Text

I have for a while now been exercised by The Book of Job, that famously enigmatic Old Testament text which has attracted the attention of philosophers, theologians, and Biblical scholars for more than 2,000 years.  And while I may not be able to claim a place in the august company which has examined and re-examined Job over the centuries, I have thought a lot about this text and its meaning.  I suspect that my conclusions are neither new nor original; they might even change over time.  But they have lead me to some interesting places, which I’ll spell out below. Continue reading

In The Beginning…

Since I already have a WordPress Blog, and since that blog is also devoted to issues of faith, it might fairly be asked why I need another.

Well, the only thing I can say in my defense is that whereas my other blog is devoted to what might be termed the liturgical aspects of faith (sermons, prayers, etc) as well as some personal reflections on my experience as a Christian, this Blog is intended to be more deliberately speculative.  And by “speculative”, I don’t mean that I’m going to say any old thing that comes into my head.  Rather, I’m going to be posting about aspects of faith that have exercised my mind over recent years, and about which I have come (however hesitantly) to certain conclusions.  Indeed, such is the nature of this page that those conclusions may very well change over time; it might be fun to see how, and the extent, to which that happens.

Accordingly, this Blog will be “speculative” in the sense indicated by the subtitle: I’ll be “thinking out loud” and sharing my thoughts with you.  And, no, I’m not afraid of offending anyone, because frankly, one of the purposes of this page is to enable those who are wiser and better informed than I am to contribute comments about where they think my speculations may be helpful or not.  Of course, I reserve the right to disagree with your wisdom, but I want to say right now there’ll be no “right” or “wrong” on this page; dialogue is what I’m interested in, not point scoring.

So – let the adventure begin!