Suffering and Sacrifice

  • A key objection often raised against the Sacred by the Secular is why an all powerful God would allow the immense suffering typical of the human condition. With our “around the world” media today we are aware of every major catastrophe to the human species including fires, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, diseases, starvation, wars, accidents at all levels, aging, and the abhorrent deeds of sociopaths and dogmatic extremists of religion. Our senses are flooded with bad news. Why the Secular says would a merciful, almighty and good God allow this in humanity? The Sacred states that the suffering is due to some original sin by the first created pair of humans (disputed by the evolution of humans from multiple lines of evidence in the Secular). In many of its documents the Sacred states that God more than allows this suffering, sometimes he directly causes it. The Secular responds that the mechanics of much of this suffering is known and is simply random events of the physical world. But the Secular goes beyond this explanation saying they can explain why the random events cause human suffering; they challenge the Sacred to explain why a God who controls all events would allow it. The Sacred responds in many cases by relegating the suffering to another anthropomorphized entity, the Devil, who opposes the Deity. But unlike the ancient Vedic texts and Hinduism, this Abrahaminic Devil is not an equal God, he is inferior, yet still the Abrahaminic God allows him to cause human suffering. (127Sm’14)
  • Why does God seem to even require suffering? One theme across all texts, and one of the very few that is common across the Old and New Testaments of Chritianity is that suffering is good for the people of God and looked upon with favor by the Divine. Although in one place Jesus says that he does not require sacrifice as in the old religions, even he repeatedly demands that his followers give up everything they have for him and the Father, which if everyone did would result in more suffering (who would give alms if all could not give alms?). And yet Jesus is very compassionate and responsive to suffering in his followers. He often relieves it, but the practical, real history of his followers is marked by suffering from the obvious cases of martyrs and persecutions to the more subtle experiences of the saints of various churches, even to the current day. (128Sm’14)
  • How is it that sacrifice or suffering can add anything at all to entities that are already all powerful and eternal? Nothing we humans can give up or suffer could add anything of value to their already detached and completely sufficient state of being. Why would S/he regard human suffering as of value? The answer is clearly nothing and yet the repeated emphasis on the value of both sacrifice and suffering is also clear and one of the turn-offs for the modern generation. A more Secular generation simply rejects this necessity of suffering. Is this merely the left over of the traditions of older religions retaining their influence on the modern religions? (129Sm’14)
  • One resolution of this seeming paradox is to switch the perception of benefit. In the oldest religions sacrifice was offered to appease or placate the gods. But in our modern religions perhaps suffering and sacrifice are valued because they can result in a very distinct improvement in the strength and personality of those suffering. Parents challenge and discipline their children to help them develop strong habits of living. It was known long ago that steel was strengthened considerably by pounding and fracturing it. Some children of the ghetto are called “super-survivors.” There are many examples of this across the history of humankind from individuals to organizations at all levels. However, this argument breaks down in the many cases of suffering that leads to numerous deaths without benefit to the development of those dying. (130Sm’14)

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