Many atheists argue that if God existed, He would not allow all the suffering that goes on in the world. And many theists believe in an omnipotent God without thinking more deeply about what this entails.
And from a commentary on Aeschylus by Duane W. Krohnke, a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church:
The chorus in Agamemnon, a famous play by the Greek playwright Aeschylus (circa 525/524 BC—circa 456-455 BC) makes the following statement (in English translation):
“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
No matter how we dislike the experience, pain and suffering are great teachers. Kids that run about in nature soon learn to avoid nettles. Pain is an unavoidable consequence of consciousness. It is a rather obvious fact that living beings must necessarily have a conscious inner nature to experience pain.
Steiner claims that rather than spirit originating in matter, the opposite is the case. Matter can be thought of as condensed spirit, it originates from spirit. From a materialist perspective matter is primal and out of it emerges life, followed by consciousness and then self-awareness. A spiritual perspective regards spirit as primal, giving birth to matter. The birth of matter, regarded from the opposite pole, is a spiritual death. And the emergence of self-consciousness by way of living substance and consciousness is a return to the spirit. Reflective thinking is a spiritual activity.
Throughout the world, theologians and theistic philosophers in recent times are more and more coming to believe in a God who suffers For instance:
American process theology, following A. N. Whitehead’s oftquoted characterization of God as ‘the fellow-sufferer who understands’, has readily incorporated God’s suffering into its reformulation of theism which makes much of God’s receptivity to the world.
Later in that link it is written:
…It is of the very nature of love to suffer when its object suffers loss, whether inflicted by itself or others. If the suffering of God be denied, then Christianity must discover a new terminology and obliterate the statement “God is love” from its Scriptures.
And that beautiful soul, the late Queen Elizabeth II, said, “Grief is the price we pay for love”.
Loving others, we share their suffering. Suffering is an aspect of reality, and reality is rooted in the spiritual. The ultimate lover experiences the suffering along with the loved one who suffers. Anyone who shows the slightest love for another being should be able to understand the feeling of sharing another’s pain, no matter how small the portion they experience.
I believe that suffering is built into the fabric of reality, and it cannot be avoided. Even the highest spiritual beings can’t escape from this aspect of reality.
Whether or not this stimulates discussion I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts.