The other day, a friend asked the time-old question “Why does God allow suffering?” to which multiple people responded with their various opinions on the subject. One individual responded with an argument of contrast. That is, suffering exists to show beauty through contrast. So, if suffering shows beauty, why do we speak of its eternal end with regards to heaven?by majaFOTO (sxc.hu)

My (roughly edited) response was as follows:

The things we cannot, by their definition, conceive of are the very things we are being asked to put words to. If we acknowledge the existence of and attempt to describe such persons and places, it is and must be the loosest of metaphors. For all we know is our experience. All we know is ourselves. The impossible illustration without imperfection or brushstroke is the task at hand.

Is their suffering in heaven? Although it is, by definition, a place where “no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, and no mind can imagine what God has prepared,” then truthfully logic fails to some degree to argue. We are told by scientists that physical laws and constants may theoretically vary from universe to universe, yet we cannot conceive of an existence outside of our context. Any attempt to imagine a world in which these forces are different becomes automatically contextualized by our own for understanding. It is similar with ideas of heaven. We create a world in the looking glass. A world that is the same, yet different and idealized; like a work of fiction gives flesh, tension, and movement to a philosophy.

Please note, I am not suggesting heaven is some alternate universe or post-universe, because the timescale one would have to operate on to suggest such a thing does not account for the probability of extinction for the human race or the billions of years it would take for even our own sun to expand into a red giant and consume the earth (and still the universe would continue). But I am speaking of the incapability of man to conceive of what he has not experienced without shaping it as something he knows. We must anthropomorphize personality and we must shape metaphors to understand a world outside our own.

It does not prove its existence in anyway. A “restoration” or “rebirthing” of existence with the elimination of things like disease ignores the fundamental nature of such things. Disease is not demonic or malevolent. Disease is essentially packets of data doing, like a microscopic, simplified, and unconscious form of “us”, their best to procreate efficiently. What you call disease, is them hijacking you to help them. So is this part of refinement? The elimination of any creation deemed unfit to be of aid to the human being? Or is this rebirthing in essence the capstone of creation in its elimination of continued creation (and procreation)? Is it the sustained final chord in grand culmination of the symphony?

For myself, with my doubts and questions, it has often been a question reduced to what I know in the here and now. It is a question of suffering reduced in the here and now. I can seriously hope for such a final note, but may my uncertainty drive me to take hold of the here and now, both in light of that hope and in respect of the possibility that this will cease and be the only life and experience any man gets, and thus, to responsibly strive that each man’s suffering is lessened.

Bio: Josiah is a graduate of North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. His thirst for knowledge is only surpassed by his thirst for coffee. Thus, much free time is spent in the quest for the next fix.

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