Philosophy GCSE AQA B- Evil and Suffering- Christianity only

A summary of evil and suffering- the problems that they can cause for religious believers and how they are solved. They're in the wrong order- sorry!

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Definitions of evil and suffering

Evil: the opposite of good, something that is harmful or undesirable, profound immorality or wickedness that causes suffering.

Suffering: when people have to face unpleasant things and live with unpleasant events or conditions that cause them pain. There are different types of suffering- it can be man-made  (a result of evil actions) or natural (e.g. suffering as a result of a tsunami).

All evil causes suffering but not all suffering is caused by evil.

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Problems of evil and suffering

Evil and suffering raise questions about God's love, power and purpose:

- Where is God when people suffer?
- If God is benevolent (kind) then why does he allow innocent people to suffer?
- If God is omnipotent (all powerful) then why doesn't he help people who suffer?
- If God is omnipotent then why does he allow evil?
- If God exists, what kind of God would allow children to be killed?
- God cannot exist because he is supposedly all-powerful and yet does nothing to eradicate evil.
- What is the purpose of all this suffering?

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Evil and suffering to disprove the existence of Go

Atheists use evil and suffering as evidence to support their lack of belief in God:

 - God cannot exist because a loving God would not allow innocent people to suffer
- God is supposed to be omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent, so he must know about our suffering and yet he does nothing about it. Therefore God does not exist.
- God cannot be omnipotent if he allows evil
- God cannot  be loving because a loving God would not allow his creations to suffer.
- God cannot exist because he is supposedly all-powerful and yet does nothing to eradicate evil.
- Although Christians might argue that God does not intervene because of free will, he does not have to stop the evil, he could just help those who are suffering, e.g. helping the Jews escape from the Nazis, rather than stopping the Nazis themselves.

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The Book of Job

This story can be used as evidence for the Christian argument that suffering is a test of faith and is rewarded, in this life or the next:

- Job was a fairly wealthy, righteous man with a large family
- Satan challenged God by claiming that if Job was made to suffer, he would curse God and lose his faith. He questioned Job's integrity and suggested that Job serves God simply for protection.
- God allows Satan to torment Job to test his claim. Job loses his family, wealth and livestock and is covered in painful sores and boils, but he still does not curse God.
- As a reward, God rewards Job by returning his health, gifting him with even more wealth and children than before and an extremely long life.

This shows that suffering is a test of faith and that if you pass the test, you are rewarded. You should not renounce God.

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How Christians solve the problems of evil and suff

Christians might argue that:
- Suffering allows us to appreciate the good things in life. Without experiencing pain you cannot recognise happiness- you need to suffer to be able to distunguish between the two.
- Suffering is a test. Supported by the book of Job- separate card for this.
- Evil and suffering do not come from God, but rather the devil. The Devil is Lucifer, a fallen angel who now tempts people to disobey God, which is where evil stems from. Lucifer appeared to Jesus in the Bible but Jesus resisted.  
(Note: some Christians would disagree with this because they might believe the devil to be a symbol of evil) This relates to the free will argument:
- God does not intervene because His greatest gift was free will- to stop someone from performing an evil deed would be to take their free will away which God would not do, since free will was his greatest gift to mankind. We all have good and evil inside of us- it is the side which we choose to act upon that counts.
- Some evil people change their ways after turning to God. Therefore God does help to stop evil- but it has to be the person's choice.
- God tries to stop evil through morality- God gave us morality to guide us to make the right decisions without taking our free will away.

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Evil- where does it come from?

Evil could be:
A personal being: this is the idea that evil is an evil spirit or devil rather than an impersonal force
Psychological phenomenon: this is the idea that the nature of evil is something arising from the mind of a person.

Are babies born innocent? NoChristians believe that no human is without sin- we are all capable and all have goodness and evil inside of us; it is our choice as to which side we act on. Yes- babies haven't actually done anything evil. Evil develops as one grows.

Evil can come from: upbringing and experiences, the media, society and psychological problems that manifest when they become older due to negative experiences; for example, whether or not someone turns out to be violent could depend on how they are treated as a child, as if your carers have an abusive relationship, you are more likely to abuse a loved one. Many young offendor

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The Devil

According to the Bible, the Devil is Lucifer, a fallen angel. Some (but not all!) Christians think that suffering is caused by the Devil, rather than God. (So these Christians would not necessarily think that suffering is a test of faith, unless they think that God allows the Devil to test faith).

Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the New Testament during his time in the desert but he did not give in. The Devil lures people towards evil and tries to sway them from the path of God, into hell, causing suffering as a result.

Not all Christians believe that the Devil is real, but rather a symbol of all evil in the world. The Devil is often used to explain why people act in an evil way.

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