To continue Mr. Muir's efforts of sharpening ourselves:
There are multitudes of suffering in this world; war, famine, disease, disaster, oppression, poverty...they sap life from the earth at incomprehensible rates. A good God would never allow this injustice. God is not good.
Too often, man in his arrogance says "We don't need or want you" to God. Political leaders will say, "But I have wealth, my citizens are subservient to me, and I am self sufficient", and his citizenry suffers. Another political leader will face calamity or famine, receive aid from wealthier countries, and then use the aid for his own gain instead of aiding his people. Perhaps God allows suffering due to man's arrogance, whether due to political or personal corruption. Very few men are completely altruistic, all men are tempted.
God's forbearance while suffering continues is an opportunity for us to make amends. If we were death stricken by our first offense, who would be alive today? While we see suffering, can we not often identify a cause? When we find a transgression, is there not opportunity for repentance? God allows us to see the fruit of our errant ways in order to break our pride and arrogance, even though not all of us will. We have sufficient warnings surrounding us about destructive behavior, God forbears- waiting for us to notice them.
Therefore, God is good...
Victims be damned?
Victims repent on their own. Repentance by government leaders don't automatically pass down their newfound righteousness- that's for each person to decide. The sin of the leader will cause the suffering, but within the populace each one has the decision to make- which applies to everyone whether in prosperous lands or not.
If I were a skeptic, I would reply with the following.
First, If God is good then he would eradicate evil. Second, if God is omnipotent he could eradicated evil. Evil, suffering, and pain exist. Therefore, God (as described) does not exist.
Second, there are instances of gratuitous moral and natural evil that have no apparent justification. For example, William Rowe's Bambi example and the real case of a young girl who was rapped and beaten to death (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/bruce_russell/intervene.html). In this case there is no apparent soul making opportunity for this young girl. This is in response to the "victims be damned" response below.
Third, your argument proper is a non sequitur. It goes something like this:
P1: Man is bad
P2: God is patient
C: Therefore, God is good
This argument needs a little more connective tissue in order to reach the "God is good" conclusion. What are your thoughts?
Joined the group just to respond to this.
If God is the creator of all things, he is omnipotent, omnecient (spelling?), and all powerful then if he gets all the credit for all the good things then he MUST take the blame for all the bad things as well. A two year old dying in pain from cancer is BAD no matter how you try to color it.
First, a two year old dying in pain from cancer is bad no matter how you try to color it. Although painful, one cannot conclude that God has no justifying reason for it. There are several options open at this point. One need only provide a possibility to solve the dilemma. Perhaps God "whispers in our pleasures, but shouts in our pain" (C.S. Lewis). Although it may not be a satisfying answer it solves the problem. Perhaps God is justified in the death of a two year old by the hands of cancer in order to accomplish some greater good.
Second, God mustn't take the blame for the bad (at least in Christianity). It has been argued that evil (both moral and natural) are a result of the misuse of a good thing called free will by humanity(Augustine is the first that comes to mind). And since you must work within the framework of the brand of theism you are challenging, this problem is solved as well.
Tell me how the 2 year old's "Free Will" caused his cancer? Tell me that the sins of the father should be passed down to his children? Tell me that God cries when a child is hurt. When you see a baby in that much pain tell me that you wouldn't curse God. Is that baby's death a sacrifice so that someone can find a cure? Let there be another way not through the death of a child.
Well, I obviously don't know what caused his cancer. It could be any number of variables. Individual instances of suffering and pain are like that. In the Christian worldview, Adam's misuse of free will brought death into the world (i.e. the possibility of cancerous cells). Now, you may not like this answer based upon your view of the Christian God but that is a different debate. The question then turns to the moral status of the child and if God is morally obligated to sustain his life. First, I would argue that God is not morally obligated to give life much less sustain it. One may argue that if this is the case then God should at the very least make his death quick and painless. Perhaps, as you mentioned, God allows this suffering to achieve some greater good (i.e. a cure). My meager point is this, as long as there is a possibility of justification for an instance of suffering, one can not claim God is unjust in allowing it. Furthermore, I will tell you that when we lost our child I did not curse God.
Free will is my response to God's ultimate responsibility for pain, suffering, and evil.
A greater good is my response to your example of a particular instance of suffering.
Please do not get the two confused.
My question to you then is, why is a child suffering and dieing from cancer a bad thing (which I agree it is), but why?
So, you don't believe Jesus died for our (original) sin? At least that is part of what I am getting from your reply "Adam's misuse of free will...". My question on this (free will issue) is what did the 2 year old do as Free Will that caused his cancer given the fact that Jesus died on the cross to free us from the original sin of Adam and Eve?
As to the morality of giving and sustaining life; God is supposed to be the ultimate judge of morality so why isn't he obligated in any way to act morally? Even in our somewhat corrupt, definitely human, judicial system we expect our judges to act morally can't God be held to the same expectation?
How you arrived at the conclusion that I don't believe Jesus died for original sin is beyond me. The 2 yr. old's use of free will may or may not have played a part (i have no idea) although I strongly suspect that it did not (notice I never implied that it did). Death is a byproduct of Adam's sin. People die everyday. Jesus (by way of his crucifixion and resurrection) did not undo the natural consequence of sin.
God is moral. In fact he is morally perfect. This does not mean that he is "wrong" if he doesn't sustain everyone's life. That is what I mean by "morally obligated" to sustain life. If he chooses not to, so be it. He is not morally obliged to.
This is suspiciously starting to look like a red herring.
Sorry but an emotional issue for me. Back story:
I worked as a biomed tech for a large company and had an account with a Children's Hospital in a large city. I maintained a nuclear scanner for the hospital. I went to work on the scanner one day and there was a little two year old child who was being imaged. He was in obvious pain even with the meds they were pumping into him. He kept pleading with his mommy to make it stop it hurt. Sorry even after 8 years I can't finish this..