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Ask the Patriarch 112
Explain Evil and Suffering

from Ronald Bowman

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I'm curious on your view of evil and suffering in the world. How do you explain that?

The Patriarch replies:

Ronald:

I find this a curious question. It is one normally posed to those who claim the existence of a good and loving deity because the existence of evil and suffering seem to be quite inconsistent with that claim.

Agnosticism is a statement about our state of knowledge about a deity. So, there is no necessity for us to explain evil and suffering. They are just words we use to describe our perceptions of events in the world in which we live.

Evil and suffering are just a point of view. Consider the coyote and the rabbit. The coyote is suffering the pangs of hunger, and if it had human awareness, it might consider the lack of food to be evil. It sees, captures, and eats a rabbit, hunger is gone, the suffering is gone, and from the coyote's perspective that is good. From the viewpoint of the rabbit, things were good and it was enjoying life when it was nibbling on leaves in the field. But upon being caught and eaten, there was suffering and evil. The event is the same, the perspective is different.

Why does evil and suffering exist? For the same reason good and enjoyment exist. Because those are some of our perspectives on what is happening in the world.