Thursday, June 10, 2010

What do a St. Bernard, a flea and Tess of the d’Urbervilles have in common?

Just because I cannot understand the reason for suffering doesn’t mean there is none?
The illustration goes that if you look into a two-man tent and you cannot see a St. Bernard justifies that there is no St. Bernard in the tent. But, if you look into the two-man tent and you do not see a flea does not mean that there is no flea there (Based on an illustration of Alvin Plantinga). To say that God is not good enough or powerful enough to deal with suffering and make the conclusion that there is no God because of it, is a subjective deduction. To make claims that there is no God or there is no meaning in the suffering of the world rest entirely on our cognitive skills and who can ever claim to know the wonders and horrors of the universe. (Thoughts inspired by Timothy Keller’s book – The Reason for God).

There is suffering that leaves us wondering whether there is any meaning in it but if we examine our lives we will find that the suffering we have experienced has shaped us some way or another. I watched a BBC production of Tess of the d’Urbervilles by
Thomas Hardy recently. I could see no redemption of the suffering she encountered, she even called her dead child “Sorrow”. But, who am I to say what suffering did for her as a person. Who is to say that she would not have had more meaning in life than one who grew up eating cakes and sweet tea? It does leave one with the awkward question, especially the counselor of how we help or redeem people from their suffering?


Anonymous said...

Two good analogies. I read Ministries of Mercy and found it most edifying. How would you rate The Reason for God?

David Barbour said...


I haven't read Ministries of Mercy - will put it on my Loot wish list.
I am taking "The Reason for God" slowly and trying to negotiate the logic and my insufficient map of reason. He covers a multitude of topics which may make the content a little scant in my opinion but he has certainly helped me rethink certain assumptions of mine. I think it is worth a read but I have not finished it yet.