Sunday, 21 September 2014

Answering Epicurus

Doesn’t the existence of suffering in the world make it irrational to believe in God?

“If God is just and of great might then why does pain abound?
It seems that either God does nothing care, and so cannot be kind;
or else that God cannot save us, and so cannot be powerful.
So if you insist that God is good and omnipotent, if God be real at all;
then God cannot be real: for suffering is certain sure enough!
Nature’s red in tooth and claw, and merely to survive is tough!
Unanswered, Abel’s blood to heaven does clearly call!”

The Hindu says that suffering is always well deserved.
Those who seem innocent are guilty nonetheless.
Karma’s been accrued by them in a life previous.
The evil they did do before has been conserved
and justice now its sure revenge is taking
Each victim is their own atonement making,
for sins committed in the past they’re paying.

The Buddha tells us suffering’s not real, but a delusion:
attachment to the things of matter causes us confusion.
The soul must be freed from physical encumbrance,
and rise above the realm of pain and find its peace
in merging selflessly and wholly with the One
by meditation, and ceaselessly repeating “Om”.

The Deist tells us that God’s justice is remote.
For after all, we’re tiny things, of little note.
God observes the world from a great distance,
caring nothing for our plight.
For though God’s great, He looks at us askance.
He has no empathy with our life’s fight
’gainst suffering, decay and faction:
our pain is not a worthy motive for God’s action.

The Gnostic claims the Cosmos is imperfect.
The World was neither God’s intent nor act.
God is omnipotent, and just and whole;
but the Creator was incompetent in craft.
The Universe is flawed, but this is not God’s fault.
It never was God’s business, its making not His goal.
The Cosmos cannot be redeemed. Matter is sick at heart;
but freedom can be won, by means occult,
for spirits in it trapped, who thence for Heaven depart.

Calvin says that our idea of good is not correct.
God rightly gives us pain: for we deserve no better!
If God elects to help, His power can this effect:
for nothing may God’s sovereign will impede or fetter;
but being ill, we have no right this to expect,
and if God damns us, we may not object. 

Satan says that God’s not just, but is a monster.
His entertainment lies in causing us to suffer.
There is no good or ill; but only power,
and those who are afraid to exercise their share.
In order to survive, you have to fight and strive.
Don’t look for any help. You’re on your own.
Learn that you can only live and thrive
at the expense of those you’ve battered down.

The wise believe that suff’ring has a purpose.
Our business in this world is for ourselves to learn
the difference between what’s wrong and right:
to ready ourselves for being with each other
and with the tri-une living God for ever.
As yet, we are from God’s great flaming disk,
remote: and may awhile prepare ourselves to bask
in God’s most searing, bright and fearsome light.

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