Charles Lindsey's Reviews > God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer

God's Problem by Bart D. Ehrman
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's review
Jul 20, 2010

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Read in July, 2010

Bart Ehrman is a clear and accessible writer. Here his erudition about the Bible gives a useful background for those wanting a complete survey of the many way the Old and New Testaments try to rationalize human suffering. They are many -- not just the one or the few responses so easily brought to mind by those of us living under the influence of religion Lite. For that matter, religion non-Lite does nothing to palliate pain or confusion; quite the opposite. Readers come to understand how Ehrman, and many thinking people, reject Christianity's florid and manifold attempts to justify the unjustifiable. It's curious, though, that Ehrman still clings to shards of his former pastorhood. He seems to assent unhappily that suffering is "unexplainable." Rather than a rebuke to Christianity, his conclusion is a sign of an atheism not yet admitted to itself. Human suffering is not unexplainable; it is not a mystery. People suffer because the universe is indifferent to human beings--their pain, their happiness, their existence itself. One might as well ask, "Why do chickens suffer?" Creatures suffer because they have evolved to be food for other creatures, or because they live on a planet that has weather and other destructive natural features (floods, quakes, droughts, asteroids). Ehrman is still shaking a fist at something, only he doesn't know quite what to call it. The clue is that he's still too timid to call himself an atheist, though that's clearly what he is: a non-believer in the Christian structure of existence. If he were to take that step, he might not find suffering such a mystery.

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