Is God Fair?

Pretty blasphemous stuff, right? But then, any person with severe CP may at some point have to contend with blasphemy. Hey, even Jonah got mad and tried to tell God what was fair. We try here to guess how to avoid getting swallowed up by the whale of our anger.

No one is fit to write this piece, because it is too big. Religion may not even be able to handle it. We fools will rush in here, and probably get the comeuppance we deserve. Still, carrying around disabling guilt on top of pain is not helpful. Perhaps this article will point in some direction to at least move past guilt over our anger. We will try to couch the matter in terms acceptable to the believer, the agnostic, and the nonbeliever, so ignore parts which do not apply to you.

Primitive societies often attribute certain qualities to God which objectively we might call demonic. This may be because their lives are so desperate and short. In civilized societies, we do not do this. But deep in pain, a person cannot be blamed if for a time, there is reversion to some primitive mind state. We may shock ourselves and feel inimical to the Divine or even subhuman. How do we deal with this. Perhaps this article has some ideas.

As stated then, one of the things that makes us feel bad about our pain is the ugly feelings we sometimes wind up directing toward God (The words “God” and “Nature” may be used interchangeably here as signifying something greater than man. “Faith” and “resignation” are likewise interchangeable). How can human beings become angry at God, and what can they do about it? Obviously, it isn’t healthy to become angry at God, but many do.

We now show the poverty of our originalty on this topic by resorting to the movies to illustrate a point. Movie characters are sometimes good purveyors of clarity, saying better than they know. The first is from “Hellboy”: “What makes a man a man? Not his origins, not where he comes from. It’s the choices he makes”. Having choices makes us human.

The second movie is “Bruce Almighty” If God were really as Jim Carey first complains, like a little kid with a magnifying glass next to an anthill, then what would be the point of the whole universe? Bruce demands from God ways to make everything come out the way EVERYONE wishes, but soon realizes he must not tamper with free will. He seeks the impossible as he spouts out solutions which ask the wrong question. God tells him, “You’ll have to get back to me when you figure that one out”. Bruce sees that evil is in the world to permit the making of choices, to make us more than programmed robots, the price of being human. “Bruce” eventually concludes that being God requires allowance for human agency, and agency requires the possibility of opposition in all things.

With Thomas Jefferson, we must reject the Calvinistic notion man was programmed, scripted from beginning to end. Choice must exist, even terrible choices. You can’t become valiant making idle choices. They must be real. It is no mountain climb if the ground remains level.

Where does that leave us? Being human and in serious pain, it is a pretty sure thing we may wind up becoming angry at God, if just for a moment. We might act like Bruce did. Of course, the problem is that asking if God is fair is not really the right question. First of all, we would have to be God ourselves to know what is just or fair for the human race. We could not guess or intuit this part of philosophy, the suffering part which makes no sense to mortals. In other words, we are all “Bruces”.

Every religion in the world deals with suffering, because religion is the one thing that is supposed to explain suffering to us. Unfortunately, it cannot.

Religious writings need not necessarily be accepted as true to consider their symbolic worth. That is our position here. We will allude to one of the early “Fathers of the Church”, John Chyrysostom, who saw fit to discourse about physical pain. He was one of the few, so we don’t have many to choose from, and because Chrysostom has been placed on the internet of late, his writings are easily accessible.

The early writings of John Chrysostom of Antioch, in about 300 A.D., when Christian legends were a little more fresh than now, display knowledge of some historical information which we no longer have. Chrysostom reminds his readers of the fact Jesus asked for a way out of the pain in Gethsemane (Chrysostom says he debated with God), but was willing to endure his death on Golgotha without asking for a way out. Chrysostom and his readers were under the impression that Gethsemane and pain were more difficult to endure than death itself.

A reading of the Bible indicates Chrysostom may have been onto something. People shrink under pain more than from death. A good example might be the story told by an escaping slave of Davy Crockett’s son James and his friend Henry Russell, (when they were caught, tortured, and eventually put out of their misery by some rogue braves) on their way to exploring “Kaintuckie”. (The great Cherokee prophetess, Nancy, lamented this act and warned settlers of the early Wataqua settlement to escape). Albert Schweitzer said it this way, “Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than death itself”. Augustine called physical pain the “greatest evil”. The Quran has specific references to pangs of remorse reaching the level of physical pain. Other religions have similar ideas. Most of them admit they cannot really make sense of suffering, yet it occurs.

So the first things is, if terrible pain has made you feel thoughts that seem anything but religions, you are not alone. Next, what to do about it. Basically, do not turn your anger inward and harm yourself.

Trusting God to compensate us for pain endured well is where faith comes in. It may be that enduring pain requires more faith than any other thing. We may not be martyrs to a religious cause but our enduring to the end may make us martyrs to a religious ideal. In the end, it does show faith.

Pain is largely outside the realm of knowledge. What could God possibly do to compensate us for the trial? Eternal life, for starters. Perhaps even the insight to understand how we were benefitted in the long run. Perhaps awareness of the fact He was still at our side when our pain made us feel so very far away, so insignificant, so inhuman.

God is said to care even for the animals, for their pain. Evidence suggests God will not forget us, and will remember how hard it was for us to keep going. When you are really down, that is a comforting thought.

We apologize for the things we ought to have said here but did not, and for things we did say, but should not have. The real content of this article is known only to God. We should not presume to speak for Him. That is a job for the prophets. In the meantime, we scientists have moved out of context to say our feeble bit. We hope it helps,