No decent parent would allow their child to suffer if they could prevent it. They wouldn’t allow it as a punishment, or to teach the child a lesson, or to make them stronger.

I’ve had a theist say to me “Would you expect every parent to stop their child falling to their death from a window or bridge if they could?” And the answer is yes – I would. Any parent allowing their child to die like that is beneath contempt.

Steve Ives – Quora User

Let’s start by addressing this particular element of the quote; “No decent parent would allow their child to suffer if they could prevent it. They wouldn’t allow it as a punishment, or to teach the child a lesson, or to make them stronger.”

As much as we want to perceive the world this way, it simply isn’t. We send out children to school against their will precisely because it will teach them many lessons, and as a result, they will grow stronger. They don’t want to go, they don’t enjoy the experience. Yet, we force them to endure it. In fact, the state will take your kids away from you if you don’t force your child to adhere to some level of state approved curriculum, even if you child hates every minute of it. This is reality, not many fight back against it, as it would require them to take on more personal suffering. Having to first learn the lessons they want to impart, creating a course curriculum, study materials, and then taking the time to instruct these lessons themselves. All of this while also trying to earn a living and provide for those very same children. And even if a parent does manage all of this themselves, the child still does not want to do the work, feeling as though they are being forced to suffer through it.. because they are. That’s how we raise children, by doing what is best for them even if it causes them pain.

“The problem is not suffering but extreme suffering, torture and painful deaths that no human should have to go through.”

Quora Commenter

Suffering will always have a scale. If we take away things from the “extreme” end of any scale, then that which remains furthermost from the center becomes the extreme. Over time, it is despised just as much as the former, and we will undoubtedly ask, “how can God allow this?

The very fact that you feel “no human should have to go through” something is a very strong display of empathy, and it is an honorable goal for humanity to solve these problems.

  • What creates a torturer or killer?
  • What causes a crowd to walk past as people starve in the street?
  • How do we best help the severely disabled?

These are challenges set before us, opportunities to choose love over selfishness. Maybe the purpose of our lives is to learn how to best live for others as well as ourselves.

Do you think that our ability to experience suffering will end when we die?

“An all-powerful God might end up taking things too far.”

Quora Commenter

Perhaps. But an all-knowing God would be capable of avoiding such things. All the while, beings which are neither all-powerful, nor all-knowing, will render their subjective judgement against such a God.

“The only logical formula that makes sense is one of fairness.”

Quora Commenter

Fair in what way? Does everyone avoid any suffering that they subjectively feel is “too much”?

I’m not sure if you have children, but I do. Sometimes I am able to bring the family together to play a board game. Usually, everyone wants to be a certain piece on the board, maybe because it is red, maybe because it is a cannon and those are cooler than hats… either way, a fight ensues, undoubtedly. On many occasions, one child or the other has stormed off, refusing to play the game because the suffering of being reduced to a yellow pawn or a pair of shoes would be too great for them to bear.

Perhaps this is a similar situation. In order to reap the joy of having played the game, you must first accept your position on the board. Even though it may seem that some players win, and some lose, the game ends the same for everyone. The pawns are thrown into the box, along with the board, the game is over, and the next phase of events occur in life.

At the end of the day, we are not all knowing. We are strictly limited to our subjectively perceived experiences. Experiences which are inevitably inundated with ideas of fairness and selfish desires. Ultimately, we can either be grateful for the blessings in our life, or be resentful of our challenges. Indeed, we are capable of choosing the lens through which we view our lives and the lives of those around us. This choice will ripple through all of our actions, and especially our perception of the actions of others.

If morality is truly subjective, then we cannot condemn, we can merely change that which we have control over. We need wisdom to know the difference between that which we have to accept, and that which we can indeed change. Without suffering, we could not learn to express our love. If life has any purpose, I think that this truth is the core of that purpose. After all, regardless of who appears to win or lose, it all ends the same way and we move on to the next phase. So, while we are here, why not just make the best of it for everyone?

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