In the previous post, in introducing the most simple and significant argument that I have encountered against God, I introduced the two greatest hurdles to belief in the God revealed in the Bible: pain and suffering. The general summation of the argument is that because of the tremendous amount of these two elements then there is insufficient evidence to support the belief. As I closed the last post, I remarked that the question of whether pain has a purpose. Suffering we will address in the next post. So, why is there pain?
There are two distinct forms of pain: emotional and physical pain. What is interesting is that while there is a difference, they seem to manifest in similar ways. But identifying the types of pain doesn’t answer what pain is. Pain is an indicator of something being wrong either in the state of the emotions or in the body itself. Pain, or really the sense of it, therefore becomes a necessary instrument for survival. But what of those whose sense of pain is diminished or absent? Then extra care must be taken in their lives to enable them to live, for their diminished capacity doesn’t negate the necessity.
Entire schools of philosophy have arisen to deal with these issues, most of which either seek to minimize discomfort or maximize pleasure, which leads to a problem that also arises: a person seems to do best not in a state of comfort, but in a state of discomfort. It is a fascinating irony that the most innovative, imaginative, and compassionate people are those who have experienced unspeakable pain, while the most consumptive, ignorant, and selfish people are those who have lived in relative comfort, it is not always the case but bears consideration. Pain has a way of displaying and modifying the character of a person: it can temper their personality softening it in order to make them humble or hardening it to bitterness and despair. Ultimately it seems that it is how one responds to pain that determines its usefulness. Pain, when it is used as a scale against pleasure, makes pleasure ultimately worthless, due to it driving people to seek it at any cost; however, when it is scaled against itself makes even the simplest pleasure meaningful and worthwhile, because it gives the weary soul a welcome respite from the difficulties of life.
The problem of pain then seems to be not in the presence or absence of it, but whether or not a person lives in the realization that pain can and will occur, that it is unavoidable. Pain, then, becomes not a burden but a tool, a tool to allow an individual to learn, grow, and survive.