Assignment 1: The Problems of Evil and Suffering
All human beings encounter pain and suffering in life. This can present some difficult questions to organized religions.
On some level, all religions answer fundamental questions of human existence, including, “why are we here?” Pain and suffering complicate these basic questions of human existence, whether the religion is monotheistic, polytheistic, or atheistic.
Some people endure much more pain and suffering than others. Why is this so? What is the origin of suffering? Is evil external or internal? Does it have any meaning? How should we respond to it?
Even more difficult is the problem of moral evil: some people deliberately cause other people to suffer. Why? If there is meaning in the universe, and especially if the universe is ruled by a beneficent deity, how can this be?
Write an essay of 1,000 words that examines the basic positions of each of the five religious traditions considering these human questions
In your essay, address the following questions:
- How does each religion respond to the problems of evil and suffering?
- How are those responses similar?
- In what ways do the responses differ?
- What factors account for these differences?
- Which way of addressing evil is the most similar to your own? What role does reason play in your personal understanding of evil? How does that overlap or contradict with the major religions’ uses of reason in explaining evil?