Notes on a debate between Dr. Michael Brown vs Dr. Bart Ehrman
Fifth round - Closing
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First - - Dr. Ehrman - In the Bible, there are different explanations for suffering - - and some of them contradict each other.
1. Is it because God is punishing them for their sins - that's what the Hebrew Bible maintains. I refuse to believe that birth defects, alzheimers, all the other diseases were given by God to teach them a lesson!
2. Other Books of the Bible, including the Prophets, maintain that suffering is caused by those who have free will to inflict this suffering on others - and that is true. But why would God allow humans to cause evil in some instances and not others? If He can do miracles for people throughout the Bible, where is He today?
3. Some authors of the Bible believe that suffering was ultimately redemptive - - and its true that there can often be a silver lining in the hardships we encounter. But I don't see anything redemptive when Ethiopian babies die of malnutrition.
4. Some authors see suffering as a test of faith - But I don't believe God would kill Job's 10 children to see if Job would curse Him or not! If someone killed your 10 children, wouldn't you have the right to curse Him? And to think God would give him 10 more children afterwards is obscene.
5. Some authors maintain that suffering is a mystery (like the poetry in Job). Why do we have no right to ask about the mystery- since we are peons and God is the Almighty? And we have no right to call Him to task for what He has done? If God made us then our sense of right and wrong came from Him, and there's no other sense of right and wrong but his - and if He's done something wrong- he' culpable! And murdering babies, starving masses and committing genocide is wrong!
6. I do have a biblical view on suffering that is in Ecclesiastes - - there's alot we can't know about the world.....Alot of bad things happen-alot of good things happen - the solution is to enjoy life while we can because it's fleeting....We need to enjoy as much as we can as long as we can! The fact that this life is all there is - - should not make us despondent but should give us joy! Joy of living in the moment and trying to make the world a better place....for ourselves and others in it....To live life to the fullest means doing more.....there doesn't have to be world poverty - the wealth could be redistributed....We should love and be loved.....Just because we don't have an answer to suffering doesn't mean we can't have a response to it....we should work hard to alleviate suffering and to live as well as we can...
Last - - Dr. Brown - You judge a tree by it's fruit - - As sincere as Dr. Ehrman is- - I don't think his approach will generate the sacrifice needed to solve the problem of suffering. Bart's book says to grill steaks, eat great desserts, open a bottle of wine - - the greatest sufferers in this world have never had a dessert!!! How does that offer hope??????We live in a narcissistic society - we don't need more of it ! Read the whole of the Book of Ecclesiastes- - it says the things that Bart says - - but what is the conclusion? - It says, remember your creator in the days of your youth - and you can summarize the last chapter by saying "living without God is not worth living life at all". The Bible encourages us to ask why !! You lose God - - you lose His intervention going on in the world today (maybe not as much as we'd like), you take away His comfort, His redemptive work and the world to come - - and you offer me bordeaux and unhealthy desserts! NO THANKS- I'll stay with God and His reality and comforts and promises!
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