The suffering of some enables others to perform good deeds

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Parent debateThis argument is used in the debate Does God exist?.
Argument forThis argument is a justification of Evil contributes to a greater good.
Keywords: God, Evil, Suffering[ edit ].



“The other way in which natural evil provides men with their freedom is by making possible certain types of action concerning it, between which agents have the possibility of choosing. Natural evil expands the realm of meaningful decision. A particular natural evil, such as physical pain, gives the sufferer a choice: either to bear it patiently, or to lament his fate. A friend may decide either to show compassion towards the sufferer, or to remain insensitive. Pain makes it possible to make these decisions, which would not otherwise have to be made. This doesn't guarantee that our reactions to pain will be good, but in the meantime, pain gives us an opportunity to perform good actions. In turn, the good or bad actions we perform in the face of natural evil will enable us, in reaction, to take positions which, in turn, will be good or bad. If I show patience in suffering, you can decide to encourage or mock that patience; if I lament my fate, you have the opportunity to teach me, in word or deed, how good patience is. If you are compassionate, I have the opportunity to show my gratitude for your compassion; or to be so withdrawn that I ignore it. If you're insensitive, I have the option of either ignoring it, or reproaching you for it for the rest of your life. And so on. I don't think there can be any doubt that natural evil, like physical pain, makes these different decisions possible. The actions that natural evil makes possible give us the opportunity to do our best and cooperate with those around us at the deepest level.”

Richard Swinburne, Is there a God?, p.103-104, Ithaca, 2009.



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