Suffering

Several of you have objected to the email posted yesterday about Biblical scholar, Bart Ehrman, and his evolution from fundamentalism to agnosticism. Here’s one email that is similar to many others:

"I went to UNC, and Ehrman was often talked about. Each semester, he would use the last lecture to tell about his spiritual journey and his reasons for his ultimate beliefs. You ignore a large part of his spiritual journey, which was mentioned but not focused on in the article, a point with which any of his students are forever impressed. The suffering. I really think this is the final blow for Ehrman: the endless, needless, often arbitrary suffering experienced by mankind. Ehrman finally saw a human world unconstrained by even the simplest of moral logic, and this is what broke him. I think it’s not so much that Ehrman doesn’t believe there is a God (he does say he’s agnostic), but that he simply doesn’t want to believe in a God that doesn’t care. This is a question that religion has never addressed with anything but the most hollow and strained assurances."

My own Catholic response to that existential dilemma is simply the cross. I remain a believer because I believe that the divine did not stop suffering but instead chose to embrace and thereby transcend it. Does that somehow end human suffering? Of course not. Does it logically solve the problem? Not without faith or an encounter with Christ himself. But it doesn’t avoid the problem, it seems to me, either. It places it at the center of Christian faith.