Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bart Ehrman: God's Problem

I've started listening to Bart Ehrman's book God's Problem on cd on my way to work. His book explores the (in his view) inability of Christianity (and specifically, the Bible) to satisfactorily answer the question of why there is suffering in the world. It's an important and difficult question for Christians to face.

One interesting thing is the subtitle of the book: How the Bible fails to answer our most important question - why we suffer. While it is certainly an important question, it is not clear that this is the most important one; it is also not clear that the Bible's purpose is to answer this question. In this sense, I wonder if the whole premise of the book is slightly off. Usually it is the Christians who are accused of viewing humanity as all-important, but if Mr. Ehrman thinks the question of why humans suffer is the most important question there is, it would seem it is he who as an elevated view of humanity.

Another bizarre idea of Ehrman's is that he believes that to say the problem of suffering is beyond our ability to comprehend (i.e. a mystery) is the same as saying there is no answer to the problem of suffering. Just because humans may not know an answer does not mean there is no answer. It would seem that Ehrman is elevating humans to a level where if we cannot arrive at a solution to something or cannot comprehend it then it must not exist.

Still, I am interested in hearing him out. The books seems like it will be a passionate articulation of both a difficult intellectual problem and the reasons for Ehrman's loss of faith (he used to be an evangelical Christian).

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