Evil, pain, suffering, death

Within this website I explore whether there is a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, containing God, mind, souls, consciousness with its contents (ideas, emotions, love, reason, etc) — this, from a purely philosophical and unreligious point of view.
In this article, I first assume there is a spiritual realm so as to explore the implications; then I present my conclusions elsewhere.

If there is a good and beautiful God, he/she either: (1) created the universe with its conscious creatures who suffer, or (2) created entities having the power to create it all. In either case, God is responsible for the evil and suffering.

Explanations for the existence of evil:

  1. It's ignored: evil doesn't really exist; it's an illusion.
  2. God is evil (and good).
  3. Evil just sort of happens on its own (through God's neglect?)
  4. Evil is actually good.
  5. Evil is created by choices of free-will creatures; these creatures being created by God.

There is no satisfying way to reconcile a good creator God with the existence of evil and suffering. The best you can hope for is to make God be like an irresponsible child who is not aware of the consequences of his/her creative activity.

And so, if you have a weak God like this, who is not all-good or all-powerful, the consequence is: theism is false.

Ultimately, suffering requires conscious creatures capable of feeling pain: physical, emotional, mental, or psychological. So, therefore, the source of evil ultimately consists in the creating of these kinds of creatures in a universe outside of God's direct control. (Christians want to believe God is in control over every tiniest detail, but this makes him/her bad or neglectful.)

Perhaps suffering is a result of a benign super-powerful creator entity who wants to share the utopia of the spiritual realm with created conscious creatures via creating a physical universe. This, without realizing that suffering is inherently built-in to this physical universe — an oops moment. But why would God not educate these super-powerful creator creatures about the side-effects of creating universes having conscious creatures?


The aspects of this universe which cause it to not be a utopia:

  1. Limited resources.
  2. Extreme life and death competition for limited resources.
  3. The need for creatures to continually replenish their bodies with food and oxygen and energy.
  4. The ability of our bodies to feel pain, and the need for our bodies to feel pain.
  5. The possibility that our bodies can become damaged by accidents, or radiation, or etc.
  6. The decay of our bodies over time. The decay and destruction of all our cherished possessions over time.

Only the word "suffering" is needed for badness because it includes:

  1. Physical pain (bodily, from the senses).
  2. Mental suffering (emotional, psychological). Sometimes caused from within by the brain.
  3. Sin (if such a thing even exists).
  4. Evil. (Evil is not evil if no one suffers, and this includes the one who is evil who suffers extreme psychological anguish — but does a psychopath or sociopath suffer this?)
  5. Death.

So the question is, how can a good God create conscious creatures that suffer?

Pain, suffering, evil

This universe seems designed to guarantee pain and suffering, with its limited resources and constant need for living organisms to recharge by killing and eating each other.

People who believe in a good creator God must find a way that he/she is not responsible for evil and suffering.

Did God create pain, suffering, and evil? Some views:

  1. What we think of as evil is merely our own assessment. God created everything including what we call evil; but it's not really evil because God is good and everything he creates is good. But this view fails when considering animals eating each other alive and people torturing others to death.
  2. There are two Gods; one good, and one evil.
  3. At the fall of Adam, all pain, suffering, and evil originated. This is pure nonsense.
  4. God created a powerful free-will archangel (Lucifer), who chose to be evil (and was renamed Satan), and who either influenced or created all the pain, suffering, and evil of this universe.
  5. Something like #4 above except: replace Satan with a spiritual entity who created the universe having the potential for pain and suffering, without realizing there would be conscious creatures who would develop pain receptors to experience the pain and suffering.
  6. Evil is of human origin, when someone willfully premeditates to inflict pain and suffering on someone and enjoys their suffering. Again, the spiritual entity who created the universe did not realize conscious free-will creatures would appear capable of true evil.

The standard Christian view is that evil originates in the heart and mind of evil humans having free will. God created the possibility of free-will creatures but has nothing to do with evil itself.

In their desperate attempt to exonerate God, some Christians say that we need suffering because good comes from it; it makes stronger somehow to cope with and survive suffering. But it is horrific to think we need to be tortured to death for some good purpose. And how can we grow and learn if we are tortured to death? And what about animals who get eaten alive?

None of these "explanations" are satisfying. The reality of evil destroys any possibility of theism.

Views of evil

Views people have about the problem of evil (how can a good God create, or allow, evil?):

  1. We misinterpret it as evil, but to God it is good (because whatever God does is, by definition, good). An absurd view which I reject!
  2. God is both good and evil, creating both good and evil.
  3. Two gods: one good, one evil.

Even from a non-theistic point of view, evil is weird.

Good is better than bad

Even atheists (for example) offer principles for a moral code based on, usually, something like utilitarianism: of doing things that help others and not doing things that hurt others. But this assumes, I think, a universal value that good is better than bad. No one wants a society in which everyone is bad and, in fact, such a society would disintegrate. Therefore, it seems to me that reality has a built in preference for "the good", call it God if you will.

Good and bad are not equal and opposite manifestations of the same thing, a yin-yang, if you will. Bad is a corruption of the good. Good is, well,... good.


When considering "bad" things (evil, pain, suffering, sin, death), the essential item in the list is "suffering". Without resultant suffering (to oneself or others) evil is not bad, because it's not evil until inflicting the suffering. (The thoughts in a mass murderer's mind cause suffering for the mass murderer himself/herself even before he/she decides to commit the dastardly deed.)

Suffering can only occur to a conscious creature who is conscious at the time of the suffering. (Can the unconscious mind suffer? Do non-conscious creatures suffer?)

A rock hit with a hammer doesn't suffer. A corpse doesn't suffer. As we travel backwards down the tree of life from humans toward bacteria, I suppose there is a point at which the creatures no longer suffer because their conscious experience no longer includes the ability to suffer (even though they might experience something, such as "being", and even though they respond to the stimuli of being roughly banged around).

Evil from randomness

Some musings:

Evil comes from the randomness of quantum mechanics. Some astrophysics think the universe was created by a quantum mechanical fluctuation.

But did God, in creating the universe with its quantum mechanics, therefore create evil?

When we choose to do good, our soul dictates to our body what to do; it controls the quantum mechanical interactions. But when we are just letting things happen, these quantum mechanical interactions occur randomly and all kinds of undesirable things happen.