How does the Bible explain suffering?

Bart Ehrman has done extensive research into the historical roots of Christianity as well as written several books on the subject. His latest book is ‘God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer‘ dealing with, as you might guess, how the Bible tries to explain suffering in a world ruled by an all-loving and all-powerful benefactor. He recently gave this lecture at UC Berkley on the same subject and I think its worth watching.

Although I agree with pretty much everything Ehrman has to say regarding the lecture’s topic, one of his answers at the end struck me as odd. Ehrman seems to think Sam Harris blames religion for ‘all’ the evils in the world. I think he may have mixed up some of the ‘New Atheist’ authors since Harris, if any of them, pleas for more scientific study of all things spiritual. Christopher Hitchens’s book ‘God is not Great’ carries the subtitle ‘How Religion Poisons Everything’ and Richard Dawkins created the BBC series ‘Root of all Evils’ (though he disagreed with the BBC’s title choice) but Sam Harris’s main argument is that an evidence-based reality trumps a faith-based one.

My other main problem is Ehrman’s apologetic claim of a fundemental divide between science and religion. He belives in a point where the questions must be handed off to theologians to answer. But the supernatural beliefs at the core’s of religions are scientific claims. The question of the existence of a supernatural creator being in the universe is a scientific question with a yes or no answer. There is no philosophical, historical or theological way around that statement. The supernatural being that a large percentage of the world believes in either exists within reality or it doesn’t.

Aside from those small observations I highly recommend Ehrman’s previous books and his Teaching Company lectures. I’ll be picking up God’s Problem soon.

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