It’s an ages-old conundrum: If God is both good and all-powerful, why does He allow pain and suffering in the world?
How many people have turned away from belief in God because of suffering? One for sure was the Nobel Prize–winning author of many 20th-century works, Samuel Beckett. According to his official biographer, James Knowlson, “it was on the key issue of pain, suffering and death that Beckett’s religious faith faltered and quickly foundered.” In the 1920s the streets of his hometown, Dublin, were filled with men who had returned from the Great War, shell-shocked, gassed, maimed or dismembered. The confrontation with reality clashed with Beckett’s comfortable upper-middle-class background.
By his own admission, another incident in his student days contributed to the rejection of God and Christianity. Raised as an Anglican, Beckett attended church services with his father one Sunday evening to hear a family friend preach. Canon Dobbs spoke about his visits to “the sick, the suffering, the dying and the bereaved.” His way of consoling people in such straits was to tell them, “[Christ’s] crucifixion was only the beginning. You must contribute to the kitty.” Beckett was appalled at the failure to explain undeserved suffering and the attempted rationale for a growing mountain of pain. To say that suffering somehow prepared one for a better afterlife made no sense to him either; he considered it an affront to the sufferer.
Via Seth Capo