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Massacred along with his children , so it seems like just a clear cut case of unfair terrible , pointless suffering , but of course the Romans who made that very image understood that because Lay aka ones cry was not heard by others that Troy fell but because Troy fell and scheme and founded Rome eventually , and so you know , even if there is a point terrible. There is a point to it and and that point allows us to look at those images . I think in ways that that may come easier , whereas the scream . I think as just meant to be the Scream . There is no redemptive story surrounding that there is no point there , it’s just the crying out but that I think we increasingly face in in that in modern life .
Talk about what you make of the so-called problem of evil which is often used as an argument against a god that this idea of a God is not compatible with this idea of pointless suffering. I mean what is the point of God if good people suffer and this concept that that you said that really took you back in something that you read that said believing in a god is in fact in a sense , profoundly immoral .
Yeah well the. The problem of evil . I think really embodies that the difficulties we have in the modern age . As we become so driven by our fix it Qwest as we become so driven by our attempt to fix all suffering to oppose at all , get rid of it , then you God starts to seem very hard for most people to believe and if insofar as you’re you’re committed to that fix it Qwest because you just think look if God made all this , he really screwed up quite badly cause we’re trying to , you know , fix all the stuff all the problems that that he didn’t fix it’s to make God into a kind of , you know , big defective bio technologist or even worse , I suppose a who who stands by who could help people and refuses to which seems like the essence of cruelty to us to imagine standing by . You know and letting someone suffer and die when you have the power to do otherwise seems deeply wrong . So in that sense , if we go down that road . Then , then the belief in God , just seems seems horrendous and a lot of people feel like the what’s called The Problem of Evil is a is a clear cut refutation of at least of a good powerful God there’s there’s some truth in that it released in the sense , I think that there are of course is a lot of suffering . That just doesn’t add up . In fact , even in our great religious traditions . Even in like a book , like the Bible . It’s quite clear like lip-read the book of Joel , you know that yes indeed the suffering doesn’t add up and the people who go around saying like jobs friends that oh it all makes sense and you deserve your suffering Jabbar or in some sense wrong deeply wrong at the same time , though I feel like the problem of Evil misses out on something very important , which is that sense that we wouldn’t even be human without the problem for you walk and so in this sense , the problem of evil . I don’t see is refuting god I see it as posing a deep challenge and posing a deep mystery and that deep mystery we’ve dealt with by thinking of God gods , the site of the mystery , not so much a problem to be solved or or or done away with . I just as to be human is also to confront a mystery camp that we can’t that it’s not about solving it or getting rid of it , this isn’t just about biotechnology it’s it’s it’s it’s about these deeper mysteries . And I think and I think religion takes us to those , I mean it’s kind of funny that suffering can can drive people away from god . But of course for many people suffering as what what brings them to to .
To religion Ashley’s mother is religious she’s she’s she’s a Mormon correct so her her perspective is that , is that is her filter that as is how she sees the that the purpose of Ashley’s presence and the life that she is or isn’t living at home.
Yeah , that’s right then and I think it’s a powerful way of of seeing her in those religious terms because to see Ashley as a soul. Even if you know . But we’re very broken soul but nonetheless as a soul as as someone with that kind of an infinitely precious value but someone who will get poses a very deep mystery for us that that our job is to help and do what we can , but at some level to to get down on our knees and and you know well before that greater mystery .
Said district I have to say a really powerful story you tell about this moment when you were helping out with Ashley and you guys struggled to get her back settled at home and it was kind of traumatic for the moment and which she was cold and it was , it was rough and but it was such a powerful moment I say it would be because you you write about this moment is what you understood just how this is how you put it in the book : how fragile your higher identity was among when you just stared at her and you saw something in there that she wasn’t just a screen as you put it that reference to monitoring just say something about that.
Yeah , well I was I had to get her into the house , I was supposed to take just help out with her work as her mom was away running an errand. I believe in , and you know I just was having trouble getting her in her wheelchair was not going in well and it was called out and you know , so I had to really struggle to kind of lift her up and she was crying out and and and you know tears were running down her face and I was trying to get her adjusted and but I think in some ways and that act of care taking and and her basic needs crying out I’d I’d I you know I I started to really look at her and I didn’t just see her hours you know someone who screamed a lot or as a problem . I saw her as connected to me and I realized my out the very fragile state I man . I mean you know it doesn’t but a bite from a rabid dog girl you know infectious mosquito bite could potentially cancel out my higher consciousness and I wouldn’t be so far from Ashley there and that that helped me in some ways to see her as having that infinite value that I think mom as having to .
Scott Samuelson his book is 7 ways of looking at pointless suffering what philosophy can tell us about the hardest mystery of all we’ll take another break and come back in a moment you’re listening to Radio last. Okay . We .
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This is really a Western for breezy back now to our conversation with philosophy professor Scott Samuelson , we’re talking about his book 7 ways of looking at pointless suffering. Let’s start with number one we should eliminate pointless suffering you you tell the story of John Stuart Mill and maybe we should begin with that sort of circumstance . He finds himself in at the beginning of this chapter . This is in 1826 John Stuart Mill is a very sort of emotionally fragile 20-year-old man in a really deep depression .
Yeah. He was raised with a very strict utilitarian education utilitarianism is the moral philosophy Associated first and foremost , probably with Jeremy Bentham so Mills raise according to this view , that really sufferings flat out bad and the moral life just means eliminating suffering in so far as we can bring about the greatest kind of satisfaction for people . We’ve done the best we can do so sufferings . But a problem and the goal is to solve it , and again , there’s a very powerful modern view maybe at the stills the modern view to do it’s not you know and into our it’s contestants well mill was raised that way and you might think , well if someone’s trying to bring about the greatest happiness for everyone then that would be the best thing possible but ironically that education led mill to a nervous breakdown and he tried to kind of revised utilitarianism I think in light of what he discovered in that break down , and that’s why Milton is a much more interesting version of utilitarian philosophy , then a lot of it that mill recognized the importance of things like poetry and freedom because I think he recognized that they spoke to certain fundamental human goods are .