And just a few days after I reviewed Lee Strobel’s apologist arguments for why suffering exists, I (coincidentally) get an email forward from my family. This is the same one I got months and months ago – which was the subject of my very first post. This one proposes a totally different explanation for suffering and evil:
This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen. It’s an explanation other people will understand.
A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects.
When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”
“Why do you say that?” asked the customer. “Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine loving a God who would allow all of these things.”
The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and un-kept.
The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”
“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”
“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”
“Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me.”
“Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don’t go to Him and do not look for Him. That’s why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”
If you KNOW God exists, send this to other people—
If you think God doesn’t exist, then just delete it!
In this explanation, suffering isn’t framed as a character building exercise, instead, it’s framed as something that exists because people don’t go to God to take away their suffering – in the same way the barber takes away long hair. Any amount of thought shows how ridiculous this argument is, though: Christians do suffer. Christians died after painful infections of smallpox, after battles with cancer, in car accidents, in the holocaust, etc etc etc. Heck, medical studies involving prayer show that it has no effect at all. I’m amazed at how popular this is, despite the fact that even a little thought would show how unrealistic it is. Most of google links involve people praising this bad argument. I had to get down to the 28th google link before anyone posted a decent rebuttal. Like I’ve said before: there are plenty of smart people out there, but as soon as people open their mouths about religion, they become incredibly stupid.