Hi ParkingPlaces, I have no belief in any god, fairy or pixie. In a real situation of the little girl in the well, I know its just a tragic accident, no gods exist to watch her. I was just interested in how believers justify their god(s) allowance of this type of obscenity. It's also a scenario I'm going to put to my religiously deluded family members, I'd just like to hear how other theists explain this. I'm hoping of course that there are theists reading this!
While it is true that certain types of suffering can build character, that is not why God allows evil. God allows evil because mankind chooses not to obey him and he is allowing it to be demonstrated that mankind has need of him.
This is cute and all, but it explains nothing. I am 62 (almost). I have not suffered. Not diddly. I have not been seriously injured, seriously ill, seriously lost in the wilderness with bears on my ass, I have not been robbed, raped, run over, rankled or ruined. I've been an atheist for 50 of those years, and if there were a god big on suffering, I would think he would have tweaked reality a bit and given me cancer, gotten me paralyzed in a car wreck, had my leg cut off, or something, so that I too could suffer in a way similar to the raped little girl or the child paralyzed when drunk daddy gets in a wreck, or someone shot by a jealous husband, or something. But nooooooo, he's left me alone.
And suffering in others. Why is it that one of the baddest people I ever met died instantly when shot by police in a standoff situation, while my aunt, who is quite honestly the sweetest, gentlest person on the planet, who I am sure has never even said the word "darn" or thought one bad thought about another human being, has suffered from Parkinsons Disease for over 25 years. It should have killed her long ago, but she just keeps on ticking. (My aunt is religious, by the way).
So if suffering is so good for us, why is it distributed so unevenly by your god? Why did my friend Judy, very very religious, loose one son via a bee sting and anaphylactic shock, her daughter in a car wreck, have her brother shoot her parents to death over a girlfriend issue (a girl that she introduced her brother to). And she is one of the most religious people I know, and was religious before any of this happened. While little old me, denier of any god whatsoever, with my healthy kids and my non-trauma filled life, have had none of that.
If you can explain, using the "god wants us to suffer" thing, why there are such huge discrepancies in the level of suffering, I would appreciated it. If suffering is for our benefit, and the luck of the draw can keep one from suffering, or plunge on into incredible physical and emotional pain, at random, then is that fair? By fair, I mean my NOT suffering. I'm not getting the full benefit of your god's love and empathy because I've never even had broken a wrist. I'm not getting to learn anything about forsaking him, because I'm not suffering as a consequence. I'm just putting along while 19 young firefighters are dying in the southwest, girls are getting critically inured in hang gliding accidents, people are dying on their tractor in a 4th of July parade, others lost limbs to firecrackers. And certainly, during the last few days, some soldiers in Afghanistan have been killed or injured, etc.
Now if you look at it as a "law of averages" thing, it all makes sense. Without a heavenly force behind the good and the bad in this world, the disparity falls into line with reality quite quickly. Without a god, the various degrees of suffering available to us humans will, because shit happens at various levels, be unequally distributed. There will be good people who suffer hardly at all, and others who have to spend a couple years in rehab after being burned over 80% of their body. There will be bad people who die of old age, in their sleep, never having been sick or injured or otherwise inconvenienced a single day of their life.
Suffering distributed unfairly and without regard to anything but happenstance is a crap-ass lesson, because nothing is learned from it. Suffering that just happens because life contains some, and living beings experience some, well, that makes more sense. About a trillion times more sense.
Suffering and other woes happen. If you want to foist it off on a loving god and his lax oversight in such things, go right ahead. Just make sure you never ask "why" when someone you know or hear about either suffers when they shouldn't or doesn't' suffer when they should. Because otherwise you might start suffering doubts, and we all know how that might turn out.