Argument from suffering

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Argument from suffering runs: [1]

  1. Evil and suffering exists
  2. Evil and suffering must have a purpose
  3. God is the only possible explanation, since no other purpose is apparent.
  4. Therefore, God exists
"Suffering is not without meaning in spite of its mystery. [2]"

One of the best known variants is the argument from natural disasters.


Counter arguments

Argument from ignorance

Since other explanations or purposes for suffering have not be ruled out, this is an argument from ignorance.

Suffering is an interpretation

Suffering is an interpretation of affairs by human observers. It does not mean suffering is a real thing that requires an explanation. Imagining human interpretations are real things falls into the projection fallacy.

There is also little evidence that all suffering has a purpose. Without that, the premise is wishful thinking.


The argument claims that suffering must have a purpose but on the other hand that no purpose is apparent. This is a contradiction. A simple way to resolve the contradiction is to admit that some or all suffering has no purpose.

Wrong God

This argument implies that God is evil, which is not usually the intent of an apologist.

Which God?

Main Article: Which God?

No particular God or religion is supported by the argument.

Begging the question

If suffering has a purpose, as stated in a premise, it directly follows that an entity that establishes that purpose (God) must exist. The argument assumes its conclusion in a premise and is therefore begging the question.


  1. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, 2011
  2. [1]
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