Believers in God don't like the notion of bald punishment but seem happier with the notion that God sends trials and troubles to train and discipline us.  This is the notion of chastisement.  The idea is that bad things happen to us so God works on how we can learn from them and grow in character.

The training suggestion is outrageous because it is men and theologians who expect us to take their word for it that it is true. You would need to hear it from God and get outstanding evidence that he really said it. It is not the kind of thing that should be based on weak evidence or human testimony or philosophy. It is vulgar when the pampered and the well-off religious leader tells you that sickness and depression and infirmity are gifts from God for our betterment. Religion refuses to look at belief in God through the humanitarian lens but likes to present it as being about thinking and philosophy and theology. This hides the inherent vulgarity in the concept of God.
So anyway religion would have you believe that if there is a God the harm we suffer is good for us. Cruelty is a sin only when it is intended to be malicious but if it is intended to make the person a better person then it is good and is doing the person a favour. Obviously, the theory is a charter for total anarchy and worldwide misery. Love becomes treating a person as badly as possible - evil people do tell themselves their actions are for the best in the big picture which is why we call evil boring stupid and banal. If you get the chance to hurt somebody terribly then the chance is given for a greater reason. If God is all-powerful he can make sure the chaos leads to good so the results are his concern and not ours. We understand then how the Church was able to forbid the quarantine of the first AIDS victims. It was so that it would spread and kill off gays and they make themselves feel good about this psychopathic outlook by pretending that it is for their spiritual welfare.
God was evil for making us in such a way that we get and supposedly need much vicious discipline.

We must remember that only a small proportion of suffering is caused by illness and the vast majority of it is caused by other people. God could have put us in a world of fewer bad people but he didn’t so he wants to use the abuse others heap on us. It makes no sense to say then that it is wrong to hurt others. It’s only wrong to do it with the wrong motive.

If it is wrong for us to discipline others to make them holier though they do not want it then how could it be seriously wrong when they need discipline? We might be treading on God’s toes but it is nothing serious if we are.

Why don’t all people have the same amount of sickness in their lives? The answer would have to be that all people are not equal in development and so cannot respond in the same degree of holiness to suffering. This makes the theory more malevolent and not less for the bad are supposed to need the suffering.

Nobody teaches that God sends suffering to make us good in every way. He wills something bad to make us work on say our patience with a child or something. If the theory is true, then a really good God would tell us what we need to change about ourselves and what he wants changed so that it might not be necessary for him to try and change us by force by sending suffering. Religion says he has told us but we need to be told directly by God to waken us up.

If you change because God hurts you then you are changing partly or fully to avoid further pain. If you never suffered that pain and changed, it would be better because you changed more because it was right to change than you would if you had suffered. I mean the goodness of the change is reduced by the fact that the wish to avoid pain took the place of the wish to for performing improved moral goodness. Suffering always increases unholiness. Thus the theory is destroyed and showed to be callous.

Believers in God these days believe that the free will he gave us consists of this scheme: environment and heredity and free will result in free actions. In other words, the will is not controlled by anybody or anything and is totally free but the options on the menu that it has to choose from are forced on it. It’s like forcing a free agent into a room leaving him with the choice of whether to break out the door or the window. When a person who needs correction receives a sickness from the Lord for a purpose, the purpose is to give him the choice between change or sickness. If he changes he will not need the discipline of illness. If he changes and not just to avoid sickness then he did not need the discipline in the first place for he is very brave and virtuous and it was not discipline for him but punishment. If he changes to avoid sickness then the sickness will stay and he is asking for it and so he deserves it because God wants him to repent because he loves God and puts God first and not because of self-interest.  Though God would want us to help him it is a sin for him to look for help from others when he has brought the sickness upon himself. The defence is an apologetic for the view that sickness is always punishment.

What sense does it make to say that God allows suffering to discipline us when much of that suffering hits one person and another so obviously in a random fashion? Often the person who never gets the discipline is the one who needs it the most. Religion says that God going after the worst would be like God blackmailing them to be good or better which is why he can’t centre on the worst people for then it would be too obvious that if you become like them you will be disciplined severely too and you will be afraid to sin and he wants you to feel free to sin to see if you will love instead of sin. But he can do this because only he knows who really is the worst. And we don’t. And religion itself believes in moral blackmail (page 45, Christ and Violence) as does the state. The doctrine of Hell would not have been permitted by God to be so popular if he was that worried about our freedom. When the theory leads them to say such hypocritical things how could it be good? The theory would mean that God would make religion better through discipline than anything else because it is his representative. So if you are religious you are in danger of a direct hit of God’s disciplinary actions.
God has to be believed to bring about suffering for a better good. The sick thing about such an idea is that it indicates that suffering should be welcomed! Since suffering is the experience of worthless existence, it is a liar and nothing can justify it. You either get this point or you don't. And naturally you cannot welcome the experience of worthless existence. Suffering is not pain for pain doesn’t stop you being happy but if pain is strong enough it will cause suffering. The suggestion that suffering is good for the soul and God uses it for that purpose says more about the person saying it and believing it than God! If you don't get the point, and no religious person will, then your empathy for suffering is faulty.
The discipline theory has to be rejected entirely because it is easy for me to praise God and condone the suffering of others when I am okay so it increases the very pride that it pretends to obliterate. You say God starves young people to death in Africa and he is right to allow this to happen. But would you like to starve to death or let him do it to you if you could stop him?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses like the notion of God sending suffering to x to train y and to show x and y that he alone matters to them. Its wrongness is apparent from the fact that many people go through life without the suffering that is supposedly required to drive them to the realisation that they really need God. What they need is not God but proper self-esteem and self-respect.

Declaring that some people should suffer more than others as the theory does is inhuman.

It is replied that the more you sin the more you suffer for the more you have to learn. This is untrue for sinners are often better off than anybody else. And if you have to learn how to treat God how can you sin? If you sin you know you have done wrong and have no lesson to learn.
And the reply suggests that when suffering befalls you it is your own fault for not being holy enough. Sympathy would be out of order.

One phase of suffering would teach you the lesson so why do we often suffer again later? God would give us a better memory concerning the lessons of suffering if he existed when we all want to remember what important things we learn.

It is better to let people ignorantly do harm than to hurt them to enlighten them. You don’t beat your children to make them learn a lesson they can learn without it. The theory approves of hurting the innocent.

Suffering would not last long if it were for making us realise things for God has the power to influence our thoughts.

The theory forbids compassion. It says the sufferer can learn the lesson so they have not tried hard enough to learn it for they still suffer meaning they are being accused of bringing their suffering on themselves. To help a sick person is letting yourself be used sinfully and must be a sin. The only help you can give them is to try to help them to see the lessons. Apart from that you may neglect them and not even give them a cup of water.

The theory is an insult to the sick. Yet God must allow suffering to teach us or to discipline us or both. This is seen more easily from the religious and biblical doctrine that the need for God and to love him most or totally is in us all in the first place and that to love God really this way is to fulfil all his requirements. We need a sermon to learn, not suffering.

Jesus said we must love God with all our being so we do not do good to end suffering but to please God. So that is the only lesson, we need to do everything for the sake of God. Anybody who knows it and all Christians are taught it would not suffer if there were a God.

The idea that you need to suffer terribly so that you will know if you serve God not for any benefit he offers but for God himself and for the love of him only is very wrong. Who cares if you know it or not as long as you practice it?

Some say the theory accounts for God letting us do extreme evil. God has to make us totally free so that we will see the awful results of rebelling against him.  The question is, "how could the suffering be worth all that?"  Evil by definition blinds us so extreme evil should not happen.  It has been noticed how seeing evil puts something dark inside the witnesses.


If I need training God will provide it.  But why can't punishment do that?  Why do I call it discipline?  Discipline shouts, "You deserve it" as much as punishment does.  The training cannot work when I am so lacking in integrity and so blind.  To say others around me suffer so I can be of better character is narcissism and is about you trying to use their suffering to get something out of it for yourself.  It is not about you.


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