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Suffering and the vain quest for significance

Question: Many have criticized Pat Robertson's suggestion that the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti was the work of the devil or a form of divine punishment. But if one believes God is good and intervenes in the world, why does God allow innocents to suffer? Why does God allow Haiti to suffer so much? What is the best scriptural text or explanation of that problem you've ever read?

It is the year 2010. Over the last three to four centuries we have amassed a huge amount of knowledge about the Earth and its place in the universe. There is much yet to learn, but the knowledge we have acquired would have astounded our forefathers.

Thanks to marvelously sophisticated technology, itself the result of an accurate understanding of the workings of the universe, humans have walked on the moon. We have landed explorer robots on Mars, and have photographed the nucleus of Halley's Comet, the surface of Betelgeuse and new planetary systems forming in Orion. We know the approximate composition of the individual planets and comets, we know the approximate number of stars in our galaxy and of galaxies in our universe. We know the size of the universe, and its age, and the forces that drive its expansion. We know which stars are hot and which are cool, which ones are new and which are ancient beyond all imagining. We have detected planets in other solar systems, and know their size and the shape of their orbit, and whether it is possible that they contain any of the chemical prerequisites for life. Back on our own planet, we know how it was formed, and when. We can read its history, inscribed forever in the rocks. We know what forms its surface and the underlying mantle, and can make an informed guess at what makes up its core. We know how life evolved from its earliest, infinitely primitive forms into the staggering array of species we see around us today. We know what causes night and day, the seasons, and the tides. We can predict to the minute when the next solar eclipse will take place, and from where it will be visible.
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