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I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of life. In particular, I could no longer explain how there can be a good and all-powerful God actively involved with this world, given the state of things. For many people who inhabit this planet, life is a cesspool of misery and suffering. I came to a point where I simply could not believe that there is a good and kindly disposed Ruler who is in charge of it.

Bart Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman (b. 1955) American Biblical scholar, author
God’s Problem, ch. 1 (2008)
Added on 28-Mar-24 | Last updated 28-Mar-24
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If there is an all-powerful and loving God in this world, why is there so much excruciating pain and unspeakable suffering? The problem of suffering has haunted me for a very long time. It was what made me begin to think about religion when I was young, and it was what led me to question my faith when I was older. Ultimately, it was the reason I lost my faith.

Bart Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman (b. 1955) American Biblical scholar, author
God’s Problem, ch. 1 “Suffering and a Crisis of Faith” (2008)
Added on 29-Feb-24 | Last updated 29-Feb-24
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People complain about the bad things that happen to em that they don’t deserve but they seldom mention the good. About what they done to deserve them things. I don’t recall that I ever give the good Lord all that much cause to smile on me. But he did.

Cormac McCarthy (1933-2023) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
No Country for Old Men, ch. 4 (2005)
Added on 27-Dec-23 | Last updated 27-Dec-23
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And I have known small cities, who revere
The Gods, made subject to unrighteous power,
Vanquish’d by spears more numerous.

[πόλεις τε μικρὰς οἶδα τιμώσας θεούς,
αἳ μειζόνων κλύουσι δυσσεβεστέρων
λόγχης ἀριθμῷ πλείονος κρατούμεναι.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bellerophon [Βελλεροφῶν], frag. 286 (TGF) (c. 430 BC) [tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Nauck (TGF) frag. 286, Barnes frag. 8, Musgrave frag. 25. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

I know too of small cities doing honour to the gods which are subject to larger, more impious ones, because they are overcome by a more numerous army.
[tr. Collard, Hargreaves, Cropp (1995)]

I see minor states that honor gods subject to greater ones that revere none, for ‘might is right’.
[tr. Stevens (2012)]

I know small cities honouring the gods that obey larger and more impious ones since they are outnumbered in spearmen.
[tr. Dixon (2014)]

I know that small cities honor the gods,
Cities that obey stronger more impious men
Because they are overpowered by the strength of their arms.
[tr. @sentantiq (2015)]

I know of small cities where the gods are honored: yet these same cities are forced to comply with the demands of impious men in larger cities, overpowered by the sheer magnitude of their armament.
[tr. Emerson]

Added on 3-Oct-23 | Last updated 3-Oct-23
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Doth any man assert that there are Gods
In Heaven? I answer there are none: let him
Who contradicts me like a fool, no longer
Quote ancient fables; but observe the fact,
Nor to my words give credence. Kings, I say.
Kill many, but rob more of their possessions.
And violating every sacred oath,
Lay waste whole cities; yet, tho’ they act thus,
Are more successful far than they who lead
In constant piety a tranquil life.

[φησίν τις εἶναι δῆτ’ ἐν οὐρανῷ θεούς;
οὐκ εἰσίν, οὐκ εἴσ’, εἴ τις ἀνθρώπων θέλει
μὴ τῷ παλαιῷ μῶρος ὢν χρῆσθαι λόγῳ.
σκέψασθε δ’ αὐτοί, μὴ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐμοῖς λόγοις
γνώμην ἔχοντες. φήμ’ ἐγὼ τυραννίδα
κτείνειν τε πλείστους κτημάτων τ’ ἀποστερεῖν
ὅρκους τε παραβαίνοντας ἐκπορθεῖν πόλεις·
καὶ ταῦτα δρῶντες μᾶλλόν εἰσ’ εὐδαίμονες
τῶν εὐσεβούντων ἡσυχῇ καθ’ ἡμέραν]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bellerophon [Βελλεροφῶν], frag. 286 (TGF) (c. 430 BC) [tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Nauck (TGF) frag. 286, Barnes frag. 8, Musgrave frag. 25. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Doth some one say that there be gods above?
There are not; no, there are not. Let no fool,
Led by the old false fable, thus deceive you.
Look at the facts themselves, yielding my words
No undue credence: for I say that kings
Kill, rob, break oaths, lay cities waste by fraud,
And doing thus are happier than those
Who live calm pious lives day after day. All divinity
Is built-up from our good and evil luck.
[tr. Symonds (1876)]

Does someone say there are indeed gods in heaven? There are not, there are not, if a man is willing not to rely foolishly on the antiquated reasoning. Consider for yourselves, do not base your opinion on words of mine. I say myself that tyranny kills very many men and dprives them of their possessions; and that tyrants break their oaths to ransack cities, and in doing this they are more prosperous under heaven than men who live quietly in reverence.
[tr. Collard, Hargreaves, Cropp (1995)]

Does anyone assert that there are gods in heaven? There are not, no, there are not, if a man is ready not to swallow whole the old tales. Think it through yourselves, do not make my words the foundation of your opinion. I declare that tyranny kills many, robs them, that tyrants break their oaths to plunder cities, yet in this they prosper more than those whose unassuming habit is true piety.
[tr. Stevens (2012)]

Does anyone say there are gods in heaven? There are not, there are not, unless one wishes to follow ancient wisdom like a fool. [...] I say that tyranny kills many people, deprives possessions, circumvents oaths, and plunders cities. And even though they do these things, they are more fortunate than those living piously day to day in peace.
[tr. Dixon (2014)]

Is there anyone who thinks there are gods in heaven?
There are not. There are not, for any man who wishes
Not to be a fool and trust some ancient story.
Look at it yourselves, don’t make up your mind
Because of my words. I think that tyranny
Kills so many men and steals their possessions
And that men break their oaths by sacking cities.
But the men who do such things are more fortunate
Than those who live each day piously, at peace.
[tr. @sentantiq (2015)]

People ask: Do gods really exist in heaven? No, they do not exist, they really don’t; if any of mankind wishes to avoid being the sort of fool who follows the ancient story. Consider it for yourselves, don’t take my word for it. I say that tyranny destroys multitudes and confiscates their possessions; oath-breakers sack cities; and yet, those who do such things are far more prosperous than those who, day by day, live devoutly and in peace.
[tr. Emerson]

Added on 19-Sep-23 | Last updated 19-Sep-23
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And do you have no other news?
Do you come always only to accuse?
Does nothing please you ever on the earth?

No, Lord! I find it still of precious little worth.
I feel for mankind in their wretchedness,
It almost makes me want to plague them less.

Hast du mir weiter nichts zu sagen?
Kommst du nur immer anzuklagen?
Ist auf der Erde ewig dir nichts recht?

Nein Herr! ich find es dort, wie immer, herzlich schlecht.
Die Menschen dauern mich in ihren Jammertagen,
Ich mag sogar die armen selbst nicht plagen.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 3 “Prologue in Heaven,” l. 301ff (1808-1829) [tr. Arndt (1976)]

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

You've nothing more to say to me?
You come but to complain unendingly?
Is never aught right to your mind?

No, Lord! All is still downright bad, I find.
Man in his wretched days makes me lament him;
I am myself reluctant to torment him.

[tr. Priest (1808)]

Have you no more to say. Do you come here
Always to scold, and cavil, and complain?
Seems nothing ever right to you on earth?

No, Lord! I find all there, as ever, bad at best.
Even I am sorry for man's days of sorrow;
I could myself almost give up the pleasure
Of plaguing the poor things.

[tr. Shelley (1815)]

THE LORD: Have you nothing else to say to me? Are you always coming for no other purpose than to complain? Is nothing ever to your liking upon earth?
MEPHISTOPHELES: No, Lord! I find things there, as ever, miserably bad. Men, in their days of wretchedness, move my pity; even I myself have not the heart to torment the poor things.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

Hast thou naught else to say? Is blame
In coming here, as ever, thy sole aim?
Does nothing on the earth to thee seem right?

No, Lord! I find things there, as ever, in sad plight.
Men, in their evil days, move my compassion;
Such sorry things to plague is nothing worth.

[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

Hast nothing for our edification?
Still thy old work of accusation?
Will things on earth be never right for thee?

No, Lord! I find them still as bad as bad can be.
Poor souls! their miseries seem so much to please 'em,
I scarce can find it in my heart to tease 'em.

[tr. Brooks (1868)]

Hast thou, then, nothing more to mention?
Com'st ever, thus, with ill intention?
Find'st nothing right on earth, eternally?

No, Lord! I find things, there, still bad as they can be.
Man's misery even to pity moves my nature;
I've scarce the heart to plague the wretched creature.

[tr. Taylor (1870)]

Hast thou then nothing more to say?
And art thou here again to-day
To vent thy grudge in peevish spite
Against the earth, still finding nothing right?

True, Lord; I find things there no better than before;
I must confess I do deplore
Man’s hopeless case, and scarce have heart myself
To torture the poor miserable elf.

[tr. Blackie (1880)]

Is that the sum of thy narration?
Hast never aught but accusation?
Still upon Earth is nothing to thy mind?

No, Lord! all things on Earth still downright bad I find.
Mortals their piteous fate upon the rack so stretches,
Myself have scarce the heart to plague the wretches.

[tr. Latham (1908)]

Can you not speak but to abuse?
Do you come only to accuse?
Does nothing on the earth seem to you right?

No, Lord. I find it still a rather sorry sight.
Man moves me to compassion, so wretched is his plight.
I have no wish to cause him further woe.

[tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

Is this all you can report?
Must you come forever to accuse?
Is nothing ever right for you on earth?

No, my Lord. I find it there, as always, thoroughly revolting.
I pity men in all their misery
and actually hate to plague the wretches.

[tr. Salm (1962)]

And that is all you have to say?
Must you complain each time you come my way?
Is nothing right in your terrestrial scene?

No, sir! The earth's as bad as it has always been.
I really feel quite sorry for mankind;
Tormenting them myself's no fun, I find.

[tr. Luke (1987)]

Is that all you have got to say to me?
Is that all you can do, accuse eternally?
Is nothing ever right for you down there, sir?

No, nothing, Lord -- all's just as bad as ever.
I really pity humanity's myriad miseries,
I swear I hate tormenting the poor ninnies.

[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

Why are you telling me all this again?
Do you always come here to complain?
Could there be something good on earth that you've forgotten?

No, Lord! I'm pleased to say it's still completely rotten.
I feel quite sorry for their miserable plight;
When it's as bad as that, tormenting them's not right.

[tr. Williams (1999), l. 293ff]

Have you nothing else to name?
Do you always come here to complain?
Does nothing ever go right on the Earth?

No, Lord! I find, as always, it couldn’t be worse.
I’m so involved with Man’s wretched ways,
I’ve even stopped plaguing them, myself, these days.

[tr. Kline (2003)]

Added on 8-Aug-22 | Last updated 25-Oct-22
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Ripheus fell, a man
Most just of all the Trojans, most fair-minded.
The gods thought otherwise.

[Cadit et Rhipeus, iustissimus unus
qui fuit in Teucris et servantissimus aequi:
dis aliter visum.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 2, l. 426ff (2.426) [Aeneas] (29-19 BC) [tr. Humphries (1951)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Next Ripheus fell, most faithfull to his trust:
Nor in all Troy was known a man more just:
Though by the Gods otherwise look'd upon.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Then Ripheus follow'd, in th' unequal fight;
Just of his word, observant of the right:
Heav'n thought not so.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Ripheus too falls, the most just among the Trojans, and of the strictest integrity; but to the gods it seemed otherwise.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Then Rhipeus dies: no purer son
Troy ever bred, more jealous none
Of sacred right: Heaven's will be done.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Rhipeus, of all Trojans most upright
And just : -- such was the pleasure of the gods!
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 580ff]

Rhipeus falls, the one man who was most righteous and steadfast in justice among the Teucrians: the gods' ways are not as ours.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Fell Rhipeus there, the heedfullest of right
Of all among the Teucrian folk, the justest man of men;
The Gods deemed otherwise.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Next, Rhipeus dies, the justest, but in vain,
The noblest soul of all the Trojan train.
Heaven deemed him otherwise.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 57, l. 508ff]

Then Rhipeus fell;
we deemed him of all Trojans the most just,
most scrupulously righteous; but the gods
gave judgment otherwise.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Ripheus, too, falls, foremost in justice among the Trojans, and most zealous for the right -- Heaven's will was otherwise.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

Then Rhipeus fell, he who of all the Trojans
Was most fair-minded, the one who was most regardful of justice:
God's ways are inscrutable.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Then Ripheus, too, has fallen -- he was first
among the Teucrians for justice and
observing right; the gods thought otherwise.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971)]

And Ripheus fell,
A man uniquely just among the Trojans,
The soul of equity; but the gods would have it
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 560ff]

Rhipeus also fell. Of all the Trojans he was the most righteous, the greatest lover of justice. But the gods made their own judgments.
[tr. West (1990)]

And Ripheus, who was the most just of all the Trojans,
and keenest for what was right (the gods’ vision was otherwise)
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Then Rhipeus,
Of all Teucrians the most righteous (but the gods
Saw otherwise) went down.
[tr. Lombardo (2005), l. 493ff]

Rhipeus falls too, the most righteous man in Troy,
the most devoted to justice, true, but the gods
had other plans.
[tr. Fagles (2006)]

Added on 13-Apr-22 | Last updated 21-Jun-23
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To make sure that my blasphemy is thoroughly expressed, I hereby state my opinion that the notion of a god is a basic superstition, that there is no evidence for the existence of any god(s), that devils, demons, angels and saints are myths, that there is no life after death, heaven nor hell, that the Pope is a dangerous, bigoted, medieval dinosaur, and that the Holy Ghost is a comic-book character worthy of laughter and derision. I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place — not to mention the “ethnic cleansing” presently being performed by Christians in our world — and I condemn and vilify this mythical deity for encouraging racial prejudice and commanding the degradation of women. (This comprehensive statement was arrived at by examining the statutes of those seven states that have remained in the Dark Ages, so that I might satisfy their definitions of blasphemy.)

James Randi
James Randi (1928-2020) Canadian-American stage magician ("The Amazing Randi") and scientific skeptic. [b. Randall James Hamilton Zwinge]
Skeptic Magazine (1995)

Written in an unsuccessful attempt to garner an official charge of blasphemy from any of those seven states that still had such laws on the books.
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It was easier for me to think of a world without a creator than of a creator loaded with all of the contradictions of the world.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French author, existentialist philosopher, feminist theorist
Quoted in “Toward a Hidden God,” Time (8 Apr 1966)
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There is only one question which really matters: why do bad things happen to good people?

Harold S. Kushner (b. 1935) American author, rabbi
When Bad Things Happen to Good People, ch. 1 (1981)
Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-17
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The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil, of pain, and hunger, and mosquitoes and silly people

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1830-08-18)
Added on 6-Jul-16 | Last updated 27-Mar-23
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O stranger, cease thy care;
Wise is the soul, but man is born to bear;
Jove weighs affairs of earth in dubious scales,
And the good suffers, while the bad prevails.
Bear, with a soul resign’d, the will of Jove;
Who breathes, must mourn: thy woes are from above.

[‘ξεῖν᾽, ἐπεὶ οὔτε κακῷ οὔτ᾽ ἄφρονι φωτὶ ἔοικας:
Ζεὺς δ᾽ αὐτὸς νέμει ὄλβον Ὀλύμπιος ἀνθρώποισιν,
ἐσθλοῖς ἠδὲ κακοῖσιν, ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν, ἑκάστῳ:
καί που σοὶ τάδ᾽ ἔδωκε, σὲ δὲ χρὴ τετλάμεν ἔμπης.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 6, l. 187ff (6.187-190) (c. 700 BC) [tr. Pope (1725), l. 227ff]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Stranger! I discern in thee
Nor sloth, nor folly, reigns; and yet I see
Th’ art poor and wretched. In which I conclude,
That industry nor wisdom make endued
Men with those gifts that make them best to th’ eye;
Jove only orders man’s felicity.
To good and bad his pleasure fashions still
The whole proportion of their good and ill.
And he, perhaps, hath form’d this plight in thee,
Of which thou must be patient, as he free.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

You seem to be a good man and discreet,
But Jove on good and bad such fortune lays,v Happy or otherwise, as he thinks meet;
And since distress is fallen to your share,
You must contented be to suffer it.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 178ff]

Since, stranger! neither base by birth thou seem’st,
Nor unintelligent, (but Jove, the King
Olympian, gives to good and bad alike
Prosperity according to his will,
And grief to thee, which thou must patient bear,)
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 233ff]

Stranger, who seemest neither vile nor vain,
Zeus both to good and evil doth divide
Wealth as he listeth. He perchance this pain
Appointed; thou thy sorrow must sustain.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 25]

Nor vice, nor folly marks thee -- and great Jove
In high Olympus thron'd doth this world's good
To men mete out, the wicked and the just,
E'en as to Him seems best: and this thy lot
He haply hath assign'd;' and 'tis for thee
With patient soul to bear it.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 289ff]

Sir guest! since thou no sorry wight dost seem;
And Zeus himself from Olympus deals out weal
To the good and band: -- to each as it pleaseth him:
And somehow he hath sent these things to thee;
So it becomes thee to endure them wholly.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Stranger, forasmuch as thou seemest no evil man nor foolish -- and it is Olympian Zeus himself that giveth weal to men, to the good and to the evil, to each one as he will, and this thy lot doubtless is of him, and so thou must in anywise endure it.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

O guest, forsooth thou seemest no fool, and no man of ill.
But Zeus the Olympian giveth to menfolk after his will,
To each, be he good, be he evil, his share of the happy day;
And these things shall be of his giving; so bear it as ye may.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Stranger, because you do not seem a common, senseless person, -- and Olympian Zeus himself distributes fortune to mankind and gives to high and low even as he wills to each; and this he gave to you, and you must bear it therefore.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Stranger, you appear to be a sensible, well-disposed person. There is no accounting for luck; Zeus gives prosperity to rich and poor just as he chooses, so you must take what he has seen fit to send you, and make the best of it.
[tr. Butler (1898), rev. Power/Nagy]

Stranger, since thou seemest to be neither an evil man nor a witless, and it is Zeus himself, the Olympian, that gives happy fortune to men, both to the good and the evil, to each man as he will; so to thee, I ween, he has given this lot, and thou must in any case endure it.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

Stranger -- for to me you seem no bad or thoughtless man -- it is Zeus himself who assigns bliss to men, to the good adn to the evil as he wills, to each his lot. Wherefore surely he gave you this unhappiness, and you must bear it.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

"Sir," said the white-armed Nausicaa, "your manners prove that you are no rascal and no fool; and as for these ordeals of yours, they must have been sent you by Olympian Zeus, who follows his own will in dispensing happiness to people whatever their merits. You have no choice but to endure."
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Stranger, there is no quirk or evil in you
that I can see. You know Zeus metes out fortune
to good and bad men as it pleases him.
Hardship he sent to you, and you must bear it.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

My friend, since you seem not like a thoughtless man, nor a mean one,
it is Zeus himself, the Olympian, who gives people good fortune,
to each single man, to the good and the bad, just as he wishes;
and since he must have given you yours, you must even endure it.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

You, stranger, since you do not seem to be
mad or malicious, know that only he --
Olympian Zeus -- allots felicity
to men, to both the noble and the base,
just as he wills. To you he gave this fate
and you must suffer it -- in any case.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

"Stranger," the white-armed princess answered staunchly,
"friend, you're hardly a wicked man, and no fool, I'd say --
it's Olympian Zeus himself who hands our fortunes out,
to each of us in turn, to the good and bad,
however Zeus prefers ...
He gave you pain, it seems. You simply have to bear it.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

"Stranger, you do not seem to be a bad man
Or a fool. Zeus himself, the Olympian god,
Sends happiness to good men and bad men both,
To each as he wills. To you he has given these troubles,
Which you have no choice but to bear.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 191ff]

Stranger -- because you seem neither base nor without understanding
Zeus himself, the Olympian, gives out fortune to mankind,
both to the base and the noble, to each one just as he wishes;
so he has given you this, yet nevertheless you must bear it.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

Since your manners show you are not a bad man or a fool -- it is Olympian Zeus himself who assigns good fortune to men, good and bad alike, as he wills, and must have sent you your personal misfortune -- and you must just endure it.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

Stranger, you do not strike me as either a rogue or a fool. It is Olympian Zeus himself who dispenses prosperity to men, to both good and bad, to each as he wishes; he must surely have sent you these troubles, and you must bear them as you may.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

Well, stranger, you seem a brave and clever man; you know that Zeus apportions happiness to people, to good and bad, each one as he decides. your troubles come from him, and you must bear them.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

Stranger, you seem neither malicious nor witless: but it's Zeus, the Olympian in person, who bestows good fortune on men, the good and the bad, to each as he wills; I suppose he chose this lot for you, and you just have to bear it.
[tr. Green (2018)]

Stranger, you don’t seem to be a wicked man,
or foolish. Olympian Zeus himself
gives happiness to bad and worthy men,
each one receiving just what Zeus desires.
So he has given you your share, I think.
Nonetheless, you must still endure your lot.
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 241ff]

Added on 30-Jun-10 | Last updated 9-Dec-21
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God doth not promise here to man that He
Will free him quickly from his misery;
But in His own time, and when He thinks fit,
Then He will give a happy end to it.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) English poet
“God’s Time Must End Our Trouble,” Hesperides, # 252 (1648)
Added on 7-Oct-09 | Last updated 5-Apr-24
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It is not so much the suffering as the senselessness of it that is unendurable.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet

Paraphrased by Nicolas Berdyaev, The Destiny of Man, 2.2.5 (1931) [tr. Duddington (1955)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Dec-14
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Rabbi Jannai said: “It is beyond our power to explain either the prosperity of the wicked or the afflictions of the righteous.”

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
The Mishnah (c. AD 200)
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