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[If we take it as axiomatic that an all-powerful God (if He exists) wills us to experience some measure of suffering in this life, does that mean that He’s not all-loving? That suffering is an evil and that good can sometimes come out of evil are two propositions that are rarely denied. According to the 16th century Spanish mystic St Teresa of Avila, ‘In light of heaven the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.’ “Well, that’s just her opinion,” snorts the sceptic. It’s true that it’s just an opinion and that no opinion is infallible. But what she says could be true. Moreover, I think her opinion is credible by virtue of the fact that a sizeable part of the human race has shared it for centuries right up until the present day, including many of its greatest poets, artists, philosophers and men of science. It seems to me, therefore, that the answer to the question ‘Is God all-loving?’ has to be: YES, God is all-loving, provided that our suffering makes possible some benefit that far outweighs whatever evil we have to endure in the short term (which is to say, our earthly existence), and, provided that the benefit can’t be achieved in any other way. However the answer is clearly NO if the reverse is the case.]

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