Some, though not all, believers state that God tests individuals, by making them experience suffering: it’s one possible resolution to the problem of evil.
I don’t know how widespread this idea is, I always thought it was fairly unpopular, but I’ve just seen a few Christians express the idea, so I thought it merited a mention.
Apparently one reason why evil exists is because God desires to test individuals: and there’s some scriptural evidence for this in several religions: such as the classic tale of Abraham.
Unfortunately, the whole idea raises more questions than it answers.
For one, shouldn’t God already know how that person would react? Omniscience, and simple thought, after all: the tests are pointless as God already knows the outcome.
Second, really? Is God so powerless that the only way to test people is to make them suffer? That’s just pathetic, in all honesty. Assuming of course that other kinds of tests occur, even just consciously making some people suffer is sadistic, and there is no way around that.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here, with number three: why? What do these tests show? Trust in God, perhaps? Even assuming that God doesn’t know the results of the test, (despite supposed omniscience), the very idea of this is petty, and cruel, and supremely self-defeating.
To elaborate on that last point: what is God to test? How about strength of faith? Bear in mind that trait can be replaced by whatever you need for the following argument, with just a little tweaking, for most of what I think these ‘tests’ could be about. Also, let’s look large scale: though the point is relevant somewhat for life on Earth, let’s examine things at the Pearly Gates.
Person B sees themselves as a Christian; and in life, their faith is tested. If it is too weak, they lose their faith: and are not allowed through the pearly gates. Let’s imagine the same person: but they are not tested. They go to heaven, and what?
Are they let in, for believing, even if their faith is too weak? Or cast out, even though they believe?
Two major possibilities for this specific scenario: either the tests are pointless and just lead to someone suffering more in life, or God is consciously making it so more people will be sent to hell.
With a little tweaking, as I’ve said, the argument can be made to apply to different things: such as dedication, or trust in God. Testing faith however is simply one of the more common points I’ve seen.
Is this your God? Sadistic, actively increasing the amount of suffering in the world, or making it so someone will go to hell? Really?
And if not, why does He supposedly test people?