General ideas about what is true about life come from all around us — family, the mass media, books. These concepts have often seeped through from current and past thinking for example from politics, philosophy and religion. We absorb such ideas because we tend to be interested in making sense of our lives, why we are here, where we come from, and where we are going, not to mention fathoming the reality of suffering, misfortune, and chaos that we find all around us. But life goes on and we are obliged to make the best fist of it using what values and principles we have learned about and accept. The question arises: Is it better to have conviction or doubt about your ideas?
We hear of thousands of ordinary people who have lost their lives or been severely traumatised by civil war, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, invasion, slavery and so on. Where is the meaning of life in this innocent suffering? If humankind has a humane spirit of care, generosity and goodwill that respects the rights of others, where does social coercion and violent aggression come from? If there is an all-powerful divine force within the universe, why are tyrants and suicide bombers allowed to cause such misery?
Similar questions arise in connection with natural events. Some people in the world, through no fault of their own, have experienced devastating earthquake, like the one in Haiti, not to mention volcanic eruption, tsunami, hurricane, flood, or famine. These events can result in much suffering and many casualties. And then there is disease. Which of us, during the course of our lives, will have to endure serious injury, congenital disability, or progressive, mental or terminal illness?
The creator seems careless about creation. If there is a perfect force that made the natural world, why are there imperfections in nature?