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A Painful Subject

Two agnostic authors face suffering--and come out at different spots on the faith spectrum.

Controversial biblical scholar Bart Ehrman has a new book out, but this time he's not bent on tackling issues of scriptural discrepancies, as he did in his most (in)famous work, Misquoting Jesus (see Books and Culture's review from 2005). This time, Ehrman founds his agnosticism on the Bible's seemingly equivocal answers to the question, How can a loving God allow terrible things to happen to people?

"I realized I couldn't explain any longer why there could be such pain and misery in the world that was supposedly ruled by an all-powerful and loving God," the religion professor at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told the San Diego Union-Tribune over the weekend. The problem of suffering "put me over the top," says Ehrman. "So, I became an agnostic."

God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer (HarperOne) traces Ehrman's change in convictions about God and Scripture based on his inability to reconcile the goodness of God with the suffering ...

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