Humans do not have a unique capacity to “rise above suffering.” Every animal rises above suffering. It has to, if it is to live and leave offspring. It’s ADAPTIVE to be resilient! Any dog who hobbles along on three legs after an accident is rising above suffering. How are we humans different? We have big brains that can mentally come to terms with suffering, but that’s adaptive too. It’s certainly not evidence of “God’s love for us,” much less for a god itself. It’s better evidence for evolution, for those individuals who couldn’t rise above suffering left no offspring. Ergo we cope, both mentally and physically.
Sullivan goes on to talk about the terrible diseases that afflicted his loved ones, and for that he has my deepest sympathy. But even atheists recover from such traumas.
One feels as if one is talking past someone.
Yes, resilience is obviously built into our genetics, but my point was the unique ability to transcend suffering, not just endure it. That requires a mind that renders humans uniquely self-conscious, which has led to inquiries into ultimate meaning that, so far as we can tell, no animal experiences in the same way. Many survive suffering - most, in fact. The question is whether it is overcome, rather than endured. For that, something beyond mere physical processes are necessary. Which is where religion has its place.
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