@SoupyCat: I must say that you have asked me one of the hardest questions of all time! Questions on how missionaries and preachers use psychological techniques to manipulate believers would at least have been far simpler to answer, LOL!
As I said… greater minds than me have struggled with this. The quotation which comes to mind is:
“A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt.
A more prosaic way to look at belief is this:
Three men go for a walk. They climb a mountain and see a beautiful view. Simuntaneously, they all wonder about this view.
A says that, whilst he believes in evolution, and the fact that he understands the science behind why the sky is blue, etc etc, it is all insufficient to explain why he, as the entity which he understands himself to be, is alive at this moment, right here and now. His very existence is so mind bogglingly improbable [just think about all the odds against your being born at all, as the biological entity which you are, and you can see his point] that he feels, in that moment, that there is a higher power.
B can see A’s point, but says that they are unsure. After all, if the universe is infinite, surely there are infinite possibilities for this type of thing? Nevertheless. B is on the fence. They see the improbability, but do not think that it is, in itself, sufficient to explain their existence.
C says that they are simply all the winners in a game of cosmic chance, and that anything is possible within an infinite universe… especially one which has evolved to create conditions suitable for carbon based life forms [itself an improbability… however, once carbon based life becomes a possibility then the odds for intelligent life become sharply reduced]. They are the lottery winners of the universe. Nothing more is required than a belief in chance.
This story is about belief in a higher power… it is not necessarily about suffering…
However, the two are connected. If you, for whatever reason, are disposed to take A’s position, then you must explain suffering. However, if you are C, then you needn’t have to. Therefore, only a believer must explain suffering… kind of hard on the believer, seeing as they cannot choose whether or not to believe (at least, under my personal theology).
Either way, the person explaining is starting from a position and then looking to explain it… not starting from evidential facts, and looking to create a belief from there….
Part of this gulf is that I believe in the concept of “personal conversion”. This is the idea that you may be raised in a faith, but this means nothing until you have a moment where you look in the mirror and say “actually, yeah… I do believe in this stuff” or “nah… I get the theory, but I don’t believe it”.
I am also prejudiced because I have had what I would call “religious experiences”. I had the privilige to discuss this with @Brielle on another thread. She and I do not have the same theology… but we have both had similar experiences in terms of ‘hearing G-d’s voice’. Hearing her say that she had had similar experiences, unbidden, meant a lot to me. Bear in mind that we do not discuss stuff like this publically in England. We are British, and that means that we keep the peace by keeping our mouths shut. We don’t discuss religion in public. These boards are often a release for me.
Because I believe in personal conversion, I also don’t agree with infant baptism, etc etc. Faith must be freely chosen to have any meaning. DH feels differently.
If we have personal conversion, then we must have the abillity to select from options available to us. How can we make any moral decisions unless we have the option? Equally, how can we improve as a species without the ability to make a choice? Can good exist without evil? Can black exist without white?