Apr 7, 2016 - For centuries people have been tormented by one question above all: If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain? On its mildest level it appeals to everyone’s sense of justice. Specifically, Lewis looks at the Fall of Man and how the great sin was Pride, and once that happened, we, as mankind, we changed and became a “spoiled species.” Man didn’t attain merely a new habit of sin, but a “radical alteration of his constitution” (79). It was his first major Christian work. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object—we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker’s, and even with laughter. For the first, Lewis says Sadists and Masochists are no different, they just isolate and exaggerate an aspect of normal pleasure. He gives a defense of civilizations past and says they were probably just as civilized like us but in different ways. Is this about perspective? But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason. And what he finds there is Hell. The Problem of Pain demonstrates a more distant, less emotional reaction to humanity’s situation, while A Grief Observed reads like a psalm of lament from within pain itself. To be a complete man means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will offered to God: to have been a man – to be an ex-man or ‘damned ghost’ – would presumably mean to consist of a will utterly centered in its self and passions utterly uncontrolled by the will.” He then finishes off suggesting “hell is hell, not from its own point of view, but from the heavenly point of view.”, 4) The fourth objection he states is that no “charitable man” blessed in heaven could stay there while even one human soul was in hell, and if so would he be more merciful than God? 4. Lewis points to Christ who emphasizes not the point of duration but that of finality. He also uses an analogy to quantum physics in that when we try to draw illustrations we are moving further away from reality. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. A good God wants to make people happy. I don’t like it. Therefore, the human spirit moved from being the master of human nature to become a mere lodger or prisoner in its own house. It’s not helpful to discuss the “unimaginable sum of human misery.” 6. So, for this chapter, Lewis shows that belief in Christianity is well founded, using a four-fold argument. But it is not in the least obvious. 1) We are deceived by looking on the outside of things: we should not mistake our inevitably limited utterances for a full account of the worst that is inside. Here I talk about CS Lewis and the problem of pain. It may be we who have invented the “sufferers” by the “pathetic fallacy” of reading into the beats a self for which there is no real evidence. The Problem of Pain - Official Site | CSLewis.com The Problem of Pain C.S. This is God’s love. He blames misattributing kindness to ourselves and the effect of psychoanalysis on the public mind for driving out a healthy sense of shame from our collective minds. In addition to Hell being like a sentence given at a tribunal, Christ says that men prefer darkness to light and that men choose Hell as a final act of cutting themselves off from all things that are not themselves. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. In The Problem of Pain, C.S. He then moves into describing three attributes that all developed religions have and a fourth attribute peculiar to Christianity. Lewis says that he doesn’t think the doctrine of the Fall answers whether it was better for God to create or not to create. And he says it’s a legitimate question to ask why humans are given permission to torture each other. Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another’s. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over — I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. The tame animal is therefore, in the deepest sense, the only “natural” animal—the only one we see occupying the place it was made to occupy, and it is on the tame animal that we must base all our doctrine of beasts. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. (74-75), They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, “this is our business, not yours.” but there is no such corner. He says that the proper aim of any creature is to self-surrender – to offer back the will which we claim as our own, and this necessity is a daily occurrence which is inherently painful. Or if it is ‘just’ to punish individuals for the faults of their remote ancestors. There will still be something like the shaking of a golden mane: and often the good Duke will say, ‘Let him roar again.’”. Lewis says that “the curtain has been rent at one point, and at one point only, to reveal our immediate practical necessities and not to satisfy our intellectual curiosity.”. But God created: He caused things to be other than Himself that, being distinct, they might learn to love Him, and achieve union instead of mere sameness…Even within the Holy One Himself, it is not sufficient that the Word should. (116), “The Divine labour to redeem the world cannot be certain of succeeding as regards every individual soul. "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." He says that the ruthless biological competition has no moral importance: good and evil only appear with sentience. Lewis talks about how we’ve always been searching for heaven. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine of being made “perfect through suffering” is not incredible. The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. He discusses how God makes each of us unique, like a key for a keyhole we are each created for God’s infinite, different love. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives. Many find his work refreshingly objective while also short, conversational, commonsensical, and witty. Also, shame is of value, not as an emotion but for the insight that it provides. The Problem Of Pain by C.s. Lewis. Michael L. Peterson, "C. S. Lewis on the Necessity of Gratuitous Evil," in David Baggett, Gary R. Habermas, and Jerry L. Walls, eds., Arend Smilde, "Something tremendously real: How C. S. Lewis solved "the intellectual problem raised by suffering'", www.lewisiana.nl/christianthinker. He concludes that Science has nothing to say against the doctrine of the Fall, but acknowledges a more philosophical problem. Lewis three times is honest about the horrors of the doctrine, but he believes it. Immediately he shares the Christian answer that humans have used free will to become very bad. Lewis, one of the most renowned Christian authors and thinkers, examines a universally applicable question within the human condition: “If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?” With his signature wealth of compassion and insight, C.S. Lewis presents a very readable and widely accessible solution to this problem, covering the origins of human suffering, incurred in the fall, what divine omnipotence and goodness really mean, and why they allow for the existence of pain in creation, heaven and hell, and a topic not often treated but important - the existence of pain in animals who are in every sense innocent. Lewis concludes the chapter by saying that all answers to objections of hell are themselves a question: “What are you asking God to do?” Whatever it is you would like God has already done. Lewis puts his wages on a God who holds goodness and pain in a paradox. I have already noted the mysterious force of the word “in”. What does C. S. Lewis mean when he says "the doors of hell are locked on the inside"? The Big Idea: A. (94), If I knew any way of escape I would crawl through sewers to find it. An answer to this critical theological problem is found within these pages. Only one email a week, sent Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST. (14), It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God. 1) Many people, Lewis says, object to retributive punishment. ), God’s love is his giving us not what we think we need, but what we actually need. (23), We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free-will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves that carry lies or insults. So what do we do about it? Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can say if the words used here have their common meanings. Lewis addresses each of these, and concludes that, in the end, in hell God leaves prideful man alone, just as man wants. There’s at least eight things to consider to show our sin: 1) We can be deceived if we look only at the outside; 2) We can this it’s “the system” or corporate guilt, and lose our personal guilt; 3) We can have an illusion that time cancels sin; 4) We can believe that there’s safety in number, as if all men doing something makes it not a sin; 5) We should see that different cultures and ages show us our faults; 6) We try to reduce all virus to kindness; 7) We say Holiness is more than moral perfection—but it isn’t less; 8) We try to shift the responsibility (evolution, etc.). If God uses pain to redeem and remedy, this implies some aren’t to be redeemed who won’t have it. In a nutshell, this being a poor summary, Lewis addresses the limits of our understanding specifically concerning the meaning and necessity of pain and the full fruition of free will and love. (XII), In all developed religion we find three strands or elements, and in Christianity one more. C.S. It is not an unimportant question though since all “plausible grounds for questioning the goodness of God is very important indeed.”. Lewis presents a very readable and widely accessible solution to this problem, covering the origins of human suffering, incurred in the fall, what divine omnipotence and goodness really mean, and why they allow for the existence of pain in creation, heaven and hell, and a topic not often treated but important - the existence of pain in animals who are in every sense innocent. (154), If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note. He also says that a finality of judgment must come some time and omniscience would know when. And as I’ve wrestled with this issue in the past, I’ve found beauty in the Jurgen Moltmann’s fearless and raw exploration of the “open wound of life” and also in C.S. A portion of my talk at the Dupage County Historical Society. Lewis responds by first saying that the idea of eternity as a mere prolongation of time is uncertain and offers his metaphor for what eternity might really look like. The Cosmic Significance of Jesus’s Day in the Tomb, Perish or Paradise: “Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise”, Christian, You Must Seek Your Glory (From God, Not From Others), You and I Are Part of the “Them”: Curbing Our Judging of the Culture, During Coronavirus Christ Is Being Proclaimed—And In That We Rejoice, Have God’s Promises about Pestilence Failed? An Abortion Argument to Be Aware of for Our Conversations and Prayers, I must add, too, that the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all. On this latter point, he gives an extend, unique argument for the possibly immortality of tamed animals, finding it in man’s redemption. Though written 50 years ago, The Problem of Pain remains a fresh and relevant Christian response to this most perplexing aspect of the human condition. He gives a few illustrations of this choice then paints a picture of what he guesses actually happened when Man fell. 2. (24-25), By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right. They may be senses that rhyme or correspond rather than a single sense. Love and kindness are not one and the same thing. If human pain is remedial, what about animal pain? It was his first major Christian work. Here he says we don’t fully know, but we do not that there are sentient but not conscious. (105), My own experience is something like this. First, the Numinous exists. This is not just fear, but dread. He notes how biblical ancestors probably meant retribution when they spoke of God’s ‘vengeance’. For doubtless the continually successful, yet never completed, attempt by each soul to communicate its unique vision to all others (and that by means whereof earthly art and philosophy are but clumsy imitations) is also among the ends for which the individual was created. The Problem of Pain C.S. He says that by creating beings with free will God submits to the possibility of such a defeat. To prove it palatable is beyond my design. (113), The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. (111), Christian renunciation does not mean stoic “Apathy”, but a readiness to prefer God to inferior ends which are in themselves lawful. That God can and does, on occasions, modify the behavior of matter and produce what we call miracles, is part of the Christian faith; but the very conception of a common, and therefore, stable, world, demands that these occasions should be extremely rare…Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself. Lewis, however, is a long story that I'll reserve for another post/review. Christianity is not the conclusion of a philosophical debate on the origins of the universe: it is a catastrophic historical event following on the long spiritual preparation of humanity which I have described…In a sense, it creates, rather than solves, the problem of pain, for pain would be no problem unless, side by side with our daily experience of this painful world, we had received what we think a good assurance that ultimate reality is righteous and loving. Either he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type, or else He was; and is; precisely what He said. 4) We must guard against the feeling that there is ‘safety in number’. Lewis distinguishes between pain and evil. The Problem of Pain by Array “But pain insists upon being attended to. He quotes Aquinas and Aristotle who says that suffering and shame, respectively, are not good in and of themselves but as a means to an end. 6) Of all evils, pain is only sterilized or disinfected evil. 1) An experience with the numinous (a sort of awe, dread, and a general sense of experiencing something otherworldly “uncanny”), 3) The numinous is made guardian of the morality. He says heredity and environment might produce this signature but those are only the instruments by which God creates a soul. But I’ll limit myself to five). Then Lewis says, “What is cast (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is ‘remains’. God has had me for but forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. It’s true. The existence of suffering in a world created by a good and almighty God — "the problem of pain" — is a fundamental theological dilemma, and perhaps the most serious objection to the Christian religion. Second, In a world where choice is possible, there must be a neutral field, we can use it for good or ill. (This is one of my favorite chapters from Lewis’ works. It hurts, it’s terrible; I wish I could make it go away forever. Two parts to the chapter. (69-70), I do not doubt that if the Paradisal man could now appear among us, we should regard him as an utter savage, a creature to be exploited or, at best, patronized. In this elegant and thoughtful work, C. S. Lewis questions the pain and suffering that occur everyday and how this contrasts with the notion of a God that is both omnipotent and good. This classical book on suffering is one of the best I have ever read on the issue. Lewis admits that whatever we say about animal pain is purely speculative. 2) While there is a social conscious and corporate guilt, don’t let the idea distract you from your own “old-fashioned guilts” that have nothing to do with the ‘system’. He classifies pain into two senses 1) a physical sensation and 2) any experience, physical or mental, that person dislikes. Lewis then says that he doesn’t believe in the doctrine of Total Depravity on logical and experiential grounds. Lewis points out though that the doctrine doesn’t say the sin was a social sin but a sin against God, an act of disobedience. The first saying God, being above good and evil, produces impartially the effects to which we call good and evil. He says that there was no other doctrine that he wished he could remove more, that it has the support of scripture, Jesus Christ himself, and reason. 3) how can animal suffering be reconciled with the justice of God? He begins by distinguishing between types of animals then distinguishing between sentience and consciousness. this post here for a fuller summary with more quotes, God’s Forgiveness: Sin Is Serious, but So Is Forgiveness, 10 Ways God Lovingly Allows You to Suffer for Your Good, Good Friday, Easter Sunday—What About Saturday? … Others think his writing is heavy with a logic that hits the mark while sometimes going astray. Although admitting that we don’t know the answer to the first question he still offers his guesses. You know them already: they are the same as yours. It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. All matter in the neighborhood of a wicked man would be liable to undergo unpredictable alterations. The first answer, then, to the question why our cure should be painful, is that to render back the will which we have so long claimed for our own, is in itself, wherever and however it is done, a grievous pain…Hence the necessity to die daily: however often we think we have broken the rebellious self we shall still find it alive. (149), I am considering not how, but why, He makes each soul unique. In this, then, Christianity is the culmination of what human history was leading up to. The change which man had undergone was not parallel to the development of a new organ or a new habit; it was a radical alteration of his constitution, a disturbance of the relation between his component parts, and an internal perversion of one of them. Lewis postulates that maybe this world is not the ‘best of all possible’ universes but the only possible one. But over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child — he will take endless trouble—and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. Man has the capacity not only to feel pain, but to anticipate pain 4. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. We lack the first condition for understanding what He is talking about. Other times might have been more courageous or chaste but God was not content with them, so why should he be content with us. And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. (12), The fourth strand or element is a historical event. But I would very much encourage you to read any of the Lewis’ quotes. Pain hurts. He says humans are sentient but unconscious when they are sleepwalking. Until you step off the plane of the picture into the large dimensions of death you cannot see the gold.”, If this opinion is false, he says, then something better than his opinion is waiting. “Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object” like a man wanting to marry the woman he loves. (18), Does this mean an inevitable element of evil (in the form of pain) in any possible world? He then reviews the story from Genesis 3 and follows it with an argument saying that we cannot call our early ancestors more ‘savage’ than we are today. Free download or read online The Problem of Pain pdf (ePUB) book. In his writing, Lewis shows an unrivalled skill in combining penetrating insight, clear grasp of essentials, and a warmly human common sense. Third, pain teach us self-sacrifice and that we’re finally acting for God’s sake. Lewis says that the problem of pain is insoluble if we attach a “trivial meaning to the word ‘love’”. This chapter…is about you and me” (131). The Problem of Pain “Such a sin requires no complex social conditions, no extended experience, no great intellectual development. The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis says that if the popular meanings attached to the words are the best or only possible then the problem is unanswerable. He calls this “the problem of pain.” Traditionally many have used the term theodicy. Lewis begins with the problem: “If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, He would be able to do what He wished. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. He finishes his response to this objection by saying “to condone an evil is simply to ignore it, to treat it as if it were good.”. (I will be citing the copy of The Problem of Pain printed by Harper Collins.). He says that pain is inherent in a world where souls meet and souls acting wickedly towards each other probably accounts for four-fifths of the World’s pain. He then takes a turn and asks how, if the world is so bad, did humans ever attribute it to a benevolent deity. He calls this “the problem of pain.” Traditionally many have used the term theodicy. If “the sufferings of this present world are not worth comparing to glory” (Romans 8:18), then, Lewis argues, in a book about pain we must consider the glories of heaven. He finishes by saying that “all pains and pleasures we have known on earth are early initiations in the movements of that dance… it does not exist for us, but we for it.”, Lewis takes this opportunity to color in some lines using some clinical experiences from a fellow Inkling – Dr. R. Havard. all that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction…Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand. Input your search keywords and press Enter. (124-125), But I notice that Our Lord while stressing the terror of hell with unsparing severity usually emphasises the idea not of duration but of, I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the, The correct description would be “Pain is taking place in this animal”; not as we commonly say, “This animal feels pain”, for the words “this” and “feels” really smuggle in the assumption that it is a “self” or “soul” or “consciousness” standing above the sensations and organising them into an “experience” as we do. Necessarily political, doctrine shares the Christian doctrine of being made “ through! 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