The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

The Problem of Pain

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? And what of the suffering of animals, who neither deserve pain nor can be improved by it?

The greatest Christian thinker of our time sets out to disentangle this knotty issue. With his signature wealth of compassion and insight

The greatest Christian thinker of our time sets out to disentangle this knotty issue. With his signature wealth of compassion and insight, C. S. Lewis offers answers to these crucial questions and shares his hope and wisdom to help heal a world hungry for a true understanding of human nature.
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    Manny

    Well, it’s not like I really disagree with C.S. Lewis’s argument here. I just think that the essential points are summed up rather more succinctly in the first few minutes of Monty Python’s “Happy Valley” sketch:

    STORYTELLER: Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lay in a valley far, far away in the mountains the most contented kingdom the world has ever known. It was called Happy Valley, and it was ruled over by a wise old king called Otto. And all his subjects flourished and were happy, and t


    STORYTELLER: Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lay in a valley far, far away in the mountains the most contented kingdom the world has ever known. It was called Happy Valley, and it was ruled over by a wise old king called Otto. And all his subjects flourished and were happy, and there were no discontents or grumblers, because wise King Otto had had them all put to death, along with the trade union leaders, many years before. And all the happy folk of Happy Valley sang and danced all day long, and anyone who was for any reason miserable or unhappy or who had any difficult personal problem was prosecuted under the Happiness Act.

    PROSECUTOR: Caspar Schlitz, I put it to you that you were, on February 5th this year, very depressed with malice aforethought, and did moan quietly, contrary to the Cheerful Noises Act.

    SCHLITZ: I did.

    COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENCE: May I explain, m’lud, that the reason for my client’s behaviour was that his wife had just died that morning?

    [All except the accused laugh uproariously.]

    JUDGE: Members of the jury, have you reached your verdict?

    FOREMAN: Guilty.

    [All laugh again.]

    JUDGE: [donning red nose and trying to stifle giggles] I hereby sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you cheer up.

    [Yet more hearty laughter]


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    Louize

    Jan 19, 2011

    rated it
    really liked it

     · 
    review of another edition

    SPOILERS AHEAD

    Pain posted a serious objection to Christianity (and to Heavenly authority in general), aggravated by claiming that Love is the essence of God. The Problem of Pain focuses on one question, but thoroughly argues on every aspect.

    “If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if He were almighty He would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.”

    In other words, why would an all-knowing,

    Pain posted a serious objection to Christianity (and to Heavenly authority in general), aggravated by claiming that Love is the essence of God. The Problem of Pain focuses on one question, but thoroughly argues on every aspect.

    “If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if He were almighty He would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.”

    In other words, why would an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God allow people to experience pain and suffering?

    Firstly, Lewis set his arguments by identifying God, as conceivable as possible, and his purpose through the subject of divine omnipotence and divine goodness. He argued that since we are beings of free souls and have the luxury of free will, we take advantage of the fixed laws of nature to hurt ourselves and one another. Yet, even though God is omnipotent and can do whatever he pleases, removing pain leads to a meaningless universe.

    “Nonsense remains nonsense even if we talk it about God.”

    “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you will find that you have excluded life itself.”

    God’s idea of good is unlike ours; His moral judgment must, therefore, differ from ours. Where God means love, we only mean Kindness. But love is not mere kindness. Let us have a mental note how much confusion between love and kindness is related to our modern thinking.

    “Kindness cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering”, while Love “would rather see [the loved ones] suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes”.

    Recognizing the distinction between love and kindness illuminates what it means to be the object of God’s love. Because God loves us, he will not rest until we are purely lovable. To not want pain, therefore, is to not want His love.

    “Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere ‘kindness’ which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect, at the opposite pole from Love.”

    Next, he establishes his argument for the total corruption and the sin nature of man, as without a sin nature there is no reason to be corrected. How a bad creature could come from the hands of a good Creator? The most obvious answer is that it did not: man, and the rest of creation, was initially good, but through the abuse of freedom, man made himself an abominable, wicked creature he is now.

    “The world is a dance in which good, descending from God, is disturbed by evil arising from the creatures, and the resulting conflict is resolved by God’s own assumption of the suffering nature which evil produces. The doctrine of the Fall asserts that the evil which thus makes the fuel or raw material of the second and more complex kind of good is not God’s contribution but man’s”.

    Pain, through trials and sacrifices, teaches us to rely on God, to act out of spiritual strength, to act for purely heavenly purpose and to accept our discipleship.

    “Human will becomes truly creative and truly our own when it is wholly God’s, and this is one of the many senses in which he that loses his soul shall find it.”

    If distressful feelings disguise itself as thought, all nonsense is possible- faith in God is challenged, we object to His goodness, and worse, we doubt His existence. All of those seemed valid to a suffering soul, due to the sway of unbearable pain.

    “We are not merely imperfect creatures that need improvement: we are rebels that need lay down their arms”.

    In conclusion then, pain is not a mere influence to make a creature’s submission to the will of God easier. Remembering Prophet Isaiah’s words in the Bible, chapters 46-53, God has called him prior to his birth. He was molded and polished through physical pain, trials and humiliation to be equipped for God’s divine purpose.

    When I first considered reading this book, I asked myself if I am lucid enough to absorb Lewis’ arguments. I ended up quoting him and taking notes more than I usually do. But then, I realized that I am merely to review, not write an abridge version. The Problem of Pain is a difficult read; it is not for the casual reader and you should expect to be intellectually challenged. But the big difficulty is much smaller compared to the bigger lessons within.
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    Traveller

    < -<-<- < -<-<- This or.... This or…this->->-->->- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pPoRn…

    Personally, I lean more towards the latter camp. Lewis does at least make a good, solid, and sophisticated effort to address the problem of: “Why does God allow so much pain and suffering, if He is really a loving God, and if He really does exist?”; – which is why Lewis gets 3 stars, even if I don’t completely agree.

    I remember quite liking his argument at the time I read it

    Personally, I lean more towards the latter camp. Lewis does at least make a good, solid, and sophisticated effort to address the problem of: “Why does God allow so much pain and suffering, if He is really a loving God, and if He really does exist?”; – which is why Lewis gets 3 stars, even if I don’t completely agree.

    I remember quite liking his argument at the time I read it, which was quite some time ago. He seemed to be saying that pain is sent to test a person, to make you stronger, to help you grow spiritually so that you could become a more spiritually evolved and aware person.

    But, I have in the meantime started wondering: on the other hand, what kind of cruel deity would devise such a system, that includes such horrible suffering as the world has seen? Even if it is to make them ‘stronger’, or cause them to grow spiritually.

    Lewis’s argument, IMO, would hold water better if you reckoned re-incarnation into the system. Then it would make more sense to throw obstacles into the path of a soul in it’s evolutionary journey towards Nirvana.

    ..but in the Christian world, where the most common doctrine I have heard, is that all you need to do is to proclaim Jesus as your savior to win an automatic seat in heaven, no need for you to grow spiritually, it doesn’t seem to fit in quite 100%.

    I must admit that I do like the idea of spiritual growth, such as presented in this book, and in The Pilgrim’s Progress, for instance.

    Unfortunately, now that I am older, wiser, and seen more suffering in both myself and others, I’m not quite as inured to Lewis’s arguments, and not quite so eager to welcome pain and suffering.

    PS. After reading a bit of Thomas Aquinas, I realized that Lewis borrows a LOT from him.

    …more