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The Problem of Pain

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  28,499 Ratings  ·  1,033 Reviews
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
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by HarperCollins (first published 1940)
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Sheila Myers From my understanding after reading the book, I believe Lewis is talking mostly about the mental aspect although I'm fairly certain he's including all…moreFrom my understanding after reading the book, I believe Lewis is talking mostly about the mental aspect although I'm fairly certain he's including all forms of pain. Other readers may have opinions that differ from my own.(less)
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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
May 17, 2015 Louize rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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,
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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
Jun 01, 2007 RC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It says something that after so many years C. S. Lewis is still one of the foremost Christian apologists of our time. The Problem of Pain is a difficult question every religion has to deal with, and one which has been especially difficult for Christianity. Some religions have the luxury of explaining pain as something deserved - a result of bad behavior from a previous life, or perhaps pain and suffering are caused by a malevolent deity in opposition to a good and loving God. Christianity has no ...more
Jarrod Jenkins
Nov 20, 2008 Jarrod Jenkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Apology for the existence of pain and suffering. Lewis's comfortable, easy style speaks to me in most all of his books. This is no exception.

Memorable quotes:

"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. When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Do we not rather then first begin to care?
Jan 16, 2011 Kjersti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I absolutely loved this book. I laughed, I blurted out loud "HA!"s between classes and generally forgot about time and place. It's very, VERY good book. My only concern with this review is on my side; I had a goal to get through it in three days, which I did. Thus, there were some parts I read through without the attention I probably should have devoted to it. I don't usually like writing reviews where the fault is with me; but alas, here I am.

As for content, CS Lewis has, as always, very well t
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
*Just* as good as Mere Christianity, but not quite as easy to understand. I would say that this book is probably more relevant in our culture now than when it was first published.
I would recommend this book to absolutely everyone, because it seeks to give answers to questions that everybody asks at some point.

The idea behind this book is "why do we have pain in our life?" or more specifically, "If God is supposed to be good, and powerful, and "in charge," why does He allow suffering?" If you'r
Jul 06, 2014 Winston rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apologetics
CS Lewis is held by many to be the premier Christian apologist of the 20th century. Unless one is morbidly naive, or has yet to encounter the counterarguments to Christianity in particular and theism in general, I honestly cannot see where his appeal lies.

How CS Lewis should have died.

The Problem of Evil is an insurmountable one for Christians (and all other theists who believe in a perfectly loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god). There have been inten
Jan 22, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c-s-lewis
This book was a really interesting and poignant analysis of pain and the Christian response to it. I read it alongside A Grief Observed because I wanted to know if Lewis's "intellectual" answers stood alongside his "emotional" ones. (That is one of the greatest oversimplifications of either book I could possibly make but that is how I started out.) I quickly realized the two are almost incomparable. They aren't intended to be comparable. While A Grief Observed was a heart-wrenching and
Great discussion, but still so many unanswered questions. Reread in April 2015. Reread again June 2016.

You can tell this is one of Lewis's early books. Written in 1940, I could feel that he hadn't worked out a few of the specifics within his beliefs on Christianity yet. And some of his other ideas I flat-out disagree with (so sad to me whenever I see him trying to cram in Darwinian macro-evolution and discredit the creation story).

I can see why many feel inevitably dissatisfied with this read. B
Feb 27, 2015 Elevetha rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
4.5 stars. Nearly perfect.

One of my favorite quotes (not from the chapter "Heaven", in case you were wondering.)

"One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.”

I started reading this on a
Victoria Mars
1- Pensé que nunca iba terminar este libro.

2- Me costó introducirme totalmente en la lectura. No sé si es por la traducción o que Lewis se fue por las ramas y me costó seguirlo.

3- Tiene toda la razón al declarar que es más fácil decir que a uno le duele una muela a que uno diga que tiene el corazón roto. Los dolores "mentales" son objeto fácil de burlas o escepticismo.

4- Hace dos días en Chile un hombre si tiró literalmente a la jaula de los leones del zoológico de la capital. Dos leones resulta
Jan 08, 2013 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the fourteen Lewis books that I've read (the others being The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Space Trilogy, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce), this is definitely the one of which I hold the most conflicted opinion. So much of what he said about the way the Lord uses difficulties in the lives of men to produce good in and for them, and about how dying to self is the only path to genuine life, was so true, and so well and beautifully expressed -- but I have huge ...more
First read September 12-14, 2001. The problem of pain is that it isn't a problem in the way we think it is when we first begin to look at the entire subject. The book reminded me of looking at the negative image of a familiar picture.

If I thought to read about pain to seek its alleviation, I might have saved myself the trouble. In my second reading of The Problem of Pain I was again surprised and impressed by Lewis. I could highlight most of the text. He pulls no punches, cuts me no slack. I lik
Maureen Wagner
Jan 25, 2009 Maureen Wagner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As usual, Lewis's book doesn't disappoint. He gives interesting Christian perspectives on suffering without resorting to trite comments of "turn the other cheek" and "if God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it". A very worthwhile read, especially for Christians and C.S. Lewis fans.
Mar 02, 2014 BrokenTune rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Review was first posted on Booklikes:

I first read The Problem of Pain when I was an impressionable teenager in search of the meaning of life. How I got to C.S. Lewis, however, is a long story that I'll reserve for another post/review.

Anyway, I loved the The Problem of Pain when I first read it. I couldn't put it down.

When I started clearing my bookshelves last year in attempt to de-clutter, I came across my old and dusty copy of the book again and started
Chad Warner
Lewis addresses the problem of pain, which he describes in this way: "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."

As a Christian, I've often wondered about this issue, especially when friends are diagnosed with cancer or the country suffers terrorist attacks. It's a difficult question, and although I accept the explanation thr
This was my 50th read of the year, and it should have been my first. Well, I also read Mere Christianity this year, so perhaps this should have been my second. At any rate, wow. I was reading someone else's reviews (of a different book -- I don't remember which) where they stated that they only give 5 stars to "life changing" books. That is indeed what I am doing in this case, or at least, what I hope I am doing since only time will tell if my life has really been changed.

My wife has a chronic i
Julie Davis
Nov 10, 2014 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there is a God, then why is there so much suffering and pain in the world?

This is a common problem brought up by atheists and C. S. Lewis says it was a problem for him before he became Christian. Somehow it's not a question that ever bothered me whether I believed or didn't. So I welcomed the premise of the book since that's a question that always stops me in my tracks. I also was happy to see my library had it available on audio.

This is one of those books that pulls no punches. In his tradem
Mike (the Paladin)
One of the questions many Christians hear often is, "If there is a good and omnipotent God how can He allow pain and suffering?"

Here C.S.Lewis gives a cogent discussion of this "problem". While it will not satisfy all I suppose (especially in cases where the questioner doesn't wish to be satisfied) I believe for the thinking reader there will be some insight.

I know that for most Christian believers there is a great deal of insight and and some discussion of questions that most of us have run u
Jan 18, 2016 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't agree with everything, but still, there's a lot of good to be learned from it. I find it interesting that the more I read of Lewis's nonfiction the more I understand of his fiction.
Sep 06, 2007 Wayno rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one really
Shelves: religiousthemed
Very difficult work to follow, because of the language used. It not common english. For example, he overuses the word "numinious" which merely means "supernatural." Why use a word no one's familiar with?

Lots of word spins. The only real meat and potatoes is that sometimes Humans lock horns with God on the issue of self-sufficiency. God does everything to destroy our self-sufficiency, so we are dependent on him alone. That was the meat and potatoes I took from the book (on page 96 of the paperbac
Jan 08, 2016 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, CS Lewis amazes me.

In ten chapters, he

• describes the different kinds of pain, defines each type, presents human complaints and objections to why pain exists, and how a "good God" can really be good if He allows his created creatures to be subjected to pain,
• presents Biblical reasons for the existence of pain,
• discusses the actual benefits of the "horror" of pain, etc.

He really made me think about what pain has to do with things like justice and goodness. I've also never consider
Timothy Stone
May 03, 2016 Timothy Stone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In C. S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain, the author deals with how Christians confront the issues of suffering and pain. This is important, because, as Randy Alcorn points out in his recent book, If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (which is very much in the same vein of logic and theology as Lewis in Problem), this issue is the one that challenges many people, and causes them to doubt God's existence, goodness, or power. I can see why, and if we are honest, we all can.

You see,
Jun 01, 2012 Alana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-living
I can add no further review to any works of C. S. Lewis than other far more intelligent minds have already said but as for my personal response, I found it very thought-provoking, in such a way that I will have to read it again to really understand the depth of everything he has to say. The issue is so deep and all-consuming for humanity and Lewis' approach so detailed that I cannot possibly take it in all at once. He unabashedly asks tough questions and explains logically his positions so that ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Problem of Pain by C.S Lewis is a very well written book. Many Christians struggle with the problem of pain. They ask themselves... if God is so good and powerful, why is there pain in the world? Lewis offers many points to this argument. This book was very difficult to read. I often had to re-read it two or three times in order to truly understand it. The language used was very uncommon and complex. But as challenging as this text was, I believe it is an important book to read. It offered s ...more
May 23, 2016 Alexander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Lewis' approach on "the Problem Of Pain", which I know is a troublesome subject when it comes to the case of Christianity and God's existence. Lewis claims to write as a layman but the work is the one of a well educated apologist.

The book include a lot of Lewis' personal experiences and conceptions about the problem with pain and that's the reason I gave 4 stars and not 5. Many recent books on Apologetics have the tendency to rely on Quantum Physics and different schools of thought and ph
Megan Larson
(Note--this book really hangs somewhere on the under-side of three stars for me. Also, this review is written from an orthodox Christian standpoint--I'm not qualified to offer any other.)
"If God is good, why does he cause or allow us to experience painful circumstances? Perhaps he is not good. Or, perhaps he just isn't powerful enough to protect his creatures from pain." These are the difficult questions, natural to many of us, that C.S. Lewis attempts to address in this book. It is one of his e
Josh Hanke
Feb 08, 2011 Josh Hanke rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had problems staying alert (read: awake) during the first half of the book. The second half picked up a bit, but I still found myself thinking Thank God! once I reached the last ten pages.

Lewis' gift and, in my opinion, sometimes fault is analogizing everything. It is often short, simple and insightful. Sometimes its painfully long and ineffective. His favorite use of grammar has to be the comma. It is difficult to find two sentences in a row without one:

"When I think of pain - of anxiety tha
Ampat Varghese
Jul 30, 2011 Ampat Varghese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most people today know C S Lewis only as the author of the Narnia Chronicles, that singular series of seven fantasy novels centred around the Lion-King Aslan, a thinly disguised representation of Jesus Christ, entering with a bang the space that Graham Greene called “the Pleasure Dome”. And closer watchers of Lewis and his heritage might also recall the 1993 film Shadowlands, loosely based on this Oxbridge Don’s relationship with and marriage to Joy Gresham, who later succumbs to bone cancer.
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  • The Everlasting Man
  • Making Sense Out of Suffering
  • A Christian Manifesto
  • The Cost of Discipleship
  • On the Incarnation
  • Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
  • Basic Christianity
  • The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life
  • The Quotable Lewis
  • Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions
  • The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
  • Can Man Live Without God
  • The Imitation of Christ
  • Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
  • The Spirit of the Disciplines : Understanding How God Changes Lives
CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than th ...more
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“A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.” 3811 likes
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” 1630 likes
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