Traveller's Reviews > The Problem of Pain

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
3145526
's review
May 27, 12

bookshelves: philosophy, religion-worldview

< -<-<- < -<-<- 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, 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.
17 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Problem of Pain.
sign in »

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by Angelica (new)

Angelica Well it all goes back to the consequence of sin. The more you sin, the more pain and suffering you will endure.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways 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 then they's no prob-u-lem of pain! They's on'y what you-uns earned, and then they's no point in Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezuuuuussssssssssssss.


message 3: by knig (new)

knig I thought pain was around because we're given free will to muck up everythng around us, and must suffer the consequences. But release from pain is through Jesus. But what do I know, i'm probably an apostate.


message 4: by Traveller (last edited May 27, 2012 09:38AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Traveller Yes, free will is also part of the argument. Thomas Aquinas's and Lewis's ...and I must say that recently I've started to have the distinct feeling that Lewis was cribbing from Aquinas.

You know, this is actually an old review that I accidentally "floated" because I noticed a bit earlier today while looking at my shelves, that the little arrows were causing the entire review to show in italics. After I fixed the problem, I forgot to "undo" the little "show in your feed" box, and...er... there it's jumped up from the bottom of the pile. :P

...anyway, not a review I did well at all, but short of deleting it.. don't have time to redo it, and a while since I read the book. Dang.


message 5: by Ian (last edited May 27, 2012 03:27PM) (new)

Ian Heidin[+]Fisch I don't understand the big idea behind this pain issue, at least in the context of whether God exists.

Maybe, when men invented God, they expected him to end pain and suffering and, by failing to fix everything up, people's faith is diminished?

But this would equate to Heaven on Earth, wouldn't it?

Whether or not you believe in God, pain and the causes of pain exist.

Men invented God to be an explanation and a comforter.

It's a bit much to expect him to be a Great Tradesman as well.

Ultimately, it's up to humans to prevent the preventable pain and suffering, and not simply hope that a God will do it for them.

We have to expect less of our gods. Whether or not we believe in gods, we have to expect more of ourselves.

Where is Paul? He knows all about this stuff.


message 6: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 Have you read The Screwtape Letters?


Traveller Sadly I'm very busy today, but I'm going to jump into this discussion tomorrow. :)

Who knows, I might even change my review.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways *popcorn bowl*

I shall be as the grass and watch the elephants fight.


message 9: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle I really appreciate your review. I get the feeling we probably wouldn't fully agree, but then I don't always agree with Lewis either. I haven't read this book yet so I can't answer for Lewis' beliefs on this subject, but it is on my list.

I just have a few comments on your review you can reply to or ignore what ever you choose will be fine with me.

"..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'm just curious as to what Christian doctrine you're familiar with. I know the one I'm familiar with says that gaining that seat in heaven is more than just proclaiming Jesus, but requires a heart change which is evidenced by spiritual growth.

"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." I have also always been taught the world is cruel because man screwed up, not God, but that God uses the suffering to grow us.

Thanks again for your review!


Traveller Thank you for your polite comment, Michelle! :)

Michelle wrote: "I'm just curious as to what Christian doctrine you're familiar with. I know the one I'm familiar with says that gaining that seat in heaven is more than just proclaiming Jesus, but requires a heart change which is evidenced by spiritual growth.
.."

Well, i can clearly remember that in the Presbyterian church I attended as a child, the message was emphasized over and over again that you cannot "be saved" by any of you own actions, but can only be saved through the blood of Christ. According to these Presbyterians, you were a worm or an ant without Jesus.

Michelle wrote: ""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." I have also always been taught the world is cruel because man screwed up, not God, but that God uses the suffering to grow us. "

Yip! Thar you go! It seems to be a situation of; "Humans are the big baddies in the equation, they are to get the blame for everything bad; but some say it's actually Satan who is the source of evil; yet God actually allowed it to happen, (to let 'evil' and corruption into the system ) because He uses this entire situation towards a good end..

..so now, I'm rather confused as to: did God allow evil and suffering to happen or not?


Mallory Lewis's position is that he is not a theologian but a layman of the church of England. His mission is to teach classical Christianity in a fresh way to his audience. He says that his ideas aren't original. So yes, he borrows from Aquinas and other church fathers. That's one of the best things about him.


message 12: by Ian (new)

Ian Heidin[+]Fisch In the Anglican Church, I learned that the early Christians were the world's first carrot and stick management consultants.


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul I missed this first time around. Traveller is correct - humans do nothing to deserve or earn salvation, it is only through the grace of God that any of us are saved. Faith, not works. That's the protestant view. If Michelle is from the Catholic tradition, she may take a different line of course. The argument that pain teaches us stuff seems vicious to me - what about little children? Does God give them an extra special heaven if they die of cancer or get tortured by some maniac? I don't see how anyone could for one second accept that suffering teaches children to be spiritually better ond worthier of salvation. It's a repulsive idea.


message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian Heidin[+]Fisch The fact that there is a difference of opinion on such a fundamental issues proves to me that this element of Christianity is a human construct, and therefore both views are potentially wrong, even if you accept the existence of God.


message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul oh yes, you know actual human people wrote the Bible!


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian Heidin[+]Fisch If only they'd has YouTube when Christ was around, there'd be so much more evidence that he existed and was the Son of God. But then there probably would have been a battle between TrueTube and JewTube.


back to top