Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The Problem of Pain - by C.S. Lewis

I can't believe it took him that long to say that

The Problem of Pain is a good book. In it, C. S. Lewis tackles a very sticky problem: how can a loving God allow the pain and suffering we see in the world around us? Himself a former atheist, Lewis takes the time to address real accusations and issues in a thoughtful way. However, I really believe brevity and simplicity of arguments would have been on his side, had he chosen to use them.

We didn't learn anything about Lewis' belief in Satan until chapter 9(!), and then only as a kind of aside. His concept of human suffering doesn't really allow Satan into the picture much. I think I might have mentioned Satan on page 2 and wrapped up the book about page 14. Lewis boldly asserts the accuracy of certain biblical truths, yet is uncertain about the basics of a seven-day creation and the wages of sin being death.

He did touch lightly on the possibility that hell destroys people instead of eternally torturing them. But this, too, was a tad iffy. He didn't seem to be very certain about what he believed in. I think this is very rare for Lewis. And I was a bit uncomfortable with it.

I suppose what it came down to is that 75% of pain and suffering comes from wrong exercise of free will. The other 25% comes from God to purify us. Lack of punishment raises intolerable justice issues, so we shouldn't mind that evil people will be burned eternally.

The last chapter, Heaven, was truly awesome. I plan to borrow some of it if eventually.

In all: some good arguments, some interesting points, some wrong theology, some long-windedness, and some decent writing. He certainly made 150 pages feel like 300.

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