Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Problem of Pain

Some thoughts on "The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis:

...Divine freedom cannot mean indeterminacy between alternatives and choice of one of them.
Determinism is generally ignored when it comes to resolving the problem (i.e., "Why doesn't God make us love Him and one another?") because, intuitively, love seems to require choice. But if God has no choice, how can He love?
...if God's moral judgement differs from ours so that our 'black' may be His 'white', we can mean nothing by calling Him good; for to say 'God is good', while asserting that His goodness is wholly other than ours, is really only to say 'God is we know not what'.
Lewis spends the rest of the chapter explaining how God uses pain to shape us, and how it may be a means to an end that only He sees clearly. This obfuscates the issue, it doesn't matter if some 'black' is really 'white'. Any remaining 'black' at all contradicts the possibility of an omnipotent loving God. To accept this as a solution is to call all 'black' 'white', which Lewis rejects. He doubly rejects this, indirectly, in the next chapter:
'Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God' [James 1:13] Many schools of thought encourage us to shift the responsibility for our behavior from our own shoulders to some inherent necessity in the nature of human life, and thus, indirectly, to the Creator.
But if all 'black' is really 'white', then it is 'white' because the evil emergent from sin is necessary.
We must never make the problem of pain worse than it is by vague talk about the 'unimaginable sum of human misery'. [...] There is no such thing as a sum of suffering, for no one suffers it.
The "sum of human misery" is a poor rendering of a common intuition: it isn't the sum, but the universality of suffering that's unimaginable.

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