The late, great C.S. Lewis wrote a book, The Problem of Pain, which I would consider his worst book. Now saying this is Lewis' worst book is like saying vanilla is the "worst flavor" of ice cream! If it's the worst, it's still pretty good.
If I could chat with Lewis, I might suggest a different title, The Possibilities of Pain. I think we have gotten the issue mostly wrong. I have a good bit to say about this issue, so I will divide this post into two more manageable ones.
Indeed Pain is a Problem, but also a Possibility. The Problem is a serious one for many of my atheist, intellectual friends. Their thinking, over some variable period of time goes like this:
- I am very smart.
- If G^d existed, he would be smarter than me... but NOT by much!
- I see the PROBLEM of Pain.
- There's no shortage of pain: Children die of cancer and starvation, war rages, people suffer.
- If I were G^d, I would resolve this Problem, because I could.
- G^d doesn't solve this problem...
- ERGO G^d does NOT exist.
But perhaps we COULD consider the possibilities of Pain. First pain is real and common. For most of us, most of the time this is a PROBLEM.
But here is the rub, Pain also presents some Possibilities:
- Pain reminds us that this world is NOT our home (we're just a passin' through)
- “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.” CSL Prob of Pain
And Lewis' last point is key, and should NOT be missed. As long as we have FREE WILL, pain will exist. Mankind will create it, whether it is already present or not. Yes, MUCH of our pain is self-inflicted, and much is man-made.
So what is the answer to this pain problem? Next post we'll look at some Scripture.