The Problem of Pain

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The Problem of Pain
First edition
Author C. S. Lewis
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Published 1940 The Centenary Press
Media type print
Pages 148
Current edition published by HarperCollins

The Problem of Pain is a 1940 book on the problem of evil by C. S. Lewis, in which Lewis argues that human pain, animal pain, and hell are not sufficient reasons to reject belief in a good and powerful God.

Lewis summarizes of the problem of evil like this: "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."[1] His partial theodicy addresses both human suffering, animal suffering, the problem of hell, and reconciles these with the Christian belief in a just, loving and omnipotent God.

Partial summary of contents[edit]

  1. Introduction. This chapter articulates of the problem of pain from the point of view of an atheist. Lewis was an atheist "not many years ago" and expresses the objections he had then. He articulates a story about the vastness, coldness, and insensitivity of the universe and the meaninglessness of man's place in the universe. He introduces the notion of the "Numinous" -- the uncanny, the dreadful, the awe-inspiring.
  2. Divine Omnipotence. Chapter 2 clarifies what it means to say that God is all-powerful.
  3. Divine Goodness. Chapter 3 attempts to clarify what type of 'goodness' can be ascribed of God. Is God kind? Gentle? Is he good like a warrior is good, or like a lover is good, or both?
  4. Human Wickedness.
  5. The Fall of Man.
  6. Human Pain.
  7. Human Pain, continued.
  8. Hell.
  9. Animal Pain.
  10. Heaven.

Relation to other works[edit]

Lewis' philosophical approach in Problem of Pain bears some similarity to his later, more personal approach to the problem of evil in A Grief Observed.[2] The latter of these works is a reflection on his own experiences of grief and anguish at the death of his wife.

See also[edit]


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