C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 22

Problem of Pain (Part 2)

If God chooses to create a nature, this signifies a physical system which indicates a relatively independent nature independent from himself, it would make a lot of sense to say he is frequently intervening.  The same laws that make nature a stable environment in which rational soulish life can emerge, are also the same laws that make us vulnerable. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. He might whisper to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain. Question about whether God initiates the pain or he set up a system which results in pain because of the way it’s structured.

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 22
Watching Now
Problem of Pain (Part 2)

I. Divine Omnipotence (chapter 2)

A. Unlikely that God would frequently intervene

B. Why would God create a system with biological organisms that experience pain?

C. Nature provides a neutral setting which allows relationships to exist.

II. Divine Goodness (chapter 3)

A. Divine goodness vs. sentimental ideas of kindness

B. God may hurt us but never harm us

C. Ambiguity about pain being used for good.

D. Book of Job

E. Role of pain in the garden of Eden before the Fall

  • The purpose of the class is to directly engage Lewis’s philosophy and theology. He brings a Christian worldview to engage intellectual movements of his day. The trinity created us to bring us into the fellowship that has been going on with God forever. 

  • The mind is the organ of reason, imagination is the organ of understanding. To understand what real truth is, the imagination needs to be a part of that. We are created in the image of God and are immortal beings. Ordinary people are extraordinary. The Christian life is most deeply about being transformed resulting in participation in the divine life. It's more than just having one’s legal status changed. There should be transformation in the culture as well as personal. God is in the process of redeeming a wounded universe, including the whole of knowledge and truth in all subjects. 

  • There is a sacred quality to ordinary activities as well as symbolic religious rituals. Whatever is true in any field of study is God’s truth. The world is essentially good, but it’s been damaged. God has taken a great risk in allowing people free choice for good or evil. Evil has become present in many forms in the world and it is anti-creational and anti-human. We are not broken, but we are bent. God’s nature is relational because of the nature of the Trinity, so it makes sense that he would make a universe that is relational. We dwell in God and he dwells in us. As disciples of Christ we all share the single vocation of loving God and others.

  • Lewis wants to parlay theological doctrines into dynamic insights and track out their implications for intellectual engagement. He does is with a background of philosophical skill and theological understanding of historic orthodoxy. Instead of arguing about preferences, we need to focus on articulating the doctrines that are universal. Lewis’s ideas are expressed so they can be understood by people not formally trained in philosophy or theology but they have merit in the marketplace of ideas. 

  • The probability of morality as we know it in the human community, given that theism is true, is more probable than morality given any other worldview. Morality at the human (finite) level is anchored in morality at the infinite level. Morality has its most natural fitting worldview home in theism. In using the analogy of light shining through boards in a tool shed, Lewis says, “I believe in Christianity, not because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” 

  • In Hinduism, Brahman, the hidden inner essence of everything, is beyond human categories of good and evil. Brahman is the only reality. Everything we see is an illusion. The fundamental human problem is ignorance, not sin. Dualism is the idea that there is good and evil at war in the universe. Explaining morality in a dualistic framework is difficult. Dualism assumes good and evil are equal, so you would need a third element to adjudicate which one to choose, and that would be a higher standard. Otherwise you wouldn’t know which one to choose. Naturalism/materialism says there is no ultimate moral nature to the universe. 

  • Lewis begins by discussing our common moral experience as a triggering point to reason toward theism. Then he reasons for a deity that’s interested in morality that’s also a supreme power. With naturalism, we come from a source that is non-rational, non-moral and non-personal, so it’s difficult to understand how you get beings that are rational, moral and personal.

  • Theism is intellectually at least on par, if not superior to, other conceptions of reality like dualism, pantheism and naturalism. If there is a God that theism describes, only one deity of the living theistic religions said that this God invaded our existence. The question is that in comparison to other alternatives, what is emerging as a reasonable explanation of the reality we face?

  • Our rationality being reliable assumes that we can produce a large preponderance of true beliefs over false ones by using rational faculties like memory, abstract reasoning, perception and the testimony of others. The role of philosophy is to analyze and explain the common sense beliefs of the human race about morality and the external world. 

  • The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. Lewis thinks that we now do not have broad social consensus of Christian truth. He challenges individuals to have a more positive affirming attitude toward intellect and academics. In his view, Christians are ambivalent about the value of the life of the mind and using the gift of our intellect to serve him.

  • Premise one: every natural desire corresponds to one real object. Premise two: There exists in us a desire that nothing in the temporal world can satisfy. Conclusion is that there must be more than time, earth and creatures that can satisfy this desire.

  • The Supreme Being, behind the universe as we know it, is a personal being, eternal and the model for how we are to understand our personhood. We can’t understand our own personhood fully, the way it’s supposed to operate, unless we understand what God is, as a personal being. We are not projecting our understanding on God but learning about ourselves by finding out about God. 

  • This is ultimately a book about a clash of worldviews. A worldview offers an explanation of the important features/phenomena of life and the world. In the West, the atheist worldview is often expressed in naturalism. Lewis argues for theism based on what is true internally of us, rather than argument from design. Discussion is not whether a particular miracle has occurred, but in principle, is it a possibility.

  • There is a supernatural power or being that is ontologically distinct from nature (transcendent). It is self-existent. Every world view must propose what is fundamentally real. For the naturalist, it is the physical world. For the theist, it’s a transcendent deity. Everything that is not God is dependent/contingent on God for its being. The theist says that the deity can bring about events that would not have happened by the regular operation of nature. 

  • What’s important to Lewis is freedom of rational thinking, free from physical causes. Naturalism undercuts the power of reason because everything is determined by physical causes. If evolutionary naturalism is true, then the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable for truth is low.

  • If you believe in naturalism as a worldview, miracles are impossible. Since a naturalist worldview says everything is determined and thought is only adaptive, the ability to have free rational thought to logically evaluate naturalism undercuts the naturalist position.

  • Rational thought and moral consciousness are points of entry of the supernatural into the realm of the natural. It involves both. It’s not a dichotomy. Naturalists believe that the nature of human persons is limited to material processes. Substance dualists believe that mind and brain are two separate substances that are mixed for now, but at death one will cease to exist and the other will continue to exist. Emergentist sees the animal form taken to another degree of complexity by the natural realm getting increasingly complex and dualist in function as opposed to substance.

  • Scientific law is economical summary of what experience always reports: regular cause and effect. Laws are regularity based on coincidences. Causality is the basis of law. Hume says that laws are regularities based on coincidences. Hume says that you can only know regularity because that’s all the human mind is capable of. Peterson’s view is that a miracle is not changing a law of nature, it’s changing with the “ceteris paribus” clause – preventing all things from being equal and changing the nature of the item. 

  • There is nothing about nature that makes miracles impossible. The naturalist can’t see nature accurately as a creature, not just an independent fact but it can’t stand or explain itself. The cosmological principle is that only concrete beings, not general things, have causal power. Causal laws don’t make things happen, only the beings acting within the laws.

  • If God is in fact a living determinate being, and is outside the natural system, he might insert events into the natural system. The laws that we observe in the natural system may be a subset of higher laws that govern the universe. What criteria do you use to determine if a miracle has taken place? Evidence plus intrinsic probability. Whether or not an event is a miracle is also part of the discussion of the problem of evil. Why would God intervene in some circumstances but not others? 

  • In philosophy, it’s referred to as the problem of evil. Given a certain understanding of God and a certain understanding of evil, there is a tension explaining why evil exists in the world.

  • If God chooses to create a nature, this signifies a physical system which indicates a relatively independent nature independent from himself, it would make a lot of sense to say he is frequently intervening.  The same laws that make nature a stable environment in which rational soulish life can emerge, are also the same laws that make us vulnerable. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. He might whisper to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain. Question about whether God initiates the pain or he set up a system which results in pain because of the way it’s structured.

  • Lewis describes the story of the Fall as a narrative that has symbolic elements that convey significant truth. The truth in the first couple chapters of Genesis is that we were created by God, sovereign and loving creator, and that our only fulfillment as humans is to center our lives on God. Our proper role as a creature is to rely on God, so when we ignore that and rely on ourselves, our relationship with God is broken. 

  • God is his creation set forth the problem of expressing his goodness through the total drama of a world containing free agents in spite of, and even by means of, their rebellion against him. The risk is for the possibility of relationship. 

  • Aristotle would say that as a rational, moral being you build your character based on the hierarchy of good traits.  From a Christian perspective, our natural destiny should be on the same trajectory as our eternal destiny. The spiritual and theological virtues are faith, hope and love.

  • As long as God chooses a stable physical order, that physical order will run by its own laws. Any system with  have the possibility of pain. Created nature with natural laws provide a framework/structure in which souls can meet. Some pain is produced by the natural system without regard to the desires of the beings. That humans can inflict pain on other humans is a reflection of the permission by God that he permits this. The wide range of freedom makes it possible for great good or terrible evil. 

  • Lewis thinks that God needs to pierce the shield of our ego and we are embodied creatures so pain is what does it by getting our attention by highlighting how frail and in need we are. 

  • For Lewis, heaven is the unending joyous life of God, the life of the Trinity. The only way I can be fulfilled is to find its proper purpose and relation with God. Heaven is the restoration of created personhood, what it was always meant to be. When we are on the trajectory, we begin experiencing it now. Hell is the lack of fulfillment for which we were made. 

  • Discussion of the movie Shadowlands. Discussion of the nature of relationships. Pain and happiness are not necessarily mutually exclusive.                                        

  • Lewis expresses anger toward God as part of his process of grief. Orthodox Christianity denies materialism which believes that your physical body is all you are, but it doesn’t require body-soul dualism where the soul is the real person that inhabits a shell. Whatever damage death completes in the reign of sin in this world will be undone and swallowed up by the resurrection. The restoration of human personhood will come after death. 

  • Heaven and hell are dichotomous. Whether life is heaven or hell depends on your future trajectory. God is true reality, fixed and can’t be altered. In GD, true reality is God. The descriptions are not meant to be literal. Heaven is the Trinitarian life of God. It’s not a place, it’s a state of being in proper relation to the love and joy of the Trinitarian relations. Lewis describes it as a great dance. 

  • Final comments about themes in The Great Divorce.

C. S. Lewis is an extremely good theologian who does his work for the thoughtful lay person.  But his writings reflect his erudite understanding of the great classics of literature, historical theology, philosophy, and other disciplines.  Lewis says in Mere Christianity that theology is like a map.  We may get where we’re going without it, but it is much easier to use the map.  The map of Christian theology is drawn over the early centuries of the church as the believing community interprets the Bible and its experience of God.  

Of course, the ultimate goal of theology, according to Lewis, is practical:  to draw us into the life of God, or St. Gregory of Nazianzus ((329-374 AD), called it, “the Great Dance.”  I know no theme deeper or more pervasive in Lewis than our need to get the steps right, to join the dance once again.  

In “Meditations in a Tool Shed,” Lewis says that there is a distinction between looking at a beam of light and looking along the beam of light.  He is speaking of looking at reason or using reason—a passage that forms part of his great case that presence of rationality argues for the truth of theism.  We will be doing a lot of looking in this course, largely, “looking at” Lewis himself.  But let us also try to “look along” the same line of sight as Lewis, to see things—God, humanity, spiritual life, and a host of other things—as Lewis saw them.  This means attempting to step inside Lewis’s worldview and learning to interpret fundamental realities the way he did and to deploy his distinctive strategies for engaging other worldviews.  In effect, we will learn to think Christianly by learning to think along Christianly with Lewis.

In 2020, Dr. Peterson published the book, C. S. Lewis and the Christian WorldviewIt is essentially his course lectures in written book form--covering Lewis on all key worldview issues--reality, knowledge, creation, trinity, christology, as well as issues of evil, religious pluralism, and the impact of science on faith. You will also see it listed in the Recommended Reading section. 

Dr. Michael Peterson

C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy


Problem of Pain (Part 2)

Lesson Transcript


Well, we're talking about Lewis's feeling that he needs. I thought it was a camera going. No, I won't. I won't start till I get the cue. I get the official cue. Oh, the camera's going. Okay, well, we're talking about Lewis's feeling here in this chapter that he needs to to clarify what can be mirrored by the concept of omnipotence and in relation to logical laws. I think we did that just before break. You can see in the notes that I review some of the other types of laws moral law, physical law. But we've talked about those when we talked about miracles, and because miracles was a book in which the idea of law had to be clarified, because we talk there mostly about laws of nature. One thing, one thing that Lewis brings up in this chapter, which I find very interesting, is. If God is omnipotent and he is the creator of nature and he can't make nature do things that are in violation of logic, logical laws can't do that. But but he can sort of choose the structure of nature in terms of the physical laws. What kind of physical system will God put in motion? That kind of thing. And his point partly is if God chooses to create a nature, a system of nature. Those are slowly. I'm moving. I'm not in pain. I'm just trying to stay in front of the camera. What's wrong with you? Okay. Did that help? If he chooses to create a nature. This signifies a total physical system which has its own relatively independent operation from God. He's chosen to give the gift of existence and the certain kind of physical laws that characterize our physical existence. So it does make. It does make a couple of comments seem appropriate.


One is it wouldn't make a lot of sense for a God who's omniscient then and created a relatively independent nature independent of himself. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to say he's frequently intervening to tinker with this natural law or prevent this particular outcome and so on. These are things we actually talked about in miracles when we did the last book. So that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. And he knows that that is an appropriate thing to say when you bring this up. But the other thing about an independent nature is he seems to have chosen a an independent nature in which biological life can arise, develop increasing complexity, including nerve endings and neurophysiology that allow us to feel pain when something goes wrong. And sometimes this pain can be excruciating or paralyzing, you know, and can ultimately mean death. So the question then is not whether God can intervene within the system he's created. That's more of a miracles question anyway from the last book. But why would he choose a system like this where it does develop biological life that can feel such excruciating pain? That's an interesting question because that becomes really not so much a matter of divine power. Oh, well, one could ask, could the divine power have done anything differently? And it would seem yes, probably so. But we really don't have a total comprehensive concept of what that would be. It's cheap and easy talk to say God has created a pleasure paradise. Yeah, that's just cheap and easy to talk. So we don't really. And no fizz, no fundamental physicist. Nobody has the design of a different kind of universe such that it could have all the benefits, but none of the negatives of this one.


So that is a discussion that's out there. And I think the other point it brings up is why would it create an independent nature in which in which biological beings could increasingly develop in complexity to where they had advanced brains, Mind could become or soullessness could become a characteristic within that world. And why why would you do that? What you've just left with with kind of the commentary that maybe God thought it was so valuable that that kind of being arise and this kind of natural system that we have is conducive to that. But as for tradeoffs. I mean, for intellectual beings, rational beings, personal life to be intimately wedded to biological life, perishable, vulnerable, fragile. I mean, it is kind of a and and yet rationality, intellect, the depths of consciousness that we that we are capable of the interpersonal relationships that we're capable of. These things seem like things that are worth going on forever. That kind of being should go on forever. And yet we're wedded to biological life where there's frailty and vulnerability and ultimately death and on the way toward that usually pain and suffering. So it's true that God created nature. Would you characterize the exact kind of nature we have? I think that's a fair, brief sketch. Of a physical system in which biological life arose and got to such a point where rational life was embedded within it in the form of Homo sapiens. And we don't know a whole lot about the other members of the of the genus Homo, but they showed degrees of, you know, some degree of rationality with the amazing cave paintings and things of of some of the species that are no longer with us still in the same genus. So.


This natural system was moving somewhere and had a directionality, a purpose of mass that seemed to produce a species. Homo sapiens that have these amazing capacities but but bonded to biological life. And within that biological system of nature then were subject to all its vulnerabilities. Oh, but supposing that this is correct speculation and Lewis is talking about what omnipotence can or cannot do, let's assume that omnipotence creates a nature. That's not itself is relatively independent from God run, so to speak, of its own accord. But there's a kind of directionality that leads to soul ish rational. Life. And we experience that and we say then it could well be that the divine purposes were to produce that, maybe other purposes as well. We don't have as much clarity on it, but it seems like the divine purposes were at least to produce that and then to invite invite these smallish creatures. Emerging from the dust, so to speak, their physical and their in their biological origins. Invite them into a relational dynamic where relation to others of their kind, in relation to God are part of their ultimate fulfillment. And so this is not a direct quote, but I've got it in my notes here. Law says there can be no soul or society of souls without some kind of a neutral setting, which is neither you nor I, but in which we meet, can communicate, can touch. And so he says that's a justification, he thinks, for creating nature with its own relatively stable laws to operate in some ways predictable. Once we learn the laws and maybe we can navigate around some of their harmful consequences. But it operates without feeling for our agendas or our interests. But still, it provides a neutral theater, something neither you nor I, in whose ambit we meet.


That's a really interesting paragraph or so in the book. But you can't have that unless there's a relatively independent nature with its own laws, and there are a lot of good or positive goods to come out of that kind of a scenario. The ability to touch each other, communicate, have relational transactions, so on and so on, have various pleasures of various kinds. But the same laws that make it a stable, regular nature for the positive benefits are the very same laws that make us vulnerable. So the same the same hot sun that grows our crops can also scorch our crops and cause famine and hunger. The same water that refreshes us when thirsty can drown someone who doesn't handle it correctly. It just after nature operates without regard to our wishes and tend to our to our agendas. So that's a point he's making about even omnipotence. Once it decides that there will be a nature within which rational soul is life can emerge, There will still be a nature, a structure that will have tradeoffs in terms of the interests of that rational, soulless life. I think that's a fair, always more reasonable. Why couldn't have omnipotence made a better set of trade offs? And I do. Again, we don't know. Bruce Reichenbach in his book Evil and a Good God, deals with this in more detail. He looks at all the ins and outs of these kinds of arguments where the guy could have done something otherwise than he did do. But I think I will pursue it here. So those are just some remarks about how he handles divine goodness, the concept of I mean, the concept of divine omnipotence. And I want to move on to chapter three on Divine Goodness.


One of his big burdens, it looks like in commenting on divine goodness is to distinguish divine goodness and what he might call sentimental ideas of kindness. But it's a big burden. I think he has that whatever kind of goodness God has, it probably is not reducible to sort of sentimental mystic ideas of mere kindness, because mere kindness, as he says, cannot bear to see the object of its affection in pain. And he says it might really be that a purer kind of goodness, a higher kind of goodness, as opposed to mere kindness, knows that there are worse things than being in pain. Like to have a defect in your soul. And so. A higher form of goodness, a perfect form of goodness. We're going to see this play out through the book a little bit more, is much more interested in perfecting our character and our soul than in whether we have hardship or suffering. These are hard things to say. And he's a little bit of the younger Lewis here, by the way, And I think he's going to soften a little bit, if you know what I'm saying. By the time he has a romantic relationship with Joe Davidson and marries her for three short years before she dies of cancer, and it's a very painful death. And his response to that is. More nuanced. I mean, there's some nuances in this book, but he's a bachelor, relatively healthy. You know, you change a little bit. So we want we want to ask that question as we go. Did his thinking on the subject of pain and suffering, did it mature? Does it get refined? I think the answer to that is yes. Then reject everything he says. But he's going to qualify.


He's going to settle differently. We want to we want to track that. But chapter on goodness. He's going to have to distinguish goodness from kindness. And think it's too low of a concept of goodness, of divine goodness to equate it with mere kindness. Interestingly, a Aquinas, as you know, has an amazing. He does. And he doesn't give a client into my memory. He does not mention a client is here, but acquaintance has a really interesting statement about genuine love that love desires the highest good of its object and desires union with the object sort of two aspects of genuine love. And there's a sense which I hear the echo of that kind of thinking behind what Lewis is saying. Nothing matters more. Yes, pain can be a real problem. This is not an easy question to face. People of faith, pain, suffering, so on the way is claiming it is. But as long as we have a scale of values, it realizes he thinks upfront that there are worse evils like the evil of of missing union with God and proper relationship to others, like the two great commandments. Love God, love others. If that's true, if true love is that way and deserves the highest good and seek and seeks union of the object with the object of its love, then you would think that perfect the perfection of that love would entail relentless pursuit. Of those goals. Perfection of the object. The highest. Good. That's been described and union with that object that that's classical Christianity that were made for union with God, made for made for God, and that he's inviting us into relationship with a Trinitarian life. So our transformation is a higher goal. It would seem for perfect love, perfect goodness.


Our discomfort or our comfort, our pain or our pleasure would be secondary to our need for perfection. So it's interesting that Lewis does think and he in the book and expresses himself this way in the book, God may hurt us, but never harm us. In other words, if pain is helpful to get our attention, then God might use that pain to get our to get our attention that we need to come to him. We need to give up pride, rebellion, whatever it is, hardness of heart in order to be more tender toward him and come more toward him. So we got that famous quote God may hurt us, but never harm us. Remember the beginning of the movie Shadowlands, which we're going to look at in class, is just too good not to. But after we do a grief observed where he talks about his reaction to his wife's death, very painful death. And then and then that that will be our second look at Lewis on pain and suffering. That second book, then the movie would be part of that consideration. But that movie begins with a young Lewis giving a public lecture, and he has this quote. Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world. He might whisper to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pains. Got to get your tent. Nothing is more valuable than getting your attention that you're not self-sufficient. You're not indestructible. You cannot do without God. It's an illusion. Something has to crack the shell. So he uses the idea of megaphone use, the idea of, you know, God is the artisan and he's chiseling on us to make us more perfect. It's got some images like that which have their pluses and minuses.


Right. But anyway, he's laying those on the table as he qualifies. What we can mean about the nature of divine goodness. It's not mere kindness. He would never he would never hurt us if he were kind. But we find that amazing quote here. He he may hurt us, but he'll never harm us because our ultimate good is what he's seeking. Think of. Think of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. When Eustace has become, he's been put under a spell and has become a dragon. Eustace was not the most pleasant personality. You know what I'm saying? How does the. How does that book began? Isn't this Dawn trying to begin by saying there once was a boy named Eustace? Middle name something. Scrub was his name. Clarence Eustace. Clarence Scrub? No, he was called Eustace Plain Scrub, and he almost deserved it. Yes, I think it's a hilarious line. But Eustace in the book becomes put on spell, becomes a dragon. And he can't. He can't. Get out of this spell. He's not his true self. It's all imagery, you know. None of us are true selves, according to Lewis. He says that in Christianity, we're not our true selves. There's been damage to the human condition, and we're living it. And part of Christian transformation is God working with us to change our direction and bring us into a more complete life with him. So the image, the image in Dawn Treader, the literary image, is Eustace has become a scaled dragon. And he's powerless to help himself. It takes as land and as lands claws, as land has furry paws. And he uses those inappropriate stature. But here he uses his claws, and he painfully on dragons. Eustace scraping off the skin. Very interesting. I think he's doing there in a literary form.


What? The kind of thing he's saying that God may hurt us, but he will never harm us. Very interesting. I think a distinction that needs to be made here, too. Oh, I'm sorry. Yes. How would you connect that with, like, the horse of. In one instance as it becomes a small cap. During a time of year. We all have forgotten that. That's right. It was perhaps just the back and chases them like a ferocious lion. Mm hmm. Which is a kind of a two fold purpose, I guess. One to spur them on to safety, but also kind of punishment or. Yeah, or chastisement. Maybe you think I'm not as familiar with that passage as the one I used to work for service. Yeah. As. Scolding. Yeah. Does anybody have any any comments on the other runners familiar with that passage that I'm afraid to comment on what I think Lewis was up to? It's really funny. You know, maybe I said this earlier, but when they were filming Dawn Treader, we got calls to settle disputes between Doug Gresham and whoever was directing. I can't remember. But it was about how to do the scene of the, um, dragging of, of Eustace. And because it's pretty graphic, if you want to show dragons little children in the audience, a dragon has beings having the scales. And so they did what they did in the movie. And we've all seen it probably, and they tried to make it less, but the director apparently wanted to cut it and Doug wanted it in and somehow it stayed in. Devon, ran across the street, recommended that keep it in. It is such critical. It's such a critical, symbolic thing. But they did soften and I think it just shows as in scratching in the sand.


Doesn't show the drag and then just shows you to get back to normal. So little children in the audience don't have to get scared to death, you know? I think it's fun. I don't know how to do that. I don't know. I do think it's important, though, to kind of think about the ambiguity that's potentially in what Lewis is saying here, the can just exactly how he's making some connections. See if I can make my point on the board. If you say there's some good some goal relationship with God, human fulfillment, human flourishing, our highest good, whatever you want to say and you want to say that pain, suffering, large category, whatever you put it, pain could be something that would help us achieve this highest good. Maybe we need a spiritual awakening. We're moving away from God and somehow pain in our lives give us gives us an awakening. Oh, I've got I'm not indestructible. I'm not self-sufficient. I need God and this whatever. Or there's things in my life that just need to be changed and whatever. I think the question is, does does God bring does God bring the pain? All my little arrows are kind of causal. Maybe there's God bring the pain. So earlier on, we've made the point that he's letting nature, all the different, different operations of nature, kind of carry on of their own accord without regard very much to human agendas or interests. See, and God has created a relatively independent nature. So some take him as saying in the book here that God brings the pain. I think that's interestingly ambiguous when God goes already to create an independent nature that's going to bring pain almost irrespective of whether there's a good outcome for us.


And. I don't know how to interpret the early Lewis here. I tend to think he might think, at least in some cases, we attribute the pain coming to God, bringing it somehow. God's action is a miraculous intervention, bringing up all the old issues of miracles we talked about for the last couple of weeks. Or is he bring it only in the sense that he's put us in a system where statistically the operations of that system are just going to bring all creatures some degree of pain without saying he directly causes it. See, I think that's a really interesting distinction. I'm not totally sure how to settle based on the problem of pain book itself. I have I have Lewis friends, Lewis scholars who really think it's pretty. It should be give it a more direct God brings it. And then I see others who don't think quite is quite so direct. I think without settling that issue, the benefits you can still get from this is, I say, regardless of the cause, eyes of faith take things gratefully as opportunities, even pain, as well as pleasures. Take them gratefully as opportunities to see God more clearly and to get our lives more in alignment with with His will. So whether God brings the pain or the pain can produce the good, I would rather say, given that I have the pain and and I did take it in a way and processed that experience in a way that deepened my spiritual understanding. The eyes of fate take it gratefully, thankfully, and give God credit for that experience. That's a little less direct. I think that's better. That plays better with parishioners and in counseling situations. So I think that plays better with it. And I'll tell you why.


Because my wife is a pastor and you can't be a pastor of a large congregation over many, many years without pretty much, you know, encountering every different form of suffering and every different form of questioning that sincere people trying to move somewhere along, you know, further along in their Christian experience, they'll raise questions. You know what? What is it that I might have done that? Is God punishing me? Is this a consequence of something? There are a lot of really troubling questions and and there are a lot of really damaging answers that I hear given in the religious community. And I think that's the very thing we don't want to do. Number one, that false, I think demonstrably false answers. They don't make good sense of who God is and his purposes, but also they're psychologically and spiritually very damaging. So here's an example, the book of Joe, one of my favorite books. Now we're on it. We're back. We're back Under the understanding of the Deuteronomy code, Jobe is sacrificing as he should. He's a father. He even sacrifices in cases. Kids have sinned. I know the feeling. So God pronounces him perfect upright. All those things at the beginning of the book, according to the Deuteronomy understanding, which is if you're righteous, you'll prosper. And if you're unrighteous, you'll suffer. And prosperity is defined in the three symbolic ways health, wealth, progeny, health, wealth, progeny. And so when Jobe experiences calamity and his wealth, his progeny, his health, all very symbolic for the literary piece that it is, all are taken away from him. You know, he goes through a lot of questioning, but the concepts he has are the Deuteronomy code. If this then this, if not this, then not this. If you're not righteous, then you'll not prosper.


If you are righteous, you will according to those three symbolic ways. And so part of his suffering is psychological suffering with wrong ideas, that is that really are false. And who comes to beat him up with Those are the comforters come in and they they beat him up with those ideas. And I think they ultimately where him down. He gets a little more shaky in his confidence or, hey, I'm righteous, I have not sinned and I don't know why these bad circumstances have befallen me. But you're saying God has brought them because I have sinned. Otherwise, I wouldn't be experiencing suffering had I not send. So so there's all the and so some of his anguish is not just that he had this loss. And so but if you have the wrong set of ideas, you don't deal with it properly. So both in in normal preaching, I think, and teaching within a church setting as well as within counseling settings can be really careful what we communicate. And that's one reason I'm a little sensitive to some of the literal statements that Louis makes, which I'm happy to sort of pause and say, these really are ambiguous. Another and B, because if you really make God, as we did a minute, really directly responsible for the pain because of either some general good of human human flourishing or for some specific good, like teaching this particular person a particular lesson. All that has a directionality to it that I don't particularly like. They'll think it's theologically correct. Better to say God's going to get credit for any awakening I have. Any good that comes out of my suffering and my pain. If I can recognize God and say, Thank you, Lord, that I now have this new understanding or this deeper spiritual, you know, journey, then thanks and praise to God without saying he caused this for some highly specific reason.


It certainly raises questions as to as to why, let's say, the particular degree of a person suffering, why that particular degree, which could be greater or lesser, is because the sin or the is a proportion exactly to the level of sin, to the level of how dense they are, that the denser you are spiritually, the more you have to be smacked. So we're going to go around gauging the degree of hardship and suffering. And that strikes me, as is all leading down a very bad path. And there's there's a lot to be said. For bringing back up implications that Lewis himself set in motion and talking about God's creation of an independent nature that runs of its own accord is a Newt relatively neutral field in which we live and move and have our being have a common life. And so some people will statistically have a little better, better time of it, others may not. But it really is not because God is calibrating every circumstance, whether it be pleasant or or unpleasant in our lives, calibrating it exactly to our need or sin or whatever. That's a little too hands on, if you ask me. For a god who Lewis himself says creates a neutral field or theater or setting in which we operate as human beings. So this kind of talk, if it's done wrong, it seems to me, kind of contradicts the idea that nature just kind of runs of its own accord. And we shouldn't make too much out of circumstances. Pagans love to do that. They read circumstances as as really important indicators of their relationship to a divine realm. If you want to get graphic, I mean, didn't some of the pagan neighbors around ancient Israel read the entrails of animals and tell kings whether they'd be victorious in in battle or flight of birds? You read circles.


I think it just raises a huge question about the relation between spiritual character and circumstances and what role circumstances really have, whether they're to be viewed as gods bringing them all about. Because in each case, there's some highly specific divine purpose being played out that strikes me as. Too fastidious a God and creating a certain unhealthiness in our spiritual outlook won't make any sense. So the whole the whole relationship of of of our character, you might say. And circumstance. I mean, if you if you if you're prone to view circumstances. Hard circumstances, maybe even painful. Difficult circumstances are something God is bringing to correct us or whatever. Then they have a kind of pragmatic value, utilitarian value in the kingdom. And why would we want to enlist moral effort to diminish someone's pain, which we instinctively do and correctly do? So you see some of some of if you follow certain lines of reasoning, there are some little logical knots that come up here. If I if I think suffering might be brought by God because this person needs needs a lesson, for crying out loud, why in the world would I try to alleviate their suffering? In the 1990. I remember this very well. In 1990, I got up sitting in my office ringing and I can't think of the person's name, but he was the president of the National Organization of Victim Assistance. Nova. Nova. And as I understand it, Nova is kind of like a para organization that provides education and resources for a wide variety of victim type groups, things like rape crisis centers, child abuse centers. I could even go through the list. I guess Nova still exists. This was 1990 and I've kind of lost touch. But they said, Would you come and speak to our national meeting? And so what? What about I don't work as a social worker or anything like that.


So we've seen your stuff on evil and suffering, and a lot of these organizations rely heavily on volunteers, and many of the volunteers volunteer because of religious motives, well-intentioned people. But in the counseling situations, we're finding there's there's much too much damaging counseling, miserable comforters day where they're telling people this could be a result of sin. God might be doing this to teach them a lesson. All the stuff I was trying to get at, you know, a minute ago with my little diagram and they say that and we're finding that this is causing more damage. So we'd like you to come in and I. Okay, I'll do that. That'd be kind of fun. My goodness. When I walked in that hotel where they had the meeting, you know, so many tables lined with brochures of different ways people suffer. You know, you could almost not get past them without thinking, Oh, my goodness, what a what a side to human existence you get exposed to. And you see all the good people find their niche, find their way of trying to address that and help. It's pretty amazing. Also on the program, interestingly enough, was Jim Brady. Does anybody know Jim Brady took the bullet for Reagan? And so the National Head Injury Association and he didn't speak. Of course, he's in a wheelchair. I think he died not long ago, just very, very recently, month or two. And his wife, Sarah, spoke, you know, and unfortunately for gun control, you know, but I think, oh, well, I won't comment, but I, I because I had a different speech. I had I was going to ask him why in states where we have the highest gun control laws, we have more shootings and gun crime.


But when I articulate, I'm not going to ask ask her that she's dealing with a husband who's a hero. And symbolically, it allows that organization, gun control advocacy, to to use him symbolically. And they can do what they want. But there you go. Comments, Questions. I think this is a really interesting area of discussions and pastorally preaching, counseling and so on. Very important to get a lot of that, right? Yeah. And we would just read the Bible and this is the framework of God's name on that because I would always really want to ask, you know, what was the place with Pain in the Garden and Super the other sources who decided to serve serving for pain at all. But do they hurt themselves, you know, or to what degree would they be able to survive in the water like they had done as a youth? Well, that's right. That's super question wondering how we're doing for time, whether we need a break before to let me see if I can say a little bit and then I'll maybe have to break in and finish. Joe Lewis does address that to some degree. I can't remember if it's in this exact chapter, but you can see the issues now are beginning to tumble out. We've got a bunch of issues that are just bristling here, he says. One thing that's very honest, he says for. Countless centuries, I believe, he says. And he's way understating it is for the billions of years God was perfecting the animal form. Remember that quote? So for countless years, eons, God was perfecting the animal form. And there was carnage and predation and pain and death in the subhuman pre-human. Animal world. And so he understands in an educated layperson's way.


The facts of evolutionary biology and pain was present in the world before humans were. Horrible. I mean, it was a week ago I was watching National Geographic and I still can't get it off my mind. It was the title was two hour special on Predators. Every 10 minutes are different. Oh, my goodness. Oh, so that's true. So somehow that's part of the perfecting what can't survive, what shows weakness and so on gets selected out. It's just a de facto matter that doesn't survive. It doesn't pass on its genes. So somehow we get a certain animal lineage with complex enough brains to project a mental field mind have soullessness, and consciousness is pretty amazing. And that's all correlated with a high degree of complex physiology, particularly brain and neural physiology. So the answer pain is due to the human soul he knows can't. Be correct. He as much as says that, you know, it can't be correct, Pain has been prevalent. You know, you don't have to go through either intellectual or theological gymnastics to say, well, God knew the humans would fall. And so he built because of that. You know, he put it on my head, just hurt, starts hurting. And I can't I can't follow that line of reasoning. So he built pain in prior to the to the temple fall because he eternally knew there would be a fall. So it still due to a fall. But honestly, it looks much more honest and much more realistic to say the natural system that God put in motion we talked about a little earlier has laws and themes built into it and a kind of a directionality built into it and mechanisms that involve pain. But move that move the the history of life from relatively simple to relatively more complex.


And it's that relatively more complex life, as Lewis says, God for centuries was perfecting the human, the animal form, which he would eventually endow with the image of himself. Talk about dust having quite a privilege. You know, So he knows that doesn't work in light of what we know from science. I think at that point, probably I should break and maybe we'll try to pick that up if it's okay, because I know people need a break and I'll show you the rest of you what Jesus said to Judas. Do what you have to do quickly and we'll come back a.s.a.p.