C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 26

Problem of Pain (Part 6)

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. 

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 26
Watching Now
Problem of Pain (Part 6)

I. Pain in the Biological Order (chapter 5)

II. Human Pain (chapter 6)

A. Any system has the possibility of pain

B. We inflict pain on each other

C. Problem of gratuitous evil

D. Fallen human beings are rebellious

E. Possibility of non-human free agents

F. Pain in self-surrender

  • 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 6)

Lesson Transcript


Let's pray and we'll start. Father, thank you for a meaningful semester that is coming rapidly to a close. We pray that you give each one of us energy and motivation to finish it up in good, good shape. Be with us in this hour that we learn and discuss and sort of come to own ideas that are helpful in the building of your kingdom in Christ's name. Amen. On the Lewis point that he makes, he hits a couple or three times during the book that you cannot discuss the question of pain. If you're the least bit scientifically aware, you can't discuss it without acknowledging the presence of pain in the biological order of things. And so he acknowledges that that part of the pain we we experience is is based on the fact that it's built in to the biological process. Do you do you get the sense I'm trying to draw judgment on Lewis that that he thinks the problem is more difficult because of that or he doesn't seem to flinch a whole lot? Does he just say, you know, pain was pain was in the system? Pains in the biological system. Once you get nerve endings on the most basic of organisms, you've got the possibility of pain. I think maybe the reason he doesn't I mean, that would bother some religious believers to know that pain was present before there were humans. And I think his answer maybe will come in the chapter on animal Pain, where he he addresses the pain of of subhuman animals. And but at least it comes up in this chapter that he's aware that the presence of pain is in the biological system. So questions are going to naturally arise about why God created this biological system with its mechanisms.


Instead of some other system that maybe had less pain or no pain, you know. So, I mean, that's the kind of question you immediately face is, okay, it was up to God, it would seem. What kind of biological system? And we got this one, and this is the one that brought forth Homo sapiens. Who were capable of bearing his image. Big enough brain, etc. Enough complexity. They could bear his image. But was that the only way? That's the kind of question. Yeah. You know, So he doesn't address that at all. But you accepted you. And I think that The Guardian or something. There was a separation from the rest of. Grayson. In the garden the humans were. Did not have. To the as outside. Oh yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's, you know that's, yeah. I mean, you know, really want you pose the problem then you begin almost logically. Well logically this is a possible position to answer that or logically. Here's another you can almost list different ways you can move the pieces around logically on the chessboard. That's true. And actually, I'm aware of some some thinkers who do those kinds of things. That's true. You could do that. It seems to me a lot of a lot of what you feel like you can say theologically, biblically, it's one thing theologically is even yet another thing because you've got the biblical text, how to interpret, not what we want to know, but what the author was trying to communicate. Oh, really? That's what we're supposed to be listening for are those we get to frame the questions that are our questions. No, no, no, no, no. You know, so there's the biblical question. What's the author trying to communicate from this kind of literature? Then there's the theological question What are the theological principles that have to be drawn out that all of that process very often proceeds without a good deal of scientific realism, And we don't have access to that exact point of human origins.


But we do know that we came out of the same biological system that the higher primates and they came out of the same biological system as still lower forms. And so it's hard to know what separation could be described in a meaningful way intellectually, as long as we know some things about science and are willing to let them touch, you know, we're not we don't know anything. Or if we just kind of deemphasize that, then we can create a new interpretation with its sort of own internal logic that makes us satisfied. But it is developing its logic. It makes sense if A, then B and C, but it's not interacting much with other things. We know, particularly science at this point in the science of of origins. What we know about evolution, I think puts a little bit of a check, a little bit of a check on what we would want to say theologically. I think the real key is always to back up and sort of state any issue that comes up when we're not dealing with the Bible and its view of origins, or whether it's science and its view of origins, the different things that seem to come up within those two spheres of of investigation. For the religious side, What are the theological essentials? What are the theological essentials? To make Adam an idea in the Bible that keeps solidarity with the human race somehow says that both in bearing the image of God and in sinning. Were there solidarity so Adam can be used as or an idea that represents that. What is it that we must say theologically? When have we said too much or something unnecessary? Theological. Because I only want to say what's necessary. And any overstepping could be checked by science.


I don't think we're I don't think we're sensitive to that within the church, within the theological education community, as probably we should be, and end up getting married to or committed to clothing some of our theological ideas in more detail and more imagery than can be, or I want to say accepted. Why scientific awareness. So whatever kind of separation, I mean, that's one among many theories, whatever kind of separation the theory might envision. I think it has to also be accountable to the fact that science would tell us in one sense. We're all part of the same system. So in what sense then are we not? Part of the same system. And I don't know. I don't know a good answer to that. So making sense, like you said. Yeah. Well, closing closing off chapter five, those were just kind of some remarks to kind of warm us up on a cold day outside and get our intellectual juices flowing so we can move into chapter six. I don't see a lot more in chapter five we need to deal with. Do you? If you do, we we can certainly discuss anything you see in chapter six, which is entitled Human Pain. Lewis wants to say that as long as God chooses a stable physical order, that he's going to create and sustain a stable physical order, that physical order will run by its own laws. So even that question we mentioned earlier, why did God choose this system with its laws and operations versus another one with its laws and operations that may not have as much pain or may just be run totally differently? He doesn't consider that a very realistic set of choices and says any system, any system is going to have the possibility of pain.


The possibility of pain is present in the very existence of the system. I think you really need to add just a little bit more to that to make the Lewis type argument on that point complete. You have to add that as long as the physical system includes the emergence and the sustenance of sentient beings, because as sentient beings that feel pain. If you had just a physical system that didn't produce those beings, well, I don't see how a bunch of rocks flying around like. Comets commerce to get landed on at 11 a.m. today. By a bunch of European scientists who built this unmanned, a manned, what would you call it? Comet Lander. And it shoots a harpoon. When it gets close and anchors itself to the comet, and then it can take readings on the composition and. Weird. I mean, you could have just a universe like that. And no sentient beings. No conscious beings. So there's no pain. The rocks could clash with each other all they want to do. So it's one the system produces and and sustains sentient life and conscious life. That's when it looks like pain is inherent. Because any time there's a stable system that runs by its own laws, what loses point is then is that the operations, the lawful operations, may sometimes not agree with the desires and the agendas of of the beings that populate that system. But he thinks the creating the system is very important. And he says the reason why God has to create a nature, an independent nature. Which would be a a physical system running with law like regularity is it provides a theater. It provides an arena of human thought and interaction. So I can think about what I'm going to do.


I can base it on the regularities of nature. I can rationally decide a course of action. I can decide how to relate within that arena to other people who are also in that neutral field, in that in that framework. And so it provides a framework in which in which, in Lewis's language, souls can meet, souls can meet very interesting language. But it's not just, of course, the problem of human pain. It's not just about natural evil. That's really what we were talking about just now, is the idea that some evil is produced by the natural system. But the other part of the problem of human pain is that we inflict pain on each other. That would not have been generated by the operations of the system. This impersonal system or maybe not impersonal non-personal system and the infliction of pain on other people, according to Lewis, is kind of a reflection of the permission of God that God permits this the permission by God that some humans can inflict pain on other humans. For Lewis, kind of, if I can translate into my own language, reflects God's general policies of giving a wide scope of freedom. And like we talked about last time, that wide range, that wide scope of freedom to do really great goods or really terrible evils is seems to be part of God's. Policy he's made. And to abide by that policy. Means he's giving permission for things that happen to cause pain. One person causing pain to another didn't have to happen. It's not part of the natural system. The workings of natural laws. Natural laws are involved. I mean, if I know a knife is sharp, I know what it does when you know it touches flesh. Well, I mean, there are natural laws involved, but it's a it's a conscious moral decision to do that and use natural laws in the doing of.


So it is it is the case then Louis thinks that God permits evil. He doesn't necessarily, will it? One would certainly think that God would will that it not occur in his ideal. You might say, consideration of the world and the way the world turns out. It would be better if people didn't inflict pain on other people. But he permits it. Hardly ideal. But to prevent it would be to limit that range of freedom. And limiting that range of freedom would be very bad, because then the kind of goods that are possible would also be limited. We touched upon that a little bit last time, that kind of thinking. What this brings up in my mind. This whole consideration has to do with what we call in philosophy the problem of gratuitous evil. So, okay, here's evil. That didn't have to happen. The world would be better off if it didn't happen. But what is so good about the world is it has the opportunity. We wish everybody took the opportunity to freely, morally choose the good, do good to other people. That's what you hope, because God's policy is broad and the many goods, the many relational benefits are possible within that world. But then there's the downside possibility as well. So the world would be better off if some of those possibilities never became actual for causing pain, suffering, so on in the lives of other people. But in in, in philosophy, we often call this the problem. Of gratuitous evil. And yes, my use of that term is the first you'll find in the literature. But the point is gratuitous, not necessary to anything. They've been every bit as good or better a world if some of these evils didn't occur, which is gratuitous.


They could have not occurred. We have a better world. It's really God's policies that have to be supported. Not the present state of the world is the present state of the world is one of the one of the possible outcomes. That could could occur given God's policies. Your wish you had. Your wish could be. Could be worse. Could be better. But we got the world as it is and as it continues to develop. Kind of mixed goods. Yes. Don't ever forget them. Evils. Yes. There. Hard to come to grips with, but it's mixed. And so the actual world is one of the things that can happen, given God's policies. But we would say, given the kinds of considerations we've been talking about, we'd say, well, then these evils aren't necessary. To the world being the best possible world. It's hardly that. It's a good world. Oh, yeah. There's been damage. A spoiled. Yeah. Is there a certain measure, you'd say, of the amount of evil relative to the. Probably, uh, you know, planning it playfully calls them terps of evil. We have, what, ten of the 13 Terps. I'll be okay. I just thought it was worth trying. So this is how much evil we have according to planning. I think it's funny. Okay. You all. Oh. I mean, how are you going to pull off good humor in the pulpit if you don't kind of, you know, learn from the master here. So, lady, want to know how much we returned to the 13 Terps? You create a unit of evil and quantify that. You know, there you go. But the point really is that. There's evil. That's not necessarily best we can tell. Not necessary to making this the best possible world. Or put that aside, which is a grandiose, very grandiose idea that this is the best of all possible worlds.


Following limits, of course. But. Just evil. This doesn't seem necessary to any specified good or greater good, because there is a whole strategy out there of responding to the problem of evil by saying, well, evil is necessary to a greater good and therefore, really there's no evil that's gratuitous. There's no gratuitous evil. That's a response. That's a very typical response. Just have to bring it under so that every evil that occurs just has to be construed as this is going to work out. This is all for the best. We'll like it. So uncomfortable as a social worker. I say don't go there. I don't see. I think Lewis is a little a little bit ambivalent about how he wants to come down on that. If I were he, I would emphasize those parts of my own thinking that say God's policies are very broad in general and allow for things didn't have to happen and they're not necessary for a greater good. But that's what greater good defense. Or even greater good. The Odyssey. A defense, of course, is not trying to advance a theory, but just to defend. But if the Odyssey's giving a more positive explanation, here's here's a good that couldn't have been reached without this evil. Here's a great good that couldn't have been reached without the sea. Well, that's more of a theodicy once you designate that. Good. Whether it's learning more about God is a great good. If you have to have some pain to learn more about God, but it's worth it. So it's always a greater good. And so the question. But is it necessary to a greater good? These are these are really easy questions that I think Lewis you know, he's again, he's writing at a low level.


But I would like to see him navigate a little more. Precisely. But in his it is giving a response to this question. Are there are there evils that are not necessary to a greater be rather pains as pain is pain always to be thought of as necessary to some greater good? And I think the answer I think the answer is clearly no. Pain is not always necessary to a greater good. I think there's gratuitous evil and there are parts of Louis that support that. But he knows he doesn't come out of real hard. I don't see it. I think I see him kind of he doesn't frame the question exactly the way I'm framing the question. What are they going to actually frame in the question? More sharply than he is. Because he's making a lot of impressionistic good points about how pain, you know, there's a part of it that's necessary in a biological evolutionary system. That's the natural evil part. Just going to generate some pain. The system is. More wrongdoing, which is allowed by God, can generate some pain. So having a law abiding nature that's a good having God's policies the way they are, that's a good. Nobody's questioning their requesting whether whether the individual evils that occur. Individually are necessary to some greater good. I think the answer to that is clearly no. But are the policies part of a very good world? Yeah. A world which greatly restricted human freedom would not be as good a world. It have less pain, less evil, less wrong, but also have less good humans Doing noble things and great, wonderful things have less of that because that's just the way the equation works. Less downside, less upside. Well, I think I've worked that one a little.


As much as I need to work that one for for a minute. Let me move on to another thought here. Again, talking our way through the ideas of chapter six. Lewis makes this interesting point Following Human beings are rebellious, self-seeking, self-willed, and they do not surrender. They will not surrender to God as long as they feel self sufficient. Comfortable. That's an interesting point. So one thing Lewis says about pain is a pain serves the function of getting our attention, our attention to our vulnerability, to our frailty. As long as we feel self-sufficient, we don't feel vulnerable. So it falsifies our feeling of self-sufficiency so that God can get our attention. Here again, I think he lacks the degree of precision that I would like because I think the ordinary reader might look at this and say, okay, so every time there's a pain that leads to this awareness that I need God. Probably not. So not every pain still. Leads to that. But it could serve that function. When does it serve that function? No guarantee. I would say some things like this. A lot of it depends on how we respond and the pain can be little or great. It depends on how we respond, how spiritually sensitive we're aware we are, and for some people doesn't take more to get their attention. And for some people, may be less so. There's just no formula for how much pain is it going to take for any one of us. And then you back up another step and say, and pains are just distributed around the world in such a random fashion. There's no pattern. Who who suffers and how much they're going to suffer. The pattern. What does? He will. Yeah. Yeah. But does that have the philosophers concerned that seriously or they.


You know, I think I mean, you can feel physical pain because it was part of the workings of the natural regularity of things that caused you pain or you can feel pain. Could it be a very similar pain because someone or some other agent was was doing something wrong toward you? Yeah. Yeah, sure. Oh, yeah. Moral, evil, natural evil. And I think. Oh. I see. But. So. So. So I was. Oh, occasionally. I know a plant planting, for example, just purely hype hypothesized that it's possible that some evil is caused by non-human agents. And he brought that up in the late. Well, see, he was bringing that up by the early seventies. And just as so, in other words, what we call natural evil could be something that demonic agents are behind or something like that. And he didn't mean to claim that. It was true. He was only claiming it was possible, and that's all he needed to claim for the exact way he structured his response to the problem of evil. John Mackey, 55, wrote that article that sort of towered over everything in the problem of evil literature for decades called Evil and Omnipotence, published in the journal Mind. Evil and evil and Omnipotence. And the claim boiled down his claim. It said it's not possible that God and evil go together. And he didn't distinguish natural and moral evil. He thought, God, moral evil don't get together. And God naturally would you to answer the moral evil problem plainly has the free will defense. Hey, it's possible. God create a world with free human beings who misuse their freedom so God and evil can go together because He's created free human beings. Create that evil. That's all. There's nothing wrong. So free world offense triumphant.


It's a great, great piece of work by planning it. It's now been recognized as answering that problem. Been planning. It turns to the problem. Natural, evil. And he said it's possible that God created non-human free agents. And from our perspective, we often call it natural evil. But it could be this because it's the free wrongdoing of non-human agents. And he was actually jumped on quite a bit for that. I wish he'd never said it myself, but as a technical logical point, it is possible because it's just about logic. It wasn't about what's true. Logic is about what's possibly true. And why in this car. So it's out there. It's not looked upon as as any kind of major answer like that really carries a lot of weight or it is explains a whole lot of the evil, a large proportion of the evil in human experience. Virtually nobody I know of in the literature thinks that or wants to go there just because there is something very basic. But it seems possible because they thought they were signing on to what was going to very. So any any agent who has or has had a free will. So we opened up the door for. Yeah. Just a couple of things. One is, doesn't Louis at least once or twice in this book mention a pre-human foal? And so he's in the Augustinian tradition. Right. Honestly, it's the mill, Tony, and tradition. The idea there was a pre-human fall. This is the great blind poet John Milton in his poem Paradise Lost. And in the Western tradition, we've stitched together the serpent of Genesis, the Lucifer Passage. You know, I saw him and a third of the host there all fall like an angel of light or fall.


I forget what how that passage goes. So a third of heaven fell. That's. That's wrapped in the recipe. The Satan figure of Jobe, who surprisingly has an appearance before the Heavenly Council. What God is needing counsel is that old, ancient image of a heavenly. Give me a break. You know, Anyway. And the loss of the New Testament, all of those things just get kind of assumed to be. Reflections of this growing work concept in Western Christianity that there was a pre-human fall. And, you know, we know all that. And it's wonderfully done in Paradise Lost. It was pride and Satan want to ruin the creation. So he claws his way back and appears in the guard, you know, and not talking about the truth or falsity of it. I'm talking about its presence as a very controlling framework of thought in the West, the pre-human fall. And then, of course, with that, his background, the idea that. Fallen, non-human agents could still be in the business of messing up creation, that kind of thing. Again, there's not a whole lot of energy for going there. Among Christian philosophers and theologians who deal with the problem of evil. Not speaking to the middle Tony in background, but speaking only to the idea that there could be current. Situations it demands, or if you think about it philosophically, it demands at least a minimum theory as to how nonhuman finite agents can move one atom. Why would I think they? Why do I think that? Or have access to my thoughts? I mean, it's just hard to know all the kinds of background assumptions that get reflected in such comments as, Hey, could be this this, this piece of this physical suffering could really be due not to natural laws, but to the actions of an unseen, unseen, intelligent agent who's malevolent, whatever.


And I don't know. I don't know any biblical warrant, certainly don't know any theological warrant that obliges me to think a certain way about how the workings of the natural world can be interfered with by by nonphysical agents. I mean. So what are you saying? They can't know? No, no, I'm not saying. I'm just saying I need to know how one thinks that goes. What kind of theory? One has to say that workings of the world could be interfered with and. Second. I think you need some idea as to how widespread is this, how how much of an answer to the question of evil and pain and suffering could this be? Is this the answer? Is it one of of several things we have to lay on the table? Or is it by time the other things are laid on the table? We've done such important intellectual work that this doesn't have to be on the table as anything to to, you know, major make any sense. Trying to be as diplomatic as I can be. Yes. On this Sunday. Following you then. Then we can eliminate the signal. Oh, no, sir, I just. I'm just saying the image of Satan in Western Christendom has some really interesting literary roots, and the way is through the Bible and picked up these different things in the Bible and kind of assembled. I said, stitched together and all that deserves textual criticism, all that deserves a better hermeneutic. You know, layers and layers of this onion that need to be peeled and and then see what kind of conceptual work that concept will do in the in the framework of the problem of evil in Christian theological response to the problem of evil. So what work exactly does Satan do? Conceptually, theologically, that's the question.


Yeah, it as a general question. And then in the specific case of problem of evil suffering pain. What work in that area. And I'm just saying, you know, we rush in too often and make big claims and they need analysis. I mean, I you know, I'm not. I'm familiar with various theological points of emphasis dealing with illness and sickness and being diagnosed along spiritual lines when there really are just physical and they become very damaging. I'm a big opponent of that. I have to say I am trying to be diplomatic, but I guess, yeah, for me it's really. In your diplomacy. It still sounds like I'm saying it's a lot more convenient if Satan does not. If we can work out some way the same does not have. Oh, well, again, we're just I'm just talking about this. Just talking about this framework of evil suffering. Okay. I mean, I mean, what do you have whether it's whether it's moral or magical or some kind of physical institution or it's still. It's a lot of fun for me to try and work in this system because we either want to meet all these groups or communities, you know, or nature or nature. And then we bring in okay, we have some kind of rules. Right. But then you come down to you still have to. Deal with the tax and whether or not. And is that. Were you avoiding? What the text says and the way the text sees it, so that we can have the philosophical argument without using wealth will becomes if all those good points, if this is a hard subject, and particularly in the really conservative religious community where it's taken seriously, we're taking it seriously. But it doesn't mean we always have to take it according to a party line.


You know, clearly the function of the serpent in Genesis. How in the world can person get from that? Just isolating that, not bringing in the mill, Tony, The whole mill, Tony, in the background of Western Christianity, everything but just that and actually get out of that that this is a presence that's that's fiddling around in a malevolent way with with with nature probably causing illnesses and earthquakes and you know, I don't know, but. Through the ongoing or unfolding history of of of the world. And I can't get there. I just don't see how that's. I don't even think that's partly we're asking questions of Genesis the author's not trying to answer. You know. And so but you say, well, if you take the melatonin background and fit that in the background, what we think of that passage in Genesis, the background probably warrants some thinking like that, but it itself needs analysis. So. What exact function do Satan have? I think is the question. And I'm questioning that there's much. Conceptual work done to address the real problem of pain, suffering and evil by reference to satanic activity. I'm questioning that for open reflection discussion of my life. I mean, we end up saying, because I know there's plenty of theories on how or what literarily that means is a representation of human evil. Right. So where are we going when we say we is. Is an actual entity that does not have power is the one that is representing. Yeah. People are naturally evil or misunderstood or. Oh, yeah. I don't think we have it happening as we saw, so. Well, you know, I. I don't think I don't think I would want to say that the Satan image of the Bible is a symbol of human evil.


I'm not sure I see that as a coin. As said, you can't go wrong when you call it a coin as such. But I think if there's a whole order of creation, there certainly can be. It could be considered that God would create a whole order of see. Say this. Non embodied rational creatures. Angelic. Well, just like he could create a realm of embodied. Rational creatures. So, I mean, God himself is a non embodied, rational being and he could create fine art, non embodied rational. B So nobody's trying to say that's not true, that's not possible. So I'm not trying to say that. I'm just trying to say what is the real theological function? And we sometimes, I think, get it out of its proper boundaries and we're trying to apply it. And, you know, there is that that I call it kind of a hyper spirituality that wants to see demons behind every bush. And so if that's true, that that the whole lot of the world's evil really is due to demonic activity, then the way to address it certainly is not. The way we've been addressing it is to cast it out and go into some kind of, you know, spiritual warfare. But if we treat diseases as diseases in medicine, that's another that's a whole nother thing. So I'm a pretty big realist about the workings of the world, as in I'm with Lewis largely on Yeah. God has to let nature have its own accord for the most part, and there really isn't. Seems to be a really good substantial line of reasoning, either from biblical texts or definitely from an orthodox theological perspective that non embodied finite. Rational beings have control over parts of nature. So on the one side of our mouths, we could say God gives nature its own laws and they're impersonal.


Now, the other side of our mouth say, but you know, they could be fiddled with. That seems odd to me. Conceptually. It seems odd to me. Yeah. So we're. We never left, Lewis. That hurts. That really hurts. Like I was. Was, like, just. Worth discussing. But when I was going to make. Is that. It looks like to me that the source of the pain is really connected with just having free will and putting the conscious self. Ancient practices are pretty well consistent with disobedience, which was. Penis or even obedience. He says that there's a there's a small thing, you know, maybe it's because. So. Yes, so, so, so so then, I mean, eventually next Thursday he gets. So. So just the point is there has to be a conscious. Either in disobedience or obedience to what they should have been. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Those are really fascinating remarks he's making. I'm sorry if I act like I'm struggling to hear you guys, but this heater is on up here. And, you know, honestly, if I could turn that off, I would, because I think we generate enough hot air, you know what I'm saying? But I can't. It's so it's kind of in my my right ear over here. But I hear I think I hear what you're saying. That's an interesting point in Lewis, that any surrender is a kind of pain. I thought about that a lot. I want to grant the element of truth that I think that represents. On the other hand, isn't continual a continual trajectory of continual obedience, less and less pain. And so that becomes natural. And the the dance is more harmonious until my will is lost in my will. I think there's something more to be said than the interesting point that he makes, that there's always pain and self surrender as well.


He also said that, yes, so. So not necessarily negative things. That's true. That's true. If we can leave, you know, the demonic behind, but which is my that's my hope. We can move on and pursue pursue this a little bit further. Some pain and self surrender. He makes he makes a kind of a Kantian point about I just went to a lecture on Consequence on my mind, went to UK on Friday afternoon and the lecture on court was there. It was by. The visiting scholar. I'll forget his name already. But anyway. It goes like this. If on a county in epistemology, I'll put it this way. For card, could God reveal himself? And if he could? Could we know it? And very, very interesting lecture. They had a big room much larger than this big oak table with people sitting around. Still grad students only and graduate faculty only. So it was a lot of fun. But so a console in my mind can't an easy one, because we can. We can get past our senses. That's right. It does reveal itself. Yep. Yeah. For can't get given that God could not be present in space and time and could not be subject to the categories. That's actually he got textbook card. He nailed the his pole, his Eastern Orthodox Christian. Actually, he brought in the whole idea of the divine energy, the idea that we can be caught up in the divine energy, the energy in the West. It's always the logos, you know, and all that. But in the East, Eastern Christianity is more the energy that our powers of knowing could transcend our normal capabilities. That's all the epistemology stuff of can't. And he was trying to do something creative with it was it was fun.


But here we're really talking more about Kahn's moral theory. And if you remember, he loses something like this. There needs to be some pain. When I come to God. How we characterize a pain psychological. Would that be physical? Me psychological pain of my ego being pierced, my ego being brought to where it should be. You know that guy. So can't says this in his moral theory that there is only one truly moral feature in the world the good will. This whole idea of the goodwill. In can't whether it's c critique of practical reason. The second critique as we call it, or the the groundwork of the metaphysics of morals. He makes the same point. He says that if I if I have the goodwill, it's a will that's concerned only for doing duty for duty sake. I do my duty. Why? And there are ways to determine your duty. You know, you've got to know the categorical imperative and and all that are true. People's ends, nevers means. And you know, so there's ways, but. But then when I know my duty, I'm not. I'm not engaging in a distinctively moral action unless I do it for the one distinctively moral reason, for the sake of duty itself is the only proper moral. Any other motive destroys the morality of my action. I want to pick up on that after break.