C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 27
Problem of Pain (Part 7)
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.
Problem of Pain (Part 7)
I. Kantian Ethics of Duty vs. Aristotelian Ethics of Virtue
II. Divine Command Theory vs. Natural Law
III. Human Pain (cont.) (chapter 7)
A. Paradox between tribulation and faith
B. The Christian doctrine of self-surrender is purely theological and not in the least political
C. Pain gives us the message that we will never have ultimate security
D. Pain and suffering have the tendency to reduce the rebel will
IV. Hell (chapter 8)
A. Hell is a retributive punishment and makes God look wrathful
B. The punishment of hell is disproportionate to what’s being punished
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 Worldview. It 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 7)
But want to pick up with the point I was making about Lewis making a kind of a content point that in his discussion of Payne and Lewis is laying various considerations on the table about why God allows pain in human experience. One of the things that Lewis is saying at this part of the book is that just like in Kantian moral theory, there's only one moral making motive. We know our duty, but we do it for the sake of duty alone, not because we get benefit from it, because it makes us feel good, because we get praise from others. You know, all the different kinds of other reasons you can do things. So there's only one distinctively moral motive incarnate in moral theory. Likewise, Lewis seems to be making the point that when we come to God that maybe there's only this one distinctively correct motive because he deserves for us to come. He's God, He's Lord of everything. And and the only good motive for coming to God is that we recognize that just like in moral through, we recognize the commanding nature of duty and we submit to it and we do it just for the sake of it. Likewise. God, do you hear him making that point? Does he mention can't at all? I can't remember if he literally he does maybe once mention it. And I really I just think that's so rich a point. Not because I agree with it, because it needs discussion. I used to be a county, and also in my younger years on this point, thinking that there's only one proper motive for coming to God. But then I got to thinking. I'm not a Kantian. I'm an Aristotelian. Emma Thomas. And just like Aristotle gets our thinking going along these lines and moral theory that we have a telos and the telos tells us what kind of thing we are and what our proper fulfillment is.
Just a circular thinking of Aristotle. He's not a Christian, he's a pre-Christian. But for him, the human being has a telos. And so morality is just talking about morality for a second to make the parallel with Christian commitment coming to God as a parallel consideration. Morality for for Aristotle is an expression of our human nature. It's a fulfillment of our human nature is much less just to be described as an act of the will. And then the will can only will, according to one motive for card, are respect for duty, and it's much more an expression of our whole nature. And even the non war the moral person for Aristotle is cannot experience. Total fulfillment. He says, for example, that some people think they're fulfilled, but they're merely pleased. Is there a store? Well, Thomas comes in, he goes, You got a lot of that, right, buddy? But now we know this human telos is divinely created, something Aristotle could not envision. And so, you know, for me, Aristotle and Thomas Trump can't. So Thomas then says, this human telos is not just to be more a moral being, express itself in moral behavior, virtue, but virtuous behavior where we're developing virtues that complete us in the moral realm. It's not just about acts of the will, acts of the will, acts of the will. Each time we do it, it better be according to that one pure stoic motive. But there's a there's a rounding out and a completion of us in the moral dimension of who we are. And Thomas just reframes a lot of the Aristotle stuff, and we know God is a moral being and create us in a way to reflect his morality in a finite way. And that's part of a completion of of our being as well.
Likewise, as Augustine would say, you have created us for thyself or God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest envy. Or, as the psalmist says, as my heart, as the as the the deer pants after the water. Brooke. So parents, my heart after the Lord. So there's something much deeper in thinking about what it means to to to come to God and relate to God. Then there's this Kantian type point that what we should only come to God if if we have the motive of pure respect for God as Lord as God and and to be really sure that that's our motive, it needs to cost us. This must be some pain. So this is all in the discussion of pain. Interesting point. I'm not saying in a blanket way I don't agree, but I'm getting right at the count his his use of card to say, hey, our coming to God probably is a recipe that differs with every individual to some extent. A recipe with many different ingredients. Desire, longing, need the sense of incompletion. The sense that my life will be better off. See those. It can't be in terms you got to rule those out as profit motives do come to guard. You should only come to God just because he's got and thinking we're a total human being. Even Aristotle had a more complete view than that. And so if we're a total human being made with a capacity for God and made with urges and needs, the feeling of incompletion, lack of fulfillment, the idea that my life could be better, the idea that I'm my sin, my sins need to be forgiven. Well, I'm getting a better set. In Colombia saying you can't do it for a benefit.
And it's just seems to me like Lewis is is unwittingly perhaps picking up more of the county and baggage. The way I analyze it, then he should because then I and to that extent, I analyze Lewis's point here as having some defects. But read the rest of Lewis, read other works of Lewis, or even read parts of Lewis in the same book. And he's making a lot of my points. Without without the county and baggage. So I'm I'm Fajon for making an interesting point about there's a sense in which maybe. It should cost you something. But regardless of all that, we come to God for, I think, a jillion different reasons. And they're all in a bundle. They differ like ingredients in a recipe. And if one of them is God, is God, I need to submit. Okay, That's in here, if that's part of your thinking. But it may not be because you're desperate and your heart just pans after God. Like the deer pants over the water broke. You need a drink? Yeah, I think. I don't know what you're talking about. You know, there could be. Price. Because it's. Jesus says that nobody can come. Me? Yeah. And you know, I'm so and so. And then he talks about the cross and oh, yeah, the pain and sharing and the sufferings of Christ. All those things are definitely New Testament images. Yeah, but I honestly, I don't think that's Lewis's point here. I think the Lewis point is, Oh, God needs to pierce the shield, the protective shield of our ego. And we are embodied creatures, rational, moral, personal beings with embodiment. And that embodiment involves nerve endings and the capacity for pain. So part of what Louis is saying is that God could get our attention by letting pain.
Highlight to us how frail we are and how much you need. We are and we won't feel like we're we've got our ego. Is self sufficient. And but then he makes that Kantian point of am I, am I putting words in his mouth? I am making it too strong. Well, he starts it off. Yeah, I get it right. Okay. Yeah. We started off with here. We started on a very difficult. So he's kind of. Yeah, he's kind of let himself off the hook. He's he's weaseling it out by saying this is difficult. But no, I don't know. But he's right. It's difficult. Is there a sort of a pristine concept of the ideal way to come to God is just because he's God, not because I'm thinking of any benefit. Things that in Kantian moral theory, I shouldn't do. I shouldn't think of benefits for myself. Just do my duty. It's an act of the will. And clearly the will is involved in coming to God as well. There's a parallel in there, but it's not chiefly a matter of the will. The will is guided by the will is embedded within a total person who's got to have all sorts of beliefs about this Action of my will is going to have consequences. I'm doing something that I need to do that that will benefit me. And if I hear can't hear it, if I hear Lewis Right. The county an echo is that we shouldn't think about that. Just come to God because he's God is. Would it be fair for this passage? I think there are other passages in Lewis where he sounds more like I do, you know. Yeah, it's confusing. If you come to God. Because he's gone. But that's what you want to do.
No, no. See, that's right. If you come to God because he's God. But you do not want to do that. Yeah, but. But you give in because you don't want. See the can't would praise that a Kantian a Canadian approach would praise doing your duty even though you don't want to. And even an Aristotelian approach to staying within the framework of moral theory would say that's the morally immature person who luckily gets his or her will in shape to do one moral action. Great. They didn't want to. They struggled maybe with him, but the morally mature person, their will is going to get more and more habituated to doing what's right. Otherwise, the concept of moral maturity doesn't make any sense. And you make morality sound like it's a series, a string, string of pearls, string of beads on a string. This willful action, this this act of the will, this act of the will is and it's just a bunch of acts. And in each case, there is no framework of your total nature being brought to bear on what you do and that your nature is getting reshaped, getting framed as your actions create habits and therefore virtues. And in a similar way, I don't think you can say commitment to God is just an act of the will. It's a it's a key characteristic in the commitment to God. The will has to has to focus on God and to be directed toward God. But it's it's it's doing that within a a framework of a whole human personality. It's got lots of motives, lots of needs. And we think a lot of those are built in there by God as well. So, so so actually, I believe it's I think it's in the groundwork of the metaphysics of morals.
You know, class gives you this example of the person who struggles against all all sorts of temptation and to do the right thing, not to do the right thing. And finally, he does the right thing and can't just is effusive with praise. Okay, fine. Made a certain point that he got his will to do what was right just because it was right. Please ignore so people. But who get what if you got a pleasure out of doing what's right? What if you will? Didn't have to struggle because you'd lived a lifetime of shaping your will habitually will. So it's easier to do the right thing when the situation comes up. Now, which of these two people do? What do I do? I praise more the person who struggle and struggle. That's the picture of the morally immature person. But to make a point about the goodwill praises the heck out of that guy. And I would put up the Aristotelian model of the person who's developed character over time. And therefore it's easy and there's actually pleasure. The will is easier to control, and there's actually pleasure in doing what's right. And one has a sense of well-being that accompanies the proper fulfillment of our nature. So that's a much larger concept. And likewise with with, with what Lewis seems to be doing with with that concept in relation to commitment to God. Just giving up to God, only to be because he commands it, because he's Lord you that can and any pleasure, any benefit we have, it somehow detracts for calm. It would detract if the person who did did something for the for any any reason other than the goodwill doing duty for duties sake. There's any other motive, any tracks that strikes me is.
Inadequate. Not true. And likewise, its application to religious commitment. Inadequate? Not true. That's what I think. Yeah. Hmm. Think about this a. Japanese culture. From a sense of duty. Yeah. In the last year. I would relate it more not so much to Japanese culture, which I don't know as much about, but to Chinese and Confucianism, for example, there's their states of character and Confucian in certain ways of interpreting ancient Confucianism to say it's about character, not just about acts. What we do, but it's about being what we are. And out of all we are, we act. And how do you get that chicken or the egg cycle going? Well, I have to I have to be the morally immature person or the religiously immature person and begin to do the right things and they become easier. And I go in that direction and my will becomes more shaped and I begin to move toward maturity. And Confucianism does talk in those terms. I don't know as much about the Japanese culture, but I. I really like The Last Samurai. I could go there. Yes. German. Lutheran. Yeah. Yeah. You know. Everything is in order. Yeah, I think that's a good point. Yeah, but, you know, all the shops are closed because it's the holiday and there are people, there are no cars, there's a red light. People are not crossing. Yeah. There's no policy in that. Yeah. Just one step. But I do think that I don't really know because I haven't gotten to the news to study who I'll put this, uh, this landing vehicle on that comment. Although I'm so impressed, I can barely stand it. But I think there was a fair mix of Germans. Make sense of it. But it was a European operation.
I don't know much about it. It's off my radar. And until this morning, I just popped on the news, you know, and. And that was there. So, yeah, there's a lot to be said about how Kong came to think what he thought. And I don't think I can go there, but, um. Yeah, I better. I better go on. Now, you know, a parallel point here, by the way, is Lewis is pretty much an opponent of divine command theory as a theory about what makes things right. He's very much on natural law. And we've talked about this maybe a little bit before. So divine command theory, natural law theory to two very different approaches. But are there in the religious community, the Christian community. But what makes things right? And Lewis characterizes divine command theory is things are right because of God's will. God's will is elevated as what makes things divine. The natural law theory says it's because of God's wisdom. He knows what's right and therefore he wills it. But his will doesn't make it right, per se. And similarly, it's inadequate to characterize the human will in coming to God simply because of duty as the only correct way to come to God. That takes us back to the last 10 minutes of discussion. I think we can move to chapter seven. I think we're generating some interesting discussion here. In Chapter seven. Human cells are Human. Chapter seven on Human Pain. Lewis says he's just continuing the discussion. One of the points he makes in this part of his discussion is that there's kind of a paradox built in to Christianity regarding tribulation. And faith. The way I would unpack what he's saying. Is that any given evil can be caught up into a larger good and it becomes a more complex reality for sure.
But that good can can ultimately be a redemptive good. Put it like this. So if here's an evil, it could be caught up in a larger, good or redemptive good. And in the the larger reality takes on a kind of a complexity. Lewis is undoubtedly aware of the work of DJ Moore at the turn of the 20th century. Cambridge philosopher G.E. Moore, George Edwin more and more talked about organic holes, the idea that some goods could be viewed as, as as organic wholes. And Lewis seems to be suggesting for our thinking that evil, the evils involving pain, tribulation, suffering, things of that nature can be caught up in Christian thinking, can be considered as part of a larger whole, which is so good and has such redemptive power that in effect, swallows the evil. You know, nobody's saying we're glad the evil happened. Nobody's saying that. But simply saying it can be swallowed up. It can be part of a a larger whole, which is so powerful in its redemptive capacity. Interesting point. So redemption, the very concept of redemption in a sense, involves something negative that has to be somehow turned or reframed. And that's part of what the G Mor type language is suggesting. Yes, it's just as the diagram. A white blood cell, which is. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Marilyn Adams, by the way, has has written a lot using this kind of theme. Her 99 came up 99, horrendous evils in the goodness of God. And she talks about this. She uses the chisel man language from Rod Chisel, who died a few years back of at Brown. But a good can defeat an evil if it's significant enough good. And so I won't go into all that. But she she does really have a nice book there with horrendous evils and the goodness of God.
Her own work involves universalism and things like that. I won't go into. But the book in terms of this kind of concept is really interesting. Another another point. I'm just kind of skipping through here because it's like the continuation of the last chapter. Let me just kind of tiptoe through here. Another point to mention is that the Christian doctrine of self surrender is purely theological and not political. He's not saying obedience to any given authority. He's just talking about obedience and surrender to God, but not to political authority or anything else. And one's relation to civil authority, just different issue. So he makes that point somewhere I couldn't tell you. Or pages all different of the different editions we have. I couldn't tell you exactly where he makes that point. He says this too. He says, in this life, pain, pain gives us the message that we can never have security, not ultimate security in this life. But by entering into the life of God in this life. We could have merriment. I think his word is merriment. I don't use that word much anymore. And. And happiness as hints or suggestions of the more perfect life with God to come. I'm not you know, I'm looking at my notes. I'm not seeing anything too compelling in this chapter seven to to talk about less. You see anything that you think we need to address? Kind of a then maybe the net result or the takeaway of this discussion about pain at this part of the book would be that pain and suffering. Have the tendency. And these are Lewis words. To reduce the rebel will. So you you picture sin and alienation from God. As a matter of of of the will being in rebellion, the will going its own way.
And then he's been taking different approaches to to developing this theme that the experience of pain and suffering could help reduce the well and and create conditions for surrender. Once again, there does not seem to be a necessary result along those lines. You can find people who suffer and become cynical, become hardened. The very same sun that melts the butter. Hardens the clay. Depends a lot on the response. My wife as a pastor sees this all the time. How people respond so differently to what would seem to be a very similar hardship. So, so much depends on on so many variables that there's no clear formula. Oh, if you suffer enough, you'll come to God. In which case we ought to help each other suffer more with each other along on our spiritual journey. All have we done for time. A few more minutes here. We'll take another break. Chapter eight is a chapter on hell. Lewis says something like this If a game is played, it must be possible to lose. And if the happiness of a creature lies in self surrender. No one can make that surrender but the creature. The key would be whether they're conditions that help move the creature along to be more likely to surrender. And Lewis, as we have noted, is saying the pain could be, could be. In terms of the concept of hell. We're going to talk about that more in the great Divorce. It really comes front and center in the great divorce book that we have on on the agenda for a little bit later. Oh, but it is just a few remarks that seem appropriate here. In terms of retribution. The idea that hell is some kind of retribution. One might say something like this from a Louisiana point of view.
Hell is God giving the unrepentant what he or she freely chooses. It's. That seems largely correct to me. The pain the hell is not something God does to us. It is the outcome of a trajectory of life choices. And that's that's very consistent with Lewis's thinking. One could back up a step and say, well, critically speaking, we have this concept in ethics called informed consent, and it's not right to give a patient some kind of medicine or therapy unless they're fully informed and can consent. I take this therapy or not, you know, that kind of thing. And you do have this amazing problem of there being no level playing field. Of informed consent. That people who have lived and died in the history of the world are currently live all over the globe at present, have a widely varying level of of information about how they should direct their will toward God. Whether they are within another religious system or outside of all religious systems, that kind of thing. It varies so much. And so the problem becomes, you know, nuanced and additionally complicated by that. I'm glad I don't have to be the judge of the whole universe, because there are times when I kind of wish I was, you know what I'm saying? You get some things done. But be that as it may, I ain't going to happen. So I think I think the best way to to to speak of of the judge of the universe, who presides over an amazing history of humanity with all the varying levels of information. A Louisiana a Louisiana response would be God, in his infinite wisdom, knows the trajectory of all the different lives that have ever been lived and would know how to factor in their level of information.
Whether they knew the Gospel, didn't know, the Gospel, never heard. He would know how to do that. And if they're going to be saved or not in hell, the atonement of Jesus has to apply to their case. So nobody, as we said early on, when we read Mere Christianity, nobody can be saved apart from Christ. But there could be varying levels of information that people have that just have to be factored into a just. Judgment. Very deep question. Very deep question. So if you know, in my notes, I say there are these objections to the idea of hell. One would be is just retributive punishment and God looks wrathful. And so the response, as I mentioned, is simply, well, God is giving people what they choose. They chose it. And that's that's one level of of Lewis type response. And under a little bit of reflection and analysis, we get to the other level of lowest response that they have to choose within a framework of what they know. And I think there's still been a deeper response, as I mentioned, that infinite wisdom and infinite justice and infinite mercy will know how to do all this. It's beyond us. Yes. It's like I remember learning somewhere in relation to the Lewis petition, though. There's been one in sort of the last 30. I saw her, but I cannot locate that in my memory of Lewis. But that hill is a kind of a a roadblock to get things getting any worse. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's interesting idea that. I don't know. I just can't place it in my reading of Lewis anywhere. Sorry. I think you can read that. Just. Yeah. I think. What? It is critical to view that. Wait for your.
And then at the same time, even more so than you think. Yeah. Real people know what it's about. So does. He's very skeptical about that. No, I think yeah. Yeah. I think even in even in the great divorce, it depends on how you execute Lewis. I'm not an expert on this point, but you almost get the suggestion that could be rooted maybe here, but definitely in the great divorce. There may be some basis for this that heaven and hell don't bear any any relations to one another, that there's a point of ultimate divorce. And the idea that I'll be aware in heaven of people suffering in hell that may not apply somehow. It's like different dimensions different. It's not like they're two compartments running parallel. I don't have a language for it, but we can pick that up a little bit in in the Great Divorce. Let me mention one other one other possible objection that Louis talks about, that the punishment of hell is disproportionate to the to the to what's being punished. Often put like this hell is an eternity. But no matter how much sin, so to speak, a finite creature performs, no matter how sinful that creature is, it's always finite somehow. And to suffer an eternity in hell seems disproportionate. I think I think a Louisiana type response. At one level would be. But God cannot accept. A central person as they are. Just like we've been talking earlier in the book, just like we dealt with in Christianity as well. It's worth everything, even pain, to get my self properly oriented toward God. That's the only way I can experience the fulfillment for which my being is made. So. It's not so much that there's an injustice. If I follow this Lewis line of thought, it's not so much there's an imbalance, an injustice between finite sin construed somehow and infinite punishment.
It's just that God can't accept the sinful, and he has to be relentless. Stop at nothing. As Lewis says earlier in this book, he may hurt us, but he will never harm us. The harm is if we don't experience the good for which remain. So some hurt, some outweighs some real pain, real. So it may well be worth achieving that. So it's about it's about our sinfulness that just can't can't go into the presence of God. You could also talk about the Kirkuk Kirkuk Guardian point, Syria in Kirkuk, or, you know, says there's a sense in which human choice. Is infinite. What has to do with the ultimate meaning of life and my ultimate destiny? There's a sense in which my choice is infinite, not finite. That's a really interesting point from Kirkegaard. Yes, that kind of idea plays until, like you say, the last battle. Continue willful ignorance. Yeah. So, like, they're in that little stable. Yeah. And Narnia, New Narnia. They don't see it because. Yeah. They kind of build up into that. They've closed up all the doors to This is a stable. It is a stable at that point. What's that like a stable or a barn or something. Yeah. Yeah. But once they get thrown into it. And then the creatures around them as Narnia is being reconquered for Aslan. The new Narnia is dawning and people are beckoning. Come on out, come on out and lose as line is. They won't come out for fear of being taken in. They think it's a fraud. They think that we have nothing, think they'll be had. So there's partly fear and of of coming out into God's wider reality. But I think that that image in Book seven, the original lie.
And you really trust that. Well, that's yeah, that's a good point that it's continuing the old theme not trusting God. Well, I think we probably need another break and come back in eight or 10 minutes. We'll go again.