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76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comforting and uplifting
This beautiful little book is on a par with the author's well-known classic Mere Christianity, as it addresses many profound questions that those in search of truth must have grappled with. Lewis was not an academic theologian so he writes for the ordinary person, which makes his words easy to understand.

The introduction deals with the 3 elements found in all...
Published on 25 Jun 2006 by Pieter Uys

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't address any of the really hard questions about pain
This is the third of the Signature classics I've read and is by far the least accessible and doctrinaire I've come across. Lewis recounts much of Christian Orthodoxy - Man is responsible for his own Fall and, therefore, for Evil entering the world; God values free-will over suffering; it is only through suffering that we can cleanse the world of evil and re-attain our...
Published 12 months ago by Euclidean Norm


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5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't answer all the questions: just the most popular.<g>, 16 Dec 1997
By A Customer
Not the best place to start if you want to see the strongest logical underpinnings of Christianity (_Miracles: A Preliminary Study_, post-1960 edition, would be the best; _Mere Christianity_ would be the most popular and easiest to digest). However, _The Problem of Pain_ (TPoP) does fully address the most popular theological question of all: if there's a good God, then why do we suffer? The question is deep, and the answers here are logically strong (although any serious sceptic of Christianity will probably rankle at them... go read one of the other two books, first!<g>) This is not a book to read if you've just suffered a personal disaster and want to be comforted (although Lewis himself published the final edition of the book just after his wife's death from bone cancer.) It is, however, an essential book for Christians who want to be forearmed in advance when tragedy strikes: remember that strength of will is an intellectual asset that must be developed unless you're a prodigy, and that our reason is our prime (perhaps only) defense against the overwhelming sorrow of our personal tragedies. Lewis' book places the answers squarely within Christian perceptions, and any ideas in the book should be acceptable to members of any denomination. I'll gladly field any questions or comments (or corrections<g>) at the above address, but take note: hatemail will be immediately deleted (so be polite!<G>), and sceptical non-Christians will probably be referred back to one of the earlier books (which I'll also gladly help out on.) As Lewis himself once wrote, "If I _am_ wrong, then the sooner I find out, the better off I'll be." Just remember it works both ways.<WEG>
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't address any of the really hard questions about pain, 6 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Problem of Pain (C. S. Lewis Signature Classic) (C. Lewis Signature Classic) (Paperback)
This is the third of the Signature classics I've read and is by far the least accessible and doctrinaire I've come across. Lewis recounts much of Christian Orthodoxy - Man is responsible for his own Fall and, therefore, for Evil entering the world; God values free-will over suffering; it is only through suffering that we can cleanse the world of evil and re-attain our pre-Fallen state (in which, paradoxically, we have, by definition, surrendered free-will).

Compared to the other Signature books I have read, Lewis adds little of the nuanced understanding and emotional 'pull' that made the other books compelling, even for an atheist.

My biggest criticism, however, is that Lewis avoids the really difficult questions about Pain.

1. Is Evil a necessary by-product of free-will?

2. Original Sin. If God values free-will over suffering, why do those without free-will (e.g. foetuses and babies) also suffer. The best that 2,000 years of theological thought can come up with is Original Sin - Mankind as a whole is stained by the Fall, therefore babies are just collateral damage. To me this has always been a totally abhorrent aspect of Christianity and also a totally central part of it - that Lewis consciously chooses to ignore it is tantamount to intellectual cowardice (I hesitate to use that word, but can think of no other, it is also consistent with the forthrightness adopted by Lewis).

3. Does God answer the prayers of those who ask for their suffering to be alleviated? If so, why some and not others? Lewis does touch on this and the sense I get is that Lewis does not believe that God intervenes - it is our own response to suffering that counts. But Lewis again sidesteps the issue of why some Christians' terminal illnesses go into remission and others do not. Again, a major omission and something I was looking forward to being discussed.

4. Does God exercise choice? Lewis is clearly on the side that God allows suffering as the consequence of free-will. But he also describes God as being 'Absolute Goodness'. But here's the contradiction, if God has a choice then there are two states: that of exercising the choice and that of not exercising it. If there are two possible divine states there cannot be a single state of Absolute Goodness. Unless we start ascribing quantum physical attributes: God is the superposition of wave functions; and, is simultaneously interfering and not interfering in the world. It is in our creation as individuals that the wave functions collapse and do so differently for each of us.

If you are an atheist looking for an intellectual debate about pain and free-will, then this isn't the book for you. If you want a rather odd argument of why favoured pets get to go to Heaven, this is the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much to consider, 15 Jun 2011
By 
S. Meadows (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Problem of Pain (Paperback)
It is very important to remember when reading this, as with much of Lewis' apologetic work, that this is a layman's view, not a theological treatise. Lewis acknowledges this from the outset and makes reference to it at various points throughout the book. I have to admit, the start of the book was not what I was expecting at all. I thought the whole thing was purely a look at theodicy, though Lewis doesn't really get going on this until the second half of the book, when having spoken a little about 'pain' he then distinguishes between the physical triggering of nerve impulses and the more emotional aspect of anguish or despair, the latter of which is what is then meant when Lewis talks about pain.

Lewis opens with a discourse on the nature of omnipotence. I found it immensely helpful, as Lewis managed to enunciate what had previously been only half-formed thoughts in my own mind and on this section I found myself in near total agreement with him. Interestingly, Lewis doesn't quite pose the problem of pain in the wording commonly found today: "how can a good God allow suffering?" Instead, he states it as "If God were God, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."

Lewis' view is to gain an understanding of the terms used in the above statement which is more meaningful than those used in everyday language. So having looked at what it means for God to be described as omnipotent, he then goes on to examine the nature of 'goodness' before he discusses human wickedness and the Fall, with their respective roles in pain.

At all times, Lewis gives a 'tight' argument; that is, it is not easy to summarise and every step in the train of thought must be carefully followed. So I did find myself having to go back and re-read pages on quite a few occasions. I would recommend that each chapter be read in one sitting, as it is difficult to pick up the trail if you stop mid-way, though each chapter is self-contained and gives plenty of food for thought.

Lewis ends the book with a look at hell, pain in animals and heaven. At no point does Lewis give a concise one-liner as the answer to the problem of pain. To do so would be pithy and fail to do justice to the weight of the problem. Rather, the whole book is his answer.

I would be surprised if anyone agreed with Lewis on all of his points, but equally surprised if any christians, at least, were to disagree with him on all points. The book provides plenty to consider and mull over, and it is one I anticipate picking off my shelf many times again to look at.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C. S. Lewis calls himself a "layman" -- Its a lie!, 30 Jun 1997
By A Customer
C.S. Lewis, once again, proves himself the master apologist. This book gives many thought-provoking answers to the Question "Why, if 'God is Love', is there pain and suffering in the world we inhabit?" He goes on to explain the difference between Godly and human love. He has chapters explaining the subjects of Heaven, Hell, and Animal pain and all his arguements are very well presented. I would be a good idea to read this book with a dictionary (I had to!), because he writes on a really high level.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless book: always and everywhere relevant, 11 May 2008
By 
Aquinas "summa" (celestial heights, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Problem of Pain (Paperback)
Lewis deals with a timeless issue in this book: why is there suffering and pain? In the UK, this issue has come centre stage in moral debates. Should a being being permitted to exist if its life is destined to be one of "useless" suffering.

There was an article in the paper about a year ago about a couple who had a child with cystic fibrosis and wanted through IVF to conceive a child free of this nasty disease. Through the "miracle" of science, they were enabled to screen out any embryos with the disease so that they could have a "perfect" child. The logic for this was, so they said: "why would anyone want anyone to suffer" (aside: what would their existing child with CF be now thinking: it would have been better that I had not existed?) as if all who suffer, would wish not to be rather than to be. This kind of thinking is becoming indemic. It is a rejection of the truth which shines forth luminously from every human being, a truth which causes the beholder to say: "It is indeed wonderful that I exist"

And, this is where Lewis comes in with an attempt at answering the question of: "why is there suffering"?:

"The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word "love", and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre, God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake".

Thus, love has become associated with a soft type of sentimentality in our culture; but it is much greater than that: it actively seeks for the good of the person loved - love may thus permit suffering to enable the person loved to become a person, who is himself capable of self emptying love. Lewis notes: "We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved; we are, as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms".

Lewis does not shrink from giving suffering its due: "No doubt pain as God's megaphone is a terrible instrument; it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion. But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment. It removes the view; it plants the flag of truh within the fortress of a rebel soul"

In a word, suffering destroys our self delusion that we are in control, that we are demi-gods: when we suffer, we know where we are and its not at the centre of the universe.

Thus, whilst suffering (be it physical, natural or emotional), is an effect of evil, being a privation of the good, it can lead us to a recognition of our creaturely place in the universe and hence to find out true "orientation".

On hell, Lewis states; "I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside"

Lewis is very good indeed in this book; he synthesises brillianty key christian doctrines coherently and intelligibly.

Brilliant!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 1 July 2014
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A beautiful book, which struck right to the heart of so many of the complex emotions that grief produces. C S Lewis has a way of putting into words what others cannot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars C S Lewis, 5 May 2014
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This review is from: The Problem of Pain (C. S. Lewis Signature Classic) (C. Lewis Signature Classic) (Paperback)
l CS Lewis books are worth reading .They are all well researched and comprehensive. This one The Problem of Pain was given to someone who was preparing for confirmation and needed further guidance on this subject. An excellent book to have on ones bookshelf.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fine if you have faith, 14 April 2014
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This review is from: The Problem of Pain (C. S. Lewis Signature Classic) (C. Lewis Signature Classic) (Paperback)
Turgid, and its tone is quite self important. As I was raised as an atheist steeped in science and reason, it would take something quite compelling for me to have faith. Intellectually demanding, but did not have a religious experience because of it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Prompt as promised, 13 April 2014
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I was very pleased with the transaction in all aspects, from the ease of ordering to the delivery. Thank - you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Painful Problem, 28 Jan 2014
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Problem of Pain (Paperback)
The problem of evil – and the problem of human pain and suffering in particular – is one of the oldest and most persistent theological questions. Under its technical term “theodicy” theologians and philosophers have explored it at least since the eighteenth century. In “The Problem of Pain” C. S. Lewis, one of the best renowned twentieth century Christian apologists, uses his own considerable erudition and literary talent to explore this age-old issue.

From the very outset of this book Lewis makes it clear that he is no theologian or a philosopher, and makes an apology of sorts for his possibly nave views of some of the deep and enduring intellectual questions that he tackles. Nonetheless, this book is anything but nave and intellectually unsophisticated in its treatment of the problem of pain, and some of the treatment of these deep issues is on par or even well ahead of what I’ve read by some of the best and most erudite Christian theologians throughout the ages. Lewis is very probing and sophisticated in his insights, to the point that this book can be pretty challenging to read at times. This is a work of someone who is not satisfied with cheap and facile answers to the most difficult and challenging questions that can confront faith, and Christian faith in particular. His treatment is also very contemporary and addressed to the modern audience. So much so in fact, that it was hard for me to believe that this book was written over a century ago. Many of the problems and issues that Lewis had to contends with are still relevant, and, according to him, were well over a century old even at the time of the writing of this book. The biggest one, of course, is the notion that the modern world has not only the problem with accepting the solution for its many ills in Christian message, but it also lacks the sense that it’s ill, and very seriously at that. Christianity today must make the convincing case not only for the remedy, but for the existence of disease as well.

This book is a valuable read for all Christians who desire to grapple with their faith in an original and intellectually deep and honest way. It provides ample ammunition to Christian apologists as well, although it is my sense that this was not Lewis’s target audience. This book may not provide the definitive “solution” to the problem of pain, but in some sense it’s possible that no book ever will. Flannery O’Connor might have been onto something when she wrote that “evil is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be endured.”
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