Last week I finished "The Problem of Pain" by CS Lewis. Overall, I found the book fairly disappointing, especially since so many people recommend CS Lewis to me, I was expecting more. His arguments were covered with logical fallacies. One thing I will say is that he seemed very genuine to me. I don't think he was ever being evasive or anything like I see many apologists do, but his logic was poor. I wasn't expecting to be convinced, but I was hoping for some arguments where I could say "I can see why someone would believe that" or maybe "that makes sense although I disagree with a premise". I saw none of that and am honestly a bit confused as to why so many people keep recommending his books to me. Maybe it is like the bible where people have heard it is good but haven't actually read it themselves.
I decided to take a quick look at what I have written about each chapter and do a very short summary here.
Chapter 1: He starts off saying he used to be an atheist and discussing what his reasons were. He gives a terrible reason why men could not have invented the idea of God and then moves on to the origin of religion. He talks about how morality and the numinous (spirits and such) are related and then explains that Jesus is what makes Christianity special.
Chapter 2: He begins discussing definitions and points out that we often mean different things with the same words. He says that omnipotence should mean anything that is logically possible. He says that sometimes we can't tell what is possible with our limited intelligence, this is a copout. He said that since we are self-aware God must exist, and since there is something other than ourselves God must exist. Both of these are terrible arguments. Then he talks about how 'evil' is in the eye of the beholder, an interesting idea although I would argue it breaks at extremes.
Chapter 3: Lewis claims God's moral judgement is more refined than ours. The goodness of God is love which includes tough love. It is an interesting idea, but again I think it breaks in extremes
Chapter 4: Starts with the idea that people are inherently evil, a doctrine of Christianity that I find disgusting. He talks about how Christianity first preaches the diagnosis and then preaches the cure, have to agree with that. Then he says that in modern times we can trick ourselves into thinking we are moral when we aren't. Then he says that we aren't totally depraved, not sure how he squares this with how the chapter started.
Chapter 5: The fall of man was inevitable due to our evil nature. Also, we are evil because of the fall. Gotta love that circular logic. The apple in genesis was a symbol but really it was disobedience. He cations about the definition of savage and brutal, good idea. There is discussion of early man and the fall, he seems to be trying to square evolution with adam and eve, it's interesting. The chapter ends by pointing out that God saw all of this coming and our current condition isn't punishment.
Chapter 6: Careful of your definition of pain. He claims that any creature should submit to its creator, which I think is nonsense. Pain is how God gets our attention because it is hard to be good when comfortable. He then claims that since fear and pity are worthwhile so is pain. Just seems like a pile of nonsense to me.
Chapter 7: There is an apparent paradox that suffering is good but God instructs us to reduce suffering. Tribulation will never end. It's not all bad, we have isolated happiness. It is a mistake to say 2 minor pains are as bad as a major pain.
Chapter 8: Hell is a detestable doctrine, I totally agree. He tries to defend the idea of hell in a few ways and basically just falls flat.
Chapter 9: If pain is a result of the fall of man then why do animals feel pain? An interesting question is raised, no real answer is given.
Chapter 10: A bit of talk about heaven, no real point as far as I could tell. He asserts that it is real and one of the things about hell is that you realize that you just missed going to heaven. Honestly felt like a lot of rambling to me.
Thanks for reading. Although it was frustrating at times I enjoyed the ride, I hope you did too.