Hot! C.S. Lewis on the Problem of Evil


C.S. Lewis“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

- C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), Mere Christianity

*C.S. Lewis was a famous Irish novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist of the 20th century. In this quote, he addresses the paradoxical nature of the problem of evil . Namely, that although on the surface the problem appears to call into question the existence of God, on a much deeper level it actually requires it.

4 Comments

  1. I do very much like Lewis’ words. Perhaps others who do as well will find this long quotation by Jurgen Moltmann very agreeable, too.

    “The protest atheism of modern times also has something of Job’s dignity:

    ‘Get rid of the imperfect; that is the only way you can demonstrate God. Spinoza tried. You can deny evil but not pain. Only reason can prove the existence of God. Feeling revolts against it. Mind this, Anaxagoras: why am I suffering? That is the rock of atheism. The faintest quiver of pain, even in an atom, rends creation from top to bottom’.

    “These sentences of Georg Buchner’s are a classic description of the problem: suffering is the rock of atheism, for it is on this rock that every theism runs aground which lives from the illusion of ‘an unscathed world’.

    But can atheism hold its ground on this rock of suffering if it is only the indictment against God which turns suffering into pain, and makes the pain so flinty a rock? That is the other side of the experience of suffering. If it were not for their desire for life, the living would not suffer. If there were no love of justice, there would be no rebellion against innocent suffering. If there were no ‘longing for the Wholly Other’, we should come to terms with the here and now, and accept the absence of what does not exist. If there were no God the world as it is would be all right. It is only the desire, the passion, the thirst for God which turns suffering into conscious pain and turns the consciousness of pain into a protest against suffering. But the atheism for which this world is all there is, runs aground on the rock of suffering too. For even the abolition of God does not explain suffering and does not assuage pain. The person who cries out in pain over suffering has his own dignity, which no atheism can rob him of. The story of Job makes this evident too. His atheistic wife’s advice, ‘Curse God and die’ (Job 2.9), does not reach the soul of the righteous man at all. He rejects it from the outset. Since that time no atheism can fall below Job’s level. Beneath this level there is no atheism that deserves to be taken seriously; there is merely triviality.”

    – Jurgen Moltmann, “Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God”

  2. I was told that Lewis wrote several essays on the subject of “conscious evil,” but I see no mention of them in these pages. Please advise where to find his thoughts on this subject.

    Thanks.

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