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C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud: Two Contrasting Worldviews


C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud: Two Contrasting Worldviews Eric D. Achtyes, M.D., M.S. Clinical Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry Michigan State University – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud: Two Contrasting Worldviews

C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Two Contrasting
  • Eric D. Achtyes, M.D., M.S.
  • Clinical Assistant Professor
  • Department of Psychiatry
  • Michigan State University
  • College of Human Medicine
  • April 3, 2009

  • Background
  • Sigmund Freuds Life
  • C.S. Lewis Life
  • Suffering and Pain Freud and Lewis
  • Discussion/Questions

  • Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. - Book and PBS video
    The Question of God.
  • Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
    and Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Asked to teach a class on Sigmund Freud to
    undergraduates. Students wanted a countering
    opinion. Nicholi incorporated Lewis views.
  • Has been teaching the course Sigmund Freud and
    C.S. Lewis Two Contrasting World Views to
    Harvard undergraduates and at the Harvard
    Medical School for gt30 years as a critical review
    of literature.
  • Dr. Nicholis analyst, when he was in training,
    was Dr. Felix Deutsch, who had been Freuds
    physician when his cancer was first diagnosed.

  • Freud
  • An Autobiographical Study
  • Question of a Weltanschauung
  • Lay Analysis
  • Future of an Illusion
  • A Religious Experience
  • Totem and Taboo
  • Moses and Monotheism
  • Psychoanalysis and Faith
  • Civilization and Its Discontents
  • Lewis
  • Mere Christianity
  • Miracles
  • Surprised by Joy
  • The Screwtape Letters
  • The Problem of Pain
  • A Grief Observed

Bibliography Cont.
  • Other
  • The Question of God, Armand Nicholi, Jr.
  • The Illusion of a Future, Oskar Pfister
  • Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, John, Psalms from the
  • Freud and the Problem of God, Hans Kung

The Question of God
  • Freud's Last SessionWritten by Mark St. Germain,
    directed by Tyler Marchant As suggested in the
    Epilogue of "The Question of God" by Dr. Armand
    M. Nicholi, Jr.
  • Starring Fritz Weaver
  • June 10, 2009 - June 28, 2009
  • After escaping the Nazis in Vienna, legendary
    psychiatrist Dr. Sigmund Freud invites a young,
    little known professor, C.S. Lewis, to his home
    in London. Lewis expects to be called on the
    carpet for satirizing Freud in a recent book but
    the dying Freud has a more significant agenda. On
    the day England entered WW II, Freud and Lewis
    clash on the existence of God, love, sex and the
    meaning of life only two weeks before Freud
    chose to take his own.

Sigmund Freuds Life
Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Anna Freud If you want to know my father read
    his letters.
  • Sigismund Schlomo Freud, born May 6, 1856 in
    Frieberg, Moravia (Czech Republic) to Jacob and
    Amalia Freud.
  • Amalia (teenager) was Jacobs (40 yrs old) 3rd
    wife. He was already a grandfather and had 2 sons
    from his first marriage, 1 older than Amalia, and
    1 a year younger.
  • Freud was cared for by a nursemaid until 2 1/2
    years old. She was a devout Roman Catholic and
    took him to church with her.

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • The nursemaid told me a great deal about God
    Almighty, and hell, and who instilled in me a
    high opinion of my own capacities.
  • His mother called him, her 1st born, her golden
    Siggie and he was given his own room in which to
  • Age lt2 Freuds younger brother, Julius, died,
    absorbing a lot of his mothers time.
  • His nanny was accused of stealing and dismissed
    shortly thereafter.
  • He later referred to religion, with its
    repetitive practices, as the universal
    obsessional neurosis.

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • His father, Jacob, was raised an Orthodox Jew,
    but his religion faded as he aged.
  • Jacob read from the Hebrew Old Testament, the
    Philippson Bible, and sent Freud a copy on his
    35th birthday.
  • Sigmund never learned Hebrew and knew only a
    little Yiddish.
  • Jacob was a wool merchant, and the family
    relatively poor, moved to Leipzig when Sigmund
    was 3 yo, and then 1 yr later, to Vienna,
  • Sigmund lived and worked in Vienna until 1932,
    when at the age of 82, he escaped to London to
    avoid the Nazi invasion.

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • In his teen years, Sigmund studied Judaism under
    Samuel Hammerschlag, a secular Jew who emphasized
    the historical and ethical side of Jewish
    history, rather than the religious aspects.
  • At age 17, Sigmund entered the University of
    Vienna and was influenced by a philosophy
    professor, Franz Brentano, a former priest, who
    swayed Freud considerably toward a theistic
  • A lifelong empiricist, Freud declared in a letter
    to a friend that, He Brentano demonstrates the
    existence of God with as little bias and as much
    precision as another might argue the advantage of
    the wave over the emission theory I have ceased
    to be a materialist and am not yet a theist.
  • This inner ambivalence stayed with Freud his
    entire life, despite his public endorsements of

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Freud began reading The Essence of Christianity
    by Ludwig Feuerbach and agreed with him that
    religion was the projection of human need and
    deep-seated wishes, that the substance and
    object of religion is altogether human divine
    wisdom is human wisdom the secret of theology is
  • Freud wrote in the Future of an Illusion that
    We shall tell ourselves that it would be very
    nice if there were a God who created the world
    and was a benevolent providenceand an
    afterlifebutall this is exactly as we are bound
    to wish it to be.
  • Within the medical communities of Europe, there
    was a distinct disdain for the spiritual
    worldview an assumption that empiricism was the
    only way to discover truth.

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Sigmund worked in the lab of Ernest Brucke, who
    asserted that no truth existed except that
    discernible by the scientific method.
  • Vienna was gt90 Catholic at the time. Freud
    faced anti-Semitism in his efforts to obtain a
    professorship at the University of Vienna,
    repeatedly being passed over for a post. He
    waited 17 years. The usual wait was 4 years.
  • Medical journals at the time were filled with
    articles illustrating how Jews were profoundly
    flawed and predisposed to a host of illnesses.

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Jacob Freud told his son Sigmund a story when
    Sigmund was 10 yrs old about how an anti-Semite
    had knocked his cap off into the mud and shouted
    Jew! Get off the pavement!
  • His father meekly went and picked up his cap and
    kept walking.
  • To Sigmund that response was unheroic conduct.
  • Sigmund fought real and perceived anti-Semitism
    all his life.
  • On a train Freud was once called a dirty Jew.
    He describes being not in the least frightened
    by the mob I was quite prepared to kill him

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • On Easter Sunday in 1886, at the age of 30, Freud
    opened a private practice in neuropathology.
  • On Sept. 13, 1886, he married Martha Bernays in a
    Town Hall in Germany, followed by a brief Jewish
    ceremony in the home of the bride.
  • Jacob Freud died in Oct. 1896, and Sigmund, 40,
    described it as the most poignant loss in a
    mans life. Despite viewing his father as a
    failure, the death struck him hard, it has
    affected me profoundly I feel quite uprooted.
  • Freud began his self-analysis and proposed the
    Oedipus complex.

Freuds Apartment Berggasse 19, Vienna, Austria
Stairway to Freuds Consultation Rooms
Freuds Couch
Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Freuds mother died in 1930, and he was
    surprisingly unemotional I was not at the
  • Freud and his family were exiled to London on
    June 6, 1938, fearing Nazi attacks on the Jews.
    He was made to sign a letter that he had been
    treated fairly by the Nazis prior to his
  • Freud died Sept. 23, 1939 at the age of 83. He
    had fought oral cancer for years, performing
    surgery on himself, using cocaine as an
    anesthetic. He convinced his personal physician,
    Dr. Max Schur, to administer 3 lethal doses of
    morphine, which led to his death.

Sigmund Freud - 1931

Golders Green Crematorium
Freuds Memorial
Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Freud seemed to struggle between what his nanny
    had told him about having a high opinion of his
    own capacities, and the external worlds desire
    to prove him inferior.
  • His ideas were new, daring and based on his
    scientific observations of human behavior. They
    were as rigorously scientific as technology at
    the time would allow.
  • His theories threatened the dominant majoritys
    opinion of why humans behave the way they do.

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Freuds ego, while strong, was also easily
    threatened by others. Narcissism and shame are
    often closely wed.
  • His friendships with colleagues were often
    strained as Freud found discussion and
    disagreements about his theories threatening (eg,
    the splits with Adler and Jung).
  • Unfortunately, Freuds superior intellect often
    left him with little regard for the opinions of
    others. For the masses are lazy and
    unintelligent arguments are of no avail against
    their passions. And, not all men are worthy of

Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Freud published gt200 scholarly works (articles,
    books, etc.).
  • In 1910 he founded the International
    Psychoanalytical Association, and the journal
    Imago in 1912.
  • Today Freuds accomplishments are ranked with
    those of Planck and Einstein.
  • He is listed as the 6th most influential
    scientist of all time.
  • He won the prestigious Goethe prize in 1930,
    and his face is on the Austrian 50 shilling note.
  • He was made an Honorary Member of the British
    Royal Society of Medicine in 1935.
  • President Franklin Roosevelt helped broker his
    safe transfer to London in 1938.
  • He has been on the cover of Time magazine 3
    times 1924, 1939, 1993.

(No Transcript)
Freud Museum, London
Sigmund Freuds Life
  • Thanks in large part to Freud, it is now widely
    accepted that early relationships with parents
    and caregivers strongly impacts later
    psychological health.
  • These early life relationships, as we will also
    see with C.S. Lewis, profoundly influence the
    development of ones worldview.

C.S. Lewis Life
  • Clive Staples Lewis was born November 29, 1898 in
    Belfast, Ireland to Albert and Florence Lewis,
    who married August 29, 1894.
  • Albert was Welsh in descent, and Florence,
    Scottish. His father worked practicing law in
    Belfast and was moody and emotional. His mother
    was cool and analytical.
  • Lewis grandfather was vicar and preached at
    their local church. He would weep in the pulpit.
  • Lewis fathers and grandfathers emotionality
    bred in him a distrust for emotions and religion.
    He instead embraced a materialist worldview.

C.S. Lewis Life
  • At age 4, Lewis informed his parents that he
    would go by the name Jack.
  • At age 6, he first recognized beauty through
    creationmoss, twigs and flowers. He called it
    joy and described it as a type of longing
    which he eventually recognized was for a
  • From ages 6-8, his older brother, Warren was off
    at boarding school. The cool, rainy, Belfast
    weather contributed to his desire to spend time
    indoors. Lewis lived almost entirely in his
    imagination reading, drawing and writing

C.S. Lewis Life
  • At age 9, Lewis world was turned upside down
    when his grandfather died and then his mother
    became sick with cancer and died. He recalled
    her surgery in their home and having to observe
    her corpseafter praying to God for her healing.
  • Albert Lewis decided he could not care adequately
    for the boys and sent them both off to boarding
  • Lewis hated boarding school. The headmaster
    Oldie was cruel. He would beat the children
    mercilessly. He was eventually convicted of
    undue cruelty and his school shut down due to a
    lack of students. He was a clergyman in the
    Church of England, a fact that was not lost on

C.S. Lewis Life
  • Alone in those moments, Lewis would long for the
    holidays, much like one longed for heaven. He
    began to live by hope.
  • At his second boarding school, he was comforted
    by the school Matron, Miss Cowie, a type of
    surrogate mother. She held and comforted the shy
    Lewis, as well as the other boys.
  • She dabbled in the occult and shared it with the
    boys. At age 13, this served to snuff out any
    vestiges of faith that Lewis held onto. He also
    began reading classic literature where the
    authors assumed the illegitimacy of religion. She
    was eventually fired.
  • Lewis was lonely and unhappy. He hated the
    snobbery of the boarding school community.

C.S. Lewis Life
  • Lewis father relented, allowing him to be
    tutored by William T. Kirkpatrick, The Great
    Knock, an atheist who taught Lewis logic and
    critical thinking. Lewis considered Christianity
    one religious myth among many.
  • It was the happiest time of Lewis life. He
    spent hours reading books of his own choosing.
  • He read George MacDonalds Phantastes, which
    replanted the seeds of the spiritual worldview.
  • Lewis took the admission exam for Oxford
    University on December 4, 1916. He failed the
    math section, but was granted admittance through
    the Army Officer Training Corps.

Oxford University
C.S. Lewis Life
  • Lewis became friends with Edward Paddy Moore in
    his Officers Training course.
  • They agreed to care for each others parents if
    either of them were killed. Lewis arrived in the
    trenches of WWI on Nov. 29, 1917, on his 19th
  • When Paddy was killed, Lewis took care of his
    mother until her death, calling her a surrogate
  • Lewis was wounded and returned to Oxford in 1919,
    spending the next 35 years there. After
    graduating in 1923, he taught philosophy for 1
    year before accepting a fellowship in English
    literature at Magdalen College at Oxford in 1925.

Magdalen College, Oxford University.
Lewis Office at Oxford
The Bird and the Baby
The Inklings Corner
C.S. Lewis Life
  • Lewis corresponded with many people by letter.
  • He began corresponding with Helen Joy Davidman
    Gresham, a poet from the United States. She was
    divorced and surprisingly came to England to meet
    Lewis in 1952. He was taken by her wit and
    intellect. They reportedly played scrabble
    together in 5 different languages.
  • In 1956, at age 57, he married her, age 41. She
    was already diagnosed with bone cancer.
  • It looked like she would die, but they prayed,
    and her cancer went into remission.
  • They had several years of happy marriage together
    including a trip to Greece. She died in 1960.
    Her son, Douglas, was 14 at the time.

Marriage License
The Kilns
Lewis Kitchen
Lewis Dining Room
Lewis Sitting Room
Lewis Bathroom
C.S. Lewis Life
  • C.S. Lewis has been called by Time magazine,
    the most influential voice for the spiritual
    worldview, and graced its cover in 1947.
  • He wrote gt30 books including Surprised by Joy,
    Miracles, The Problem of Pain, A Grief
    Observed, The Screwtape Letters, Mere
    Christianity, The Great Divorce, The
    Abolition of Man, The Weight of Glory.
  • As a student at Oxford, he won a triple first,
    the highest honors in 3 areas of study.
  • He was awarded the position of Chair in Medieval
    and Renaissance English Literature at Cambridge
  • He was an immensely popular lecturer, filling
    lecture halls to standing room capacity.

C.S. Lewis Life
  • Oxford History of English Literature (OHEL)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia books and movies.
  • Shadowlands movie and broadway play.
  • The second most recognizable voice on the BBC
    during WWII, behind Winston Churchill.

Shadowlands Opened 10/8/07, Wyndhams Theatre,
London. Closed 2/23/08, Novello Theatre,
London. William Nicholsons play Shadowlands is
set in Oxford during the 1950s and is the moving
true love story between C.S. Lewis and Helen Joy
Davidman Gresham. Lewis had remained a confirmed
bachelor until his fifties when he met and was
enchanted by Joy Davidman, an American divorcee
with 2 young children. They fell in love and
were secretly married. Lewis ensuing encounter
with love and suffering led him to reconsider
many of the beliefs he had held so staunchly
before their fateful meeting. Why love if losing
hurts so much? The pain now is part of the
happiness then. Thats the deal.
--C.S. Lewis
Shadowlands - London
The Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis Life
  • Lewis, too, embraced a materialist worldview for
    much of his life. Some of this may have been a
    rebellious response against his father, in part,
    for sending him away to boarding school at a time
    of intense emotional need following his mothers
    death. I maintained that God did not exist. I
    was also very angry with God for not existing.
  • Later, while at Oxford, he was converted first to
    theism in 1929, and then to Christianity in 1931.
    His conversion is detailed in his book
    Surprised by Joy.
  • Lewis became convinced of the existence of a
    universal Moral Law, and also of an Author for
    that law. He believed this law had to have come
    from somewhere or some-One. He also believed
    mans ability to reason pointed to a rational
  • As a literary critic, he re-examined the
    religious myths of antiquity and became convinced
    that the Christian myth had actual historic
    validity in the coming of Jesus Christ.

C.S. Lewis Life
  • Lewis thought that our wishes for a protective
    father did not rule out the possibility of a
    protective God but instead pointed to the
    existence of one. Creatures are not born with
    desires unless satisfaction for those desires
    also exists. A baby feels hunger..there isfood.
    Men feel sexual desire..there issex.
  • Lewis thought that our dissatisfaction in this
    life pointed to the fact that we were made for
    another world, otherwise, he thought, the
    universe is a fraud.
  • He was loved by his colleagues for his
    intelligence, warmth and politeness. He too had
    fought battles and suffered devastating losses in
    his life, yet somehow did not become bitter and

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • Loss of his nanny.
  • Anti-semitism (Freud attributed this to fear of
    castration, jealousy of Gods chosen people,
    displaced anger against Christians). During Nazi
    occupation, Freud gave cyanide pills to his
    daughter Anna in case she was tortured when
    questioned at Gestapo headquarters.
  • Loss of his daughter, Sophie, and her son,
  • Criticisms of work psychoanalysis not
    generalizable beyond unique Viennese culture.
    Jewish science vs Aryan science.

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • Freud suffered from bouts of depression and
    anxiety, nicotine dependence, cocaine use, and
    the fear of death.
  • Diagnosed with oral cancer in 1923 at age 67.
    His doctor withheld the diagnosis for fear Freud
    would kill himself.
  • He had 33 operations, usually under local
    anesthesia, for his cancer.
  • He had a metal plate placed in the roof of his
    mouth and chose to eat alone.

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • Freud wondered how there could be a loving God
    with all of the suffering in this life?
  • To friend and Christian, Oskar Pfister, Freud
    wrote how the devil do you reconcile all that
    we experience in this world with your assumption
    that there is a moral order?
  • Freud believed the violent, cunning or
    ruthless man seizes the envied good things of the
    world and the pious man goes away empty. Obscure,
    unfeeling, and unloving powers determine mens

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • At the death of his beloved daughter, Sophie,
    from the influenza epidemic of 1920 Freud wrote
    to a colleague I do not know what more there is
    to say. It is such a paralyzing event, which can
    stir no afterthoughts when one is not a
  • Freud wrote to another friend that neither he nor
    his wife has got over the monstrous fact of
    children dying before their parents.
  • Freud wondered when my turn will come and
    wished his life to be over.

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • At the loss of his 4 ½ year old grandson, Heinle,
    to tuberculosis he writes
  • He was indeed an enchanting little fellow, and
    I myself was aware of never having loved a human
    being, certainly never a child, so much. I
    dont think I have ever experienced such grief
    I work out of sheer necessity fundamentally
    everything has lost its meaning for me I find
    no joy in life. I have spent some of the
    blackest days of my life sorrowing about the
    child. At last I can think of him quietly and
    talk of him without tears.

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • Freud could not reconcile the suffering he
    observed in his own life and the lives of those
    he loved with an all-powerful, all-loving
  • Freud It seems not to be the case that there is
    a Power in the universe which watches over the
    well-being of individuals with parental care and
    brings all their affairs to a happy ending
    Earthquakes, tidal waves, conflagrations, make no
    distinction between the virtuous and pious and
    the scoundrel or unbeliever.

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • In The Future of an Illusion, 1927, Freud says
    of believers They will have to admit to
    themselves the full extent of their helplessness
    they can no longer be the centre of the creation,
    no longer the object of the tender care on the
    part of the beneficent Providence And, as for
    the great necessities of Fate, against which
    there is no help, they will learn to endure them
    with resignation.
  • And, in a letter to a friend who had lost a
    daughter As an unbelieving fatalist, I can only
    sink into a state of resignation when faced with
    the horror of death.

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • Freud There are the elements which seem to mock
    at all human control the earth which quakes
    diseases and the painful riddle of death,
    against which no medicine has yet been found
  • Later, he writes life is hard to bear a
    permanent state of anxious expectation.
  • He writes I have no dread at all of the
    Almighty. If we ever were to meet I should have
    more reproaches to make to Him than He could to

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • Despite professing disbelief, Freud was
    preoccupied with the idea of the devil.
  • He thought that the devil represented our defiant
    spirit towards our parents just as our desire for
    a protective parent led to our conceptualization
    of God. Even if the devil were real, Freud
    thought, it was still Gods fault for allowing
    the devil to exist at all.
  • Freud read Goethes Faust and Balzacs The
    Fatal Skin. Both feature a man of science,
    depressed over his lack of recognition, who makes
    a deal with the devil and considers suicide.
  • Freud read The Fatal Skin on the day he chose
    to die by euthanasia.

Suffering and Pain Freud
  • Freud concludes If the believer finally sees
    himself obliged to speak of Gods inscrutable
    decrees, he is admitting that all that is left
    to him as a last possible consolation and source
    of pleasure in his sufferings is an unconditional
    submission. And if he is prepared for that, he
    could probably have spared himself the detour he
    has made.
  • And yet Freud says only religion can answer
    the question of the purpose of life.

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Loss of his mother. It was alien and menacing.
    My grief was overwhelmed with terror.
  • Boarding school.
  • WWI loss of friend, shrapnel injury, caring for
    Paddy Moores mother. She lived with Lewis and
    his brother Warren for 6-7 years before
    succumbing to Alzheimers disease.
  • He suffered from loneliness, depression, and
    possibly PTSD.
  • In 1929, Lewis father passed away. He showed
    little remorse.
  • Rejected for Oxford chair, he finally accepted
    Cambridge chair.

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Lewis wrote The Problem of Pain in 1940. It
    was a cerebral treatise for why pain is
  • Lewis writes that prior to his conversion, he
    wouldnt have believed in a good God human
    history is largely a record of crime, war,
    disease and terror all civilizations pass away
    and, even while they remain, inflict peculiar
    sufferings on their own if you ask me to believe
    that this is the work of a benevolent and
    omnipotent spirit, I reply that all the evidence
    points in the opposite direction. Either there is
    no spirit behind the universe, or else a spirit
    indifferent to good and evil, or else an evil

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Lewis changed his view after his conversion.
  • In The Problem of Pain he argues that love
    and kindness are different things and that true
    love is tough love (ie. going to the dentist)
    love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting
    of the beloved mere kindness which tolerates
    anything except suffering in its object isat the
    opposite pole from Love.
  • Lewis also believed no true happiness could be
    found apart from our Creator.

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Lewis says pain insists upon being attended
    to. God whispers to us in our pleasures but
    shouts in our pain it is His megaphone to rouse
    a deaf world. Pain as Gods megaphone is a
    terrible instrument it may lead to final and
    unrepented rebellion.
  • He attributed much suffering and pain to mens
    choices saying It is men, not God, who have
    produced racks, whips, prisons, slavery, guns,
    bayonets, and bombs and, All suffering arises
    from sin.
  • Lewis views hell as God giving man the freedom
    from Him that he desires They enjoy forever the
    horrible freedom they have demanded. the doors
    are locked on the inside.

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • At age 62, Lewis lost his wife, Joy, after only 4
    years of marriage.
  • In A Grief Observed, 1961, he writes from a
    perspective of his feelings Arent all these
    notes the senseless writhings of a man who wont
    accept the fact that there is nothing we can do
    with suffering except to suffer it?
  • He beseeches Joy My dear, my dear, come back
    for one moment The same leg is cut off time
    after time. The first plunge of the knife into
    the flesh is felt again and again.

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Lewis asks where God is during suffering? But
    go to Him when your need is desperate, when all
    other help is vain, and what do you find? A door
    slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and
    double bolting on the inside.
  • And Why is He so present a commander in our
    time of prosperity and so very absent a help in
    time of trouble?
  • He says But dont come talking to me about the
    consolation of religion, or I shall suspect that
    you dont understand.
  • He wonders if God is The Cosmic Sadist, the
    spiteful imbecile?

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Lewis doubt The conclusion I dread is not, So
    theres no God after all, but, So this is what
    Gods really like. Deceive yourself no longer.
  • Lewis likened it to surgery concluding The
    tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then
    there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good
    God, then the tortures are necessary.
  • Lewis believed in Satan and demons as fallen
  • Lewis believed that the government of the
    universe was temporarily in enemy hands. we
    are living in a part of the universe occupied by
    the rebel Enemy occupied territorythat is what
    this world is.

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Lewis believed that God created his creatures
    with free will to choose or not choose God. He
    thought the only love worth having had to be
    chosen freely, not coerced.
  • He writes God created things which had free
    will. That means creatures which can go either
    right or wrong. free will, though it makes evil
    possible, is also the only thing that makes
    possible any love or goodness or joy worth
    having. A world of automata would hardly be
    worth creating.
  • On Gods omniscience Of course God knew what
    would happen if they used their freedom the wrong
    way apparently He thought it worth the risk.

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • According to his letters, Lewis never lost his
    faith entirely. For Lewis, the very fact that he
    was angry at God for the unjust, was evidence
    that there was a right and wrongthe universal
    moral law written on all human hearts.
  • He writes A man does not call a line crooked
    unless he has some idea of a straight line Thus
    in the very act of trying to prove that God did
    not exist I found I was forced to assume that
    my idea of justicewas full of sense.

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • In June 1961, Lewis suffered from osteoporosis,
    an enlarged prostate, hydronephrosis, toxemia,
    and cardiac problems.
  • July 15, 1963, he suffered a heart attack and
    lapsed into a coma, from which he eventually
  • On November 22, 1963, Lewis brother, Warren,
    took him his tea at 4PM, heard a crash at 530PM,
    and found Lewis on his back in his room. He died
    5 minutes later.

The Room Where Lewis Died
Trinity Church
Lewis Gravestone
Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Lewis maintained his sense of humor through his
    illness. He saw death as a natural part of life.
    100 of us die and the percentage cannot be
  • His friends and family said Never was a man
    better prepared, and, About a week before his
    death he said to me, I have done all that I was
    sent into the world to do, and I am ready to go.
    I have never seen death looked in the face so
    tranquilly, and, He was a deeply kind and
    charitable man.

Suffering and Pain
  • Both Freud and Lewis suffered great losses in
    their lives and reached very different
    conclusions about the existence of God and the
    meaning of suffering in our lives.
  • Have you encountered any real pain personally, or
    through the illness of someone close to you?

Suffering and Pain Lewis
  • Do we say with Freud? As an unbelieving
    fatalist, I can only sink into a state of
    resignation when faced with the horror of death.
  • Or do we resonate with Lewis? He never got
    answers to all his questions, but received a
    rather special sort of No answer. It is not the
    locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly
    not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His
    head, not in refusal, but waiving the question.
    Like, Peace, child you dont understand.
  • Do we accept a difficult situation or try to
    change it? Do we shake our fist in defiance or
    do we humbly accept our lot in life? How do we
    counsel those who are grieving losses? What
    role does faith play?

Suffering and Pain
  • Freud, after the loss of his grandson, Heinle,
    says At last I can think of him quietly and
    talk of him without tears.
  • With time, Lewis also reports healing after the
    loss of his wife, Joy Turned to God, my mind no
    longer meets that locked door Like the warming
    of a room or the coming of daylight. When you
    first notice them they have already been going on
    for some time.
  • Does time heal all wounds? Is healing a Divine
    project, a human project, both?

Concluding Thoughts
  • Both Lewis and Freud suffered pain and loss.
    Both struggled with the question of God and mans
    place in the universe.
  • Each of us must also answer these questions for
  • How do you reconcile the question of pain and
    suffering? What arguments (cognition) and
    experiences (feelings) have informed your view?
  • Are there other authors you have read that have
    swayed your view?
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