Quote from Helioscope

The agnos­tics con­tend that pain has evolved blind­ly as a means of caus­ing us to avoid injury. There are two things that might be said about the the­o­ry: the first is that a few moments’ thought will pro­duce half a dozen bet­ter ways of achiev­ing the same objec­tive (one of them is intel­li­gence — but the more intel­li­gent the organ­ism, the more pain it is capa­ble of feel­ing). The sec­ond is that by and large it does not work — human beings jump their motor­cy­cles over the foun­tain at Caesar’s Palace; dogs chase cars.

What pain does do is act as a moti­va­tor in all sorts of less than obvi­ous ways. It is respon­si­ble for com­pas­sion and the hot foot; it makes peo­ple who do not believe God would per­mit it think about God. It has been remarked thou­sands of times that Christ died under tor­ture. Many of us have read so often that he was a “hum­ble car­pen­ter” that we feel a lit­tle surge on nau­sea on see­ing the words yet again. But no one ever seems to notice that the instru­ments of tor­ture were wood, nails, and a ham­mer; that the man who ham­mered in the nails was as much a car­pen­ter as a sol­dier, as much a car­pen­ter as a tor­tur­er. Very few seem even to have noticed that although Christ was a “hum­ble car­pen­ter,” the only object we are specif­i­cal­ly told he made was not a table, or a chair, but a whip.

Cas­tle of Days; Helio­scope by Gene Wolfe pp 218–219