Category Archives: C.S. Lewis

Stephen Hawking, C.S. Lewis, and the Saracen’s Head

First of all, I would like to state up front that what I am about to say is not meant as a mockery of Dr. Hawking or of his condition. While many of his ideas deserve to be mocked, he has proven himself to be a brilliant mathematician and cosmologist. I have appreciated his writings over the years and it was Hawking’s A Brief History of Time that instilled in me a passion for theoretical physics nearly 20 years ago. In addition, the disease with which he suffers is horrendous and I would not wish ALS or Dr. Hawking’s debilitated physical condition on any. Though I strongly disagree with his Atheism, I grieve the fact that he is having to suffer as he does and would wish that his body were healed and he released from his bondage to the wheelchair. Though some of what I say below might be misconstrued as a knock on the man’s condition, please know that they are not and that I would welcome the opportunity to meet this man who has so profoundly influenced my interest in science, something for which I am quite grateful.

Having said that, I want to begin my reflection with a nod also to C.S. Lewis. While not a scientist, Lewis has also profoundly influenced my life and view of the world. In Lewis’ case, through philosophy and apologetics (as well as through his fiction). It also strikes me that Lewis, at times, can be quite prophetic as to the situations that we face as fallen humans. Many of the things that he wrote against back in the 1940’s are still as relevant and applicable today as they were during the rise of the Socialist party in Germany and elsewhere.

One of my favorite novels by Lewis is That Hideous Strength. This is the third novel in his Space Trilogy and he sets it in a kind of dystopian England. There, everything is being decided upon by science. Morality is a measure of what is pragmatic and the goal is to remake society according to the empirical models favored by the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E). At the head of the NICE is the head — a severed head of a criminal being inhumanly kept “alive” by equipment, pumps, and machines to be a voice for what the people believe to be a superior race of beings from the dark side of the moon, though in realty, they are demons. “The Head” becomes a kind of symbol for a people who have thrown off religion and philosophy and who have embraced nothing but pure science…an idea made prominent in our world by Auguste Comte.

Enter Dr. Hawking. In his book, The Grand Design, he begins with the notion that philosophy is dead because it has not kept up with scientific progress. He then puts forth the notion that metaphysics is now the realm of the scientist and no longer in the realm of religion or philosophy. This would represent a transition from the second to the third stage of knowledge, at least according to Comte. He argues that when mankind looks at the world and cannot answer questions, he first looks to theology for the answers, then to philosophy, and finally to science. In the strictest sense, each of the previous stages become irrelevant when the new stage of knowledge is embraced. This is exactly what Hawking is suggesting has taken place.

Interestingly enough, Hawking goes on to suggest that science, then, can answer not only the question, “how,” but also the question “why” it was created. Of course, even this language is self-defeating, because he essentially argues that laws exist apart from matter and that matter is created out of nothing because the laws of physics dictate it happen. Since science simply describes what does take place, to say that the laws created out of nothing is more than counter-intuitive, it is self-refuting. A description apart from what it describes only makes sense if there is an eternal intelligence who develops those laws that describe and then creates in a way consistent with said laws…such would be the position of Augustine, for example.

My point, though, is not to critique his book. Others have done that and I would commend their works to you. My point is to raise a question of similarity. Much like the Saracen’s head, Dr. Hawking’s life is being maintained by some marvelous science. Indeed, while not separated physically from his body, his body is largely separated from him by function. And those for whom Hawking speaks seem to have the same level of commitment to Comte’s positivism as did the N.I.C.E.

I am not a conspiracy theorist by any measure, but I have wondered, “what if?” What if what Dr. Hawking teaches and writes is being manipulated by others? Given Dr. Hawking’s lifetime commitment to science and what was once called, “The Grand Unified Theories” and is now being presented as “M-theory,” I don’t think that anyone is manipulating his words, but we must recognize just how easy that would be were the right people to be involved. Scripts could be programmed into his speech synthesizer and there would be nothing that Dr. Hawking could do about it…he would be as trapped as the Saracen in Lewis’ novel and could do nothing to stop it.

So, the question that has been rolling about the back of my head is, “Did Lewis, in seeking to fictionally describe the “men without chests” as is found in The Abolition of Man, anticipate Hawking? Did what was meant as a tongue and cheek illustration of the arrogance of scientific man become a reality in Dr. Hawking’s life? And, perhaps, does Dr. Hawking’s wheelchair stand as a reminder of the danger of taking science to the point where the mystery of the human body is sacrificed for scientific understanding? With apologies to a man I admire, I think it may.

An Outline of C.S. Lewis’ Writings

 

Works By C.S. Lewis
  Date Published
Pre-Conversion Writings
Spirits in Bondage:  A Cycle of Lyrics 1919
Dymer 1926
Post Conversion Writings
The Pilgrim’s Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason, and Romanticism 1933
The Allegory of Love:  A Study in Medieval Tradition 1936
Out of the Silent Planet 1938
Rehabilitations, and other Essays 1938
The Personal Heresy:  A Controversy between EMW Tillyard and CS Lewis 1939
The Problem of Pain 1940
A Preface to Paradise Lost 1942
Broadcast Talks 1942
The Screwtape Letters 1942
The Weight of Glory, and other Addresses 1942
Christian Behavior:  A Further Series of Broadcast Talks 1943
Perelandra (Reprinted in 1953 as “A Voyage to Venus”) 1943
The Abolition of Man:  Or, Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools 1943
Beyond Personality:  The Christian Idea of God 1944
That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grownups (Abridged version published in 1946 as “The Tortured Planet”) 1945
George Macdonald:  An Anthology 1946
The Great Divorce 1946
Essays Presented to Charles Williams 1947
Miracles:  A Preliminary Study 1947
Authorian Torso:  Containing the Posthumous Fragment of the Figure of Arthur by Charles Williams and a Commentary on the Authorian Poems of Charles Williams 1948
Transporation, and Other Addresses 1949
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 1950
Prince Caspian 1951
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 1952
Mere Christianity (Revision and Expansion of “Broadcast Talks”, “Christian Behavior”, and “Beyond Personality”) 1952
The Silver Chair 1953
The Horse and His Boy 1954
English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama:  Volume III of The Oxford History of English Literature (In 1990, Lewis’ volume was renumbered as Volume IV, “Poetry and Prose in the Sixteenth Century”) 1954
The Magician’s Nephew 1955
Surprised by Joy:  The Shape of My Early Life 1955
The Last Battle 1956
Till We Have Faces:  A Myth Retold 1956
Reflections on Psalms 1958
Studies in Words 1960
The Four Loves 1960
The World’s Last Night, and other Essays 1960
A Grief Observed 1961
An Experiment in Criticism 1961
They Asked for a Paper:  Papers and Addresses 1962
Posthumous Writings
Letters to Malcolm:  Chiefly on Prayer 1964
The Discarded Image:  An introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature 1964
Poems 1964
Screwtape Proposes a Toast, and Other Pieces 1965
Letters of CS Lewis 1966
Of Other Worlds:  Essays and Stories 1966
Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature 1966
Spenser’s Images of Life 1967
Christian Reflections 1967
Letters to An American Lady 1967
A Mind Awake: An Anthology of Lewis 1968
Narrative Poems 1969
Selected Literary Essays 1969
God in the Dock:  Essays on Theology and Ethics (Published in UK in 1971 as “Undeceptions: Essays on Theology and Ethics”) 1970
Fern Seeds and Eliphants and other Essays on Christianity 1975
The Joyful Christian:  Readings from CS Lewis 1977
The Dark Tower, and Other Stories 1977
They Stand Together:  The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthr Greeves, 1914-1963 1979
Of This and Other Worlds 1982
On Stories, and Other Essays on Literature 1982
The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from CS Lewis 1984
Boxen: The Imaginary World of the Young CS Lewis 1985
First andSecond Things: Essays on Theology and Ethics 1985
Letters to Children 1985
Present Concerns 1986
Timeless at Heart 1987
Letters:  CS Lewis and Don Giovanni Calabria:  A Study in Friendship (First issued as “The Latin Letters of CS Lewis” in 1987) 1988
All My Road before Me:  The Diary of CS Lewis, 1922-1927 1991
The Collected Poems of CS Lewis 1994
CS Lewis:  Collected Letters, Family Letters, 1905-1931, Volume 1 2000

C.S. Lewis: Christianity and Literature (outline)

Christianity and Literature:  Outline

 

The Big Idea:  What distinguishes Christian Literature?  Answer:  it clearly points to Christ

 

Introduction:

  • Asked to discuss “Christian Literature” though unsure of value of this discussion
  • Understands that Literature is a means for sharing the Gospel
  • Rules for good writing are same for Christian and non-Christian
  • Thus, does not see a value in a genre of “Christian” literature, just good literature or bad literature, both kinds reflecting the author’s perspective
    • Is one a “Christian writer” or a “writer that happens to be Christian?”

 

One:  What makes literature “Christian?

  • Sacred in theme/starting point for devotion
    • Value is subjective (rag may be sacred for some)
    • Written by Christians for Christians, not for literary merit per say
  • Christian approach to literature
    • Creative vs. derivative
    • Spontaneity vs. Convention
    • Freedom vs. Rules
    • Great authors are innovators, “breaking fetters,” not followers
  • Jesus as Poet or Philosopher
    • Jesus’ limitations
    • Poetic in some senses
    • More like Socrates than Shakespeare in analogy
  • Man as head of woman, God the Father as head of the Son, Jesus as head of Church
    • The subordinate is to reflect the head
    • Just as son watches Father, so Jesus observed the Father to better communicate his being
  • New Testament Literary Expression
    • Originality is the prerogative of God
    • Creativity discouraged and being conformed into the image of Christ
      • “being as little as possible ourselves, in acquiring a fragrance that is not our own but borrowed, in becoming clean mirrors filled with the image of a face that is not ours
    • Lewis’ rejection of Total depravity
    • Derivative & reflective is good
      • “pride does not only go before a fall—a fall of the creature’s attention from what is better, God, to what is worse, itself.
  • Applied to Literature
    • Purpose is not to create, but to reflect Christ
    • Embody or reveal what is true of eternal beauty and wisdom
    • Originality is not true originality as it comes from God
    • Non-Christian writes for vain purposes, Christian for Christ
    • Christian does not ask, “Is it mine?” but will ask “Is it good?”
  • Conclusion
    • “The Christian knows from the outset that the salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world”
    • The strength of Christian literature comes not from the literature but from the God of Christian literature

 

Words to Define:

  • Hagiological:  of the Saints
  • Proprement dite:  French for “properly itself”
  • Argumenta ad hominess: argument by opinions
  • A fortiori:  “From the Stronger”
  • Catena:  chain
  • Redolere Christum:  “to smell of Christ”
  • mi/mhsiß is derived from mimhth/ß, meaning:  imitator
  • au moins je suis autre: French—“At least I am different”
  • di se medesmo rise:  Italian for, “I lauged at myself”

C.S. Lewis: Miracles (outline, part 2)

Miracles By C.S. Lewis

 

Flow of the Argument

 

Chapter 11:

I.  The Big Idea

            a.  The difference between Tradition and a living faith

II.  “Those who make religion their god will not have God for their religion” Thomas

Erskine

            a.  Popular Religion

                        1.  God is abstract

                                    i.  God is truth

                                    ii.  God is goodness

                                    iii.  God is a spiritual force pervading all things

                        2.  Makes God impersonal

                                    i.  impersonal gods make no demands

                                    ii.  impersonal gods are more “comfortable” than a god who

demands of us

                                    iii.  hence, impersonal gods are more preferable

                        3.  this kind of religion is really pantheism

                                    i.  “the fact that the shoe slips on easily does not prove that it is a

new shoe” (131)

                                    ii.  pantheism is the permanent “natural bent” of the human mind

(132)

                                    iii.  only religions to refute pantheism

                                                a.  Platonism

                                                b.  Judaism

                                                c.  Christianity (the only truly formidable opponent)

                        4.  Pantheism leads to immoral behavior

                                    i.  racism

                                    ii.  German racial nationalism (Sprach Zarathustra)

                        5.  Christian vs Panthistic view of God

                                    i.  Pantheists believe that God is present everywhere because he is

diffused or concealed within everything

                                    ii.  Christians  believe that God is totally present at every point of

space and time but not locally present anywhere (no place

or time can contain the fullness of God)

                        6.  Good theology is a nuisance to the fancies of popular religion

                                    i.  true historian is a nuisance to one reminiscing about the “good

old days”

                                    ii.  real musician is nuisance to one indulging in self-taught music

                                    iii.  truth vs. preference

                                    iv.  “IF God is the ultimate source o fall concrete, individual things

and events, then God himself must be concrete and

individual in the highest degree.  Unless the origin o fall

other things were itself concrete and individual, nothing

else could be so; for there is no conceivable means whereby

what is abstract or general could itself produce concrete

reality.”  (138-9)

                                    v.  God “is not a universal being: if he were there would be no

creatures, for a generality can make nothing.

                                    vi.  The Limpet analogy (142-143) –note that a Limpet is a marine

slug

                                    vii.  must have a conception of what something is to say what it is

not

                                    viii.  the ultimate spiritual realities are more real, not less real than

physical existence

                                    ix.  Note that this is the Rubicon that you cross—once you reject

pantheism, you find yourself crossing into Christianity

 

Chapter 12:

I.  The Big Idea

            a.  Are Miracles “acceptable” to a mighty God?

II.  Would God break his own scientific laws

            a.  difference between elementary rules taught to schoolboys and deeper rules

employed by the masters for the purpose of style

            b.  God created the universe intentionally for a relationship with himself

            c.  Science is not the rule that constrained God’s creation; science is the byproduct

of God’s orderly creative work

            d.  “if miracles do occur then we may be sure that not to have wrought them

would be the real inconsistency” (155)

            e.  we don’t understand God’s deeper plan because “it is a very long story, with a

complicated plot; and we are not, perhaps, very attentive readers.” (158)

 

 

Chapter 13:

I.  The Big idea

            a.  The probability of miracles is not the question, it is how fit miracles may seem

to one’s mind

II.  Nature and uniformity

            a.  “the fact that a thing had happened ten million times would not make it a whit

more probable that it would happen again” (162)

            b.  “Experience therefore cannot prove uniformity because uniformity has to be

assumed before experience proves anything” (163)

            c.  we have a sense of “fitness” about the way things go, so all things must be

consistent with that fitness if our minds will readily accept them

            d.  If God is “a rational Spirit and we derive our rational spirituality from it, then

indeed our conviction can be trusted.  Our repugnance to disorder is

derived from Nature’s creator and ours.” (168)

            e.  “Even those who think all stories of miracles absurd think some very much

more absurd than others:  even those who believe them all (if anyone

does) think that some require a specially robust faith.  The criterion which

both parties are actually using is that of fitness.” (171)

 

 

Chapter 14:  The Grand Miracle

I.  The Big Idea

            a.  the Incarnation is the grand miracle of all from which all other miracles stem

from or lead up to

II.  The Incarnation is the Grand Miracle

            a.  greatest importance

            b.  the supernatural coming down and becoming part of nature for a time

III.  Patterns of this in Nature

            a.  Descent/ascent (death/rebirth)

                        1.  the corn god motif

                        2.  phoenix

                        3.  life and rebirth in nature

            b.  chosen-ness/God’s selectiveness

                        1.  selectiveness in nature

                        2.  selectiveness in redemptive history

            c.  Vicarious nature

                        1.  exploitation and oppression

                        2.  kindness and gratitude

IV.  How other religions respond to these themes

            a.  Natural religions deify them

            b.  anti-religions deny them

            c.  Christianity explains them as illuminated by supernatural

V.  Original vs. Imitation

            a.  Christianity is the original pattern from which all other cultic religions get their

start, not the other way around

            b.  Christianity as the one true “myth” that really did happen

 

 

Chapter 15&16:

I.  The Big Idea

            a.  Miracles can be divided in many different ways

                        1.  classes

                                    a.  fertility

                                    b.  healing

                                    c.  destruction

                                    d.  dominion over inorganic

                                    e.  reversal

                                    f.  perfecting/glorification

                        2.  Old and New creation

                                    a.  Old Creation= a reflection of what God has already done in

nature on a vast scale

                                    b.  New Creation= pointing toward that which is to come

            b.  note importance of these chapters for apologetic arguments

Chapter 17:

I.  The Big Idea

            a.  You are now prepared, having dealt with the philosophical aspects, to deal with the historical question.  Yet, if you do, make sure that you re-teach yourself what you have been taught for so many years by the culture.  Reject Everythingism as something that offers nothing.

 

 

Appendix A:

The different usages of the term “Spirit” and we must define our terms and say what we mean by the word spirit when we use it in dialogue

 

Appendix B:

On Providential matters—understand the difference between first and second causes and how Lewis is defining Providence as the miraculous and thus rejects providence.

 

Also understand Lewis’ analogy of the curved lines running parallel to one another and how God views history from the outside, not being bound to it.

 

 

 

C.S. Lewis: Miracles (Outline, part 1)

Miracles By C.S. Lewis

 

Flow of the Argument

 

Chapter 1:

I.  The Big Idea:  Before we can argue for Miracles, we must answer the philosophical

question as to whether miracles can exist.

            a.  They either do exist or they do not.

            b.  If they do exist, we must also ask if they are likely or not.

II.  Flow of Reasoning:

            a.  What is your presupposition about miracles?

                        1.  If you don’t believe they exist, even if you are confronted by one you

will explain it away.

                        2.  If you believe that they are possible, but unlikely, you will also explain

them away even if confronted by one.

            b.  Because historical data is recorded by the observation of people with

presuppositions, historical inquiry cannot prove the miraculous unless the

initial philosophical question is answered.

 

Chapter 2:

I.  The Big Idea:  Defining the terms Miracle, Naturalism, and Supernaturalism.

            a.  Miracle:  “an interference with Nature by supernatural power” (5)

            b.  Naturalist:  Those who believe that nothing but nature exists (5-6)

            c.  Supernaturalist: Those who believe that there exists something in addition to

nature that is outside of nature (6)

II.  Flow of Reasoning:

            a.  Given the broad definition of a miracle, the naturalist must, by definition, deny

that miracles are possible

            b.  The Supernaturalist accepts the possibility of miracles by Lewis’ definition,

though the supernaturalist does not necessarily think that miracles are

probable.

            c.  For the naturalist, nature must be the “whole show” and include whatever there

is.

            d.  What is “nature” or “the natural state”?

                        1.  the state that something would be in without outside interference

                                    i.  the dog would be unkempt and have fleas

                                    ii.  the wilderness would not have roads or houses in it

                                    iii.  “The natural is what springs up, or comes forth, or arrives, or

goes on, of its own accord: the given, what is there already:

the spontaneous, the unintended, the unsolicited.”  (7)

                        2.  As everything must be explainable in terms of the whole system

                                    i.  nature must be cause and effect

                                    ii.  any spontaneity and originality is reserved for the whole

                                    iii.  Nature exists in its own right with nothing outside of it

                                    iv.  Nature is independent and depends on nothing.

           

e.  The Supernaturalist

                        1.  Agrees with the naturalist that there must be something that exists in its

own right

                        2.  this self-existing reference is the “Starting point for all explanations”

                        3.  Supernaturalist does not identify this self-existing entity with nature,

and nature is seen as being derivative from that one thing

                                    i.  “The one basic Thing has caused all other things to be.  It exists

on its own; they exist because it exists.  They will cease to

exist if it ever ceases to maintain them in existence; they

will be altered if it ever alters them.” (9)

            f.  the God of the naturalist

                        1.  a naturalist need not be an atheist if the naturalist’s god is understood to

be within or part of nature, much like the gods of Ancient Greece

and Rome or the Gnostic perspective

                        2.  the naturalist cannot accept a god who is outside of nature or one who

made nature

            g.  the Naturalist view is a view that all things exist within the framework of

nature, the supernaturalist holds that God created the framework within

which nature operates

            h.  the possibility of a plurality of “Natures” as long as they are not interconnected

in any way, nor do they influence one another.

            i.  a speculative view of a plurality of natures opens up two kinds of miracles

                        1.  God bringing two natures together for a time

                        2.  God interfering with one or both natures

 

 

Chapter 3:

I.  The Big Idea:  Naturalism rules out reasoning.

II.  Flow of Reasoning: 

            a.  By definition, Naturalism must be explainable in terms of the whole system

—no heeltaps

            b.  Anything found outside of the system ruins the naturalistic argument

            c.  This rejects science by statistics—everything must be calculable

                        i. “The movement of one unit is incalculable, just as the result of tossing a

coin once is incalculable:  the majority movement of a billion units

can however be predicted, just as, if you tossed a coin a billion

times, you could predict a nearly equal number of heads and tails. 

Now it will be noticed that if this theory is true we have really

admitted something other than Nature.  If the movements of the

individual units are events ‘on their own,’ events which do not

interlock with all other events, then these movements are not part

of Nature.” (19)

            d.  The knowledge we have of any information is observation + inference, thus all

possible knowledge depends on the validity of reasoning.

i.  our observation demands that we recognize something outside of

ourselves

ii.  when we recognize that which is outside of ourselves, then we are

reasoning

iii.  “It follows that no account of the universe canbe true unless that

account leaves it possible for our thinking to be real insight.  A

theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but

which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid,

would be utterly out of court.  For that theory would itself have

been reached by thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory

would, of course, be itself demolished.  It would have destroyed its

own credentials.  It would be an argument which proved that no

argument was sound—a proof that there are no such things as

proofs—which is nonsense.” (21-22)

            e.  If nature is explainable in terms of the whole system, it must, by definition,

imply a cause & effect universe—cause and effect all of the way back to

the beginning

            f.  In this view, then, reasoning must be nothing more than “one link in a causal

chain which stretches back to the beginning and forward to the end of

time.” (24)

            g.  Thus, mental events are caused by previous mental events and nothing more—

“knowledge” plays no role in the progression of these mental events—also

mental events came into being in the same evolutionary way that physical

events came into being—mental events to the naturalist, then are nothing

more than responses to stimuli.

            h.  Yet, the experience that things are always connected (fire burns you) is only of

animal behavior, Reason comes into play when you infer something from

the events

            i.  Nature cannot show how one turns sub-rational, animal instinct, into rational

thought, thus a break in the chain occurs

            j.  Knowing is more than mere remembering what happened last time, but of

inferring that what happened in the past will continue to take place in the

future.  Inference, then is determined by genuine knowledge, not by cause

and effect.

            k.  Inference and reason are the means by which we know and understand nature

and how we explain nature and cannot be explained by nature

           

 

Chapter 4:

I.  The Big Idea:  Acts of reasoning are not interlocked in the system of Nature as all

other items are interlocked with one another.

II.  Flow of Reasoning:

            a.  Reasoning is not interlocked with the system of Nature but is connected

                        1.  the understanding of a machine is connected with the machine but not

in the same way that the parts of the machine are connected with

each other

                        2.  My understanding of the machine is outside of the functioning of the

machine

            b.  Reasoning affects the cause-effect process, but it is a one-way street

                        1.  Nature is powerless to produce rational thought

                        2.  Rational thought produces actions which change nature

                                    i.  “Nature can only raid reason to kill; but Reason can invade

nature to take prisoners and even to colonize” (39)

ii.  “The walls, ceiling, and furniture, the book, your own washed

hands and cut fingernails, bears witness to the colonization

of Nature by reason: for none of this matter would have

been in these states if Nature had her way.” (39)

            c.  Asymmetrical relationship (A yields B but B does not yield A)

                        1.  (A) is the father of (B), the reciprocal cannot be said of (B) to (A)           

d.  Does not follow that rational thought exists absolutely on its own (rational

thought is not God)

                        1.  As above, rationality would become irrationality if it is dependent on

nature

                        2.  Yet, my reason stops at night when I go to sleep or when I am

unconcious                       

3.  Reason must come from something outside of nature that also exhibits

reason

            e.  Objection:

                        1.  Rather, then of saying, “I reason,” should we not say, “God reasons

through us.”

                        2.  “Reasoning does not happen to us; we do it.” (43)

                        3.  We also have false conclusions, which would be impossible if our

reasoning were only God reasoning through us.

            f.  Objection:

                        1.  Could this greater reasoning, be a part of nature, having emerged or

evolved as we do?

                        2.  Nature, by definition, cannot beget reasoning, thus that which begets

our reasoning must be outside of nature

 

 

Chapter 5:

I.  The Big Idea:

            a.  Moral arguments are a product of reasoning and not merely a result of societal

influences

II.  The Flow of Reasoning:

            a.  Many suggest that “morals” are merely a result of conditioning by society

            b.  but “ought”, “this is good” and “this is evil” are value statements, not

preferences

            c.  “If the fact that men have such ideas as ought and ought not at all can be fully

explained by irrational and non-moral causes, then those ideas are an

illusion” (56)

            d.  Yet, “A moment after they have admitted that good and evil are illusions, you

will find them exhorting us to work for posterity, to educate, revolutionize,

liquidate, live and die for the good of the human race.” (57)

            e.  the naturalist is inconsistent—his philosophy does not match his living

            f.  “If we are to continue to make moral judgments, then we must believe that the

conscience of man is not a product of nature.” (60)

 

 

Chapter 6:

I.  Big Idea:

            a.  Our reasoning is done through the medium of the brain much like we observe

through the medium of a looking glass

II.  Flow of Reasoning:

            a.  if the brain is impaired our reasoning is impaired (though the opposite does not

follow)

            b.  When we look at a garden through a window, we are not cognizant of the

window unless we intentionally look at it or it is distorting our field of

vision

            c.  “The naturalists have been engaged in thinking about nature.  They have not

attended to the fact that they were thinking.” (65)

            d.  The implication is that we ought to discover the looking glass through which

we view nature and understand his character

 

 

Chapter 7: 

I.  Big Idea:

            a.  Does nature, by its very nature, exclude the miraculous?

II.  Flow of Reasoning:

            a.  People of old believed in miracles because they were uneducated and knew no

better

                        1.  Joseph understood that virgins did not get pregnant, which is why he

went to send her away

                        2.  Bible presents these things as miracles, not as the norm

            b.  People of old did not have good enough science to know better

                        1.  Ptolemy taught that earth was point with no magnitude in comparison

to sun 1700 years ago

                        2.  Pythagoras (525 BC) calculated

                                    i.  earth was round

                                    ii.  earth revolved around a “Central Fire” (though the central fire

was not the sun, and only reflected the sun’s light.

                                    iii.  popularized base 10 mathematics

            c.  Thus, there is no reason to write off miracles because of our chronological

snobbery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 8:

I.  The Big Idea

a.  Recognizing that there are regular laws within nature, How does God interact?

II.  Flow of Reasoning

            a.  3 conceptions on the “Laws of Nature”

                        1.  They are “brute facts” known only by observation

                                    i.  but observation cannot give us knowledge—knowledge requires

inference (reasoning)

                        2.  They are applications of the law of averages

                                    i.  yet, if the Naturalist is correct, there must be no law of averages

and all must be predictable down to the smallest element

                        3.  Fundamental laws of Physics are “necessary truths”

                                    i.  they provide meaning to the system of nature

            b.  Thus, God’s interaction is an interaction that in itself is a “cause” and effects

come from it—God as a “cause” from which effects come

1.  “a miracle is emphatically not an event without cause or without

results.  Its cause is the activity of God:  its results follow

according to the Natural law.” (95)

 

 

Chapter 9:

I.  The Big Idea

            a.  Recognizing a God, must he be the kind that acts and is nature any less real as

a result?

II.  Flow of Reasoning

            a.  this line of objection (that God would not wish to act) is a purely emotional

one

            b.  to say nature is unreal because a God has created her is nonsense

            c.  Every aspect of nature expresses the character of nature that God wished her to

express

 

 

Chapter 10:

I.  The Big Idea

            a.  We must understand the nature of this Supernatural God through Analogy

II.  Flow of reasoning

            a.  we cannot understand many finite things but through analogy (imagining

London)—analogies being imperfect notions

            b.  Yet even an imperfect analogy does not invalidate the results (horrid red

things)

            c.  3 principles

                        1.  Thought is distinct from the imagination that accompanies it

                        2.  thought may be sound even when false images accompany it

                        3.  anyone who talks of that which cannot be seen, touched, or heard must

inevitably speak of them as if they could be seen, touched, or heard

(analogy)

            d.  We must then use analogy to explain the supernatural, not to explain it away

 

 

C.S. Lewis: The Problem of Pain (outline)

The Problem of Pain

C.S. Lewis

Overview of the Argument

Chapter 1:

I.  The Big Idea:

            A.  There is Pain on the earth

                        1.  In the natural world creatures prey upon one another

                        2.  In the natural world life is sustained through the death of other things

                        3.  Man has the capacity not only to feel pain, but to anticipate pain

                        4.  Philosophical fatalism abounds

                                    i.  Albert Camus (1913-1960)—“the only question modern man

has left to answer is the question of suicide”

            B.  Yet, if there is so much pain on the earth, why did human beings ever attribute

creation to a benevolent creator?

                        1.  Note that dread & awe stemming from the created order are not

physical qualities, but inferred from physical qualities

                        2.  Moral goodness/guilt is not result of cause & effect

                        3.  Men stand condemned of their moral failure regardless of their

religious theology/philosophy

                        4.  You thus cannot write off moral teaching of Jesus, and if you accept his

moral teaching you must accept his teaching about his divine being

                                    -“Either he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type,

or else He was, and is, precisely what he said.  There is no middle

way.  If the records make the first hypothesis unacceptable, you

must submit to the second.”  (13)

            C.  The very fact that we have a good creator as God creates the problem of pain

rather than solving it—were God other than good, as he describes himself,

the question would never arise.

Chapter 2:  Divine Omnipotence

Initial Problem:  “‘If God were good, 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.’  This is the problem of pain in its simplest form. “(16)

            A.  This assumes that “goodness”, “happiness,” and “omnipotence” are defined

the same for us as for God

            B.  Meaning of Omnipotence

                        1.  God does not have the power to do anything

                        2.  God has the power to do anything that is consistent with his nature

                                    a.  God cannot be righteous and unrighteous at the same time—that

would be nonsense

                                    b.  law of non-contradiction

                                    c.  the impossible/contradictions are not things but non-entities as

they are impossible

                        3.  Freedom for the creature implies that there is a choice

                                    -“their freedom is simply that of making a single naked choice—of

loving God more than the self or the self more than God.” (20)

                        4.  The Freedom of God consists in the fact that no cause other than

Himself produces His acts and no external obstacle impedes

them—that His own goodness is the root from which they all grow

and his own omnipotence is the air in which they flower.”  (27)

 

Chapter 3:  Divine Goodness

Big Idea:  God’s definition of Goodness must include human pain.

I.  Problem:  “If God is wiser than we His judgment must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil.  What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil.  On the other hand, if God’s moral judgment differs from ours so that our black may be His white, we can mean nothing by calling Him good; for to say, ‘God is Good,’ while asserting that His goodness is wholly other than ours, is really only to say, ‘God is we know not what.”’

            A.  The difficulty with equivocal and univocal language

                        1.  Must use analogical language

                        2.  our understanding of good and evil is neither the same as God’s nor is

it wholly different—our understanding is derivative

                        3.  Since God is our moral compass, there must then be a degree of

agreement

                        4.  “When the man of inferior moral standards enters the society of those

who are better and wiser than he…[then he] gradually learns to

accept their standards” (29)

                        5.  “His idea of ‘goodness’ differs from ours; but you need have no fear

that, as you approach it, you will be asked simply to reverse your

moral standards” (30)

            B.  Man’s Idea of God’s Goodness

                        1.  Understood in terms of God’s “lovingness”

                                    a.  Gumball machine analogy

                                    b.  The Old Man and Mr. Smith, by Peter Ustinov

                        2.  Desire not for a Father in heaven, but for a senile grandfather

                        3.  Kindness is more just giving escape from suffering

                                    a.  Euthanasia question

            C.  God’s concept for kindness

                        1.  “It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand

happiness on any terms:  with our friends, our lovers, our children,

we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be

happy in contemptible and estranging modes.  If God is Love, He

is, by definition, something more than mere kindness.” (32-33)

                        2.  The Dog and master analogy

                                    a.  training a dog takes hard discipline at first

                                    b.  trained dogs enjoy benefits that wild dogs do not

                        3.  “We may wish, indeed, that we were of so little account to God that He

left us alone to follow our natural impulses—that He would give

over trying to train us into something so unlike our natural selves:

but once again, we are asking not for more love, but less.” (36)

                        4.  God is conforming us into the image of His Son

                                    a.  that requires suffering

                        5.  “Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but

love cannot cease to will their removal.” (39)

            D.  Our Response

                        1.  “Our highest activity must be response, not initiative.  To experience

the love of God in a true, and not illusory form, is therefore to

experience it as our surrender to His demand, our conformity to

His desire:  to experience it in the opposite way is, as it were, a

solecism against the grammar of being.” (44)

                        2.  “When we want to be something other than the thing that God wants us

to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy.

Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like

those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us

where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.  He

demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration…God wills

our good, and our good is to love Him…and to love Him we must

know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces.”

(46)

Chapter 4:  Human Wickedness

Big Idea:  We must get to the source of the problem—the source is not God, but Man

            A.  Problem is that we have had “human goodness” preached to us for generations

                        a.  and we are wicked, not good, by nature

            B.  We see God’s hand as one meddling in our lives

            C.  “When we merely say that we are bad, the ‘wrath’ of God seems a barbarous

doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere

corollary from God’s goodness.” (52)

            D.  Undoing false beliefs

                        1.  We suppose ourselves not much worse than others

                        2.  domestic conceptions of morality

                        3.  illusion that time cancels sin

                        4.  the idea that there is safety in numbers

            E.  Fact that moral beliefs contain basic consistencies regardless of background

                        1.  Zarathustra, Jeremiah, Socrates, Gautama, Christ, Marcus Aurelius

                        2.  all agree that man has problems and needs fixing

            F.  Moral perfection of God

                        1.  some theologians deny necessity of this for judging humans

                        2.  “the road to the promised land runs past Sinai” (59)

            G.  Note Lewis’ misunderstanding of the doctrine of Total Depravity

            H.  “I have been trying to make the reader believe that we actually are, at present,

creatures whose character must be, in some respects, a horror to God, as it

is, when we really see it, a horror to ourselves.  This I believe to be a fact:

and I notice that the holier a man is, the more fully he is aware of that fact.” (62)

Chapter 5:  The Fall

Big Idea:  Lewis’ Commentary on Genesis 3

I.  False views

            A.  Monism

            B.  Dualism

II.  Is it better to create than not to create?

III.  For Lewis the fall is more than disobedience, but contains deeper, more mystical

truths

            A.  Lewis’ view on evolution and the Imago Dei in man

            B.  Man’s sin of pride

            C.  “They wanted, as we say, to ‘call their souls their own.’  But that means to live

a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own.  They wanted some corner in

the universe of which they could say to God, “This is our business, not

yours.’” (75)

            D.  Man was created to love and serve God, sin is a rejection of our most basic

function

            E.  “Theoretically, I suppose, we might say ‘Yes: we behave like vermin, but then

that is because we are vermin.  And that, at any rate, is not our fault.’  Bit

the fact that we are vermin, so far from being felt as an excuse, is a greater

shame and grief to us than any of the particular acts which it leads us to

commit. (81)

IV.  Conclusion:

            -“The thesis of this chapter is simply that man, as a species, spoiled himself, and

that good, to us in our present state, must therefore mean primarily remedial or

corrective good.”

Chapter 6:  Human Pain (part 1)

The Big Idea:  The value of pain is that it shatters our illusions.

            A.  Two kinds of pain

                        1.  Physical sensation

                        2.  Anything that the patient might find distasteful.

            B.  Life as imitation

                        1.  Jesus models the father to man

                        2.  Christians are to model Jesus to unbelievers

                        3.  “We are not merely imperfect cratures who must be improved:  we are,

as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms.  The first

answer, then, to the question why our cure should be painful, is

that to render back the will which we have so long claimed for our

own, is in itself, wherever and however it is done, a grievous pain.”

(88-89)

            C.  Pain Shatters the Illusion that all is well

                        1.  “We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities; and anyone

who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods

as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we

can ignore even pleasure.  But pain insists on being attended to.

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience,

but shouts in our pain:  it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf

world.” (90-91)

            D.  Pain shatters the illusion that we have all we need

                        1.  “Let me implore the reader to try to believe, if only for a moment, that

God, who made these deserving people, may really be right when

he thinks that their modest prosperity and the happiness of their

children are not enough to make them blessed:  that all this must

fall from them in the end, and that if they have not learned to know

Him they will be wretched.” (95)

            E.  Pain shatters the illusion of human divinity

                        1.  “the movement ‘full speed astern’ by which we retrace our long

journey from paradise, the untying of the old, hard knot, must be

when the creature, with no desire to aid it, stripped naked to the

bare willing of obedience, embraces what is contrary to its nature, and does that for which only one motive is possible.”  (100)

                        2.  God requires bare obedience from his creatures even if we do not

understand the outcome

                                    a.  Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac

                                    b.  Job is never given an answer for why these tests were placed on

him

                        3.  Pain teaches not that we are self sufficient, but that we have the

sufficiency to trust in heaven

Chapter 7:  Human Pain (part 2)

The Big Idea:  Lewis deals with 6 propositions regarding pain

            A.  There is a paradox in Christian teaching on suffering

                        1.  We are told blessed are those who are poor, but for the rich to give

money to them to alleviate their poverty

                        2.  We are told blessed are those who are persecuted, but we find believers

leaving a city to avoid persecution

                        3.  If these things are really a blessing, should not we be striving to be

poor and persecuted?  (“If suffering is good, ought it not be pursued rather than avoided?”)

                        4.  Lewis argues that pain is not a virtue in itself but a means to an end

(sanctification)

            B.  Tribulation is necessary in redemption

                        1.  genuine tribulation is different than masochistic acts

                        2.  Tribulation will always be here until God returns to judge

                        3.  the idea of a utopia, heaven on earth, is inconsistent thinking

            C.  Church Doctrine of self-surrender and obedience is a theological, not a

political doctrine

                        1.  government is incapable of bringing about or thwarting genuine

Christianity

                        2.  the Church grows under the harshest persecution and grows lethargic

and dies when apart from it

            D.  The Christian doctrine of suffering explains about the world around us

                        1.  We desire settled happiness

                        2.  we do not find it in this world

                        3.  We are only given stabs of joy here and there, but not lasting

                        4.  the Remedy is Heaven, not earth—we are on a journey to Heaven

            E.  We must never overestimate pain

                        1.  toothache analogy:  pain x + pain x does not equal pain 2x, but two of

us share the pain x

            F.  Of all the evils, pain is a sterilized or disinfected evil

                        1.  pain is different than sin—when sin is over one must go, repent of it,

and make the offense right

                        2.  Pain is done with when it is done

Chapter 8:  Hell

The Big Idea:  Lewis refutes objections to the doctrine of Hell

            -“I am not going to try to prove the doctrine tolerable.  Let us make no mistake; it

is not tolerable.  But I think the doctrine can be shown to be moral, by a

critique of the objections ordinarily made, or felt, against it.” (121)

            A.  How can pain that does not  lead to repentance be beneficial?

                        1.  Hell then is positive retribution for sin

                        2.  of the confirmed wicked sinner: “Can you really desire that such a man,

remaining what he is, should be confirmed forever in his present

happiness—should continue for all eternity, to be perfectly

convinced that the laugh is on his side?  And if you cannot regard

this as tolerable, is it only your wickedness—only spite—that

prevents you from doing so?  Or do you find that the conflict

between Justice and Mercy, which has sometimes seemed to you

such an outmoded piece of theology, now actually at work in your

own mind, and feeling very much as if it came to you from above,

not from below?” (123)

            B.  Is there not a disproportion between transitory sin and eternal damnation

                        1.  sin in part spoils the whole

                        2.  we may be given a thousand chances to do right and will reject every

one

            C.  Are not the frightful images of hell just that, images meant to scare, and not

reflective of the reality?

                        1.  True that they are images, but there is a concrete reason these images

are chosen

                        2.  They are meant to reflect that which is unspeakably horrible because

Hell is.

                        3.  Hell is spoken of as a place of punishing pain, destruction (not

annihilation), and privation of good—don’t overstate one at the

expense of the others

                        4.  Lewis’ view of Hell emphasizes the privation

                                    -“They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded,

and are therefore self-enslaved:  just as the blessed, forever

submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more

and more free.” (130)

Chapter 9:  Animal Pain

The Big Idea:  How do we explain animal suffering?—an odd answer by Lewis

            A.  Suffering for animals contains no moral dignity

            B.  What kind of pain do animals suffer?

                        1.  varies depending on the animal, some more than others

                        2.  must be careful not to attribute pain where there is none

            C.  How did disease and pain enter the animal world

                        1.  through the fall of Satan

                        2.  views fall of Satan causing pain and suffering in animals long before

Adam and Eve’s fall

            D.  How can animal suffering be reconciled with the Justice of God?

                        1.  mosquito heaven would be hell for man

                        2.  heaven and hell as a question are irrelevant as animals cannot

understand the concepts only feel when pain begins and ceases

                        3.  Justice is applied to man, not animals

Chapter 10: Heaven

The Big Idea:  Heaven is the solution to the problem of pain

            A.  Many object to heaven as a ‘pie in the sky” doctrine—but there must be a

basis for it, otherwise all of Christianity is false

            B.  Many think of heaven as bribe for good behavior

                        -“Again, we are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our

goal we shall no longer be disinterested.  It is not so.  Heaven offers

nothing that a mercenary soul can desire.  It is safe to tell the pure in heart

that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.  There are

rewards that do not sully motives.” (149)

            C.  “Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular

swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to

unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.  For it is not

humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you—you the individual

reader, John Stubbs or Janet Smith.” (152)

            D.  Heaven, apart from all the glorious description found in the Bible, is living in

perfect harmony, peace, unity, joy and grace and living thus for all

eternity.