Friday, April 6, 2012

What Lies Behind the Rule of "Decent Behavior"—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

There Have Always Been 2 Views: The Religious and The Materialist

"Ever since men were able to think," begins C. S. Lewis "they have been wondering what this universe really is and how it came to be here.... Two views have been held. First the materialist view.... The other view is the religious view. According to it, what is behind the universe is more like a mind ... than anything else we know.... It is conscious ... has purposes, and prefers one thing to another.... Please do not think one of these views was held a long time ago and that the other has gradually taken its place. Wherever there have been thinking men, both views turn up. And note this too. You cannot find out which view is the right one by science....

Useful and Necessary

"Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave ... and a very useful and necessary job it is too. But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observessomething of a different kindthis is not a scientific question. If there is 'Something Behind', then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some different way. The statement that there is any such thing, and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science ... who go in for them....

"Now the position would be quite hopeless but for this. There is one thing ... in the whole universe that we know more about than we could learn from external observation. That one thing is Man. We ... have ... inside information.... If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universeno more than an architect could actually be a wall.... We could expect it to show itself ... as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that is just what we do find inside ourselves. Surely this ought to arouse our suspicions? In the only case where you can expect to get an answer, the answer turns out to be Yes ... [to] a Power behind the facts, a Director, a Guide. Do not think I am going faster than I really am. I am not yet within a hundred miles of the God of Christian theology. All I have got to is a Something that is directing the universe, and that appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong. I think we have to assume it is more like a mind ... because ... the only other thing we know is matter and you can hardly imagine a bit of matter giving instructions.... In the next chapter we shall see if we can find out anything more about it. But one word of warning. There has been a great deal of soft soap talked about God for the last hundred years. That is not what I am offering. You can cut all that out."

Who or What Is Operating Inside?

Highlights from chapter 4: What Lies Behind the Law, book 1: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  Click here for a clear view of how this chapter relates to the whole book.

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