C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 4

Mere Christianity (Part 1)

Lewis wants to parlay theological doctrines into dynamic insights and track out their implications for intellectual engagement. He does is with a background of philosophical skill and theological understanding of historic orthodoxy. Instead of arguing about preferences, we need to focus on articulating the doctrines that are universal. Lewis’s ideas are expressed so they can be understood by people not formally trained in philosophy or theology but they have merit in the marketplace of ideas. 

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 4
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Mere Christianity (Part 1)

Mere Christianity (part 1)

I. Meditation

A. Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)

B. Do you love me? (John 21:16)

II. Preface of Mere Christianity


Book One: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe


III. Starting point is that there is a divine being

A. Our moral awareness

B. Kant’s moral argument

C. C.S. Lewis as a realist

1. Metaphysical realism

2. Epistemological realism

3. Moral realism/p>

4. Theological realism

5. Relationship between realism and myth

6. Depth of Lewis’s arguments

IV. Everyone has a conscience or moral awareness

V. Objections to the moral law

A. Herd instinct

B. Social convention

C. New atheist arguments

  • The purpose of the class is to directly engage Lewis’s philosophy and theology. He brings a Christian worldview to engage intellectual movements of his day. The trinity created us to bring us into the fellowship that has been going on with God forever. 

  • The mind is the organ of reason, imagination is the organ of understanding. To understand what real truth is, the imagination needs to be a part of that. We are created in the image of God and are immortal beings. Ordinary people are extraordinary. The Christian life is most deeply about being transformed resulting in participation in the divine life. It's more than just having one’s legal status changed. There should be transformation in the culture as well as personal. God is in the process of redeeming a wounded universe, including the whole of knowledge and truth in all subjects. 

  • There is a sacred quality to ordinary activities as well as symbolic religious rituals. Whatever is true in any field of study is God’s truth. The world is essentially good, but it’s been damaged. God has taken a great risk in allowing people free choice for good or evil. Evil has become present in many forms in the world and it is anti-creational and anti-human. We are not broken, but we are bent. God’s nature is relational because of the nature of the Trinity, so it makes sense that he would make a universe that is relational. We dwell in God and he dwells in us. As disciples of Christ we all share the single vocation of loving God and others.

  • Lewis wants to parlay theological doctrines into dynamic insights and track out their implications for intellectual engagement. He does is with a background of philosophical skill and theological understanding of historic orthodoxy. Instead of arguing about preferences, we need to focus on articulating the doctrines that are universal. Lewis’s ideas are expressed so they can be understood by people not formally trained in philosophy or theology but they have merit in the marketplace of ideas. 

  • The probability of morality as we know it in the human community, given that theism is true, is more probable than morality given any other worldview. Morality at the human (finite) level is anchored in morality at the infinite level. Morality has its most natural fitting worldview home in theism. In using the analogy of light shining through boards in a tool shed, Lewis says, “I believe in Christianity, not because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” 

  • In Hinduism, Brahman, the hidden inner essence of everything, is beyond human categories of good and evil. Brahman is the only reality. Everything we see is an illusion. The fundamental human problem is ignorance, not sin. Dualism is the idea that there is good and evil at war in the universe. Explaining morality in a dualistic framework is difficult. Dualism assumes good and evil are equal, so you would need a third element to adjudicate which one to choose, and that would be a higher standard. Otherwise you wouldn’t know which one to choose. Naturalism/materialism says there is no ultimate moral nature to the universe. 

  • Lewis begins by discussing our common moral experience as a triggering point to reason toward theism. Then he reasons for a deity that’s interested in morality that’s also a supreme power. With naturalism, we come from a source that is non-rational, non-moral and non-personal, so it’s difficult to understand how you get beings that are rational, moral and personal.

  • Theism is intellectually at least on par, if not superior to, other conceptions of reality like dualism, pantheism and naturalism. If there is a God that theism describes, only one deity of the living theistic religions said that this God invaded our existence. The question is that in comparison to other alternatives, what is emerging as a reasonable explanation of the reality we face?

  • Our rationality being reliable assumes that we can produce a large preponderance of true beliefs over false ones by using rational faculties like memory, abstract reasoning, perception and the testimony of others. The role of philosophy is to analyze and explain the common sense beliefs of the human race about morality and the external world. 

  • The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. Lewis thinks that we now do not have broad social consensus of Christian truth. He challenges individuals to have a more positive affirming attitude toward intellect and academics. In his view, Christians are ambivalent about the value of the life of the mind and using the gift of our intellect to serve him.

  • Premise one: every natural desire corresponds to one real object. Premise two: There exists in us a desire that nothing in the temporal world can satisfy. Conclusion is that there must be more than time, earth and creatures that can satisfy this desire.

  • The Supreme Being, behind the universe as we know it, is a personal being, eternal and the model for how we are to understand our personhood. We can’t understand our own personhood fully, the way it’s supposed to operate, unless we understand what God is, as a personal being. We are not projecting our understanding on God but learning about ourselves by finding out about God. 

  • This is ultimately a book about a clash of worldviews. A worldview offers an explanation of the important features/phenomena of life and the world. In the West, the atheist worldview is often expressed in naturalism. Lewis argues for theism based on what is true internally of us, rather than argument from design. Discussion is not whether a particular miracle has occurred, but in principle, is it a possibility.

  • There is a supernatural power or being that is ontologically distinct from nature (transcendent). It is self-existent. Every world view must propose what is fundamentally real. For the naturalist, it is the physical world. For the theist, it’s a transcendent deity. Everything that is not God is dependent/contingent on God for its being. The theist says that the deity can bring about events that would not have happened by the regular operation of nature. 

  • What’s important to Lewis is freedom of rational thinking, free from physical causes. Naturalism undercuts the power of reason because everything is determined by physical causes. If evolutionary naturalism is true, then the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable for truth is low.

  • If you believe in naturalism as a worldview, miracles are impossible. Since a naturalist worldview says everything is determined and thought is only adaptive, the ability to have free rational thought to logically evaluate naturalism undercuts the naturalist position.

  • Rational thought and moral consciousness are points of entry of the supernatural into the realm of the natural. It involves both. It’s not a dichotomy. Naturalists believe that the nature of human persons is limited to material processes. Substance dualists believe that mind and brain are two separate substances that are mixed for now, but at death one will cease to exist and the other will continue to exist. Emergentist sees the animal form taken to another degree of complexity by the natural realm getting increasingly complex and dualist in function as opposed to substance.

  • Scientific law is economical summary of what experience always reports: regular cause and effect. Laws are regularity based on coincidences. Causality is the basis of law. Hume says that laws are regularities based on coincidences. Hume says that you can only know regularity because that’s all the human mind is capable of. Peterson’s view is that a miracle is not changing a law of nature, it’s changing with the “ceteris paribus” clause – preventing all things from being equal and changing the nature of the item. 

  • There is nothing about nature that makes miracles impossible. The naturalist can’t see nature accurately as a creature, not just an independent fact but it can’t stand or explain itself. The cosmological principle is that only concrete beings, not general things, have causal power. Causal laws don’t make things happen, only the beings acting within the laws.

  • If God is in fact a living determinate being, and is outside the natural system, he might insert events into the natural system. The laws that we observe in the natural system may be a subset of higher laws that govern the universe. What criteria do you use to determine if a miracle has taken place? Evidence plus intrinsic probability. Whether or not an event is a miracle is also part of the discussion of the problem of evil. Why would God intervene in some circumstances but not others? 

  • In philosophy, it’s referred to as the problem of evil. Given a certain understanding of God and a certain understanding of evil, there is a tension explaining why evil exists in the world.

  • If God chooses to create a nature, this signifies a physical system which indicates a relatively independent nature independent from himself, it would make a lot of sense to say he is frequently intervening.  The same laws that make nature a stable environment in which rational soulish life can emerge, are also the same laws that make us vulnerable. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. He might whisper to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain. Question about whether God initiates the pain or he set up a system which results in pain because of the way it’s structured.

  • Lewis describes the story of the Fall as a narrative that has symbolic elements that convey significant truth. The truth in the first couple chapters of Genesis is that we were created by God, sovereign and loving creator, and that our only fulfillment as humans is to center our lives on God. Our proper role as a creature is to rely on God, so when we ignore that and rely on ourselves, our relationship with God is broken. 

  • God is his creation set forth the problem of expressing his goodness through the total drama of a world containing free agents in spite of, and even by means of, their rebellion against him. The risk is for the possibility of relationship. 

  • Aristotle would say that as a rational, moral being you build your character based on the hierarchy of good traits.  From a Christian perspective, our natural destiny should be on the same trajectory as our eternal destiny. The spiritual and theological virtues are faith, hope and love.

  • As long as God chooses a stable physical order, that physical order will run by its own laws. Any system with  have the possibility of pain. Created nature with natural laws provide a framework/structure in which souls can meet. Some pain is produced by the natural system without regard to the desires of the beings. That humans can inflict pain on other humans is a reflection of the permission by God that he permits this. The wide range of freedom makes it possible for great good or terrible evil. 

  • Lewis thinks that God needs to pierce the shield of our ego and we are embodied creatures so pain is what does it by getting our attention by highlighting how frail and in need we are. 

  • For Lewis, heaven is the unending joyous life of God, the life of the Trinity. The only way I can be fulfilled is to find its proper purpose and relation with God. Heaven is the restoration of created personhood, what it was always meant to be. When we are on the trajectory, we begin experiencing it now. Hell is the lack of fulfillment for which we were made. 

  • Discussion of the movie Shadowlands. Discussion of the nature of relationships. Pain and happiness are not necessarily mutually exclusive.                                        

  • Lewis expresses anger toward God as part of his process of grief. Orthodox Christianity denies materialism which believes that your physical body is all you are, but it doesn’t require body-soul dualism where the soul is the real person that inhabits a shell. Whatever damage death completes in the reign of sin in this world will be undone and swallowed up by the resurrection. The restoration of human personhood will come after death. 

  • Heaven and hell are dichotomous. Whether life is heaven or hell depends on your future trajectory. God is true reality, fixed and can’t be altered. In GD, true reality is God. The descriptions are not meant to be literal. Heaven is the Trinitarian life of God. It’s not a place, it’s a state of being in proper relation to the love and joy of the Trinitarian relations. Lewis describes it as a great dance. 

  • Final comments about themes in The Great Divorce.

C. S. Lewis is an extremely good theologian who does his work for the thoughtful lay person.  But his writings reflect his erudite understanding of the great classics of literature, historical theology, philosophy, and other disciplines.  Lewis says in Mere Christianity that theology is like a map.  We may get where we’re going without it, but it is much easier to use the map.  The map of Christian theology is drawn over the early centuries of the church as the believing community interprets the Bible and its experience of God.  

Of course, the ultimate goal of theology, according to Lewis, is practical:  to draw us into the life of God, or St. Gregory of Nazianzus ((329-374 AD), called it, “the Great Dance.”  I know no theme deeper or more pervasive in Lewis than our need to get the steps right, to join the dance once again.  

In “Meditations in a Tool Shed,” Lewis says that there is a distinction between looking at a beam of light and looking along the beam of light.  He is speaking of looking at reason or using reason—a passage that forms part of his great case that presence of rationality argues for the truth of theism.  We will be doing a lot of looking in this course, largely, “looking at” Lewis himself.  But let us also try to “look along” the same line of sight as Lewis, to see things—God, humanity, spiritual life, and a host of other things—as Lewis saw them.  This means attempting to step inside Lewis’s worldview and learning to interpret fundamental realities the way he did and to deploy his distinctive strategies for engaging other worldviews.  In effect, we will learn to think Christianly by learning to think along Christianly with Lewis.

In 2020, Dr. Peterson published the book, C. S. Lewis and the Christian WorldviewIt is essentially his course lectures in written book form--covering Lewis on all key worldview issues--reality, knowledge, creation, trinity, christology, as well as issues of evil, religious pluralism, and the impact of science on faith. You will also see it listed in the Recommended Reading section. 

Dr. Michael Peterson

C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy


Mere Christianity (Part 1)

Lesson Transcript


I wouldn't say that God is asking us because he needs information. We ask questions because we need sometimes information, further explanation, you know. But I would say what he's asking the questions that he's putting forth to us are more in what I would call the. Transformational mode. He he doesn't need more information. He is seeking to transform. And by responding appropriately to the various questions that he asks of us, I think we move along the path of personal transformation in him. So the questions he asks of us, very important questions as well. But they're more than about information. They're about transformation. Or we might say they're they're in the obedience mode rather than the information mode or something like that. Is the nature of the questions. Well, just something to think about because philosophy, theology, we deal with so many questions that are not empirical and not quantifiable. But there are about these ultimate kinds of issues. I'm just trying to turn the table and say, let's realize that God is also addressing us, asking things of us. Let me close this meditation by picking out just two questions that Jesus asks in the Gospels, and we'll close with these. Matthew 1615. Who do you say that I am? And then last. Do you love me? Do you love me? That's John 2116. This is perhaps the deepest of all questions and deals with our transformational relationship to Christ. Well, let's pray and then we'll get going. Yes, Lord, we love you. Increase our love. We pray. Let our love work itself out. In all that we do. All that we say and all that we are in Christ Name. Amen. Well, I think today on the menu while I'm still hungry, I mean, the agenda menu.


But anyway, I don't get much lunch. Okay. Doing some bureaucratic things, turning in a report, and next thing I knew was like 1215. And it doesn't make for a really relaxed lunch between then and now. But anyway, so today on the menu is more Christianity. And I wanted to kind of look at his preface where he tells about the aim of the book and just talk our way through that just briefly and then get on to the program of the book or the strategy. There's kind of a strategy in the book, but in the preface, he's really trying to position things along two or three major lines. You might remember, for example, he says that I'm not trying to speak as an expert. I must try to speak in plain language to, you know, thoughtful people generally. I think that's part of his appeal. Amazing, amazing appeal he continues to have. You tell me if I miss anything. I'm just going to walk through these. Another appeal, I think, is because he he says, I'm not going to try to speak because I'm a member of the Church of England. I'm an Anglican. But he said, I'm not going to try to speak out of a denominational or sectarian perspective. But I'm going to try to look at what has everywhere and at all times and by all Christians. Ben believed. And take the posture through the book of a universal Christianity. And there are different labels we can put on that. I like Tom Owen's two or three different labels that he uses classical Christianity. Ecumenical orthodoxy. Historical orthodoxy. You can get the drift here when I get really, you know, flowing with adjectives, I usually say, Nicene, Trinitarian, you know, orthodoxy, something like that.


But that's what that's what Lewis is trying to do and his language. So he's writing in the forties, British using actually a previous usage of the word Mir than what we use now. But in older usage of the word mirror, we just have the meaning basic or elemental. That's what we mean. We don't mean that we're trying to denigrate creates miracles. It's just it's nothing much. It doesn't have that sense at all. So he's positioning what he means by the title. I mean, basic. Nothing fancy with denominational decorations. You know, or or add ons. But what is what is basic? And he positions himself largely around the Nicene Creed. That that provides a kind of conceptual framework. And I think that's that's a good way to go. Another label Catholic Christianity small C. Small C because Catholic means universal. So I hope that we're all Catholic Christians and then we see the wisdom of positioning ourselves there. Because then every denomination, every Christian tradition that's represented among us becomes our window of a window of viewing our window of access on the larger universe of Catholic Christianity. Rather than letting the denomination or letting our specific concrete tradition kind of frame everything for us that we think Christianity is. And this opens up an appreciation for the richness and the variety of Christianity throughout history and around the globe. And we're looking then for what's common watching. What is it? What is it that Christianity is, if it differs through history, through time or for differs essentially across the globe, then the answer What is it is whatever you and your group think it is. That can't be the answer. If it is, I'm out, I'm gone. And so we have to, I think, do that little extra work of saying I appreciate my tradition.


Everybody's going to have some journey, some path with his various of theological heroes and so on. Absolutely. And you were all born somewhere and we all take root somewhere and we all move along some historical path and then just come to appreciate that and reframe it as a way of accessing what Universal. Lewis believes. I think he correctly believes that in the intellectual world, as well as in general culture, he's sort of addressing general culture, but he's bringing things out of the intellectual world, things hostile to faith and things in support of faith out of the intellectual world. He's well aware, keenly aware of. He's extremely well read. We'll see that as we go. But he's bringing it to the kind of ordinary, broad, popular cultural level and doing it in a very, I think, a very creative way. I'm right. That's that's I think the wisdom of Lewis is that he knows if he works out of a denominational tradition and that alone frames his thinking, it won't be up to the task. Of engaging the biggest questions. The most potent alternative points of view. It will get his brains beat out and deservedly so. There are big ideas out there. There are some huge arguments. There are some very serious objections, etc., etc. And you have to have the full rich resources of Nicene Trinitarian Universal Catholic Historical. You run out of adjectives Orthodox Christianity in order to engage them. Anything else really will lose. In many ways it already has. And it really should lose. I'm in Russia. So on the other hand, when you step within that framework that he's trying to build through the book. And appreciate its intellectual potency as well as its ability to nourish. Spiritually. That's very significant.


But we have to, I think, come to the point we say, yeah, I can own this. I can step within this. And I kind of get the logic of how it goes, how to parlay theological doctrines into dynamic insights and track out their implications for intellectual engagement, what people will think of doctrine that way, and theology and theological principles that way. But that's actually what Lewis is doing and he's doing with with with background philosophical skill. So he's got to have both philosophical skill and the theological understanding of historic orthodoxy to make this thing go. Then you add to it his literary ability, his background, knowledge of literature, and so on. I think that's part of the recipe. Various ingredients, you might say, in the recipe that make for the success and continued success of of mere Christianity. Comments, questions. Any time, any time you have anything, it would be helpful to clarify, to discuss a little bit more. I'm good with that. Yes. Is there any instance of where he has to leave his Anglicanism to be in that Catholic faith? Oh, well, if you see Anglicanism, that's a good question. Here's the way I see Louis, is if you see Anglicanism as kind of the great middle way via media and Latin of church history, where you're broadly appreciative of Catholicism, of Roman Catholicism and, and its historic, you know, contribution to the faith, as well as some of the newer insights of Protestantism and the middle way, of course, between between Calvinism and Lutheranism and so on. He he postures himself. Not just for diplomacy sake, I don't think, but because there's something that none of them own as their proprietary possession. So he says, I am an Anglican, but it's my angle of access.


So anything that's peculiar to Anglicanism or peculiar to Methodism, or peculiar to being a Baptist, where I'm leaving out the peculiarities, I'm just I'm going to just stand in the in the in the common ground. So I don't think he's contradicting anything in his Anglicanism. But he's not going to the particularities, he's going to the commonalities. Does that making sense? It's kind of like the great intersection. It's not just it's not just looking for an intersection, will be looking for it. But wherever these all come together, it happens to be Oops. Universal Christianity. I'm just for brevity sake. I'm just using the this is not an X. And then when I sign my Christmas cards, I say Merry Xmas, right? But it's not that. It's a car. It was more Christian abbreviation. Okay. Just to say that as long as I get accused, you said Merry Xmas. You're taking Christ. No, I'm putting something really spiritual in there. The Chi. Does it make sense? Well, one is that for the sake of argumentation, is that simply because by doing that, are you saying that those particularities are one valuable or value by doing that? No, I think you're not saying that they're invalid. They would be historical expressions of a given tradition, its journey, what its come to take as the way to do the sacraments or what is taking as as its way of embodying this or that Christian and spiritual insight. But what is the core? Well, like that pan a lot better. What's what is the core is not just a mathematical intersection where they happen to all agree. But he's I think he's kind of calling all valid Christian traditions and valid Christian denominations to see themselves reframe their own historical situated ness.


We're all we're all situated historically. But what is it that gives us? A grip on and access to the Common Core and belief and practice. And again, for want of a better term, universal Christianity, Catholic Christianity. I don't think he's leaving anything. He just knows the particularities aren't good enough. They're not intellectually potent enough. To go into the intellectual arena where secular opposition is and some really major questions you need be you need to just make sure that you get the the depth and the riches of the core. And that will do it. I mean, you know, in the Methodist church, we have a certain way of doing communion. We have a range of two or three different ways. Right. Or whatever. Baptism, you know, I think of other things. But rather than argue those preferences, we're trying to argue what's argue from a rich understanding of what's universal. And by hitting any kind of target with that response or I'm willing to go more. But yeah, it's a hard time because because some of the differences are so huge. Yeah, the. To talk about something universally that you. So many traditions after you have so much. Yeah. It's so foundational to what makes them a tradition or denomination or whatever. Yeah. To be able to accept what is universal. I do think that, you know, arguably there are some traditions, valid Christian traditions, nonetheless, that will have a harder time reframing and seeing this than others. I actually think that's true. And I'd like to comment further on that. But I think that's true. And but again, this is this is the catch of the framework is Nicene Creed. So. If they have a hard time giving up some something else as opposed to saying, yes, I get it.


The creed and what it what is sketching in terms of a conceptual framework is so potent and what it even implies or is connected to in terms of doctrinal understanding is so potent. That's all I need. I don't need to argue my mode of baptism. I don't need to argue because honestly, the world doesn't care to be really frank, don't care. And so I think I think there's a great exercise in in good. It could have a lifelong impact if we kind of get this and we all get it in our own way and in our own time. But this is the way he sets the book. And I just I think it's well worth discussing and digesting and sort of seeing how he does it and why he does it and then thinking about it. Like I say, I'll pursue this further if you like. I'm good to do that. Or maybe we've done that to death. Okay, you let me know if anything needs more discussion. Now, one way to see the program of the book unfold a little bit is to say, What's his starting point? Remember last time we probably said a little bit about this all connect with. But for one thing, you've got to get God on the table. Just a divine being. Now that's sort of the Christian Guard with with all of our description that's in some detail of a Christian God. But you've got to get God on the table. So, in other words, just you have to argue for theism to some extent. Because if theism is implausible, Christian theism is implausible. If you're thinking about how to engage a an intellectual arena with a variety of philosophical and religious options out there, total worldview options, complete comprehensive understandings of life in the world and whatever is all they got their own idea of whatever is ultimate.


For the Buddhists, nirvana for, you know, the Hindus, its its Brahman, the great soul of the world, soul of the universe. Theism, the idea that there's an O.G. God, omnipotent, omniscient, holy, good. Pretty much the core belief of theism you could tack on to that. Who created and sustains the world or who created and sustains the universe. And theism would be common the end to the three great Abrahamic religions. That would be a kind of a core conceptual element to Judaism, Christianity and the relative newcomer to the religious. The great religions scene would be Islam. And those three religions would pretty much agree that God is is this omnipotent, omniscient, and holy good. Although it wouldn't take long if you wanted to kind of probe around on what kind of goodness. You know what kind of power? You could begin to get some parting of the ways. You have a more top down power on the part of some religious viewpoints. You might have different types of goodness. How about self-sacrificial, self-sacrificial and humble goodness? That's this goodness. That's always, you know, demands. Attention. What about the goodness that is willing to self-sacrifice? So it wouldn't take long and you could move from what's a nominal agreement to some interesting nuances. Among the different religions. But I don't want to go there right now. My point is that Louis knows that you've got to kind of argue for theism theorems rationally credible, because the whole idea here is he's speaking to popular culture. These are series of radio broadcasts. Oh, so he's speaking to popular culture on the BBC and he's got to make it rational and reasonable for for at least people to think the concept of God. Has a real credible place in the discussion.


So it's an argument for theism. And he begins the book by talking about our moral awareness. So somehow he's going to connect. Moral awareness and also human moral awareness to the idea of theism makes some sense along those lines. Not arguing for every aspect of theism or a million different ways to support a theistic idea. But just one. Just pick up one thread, kind of follow it through and and make sure that you accent why Theism makes better sense. Now, of course, there are different types of moral arguments that we call this Lewis's moral argument. We were in basic 501501. We were talk about the different kinds of theistic arguments that have been offered throughout the history of thought. Right. We do that in 5a1. Get to the moral argument as one of them. But every one of those arguments, the teleological argument and so on. Cosmological. They've been offered throughout the history of thought in different versions, different thinkers have had just different ways of of expressing them that sometimes make for a really different argument. And the same is true for the moral argument. I think it's kind of helpful to say there's no just one moral argument, and we've got to get clear clear exactly what Lewis's moral argument is. Let me just go through some of the things it's not. Come. Excuse me, for example. It's not the argument that you need heaven. And hell, which had to be insured by God, and he's a God to make sure there's a heaven and hell so that morality is going to have consequences. It's appropriate consequences. There are arguments like that out there. There are arguments like. Oh, how about how about the Kantian argument? He can't go to more. He devastates most of the other arguments.


He thinks condos when he goes in and offers them his own version of the moral argument. But remember, in Kantian epistemology and the critique of pure reason, corn is so. Acquiescing. In Hume's empiricism and using it to modify his own long standing rationalism. Rationalism says knowledge is largely contributed by the mind. And empiricism says knowledge is contributed by empirical experience. Khan is striking a compromise now between his long standing rationalism and his understanding of the impact of Hume's empiricism. So he redefines knowledge as a synthesis between rational empirical. So you need a rational structuring component and you need empirical input. And the total synthesis of those two elements is knowledge. Anything that lacks one or the other element is not knowledge. Well, I'll take ideas like God or immortality, he says. These lack an empirical feature so I can talk about God, have an idea of God, but I have no empirical input. He has no color. I can't touch him. Taste him, measure God. There's nothing empirical and you can't runs a moral argument by saying that if we postulate God, it makes morality coherent. So we have this phenomenon in human life called morality. We don't know because we now know what his definition of knowledge is. We don't know that God exists. We can't God can't be an item of knowledge. We lack the empirical component. He's not empirical object, but we can make God a postulate. If we postulate and we look at this phenomenon of morality in human life as if. God exists. It makes sense of why we feel so deeply about it. That there must be a God and these must be his ways of communicating. We don't know that, but we pass. So the county and pastorate argument is just another version of a moral argument.


These are some of the things that are really not on offer by C.S. Lewis. These are not part of what he's saying. So again, it's too broad and too lacking in nuance to just say he offers the moral, the moral argument. There's no such thing. It's losing the moral argument and it has its own character. There is a kind of realism behind his approach. We're sort of dissecting what's behind it. So he talks about the fact that we all have an awareness of right and wrong. We hold others probably more than we hold ourselves accountable for how they behave morally and so on, he says. You've all heard people calling, Hey, you jumped in front of me in line and stuff. Hey, speaking of that, doctor, so be it. He's always just wanting to get in front of me in line in the cafeteria. I don't know why that is. He said, You know, I have a pressing committee meeting, and can I just get ahead of you? Keep moving and please, Martin, you know, so what do I do? So I humbly I give him, you know, give way. But what's this about? And why am I so was Target? It's always me. I don't understand these things, okay? But I ask that of the viewing audience. Okay, but realism. Let's just think about that philosophically. Lewis certainly had a background that is checkered philosophically. He's been from atheism to various flavors of idealism. We just cannot go that deeply. In this course, we would go too deep and we'd get stuck and we wouldn't have the broad survey, you know, that we need. But in impact and impact of what he writes and what he does in his published works. He's really coming across as quite the philosophical realist.


I think it's really interesting. And but I admit, I admit the background and that you can find a little hint of his idealism here and a little hint that, you know, that kind of thing that's in his background. But whether instinctively or even overtly, he's come to understand that a good dose of realism philosophically and I want to define it is really helpful to classical orthodox theology. It has to be an ally. The idealism won't do it. So if Lewis is going to pull off a successful, you know. Presentation, you might say. Rationally of a Christian worldview. He can't be married to his idealism. Going to make that point in a minute, but he can't be married to this idealism. It won't. It's not good enough. But realism, at the very least along these lines is behind what he's doing. Metaphysical realism. Epistemological will define all this. Moral and theological. And realism. Philosophically, the great tradition of realism probably has its most famous starting point in Aristotle. There's a sense in which Plato's a realist, but there's so much idealism and the other world in the world of ideas in Plato. And that's actually more real. Then the ordinary world is what makes the ordinary world intelligible and so on. It's just I don't think Plato's a good starting point. Although Lewis loved Plato, he's a he's a class. He loves them all. He loves all the philosophers and literature, literary figures and so on. But metaphysical realism just says there's a real world outside your mind that your mind did not create. It has its own structure and integrity. That's about the best summary of metaphysical, really. And there's a whole tradition starting there. So you can trace that, of course, in the Christian era.


It was Saint Thomas who picked out the inside up, along with other insights he got from Aristotle and sort of Christianized it. The emphasis on this world, not of other world, not a platonic other world so much, but on this world that we live in whatever intelligibility this world has. It's written into this world. It's not in another world. That makes sense. So that's metaphysical. Epistemological realism is the idea that the mind has reasonably reliable. I didn't say perfect and infallible, has reasonably reliable faculties powers for knowing an independent reality that we just spoke of metaphysically. So speaking of ourselves about our ability to gain knowledge, metaphysics, dealing with reality, epistemology, dealing with knowledge, but epistemological. The mind has powers that are reasonably reliable. And getting truth about a quite multifarious and diverse reality the gods. If you're a theist, God created that reality. So there's a kind of a resonance between a metaphysical realism and an epistemological really. There's a real world and we have the power to know it. It'll be an ongoing process. We can make mistakes. We've got the power to correct our mistakes, Move forward, keep accumulating knowledge. Best epistemological realism here. Moral realism, which really is much more obviously in the territory we are now, but the others are in the background. The other forms of realism. The more realism is there's a real moral law. And it's present among all, you know, rational, competent human beings and that this moral law. Is going to be the trigger is going to be the point at which he starts to get some traction in the book to argue for theism. But it wouldn't have that traction if he didn't have the metaphysical epistemological realism components in the background, because the moral law could be explained away on content terms.


Or actually utilitarian terms. Hey, you better be good. Are you going? Hell. Yeah. You heard that? Oh, yeah, I know. I've heard that on all the religious cable channels that we get. I blocked those, by the way, so my. My grandchildren. It's just too risky that they'd be exposed to what I'm saying. And with my smart TV, you can block those suckers. There's a whole bank of my blocked just boom. Like the skipper. That's pretty good. Why is grandparent do you think the damage it could do religiously to the religious development? I honestly and okay, theological realism simply says that there are theological realities about which theological claims, theological beliefs can be true or false. They're not just whatever you think. I might be thinking mistakenly, but the reason I'm mistaken is because my belief doesn't match up with the way theological reality is. If it does match up, then is true if it doesn't. So really, you can be realist with respect to so many different domains. For example, my Ph.D. is in philosophy science, and I happen to be a scientific realist as well. I think there are such things as quarks. They're not just mathematical constructs. So I'm a scientific realist. Now speaking my grandkids. They love comic book superheroes. I think because they're four and under. I think that at this stage in their lives, they are they're realists with respect to comic book superheroes. But I'm an anti realist, being more mature and farther down life's way. I'm an antique realist with respect to comic book superheroes. I don't think they're real. So. So you do have to take the term realism and kind of index it. To any different domain of discourse. And I mean, there are a lot plenty of scientific, anti-religious or not a lot of them now, because there's been a real rebirth of realism in various areas of of academic pursuit.


But there have been anti realist you get Thomas KUHN, very famous book, The Structure of Scientific revolutions where he talks about there's there's no way to know reality and yet science moves forward. How does it do that? Well, you got to read the book Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Is communal knowledge generated by a subculture, but rather than it's the way things are. But realism in general is committed to the fact, number one, that there is a way things are. And number two, we can know reasonably reliably. The way things are. So I hope that helps a little bit because without knowing what his mental framework is, it's harder to come and say, okay, what exactly is the project? He's beginning from the first sentence of chapter one, and I think this is a fair way of saying and again, I admit the variation in his philosophical and intellectual background. We just can't go into it very deeply. I'll tell you one book that does. I admire the book. It's quite a large book. It's in the readings that I suggested on the syllabus are. Adam Bachman is the author's name, and I probably I probably won't get the exact title. But you can look up it in the in the syllabus. It's a it's a super book, which is very detailed and very technical. And it would go into some of that background. Yes. How would you say realism for Lewis relates to myth? Oh, yeah. Layers of reality seem to play into a lot of his life. Yes, I totally agree. And, you know, part of his conversion story, his journey to faith, actually involves a discussion with Tolkien and others. But Tolkien on that subject. And. I know I'm actually not a big expert on his biography or some of his conversations with his friends that moves him along his way.


But he wanted to do. I'll probably be more or less correct in what I'm reporting here. He wanted in his instincts to do some fantasy writing and be involved in what he would call myth, literarily speaking. But he said something to Tolkien like, This is just not real. And Tolkien replied, Oh, but it is real. I think it's really interesting. That this great Catholic mind. It is real meaning. I think that myth is a falsehood. That would be a wrong definition of myth in this context. But that myth is a way of telling about some higher truths that you can then perceive in reality. But you may tell it in literary clothing, but not literally. Um, factually. You know? Correct. But once you tell that story, you can take those insights and see how they affect your inner engagement with with reality. Just like just like he said of Narnia, he said this is no allegory, but Christian communities everywhere take it as an allegory. And Elgar has 1 to 1 correspondence. This thing in the story corresponds to this. In reality, this thing in the story corresponds to this, or that would be just horrible. So in other words, Aslan technically is not Christ. And you'd go or not. But Lewis says this. I'm trying to figure out what it would be like if God was incarnate in another kind of world. So it's not that it Aslan's Christ, which is a little too much of an immediate identification, but that God is an incarnate in God. In a world where animals talk and so. So you tell that myth and it's rich with all sorts of truths that then apply back to how we engage real reality. I don't know if that helps or not, but that's the way I see it.


And so you can be a realist, but you can realize that reality can be exposed in different layers by different uses of a language. And so the mythological use of language exposes reality to being seen and engaged in ways that we don't ordinarily. I think that would be fair. So are you a realist? You know, but you can be engaged in writing myth. Because in an indirect way, it rebounds back on true reality. That's what I say. That's my story. I'm sticking to it. Okay. But anyway, just to kind of zero in on the target, Lewis is not offering one of a family of of moral arguments. He's got his own moral argument that has very realist character to it, philosophically speaking. One reason I do this kind of thing can do it on every point of Lewis. But what I'm doing now to start off with is to show that Lewis is not an amateur. And his ideas while expressed for amateurs, so to speak, laity. Really can be given more sophisticated theological and philosophical expression and put in the marketplace of ideas and not be in the shadows, but be really, you know, ready to engage and be every bit as potent, every bit as compelling as any option out there, and probably more so. So this is just a way of beginning to say he's got a definite identity. Definite impact philosophically. And I think the real esteem is is an important one here. So his realism says there's a reality. In human life. The phenomenon of moral awareness. The freedom of conscience, however you'd want to put it. And that seems to be intrinsic to our natures. In other places, not here, but for example, in the abolition of man, he makes this point.


He calls that awareness. The awareness of the Dow. It takes that. The Chinese term I never pronounce it quite right. It's more of a t dao, I'm told, but from Confucianism and definitely from Daoism. You get the idea that there's a way of things and that our job is to align ourselves with the way of things. And it can take the forms of drinking herbal tea and living in harmony with nature if you think physical nature is the way. But if you see the Dow as a deeper abstract. Principle. And then kind of bringing into Western you just you take an Eastern term and you're bringing it to a Western discussion, because I think he thinks people would tire of bringing in words like logos. Right. But so he just uses that very fact in abolition of man. Which we're not reading. Meaning the moral way, not the physical way of nature. You know, such that might seem good. Always drink herbal tea or do things in accord with nature, nuts and berries all the time, whatever. But the Dow is the objective moral law, the objective moral law. So that's got a metaphysical realist ring, an epistemological realist ring, because we're aware of it. And we're not always perfect in our perception of it, but it's part of the common wisdom of the race. That's where the word conscience comes from. Right. Come and ski. Empty your. So Comey almost always gets. Transmuted to c0m or c0n. So in this case, conscience comes from common knowledge. The knowledge we have with everybody else with together knowledge is the is the common wisdom of the race, is the common knowledge of the race is that there is a moral law. Different mores, customs, ethical codes.


Kind of are just particular local ways of reflecting the deeper way of things that are so. This moral law is implicit and sometimes explicit in so much of what we say and do. So he wants to make sure we. We really understand the reality of this awareness in our midst. And then he wants to move to the idea fairly soon that it makes best sense to say is the theistic god who's behind it? Now there are objections he faces, some objections he's aware of in the in the forties. Right. And some of the objections to this idea would be, well, the moral law is just herd instinct. So we've got that in the notes here. Let me see if I can put it up on the board. Herd instinct is one objection. The other that he notes the social convention. Right. And the herd instinct idea says, well, what we've done is we've polished, we varnished, we prettied up a much more animal type instinct, whether it's for self preservation, preservation or whatever. Preservation of the herd is a way of preserving yourself. So he thinks that this is an objection because it's trying to explain that there's not a universal objective law. But rather it's just. Animal instinct, how to preserve the herd and so on. And oneself generally oneself with with it. He's saying, well, here's here's some pushback. We have competing instincts and we have to have a way of adjudicating between competing instincts. So there has to be something other than instinct that adjudicates between them. Otherwise, you're reduced to saying what we call moral behavior. If you accept the herd instinct, explanation, what we call moral behavior is just always giving in to. It would be always the strongest instinct.


And we've just seen more behaviors giving the strongest instinct. He thinks that totally misunderstands the what we take ourselves to be doing. We want to say there's a law that even if we have a strong instinct this way, we can be aware that we ought not to follow it. And hopefully we have enough moral strength to keep ourselves from going in that direction. If the moral law wants to block it. So the whole idea of there being objections, he wants to kind of say these objections can be handled, that there's something deeper and it won't be it won't be swept aside so easily. This deep phenomenon in human life. Another one he notices I want to add some he didn't think of, but what he notices is social convention. The idea that again, here you get the Latin come and winery. Right. Come again. And the infinitive to come. So people just come together way back at the dawn of society, and they just said, we're going to we're going to agree. We're going to make this a convention. We're going to come together and agree. We're going to act these ways and not these ways. So we created these rules. And Lewis is trying to say they're uncreated. They're deeper than that. Mm hmm. He says These conventions, which we do have, are ways of reflecting the deeper moral law, but they don't create the deeper moral law. For those objections. Along the same lines, the societies differ so much in their moralities that the claim that there be one sort of universal objective morality is not credible. It's parallel to the claim that different religions. All my claims to be true. So the claim of any one of them to be true or definitively true, such as the Christian claim, is not credible.


The another parallel type of objection. Lowest point in that regard. Is it the differences that people so readily? A mention are nothing close to a total difference. There are differences in detail. And differences in. Application, but virtually all societies agree on the large moral categories. Truth telling. Property rights. Sexual fidelity. On and on. So that what they say may differ. How they apply. Those things may differ. But they're not anything like a total difference. Which removes the objection that the claim to a universal objective morality is not credible by saying you're exaggerating the differences. What he does in the appendix of abolition of man, which we're not reading but in the appendix is he makes an amazing presentation of moral codes through religions and cultures, through the ages, and shows how the overlap is so fundamental, leading him to just boost his support for the idea that there's such a thing as human nature. Oops. Which is itself universal and objective and part of human nature. Very, very important part is our moral awareness. Not the only part was very important. So moral awareness is universal objective and human nature is universal and objective. So if it is, would you certainly expect that around the globe, different cultures throughout history, different cultures, different religions? Universe. Human nature is the same. Why wouldn't there be a same basic moral set of categories which would then work out in all different sorts of rich detail in the different cultural settings? And he makes a really great case for that. It's the appendix of abolition of man. Okay. Now we're just talking our way through. Can he have a starting point? Can he say there's this moral awareness? In human life. And it. It looks like it's a very substantial reality and it can't be downplayed.


It can't be explained away as herd instinct or social convention and so on. And so I'm holding on to my starting point because from that I'm going to start getting traction and moving in a line of reasoning toward a general idea of a God who's behind the law. Right. So if you're taking the Lewis type approach and intersecting with contemporary discussions out there in culture, something I do quite a bit is I'm engaged with a lot of the new atheist material and all of that. Some of the new atheists themselves, you know, the term New Atheists became popular after 911 when Sam Harris wrote a couple of books talking about religion, how dangerous religion is, and he just painted everybody with the same brush, you know, a letter to a Christian nation and, you know, all that stuff. So if you if you kind of transform the Lewis approach to the present day, one of the things you'll hear out there is, for example, the Dawkins's type. Approach his famous book, The Idea of the Selfish Gene. Oops. Selfish Gene. I think it's like in his 3738 year, the 35th might write about this 35th anniversary, which is just the 25th. Of that book, best selling book occurred just a few years ago. I got the new edition here. You know, I'm a sucker. Amazon Prime. Okay, send it to me. But anyway, the selfish gene. Bye. Dawkins talks about how genetically the only thing an organism is concerned about is survival and reproduction. Survival and reproduction survival. That's all any organism can be concerned about. This is the evolutionary. So in other words, an evolutionary explanation of why we do what we do. And the the application of morality, of course, is that. Its proceeds of selfishness.


And this whole structure that humankind has created, that we call morality, arises out of selfishness. So generally, the way this discussion goes, not just by Dawkins, but others who are in this area in terms of. Kin, altruism and reciprocal. Altruism. Toward others are not your kin. Proceed from an underlying selfish drive. I'm good to my kin, my grandbabies and so on, because I want them to pass on the Peterson line. Right. And in society, I'm nice to others because I want them to be nice back to me reciprocally, but underlying it. So these aren't really radically different types of objections than the ones Lewis himself thinks about, but I've kind of reframed them in some of the modern discussions, which would take this would take something like the behavior, the life, the career. Of a Mother Teresa of Calcutta. And make it ultimately an expression of selfishness. But there you go. So there is, I think, still similar responses available to show why this isn't that strong an objection any more than the others were. But I think we've reached a point of needing a break, and I've kind of blithering on blithering on past what I intended. But let's take. What do you think? 10 minutes and we'll come back and then go again. Okay.