C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 8

Mere Christianity (Part 5)

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?

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 8
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Mere Christianity (Part 5)

Mere Christianity (part 5)

I. Different Conceptions of God

A. Theism

B. Atheism

C. The question of suffering and evil that reality contains

D. Sinful human nature

II. The Shocking Alternative

A. How God makes himself known to humans

1. Conscience (moral awareness)

2. Good dreams

B. Objections to Jesus

C. Liar, lunatic and Lord trilemna

D. The practical conclusion is that we should seek this new life

  • 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 5)

Lesson Transcript


Back to Lewis in mere Christianity. We're just kind of serving his line of thought. He thinks he's got theism on the table. He's going to make mention here at the beginning of his second book, The Rival Conceptions of God is how he labels this book. He's going to say some things that we've already discussed to some extent about how theism is intellectually every bit as much on par, if not intellectually superior to these other conceptions pantheism, dualism, so on. So I'll move on. But he says now, if there is a God out there, the theism describes the only only one theism among the great living theistic religions says that this God invaded our existence. And that's Christianity. So it does part company in that regard on being incarnation all. And then it's a very short move to have a part company being Trinitarian. And that's where he's headed. Ultimately, the book ends with an amazing presentation of Trinitarian understanding. But he wants to get to the Incarnation. So we've done we've done theism to some extent. There's a series of series of radio broadcasts. He thinks it's intellectually credible. He's made some comments about alternative positions that are less credible. So if there's much credible, he's raising the question, wouldn't it be something if that God made himself known in a concrete way in human history? And he says, as hard as it might seem at first to believe, that's exactly what Christianity is claiming. And he says, now, in addition to these rival conceptions of God or rival conceptions of the ultimate, there, of course, is atheism, which rejects all religious conceptions. And he says the trouble with atheism is it's too simple. And reality is not simple. Reality is complex. It's textured. It takes careful and deep analysis.


And he thinks that atheism does not give reality as deep and analysis as it deserves. And he believes that a case can be made. That part of the complexity of the reality we inhabit is that it's been invaded by a unique personality. And that, of course, is going to be a person who claims to be God. Now. Where we're atheism he thinks makes a lot of its living is on the suffering and evil that reality contains. And so he does talk a little bit about that and he brings back up dualism. So he dualism has an explanation of why there's evil. The good power has some force, it has some attractiveness. Just like I say, the good part of the evil power, the evil power has some force, and that's why there's evil. The good powers resisting. They're fighting, they're struggling. So he's basically saying that dualism has it's its view. We've discussed that to some extent, but atheism wants to go ahead and say, well, there must be no divine being, no ultimate good, because there's too much suffering. But of course, his point with the atheist and with the net that which in our day and time atheism is really not an explanation of much, but it's not a worldview. It's just the denial that there's a God or there's any God or any religion is valid. Atheism needs its own worldview. Home and the natural worldview. Home of atheism in secularized Western society is is naturalism. Naturalism gives you the explanation how nothing but physical stuff is real. There are no absolute values. Morality is relative, generally speaking, for most naturalists and so on and so on. And so atheism is an implication of naturalism as a larger worldview. So he's basically saying that How can you have such a serious objection, which is rational and moral in the way it's presented that a good God, if he exists, would not allow evil and suffering, or he wouldn't allow as much as there is in the world.


When you don't believe that there's a standard of good and evil by which you can make that statement. And so this is a sort of saying about dualism. How do you prefer one power over the other? It's a similar move he makes logically with a naturalist slash atheist saying, how can you raise a rational moral objection when you don't have an ultimate standard of morality anchored in the ultimate reality of the universe, which is physical stuff matter? Again, these are not systematic refutations. They're highly suggestive of where you could take an academic exchange, a real technical argument and counter argument with atheism over the problem of evil. Lewis does not wage that complete argument. He can't wage any complete argument. He's moving along in his talks, his radio broadcasts. But just so we put him in interaction with the issues and with the major voices and the major options. I want to make sure we see how is not hard to elevate what Louis was saying, sophisticated a little bit, given the way he expresses it. And he's certainly on a trajectory, in my opinion, that's going in a good place philosophically and theologically, takes no back seat to any other major world view option. So he gets to the point where he's saying that. Sin and evil in the world has created distance between us and God, humans and God. It's created damage. One of his favorite words is damage. We're damaged and the cure is healing and wholeness. They'll come up later, too, but we're damaged. And we can't help ourselves. He does want to make sure. That we don't think as a as some forms of dualism do, the human nature is innately evil. And we had that discussion before the break.


But Lewis's Lewis's I think he's right on here. It's an Augustinian view that something created by God can never be intrinsically evil. I do think we need to, since he's an Anglican slash Catholic small C in his orientation, we need to make a distinction in how this word sinful human nature is used, because nature often refers to what it is that makes you the kind of thing that you are, what it is that makes you the kind of thing that you are. Without it, you wouldn't be the kind of thing that you are without the need. The nature of being a zebra, the nature of this, nature of that. But I think there's there's room for a very careful, very important distinction between the philosophical and theological use of the term sinful human nature. The word nature philosophically is a metaphysical concept. It has to do with what makes anything the kind of thing that it is. Without it, you're just not that kind of thing. So human nature, philosophically, with its metaphysical meaning, means rational, moral, personal, bodily, finite. You know, being and that's the kind of thing we are. And God calls it good in the Genesis story, very good horror, biblical language, and it's picked up in much theological pronouncements, is that human nature is is sinful and you've got more of a moral, spiritual, um, I would say kind of relational point that theology is making, which is different. But I think people mistakenly think, oh, theology trumps philosophy. Big mistake. A very competitive no. But so that if theology is now saying that human nature is sinful by nature, by nature, we're sinful, that we can no longer say by nature we are good over here. This is good. Metaphysically, creation of God cannot change.


It cannot change. So the fall into sin is doing something else than changing our metaphysical nature. It's changing a relationship. It's damaging us. Just as Lewis says. Another place, it's warping us. This stays the same. Over on the left. I think you have to defend that. And this has become a real problem. This is the same problem. So if God can deal with the same problem and remove sin. The ultimately victorious over sin in our lives. We remain this kind of thing metaphysically. That's the kind of thing we are to turn into a zebra or become something non-human. Without the properties of being human, rational, moral, spiritual will. All those properties, they stay the same. But now they're fully operative. They're healed, restored, redeemed, uplifted, transformed. That's the goal, is what has been damaged. Marred. Bent, as he says in one place. It's got a whole chapter called Bent Man later in the book. So I think that's very important. And Louis falls on this side of the distinction, knowing that this is a relational matter and that nothing changed in our metaphysical nature. I sense that Louis feels like with the Reformation, there's less clarity about that. To follow that point up. I gave you a supplemental reading by the French Jesuit Claude Treisman tonight on the Metaphysics of Human Nature, and that's in the online classroom. And he works through this from a philosophical point of view. He's right on with Lewis. Now. The point then for Lewis in surveying the options, everything from dualism on one side of the spectrum to atheism and its natural home in materialism and naturalism. On the other side, he calls the shocking alternative to their inadequacies, which he thinks is pointed out in a kind of a lay, competent lay way.


He's not trying to be a technician and and do this in a real sophisticated academic way. But he's pointing out the inadequacies of the shocking alternative Christianity is claiming is that the divine behind the universe has made himself known within the universe, and even rationally, without knowing how he's made himself known within the universe and in a concrete person, we've already rationally come to believe it's credible that he exists because the moral argument he's run and the way he's shown inadequacies of alternative views. So it's thought he has already got it on the table. He wants to make that further move now that God has become incarnate. Again for a lay audience on the BBC. So he says, How does God come to make himself known? Well, he's given us conscience. That starts the book. The moral awareness we have that gives his argument for the existence of a moral being some traction. And he goes as far as he can with that. He says, God gives us good dreams. I take by that the rich and full sense of we have some idea of what life could be like if sin were not in the position it is. And later, there's going to be what has come to be known in Lewis's writings as the argument from desire. So it could be he's alluding a little bit here with good dreams, the good dreams language to the idea that we have. We have dreams. We we desire something beyond the world as we know it that the world itself cannot fulfill, cannot provide us with. But we seem made for that. We long for that. Can we call this the Louisa in argument from desire? So God gives us conscience, moral awareness. God gives us, quote unquote, good dreams, he says.


But he says God also gives us particular people. Particular people. And he says, Of course, there's one person in particular who came in first century Nazareth and claimed to have the power to forgive sins, the things that are relationally wrong on the far side of the chart over there. He he claims to be able to deal with on our behalf. And that is a shocking claim. So the shocking alternative, he says the invasion, he says, is that Christianity looks as reasonable, if not more reasonable, than the alternatives when we think about it and we follow its logic. So because we've damaged ourselves in relations, properly speaking between us and God have been broken, we are powerless to fix the problem. So he's not quoting the Bible. He's talking to a broadly secular audience in the forties in England, and he's saying, Here's a person who claims to be the solution to the problem. Now, again, without quoting the Bible and keeping on his main theme of making this reasonably believable and not just reasonably believable in its own right. But part of his strategy is, by comparison, all the way to other alternatives dualism, pantheism. And so it's always, comparatively speaking, this makes better sense. So he knows that there are objections to the claim that Christ is definitive. The Christ is sent from God to deal with the same problem. And that has become an interesting discussion in Lewis that some scholars in philosophy and some theologians have written about. It's called The Liar, Lunatic and Lord Trilemma. So he knows are some objections. To this claim. For the singularity. Of Jesus. For His uniqueness. For his power to deal with sins. So we often talk about dilemmas to alternatives. We've got to work out which one we should choose, because we can't choose both.


But, you know, you've got to think, well, what is a lemma? It's a line of reasoning. And so there can be two lines of reasoning and you follow their conclusions. You know, you can't you can't accept both. They're incompatible. But likewise, there could be more than to die, to be more than two lines. There could be three. You could have a quadruple lemma. But I'm not into that these days. It's mid-afternoon was kind of a caloric deficit, I think, at work here. And so I can't get into a quadruple lemma. But what we have in Lewis is what's often called a tri lemma three lines of reasoning. And if we're going to set this up in informal logic, not that you've been begging for formal it's logic, but maybe this will be a pick me up or something for the mid-afternoon slump. We often use the wedge as a symbol for and so we can say y. Oops, liar. Tick or Lord. So you're presented with three alternatives. And the way we often do a dilemma, lets say P or Q is I try to find out which one is false or unacceptable. Deny it. You draw the opposite or you draw the other one. So this would be an argument structure. It's called Disjunctive Syllogism in Elementary Logic. But given two alternatives. P or Q if I know the P is false, I should conclude. I have to conclude Q If I know this is true and if I know this is true, this must be true by very simple deductive logic. So if it's true that either P or Q is true. And I know the P is not. Then Q must be. Okay. Disjunctive syllogism in logic. You can Google this. Same thing here.


Now you've got P or Q or R three alternatives. So what you need is you need two more premises, not just one. And the premises would be something like not P, not Q. Therefore, are I going to knock this one out, Go knock this one out in order to be left with this one over here with a dilemma. I just had to knock this one out, which I did right here to get to be left with this one. So Lewis sets it up this way. You can imagine for a radio audience this B, I think this would be so effective. And some of the criticism and discussion will be, is it just rhetorically effective? But it doesn't carry much logical punch. C So that could be some of the of the discussion. So he says there are objections to the claim that Jesus is Lord. One kind of objection would be that he's a person who was a fraud. He's a person who's a liar. Another objection was he wasn't trying to defraud people with his claims. He wasn't just intentionally lying, but somehow he'd come to a mentality. Mental state, maybe a little dysfunctional lunatic is often the word, you know. But somehow he was not quite mentally balanced. And he made these claims with no real devious, you know, intention. But he's still he's a lunatic, but he's definitely not law. So if you can get any of these others to to be reasonable, this would be the least favorite option for those who want to object. Right. Now, when he sets up the trilemma, by the way, he says some people think it's a quadruple lemma. I said I wasn't going to do this because I'm sensing that mid-afternoon ensnares SAG, you know.


But he said he said, I'm not I'm going to do a quadruple lemma put over here. So good. More teacher, if you will make it a quadruple. He says, I'm not going to allow that. He says it comes down to a trilemma. He says, No good moral teacher who's still just a human. Not God would make these kinds of claims. You can't. He says that option is not open to any of his objectors. Actually, I think that's a pretty good point. So it's not a quadruple lemma. But Lewis does flirt with the idea that some people think that's a good option. He says, no, no, you're going to have to you're going to have to deal with the real options. And there are three. His point then, if he wants the third option to seem reasonable is he's going to have to go through and take out these others, make them less credible, make them seem unacceptable. So they're getting too technical. He goes through and just makes a brief case that it's not very credible, that Jesus was just outright lying about himself and that the unaccountably many people who have benefited from his teachings, who have believed his Lord had transformed lives. That hardly makes the liar option look like it's a an option that comes out of deep analysis. Likewise, the lunatic option he was so coherent, seemed to live such a loving, balanced life, was admired and loved by so many. But it doesn't make sense to say he was insane. He was deluded. You know, he thinks these are less likely options. So there's no proof. And I don't think I don't think anybody's offering this as a proof. Proof is only the sort of thing you can find in mathematics and geometry and basic logic sciences even do proofs.


They talk about evidence and making sense of evidence in light of various alternative hypotheses and which hypothesis makes sense. But they still they still put the hypotheses as alternatives. You can't have it all. So even in science hypothesis one or hypothesis two or hypothesis three, and yet you're really dealing with them not as a proof, even though this is a deductive structure which proofs have you're dealing with, what's the probability or the percentage, so to speak, rational believability, the credibility of this hypothesis, this hypothesis, this one and he thinks relative to one another, since since you absolutely cannot have the hypothesis that he was merely a good human teacher. That's not available to the to the objector. He thinks that these hypotheses have less probability, less credibility than saying stunning as it may seem. It looks like it's it's credible among the alternate because there aren't any other alternatives. What could have hypothetically been a quadro Lima got cut down to a tri lima. And then the other two options in the trilemma made to look not very strong. So this emerges. Yes. So as I was reading this to you, I was first reading and thinking that, okay, is avoiding the bursting of the world religions to God's word. And then he goes to God. But I was thinking, though, if you would consider the moral teacher, then you would have to reengage all these. Good point. Because a lot of them see Jesus as that. So if that's true and let them have their own good moral teachers. I love Confucius. I think he's fantastic. But I'm not big on Gautama. He left his wife and children to seek enlightenment, became the Buddha, which means the enlightened one. Never see his wife and kid again.


So that's not very cool in my book. And so but, I mean, you know, that is I'm not trying to offer an ad hominem and ad hominem argument, which means if I can attack the fallibility in the person, what he says is false. Because, I mean, you could attack all of my own foul abilities, right, to try to take out the claim. Kentucky will win the NCAA basketball title in April, but the claim would remain true even though you took me out as a a fallible person. So you can't really say, well, he's a failed person. His claims are false. They'll be dealt with on their own terms. Basketball analogy never hurts. But at any rate, that's a good point. And they have their own moral teachers such as Confucius, such as Little SU, such as others and Zoroaster for the Zoroastrians go on and on. And so if he's merely a good mortage, he's one among many. And you can find resonances even with their teachings across religions. There are some resonance, certainly are usually affirmation for persons of the value being a person of value, of having good relationships with other persons, some resonances even in moral obligations, moral duties. But that's a good point. That's a good point. He really thinks he's effectively blocked that out. What I did was give you some supplementary material. And one piece by Dan Howard Snyder, who used to be at Seattle Pacific for the longest time, and now he's at Western Washington University teaching on the same faculties his wife Frances, actually. And he's pretty critical of this as a logical piece. He's willing to admit it's rhetorical force, it's rhetorical impact, but he's critical of it as a as. Sort of a a really good piece of apologetics, you might say.


Then I put a piece by Steve Davis, who still is at. Seattle Pacific argued against Howard Snyder's critique of Lewis. So here's this little, you know, paragraph in Lewis, which really these are good philosophers. Daniel Snyder is particularly good philosopher, I think. Steve Davis Doggone good philosopher too. And they see it differently. What what Davis recognizes up front is that we multiply probabilities. And and that's not a good way to he says to look at this. I know I shouldn't have done this. A and B and C, I'll just leave it there. Ultimately, if this is point five probability and this is the lowest point for let's say this .64, whatever, you assign some kind of probability function, when you get the probability of the whole set, you have to multiply and you actually diminish probabilities. And we do know that, for example, what's the probability of my flipping this coin? If my wife would just give me any money, she didn't give me minus one. So I've got the imaginary coin my wife should have given me. Flip it. Probability of heads or tails? 5050. Was it heads? Probably 50% was probability of flipping heads twice in a row. 25%. So on one flip my a flip. Point five How about my B flip coin? Five So the chances of two flips in a row being heads is multiplicative. .25. And he's addressing a kind of a an approach out there to Christianity and to object to Christianity saying, wow, if we take all the claims of Christianity, the chances in any one of them are true, are small, and the class chances that they're all true together are just outlandishly small. In a nutshell, the response is, and I would make this in a nutshell, because we've got to move on.


Any complex scientific theory, for example, is going to have statements that have individual probability values. But among the alternatives, there is always assumptions about this theory. It's about how does it fare among alternatives. And so they are also going to have their own internal breakdown of probabilities that gets multiplied as well. Something's going to be true of reality, which is complex, and that's why the theory is complex. So just as you said earlier, reality is complex. Our understanding and analysis of it has become plex. Don't be surprised if you get a relatively complex answer in the form of Christian doctrine and Christian understanding to the key to the reality we we inhabit. But it is true in a technical way that the likelihood of any of those statements being true individually is what it is. And if you put it in a probability classroom in a clinical setting, you'd multiply it out and say in advance, in advance, not looking at any other alternatives either with Hinduism, Buddhism, whatever, or in advance not looking at any of the conceptual core like dualism or pantheon in advance. If you're looking just at Christianity, the probability is true. A small. For all of its claims. It's a technical point. And and the key, I think, is to see that the strategy is not to take Christianity by itself and try to argue that it's highly probable. The key is to contextualize it in a discussion with other alternatives, all of which have their own internal probabilities a priori in advance. The probability of any of them are true in advance when they're isolated is small. So that's never been the question. The question is, in comparison to other alternatives, what is emerging as a reasonable explanation of the reality we face? And even when it comes to the phenomenon of of the life and teachings of Jesus.


What's a reasonable explanation of that? And so he says this level, he thinks the conclusion that he's Lord makes better sense than the other alternatives. But you could put that same kind of reasoning to work with respect to Christians. What's the likelihood God's a trinity? What's the likelihood that he'll be incarnate? What's the likely. Well, they're all the same thing. They're all 5050, which seems high to me. But ultimate reality is is perfectly loving, perfectly good Trinitarian in nature, although it seems very, very small. There's just never was the question. Question is how is it fair in its explanatory value, given the relevant facts and phenomena compared to alternatives? That's a totally different question. I could take I mean, take the take the sickly little tree out back in my yard. What are the chances it'll get struck by lightning? Very small, but lightning strikes somewhere all time. So once a strikes, probability is very high. What is it? We get about 3000 lightning strikes a day on earth somewhere. It's a it's a big number things. Maybe that's a small number, maybe bigger than 3000. But it's it's an interesting number. Well, then the practical conclusion he thinks, is when we're looking at alternatives, which is about Jesus as a very specific subject or Christianity in comparison to other alternatives, as a larger kind of worldview comparison exercise. He thinks that's the way that and I guess you'd say an apologetic approach should go is never saying, Here's the data. Bing, bing, bing. Therefore, man, you'd better. You had better give in to my conclusion because of this data. He's never resting it on quite that kind of an argument pattern, but rather an argument pattern that is in dialog with and comparison with other alternatives, which makes better sense.


That changes the question. Questions. Comments. You know, if we had a lot more time, we could we could put the Davis and Howard Snyder articles out for extensive discussion. But I think we can't. We've got to we've got to keep moving. But he does say that then the practical conclusion from all this reasoning, he thinks he's moving quickly in a way with his radio talks. Given where we've risen to so far, the practical conclusion is we should seek this new life that Christ offers. We should see Him as Lord, and if we see Him as Lord, practically speaking, we have to come to Him as Lord. So we should receive the kind of life that Christ offers. He's saying this on the BBC. He says, This is more than trying to follow the teachings. It's also engaging in the mysterious, mystical union with God and the transformation that it brings. Talks about different means of grace in in life. And I won't go into all those. He just mentions sacraments and so on. But that takes us to the end of book two, the kind of the bridge between theism and Christianity. And he calls book three Christian behavior. So what Christians believe they believe Christ was God, yet put that at the centerpiece when you're presenting it, He thinks, because that's the central claim. If it weren't for that idea that God has become one with a with a historical human being. Christianity wouldn't be what it is. They would be much more on par with the other world religions, all the differences and all the different ways of seeking God. But here's the way God seeks us and seeks intimate union with us. So that's Christian belief. So we are from Theism First chapter.


Our first book gets us to the point of theism and then Christian belief. And now Christian behavior is what's coming up. But I think we need a break on this one. And we'll see in about eight or 10 minutes. Okay.