C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 9

Mere Christianity (Part 6)

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. 

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 9
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Mere Christianity (Part 6)

Mere Christianity (part 6)

I. Introduction

A. Common sense realism

B. Metaphilosophy

1. Barclayan idealism

2. Personhood – a unified center of consciousness with a first-person point of view that is not able to be detected by a microscope

3. Hume vs Reid

II. Christian Behavior is Related to Moral Life

A. Three parts of morality

1. A theory of good and bad (character and virtue)

2. A theory of right and wrong (duty and obligation)

3. Purpose or meaning of morality

4. Analogy of the fleet of ships

B. Classical vs Christian virtue

C. Morality and psychoanalysis (No discussion on Chapter 3, Social Morality)

D. Sexual Morality

E. Christian Marriage

  • 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 6)

Lesson Transcript


Yes. Question about the previous section, actually. Okay. Last week we talked about Rio and said that it's. It's great that we know reasonably and reliably. I was wondering if the word reliability is what Lewis was describing as believing on authority or what? Oh, yeah. Yeah. In terms of of our rational power, our rationality being reliable. That's epistemic realism or epistemological realism. We were talking about that last time. Reliable reliability here. I mean, we probably ought to define it as something like producing a large preponderance of true beliefs over false ones. Actually, we have to believe that about our reasoning power or just quit arguing, quit trying to make any claim or argue against anybody else's claim. It's such an assumption of common sense. So reliable, rational powers. I can't remember exactly how we put it last. Well, that's how I would take reliability. But then you've got to break down what are these powers? And we've got various powers. We've got memory. Lewis does not go into this detail. Memory. We have radio alternation. Just abstract reasoning. Power can make great league long chains of reasoning and follow it just like we have the disjunctive syllogism and things like that. We can make amazingly well perception, and I could just say etc. what we also want before I say, etc. the power of believing testimony. So there are different ways of getting true beliefs and it looks like our rational faculties sort of focus on different of these ways. If I just think for a second, what did I have for breakfast this morning about 7 a.m. and I just incline my thoughts. I have a memory. I had oatmeal. I can't prove it. I can't witness it. It's not a piece of empirical evidence right now.


It's a memory trace. But we have that power. Or when somebody gives me their testimony that they saw a car wreck a certain way and I believe that there was a car wreck, I'm believing not because I saw it, but because they told me. So. I'm thinking in your use of the term testimony, the way to contextualize your point is to see it in a larger arrangement of rational powers, rational faculties, and the ability to to form a belief based on what somebody else tells me and to kind of evaluate and assess how trustworthy, how believable they are would be. Just like my perceptions. I don't always believe my perceptions in a naive way. Driving in to campus this morning, the sun was on the blacktop road in a way that may look like there's a big puddle of water, but it was just the angle of refraction of the light rays in my eyes is sort of a mirage. And so but rationally, I was able to override the way it looked. So you don't always just blindly and simplistically take every belief, possibility that your mind forms. You kind of judge your way through. But that's what I mean by reliable and testimony would be one power among others, but it would have to be tested and related to other evidence and counter evidence before we settle. But it's still a way we get true beliefs. And I see, I see. Lewis is very much in this tradition. This is often called common sense realism. And if you think about it, did I talk about meta philosophy last time? Meaning what is the philosophy of philosophy? What's the role of philosophy? And it's to analyze and to explain the common sense beliefs of the human race, about morality, about the external world, so that if a philosophical analysis turns up, what it's done at its conclusion that what we thought was true is really false.


Or what we thought we meant by claiming there's an external world. The meaning is greatly altered, so we don't recognize it. That's a problem for the philosophy, not for the common sense belief or make any sense. So. So I mean, look at look at Berkeley in idealism. Bishop George Berkeley, an Anglican bishop. But Berkeley thought that there's no such thing as an external world. Right. And so when I say there's an external world, a Berkeley, an analysis in an academic classroom would say, oh, you know, you can't mean that really technically, you have to mean that you your perception is is presented to you in a way that you think there's no external world, but you really know there's not. So you've altered the meaning, you've actually altered the truth value the really isn't is false. That there's the external world outside your mind and created by your mind. So it is this whole. This is the cabin in the woods. You're out on a cold night in the woods. It's getting dark, it's starting to snow, and you're hearing the wolves howling. You think, Oh, no. There are all these philosophies out there, and I love you and I love philosophy. I'm trying to be little the project. But it is interesting that the meta philosophy, the philosophy of philosophy, its role, what it's about has become distorted in in the academic world. And till there can be a kind of a a superiority complex, a kind of a sneering, even a kind of a total re interpretation of ordinary beliefs about morality or about what the nature of a person is taught. I was talking earlier about how hard it is for materialist to make sense of what a person is. Meaning a unified center of consciousness with a first person point of view that is not able to be detected by a microscope.


I'm not a substance dualist by any means. There's a spirit inside a body, and the body could go away and the spirit could live. I don't believe that at all. I don't take care of the resurrection. But you don't need, you know, some entity to take care of the resurrect so that so that the problem of consciousness and a conscious subject which is essential to one component of what we take by personhood is not even clear that a materialist can make sense of what that we mean by it. So I say, Well, but we ordinarily assign uniqueness, dignity, unconditional value to persons. That's that's instinctive. But we do that constitutionally. We're framed to do it that way. So any academic philosophy that comes in over the top and and messes around with that, such that at the end, the truth, value or the meaning of our ordinary beliefs is distorted or or reversed, so much the worse for the philosophy. It doesn't mean philosophy as an enterprise is bad. It means somebody is taking it in a bad direction. This is what David HUME did, you know, in the late 18th century, kind of the end of the great Enlightenment period. And human skepticism was so radical and thorough, it had to do with every common sense. He says, Hey, I don't have any trouble thinking that that everybody believes these things, that there is an external world, that there are other minds beyond your own, but you are an enduring self. That inductive reasoning is valid. Well, that is correct that our inductive powers are are are reliable. You can get quite a list of common sense, quote unquote. But these are not idiosyncratic common sense. These are the pervasive beliefs of the race that we have.


Constitution. I can't believe there's a tree out there unless I believe there's an external world. I usually don't go around thinking there is an external. I usually going to think there's a tree I don't want to bump into it, but it entails that there's an external world and I treat other people with with as though that they are like me, another center of selfhood and consciousness and so on. I can't prove it so well, HUME says, is, Hey, unless you can give me a proof, an empirical argument, you're not entitled to hold those beliefs. They're just beliefs. But they could never be knowledge. So we got Thomas Reid, who's a contemporary of we always think of the content answer to him. And it was a fantastic answer as his own problems, if you ask me. But to the anti realism of him, the skepticism of him saying, hey, I know you constitutionally believe these things, but we're three, we can't call them knowledge. Thomas Reid says, no, no, no. We've got these powers and their knowledge producing belief producing powers, and they operate instinctively with great care and with great force sometimes. And I have a conviction. There's a tree, and it would take quite a bit to overturn in my idea, in my belief, that this idea that there's a tree. So Reid's response is it's not appropriate to ask for an argument for these beliefs. They're so basic. Some of our beliefs are not basic. They're based on lines of reasoning. They're results of quite a bit of argumentation. Others are not. They're so basic that if they're not true, that the powers that produce them are not reliable. We're done. That's why humor even in that one passage in the trees of human nature, he says, You know, when I'm sitting in my study, I can think of way the existence of other minds and even the existence of the external world.


But when I rise, go out down the street, dine out with friends, or play a game of backgammon. It all comes flooding back in upon me. No kidding. You must admit it. It's knowledge is not mere belief formed by habit. It's not. But that's the skirmish between HUME and Reid at the end of the 18th century. And but we used to think of the county in answer as the big towering answer. I don't think it's philosophically I don't think it compare to the reading answer. But I see in in in Lewis this instinctive realism, both metaphysical realism and epistemological realism. He's a moral realist. He's a theological realist. These, I think, are very good ingredients. And so like I said, I think last time, there's no question in Lewis's intellectual journey, his own biography, he flirted with different forms of idealism as well as atheism and his checkered past, intellectual past. But the impact of his writings plays right into the what I call the grand tradition of realism Through the centuries. When Thomas formulated it, you know, it was called the Philosophy of piranhas, the perennial philosophy. It's the philosophy of the common person. It's just giving intellectual sophistication to the two things we know most, basically and fundamentally, rather trying to overturn them. I mean, this may play in a way planning as trilogy in epistemology takes this line and you want to really technical study and buy yourself a set of three really big books. L Planning. It's a trilogy. Want to see one on the I can't remember the last book is warranted Christian Belief Warrant and proper function I think is one first. One second was is a warrant the current debate and the third is warranted Christian belief Super trilogy and makes these kinds of points.


It really is a at the forefront of contemporary epistemology if you talk about just the epistemological realism. Okay. Did I answer anybody's question or dodge if I'm talking to myself? It could be a win win. I'm for win. Okay. There you go. Yes. How do you define extreme or common sense? Verbal? Oh, I wouldn't make much distinction that common sense realism can be critical realism. It seems that with Reid, oftentimes he gets. Accused of being more and more simplistic. Yes. This merely accusation as being a critical realist in a way because he he's not just blindly taking. No, but he is painted that way. Oh, he does. I mean, the great Frederick Copleston. Further, Kopel stood in his multi-volume history philosophy. You know, he accepts the stereotype of read he gives read very little I think is a volume or two on him, but I can't remember at least one volume on him. At least. That said, I have his multiple volumes. I've seen him condensed into fewer but bigger volumes. But the Copleston history philosophy takes the low road on read. And but but what I was in going to graduate school, I wanted to go to Brown and study with Chisholm, who was saying read is has really got something for contemporary epistemology. And I was actually accepted to Brown. But during the Vietnam War and something happened, I met him in New York City because we're going to talk about this. So he came down from Providence, you know, and I drove to Princeton, caught the train, went to Lower Manhattan, and he said, you're accepted. But he says, there's no money. I couldn't go that money. I mean, you understand what an Ivy League, you know, So I couldn't go. And I landed on my feet.


I did philosophy of science. I didn't do what I wanted to do read. But at my master's level, people faculty laughed at me. I like him. I like a lot of them. But they they didn't get it. I said, there's there's something coming. It's going to be a revival, a renaissance of re. And if you look at the literature now, it was right the men read has really come on strong and the textbook stereotype of naive realism, simplistically taking any perception that comes our way would mean. I really believe there was a puddle of water in front of me when I drove in with the sun was at a certain angle that's not read at all. So whether it's Chisholm at Brown or Plant, in fact, I did a post, some post-doctoral work with planning it in 78 and I would have been 28. He would have been 19 years older than I am, so he would've been 47 at the time. And I totally I think this is coming out. And then I went I went in a different direction with my professional work and I was sitting across the street. I got the job here across the street in the fall of 78, and he called me, said, Do you have bibliographies and things? I did. I had a couple and said to him, and I can't say I was the big reason why he picked up on read, but it was already being picked up on the people he admired Chisholm and some others. And then I seen that bibliography and now I see read in his writings quite a bit. And they're all through the trilogy reads really prominent. So Read has become a major factor in contemporary epistemology in a way that HUME is not vindicated.


I love you, the eloquent skeptic. I mean, but just be honest, you can't live there. It doesn't work. And and. HUME Skepticism creates multiple fallacies. And Regis comes in and sorts it all out. And then again, Reid can be sophisticated and modernized. That's what planning and others have done. Okay. Zipping right along at the blazing pace. I know there's a chapter on sex coming up, and you guys want me to. I know. So it's we're we're not as draggy as we were. I think our metabolisms pick them back up mid-afternoon here. But we move from Christian belief to Christian Behavior is the book we're on. And he's saying, you know, a lot of Christian behavior he thinks is related to moral life. And he paints this really interesting picture. Of of morality, which he starts the book with, you know, in terms of our sense of obligation to other people and how we hold others accountable to the obligations we think they have to us. That's how he starts the book. We talks about the three parts of morality. Remember what they were. Here's what I would say is one is a theory of good and bad. Or we might say character. In virtue, we might say, a theory of right and wrong. There's a second part, a theory, which is a theory of duty and obligation. And really, I mean, you think about we all carry a lot of morality in the public space is about point number two, just so we don't do to one another what we shouldn't do. And we say we are we do the right thing or we do the wrong thing. We either obey our duty or we don't obey our duty. And out in the public space, with all the differences among people, sometimes a common understanding of right and wrong is about the most we have in common.


Or it's one of those things that we have in common more than a lot of other things in our lives. But there's also there's also this this component of classical moral thinking, which is about concepts of good and bad. And those terms apply to character in virtue. Very interesting that you could actually have people doing the right thing in the wrong or the right thing as opposed to the wrong thing, whose own character maybe has not been built up and nurtured and developed as a moral being, but at least they're not violating a public understanding of what their duty is, is really interesting. So classically moral theory has been much more concerned about character and virtue and the tradition, of course. Well, Plato's not absent from this tradition shouldn't act like he is, but I kind of trace it from the Aristotelian and to mystic tradition, Aristotle, Aquinas, etc. And I see Louis as a little bit more in that tradition. People differ with me on this, I think, but because they see more platonism, more pure platonism or really close to pure platonism in in Lewis than I do. I know he loves them all. He loves all the classics. He even mentions music, some content stuff in various play, you know, he just loves them all. But Plato didn't really have an idea about developing virtue. He knew virtue and character was really important. But Aristotle goes in this whole idea that we're biological beings and we we learn by habit and habit formation and forming habits that are morally relevant are virtues or their vices. They're morally relevant. They go in the wrong way. If they're if they're more irrelevant, they and they develop in a good way. We call them virtues.


Otherwise, vices are not all. I mean, I've got the habit of, you know, how I hang my clothes up in the closet or how I time my shoes. Those habits are not morally relevant. So the ones that are morally relevant, truth, having the truth telling, you know, those kinds of things, value of life, how we treat is is murder right or wrong. But I can have a murderous heart. But but I fear I fear social consequences. So I never do what's wrong with respect to the value of life. But I'm not a particularly good person because I still have maybe a murderous heart toward my neighbor or something like that. So Aristotle, really, in the nick of mocking ethics, starts this tradition. Thomas picks it up, and the idea that morality is every bit as much concern for the kind of thing we are. As with what we do. So you get a kind of a being doing distinction in in the complete comprehensive understanding of morality that that really transcends a lot of what's going on in the modern secular discussion of morality, which is largely about what's common in public. And, you know, in on liberty. John Stuart Mill has in the early goings of of on liberty he says hey society cares not what manner of man obeys just so your base don't color outside the lines whether you're a good person and a morally worthwhile being. We just don't want you to kill or lie out in society. And so the On Liberty title, of course, means. But we hope that a social order structure with a significant sphere of liberty gives people at least the opportunity, the liberty to develop themselves. And we hope you'd become a worthwhile person. But the structure for that is don't color outside the lines.


Develop virtue, we hope, but don't dare violate your duty and obligations to others. So one is kind of an inward focus building myself. And that's that's always been a strong emphasis in classical moral thinking, Aristotle, Aquinas and so on, in the whole virtue tradition. But the other is much more of an outward what are my obligations? Okay, so what Lewis does is say, but there's also something about the purpose or meaning, because if you think about it, I can I can affirm point one and point to here and you say, Well, but what's it all for in what kind of a universe is this kind of moral reality that we experience? And what kind of a universe does it even make sense? And again, a Lewis type answer would be not in a not in a naturalist universe, not really, but in a close, careful analysis. So it makes better sense to say in current. LEWIS We're created by a moral being to be moral beings and a manifest in a finite way. Moral virtue do morally right things in a way that God does in a perfect way, infinitely perfect. So in a way, you've got the whole human telos question that none of this makes sense unless we have the larger context created by knowing the human telos, which from a Christian point of view is it? We're meant for life with God and life with others in a moral loving relationship and so on? No, it's no surprise then, that Jesus would say to the young lawyer, Hey, love God and love your neighbor. Those are the two big deals. And so the human telos then sheds light on what these other things are for, what kind of a universe they're at play in and in some universes.


Taking these other two points, these first three points seriously don't make as much sense. So, Lewis, back on the morality, you know, subject again, and he to make this point, he uses the analogy of the ships, the fleet of ships. Remember that he says supposing there is a fleet of ships that's going to sail, first of all, you have to know that each ship is in its own right in good shape. You know, whatever that means for a ship. Likewise, if we're going to be in the moral reality that that this universe presents to us, we had to make sure that we develop ourselves into good shape, moral virtues, courage, benevolence, truthfulness, whatever virtues, make up, assembled together, make up a character. But also, we have to make sure that we don't bang into each other. We have an idea of our formation as a fleet sailing the ocean. So that's the other part of the analogy. And we need a map. We need to know our destination. I think it's pretty good. I mean, he really is clever, but that's that's what he's saying. So we're going to talk about Christian life, Christian behavior. He says a very key component of Christian life is understanding that morality is not just temporal. It's not just a human invention. So we can get along on Earth. It's rooted in the kind of thing we are as reflecting God's image. And it's got a purpose in his economy. He goes through, you know, specific moral virtues. I think at this point I won't go into that. He does recognize I'll do this. He does recognize the distinction between the classical virtues that Aristotle would list and the ones that have been added on in the Christian era, in the in the Middle Ages.


So the classical virtues and the Christian. And he sees them all as compatible. But the Christian virtues elevate beyond what we could accomplish as human beings without God in our lives, without Christ. So in other words, by virtue of being God's creatures created in his image, we have the capacity to work on what a classically been recognized largely by the Greeks as human virtues. If I can get them all. Courage, wisdom, Temperance. And justice, and then faith, hope and love elevate life and take it to another level. All sorts of wonderful discussions are here. Do humans have to natures or one one nature to fulfill the earthly sort of commonly human capacities for these top four virtues? Are they discarded? Are they put in the shade by the other three virtues, or are they simply elevated, you know, and enhanced and penetrated by the other virtues? Lots of interesting discussions. Can't do them. It is in the chapter for I think I will skip to that the morality and psychoanalysis point, and I'll just make this observation. Even Aristotle acknowledged that there's such a thing as. Moral look, not everybody gets the same upbringing. Not everybody has the same opportunity to learn morality. Some people have a rougher time of it. And in those formative years, you know, you could be set virtually for life in the ability for you to discern what's moral and relate to people morally and all. But like we talked about before break, there is such a thing as religious luck. Where you're born, what religion you're born into, what seemed credible to you? What would ever make the Gospel seem credible to some degree to you? That varies so widely we can't even track it. You know what I'm saying? So luck.


And he understands this idea that. How about this? Not just where you're born in your social circumstances. How about your internal psychic psychological state? Degree of health, degree of balance. All that can affect how you live out moral life. Making for much discussion. We just I think we don't have time for unless you really have a really specific question, we can certainly address to a specific point. So you look, for example, at the different personalities that will encounter in the great divorce, and you can see how in each case God's grace is trying to approach them. But they all have different kinds of reactions. And maybe this is a little bit suggestive of that kind of a kind of a. A very diverse reality that Grace is working with. Then, of course, what about conversion? What about receiving God's grace in in a conscious way, in an open way? Well, you've got a topic, I think, that goes along these lines. Of personality. You know, we're all going to have the personality structures we do. And there probably won't be for many people, a, you know, 180 degree personality change upon receiving grace in one's life. It's probably more going to be a journey and a process after that initial turning. But how to think about these matters of personality and grace? How does Grace work with all the different personalities? Then, of course, as humans observers, how competent are we sometimes to judge? The degree of grace in another person's life or how far along they are on their journey or what kind of baggage they were dealing with in their journey. Yes, I guess we can talk about that one in one part. In that chapter that stood out to me talking about just that.


That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results, which remains Choices make out of this raw material for God does not judge him on the raw material, but on what he has done with it. Yes. And I also think there's something to be said for terms here that, by the way, God doesn't judge you on your raw materials, because that's in a sense, a matter of luck. But whether the materials are your family upbringing, your social setting or your internal psychological, they're all your raw materials. I think there's something to be said for trajectory as well. The only God knows the life trajectory that you're on and you and not anybody else can totally know that. Yeah, thanks. I appreciate that. That's exactly what I'm trying to say. Trying to figure out where the. Oh, there it is. We're there. We're a chapter five. On sexual morality. I've been I've been trying to get there. I mean, a couple of things to be said. Now I'll get to my famous my famous criticism of Lewis that sexuality, if we were pure spirits, then probably things like lying and so on would still apply to us. Prohibitions against lying, the need to tell truth. But we're also biological beings with an amazing evolutionary history. The more we learn about it and of that biological history, sexuality is a part of it. You know, if you look at the animal world, there aren't any codes that we know. You know, you can find monogamous elephants. And I think the gray whales and but it's all like there's a code. But you get some interesting instincts built up in evolutionary history in different social animals. That's true. It looks like that. Then we have to say sexuality has a creation or basis.


We are not pure spirits. We are total biological packages. And that's one aspect of other aspects of our biological dimension of our lives. But it's it's taken by Christianity very seriously and elevated above what other what other non-rational. But social animals participate in an idea of purity and an idea of fidelity that you can't hold the other animal or animals, you know, to that standard. So I think I think that's the way to talk about a positive view of Christian spirit, of Christian sexuality. In fact, biblically, there isn't any other image of of God's pursuit of humanity used more and said to be more deeply analogous to or similarly symbolic of God's attraction to us. God's love for us, God's desire to be close to us. I mean, my goodness, the symbolism of the culmination of history is a marriage supper. But here you get here's here's the here's my famous criticism come. So sexuality is positive. We can't give it over to the secular you can't get into the to the lower concepts of what sexuality is. Plenty of room I think for discussion of heterosexual monogamous marriage as being the biblical ideal. And then what alternatives are cultures discussing? I think there has to be. Maybe we need to start with that kind of thing, maybe next time. But I want to get to my famous criticism of Lewis this time, if I can. So hold off discussing heterosexual monogamous marriage more deeply. But what I would say this here we have a bachelor living in the forties and he's trying to give Christian behavior expression on the radio. And this is what this is what caught my attention. He rightly says we need chastity and purity and so on. But in chapter six, he says that the ideal structure within a marriage is the husband is head of the wife and is this whole idea of husband headship.


That is out there in the in a very conservative, very conservative religious community. But I don't see why Louis would think this on theological grounds or biblical or enlightened biblical grounds. Once you realize, of course, the biblical documents are going to come out of largely patriarchal societies and and so on, their view of slaves, their view of women all needs to be contextualized. But what you do with with enlightened theological thinking, you say, what are the enduring truths and principles that are embodied in yet to be more fully understood, but they're embodied in concrete, historical particularities. But we don't want to absolutist the particularities. So the biblical language of Paul says husbands should be head of their wives. I don't see how in the world you can have absolute ties that say that's that's the Christian model. Give me 2 minutes. Give me 2 minutes because I'm getting really pumped up here. Look at it like this. Pretend that we're not thinking about the Bible or Christianity or anything. Let me just give you some possible models of marriage. Here's one. Mutual love, equality, reciprocity. Self-sacrifice. I'll just say it, Sarah, because I'm running out of adjectives and in a model of profound oneness. Then here's another one. Husband head sharp. Where husbands. Kind of more like God or gods given a line of authority to the husband. And the husband rules over the family. Something like that. More vertical. You know what I'm saying? We can fill all that in. And you probably think of all sorts of other models. Now time, these busy days. Intrinsically, morally humanistic. This is far superior. We're leaving the Bible out of Christianity. This just far intrinsically. It's just a better model in this. There's much more to be desired.


Be still my beating heart. So I really hope the Bible doesn't teach the second best model. Well, I already know what the best is. Secret. I got a whole bunch of this stuff in the Bible. But I mean, making sense and cultural differences all this. The ideal biblically is this. Is not the trigger on this language and absolute ties certain cultural patterns that prevailed once upon a time. Prokaryotic one dwelling in the other. Okay, I'm done. I've blown off all my steam. Let's pick up from there. Next time, if you dare to return. And we'll go. We'll go ahead for the rest of the material.