C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 11

Mere Christianity (Part 8)

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.

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 11
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Mere Christianity (Part 8)

Mere Christianity (part 8)

I. Hope (cont.)

A. Argument from desire

B. Comparison of Kant and Descartes

II. Faith: Belief “That” and Belief “In”

A. One aspect of faith is that a proposition is true

B. Another aspect of faith is volitional

C. Must have both cognitive and volitional

D. Role of rational considerations in believing Christianity

E. To what degree do the propositions you believe have to be accurate for belief to be valid?

F. Faith being a gift of God

  • 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 8)

Lesson Transcript


Here and start again. We're walking our way through the chapters here in Lewis book and in Book three on Christian Behavior. We just have had a little discussion about hope, but we didn't finish all that he's saying in that chapter, this chapter and a few other places and Lewis's writings give the basis for what is often called his argument from desire. You know, the book starts with Chris. Christianity starts with a moral argument. We know that. And he has his own way of running that moral argument. There's not another argument for the existence of God that's been labeled the argument from desire. And it kind of goes like this We are not born with desires unless the satisfaction of those desires really exists, and we are born with the desire for ultimate meaning, for ultimate fulfillment. And yet the satisfaction for that desire does not exist within this world. This world cannot satisfy. So Lewis reasons, the satisfaction for our desire for ultimate meaning must lie in a transcendent, eternal world. So that's that's a short version of the argument from Desire. I put in the notes the way Peter Kraft at Boston College has kind of structured this reasoning process with Lewis. So you can see in the notes how he's made this into two premises and a conclusion. The first premise every natural desire corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire. Food is the object that can satisfy hunger and so on. Premise two But there exists in us a desire which nothing in the temporal world, nothing on earth, no creature reality can satisfy the conclusion Lewis draws. Then is it? Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures which can satisfy this desire. And this something is what people call God.


So in terms of looking at Lewis's apologetic arsenal, this would be one of those arguments that he's credited with almost being unique in offering. He's got a moral argument, but lots of people have different versions of moral arguments. This is sort of credited as being a little bit more unique to Lewis. I don't know what I think of it. I think that Augustine was right that thou hast made us for thyself. Oh, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee, so that at some level we all have a desire. I think Lewis is right about that. Whether you can infer from the fact that you have a desire that there's a real object to the. That's an interesting question and interesting debate. You'd begin, I think, discussing that from Lewis point of view by saying, well, he's only talking about natural desires, legitimate desires, because you could have illegitimate desires. So what desires are appropriate for a rational, moral creature, the highest kind of creature that the universe knows, the human brain being the most complex object in the universe. So what kind of desires would be natural and normal for that kind of a creature to have? I think when you kind of emphasize it that way, it does give a little outer extra strength to the direction Lewis wants to take this, you know, because we know it's really the kind of thing we are, shouldn't die, shouldn't suffer and so on. When you begin to think of this amazing kind of thing that a rational moral being has to know, why am I here? Why am I the. Kind of thing that I am. Am I the apex of reality? All these desire to know the meaning of it all and in a sense, a kind of ultimate fulfillment and completion.


But we don't in this life, we don't see anything else. Everything else is lesser than we are. So we don't see anything else in creature existence that seems to satisfy this longing, this desire. And so when you kind of, you know, work on it a little bit and and build it up, this is an interesting, interesting line of thought that Lewis is offering that surely we wouldn't have this desire unless there was some fulfillment. You could go deeper and say, Surely we wouldn't even be we wouldn't even exist, let alone have a desire unless there's something more. And he believes that as well. But this is his argument from Desire. In Adam Bachman's book, C.S. Lewis and Philosophy as a Way of Life. There's really a nice book. The thing is really thick. It's very technical compared to most books you'll read on Lewis, and it was just way too technical and lengthy actually to have in this course because we wanted a nice survey and really get a broad sweep of Lewis. But he pins he he thinks Lewis, with his background in idealism and so on, was very attracted to Saint Anselm and the ontological argument out of the 11th century. And he has a little section in his book, Bachmann does, tying the ideological argument and the argument from desire is something for further study. We couldn't bring it up here. But, you know, Anselm is saying, boy, I have the idea of a being who is the most perfect possible being. And just the logic of that idea on some thought began to drive your reasoning toward the real existence of that kind of being. And we talk about that a little in 501 the required philosophy religion course. But I couldn't bring it up in any more detail here.


But just to show as we go through Lewis, there are other voices echoing so much in what we're talking about, the virtues in the vices, you know, or whether he's now talking about the argument from desire. There's a whole intellectual landscape that Lewis is at home in, and he's doing his own, you know, take on certain things. But there are other voices that are echoing. I saw that hand you said before about Without Desire, who would be? And I couldn't help but think of Descartes. Yeah. Internalized that desire to point outwards, which seems to you that you think there's a connection. Yeah. Yeah, I think it Lewis. I think Lewis. Interestingly, the whole orientation of Lewis philosophically is not very much enlightenment oriented. He'll call it more than I'm comfortable with. He's not as critical as current conscious as I am, but at least his moral arguments are not a Kantian argument. There's always things to be thankful for, but was conscious. We had to postulate God as the one who establishes morality and its consequences. But it's not an argument for the reality of God. It's just we must think this way or morality won't be a coherent concept, you know? So but with Descartes de Cartes coming out of a cultural upheaval of a couple centuries prose reformation, the rise of the new science, the Renaissance where a rebirth of learning and appreciation for the classics in art and literature and so on. But the Catholic Church through the Middle Ages had kind of been the dominant source of truth. And so Descartes is postured in the history of thought as one who says, I guess we can't trust much of anything. Modern science hurt the Catholic Church, the Renaissance, or the Catholic Church, because it emphasized this world and the goodness of art and literature and humanities.


The process reformation hurt the Catholic Church, you know, And so so we can't look to authority outside ourselves for truth. So we have to look inside ourselves. But we better not just choose any old truth to believe we better get one that cannot be doubted that it's secure. And he thought the one secure truth was his own self existence strikes me as a. Topsy turvy. Way to go for the car. You don't see Lewis giving much credence or using much of that in light. That's the that's the beginning of enlightenment. Was in the early 17th century, lasting until the end of the 18th was Descartes. The optimism that rationality could deliver on on truth unaided by any other source. And you could do it by looking inward. And so I guess part of your point for Lewis, you have to look outward and you're in your proper desires are measured by whether they're proper to the objects of desire and all of that kind of thing. Well, I probably said too much to put that in context. But yeah, our desire, I think, for Lewis is calibrated to the object of desire. Yeah. So what, what gives that object the character or were. Versatile personal trait. Like I can also see kind of your thinking about desire and meaning. And then he has his version of the being or the search for being. Yeah, it has nothing to do with. Yeah. With a girl like. Or a little bit like you're talking about like, does sign and so sign in hiding her, but just to evoke and also for the purpose and meaning. So I don't speak German, so I don't know what does sign. And so, so I mean no, I'm just mostly being of itself and being for itself.


Are the distinctions. And this gets into a whole different approach to philosophy, often labeled continental or whatever. And it does generally base itself on not worrying about issues of philosophical realism, whether the reality outside your mind is is appropriately registered within your mind. But it usually studies the content of your consciousness, right, about what you think. So. If your philosophical focus is the content of your own consciousness, the structure of concepts and so on, you're in your phenomenal awareness of things rather than on the things as a as a more philosophical, robust realist might say, If I'm trying to see where your question is coming from, so hiding or might or friendly. Jim Hiding or Heidegger Sorry, Jim found it was one of the major editors for so long of Good News magazine and he wasn't found to be his editor. So Martin Heidegger, you're saying, might just look at Desire as a phenomenal occurrence as it occurs in our consciousness rather than ask, is this desire connected to or pointing to anything outside ourselves? That's the way I would translate your question now. I think from what little I know of the continental tradition, I think that's pretty fair. So you can look at various things and say, Well, I'm not going to study this desire for meaning fulfillment, as though it's the trigger for asking the question, Is there meaning and fulfillment objectively? Rather, I'm just going to study the desire as a human phenomenon, as a conscious phenomenon. And there are interesting things to explore, but it's a totally different project than a realist project. And even though Lewis almost never uses the term realist, he's he's engaged in a realist argument here. And even for Bachmann, who says there's the idealism of Anselm and the analogical argument.


I don't deny that either that but but the ultimate impact of Louis has to be realist or it won't be adequate. I mean, I'm not going around looking to build my Christian worldview, piecing and patching things together as I like from different philosophical movements like idealism. That's not the way to build a coherent ground up frame of reference. Okay. I'm not hearing unending applause for my answer on on Heidegger. Did it resemble anything you were thinking about at all? Yeah, didn't matter. But I think the point would be to see something else. Yeah. I mean, I think I was pretty fair in characterizing the phenomenological approach. That's a study of the content of your consciousness, bracketing the question of whether the contents of your consciousness refer. I guess fair and realists are big on the fact that they refer it's reasonable and reliable in general to think that what's in my consciousness has a relationship. And of course, bonds, you know, but that's not not really part of the phenomenological tradition. Okay. Moving right along, the next couple chapters here are on faith and faith. Like redundant. But they're really not redundant. I think they're looking at two different aspects of this whole matter of of faith in God. To summarize, I would say that these two chapters as bookends as a pair come at faith in two different ways. They're complementary and they almost cannot be decoupled without some kind of damage. So in one sense, faith is belief that a proposition or could be propositions is true. So there's a cognitive component. And this cognitive component has to do with with with what we believe is the case. Wow. Well, this is a more of a cognitive emphasis that faith is belief in a prop that a proposition is true.


H.H. Price Lewis would have been aware of. There's a whole article, I think probably dated in the forties, maybe the fifties. But he's well known for teaching this, that there are two senses of belief. Belief that and belief in. And Lewis seems to be kind of modeling these two chapters on the prize type point that there's belief that but also there's belief in or trust in and this would be more volitional. At the very least, this would be more cognitive. So the two chapters between themselves have given you a kind of a a look at two aspects of faith that I think have to go together. And you can think of those those appeals we sometimes hear, hey, don't don't worry so much about intellect, just believe, just exercise your will, accept God and just believe. But the cognitive and the volitional for Lewis have to go together. There are things that we must believe are true. And it's it's fair to use the proper process for coming to believe these things are true. Reasoning, study all the kinds of things that come with the life of the mind. And when we believe these things are true, we've reasonably settled some doubts. We understand Christianity and its claims more on the intellectual level. That's not any kind of a threat to faithful belief. At another level of giving our our trust and our reliance, or however you want to put it, in the things that these beliefs are talking about. So these these really kind of give us a a target. And our trust then is still up to us, whether we give it or not. I think for the New Testament, the Devils believe that Christ is God, for crying out loud. But they refuse on level two to give their trust and to live within that framework.


But you think about the framework of belief gives you a kind of a a blueprint for what's appropriate to trust. And when you're what you think is true is inaccurate or mistaken, somehow your trust can be misguided, too. So for Lewis, these things look like they're very well part of the same holistic being. We have an intellectual aspect as human beings, and we have a volitional aspect. And when we give faith in God properly, it accommodates both aspects. It reflects these two dimensions of our very being. I actually think there's another point to be made, at least one more point to be made here. But I want to take a couple of questions I see coming up. Yeah. Mm hmm. A couple of things about the relationship between the two. Of course it would be. We'd like to have both, but it's not At times. We have to rely on number two to establish if. If you. If it. I'm not saying. I'm not saying that it's impossible. But if you can hit the target, so to speak. Yeah, but then also could never to be a matter of using the authority as a means for establishing. I actually think that's true. Yeah. Yeah. Because all the different sources of truth that are appropriate to the kinds of claims. I mean, I don't see Christianity, for example, making many scientific claims that you could put in a laboratory and check out you come up with something I'm not thinking of, but is making historical claims. I mean, Jesus better be raised from the dead as a matter of history, not as a matter of faith. It's not a matter of faith. Faith in triggers on that target, which is a matter of history. Now, like all historical claims, they're not proved by mathematical demonstrations.


We put together evidence. They become somewhat probabilistic, you know. And that's all true. There's there's no absolute certain demonstration. But it's reasonable for me to take the evidence that's available and believe that George Washington crossed the Delaware. I think that was in 1492. No, just I'm just checking. Okay. 1493, whatever. But give or take. But but so the historical claims and but you get enough credibility that the history is not just wildly improbable. You get enough probability that part of the sense making that the Christian template does is make sense of the empty tomb, the amazing passion and faithfulness of the disciples after the resurrection and what they're willing to do, and a lot of other other piece of data. You're making sense of those things by saying that makes the probabilistic claims of the resurrection incorporated into a larger picture of what happened as a consequence and so on. And so you're just doing normal intellectual processing and you can't force anybody to agree. But a reasonable person could easily come to this conclusion. Then when you get all the theological overlay, the theological overlay that looks at all of salvation history with the Christ event in the middle, you might say, and gives you a theological interpretation, you can't prove that in a laboratory either. But you begin to say this theological interpretation of these things is, is something you get from authority, church dogma, church teaching. And so it's hardly an irrational thing, you know, to to say I embrace Christian faith. And there was historical reasoning. There was accepting some things on authority. Who knows what other legitimate, rational processes might have been involved. But we undersell it if we think there are no rational processes or if we can bypass it.


I think that we all have different levels of education. We all have different capacities. We all have different opportunities to think about these things. What about the Catholic layperson, as we used to say back in the in the late Middle Ages, who there? Saint Thomas. Thinking it all through, so to speak. And there's the peasant who's hand-to-mouth just trying to exist and didn't have the education, didn't have the luxury of thinking all this stuff through. Could they be just as good a Christian? Could they exercise? Seems to me the answer is yes, because you have to kind of adjust for everybody's opportunity and capacity and circumstance. Mike My point earlier, though, is that true beliefs focus you more clearly and accurately on a target. So if I believe let's see if I believe that the president of Asbury Seminary is John Smith, and I go around looking for John Smith and I never find him. And I meet Timothy Tennent and we hit it off real well. And I think he's a really nice guy. And I go on still looking for the president, right, of Asbury Seminary. Something about my beliefs, something intellectually is just a little off. I'm mistaken. I've been told this or I read in a book or I misread it. And I think I need to find John Smith. I want to find the president. So our intellectual beliefs help us hit the right target. When I look at the other world religions, they have whole belief structures and there's a target. Set up for those believers in other religions, what they should have faith in, what they should pursue, what the goal of life is, all of that and the target is just described differently. So it really raises an interesting question.


To what degree, to what extent do you have to have a pretty clear idea of the target supported by a lot of claims or propositions that really are true before your faith that you exercise, you know, is legit or genuine or accepted? Remember, Emmet, in the last battle, he thought Tash was to be worshiped the evil God. Tash. In the last battle, he tells Aslan, I have served Tash all my life. And Aslan says, You're mistaken. But he says your heart. You were seeking something much higher and better in your heart. So there's this really interesting, you know, consideration that I don't know totally how to settle, but the cognitive part, the true belief part, shouldn't be underplayed. But I don't. But because of the vicissitudes of circumstance, differences in capacities and so on, we'll all have either a little clearer or a little less clear idea of the target. But the ideal is to have the target clear. You can't you can't you can't, you know, discount the idea that this is the ideal. Well, clearly know who Jesus is, will clearly know that he's God and so on. There's nothing wrong with that ideal. But in the real world, the degree of fuzziness or the degree of clarity can vary. Seems to me. Definitely more faith and reason for us during the summer. I mean, it basically deals with this and tries to lay out an explanation for I mean, if you've read this book, Decision Based. No, I have not. I guess it's about whether he is so humble. He didn't even tell me wrote wrote the book I didn't know existed. Yeah, that's too humble, if you ask me. You've got to tell people, you know what I'm saying? Or have somebody else tell them I'm not really.


I thought a dissertation was on more theory, but I'm more of it. I will take a look at that. He talks about his model of desire, plus believe he was actually. Uh huh. So he says, you know, belief is in some sense uncontrollable. Based on a lot of things. It's just an observation of what you see in the world. Yeah, a baby out of for that. Well, that's a very good point. Either the question of why your belief is so conditioned by where you're born, the culture in which you are imprinted and all there. That's one point we've hit on before. The other point we have not hit on has to do with the fact that we are given intellectual powers to produce beliefs under appropriate circumstances. For example, how about my powers of perception? I look at a class and I say there are roughly 15 people in this class. But if I because my just my power of perception. You're saying that to me roughly now if I would say there are 500 and you said, well, I'd love to believe they're 500 and that they'd be cheering and clapping and saying, I'm in and everything I say about C.S. Lewis. But my powers aren't giving that belief to me. It's not even within my power to say I'm going to concentrate really hard and recite it over and over, and I'm going to produce the belief in myself that there are 500 members of this class who are just, you know, thrilled and everything I say, and they just can't contain them. I don't believe that. I can't force myself to believe that. So in various appropriate circumstances where there doesn't seem to be any reason not to trust your belief forming powers, those beliefs are just going to come to you apart from voluntary control.


And that's probably what goes through that whole direct and indirect. Yes. And I don't think Lewis is quite sophisticated enough in that this has been a development in contemporary epistemology long after Lewis wrote his works. But if Lewis believes that we have native divinely given powers, which he does, I don't think it'd be very hard to take him down this road that if we put if we put ourselves, then let's say in studying the claims of the gospel, Christian claims the propositions that make up the Christian framework, the Nicene Creed, the various propositions that involves so on and so on, if I say what kind of claim are those claims? We talk about historic claims, theological interpretation claims there are different kinds of claims that make up the whole Christian package of belief. But if I will treat each claim according to its appropriate area, you know, then my powers of investigation and so on, I think it's fair to say, can reasonably come to a belief that it makes sense that it's true that the whole package makes true or seems true. Well, there's much more on any of these topics we could drill down and discuss, but I've got to have a sense of moving as well. Was there another question? Does anybody. Okay, but I'll move. Move on. I know one thing about the faith point. Lewis would have no trouble saying this, but he only gives the chapters on faith these two points of emphasis. There's something to be said, isn't there? For faith also being a gift of God. Because that's a language we use. Faith is a gift of God. This is not inconsistent with that. But it becomes kind of a subtle conversation to say. In what sense, then, is faith a divine gift? And you could explore that question as a Wesleyan.


I would say, well, at the very least, our powers, like everything else in the creation, is are somehow damaged. It's by preventing grace that even our powers of thought and truth seeking, as well as our power of willing to follow what we think is the truth and the target of these truths, which tells me to follow Christ. But all of those powers need to be enlivened in order to be operative. And that's part of what Wesley is saying. So at the very least, at the level preventing grace and who knows what else such a discussion might explore to say about the nature of faith. These are two important aspects Lewis brings up, but you might also explore, as I say, the convenient nature of God's activity with us, to bring us to faith, to help us come to faith, have the power to move in his direction. And in what sense is there some kind of mystical, almost indefinable aspect? And that takes me beyond beyond what I could articulate today. But all those things I think are well worth. Exploring. But none of them cancel the basic points Lewis is making either. This brings us, as I understand it, to the last book, the book on Beyond Personality. The subtitle of that is First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity. My feeling is if we took a short break, then we could have the whole next period just to do this book. Otherwise, we just get into this need to break. You wouldn't be able to bear that because. Oh, no, no. We've got here more here more. So in my wisdom, my sovereignty over the class. I say we break. Now, what? 6.5 minutes should do it. I don't know. Some people can't do it that fast.