C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 14

Miracles (Part 2)

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. 

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 14
Watching Now
Miracles (Part 2)

I. Supernaturalism (Theism)

II. Criteria for Judging a Worldview

A. Internal and logical consistency

B. Coherence

C. Explanatory adequacy

D. Cosmological argument

III. Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism

A. Naturalism’s problem with human rational thought

B. Distinction between reasons and causes

C. Comments and questions

  • 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
Miracles (Part 2)
Lesson Transcript


We use the last few minutes to talk about Lewis's description of the philosophical view of naturalism. And of course, he contrasts that to what he calls super naturalism. I typically use the word theism because not all forms of super naturalism will give you a theistic god with the theistic attributes. So. As he describes supernatural ism. He says this. There is a power. He could have said there's a being that is distinct. He should probably say ontologically distinct. It's being is not to be identified with the being of the physical world. So there's a power or a being that is ontologically distinct from nature. We would say it's transcendent of nature. This power or this being is what is self existent. He doesn't get into that very much, but you're going to have something that's self existent. Every worldview has to posit, has to propose what is fundamentally real for the naturalists. It's physical stuff. For the super naturalist, let's say. Let's go to translate that to theism. It's an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect deity. That is the most fundamental reality. Because, see, out of whatever fundamental reality you propose as the foundation of your worldview, everything else has to come somehow From that. All explanations of everything somehow have to be rooted in that. So just as naturalism would go back to its conceptual basis to explain human nature, morality, purpose in the world, or lack of purpose in the world. So theism would have to go back to its fundamental basis and say it would explain how the cosmos got here, why there's a world at all, what human nature is all about, what morality is. It has its own resources. They'd be very different from what the naturalist would say. So this being beyond nature is self existent or fundamental in the order of reality.


Then everything else that exists would be dependent upon this being or this power. Be contingent upon it. Everything else that is not God has donated existence. God has necessary existence now for for theism. This power or this being has the capability of originating events, bringing new events into being that nature. The natural system by its own ongoing operation would not have brought about. We talked earlier about the concept of a natural system that's closed and interlocked, closed to the outside, interlocked just by its ongoing operation. It's going to bring about events as effects of prior causes all interlocked. This huge, complete package we call the cosmos and and it's closed outside intervention. Lewis says if there is a power like he envisions the theistic God, really, then that God has the ability to bring about things that would not have happened by the regular operation of nature. So he says this is going to give us when we stand back and look at naturalism and super naturalism as two very different worldview interpretations of reality. Everything that's in reality knowledge, morality, human nature, meaning and purpose. Everything comes under one of the two umbrellas for purposes of this book comes under one of those two umbrellas, explanatory umbrellas to gain some kind of of coherence and. You might say, ability to be understood. One way of understanding human nature, morality, the physical world, part of the natural package. Totally different way of understanding those things. Part of the supernatural or theist package. So we're down to worldview choice, he thinks, but it's going to take him a while. It could take him chapter after chapter to develop a case along a certain line he wants to develop. To develop a case that the worldview choice should be for supernatural ism.


Partly you can you can. You can talk about the positive aspects of Supernatural as more theism, but you can also talk about any defects, any problems. In naturalism. And he does both. He does both. They can run hand in hand. But we talk about worldview choice. I like this in general as an apologetic kind of approach. You think, Well, what kind of criteria would we judge a worldview on? Let me just mention a few. Very few. Just let you get a feeling for this. One would be consistency. Is this worldview that we're considering internally, logically consistent? That would be a very big factor if you find inconsistencies. My own opinion about that is that major worldview options are really hard to find some inconsistency that is devastating to them. I mean, it's just it's assuming a pretty low standard on the part of your dialog partner to think that they're full of inconsistency. It's possible on this point or that, but for for a given representative of a worldview to slip into a contradiction, some logical, you know, error. But the worldview as a as a bit of intellectual content, I think that's probably not a real fruitful. Never hurts to check consistency, but it's not a real fruitful way to go. Now, later in the book, not there yet, Lewis is going to talk about a problem with in Naturalism. This is actually one of the more famous parts of the book, but in the previous edition, he thought it was an inconsistency. In this edition, he walks that back. He still thinks there's a problem, but it's not the problem of contradicting yourself because inconsistency is self-contradiction. A coherence. That's probably a more auspicious criterion for evaluating any of you, because it has to do with how well your ideas hang together.


But honestly, I think initially neither naturalism nor theism look like they have problems along those lines. If you start with nature alone being real and you coherently expand that idea, you know, a human human being is nothing but a product of nature, physical nature. You know that there cannot be absolute universal morals. You know, there's no purpose or meaning to life that's pretty coherent drawing out of your starting point, pretty coherent. Likewise, theism has its own level of coherence in expounding what it thinks. So I come to the third criterion that I think is quite worthwhile here. I would call it explanatory adequacy. I want to engage other worldviews, not just naturalism, but any any worldview engagement largely, largely along the lines of how adequate they are to explain the key features of life in the world, why there exists anything at all, what a human being is, including everything that we richly understand about ourselves and what morality is, what sense of meaning and purpose there can be. Why is there evil and suffering? Clearly, the toughest problem for religious points of view that have an extremely good God is powerful and supposed to be loving and all that. But it's not like it's not a problem for the natural state to say what evil is, actually why they have a sense of evil if morality is not absolute. You know, that kind of thing. We'll get to that detail. But explanatory adequacy, I think, is really where you want to go. And one reason I bring that up in terms of strategy is because I think I think it's the right way to go. And the Christianity looks really good. Orthodox classical Christianity looks really good, particularly when wedded to philosophical realism, looks really good in worldview debate.


But the other reason I mention that is the idea that there is out there about apologetics, that there are a lot of direct inferences to God. And I'm kind of rethinking what I what I what I believe about all that. But clearly, in our day, I think we've seen the revival of an old fallacy, the design argument of William Paley be revived by the idea movement since 99, when Dempsey published his book Intelligent Design, a couple of years earlier than that, it was might be his book, Darwin's Black Box. But the idea that you look at some piece of evidence and there's a direct inference to, they say, just intelligence. But of course it's just a way of opening up space to talk about God. And what we saw historically in Victorian England is a real interest in physical empirical things being construed in a way that gives credibility to a kind of public deity that everybody could believe in. You know, and Paley's design argument filled the bill. It was actually called physical theology. It's a certain kind of theology done very specifically in that point in intellectual history. I mean, Paley was hardly reciting or echoing Thomas's teleological argument, which is a much deeper form of teleology. And so in Darwin comes along, you know, he basically blocks the inference saying, you think that organized complexity gives you a direct inference to a designer where there's design, there has to be design, you know, all this and, and but I found a natural mechanism. Why we have organized complexity is natural selection. And evolution had widely been talked about. And, you know, it was it was the coming thing for decades before Darwin it was he figured out the key why it works, how it does its work.


That's natural selection, where less fit things get knocked out of existence and only those that survived pass on their genes. So the destruction and dominance says himself in the in the origin of species is I had no intention to write atheistic Lee but I see the impact this has on the idea that the only way you can get these structures, biological structures, is that they had to be directly done by God. Well, how convenient then to think, Well then you just reverse the process and infer from those structures. Infer back to a creator designer God. So that's one among several kind of well-intentioned attempts to say, Here's something about the world and we can create inference. But la la la la la la. We don't we don't think there's any counterexample or we're young thinkers who think than block the inference. But there's almost always another hand. On the one hand, it looks like the. Yes, but on the other hand, was it. And so any any attempt to go around and project, I think, Christian belief, theistic belief as well, I can just give you arguments and there's all these direct inferences and they were subtler. I don't think that's quite how to posture. I just don't think that's quite it. I think on a case by case basis, we might look at the cosmological argument or whatever and actually have a little bit more favorable attitude toward it than than this one species, pardon the pun, of teleological argument called a designer. So, Oh, yes, you can suggest an inference, but don't be too cocksure because there's always going to be counter-examples or some other point of view. So that's why I'm saying explanatory adequacy here on my list suggests I'm willing to do this in.


Harrison to another point of view, not pretending like it doesn't exist. I want to engage it. I want to show explanatory superiority. There's nothing in a vacuum that I can think of much that argues from this phenomenon to God. Game over. But rather it's in interaction with rival or competing points of view. I really think that's the better way to go in the apologetic task today, which means dialog, conversation. Knowing the other point of view very well, it's knowing your own point of view really well and, and it's I guess you could probably label different styles of apologetics. You might label what I'm kind of criticizing here as inferential apologetics or evidential, you know, apologetics and everything has some degree of value. But I really prefer this whole idea of interaction. And that's exactly how Lewis, you know, he did a little bit of that in Christianity, but that's really how this whole book is set up. If you think about it. In. You know, I think my confidence would be that at the end, through dialog, thorough interaction with other points of view, will will kind of reaffirm that passage in meditations in a tool shed by Lewis. And there is an order to action is because we I lived we didn't get running water till 1955 and well no kidding indoor plumbing. That was so cool. Anyway. Well, we're two sheds with all sorts of sheds, and we did have running water. I'm not going to. So in a tool shed, you know, we have these vertical boards and the sunlight can come through when the sun is up, can come through and have these really interesting rays of light. And Lewis says in meditations in a tool shed, you can look at the light and coming in and you can see that there's a light coming or you can look along the light at the light, along the light.


And he says, When you look along, the light illuminates everything on the wall over there, the sickle, the hammer, everything. You got hung up on the wall, the rake standing over there. You can see it. That's my tool collection. Okay. He says, I believe in Christianity, not because I see it. But because by it, I see everything else. Everything else gets illumined. It's like looking on along the light. I understand more what human nature really is and what human destiny really is, what morality, how deep morality really is in human experience. I understand that rationality reflects a higher rationality and so on and so on. I'm much more willing to get in there and roll up my sleeves and engage in that regard. And I see that's what he's very willing to do in the way he's framing up the book. So again, we're doing a little bit of like surveying what this is about before we jump in. But that's that's the way I see what he's doing. I think I'm going to skip in the notes, the stuff on the cosmological argument. It just follows up points that we made earlier that have to do on briefly say what's in those two or three pages points we made earlier about there must be a self existent being, there must be something that's fundamental in reality. Naturalism makes its pick. It picks nature, physical nature, and Christianity picks the Trinitarian God, the and God out of him. We can get nature if He voluntarily, lovingly chooses to create a nature that is not himself, but is not like a world view, has the luxury of not getting out there with what it thinks fundamental reality is, so that they have the luxury of kind of just being critics like movie critics or restaurant critics, you know, like they don't produce anything of their own maybe, but they can say, Oh, Christianity, how are you going to make sense of a self existent God? His existence is necessary.


Well, you're acting like you don't have anything to defend yourself. So in this engagement, it's not not all defense that we need to play. So I'm saying. So make sense of how nature the cosmos. Is self existent in the best, more reasonable. So that's what those two or three pages are about. I think I probably mentioned in there. I mean, not Stephen Hawking's book, The Grand Design, and I don't remember whether I did or not. I will spend time looking. But he makes that argument I think came out five years ago or so, that the universe can create itself given certain fluctuations in quantum gravity and so on. And I just, I think sounds to me like a desperate attempt to move more toward the new atheists. I think he was earlier in his career and to say, yup, naturalism in principle. In principle, naturalism thinks that nature alone is real. Physical stuff is the primary reality. But now science. Fundamental physics. See, now science can give us a little bit more of the mechanics and some technical terminology by which we can explain exactly how it could create itself. And my my own brief reaction, you can read more here, but where you can take the course. You know, it's j turn science Christian faith B there is. He doesn't understand the doctrine of creation. You can't pre exist yourself to create yourself. So the Christian doctrine creationists talk about absolute nothing. Zero Milch Milch, I mean, nada or zilch. That's a combination of nada. And anyway. So if there's quantum gravity, there's not nothing. And so we're talking about nothing as far as science can determine. Okay. But then don't pretend that you're getting into the worldview arena and giving aid and assistance to the naturalists and the non theists.


I'm saying questions, comments, criticisms, praise. Thank you. Your first day I heard that they're making a movie about. I saw a trailer for a film about Stephen Hawking. I have not. I mean, I actually like Stephen Hawking. And with any of these people, Christopher Hitchens, I mean, there's just no animosity, I feel whatsoever. But it's the content of their ideas that deserve to be engaged out there in the arena of of of ideas. So being a scientist, he's probably a little not just probably he's very likely not adept in territorial boundaries. And so he's very probably because there's a territory, boundaries of science and metaphysics, and he's inclined to inflate his science and make metaphysical claims. And so that's my objection. But I would welcome a film, you know, about Stephen Hawking, and his career is pretty amazing. Pretty cool to hold the Isaac Newton chair. Okay, That's pretty cool, you know? Yes. Yeah, go ahead. Lawrence Krauss does. I don't know if you've read his book. I think it's called Like a Universe from Nothing, where he does the same thing. Same thing Vik Stegner does the center of gravity. But I thought one of the funniest things I've ever heard Lawrence Krauss say was on it. He was talking, debating and doing what he does with being clinical, and he said something really funny. It was, well, don't let the the atheists are going to disagree with me and say, Oh, he's nothing, but we shouldn't take it on their terms. They just wanted to find nothing is the only thing or something that only which God can create from. Yeah, You got it. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, is that. Is that funny? There's a debate about. It's a debate about nothing.


Yeah. Oh, well, I don't want to keep on, but. So the cosmological argument is just one of those cases where, again, it's best done, I think, in the presentation of the theistic worldview alongside alternatives. And then you've got the ultra nature can be fundamental or or God can be fundamental, and then nature is derivative somehow, and which has a better explanatory promise. I think theism and and looking at God is fundamental. Okay. So that takes us to chapter three. As I understand the walk through these early chapters that we're doing, you'll see, and I'm almost certain that if you've got a fairly decent recent edition is going to title this chapter The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism. I have older editions where it was titled The Self-contradiction. Are you kidding? You have one that's. I didn't think they existed anymore. That must be old. Yeah, it is. Well. Oh, and there'll be a little bit of change in the material. A little bit, but not anything. I don't think that that would mess you up. Yeah. Gosh, no kidding. Do you get that, like, from rare books or something? Oh, I have some pretty old ones that are falling apart. The. The glue is bad, but I've marked them all up, and I hate to get rid of my markings. Well, let me see if I can make this point then. Your chapter is entitled. The cardinal difficulty. Of naturalism. The old title was. Self-contradiction. Oops. Of the naturalist self-contradiction cardinal difficulty. There are both problems. But Louis was president of the Socratic Club at Oxford, and they would read various papers to each other, maybe chapters of books they were doing and so on. And then they would discuss. At this particular discussion, he read while he was president, he read the Self-contradiction of the Naturalist present.


That night was a very young Anthony flew, whose name I think you should know. We'll probably talk about it sometime later but and and Jenny ask him Jim three initials and ask him she was a Viking Stein disciple and starting her career and I can't remember, to tell you the truth, whether H.H. Price was there at this particular meeting or not. But Louis actually quotes Price in a couple of spots. Or you can tell that he may not use Price's name, but he's using some distinctions the price makes like, well, so he reads this and his point is that. If you're a naturalist, you go around believing, believe it or not, that naturalism is true. That's what naturals do. They go around believing that the thing that's not naturalism is true. Okay, now. So you've got the thought. Naturalism is true. There's the textbook naturalist. I've actually used this person to represent theism in another context. Very flexible, very useful. Yeah. And yeah, if you're a scientist, it takes, you know, laboratory equipment things and a lot of grant money to support you. If you're a philosopher, you can just do this kind of stuff. Oh. So here's a thought bubble. Naturalism is true. Now. In other words, it's rational to believe that naturalism is true. But also naturalism entails this. If naturalism is true, then all events are physically caused. We talked about that in the earlier description of natural disasters causing closure to the world and that all events in the world are products of the ongoing operation of natural objects causes producing effects. If naturalism is true, then all events are physically caused. If all events this very controversial Jeremy Hanscom just really took him to task at the meeting, and that's why he changed the chapter.


But we'll put out the basic idea. If all events are physically caused, then the thought riding very clearly in mind, the thought that naturalism is true is physically caused. I'm going to need a bigger circle here. I'm going to close the loop. I'm just making a bigger loop than I envisioned. This would be like a failure of an experiment in a physics lab. Okay. If the thought naturalism is true is physically caused, then the thought. The nationalism is true. Cannot be rational. The background to that point is a pretty classical understanding that rational. Thought. Must be free to decide on logic. And evidence. So that would be behind that statement. So every event that occurs in a natural universe. Is physically caused by the interlocking system, including thoughts. And Lewis does. He does a little bit in the book here with talking about a nationalist view of mind. So there's a range of natural areas of mind. I can't get into all of them. Mind brain identity theory would be one where you take mind and brain as simply being identical, but without getting into, you know, a lot of those. Options that fall under the possibilities for naturalists to believe. Lewis thinks that this is fair. If you have this definition of rational thought is to see that it's put in jeopardy, is put in jeopardy by naturalism, including, interestingly, the thought that naturalism is true. But no thoughts, not just the thought that naturalism is true. No thoughts are rational if naturalism is true because they're physically caused. If you accept the classical definition that rational thought must be free and not caused by anything, free to decide based on the logic and the evidence presented, then you then you get this kind of a vicious circle in which the naturalist has caused himself or herself a serious problem.


Now, he presented this, like I say, it stimulated a lot of disagreement with Jenny Anscombe, and I can I can say a little bit about that. Don't get too far off. But he did revise based on on her her remarks, questions. Comments. Yes. I actually had this question before when we were talking about the three goals, and I was thinking that it's always defines that sort of a cause and effect or not defines, but explains the. Sequels to the cause and effect. Then why? Possibly the logical instead of physical, because in that case he would avoid this problem because it's a physical, like you said, learning from some of the rational. Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean, you've got to have if you're a naturalist, what's going to be attractive to you in terms of theories of mind would be either the mind just is the brain. Just is the brain, you know, ontological identity, identity theory, mind, brain. Or you could have a super variance theory that when certain brain processes are complex enough and so on, some new phenomenon, Super viens upon brain activity and you get super variance theories, none of which I think work, but the physical becomes the primary. And we know that the brain runs by electrochemical impulses that are shaped by its evolutionary past. We know all these things that we can say about the brain that make it under certain descriptions, purely a product itself of natural forces and itself is just a a a gear in the big machine. So whatever it produces, we know it was produced is going to produce things, but there's a causal. Force here. That makes me think what I think. And as long as one you know, some national say, well, that doesn't destroy rationality, we can come up with a different theory of rationality and still hold our ontology of either some version of supervisions or some some identity theory can get into all that.


I mean, further research, if you will. Person says, I really am interested in that. You could pursue some of this. But Lewis is just saying he thinks none of their works to give the mind what it's classically been understood to have, which is the ability to look at reasons and evidence and freely choose. That's what we've we've traditionally meant by rational belief. And so he thinks natural theories of mind undercut any traditional sense. Of rationality. And very interesting. So. So we can only talk about the law of logic. So my would be War of the Worlds. Apart from. That's why we can talk about it. Um, yeah, I mean, I. I do think it's hard for a naturalist to, um, if the mind is sort of too, because, I mean, the background idea here is the mind is determined input output. The mind is a deterministic machine or a deterministic set of functions. Such thought can no longer be looked at as based on logic and evidence and determinism and freedom. Then I really want to put at odds here. But if if you do, wittingly or unwittingly as a naturalist, if you do embrace determinism, one would think that your perception of logical laws would have to be determined and it would be a little bit difficult for me just on the spur of the moment to see how you could give them a status that I actually think they have. And I think they have that status in a theistic universe. But and I think their status is is self-evident and it does have on a logical bearing what can be, not be. And most naturalists that I know of agree to them a subset of natural things through human conventions. Many more theists are willing to, you know, philosophical fears are willing to say that their self-evident truths can't be changed.


The naturals are because naturally there's a fairly good group of NASA's that think humans made them up. Interestingly, logic fares better in a theistic universe. That's a side argument. I don't know if I really addressed what you were saying, but I kind of talked around. You gave me materials. I did my best. Sorry if I missed the target, I might have missed your exact target. Other questions, Comments. Just briefly, the Hanscom point here hearkens back to a debate that was really raging at the time. The distinction between reasons and causes. And she was saying just because something's caused it doesn't mean you can't have a reason for it. And apparently, he was a little off guard. And because I mean that you've got to be right in the middle of professional philosophy. To hear a point like that and engage it in my view, because that has a lot of background in professional. And he is well-educated, he's a classicist, he's a literary scholar. He took highest honors in philosophy, you know, at Oxford as an undergraduate. But you can you cannot beat up on the latest journal articles in or things like that. And so depending on whose description of that encounter you read, you'll hear either that Louis was totally devastated and demoralized or that he tried his best, did not have total technical vocabulary and, you know, able to use it and get in get into the intimate details of the issue with Anscombe. But then he kind of just let it be water off a duck's back. Others think she she just demoralized. And so it varies the accounts you read. I won't get into some of the debates about how to interpret that account, but it is true that he changed the title of the chapter.


It had some effect. And so rather than claim to see a contradiction, a contradiction would be if you claim something is free and not free, an outright contradiction or determined or not determined can't be both in the same sense at the same time. And so at the very least, he could look at that chapter and say, Is this really a problem for the naturalist about self-contradiction violating a law of logic, or is it still a very serious problem, still enough of a problem to be devastating nonetheless, But it's not really technically a violation of the law of self-contradiction. And how would I express the kind of problem it really is if it's not a problem of logic for saying contradicting yourself per se. And I would say we're in the we're in the neighborhood of characterizing it like this. It's in the way of the camera. Okay. Instead of self-contradiction, which has the form of asserting P and denying P at the same time. That's hard to see how his chapter has that effect, catching the natural in such an outright logical mistake. But something I think could be said along these lines about the kind of problem he's got that is self undercutting that's a little different, or you might say self-defeating. And that can always be different from from a pure self-contradiction. So when we come back from a brief break, I'll pick up there and we'll we'll go from there. Okay.