C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 16

Miracles (Part 4)

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.

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 16
Watching Now
Miracles (Part 4)

I. The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism (Chapter 3)

A. Naturalism vs. theism

B. Are our faculties adaptively-aimed or truth-aimed?

II. Net Result

A. A naturalist worldview precludes the possibility of a miracle happening

B. Exception to the laws of nature.

C. Conscience: A further difficulty in naturalism (chapter 5)

D. Two main proposals for the foundation of morality

  • 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 4)
Lesson Transcript


Last time we were together, we were talking about Lewis's argument from reason. And I think it's really both interesting and worthwhile and helpful to interact what we see in Lewis with contemporary voices, sometimes with classical voices as well. But last time we're talking about L Plantinga, who has developed an argument from Reason. It's a little different from Lewis's, but he actually gives Lewis credit for inspiring his thinking along these lines. And basically, if I actually made a mistake in showing you the pattern of planning his reasoning and I want to go back and correct that in a minute, I was just in a rush to kind of finish up the class. Time was gone, you know. And so that's my excuse. So whoever's editing this tape edited out the same thing a few minutes earlier on the on the tape and let this replace it. But planning is point very similar to Lewis's, but not identical to Lewis's planning. His point plays off of of the lowest point. That reason has to be free. That's more Lewis's point. And what's the problem with naturalism as a philosophical worldview And reason is that naturalism for Lewis implies determinism. At the very least, that's the problem. Because free will, the freedom to look at logic, the freedom to examine evidence and make up your mind, follow a chain of reasoning, that kind of thing. Freedom of determinism in that sense, don't go together. So that's Lewis and Plantinga. He realizes that. That's right. The classical understanding of what reasoning is does have a problem with naturalism. And yet he puts it a little differently. He puts it in terms of what? What gives warrant to our beliefs. If you look at Plato's writings in the Mino and some other places, I think this comes up for the Republican in one place too.


Definitely in the third. Titus Definitely in the third. Titus. The whole idea of what constitutes knowledge. We have beliefs. We know we have beliefs. Even the great skeptic, David HUME, knows that we have beliefs. And his point. Hume's point is what makes the knowledge. And Hume's ultimate conclusion, very briefly, is nothing can make them knowledge. Skepticism reigns. Skepticism trumps everything else. And in the Titus, for example, Plato stated us there are a couple of proposals at least made for what one added to belief makes it knowledge. And if a belief has belief in a proposition, a belief in something that we think of as a declarative sentence, that's only the abstract content of the sentence, like the snow is white, or I say it in German, the shiniest vice, and with the same abstract content. The verbal clothing is different, but the verbal content is the same between the snow as white and additionally as vice. So a belief then is belief in a proposition that can be is the sort of thing that can be true or false. A proposition either snow is white or it's not white, either true or false. So what is it added to a proposition that makes it knowledge? And that's been that's really been one of the stimulants for 2500 years in epistemology for trying to define what makes a belief knowledge, what is knowledge. And so planning has been a major voice in that area. And his his term is warrant and warrant has to do with having reliable cognitive faculties that are belief producing. But why believe those beliefs are true? Or likely to be true that we have. And part of what planning is is saying and I'm just abbreviating very much of his substantial contribution to contemporary epistemology is that we have to think that those faculties are operating, forming beliefs within an environment that's suitable for their operation.


So if you transplant our cognitive faculties to another dimension and we sort of have three dimensional perception. Or whatever. You wouldn't be able to say the beliefs you form when you're out of out of the environment that these cognitive faculties are kind of made for. You know, you would you wouldn't necessarily be able to say, oh, I still rely on what the what these cognitive faculties bring to my mind might not be able to. Things may not really be in this in this alien environment the way they seem to my faculty. That's possible. You know, so the point the planning of wants to make is classically we've always thought these faculties are aimed at finding what's true, that they will produce a preponderance of true beliefs when they're healthy and functioning and the environment is suitable, They'll produce a preponderance of true beliefs, not automatically always true. It's not easy or sometimes, sometimes it's still work. Getting our minds to kind of conform to and be adjusted to the way reality is around us. So his his word is warrant and he much more uses the term rationality. But Lewis uses reason, I think, more than he uses the term rationality and planning. His point is that it's truth aimed. If it's not truth aimed, you don't know what could give it warrant. Now his problem with naturalism. Goes a little further than Lewis's. Lewis saw this. Lewis was not blind to this. That philosophical naturalism, even in Lewis's day and before, like to include the idea that it's the scientific view and all the advances in evolutionary science claim those as well and incorporate them into sort of one total package. So what planning it does is talk about naturalism plus evolution as as the package and say that rationality, if it's going to be truth aimed, has a problem with this package of naturalism and evolution.


And for one thing, just in terms of the science of evolution, not evolution inflated or exaggerated to be a worldview about inevitable progress or something like that, just as the science goes, says that the kinds of structures and the kinds of functions that living beings develop are aimed at adaptive fitness. So aimed at adaptive fitness. This is kind of a summary of two or three pages in your notes, but I thought it'd be helpful. And so the problem then is that naturalism as a worldview has nothing more to say about our cognitive faculties. If it's going to team up with evolution and planning and believes that it can't say that that our current faculties are truth. So you can see, well, there can be evolutionary development, which there's clearly was brain development. So on perceptual faculties and other faculties that have adaptive value. But you can have adaptive value in the functioning of of an organism without it ever having to think about truth. You know, the the rabbit that tries to eat our roses out back when I try to scare it away. Hmm. It doesn't have a belief that I'm about to hurt it. It just instinctively takes off. So it's a the adaptive values to survive and to reproduce. That's evolution. That's and natural selection just to limit eliminates those organisms but can't do it as well as as their competitors. They won't have the advantage of surviving and passing on their genes. Okay. So you can see the tension over here between freedom and determinism is one thing. It's not totally absent, but it's kind of in the background. If it's there in the planning a material, so a planning, a the kind of tension he is, is trying to identify is between being truth aimed and being adaptively aimed because this this really person has nothing to do with truth adaptive ity.


Fitness for survival, so on. This is quite an elevated concept, really, the truth that the human mind could know truth and that we try to adjust. We're we're the kind of being unlike any other a product of evolution. We're the kind of being that actually tries to adjust what's inside our thought process to the way the world really is. And that's the question of truth. Now, that brings me to what I did last for a walk really slowly for the camera. I'm not in pain. Okay. That's what I did last time, the last few minutes. And here's what I don't have at this part out. But you can edit out what I did a little incorrectly at the end of the last period. Last week was planning this point is that this makes or if you if you see if you see this, it means the probability that your rationality is reliable, your cognitive faculties. That constitutes your rationale, but the probability. So this is probability that your faculties are reliable. Given naturalism and evolution, the is the logicians and the conjunction. Of naturalism. There's my role. Plus. So it's really the plus sign is this conjunction. Has the package given. That package is not clear that we can we can have a confident belief in the reliability. We don't think it's highly probable. We don't think it's sufficiently probable. And that constitutes a defeat or a defeat or for any belief we have a defeat or epistemic early. I might say God is good and God is all powerful. And I have a belief like that. And you might say, Oh yeah, but there's horrible evil in the world that a good God should have handled. So that's what that's a potential defeat or problem of evil, the objection from evil.


And can I can I overcome that defeat or will the tradition in the tradition in Christian thought has been to have several different strategies, some sort of defensive strategy, some are more offensive strategies to give positive explanations. That's a whole enterprise of trying to respond to a potential defeat or epistemic defeat or of a belief. So his point is that if we see that the probability of the reliability of our faculties, given both enemy, that is the conjunction only, but that is low. Once we see that we have a defeat or for all of our beliefs, including the belief that naturalism is true, it's one of our it's one of the beliefs that the natural would definitely have. That's what natural to do all day as they walk around that sort of harm to themselves. And they think naturalism is truth. La la la la la la. Nothing can touch me. La la la. You know, that's kind of what they do. So that's a defeat. And interestingly, it's of the theater that cannot be defeated. You wouldn't say that about the problem of evil. We'll see, you know, the outcome of the give and take, the attempted attempt at answers. How how well. But when you are talking about a defeat or for the belief in rationality and you can't have confidence in that, the most fundamental platform of human thought is is relying on the beliefs forming powers that we have, if you will have come. The reason it can't be defeated, it can't be overcome, is because the only way you can overcome it is by using reason and the confidence in reason has already been undercut. Does that make sense? So that's why it's a defeat of the can't be defeated on planning his argument.


So here's what we did last time. I tried to put up a little a little skeletal argument from that point on. What do we know that what do we know in terms of this context of discussion? We know that the combination of naturalism and evolution has to be rejected. So we put the tilde the knot. It's not the case that those two things conjoined can be accepted. The conjunction of the two, the package has to be rejected. Well, I think I've screwed up from there on last time. So this gets it right. This sets the slate clean. So to say that is then equivalent to saying this. Oops. Yeah. Not e. I mean, not in or naughty. I think that's where I kind of messed up last time. I'm from remembering correctly, so that's just equivalent. So logically, that's equal. If not both, then either not this or not this, or possibly not both, but now. So that's that's the conclusion. That's the intermediate conclusion. Reject. You've got to reject that package, which is really the package of the new atheists in our culture. Yes. Your notation is saying neither one to be true. No, this is saying this thing that cannot both be true. And honestly. Oh, I'm sorry. I screwed up again, man. That's the order. So this is and conjunction. This is or. No, I got it right. Thank you. Yeah. So this is equivalent of this. Sorry. So you one of the either either not this or not this or possibly not either one of them. That's okay. That's consistent with this as well. But then planning this says what? We know something else. Evolution is highly confirmed. You have so many. Science is falling apart. If it weren't true now that so many of their different aspects on the evolutionary story of the universe has been so highly confirmed.


So we know this probably is reasonable to affirm. What we're after is the package. The package is unacceptable. So. So either not this or not this or possibly not both. That's what this says. But it can't be this. We accept this on on other grounds. Then there's the natural is like it for their own purposes. We accept on scientific grounds. Okay. If that's true, then we know this is true. So the problem all along. The worm in the bud, as they say, was naturalism. So just like Louis, through a different route, an interesting route, but through a different route a little bit, just like Lewis, he comes up with the reason to deny naturalism. Naturalism is the problem that gives you this. Then as a theorist, Lewis. Lewis playing us simply says, Oh, maybe. Maybe, you know, you admit. You admit the mechanism of evolution of natural selection according to adaptive fitness. But maybe God somehow guided the production of human brains in evolutionary history to make them also, truth aimed doesn't deny any of this that there are adaptive adaptive characteristics that come along with the brain evolution, but it can have this other as well which evolution can really on its own terms, not explain it, doesn't contradict it, it doesn't deny it, it just can't explain it. The fact that on the face of this universe, on at least one planet Earth, something has emerged that thinks about truth and goodness and beauty and other things as well that just don't seem to be extensions of the evolutionary process. Best science can tell. So I think that's that that's that's really more fair to the comparison I want to make between Lewis probably 50 some years ago or so in miracles there and then planning A who's been marketing this in various forms for, I don't know, a couple of decades.


This recently came out in one form in his public debate with Dan Dannatt. And that debate was like, I don't know, four or five years ago and Oxford's published it now and it's very thin little book. And that's that's what Planning is bringing right up to Dennett. And in my view, then it just doesn't understand it and therefore does not rebut this. Yes, it's fine. You're also facing it. Free of freedom versus determinism. That's why I say if it's there, it's kind of an echo because I think I think it's in the background because to be true themed, something has to be going on with human rationality other than just operating for adaptive purposes. I mean, we can think of abstract mathematical theories that we know no application for whatsoever. We can think about things that are beautiful and good but may not even have good survival value. So the long list you can begin to pile up of capabilities of human rationality that go far beyond adaptive beauty. You know, you couldn't say that those are a side effect or something that isn't actually it's a side effect of something else that's going on within us. That was that was the term. And then eventually, maybe they can say that they can make a proposal and then they can be in the intellectual arena. It can be subject to give and take, pro and con, rebuttal and defense. And there are you know, there's a a range of naturalist viewpoints. They they share what they share most is that there's no supernatural, but they also share the view that nature alone is real. But how that plays out can vary on their time in history when when they expressing what they're expressing. Naturalists in the Enlightenment very much loved Newton, Newtonian mechanics.


So there's a flavor of that. But now it is true that a lot of naturals have have learned how to parlay evolutionary science to their benefit, but they can always propose it and it enters the intellectual arena for scrutiny. That our thoughts of beauty or higher mathematics. Either they, they or. I don't. I don't I don't see how they would be determined by myself. But I'm aware of literature that debates this out, you know, from both sides. I don't think they win. They picked the wrong horse. I mean, you know, and partly they were able to pick it because Christians relinquished some science in evolution. And enough of them just didn't have the categories that I mean. Here's Michael Ruiz. We've been trying to finish up our book together. He's an accommodationist. He believes, hey, you could be a theist, you could be a Christian and believe in the integrity of science, but be paranoid of it. You can even believe that evolution shown by so many different disciplines, from astrophysics to geology to comparative morphology, to, you know, just the molecular genetics that so many disciplines have now shown, that that's really that's really the truth about biology. And so the idea that they're they can't get along even Ruess doesn't think that now. Dawkins these more extreme he thinks that evolution and Chris can't get along, science can't get along, Christianity and so on. But he believes that the more comfortable fit, the more integrated package worldview package is with naturalism in Darwinian evolution. And even though he agrees that Christianity could accommodate, you know, it's still not as well integrated, it's clunky, Christians don't really have the ability to articulate how it all gets framed up. So naturalists even have a different range of opinions about what they're doing as well as what the other side is doing.


You know, And so me personally, I'm not happy then to arguing for just arguing that Christianity and science don't conflict. That's a weak sissy little thesis on my view. I want to claim it all. Whatever is true is God's truth, and we're not surrendering to anybody. And so the idea is I've got I've got an obligation to articulate. Likewise, the other side has an obligation. And when it comes to things like this, things that don't seem directly mental activities aimed at survival. They've got articulate. So I didn't see anything very specific in my response to what you were saying. But, you know, there's a literature out there that a person could get into. They want to get into it. And that rules would vary a little bit. Some say, no, no, no, we're not determine us. Well, then what do you think? What do you think free will is? Well, you know, they may still not have a very robust view or what do you think mental freedom as well is? That's going to vary. It could be just mere verbal similarity. Shouldn't be fooled by mere verbal similarity. You know, so we have to dig down and get the nuts and bolts of what they're saying. But anyway, I wanted to correct for sure what got on tape last time, and that was this little deal over here. Is this clearer? Just better than I think it's better than what it did last time. Other questions, your comments. Well, think about what's the net result. Pause and think about where we've come to at this point in discussing our way through miracles. We started with the definition that a miracle is a violation of law of nature by a supernatural force or being. Lewis accepts that.


HUME Accepts that. That's pretty, pretty textbook standard. Then a conception of nature that the naturalist holds is that nature is closed to anything from the outside, and that nature is the fundamental reality. You add in the idea that it runs by its own laws. You get a rather deterministic view. Hey, it's just going to produce events in the ongoing history of the universe that are basically dictated by how the objects in the universe behave. In January 30 facts and so goes the unfolding history of the universe. And we as members of the universe are just objects. We have brains, and those brains themselves are in that network of cause and effect. So Lewis was kind of operating his argument, like we were saying earlier, that that's a deterministic perspective. And in the end, and no wonder if you hold that perspective, you believe a priori without argument that miracles are impossible. They're in principle impossible. You rule it out without without evidence. You've got to figure out is even subject to evidence. That's a different question. But you rule it out as a worldview commitment. It's an assumption. And what Lewis is saying is, if you think that you think that naturalism is true, surely you would have to think my view is true. He's saying the truth is a sort of thing that Reason deals with, but it has to do so freely. So there's your tension. You can't believe that naturalism is true in the classical sense because your own determinism undercuts reason's freedom to look at logic and evidence. And therefore, if reason doesn't have the freedom to look logic in evidence, it cannot think anything true. It's really just caused or determined to think what it thinks. If it happens to be true, so be it.


Lucky accident does not because Reason is actually tuned in to truth. What it generates as a belief may be true. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. So as true or false. But it's is not because reason is is is free to do that. It's just a coincidence. That's not good enough to rationally believe any position, including the natural position. So Lewis thinks he's undercut the naturalists ability to claim that the natural position, the belief that naturalism is true. Is rationally held. Now, that is pretty much what planning is saying. He just adds in very deliberately all the talk of evolution that's out there in contemporary society and and does a clever sort of a clever modification of the basic instinct I think Louis was working with. So rationality has got to be free to be truth aimed. Questions. Comments. Remember what I said about funerals. Don't try to tag along. Yes. How is the whole concept of this different from the sense of justice that. Actually, that's where I'm going. In fact, I think I failed to draw my to draw. My big conclusion was that if reason is able to function rationally and is not just determined or in planning is language if reason. Is truth aimed and not just not merely fitness aimed. Then we have found an exception to the Naturalist's Principle. It's not true that everything is totally determined and that only what happens in the system of nature is determined by the laws of nature. We it looks to us if Lewis is right, he says if I'm right. Not only does the naturalist not have any reason to think that he or she is right. His reasons have been undercut, just like planning was saying. It's being undercut. But it looks like nature is pockmarked.


Were things that violate its lawful operation. Because things are happening in human rationality, finite rationality that are not totally functions of the operational nature. So bingo got one exception, and to deny that exception is to undercut the rationality of your own position. So I'm saying okay, now. So exception to the laws of nature, that's what's on the table. That was the net result. That's I think what we've come to is. He's got that except the next move he makes, which I think is in chapter five. He calls it a further difficulty, a further difficulty of naturalism. And he brings up the matter of conscience, which touches base with your question about mere Christianity. That is, maybe not just what we think about what is true, but what we think about what is good and right. So one of our one of our faculties is conscience and delivers beliefs to us about what's good. And right now, his argument is for the rationality stuff. See if I can picture it this way If this is nature and the naturalist interpretation of nature is this is all there is. There is no super nature, nothing beyond nature, nothing that could even interfere. Interfere with nature is moving along by its own operations. And science tells us more and more in detail how a lot of stuff works. And that's that's all there is. So Louis looks at reason as something that's present, so to speak, in nature, but not a product completely of natural forces. So he used reason then as kind of a flag planted. Nature's pock marked with rational thought in the form of every human being that's ever lived. So, oh, there's an anger from something that's not nature. Not totally nature. There's an anchor.


For something outside of nature. Likewise, conscience makes a parallel argument, and that argument we did enough of probably in in Christianity that we don't need to do it at the length we did. The reason argument now here in miracles. But he does bring it up as a chapter because his thought pretty much weaves together. When you read enough of Louis, it weaves together. So he won't say much of anything here that the disagrees with his point in mirror in Christianity it's just he's inserting it into a kind of a different apologetic strategy which is finding an exception. He was that was really not his point in that literal way. But you find an exception. You find an anchor of something higher, a higher, something higher that's concerned with reason, concerned with goodness. I'm sorry. Is concerned with truth. I mean, that would be reason. It was concerned with goodness. So those are signposts. Those are markers. And you see that in your Christianity. But in in Christianity, for the early chapters of the book, it's kind of like an inference here is conscience, here's our moral awareness, and I'm going to infer from that to God. It's in. Later in the book, More Christianity. He begins to get into the comparisons between naturalism, dualism, Pantha, And I'm much more into the comparisons ultimately because an inference only looks, you know, good one is better than another system. Another worldview can make an inference regarding the same issue. So for Lewis, naturalism cannot explain why reasoning conscience have a kind of a transcendent quality. And they they cannot be totally absorbed in natural process when they are by the more extreme forms of naturalism. It looks like reason gets undercut so that we have a defeat or for any belief we'd ever have.


That reason produces that's self-defeating, that ends in utter skepticism or moral awareness gets undercut, which means that there's no objective, right or wrong. So that that's that's his point. In this chapter five, he says, for example, conscience cannot simply be a product of nature. Well, that's his point. Earlier reason and his desire for truth cannot be purely a product of nature. Now in mere Christianity. If you remember correctly, he talked about ways of trying to explain morality that are ultimately relativistic, and they try to explain away the ultimate see and the objectivity, really the normativity of of the moral rules, the moral laws, more principles we think of remembering their Christianity. He says some people have theories of herd instinct, but we've come to call it morality, Polish it up, call it morality. But it's really something like herd instinct. Or it could be something that societies agree that they, in a more conscious way, more than instinctively, they just say, unless we abide by these rules, we're not going to survive. So we're going impose these rules, teach these rules, everybody in society. So these would be ways of kind of not having to admit that morality is a kind of a flag post planted within nature. Just like reason, Lewis says, is a flag post plan with the nature that we should take as a pointer. An indicator that there's something higher in nature is not all there is. Now, if you if you talk to our if you go to contemporary discussions, particularly in evolutionary biology and so on, you get all these really interesting new fields in the last few decades. Last couple of decades, sociobiology. E.O. Wilson at Harvard, you know, is big. He was an ant specialist and how an ant societies operate.


So that makes him very well qualified, I guess, to pontificate about how human societies operate. But I'll spare you my commentary. Or you. So sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, how we have deep evolutionary themes and drives in our psychology and with the higher level mental functioning emerging in humans. We simply. Sort of consciously articulate what they are. Those those drives are we've got drives for sex, we've got drives for food, we've got drives for a number of things. But so evolutionary psychology looks at those and makes those kind of the basis of morality. I think the upshot of these discussions, sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, would be that there are about two main proposals, two main proposals for the foundations of morality in human life. Both have evolutionary origins. One would be a kin selection. Kin selection that that is, it's a very strong evolutionary principle that we watch out for our offspring and that we are shepherding our genes. We're shepherding the transmission of our genes through successive generations. I know James Thorburn, my boss, missed the public debate between Peterson and Roos last year at this time. He had twins born to his daughter out in Saint Louis. He was out of here, but he wrote loose roofs, a letter apologizing. He really wanted to be there. And and it's a hilarious letter. And the letter says something like, I'm sure you'll understand that I was I was out shepherding my genes and things like that. And I thought, well, evolutionist would, you know, understand, but apparently twins. So there you go. Double the trouble, double the genes. So kin selection seems to underlie a lot of evolutionary morality. You favor who's got your genes over those who don't. Now, the other would be reciprocal altruism, because we do see altruism where we give for the other.


The point of sociobiology and so on. These these fields with a deep evolutionary shape say, Oh, yeah, there's altruism, but it's reciprocal. It's quid pro quo somehow in the society in which altruism operates. I do this for you, but you do this for me, and you see these in lower animal species. You see reciprocal altruism. And the point then would be to to project reciprocal altruism onto a lot of human behavior. But we've polished it up. We've elevated how we talk about it. But the evolutionary description of it would want to say, well, what's behind that is still is still reciprocal altruism. And or as you said a minute ago, kin selection. So that's just that's just a little bit more of an updated discussion of ways the naturalists have have grasped on to this scientific insight or that scientific insight in order to kind of block having to say conscience. Moral awareness is a pointer to something transcendent. So I'm saying. And. The question then, of course, is, is that a sufficient block? Is is that really effective in my response? I can't give you my whole response, but my response is that both of the extremes in the debate dichotomies, it's either God telling us or giving us the awareness directly somehow, or it's evolutionary themes working their way through. And it's like I told Michael publicly last year when he brought this up. So what if their evolutionary origins are live in a creation incarnation or sacramental world where matter and its various operations do form the basis of what eventually became human beings? So the point is, human morality is not reducible just to reciprocal altruism. It may involve in our evolutionary history, reciprocal altruism among the primates. Heck, it's there among the ants.


Yeah. So it's really it's I think it's just a big so what? So you break the dichotomy and, you know, you don't have to commit some of the fallacies of the extreme advocates of of of religion. But then you also basically just sidestep what looks to the critic, the naturalist, to be a really good criticism. But hey, there's a dichotomy. It in be the religious explanation of conscience God is behind or nature. You see God created nature to creation or to creation or theological understanding. And isn't it isn't it strange that so many of the higher things we have come to recognize and to embody and to aspire to are rooted in the physical? This goes to show you we are dust that walks upright. And so so that's that's just a little commentary on chapter five here, since we've already done Lewis's argument from reasoned argument from conscience. I'm just reframing it for the strategy of this book. Miracles. The strategy is at least early in the book, the strategy is let's find an exception to the naturalist principle that there's no violation of nature. And so now he's got two on the table. Reason Conscience. I need a break. I need a drink. I've just water. I'm going to get my water. And I also need much darker markers. I hate this sissy blue collar. I think a nice black color would would make me more credible when I ride on the on the white board. So I'm going to find a marker somewhere. We say 10 minutes. Okay.