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C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 17

Miracles (Part 5)

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.

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 17
Watching Now
Miracles (Part 5)

I. Answers to Misgivings (Chapter 6)

A. Materialists vs. substance dualists

B. Emergentist

C. Comparing the mind to a machine.

D. Naturalism as a worldview

E. Summary of the difference between naturalism and theism from Lewis’s point of view.

F. Divine action


Lessons
About
Transcript
  • 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. 

 

Recommended Reading:

C. S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview, Michael L. Peterson

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis 

Miracles, C.S. Lewis

The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis 

A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis

The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis

The Great Dance: The Christian Vision Revisited, C. Baxter Kruger 

Real Presence: The Glory of Christ with Us and Within Us, Leanne Payne 

C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason, Victor Reppert 

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll 

Glittering Vices, Rebecca DeYoung 

Vanishing Grace, Phillip Yancey 

Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis 

God and Other Minds, Alvin Plantinga 

The Nature of Necessity, Alvin Plantinga 

The God Who Risks, John Sanders 

Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God, Marilyn Adams

Dr. Michael Peterson

C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy

ap530-17

Miracles (Part 5)

Lesson Transcript

 

Questions loose ends from what we've been talking about. That chapter five, you know, is the reason it could be shorter. And I think our discussion over it could be shorter because he's really laid his argument pattern out with respect to reason. And now he can almost use the very same argument pattern argument strategy with respect to conscience. And I don't need to discuss that to the extent that we did the other. Okay. If we move on to chapter six, we talk our way through chapter six. He entitled That Answers to Misgivings. And he admits early on that rational thinking is conditioned. And to say that means it is dependent in some ways upon the brain, upon bodily functions and everything else. He does say earlier before this chapter that the mind and the brain, the mind and the body don't have a symmetrical relation. We have an asymmetrical relation. So the brain just is not the mind. And the mind is not just the brain. The mind is something different, but it's related to the brain. If some relation of brain, not no relation of brain without relations, not totally symmetrical. And he says that's okay because we don't have to act like mind is has no physical conditions which make it operate, that it doesn't have to have a physical ground somehow. We don't have to we don't have to think that. But he says what we do. He thinks what we do have to see if we follow his argument the way he wants us to is that rational thought? And of course, also moral consciousness, which is now the other item that he's he's brought up in this regard, that rational thought and moral consciousness are points of entry of the supernatural into the realm of the natural.

 

That does not mean that the natural is irrelevant or doesn't somehow flavor or provide a a ground for these higher operations. He says clearly what he's calling the non-natural mind and conscience or the supernatural mind and conscience are supernatural for Lewis because they're not totally products of nature. So he says, clearly you could adopt a frame of reference, a framework of interpretation that treats them as totally natural. Sure you could. You can step within any given science and simply, let's say, brain science, neuroscience and say when you have a belief or an emotion or whatever, we can do something like an fMRI functional magnetic resonance imaging where it's not just static, you know, we've trace the function, we see what parts of the brain light up. So there there are brain states. Neural states correlated with your thought that the snow is white or that God is good. But that doesn't mean your thought is reducible totally to that brain state. Let's say he doesn't get into neuroscience and all that's decades later we're able to talk that language. But he makes the general point correctly that you can treat these as natural phenomena, purely natural, and the frame of reference you adopt is going to determine what what to what extent you can see its full reality. So if you say, I'm going to treat this as a neuroscientist, well then pretty much what occurs in the mind is correlate with brain states. You have much more to say. His brain states nothing wrong with that. It's not false. It's not false that thoughts are crawling with brain states. But then the problem comes when you reduce it and say That's all mind is mind is nothing but or let's say, moral, moral sentiments.

 

What I think about a morally good action. I'll have a certain brain, a certain part of my brain will light up on an MRI. That doesn't mean that moral sentiments are nothing but brain states. So again, that kind of goes to my earlier point that I would be careful about thinking that to defend my religion, so to speak, I had to play off a dichotomy. That's what the other extreme side does as well. They think there's a dichotomy between the natural, the supernatural, such that it's going to be one or the other. And I don't want to defend the idea of a self, mind, soul, whatever that is, that we label as the part of us that makes us transcend nature is not antagonistic toward nature. It's not inimical to nature. It's rooted in and in certain ways. But as I think I mentioned maybe last week, I think a helpful view is to say it's it's emerging out of out of it when when nature reach reaches a certain level of complication, complexity, we get powers and properties that appear that do not appear at the next lower state of complexity. I think it's really interesting and I have no trouble, you know, with with saying whatever science can tell us about physical things that correlate with our thinking, great. Whatever science can tell us that correlate with our moral awareness. You know, there are physical correlates, great. No paranoia. But the the alertness has to be to point out really to both extreme sides, no dichotomies. The economists make make both sides think that they can. It's either their way or the highway. Yeah, there's a correlation. What's your view on how to say? Where do you find causation from correlation? Does it matter whether the cause is causing brain states or causing be irrational and is a good point.

 

I'm glad you said that. That I mean, these are sort of fine points that I think being several decades from the time he wrote this. You know, we're about half a century down the pike here. So we have a lot new of new science. And he knows in principle, he knows the score in principle that we're related to nature very intimately. We now can say with more scientific precision some of the ways neuroscience, other things have come along and made some amazing advances. So if I'm going to if I'm going, let's just say, you know, I wouldn't I'm not on a crusade for this, but. But between materialism with the one side, which tends to be the view of persons that the natural most matters are materialist with respect to the nature of human persons. The other extreme would be, I think, the substance duelists the people who believe that mind and brain, soul and body, whatever you want to say, are two separate substances. And somehow in our temporary, fleeting earthly existence, those two substances got mixed. They got combined. But at death, earthly death, one substance will die and decay, and the other will continue in with its full integrity, thinking, judging awareness, blah, blah, blah. Really. So at any rate, and within the Christian community, that's clearly a big a big option. I think it's not an option for me because my metaphysics won't allow it. My metaphysics are too earthy and it makes no theological bread for me because we're one kind of thing, a human kind of thing. And that's that's rationality and animality inseparably combined. And death is an enemy. It'll destroy everything that we are. And that's why I'm not looking for immortality of the soul, but resurrection of the dead, where there'll be a healing and wholeness of everything that we are.

 

And who would have thunk that material life would be taken up into the Godhead in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, combined with the sun in the thing one, let alone think that all of material life has a destiny, does not be not, not going to be a big discard. God must have low matter. He created a lot of it. So resurrection of the dead and some kind of restoration. I have no formula for that. I'm leaving that to God. But my hope is not built on immortality of the soul. Like there's something intrinsic about some substance called mind or some substance called soul that's going to condemn it. It doesn't matter the lot. It just doesn't matter. And so having said that, I'm trying to trying to point attention to the intimate relation between mind and body, or we say might say mind and brain. And that relation, I think if I'm an emergent I'm not a materialist on the one side or dualist on the other side, let's say I'm an emergent dualist, that the emergence comes from increasing complexity in the natural process, that our brain is the most complex object in the universe. This is the way it is. Like Michelangelo knew that then he Do you ever look at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where God is touching? Adam What's that figure behind God? Human brain? He also was an anatomist. And so very interesting suggestion that the God figure in touching Adam, not the other animals, but in touching Adam. Something is happening to take the animal form. It's reached a certain degree of complexity to another level. So emergence comes from the natural realm getting increasingly complex, but dualist in in function as opposed to in substance.

 

So I don't have any big love for such as dualism. That's that's platonism in one form or another, or Cartesian ism in one form or another. There's a lot of room for discussion here, you know, and you've got other places on the scale. You've got Nancy Murphy and not reductive physical ism, non reductive physical. I don't think that works. But Nancy Murphy out at Fuller does a lot with that within her Christian philosophical and theological work, you know, So that'd be kind of between here and here. So bringing this framework to try to answer your question because you might be thinking, is he really going to answer my question? Does he even remember my question? All good, all good thoughts, all having some justification. But I'm still going 90 miles an hour in my in my mind because I couldn't go more than 50 miles an hour behind that funeral procession. But before I got here, I'm still all worked up. But at any rate, the mind brain. Relation is not, I think, really easy to talk about. We don't have a lot of time to go real deep, but part of what the emergent dualist position says is that with a certain level of brain complexity, neural complexity, all there, there is these higher functions that can arise and we call it mind or soul or what, but it's being generated by no course. But once it arises, we might even grant something like this in everything sub human, the mind brain relation. Well, there's no mind. So the brain is running the show and we attribute, as Lewis sometimes does attribute to animals, you know, like in his fantasy thoughts and so on. But with, with, with the human you get the mind brain relation where the brain and instincts and things of that nature that don't have free choice, don't have rational thought, dominate their behavior patterns.

 

Oh, here the mind oh can it can exert causality, it can exert influence on the brain. Like right now I could choose to think, what if I was still behind that funeral procession? And I was still really frustrated. My heart was beating fast. I knew a class was desperate to hear my thoughts in a lecture format, and I was feeling so bad that you might miss just a minute or two. Little did I know Tom would be up here, you know? So there you go. You're there. You got my back. But here the causality, the different types of causality appropriate to the purely physical even you get more sophisticated in the higher animals is still, let's just call them subhuman, dominated by brain function. There are different kinds of causality at the physical level. When we get to the level of mind, the emergence of mind it can exert, the claim is it can exert top down causality. If it couldn't do that and it was still being controlled from below the same things that controlled the subhuman animals, instincts, chemical combinations in the brain, blah, blah, blah, whatever. Well then you haven't really made the proper emergent step. A new level really hasn't emerged. So to make it a distinct level rooted, rooted nonetheless in the lower levels, it has to have new powers and properties, including freedom and causal power that it can exert not only on the brain but on the whole body. And through our body we change the world. I act. I behave according to how I think. So the emergent dualism is trying to articulate that, that there's a top down causality that's new in the world that has emerged. Freedom to think about logic and evidence, but also freedom to think about what's good and right and to act upon what's good and right.

 

So the idea that I'm an agent of free moral agent, as well as a free, rational agent, are big. So that's what we want to say, is that there's a causality that the mind really can operate. If it was just this way, we mistakenly thought we had a mind that was free and had new powers from state, then the brain would still be controlling. We just be under an illusion. So you've got it. But. But. But when you buy time, you say the mind has influence on the brain. We can't ignore that the brain has influence on the mind. And for example, do you know the God helmet? The God helmet? The God helmet is Robert Persinger. You know, there's some other researchers. I can't remember what their names were. Person's name is often associated. They did a kind of a cap, a helmet with different electrodes, stimulate different parts of the brain. And you can also just do a reading, an MRI, a reading of the brain. And during religious meditation, we already know that certain parts of the brain light up on the MRI. And so you can put that helmet on somebody and kind of stimulate those exact areas we know about, and they'll report having feelings of deep bliss of someone else being in the room. That's the God help us even Google it. So I could give me one of those. Anyway, it's my prayer. Life could stand a bit. No, but I would I would advise, you know, improving your life some other way of might as well. But. Or what if there's brain damage? You lose your ability to think so much, you lose your inhibitions. So. So the brain still has an impact. We're conditioned. That's why I lose this point without some of the technical language loses point.

 

Hey, I thought he said, I'm not denying it's conditioned. It's conditioned, but it's not reducible. It's conditioned by, but it's not reducible to the brain. There's. This is split brain experiments. Now, I won't get this. This gets kind of geeky, you know? You know, you can have people who sometimes, for medical reasons, head to the brain split. And then some just have it happen because of accidents. And like Phineas Gage, you know, the railroad worker who actually got to a railroad spike into his skull. But Google, I can't I can't repeat that. It's a little messy. He lived the change in having a railroad spike, you know, through your skull. You might suppose that can make a few changes. Okay. Now, one thing, then that again, is, in a way, just different, different ways of kind of getting at the same fundamental point. But I think it's good to seem like we're walking around the subject and looking at from these different perspectives and kind of verbalizing it a little differently as we go, because I think it helps us sink in. We can own it more. We we incite what's being done more and more. Here's another way to say it and. One thing about the physical, just kind of use of Newtonian image. It runs like a machine. So it runs by mechanical causes. Sarah Well, what about quantum mechanics and all the new scientific advances that relate to randomness and probability rather than structure, I think. I think it's still a machine that has those features because we can still make laws, quantum laws about probabilities. I mean, not know exactly which particle of a piece of uranium is going to decay at any given time. But I know the steady rate.

 

So I grant you, there's a randomness of decay that's going to decay at a rate. And so I'm not going to get into those fine points. But if we characterize the physical as running by mechanical causes, this is nature, the physical nature. Mine, though, is rational and it runs in a way it's purposive. We might call those teleological causes. So that between the two worldviews, theism and naturalism. You've got to pick ultimate reality, the fundamental reality of the universe is it nature, which case everything else is derivative. Even what we call mind, it's just point or conscience or is what's fundamental reality. Something very much like mind, in which case everything else is derivative, including what we call nature or finite mind, which kind of have to pick. And that's this. That's the tension and potential lines between naturalism and theism on this point. And notice the difference in explanatory scheme for the naturalist. Another way of saying what Lewis has been working with in attacking the naturalist is they think everything operates by mechanical clock, mechanical causes, and if those are locked in a closed system, deterministically cannot be invaded, cannot be interrupted, couldn't couldn't even countenance the idea of a miracle, something inserting itself. Whereas if mind is fundamental, then the fundamental reality is rational. It runs by purposes meaning that the deepest explanations, the deepest explanations in reality are purposive. What are the purposes of this mind? So if you if you give a naturalist explanation of mine, like we were saying earlier, it's basically a mechanical explanation. This brain processes certain chemical chemicals in the brain or it's this or that, but somehow it's a physical product that's a mechanical explanation. So mechanical causes, if they're made fundamental along with physical nature, there's made fundamental wipe out, eliminate, exclude any possibility of real teleology in the universe.

 

There could be only a parent or seeming the making sense of it, meaning the meaning of life, the purpose of everything, purpose for ourselves. It's all just part of the mechanism. However, if purposive or teleological explanations referring to why God, why this mind is doing things with the world, if their fundamental they don't exclude mechanical. But mechanicals. Not as deep as they are. It's hard to say. God operates by mechanical causes. The supreme mind of the universe is something else is going on. Besides, he's operating by Newtonian mechanics or something like that. I think it's an interesting way of looking at it that teleological explanations are primary. Questions. Comments. So far, I'm just talking my way through Louis and Hope. Hopefully this is helpful. It gives you a little philosophical texture to sort of gauge. Is what Louis is saying credible? Will it really play philosophically or in an apologetic con? I think it will, but I don't think it hurts to go ahead and put some fine points on what he's saying and interact what he's saying with some contemporary understanding. So that's that's what I'm trying to do, is talk my way through it for those purposes. I guess I have a teleological aim. One thing I don't think we talked about earlier, but I think it's relevant to this chapter having to do with the success of science, how science plays in to the discussion of naturalism, particularly these days. What's really what's really the objectionable thing about naturalism? Is it taking the posture of philosophical worldview? But interestingly, language has been developed over the last several decades about scientific method, calling it methodological naturalism. So philosophical or methodological naturalism and. I think that a number of religious people in particular don't make this distinction.

 

But I have to say people on the other side don't make this distinction very well either. Again, so much of what we see in our sources, in our societal discussion of this is full of dichotomies and dualism. But philosophical naturalism can't countenance God, can't countenance any of the kinds of valuable things that a theistic or Christian worldview wants, the dignity of persons, the ultimate dignity of persons, validity of rational thought, all those things. So Lewis correctly goes after he goes after naturalism, as a philosophy, as a worldview. And he's really never attacking methodological naturalism. Science as a mode of knowledge can treat nature in such a way as to only look for natural causes. For the events that are studying, just looking for natural causes. There's nothing wrong with that. I mean, if I go out in the parking lot here after work today and try to start my car and it doesn't start, my first thought would not be, I wonder if a demon did this or if I wonder if an unseen spirit did this or a witch has. October could be a witch. So I'm going to start treating it. Hey, there's a natural phenomenon car not starting. And I know something about the mechanics and I'm just going to begin to do my detective work and figure out what's the purely natural cause for a purely natural event. So there's nothing wrong with treating events that way. And Lewis never he never criticizes that. But you get you know, there's always a spectrum and you do get the new atheists on the one side and a lot of and a lot of thinkers including the intelligent design group on the other side who think that treating science as a method like that tilts the rational scales toward adopting philosophical naturalism.

 

I don't see that at all. Way too many scientists are Christians. Believers are very good at what they do, that kind of thing, and doesn't tip their rational scales. So that's that's anecdotal, but there's nothing in principle that says a believing Christian can't engage in a robust scientific investigation. So again, there's nothing about saying we're going to treat things a certain way. I can look at the brain and say, when when you have a certain thought, I'm just going to look with methodological naturalism. I'm just going to look at what the brain behavior is. The brain response. I can't tell you what else thought is above brain response. I'm not denying it so on, but I'm only studying it this way. Likewise, I can take nature as a whole and I can try to come up with a kind of a description of a story of the scientific story of the cosmos. And we're piecing that together remarkably as time goes along from beginning to, you know, beginning to project the end billions of years out. So there's nothing wrong with that. But there would be wrong if I would if I would step over the conceptual boundary line and say, and the cosmos is all there is. See, my methodology won't allow me to say that. That's a philosophical statement. It's what the natural source. Okay. So. There's no reason that the science offered by mythological naturalism. This is a book on miracles. There's no reason the science operating legitimately by methodological naturalism has anything to say about the possibility of miracles. And I haven't worked out my thinking on this totally, but I'm pretty close to being willing to say it. Couldn't say anything about the actuality of miracles either. I'm working on my thinking on that.

 

Totally. But you think if it's only got this method, that means it doesn't even have the vocabulary of a miracle. It can only speak up in terms of what's low like behavior. Something is a violation of law. It can speak it. Really, any anomaly that we couldn't explain in the past, we say, well, I don't know exactly what natural law there is that produced that event X, that phenomenon X, but I assume there's a natural explanation. And one of these days we'll be able to articulate the law or the laws that brought this about through their normal operation. But we just don't know it now because human knowledge is always in a state of progress and completion. So science could move or how could it do that? If it's if it's methodologically naturalistic, inappropriately so. How could they ever talk about the supernatural? That's just kind of an interesting point. So it's not that we're we're not. C Lewis is trying to really gain conceptual space for the idea of miracle and for the real possibility. And later in the book, he's going to talk about some real miracles, particularly in the New Testament, right? Miracles of the old creation, miracles of the new creation is really rich stuff that nobody ever talks about when they talk about this, because we're really talking about the most people want to talk with the apologetic arguments are from reason, argument from morality, you know, but that's later in the book. But you has he hasn't even carved out enough conceptual space yet in the modern mind to think properly about miracles. So a lot of this is like just doing a little therapy here, a little therapy there, clarifying this, clarifying that so science could say something's unexplained, but it's always going to say if we're to explain it by our method, within our framework, I have to treat it as a natural phenomena.

 

So the question of miracles, it's their very possibility. Science cannot address naturalism as a philosophy can. Its rules are not by, by, by presupposition. They don't occur. The not just the possibility cannot science address, but seems to me the actuality. Science cannot address. I think that's interesting. Something that's not that could be addressed. It must be something else by by means of which we would address the question. Yeah. Okay. So maybe my message is that, you know, I'm misunderstanding how you use the science. Let's say that in the case of a doctor in a clinic that has a patient who is, you know, inspired by all of his his scientific training. Yeah. And of course, he comes back to life. Yup. After 6 hours. Yup. Are you saying he's. What is he doing? Is he's say he throws his hands up and saying yep. As a scientist I can't, I can't touch this. No, he's saying as a scientist I have to assume medical doctors really are different from scientists. That's kind of like. But still, you make a good point. But still, you'd have to say, if we're going to research this, it's really curious. Research it or there's no way to start the research unless we say it's a natural phenomena and we have to treat it by our methods. And if the eyes of faith, a different explanatory framework. If the eyes of religious faith want to construe this event differently as something God is purpose, to do something that would not normally happen through the normal operations. Lewis uses the human language Regular, Regular. Regularity. Regular. Well, this is definitely an irregularity. So as a speaking as a scientist, I don't see how in the world a scientist could validate a miracle.

 

So in that way, you know, if they were somehow able to study that kind of situation. Yeah, right. We're just going to take the data, whatever. Yeah. That kind of situation we put is an outlier. And just as something went wrong with his beam. Yeah. Could. Could be. Yeah. Either the instruments were wrong. He was really dead. You didn't. There really wasn't zero reading. Really wasn't a flat line. It was a, you know, something else. So you look at all the things along the chain. Were the instruments, right? Was the judgment that he was really dead because clinical death is gauged by certain technical indicators? I mean, I'm a big cowboy and Westerns fan, right? So back in the 18th century cowboy days, right at the turn of the century when Wyatt Earp died, the mark of dirt, if you could spit tobacco in the cowpokes eyes, they didn't blink. Taking the boot Hill burial and which is in Tombstone. Okay, so now we have different markers, and I don't think they pretty much spit anything in anybody's eyes. The heck, when I was growing up, it was you listen for heartbeat. And I found my maternal grandfather dead in his garden when I was 14. And that's I listened to the emergency team that came. That's all they did. But, you know, you can lose a heartbeat. Now we know now. And there's still be life in the brain activity. So what? What what? The clinical markers, the technical markers are have have have evolved. And so, yeah, it's an anomaly. And in some ways, you can't study an individual case in science unless you bring to it knowledge of generalities, regularities. So you need you either need more cases like that or you find in the particular case how general laws and general operations play in.

 

So a miracle is almost unobservable in science. I it seems to me that's right. And my background is philosophy of science. And then I do lots too much philosophy, religion. I have for decades that I think about these things a lot, and I don't see how science could validated. Now, I will say this a scientist like anybody else is a total person. So a doctor or whatever who actually tends to be less of a researcher and more of a relational, you'd hope more of a relational factor as well. Could say this Maybe America, which can't say that as a scientist, you can only say, I've reached the limits of my science. And now as a human being who has some a larger set of categories than just in the science is valid, that's fine. Look at the success of narrowing. What we do is over the last 400 years there's been pretty amazing. Narrowing, focusing led to amazing success. We're all glad for it. But anytime you say this is my defined framework means what's outside that framework just can't get addressed. It's not a knock on science. It's quite the approval of science, but is recognizing it for what it is. But as human beings or as religious belief, because I know scientists who could be religious believers or medical and so they might say that was you might take that as a miracle. Those are not believers might say, I've got no idea. Just one of those unexplained things, you know. But I think when we're speaking in principle what science is, how it operates, I think that's a fair statement. So we're addressing the question of miracles. I think where we're coming from. Lewis sees this largely as a philosophical question. It's rooted in your worldview, commitment that a fetus could readily see a God capable of interfering in the nature he created in miracles when in principle possible naturals cannot.

 

In principle, they're not possible. There's no super nature. There's a locked closed. Physical system. Then can we move from the question of transitioning from whether miracles are possible in principle to the question of whether they are actual? How could we know that one has occurred? Now, you know, if you had a in science, the description of person really being dead by all markers and coming to life 6 hours later, let's say you don't just wipe the slate clean and say we don't we're not going to think about that is too hard. Science can contribute the description of what happened. But say it's reached its limits at this point in history to say any more about it. But but but a person could take it farther and say, well, I'm going to give you an interpretation that goes beyond science. But here's here's the problem I have with that, is that doesn't the science, their methodological assumption doesn't allow them to give necessarily accurate data because they have to assume that the data must be wrong. Well, or yeah, there's so many different checks that you go back through in science and you check your instruments, you check lots of things. You hopefully you can repeat the experiment. There seems to be a really hard experiment to repeat. That's why repeatability and regularity are kind of against you. Unless you can know other regularities that are already accepted and known in science and bring them to bear in your explanation of an apparent anomaly. These are complicated things, and they do get into mythology and philosophy of science. But I think this is a fair statement. So science may give you some descriptions that are interesting enough along these lines for an additional layer of interpretation to come in beyond science.

 

Religious eyes of faith, whatever to say. We're going to take that as a miracle. Now, there's actually I don't think Lewis brings this up later in the book, but, you know, we're working this whole project of this book is working on violation Miracle Concepts. And I think there's some other things to think about as well. The the eyes of faith. Another layer of interpretation can see things that may have happened through the workings of nature. And and yet we take them as God's activity. So the question of miracles in a way. Which since HUME at least has been a kind of a classical topic that we take as a textbook topic, really, as a subcategory of what I would call the whole question of divine action. And there might be. And then, of course, we take the miracles now that we see it as a sub topic, which is really under a larger topic, we take miracles as violation miracles. That's pretty much the path Lewis goes down, pretty much set up by him. But what about who knows? Good language to use here, but what about something called coincidence? Miracles. Oops. Or in America. That could be another where things might have happened just the way they did. And two different interpretive frameworks are going to interpret their set of circumstances differently. You read stories like the mother who is hanging clothes on the clothesline in her backyard and her little three year old is pedaling a tricycle and there's a train track that runs. That's just one of a million examples. Runs behind their property and gets between the tracks with Tricycle. Train is coming. The mother realizes it Too late. Toddler can't get out and doesn't realize the danger. The train is coming.

 

Mother runs but knows she can't reach the child. Trains coming. Trains coming. And so she says, Oh, God, please, you know, save my child. Well, what happens is the train stops just short of the child. And as it turns out, the conductor had a heart failure and slumped against the brake lever and it stopped the train. And the child was not. Not harmed. Or you could. You could make up some other scenario. These things are out there. Did you hear the one about the airline stewardess who fell? How many thousands of feet and lived? Google that one. You know, but so some people could say it's just a coincidence. You're making too much out of it. But the religious believer could say, I see God's activity. So, Well, every one of those in the events in that sequence of events can be given a natural explanation. Yeah, I know. But the eyes of faith who say, you know, somehow God's working in a way that may not just be always categorize visible as a violation miracle really pretty much get slaughtered. You get slaughtered along a track of discussion and thought when you when you accept the human line. And he has provided a whole chapter in most introductory textbooks, but a miracles that start with the human. And then Lewis starts his book. He accepts all the human definition. That's all fine. And we've gotten this far, you know, without questioning it. But I want to get back up to give a little more context that there may be other modalities, a divine activity in the world that may not just be violation miracles. And still, I think the I think faith and the interpretive framework of theological concepts that we bring to our faith can still appropriately call some things divine action, divine activity, divine influence, even though another interpretive framework would say those are just a natural sequence of events.

 

Do you think that's fair? I think that's a fair way. So I wouldn't limit divine activity to violation miracles. Other rich modalities. Yes. Then the question got in the dark. Yes. Seems like a reflection on the variable that follows along the reasoning. From what I can remember that miracles are work within nature as opposed to violating or. Well, that's true. Fast forward the process that normally takes five. Healing. I think it would probably happen more instantaneously. Like fast forward the process. Yeah. That that correction to this or you know, I'm really glad you said that. We need to get to a break here in a minute. Don't think about the break. Just think about the content and the importance of what? Don't think about the break of. That's a good point, because he does admittedly start with violation miracles to frame the early going of the book. And we've pretty much followed that. But it is true that later in the book, he is beginning to do something along the lines of what I was starting to do a minute ago, give a little nuance, a little more texture to the understanding of what a miracle can be or what divine action might be. I think that's that's true. One point he does make, and we'll probably make it more later, is that if there's a creator God. Of nature that can intervene, intervene and bring things in, in nature that nature would not have produced by its own regular operations. Let's let's give it up. Let's don't call it a violation. The owner of the house decided to move the furniture around. Once our furniture is back in place, in the new place or whatever. They'll begin to abide by the same laws they always did.

 

That's why that wonderful poem at the beginning of the book. That's what was trying to say. My right here in this beginner's mind about the meteorite. I hope all the new additions might kind of all, but the meteorite comes to Earth and impacts it from out of Earth's frame of reference impacts it. But the minute it does, inner Earth's frame of reference is subject to the same laws of friction coming through the atmosphere, heating up, impacting the ground, displacement of of the of the ground by the mass and the force of the meteorite. All the laws of physics are still operative. And so in a kind of similar way, God bringing a new invent in a nature that would not have occurred by the normal regular operations of nature. Probably we should even use the language violation. And I think that's I think that's a fair qualification. In fact, let me pick up on that point after a brief break. What what do you how fast do you think you can be? 6 minutes. 7 minutes. I'm just messing with you. I have to start reading. If you're not back here in a minute.