C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 19

Miracles (Part 7)

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.

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 19
Watching Now
Miracles (Part 7)

I. A Chapter Not Strictly Necessary (chapter 9)

A. An emotional objection

B. Redemption of individuals and nature

II. Horrid Red Things (chapter 10)

A. Possible that the supernatural would not invade the natural

B. Centrality of the incarnation

C. Science vs. literal interpretation

D. Speaking of spiritual things literally

III. Christianity and Religion (chapter 11)

A. Christianity compared to pantheism

B. Cosmological principle

C. Concept of God

  • The purpose of the class is to directly engage Lewis’s philosophy and theology. He brings a Christian worldview to engage intellectual movements of his day. The trinity created us to bring us into the fellowship that has been going on with God forever. 

  • The mind is the organ of reason, imagination is the organ of understanding. To understand what real truth is, the imagination needs to be a part of that. We are created in the image of God and are immortal beings. Ordinary people are extraordinary. The Christian life is most deeply about being transformed resulting in participation in the divine life. It's more than just having one’s legal status changed. There should be transformation in the culture as well as personal. God is in the process of redeeming a wounded universe, including the whole of knowledge and truth in all subjects. 

  • There is a sacred quality to ordinary activities as well as symbolic religious rituals. Whatever is true in any field of study is God’s truth. The world is essentially good, but it’s been damaged. God has taken a great risk in allowing people free choice for good or evil. Evil has become present in many forms in the world and it is anti-creational and anti-human. We are not broken, but we are bent. God’s nature is relational because of the nature of the Trinity, so it makes sense that he would make a universe that is relational. We dwell in God and he dwells in us. As disciples of Christ we all share the single vocation of loving God and others.

  • Lewis wants to parlay theological doctrines into dynamic insights and track out their implications for intellectual engagement. He does is with a background of philosophical skill and theological understanding of historic orthodoxy. Instead of arguing about preferences, we need to focus on articulating the doctrines that are universal. Lewis’s ideas are expressed so they can be understood by people not formally trained in philosophy or theology but they have merit in the marketplace of ideas. 

  • The probability of morality as we know it in the human community, given that theism is true, is more probable than morality given any other worldview. Morality at the human (finite) level is anchored in morality at the infinite level. Morality has its most natural fitting worldview home in theism. In using the analogy of light shining through boards in a tool shed, Lewis says, “I believe in Christianity, not because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” 

  • In Hinduism, Brahman, the hidden inner essence of everything, is beyond human categories of good and evil. Brahman is the only reality. Everything we see is an illusion. The fundamental human problem is ignorance, not sin. Dualism is the idea that there is good and evil at war in the universe. Explaining morality in a dualistic framework is difficult. Dualism assumes good and evil are equal, so you would need a third element to adjudicate which one to choose, and that would be a higher standard. Otherwise you wouldn’t know which one to choose. Naturalism/materialism says there is no ultimate moral nature to the universe. 

  • Lewis begins by discussing our common moral experience as a triggering point to reason toward theism. Then he reasons for a deity that’s interested in morality that’s also a supreme power. With naturalism, we come from a source that is non-rational, non-moral and non-personal, so it’s difficult to understand how you get beings that are rational, moral and personal.

  • Theism is intellectually at least on par, if not superior to, other conceptions of reality like dualism, pantheism and naturalism. If there is a God that theism describes, only one deity of the living theistic religions said that this God invaded our existence. The question is that in comparison to other alternatives, what is emerging as a reasonable explanation of the reality we face?

  • Our rationality being reliable assumes that we can produce a large preponderance of true beliefs over false ones by using rational faculties like memory, abstract reasoning, perception and the testimony of others. The role of philosophy is to analyze and explain the common sense beliefs of the human race about morality and the external world. 

  • The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. Lewis thinks that we now do not have broad social consensus of Christian truth. He challenges individuals to have a more positive affirming attitude toward intellect and academics. In his view, Christians are ambivalent about the value of the life of the mind and using the gift of our intellect to serve him.

  • Premise one: every natural desire corresponds to one real object. Premise two: There exists in us a desire that nothing in the temporal world can satisfy. Conclusion is that there must be more than time, earth and creatures that can satisfy this desire.

  • The Supreme Being, behind the universe as we know it, is a personal being, eternal and the model for how we are to understand our personhood. We can’t understand our own personhood fully, the way it’s supposed to operate, unless we understand what God is, as a personal being. We are not projecting our understanding on God but learning about ourselves by finding out about God. 

  • This is ultimately a book about a clash of worldviews. A worldview offers an explanation of the important features/phenomena of life and the world. In the West, the atheist worldview is often expressed in naturalism. Lewis argues for theism based on what is true internally of us, rather than argument from design. Discussion is not whether a particular miracle has occurred, but in principle, is it a possibility.

  • There is a supernatural power or being that is ontologically distinct from nature (transcendent). It is self-existent. Every world view must propose what is fundamentally real. For the naturalist, it is the physical world. For the theist, it’s a transcendent deity. Everything that is not God is dependent/contingent on God for its being. The theist says that the deity can bring about events that would not have happened by the regular operation of nature. 

  • What’s important to Lewis is freedom of rational thinking, free from physical causes. Naturalism undercuts the power of reason because everything is determined by physical causes. If evolutionary naturalism is true, then the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable for truth is low.

  • If you believe in naturalism as a worldview, miracles are impossible. Since a naturalist worldview says everything is determined and thought is only adaptive, the ability to have free rational thought to logically evaluate naturalism undercuts the naturalist position.

  • Rational thought and moral consciousness are points of entry of the supernatural into the realm of the natural. It involves both. It’s not a dichotomy. Naturalists believe that the nature of human persons is limited to material processes. Substance dualists believe that mind and brain are two separate substances that are mixed for now, but at death one will cease to exist and the other will continue to exist. Emergentist sees the animal form taken to another degree of complexity by the natural realm getting increasingly complex and dualist in function as opposed to substance.

  • Scientific law is economical summary of what experience always reports: regular cause and effect. Laws are regularity based on coincidences. Causality is the basis of law. Hume says that laws are regularities based on coincidences. Hume says that you can only know regularity because that’s all the human mind is capable of. Peterson’s view is that a miracle is not changing a law of nature, it’s changing with the “ceteris paribus” clause – preventing all things from being equal and changing the nature of the item. 

  • There is nothing about nature that makes miracles impossible. The naturalist can’t see nature accurately as a creature, not just an independent fact but it can’t stand or explain itself. The cosmological principle is that only concrete beings, not general things, have causal power. Causal laws don’t make things happen, only the beings acting within the laws.

  • If God is in fact a living determinate being, and is outside the natural system, he might insert events into the natural system. The laws that we observe in the natural system may be a subset of higher laws that govern the universe. What criteria do you use to determine if a miracle has taken place? Evidence plus intrinsic probability. Whether or not an event is a miracle is also part of the discussion of the problem of evil. Why would God intervene in some circumstances but not others? 

  • In philosophy, it’s referred to as the problem of evil. Given a certain understanding of God and a certain understanding of evil, there is a tension explaining why evil exists in the world.

  • If God chooses to create a nature, this signifies a physical system which indicates a relatively independent nature independent from himself, it would make a lot of sense to say he is frequently intervening.  The same laws that make nature a stable environment in which rational soulish life can emerge, are also the same laws that make us vulnerable. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. He might whisper to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain. Question about whether God initiates the pain or he set up a system which results in pain because of the way it’s structured.

  • Lewis describes the story of the Fall as a narrative that has symbolic elements that convey significant truth. The truth in the first couple chapters of Genesis is that we were created by God, sovereign and loving creator, and that our only fulfillment as humans is to center our lives on God. Our proper role as a creature is to rely on God, so when we ignore that and rely on ourselves, our relationship with God is broken. 

  • God is his creation set forth the problem of expressing his goodness through the total drama of a world containing free agents in spite of, and even by means of, their rebellion against him. The risk is for the possibility of relationship. 

  • Aristotle would say that as a rational, moral being you build your character based on the hierarchy of good traits.  From a Christian perspective, our natural destiny should be on the same trajectory as our eternal destiny. The spiritual and theological virtues are faith, hope and love.

  • As long as God chooses a stable physical order, that physical order will run by its own laws. Any system with  have the possibility of pain. Created nature with natural laws provide a framework/structure in which souls can meet. Some pain is produced by the natural system without regard to the desires of the beings. That humans can inflict pain on other humans is a reflection of the permission by God that he permits this. The wide range of freedom makes it possible for great good or terrible evil. 

  • Lewis thinks that God needs to pierce the shield of our ego and we are embodied creatures so pain is what does it by getting our attention by highlighting how frail and in need we are. 

  • For Lewis, heaven is the unending joyous life of God, the life of the Trinity. The only way I can be fulfilled is to find its proper purpose and relation with God. Heaven is the restoration of created personhood, what it was always meant to be. When we are on the trajectory, we begin experiencing it now. Hell is the lack of fulfillment for which we were made. 

  • Discussion of the movie Shadowlands. Discussion of the nature of relationships. Pain and happiness are not necessarily mutually exclusive.                                        

  • Lewis expresses anger toward God as part of his process of grief. Orthodox Christianity denies materialism which believes that your physical body is all you are, but it doesn’t require body-soul dualism where the soul is the real person that inhabits a shell. Whatever damage death completes in the reign of sin in this world will be undone and swallowed up by the resurrection. The restoration of human personhood will come after death. 

  • Heaven and hell are dichotomous. Whether life is heaven or hell depends on your future trajectory. God is true reality, fixed and can’t be altered. In GD, true reality is God. The descriptions are not meant to be literal. Heaven is the Trinitarian life of God. It’s not a place, it’s a state of being in proper relation to the love and joy of the Trinitarian relations. Lewis describes it as a great dance. 

  • Final comments about themes in The Great Divorce.

C. S. Lewis is an extremely good theologian who does his work for the thoughtful lay person.  But his writings reflect his erudite understanding of the great classics of literature, historical theology, philosophy, and other disciplines.  Lewis says in Mere Christianity that theology is like a map.  We may get where we’re going without it, but it is much easier to use the map.  The map of Christian theology is drawn over the early centuries of the church as the believing community interprets the Bible and its experience of God.  

Of course, the ultimate goal of theology, according to Lewis, is practical:  to draw us into the life of God, or St. Gregory of Nazianzus ((329-374 AD), called it, “the Great Dance.”  I know no theme deeper or more pervasive in Lewis than our need to get the steps right, to join the dance once again.  

In “Meditations in a Tool Shed,” Lewis says that there is a distinction between looking at a beam of light and looking along the beam of light.  He is speaking of looking at reason or using reason—a passage that forms part of his great case that presence of rationality argues for the truth of theism.  We will be doing a lot of looking in this course, largely, “looking at” Lewis himself.  But let us also try to “look along” the same line of sight as Lewis, to see things—God, humanity, spiritual life, and a host of other things—as Lewis saw them.  This means attempting to step inside Lewis’s worldview and learning to interpret fundamental realities the way he did and to deploy his distinctive strategies for engaging other worldviews.  In effect, we will learn to think Christianly by learning to think along Christianly with Lewis.

In 2020, Dr. Peterson published the book, C. S. Lewis and the Christian WorldviewIt is essentially his course lectures in written book form--covering Lewis on all key worldview issues--reality, knowledge, creation, trinity, christology, as well as issues of evil, religious pluralism, and the impact of science on faith. You will also see it listed in the Recommended Reading section. 

Dr. Michael Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Miracles (Part 7)
Lesson Transcript


We won't we won't finish the book with the same degree of thoroughness that we started. You know, I think that's pretty evident, but we're talking our way through. I think we can we can do it today so that when we finish today, the exam coming up, we'll. We'll seem good. We will have covered what we need to cover. But, you know, you can't repeat every word in the book when you discuss it and you can't repeat every word in the notes. You had to kind of pick a way of creating a narrative and a discussion of the book. And so I think what we're doing is helpful. But it certainly is not everything that could be discussed. And if you feel like there's something needs to be, please raise a question if you need to, because ultimately we want to say this course. You know you can own it. You can appropriate the material on Lewis to use for whatever purposes you know, would be good for you in your calling in in your in your life activities. But if we go to chapter nine, he says it's a chapter not strictly necessary. So maybe I'll I'll go light on that just a little. But this is the point in the argument where Lewis. Says it should be discussed whether whatever it is, that's beyond nature. Is that the sort of thing that could or would work miracles? That's the that's the the narrative line he's on. But Louis pauses in this chapter to take time to first address what he considers an emotional objection or trying to, you know, address logical points back and forth as he makes his argument, as he develops his argument. But he says this is kind of a an emotional point.


He says, In my non-Christian days, I had an emotional attachment. He imagines other people might have the same emotional attachment to the idea that nature existed totally on its own. Well, that's just the emotional kissing cousin of philosophical naturalism. Intellectually. So it's the sort of the emotional cousin of the intellectual position of philosophical naturalism. So to think of nature as a creature, if you have that emotional attachment, to think of nature as a creature would seem to reduce it, make it less, then maybe make it more trivial. Lewis said he was even willing to entertain the chance existence of nature in order to keep it independent, make it the supreme reality. I think this is really interesting. And so all these are very non theist and non-Christian ways of thinking of nature. Because for theism, nature is not capable of explaining itself. And that's just a general theistic point that there's nothing about nature that makes itself existent. It must rely on a self existent being. So his emotional attachment to nature's independence, he said, gave a kind of an emotional resistance. The other side of that coin is it's an emotional resistance to theism, which has a subordinate nature to a higher power. If you get into specifically Christian ideas, not just generically theistic ideas, the Christian ideas are that God, an intelligent, good God, created purposefully a whole realm that is not himself, brought into being as a gracious gift of love, to give the gift of a finite existence and set in motion a whole process that would eventually lead to finite, rational persons who he could invite back into a fellowship with himself. So Lewis says all of that he blocked emotionally, if not intellectually as well. We blocked it emotionally because he just had this need because, you know, he's a literary figure.


He loves literature and poetry thing. And you can see a person who's just really into the feeling dimension of literature and poetry, maybe saying this sort of thing, kind of a romantic view of nature as supreme and as independent, even to the point of saying the fact that it exists is just a chancy thing. It's a brute fact. But there it is. Deal with it. You know, that kind of thing. So he says the Christian doctrine of creation, which is not just about, you know, humans, of course, it is about the whole natural realm. That's not God subordinates everything. That is not God to the status of creature and. If you take the logic of monotheism. Just the logic of monotheism. There can be no other self existent being than what we call God. And there has to be some kind of annihilating power. That this being the monotheistic deity, that God can bring other things into being by his own power, nothing else has the power to bestow being. And so that monotheism sort of teaches that general that general principle. If you think about it, there are some studies of the Hebrew I'm not an expert in Hebrew at all studies of the Hebrew in Genesis that say a good interpretation of the text is that God created out of chaos. There was something in addition to God that the text allows us to see there. And so maybe God, the God of Genesis didn't create of nothing. You know, my response to that, if I may give you my response. So what you can interpret the text that way. It's a monotheistic document attacking all the polytheism of the ancient world all around it, Babylonian, Egyptian, all the others. It's attacking all the polytheism that there's nothing but God.


And the poetry and the literary style of Genesis just doesn't matter to the intellectual content. The intellectual content cannot allow that there's anything but God or you don't have monotheism, and it can't stand appropriately as an intellectual alternative to polytheism. So one of the big key points of the first few chapters is it's an attack. It's not dreamy poetry, it's an attack. Your God isn't the sun. The sun is a creature. You've God, is it the moon? The moon is a creature. And we're putting everything in perspective now, and we're carving out intellectual space now for a monotheistic vision against all the polytheistic visions that surrounded the ancient Hebrews. And so it doesn't matter if the word chaos can be found in the text or not. It's just interesting. It's really interesting. But there's nothing to infer from that. So biblical exegesis language really is not the basis of doctrine. Can you think of one doctrine that hangs on the interpretation of any original language, word like you, young maiden virgin? No can think of any. So you got to have the original languages and you got to not surrender them. But their function in the theological task has to be appropriately understood and related to other functions. But either this as a monotheistic document or it's not. There can't be a thing besides God who has necessary self existence. Once you see that the Lewis develops this chapter, once we see that nature can't be independent, nature can't be just a chance, a chance occurrence, brute fact. But now it becomes a creature and it takes on a whole new perspective in a monotheistic, monotheistic framework. And it has a purpose and a character that's totally different from the sentimental view that it's a raw, brute fact and all that.


And so the point he makes then is the naturalist doesn't really see because he was saying I was a naturalist even emotionally. As point is, the naturalist doesn't really see nature accurately because you see it as a non creature, sees an independent fundamental fact, but it can't stand or explain itself as a as an independent fundamental fact. It needs to be seen as a creature for its take on proper perspective. It's really interesting at one point, and I can't remember if it's in this book or another essay he wrote, he says, You have to go a little ways away from nature, not take it as the whole thing, go a little bit away from it and turn around and look at her and you'll see her for what she really. And he uses the feminine gender pronoun. You'll see her for what she really is. You remember that line? Then he does say this. He says, Christian theology teaches that no creature currently is its true. Self. Something's damaged and we don't always know how to put words on what it is that's damaged about creation. But he says when we're redeemed in nature's redeemed, because nature won't be a discard. But God look foolish. One of them would get rid of their Creator. Well, you know what I mean. Well, really, I mean, we are intimately involved with nature in the natural world. That'd be goofy. So he says, when we're redeemed and nature's redeemed and here's the quote. What a merry meeting that will be, because we'll be our true selves. Maybe the lion would lay down with the lamb. I don't know. Takes us in another evolutionary discussion. I'm not prepared for the lions I saw on the National Geographic special weren't lying down with lambs.


They were taking out giraffes and everything. Sunday night on that nature channel go holy. Moving on to Hard Red Things, Chapter ten. He wants to say there are different ways of saying why miracles don't happen, can't happen, why they're impossible. One way is not from the side of of nature, like unbroken laws. The machine cannot be interrupt, you know. The other would be from the side of the divine. Maybe miracles are impossible. Not because everything we say about nature. I think he's established to his own satisfaction. And we can always beef up his argument sophisticated and tweak it. And it'd be to my satisfaction as well that there's nothing about nature from the side of nature in the equation that makes miracles impossible. But he says there might be other objections to nature from the side of the divine. That's interesting. What were those objections look like? Well, they basically say that miracles are impossible because the supernatural. The supernatural is such that it would not invade, it would not interrupt. There are different lines of reasoning to get to that. Of course, he does mention that non miraculous Christianity is worthless. Not a bad comment, but it doesn't mean. And it also doesn't mean that every report on everybody's lips, every report to miracle has to be believed either. I have no obligation to believe just any old report that comes down the pike about miracles. So, no, not miraculous. Christianity, of course, revolves around the grand miracle, which is the incarnation. So if I were reformed, I'd say it's the atonement. Wouldn't I break? So which is more indicative of the incarnation Atonement. It's the Anglican Reformed difference in sensibility, isn't it? Had there not been sin and atonement and still be incarnation to get my drift? Okay, my reformed friends think, Oh, the grant.


The great thing is incarnation and atonement and they never separate them. But because it was sin. There had to be incarnation atonement. Okay. I don't want to get into the infra of the infernal Upstream sermons ism debate in the super lap surrealism debate of the Scholastic Calvinists. You know what I'm saying? But without getting into that, the incarnation gods wanting to be close to us, wanting to draw us into his life stands whether or not the possibility of sin was ever realized. That's that's the Anglican sensibility. Okay. His point then is that around the incarnation, other miracles related to Christian faith are kind of woven like threads into a whole tapestry, a coherent story, an understandable narrative. Now, Lewis does point I'm kind of trying to pick up my point, fly to higher altitude, I guess you'd say, and pick up the speed that. Lewis says that think of think of the kinds of things the biblical writers say. God had a sun. The sun came down from heaven. He descended into hell. These are all pretty amazing claims. Now, some would claim that modern science has disproved all of these things. And so Lewis gets into the idea of whether these things are meant literally and how science disproved their literal interpretation. See? He takes the idea that religious language, it's a theory that religious language. Is inevitably. Metaphorical, and you can't speak literally when you're speaking of spiritual things don't agree with him. And and by saying that I'm not I'm not trying to embrace fundamentalism. But the idea that speaking of these things are metaphorical, his point is that you can use metaphor. You can use metaphor to express difficult truths. But you don't have to believe the metaphor is literal. And he's making a good point here.


If when we say God had a son, we don't have to think that the coming to be of the son is the way other sons come to be. And my goodness, the first part of the Nicene Creed said he was begotten and not made. And it's very hard, you know, to to understand. But not any kind of of of a physical process created the son son as eternal. And so he's saying I can think of people who had images in their mind, like about horrid red things, pills that were poison and, you know, not you knew not to take them, but. But there's an underlying point about poison. Whether or not they're red or whatever, you can mistakenly think, well, poison is red, poisons poison, and you might just have this image. Well, I know some pills that are poison and they're red. So he's arguing against having mental images and liberalizing them. So arguing against having mental images and liberalizing them. So coming down from heaven, is it a vertical descent? Right. You know, and of course, they wouldn't be able they wouldn't be able to spot any heaven out there in space. They've tried. And the Russian cosmonauts could actually testify that they could not find God in the mid fifties and early sixties, when they would they would go out in space. You know, the big the big 1 million year meteor that just passed so close to Mars to two nights ago Sunday night, I think we'll take the three the three spacecraft that we have circling Mars, the research spacecraft. And we had to put it on the backside of Mars on the other side where that meteor was passing. And I forget the speed, but I think it was a quarter million miles an hour.


Terrific. I think regardless, that's a lot. And especially we're going to get through this material, let me tell you. But even a speck of dust or ice off the tail at that speed could damage our spacecraft. It is something so so the of the radio control or what have they control got them all to move behind. So the comet is going to pass within like I think it was 86,000 miles, about three and a half times around the earth. That's pretty close. And cosmic turning the moon protective equipment. Oh, which moon? A moon of. Of Mars. Oh, yeah. Isn't that amazing? Well, this was best seen from the Southern hemisphere. So I emailed Michael Ruess. I said, Hey, man, you're in South Africa. And I would take advantage of seeing that thing. And so he said he would. I haven't heard anything about it. So once again, I'm back on trail here. When we say he ascended into heaven, that's not necessarily a vertical ascent. But the point then is are people who are sort of scientifically snobby going to say, well, look at that language. And there's images we say came down from heaven. He ascended into heaven. You know, the kinds of things that are figurative and metaphorical that are sort of the verbal clothing around more core, I guess you say core beliefs. You don't have to believe the clothing that there's a vertical ascent or descent, which is a metaphor. But you have to believe that God became present with us, that Christ is now somehow returned to the Father without thinking. Directionality is is the big deal here. What I'm saying? So he's just saying here's here's a chapter on hard red things. You can know that something's poison, but you like the little girl.


He said he was scared of red pills. You can know that something's poison, but you can be mistaken in describing why you're afraid of it. But, well, it's horrid red things. And he's. He's trying to make that point. The reason I said I disagree with Louis a little bit is he says you can't speak of spiritual things literally. I think that's true in a large class of cases. That's true. And something like figurative or symbolic, which is different from metaphorical. You look at what I take the first few chapters of James. I think those are symbolic, but definitely not literal, as we understand in modernist terms or fundamentalist terms. Not literal, but symbol symbolically. They tell us there's a creator, God, who lovingly created, invites us to obey and fellowship. We broke the fellowship of the wonderfully symbolically represent. So those are the true truths. Those are the true truths. And you could probably add some more I forgot about. But what you don't have to say is the literal truth is six days or fixity of species and things that just we're blocked from that now. But knowing too much stuff, you can't do that. So but the reason I disagree a little bit and make a little caveat here is that when I say God is omniscient or God is a trinity, I'm not speaking metaphorically, speaking figuratively, I think I mean literally. See, So to make a certain point, he did good. But again, interacting with what he's doing, I would have said in many cases of ordinary religious language, we use metaphors as symbols, but you can't say you can't is too categorical to say you can't speak literally of spiritual things. That's not accurate. Because when you're doing technical theology, largely that's what you are doing is getting below the figurative speech to make your precise statements moving, zipping along, zipping along.


The chapter on Christianity and Religion. Again, remember the large issue? Are miracles possible? Why or why not? And he's just talking his way through. Why would they not be possible from the nature side? Laws and so on. We've done all that. Why would they not be possible from the God side? We're now we're back on track with that. He's made his point about literal speech, and now we're back on. On the point. How about from the God side? What he says, any version of religion, for example, that sees God as a general principle or universal indwelling presence or something like that. Maybe in the somewhere in the in the under the description of pantheism, a pantheistic god does not really perform miracles because it's a general God. It's a diffuse God. It's not a concrete living being with beliefs, purposes and the power of agency to do stuff. So he thinks that pantheism is would be an example of a God who's so general he can't act specifically. So I'm saying the general God is not a concrete being, but the God of the Bible is presented as a living being who has intentions and performs actions. I don't know whether to comment on his comparison of pantheism as a religious theory to the early atomic theory of Democritus, the ancient Greek. But I don't think it's a very good comparison. And maybe just let it go. He basically is saying that atomic theory says atoms are everywhere, small, indivisible units of physical of matter. So atoms are everywhere. But, you know, that's a lot that's not really science. It's interesting that the word atom has been retained by science. It's a good thing. But Democritus reached that conclusion by saying, if we keep dividing things, do we ever come to something that's indivisible? Yeah, Something that's uncut.


Atom. Atom. And so the things we see are composite, but they. They can be reduced down to something that can't be reduced down any further. And that really, really is not how modern atomic theory developed. It's a logic of the ancient Greeks, purely an intellectual. So there must be something and cut an atom and cut a ball. But that's different from what we now know in modern atomic theory. And so I just want to mention that, again, keeping on this, the concept of God comparison between pantheism and Christianity, he makes the point that really the pantheistic God is beyond personality in a certain way, but in a bad way. And the Christian God we learn in the last book of mere Christianity is also beyond personality. But in a way that's amazing and good. So the pantheistic God for Lewis, in my own words, is sub personal. And the Christian Guard is, you might say, supra personal or the prototype of of personhood, relationality, reciprocity, power cratic relations. The pantheistic God is is not a being is pervasive of all finite beings, and ultimately cannot be described by positive descriptions. Is a pantheistic god. Good well is equally evil where can permeate everything because everything is filled with good and evil mixture. So the pantheistic God is above good and evil and not describable by any predicates that describe finite things. However, when you move to the Christian God concept, you just get a God who is the supreme, an ideal, almost prototype of what a person should be, and of course, is describable. Okay, so the Christian God is indeed described by things like intentions, purposes, loving relations, very positive predicates that we also want to predicate of finite personhood, and we find what it means to be finite persons.


We learned this, of course, in the last part of mere Christianity by living into the model set by the infinite person, the Trinitarian God. So yes, God's beyond personality, which is language from Christianity, but it's very important how you interpret what it means to be beyond personality. Likewise is God beyond human reason. He brings that up is his next point, is God beyond human reason. And pantheism and Christianity can differ on how they say it is that God is beyond human reason. And it is true that pantheism almost always spawns certain versions of mysticism. And mysticism is critical of the ability of human reason to relate to God as adequately as some other mode of relating to God. It varies what tradition you're reading, but who. All we have is finite categories. We think with finite categories, we apply them to things. How are you going to play a finite category to the infinite being of of this God of whichever pantheistic rule? So how it is that God's infinite in pantheism versus Christian is going to be different, and how the relation of reason and human thought to God, how that's how that's understood, is going to be different. That once again, God is a supreme mind, a supreme intelligence, and we are a finite reflection. But pantheism would give you a similar answer did earlier. God is beyond mind in his own being, and therefore our minds are relatively useless in knowing the divine, hence some kind of mystical union, some kind of mystical relation that's non rational is the path of Hinduism. B Primary example? Yes. How would you feel and respond? How would you respond to the idea of David as described by whom? Whitehead At Harvard? Alfred North. Whitehead I can't think of anybody before.


Whitehead Well, I mean, you can expose exposure to the idea came through like some of the early Christian world, you know, existing throughout the whole thing. Turned out to be good. You got me, Right? Right. Well, that's that's a good question, because in terms of conceptual distinction, honestly, I don't I don't know any living religion. That's a textbook pantheism, certainly not Hinduism. Pantheism is God equals the world. And. The world equals God. If that's pantheism Hindus, not that Hinduism is. Hinduism believes that God permeates the world and the being of God is the hidden inner essence of everything, and that is pantheism. You get different versions of pantheism depending on who you read, but in a way that fits the description of Hinduism being a pantheistic. But it's not theistic, but it's a pan, something where the world is in God or the world God permeates the world. With Orthodox Christian theology, could it be considered a pantheistic view when we say in him all things live and move and have their being in him? All things consist hang together, things of that nature by him and through him all things were created, you know. Would that lend itself to? I think it's hard to know how to interpret the cosmic Christ, his role in creation, both initially and ongoing, but whether you call that pantheism. So because there's clearly the logos principle, there's clearly the the Christology of creation is often neglected, but you do see it in those amazing New Testament passages. I don't I don't really have, you know, a very well worked out thought on that, whether to call that pantheism. I'm a little hesitant but so much on how you develop your concept of what pantheism is. For example, Whitehead at Harvard, the fountainhead of process metaphysics.


His followers like to apply his thought to theology. He wasn't all that interested, so he got Charles Hartshorn. John Cobb. Claremont. David Ray Griffin, Claremont. My friend John called, but Eastern and not Eastern Nazarene was the Nazarene School of Idaho. Northwest Nazarene. John Culp. Durham. Oh, I know. I should have said John. John, as you all know, that means I'm going to have a mental block of who's at Northwest Nazarene. Okay. I won't think of it. But Tom Ford, Tom Ford, you name it, a bunch of names. I can't help it. So they write Coal Corp and all, but they think there's insight for Christian theology and Wesleyan ism. Playing off of Whitehead in thought. I don't get it. I don't see it. But for Whitehead, God is a principle in his pantheism. God is not a person. God is not omnipotent, He's not a creator. Ex nihilo. A lot of things I could go down the list, but there's a version of pantheism, so just pantheism generically. You almost can't react. You almost can't because you've got to know how it's being articulated to property brought. Well, again, I'm trying to step more lightly here, but in this chapter, one point that comes up, obviously as pantheism is conceptually inadequate. It's philosophically inadequate. And he does spend some time in quite a bit of this chapter on what I call the cosmological insight or the cosmological principle. Whoa. I mean, juice. There's something else here. Teach me to put the cap back on. Of the cosmological principle I think he's dealing with here is that only concrete beings, not general things, not general principles, but only concrete beings have causal power. That's why the laws of nature, descriptions, generalities of how things be, they don't have causal power, they don't make things happen.


The beings they describe the activity of, they make things happen. We just have causal laws articulated as the description. So it's like scientific laws. So it's only beings, concrete beings that have causal powers. And if that's true, then there must have been an original concrete being, not a pantheistic general being that brought everything else into being. That goes back to my monotheistic point earlier that something has to be self existent. Cannot not exist has to be a fundamental fact. And he's already hinted earlier he once was willing to say nature, physical nature in its totality is the fundamental fact. It may have come into existence by chance, he says. But I need to keep it fundamental. But then, as he became a Christian and thought this through Christian Lee, he realized nature has to be put into perspective as dependent contingent upon a deeper fundamental fact, a god, a concrete being who can act and who can bring other beings of a finite nature into existence. So that's the heart of the cosmological argument. Sometimes you hear the cosmological argument expressed as a first cause argument or something like that, and that's okay. But if you're looking at the essential insight, the essential insight that it's playing on is the contingent being requires necessary being. And when you're when you're comparing the two worldviews of naturalism and theism. And of course, Lewis is increasingly getting Christian elements added into his discussion of theism. When you're comparing them, you've got to pick what makes more sense being the fundamental being. Now he does bring up near the end an issue. I'm into it with Michael Russo. And Michael Ruse thinks that the Christian concept of God is hopelessly incoherent, and that's because it embodies both Greek and Hebrew elements.


This is a prevailing opinion in a certain sector, both Christian and non-Christian. And so so I'm not just against the atheists. I don't think it is incoherent, but it is interesting and it takes some nuancing because some of the Greek elements suggest impossibility, gods unaffected, emotionally not able to be, and this kind of thing timelessness, timeless, frozen, this kind of. Whereas the Hebrew elements suggest a being who changes his mind, gets angry, is pleased, acts this way, chooses to act that way. So for some people, you both believers and nonbelievers, some think you can't get that put. You can't put Humpty Dumpty together. I think Aquinas was largely correct in saying there are elements of God that the Greeks, the pre-Christian Greeks saw. And we just know they are part of God's metaphysical makeup. But the Christian revelation supplements and and makes sense of all those and catches some of those elements up in itself. But you can't keep them totally tied to the classical Greek understanding. So his immutability means he won't change in his inner nature, but doesn't mean doesn't change because clearly God is open himself to the contingent world and all of his changes. It's pretty amazing. He's open to no undetermined contingency in the world. That's pretty amazing. But is that changing him in his essential being? Or how is it that God is changing in interaction with the world? So Louis brings that up. Near the end, he makes the he makes the point that God's impossibility has to do with not being able to be affected by outside forces. But his inner Trinitarian nature signifies that he's intrinsically love, which is relational. And so he's trying to he's trying to address that Hebrew versus classical Greek question, you know, a little bit.


Yes. You don't say, Oh, yeah, I wasn't going to say I was raised in a lot of ways that. Oh, really? Oh, there you go. There you go. I'm used to that. It's very strange to me that that would be seen as a as a thing against a count against God. Like, oh, we have these two concepts because we both kind of in humanity in general, kind of exist in this sort of dualistic, like right brain, left brain sort of way and into reduce it a little bit. The eastern mindset a little bit right brain in the Western mindset, a little left right. So yeah, that that great that all of humanity is there What did he mean some sense of very true in the Eastern sense and very true in the Western sense. Would that just be a confirmation that maybe God is being a contradiction that can't be reconciled? Again, it just blows my mind. Like, to me, that's like a proof that, you know, this is the right guy. Yeah. That it's Israel at the right time during the Roman Empire. And it's this weird hybrid of cultures where the east and west are so well enduring. During the period of theological formation, the first five or six centuries of the church, great councils and so on, they're ecumenical, both Eastern and Western Christianity with their own differences. But they they agreed on a universal set of doctrines and so on. Nicene Creed united them til, you know, 1054 It's a bad year of the feeling quite had to get in there, you know, from the western western church but so you get the eastern western Christianity, the flavorful differences with a universal framework still but then you get the idea that Greeks pre-Christian Greeks for four and a half centuries B.C.


were insight Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, my my favorite three were inciting things about what had to be beyond. But if you take purely the Greek theory like Aristotle's God, he's not concerned with the world. He contemplates only his own perfect existence because he can only contemplate what's perfect and. We're not. So that's out of sync with Christian revelry, you know. But that doesn't mean he's not an unmoved mover, meaning he has self existence and everything else that exists has to depend on logically on him and things of that nature. So this is a big debate. And some people see the whole formation of Christian orthodoxy as unself critical, unself critical amalgamation of of Hebrew and Greek. And now we see that some would think we ought to go out and tear out the Greek. Keep him. But I don't I don't see that. I don't get that. It's a big debate, but loose lose kind of traipse us into it just a little bit at the end of that chapter. I think we should break and have a have a brief break and come back and try to finish this up.