Mere Christianity 8
30 January 2012 2 Comments
It’s been a little while since that last post, but let’s get back to CS Lewis’s classic Mere Christianity. We pick up in book 1, chapter 4.
Lewis is now exploring what the existence of the Moral Law (“a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us”) tells us about what lies behind the Law itself.
First, we are directed to notice that there have always been two basic views of the universe: the materialist view and the religious view. (For an excellent comparison of these two views and their significance, see The Question of God: CS Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, by Dr. Armand Nicholi. The book is based on a graduate course he taught for 25 years at Harvard. It’s a moderately challenging and a very rewarding read.)
The materialist view says that nothing exists beyond the universe, that the universe (or some material antecedent) has always existed, and that while we know an amazing amount of information about when and how, we do not know why. In fact, we hope to know why, but “why” only in the sense of what caused what to occur, which led to the part that we know at present. But as for the “meaning and significance” sense of the term “why,” the materialist view has nothing to offer. Why the universe gave rise to persons with intelligence is another mystery.
The religious view (we might say, “spiritual view” today) contends that something does lie behind the universe after all, and that something is more like a mind with intelligence than anything else we know.
Here’s another fact. If there is an intelligence behind the universe, then science would not be able to verify or falsify either view because science works with the universe itself and therefore lacks the tools to examine anything that lies behind the universe. This is not an anti-science statement (though, yes, some Christians have unfortunately dubious views and relationships with science). Science has yielded an absolutely staggering amount of knowledge about the universe. But science has limits. It is limited to the universe itself.
So… “If there is ‘Something Behind,’ then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to [us] or else make itself known in some different way.”