Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reflections on C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity: Book 1 Chapter 4

What Lies Behind the Law

In chapter 4 of book 1, C.S. Lewis examines what the Law of Human Nature tells us about the universe. Since the start of their existence humans have wondered about what the world really is and how it came about. According to C.S. Lewis there are 2 central views.

1) Materialistic View
a. In the materialistic view, people believe that matter and space just happen to exist and always have, but nobody really knows why, and it just so happened to produce creatures like ourselves who are able to think.

2) Religious View
a. In the religious view, people believe that what lies behind the universe is a greater power that we cannot ever fully comprehend, nor can we ever fully understand why God created the universe how he did. However, those who believe in this view believe that God has a purpose for everything he made, including ourselves.

Science cannot defend or refute either view since science works by experiments; it answers how things are but not why things are. C.S. Lewis stresses that this is not a statement against science for science has often proved to be very valuable to the progress of mankind, but it is simply a statement of fact. He also contends that the only thing in the universe that we can know more about than we can learn from external observation is the human person. We do not merely observe people, we are people. For example, the moral law that is written on each one of our hearts is not something someone could know simply by observance without having this inside knowledge of the human person.

I mentioned that C.S. believed that there are two central views about which people view how and why the earth is what it is and how it came about, however C.S. Lewis points out that there is in fact an in-between third view.

3) Creative Evolution View
a. In the creative evolution view, people believe that the small variation by which the life on this planet evolved from the lowest forms to man were not by chance but by the striving of a “life-force.”

If by life-force they mean something like a mind bringing life into existence and leading it to perfection than their view is actually in line with the religious view; this mind they speak of is God. However, if they believe that this life-force is something without a mind, their view is fatally flawed just as the materialistic view is flawed according to C.S. Lewis. When this third view is absent of God, it becomes eerily similar to a popular belief and threat to Christianity in our present time; moral relativism. Many people find creative evolution so attractive because it gives one the emotional comfort of believing in God with none of the less pleasant consequences. We will find out in chapter five why this creative evolution view is flawed.

God bless!

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