When C. S. Lewis’ Rage Against God Hit a Dead End

“If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling ‘whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn’t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?’ But then that threw me back into another difficulty. My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?

A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too— for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies.

Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist— in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless— I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality— namely my idea of justice— was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”

 


 

Lewis, C. S. (2009-05-28). Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (pp. 38-39). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

 

Living Backwards

Its a simple fact really. A stunning fact. A fact that should shake us to the bones: We will all die someday. And yet we live most of our lives furiously pushing forward as if tomorrow has no right not to come. This week some of us were shaken out of the stupor. Something may have happened to wake you up, to make you stop, to let the cold reality sink in. Death is inevitable. This happened to me and some of my friends by the death of a young man. I personally never met him but the pain of a young and untimely death spreads like a cold fog through the hearts of friends and loved ones to all around. It weighs down on us. It says to us in an arresting voice, “Pull over. Stop and think.”

Continue reading “Living Backwards”

The Secular Worshiper

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The words of novelist David Foster Wallace, not long before his suicide:

“Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship…is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough…Worship you body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you…Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is…they’re unconscious. They are default settings.”

Despite his secular background, Wallace makes some very precise observations here. This is an observation that dives straight into the heart of how we function and live our lives on a daily basis. This is the mechanism of the human heart – we live by our worship; we live by taking one of the good things in life and exalting them as ultimate sources of meaning.

 

Its not enough for us to have mere answers, mere equations about how life works. To be human is to long for an answer that captivates our heart. Each of us seeks this and we will be restless until we are gripped by something. A religion, a hobby, a career, a relationship – the list goes on. No matter where we look in in our own lives, hearts and histories, we will see this reality being played out.

 

This then leads each of us to the obvious question: what do I worship and why? What is the thing that grips by heart and breathes meaning to my everyday life? Where is my worship taking me?

 

As if thats not enough, there is an even deeper question here: why is this so? Where does such a drive for worship come from? There is no point in answering the first question unless we stand on solid ground in our answer to the second question. If I don’t know why I am a worshiper, it sucks all the meaning out of my worship. This second question drills down to the core of human nature. It also helps us really start to see whether or not the answers that we hold to really align with reality.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Bulverism

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“In other words, you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it Bulverism.

 

Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father—who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third—‘Oh you say that because you are a man. ’ ‘At that moment’, E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.’ That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.”

 


Lewis, C. S. (2014-05-20). God in the Dock (p. 301). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]