Friday, September 2, 2011

The Invasion

I was going to go to sleep, but now I'm not quite sleepy enough to sleep. So let's see if this is coherent.

Lewis opens by reiterating that atheism is too simple. So is, he says, a version of Christianity he calls 'Christianity-and-water' - a view that says that there is a good God in Heaven and everything is all right. Ignoring all of the difficult doctrines. He calls both of these views 'boys' philosophies'.

He goes on to say that asking for a 'simple' religion is ridiculous. The world, after all, is not simple. So how could a religion be simple and have anything to do with the world we live in?

Don't most religions claim to be simple, at least at their core? Certainly the actual living out of the faith is never simple, but I think most of them view themselves as based on simple principles. Similar to the way the world and the universe, all of reality even, can be said to be based on simple principles, the laws of nature. Physics. 'Simple' can be a very relative term. That being said, I can see Lewis' point. If a religion or a philosophy is too simplistic it has no weight, no depth or flavor. It is useless in real life because it tends not to be flexible enough. Then again, overly detailed philosophies have the same problem.

Lewis also says that reality is odd. Which is why he finds Christianity believable. It mirrors reality. It is both complex and odd.

Well, yeah. But that doesn't mean that it's divinely inspired or anything. If reality is complex and odd, then wouldn't people, left to their own devices, project those same characteristics onto their religion and gods?

He then goes on to contrast Christianity's view of the world with Dualism. Christianity, according to Lewis, views the world as something good that has gone wrong but still retains a memory of its goodness. Dualism, on the other hand, says that there are two equal beings/forces. One Good, one Evil. They are both eternal and separate, depending on nothing for their existence, but forver opposing the other.

Lewis says that this is problematic because one can be good merely for the sake of goodness, but not bad for the sake of badness. People love good and will do things only because they are good. He does not believe that people ever do bad simply because it is bad. There are always other reasons, greed, pain, sorrow, anger, etc.

And in another bid to lose me, he says in the middle of this: 'The nearest we can get to it is in cruelty. But in real life people are cruel for two reasons - either because they are sadists, that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them' - I'll just be over here, hitting my head into my desk. I know, I know, time and context. Lewis did not have the understanding that we do now. It still gripes me.

Lewis' point is that the Evil force cannot be wholly independent of the Good force because the Evil force is predicated on the rejection of the Good. We're judging one better than the other because it adheres to a standard of goodness. But where did the universe get that standard of goodness for the Good force to adhere to? So there must be a third being, one who generated the other two. Otherwise, the Good generated the Evil as a contrast to itself and that still knocks the power balance out of whack.

He seems to be saying, almost, that Christianity is 'corrected' Dualism. Because it's put the Evil power into the proper context of having been a created being who chose to be Evil in opposition to the Good.


  1. I'll just be over here, hitting my head into my desk.

    *giggles* Yeah, Lewis is fun isn't he? :D I'm loving these posts.

    I like the way you summarized his argument (Christianity is corrected Dualism). And I kind of like Lewis' argument there (even though I doubt he meant it in the way I'm taking it), because it basically means good and evil are meaningless terms in themselves, it's only perception that makes things good or evil.

    People love good and will do things only because they are good.
    If they do it because they love it...isn't that ultimately self-serving and doesn't that mean it's not for the sake of goodness alone but for their own interests? See, it's things like this that confuse me. Most of what he says, I can just say he didn't know what we know now. But this one is just basic logic. I don't know if that means he ignored it to make his point or just wasn't a very good logician.

  2. Thanks for this summary and your thoughts on it. Always entertaining and educational! :)

  3. sanil,

    For certain definitions of fun, yeah. :D It's not that I can't see where he's coming from, it just seems to be very simplistic in a lot of ways and doesn't take into account a lot of things. My problem is some of them I don't know what the timeline for understanding/discovery of them was, so I can't decide if Lewis was honestly ignorant or if he rejected them for his own reasons.

    Lewis actually mentions that, that Dualism makes the definitions of good and evil subjective rather than objective. But he rejects it because he seems to believe that that way lies madness. IDK. We define things by opposites a lot of the time. So we know good to be good because it is the opposite of something that we don't like. But that thing, from another point of view would be good, in which case the thing we define as good would be evil. Or something can be good in one situation and evil in another.

    That. See, I shouldn't do half awake posts because I meant to point that out. If you're willing to step back and look at pretty much any action objectively, then there's a selfish or self serving reason for everything. Even actions that may seem dangerous to the individual have reasons that go deeper than, 'because it was right'. I actually don't think that many people do anything purely because it's good *or* evil. We're far more complex than that.

    I'm guessing maybe Lewis just had a blind spot here? It's possible. We only see what we want to see quite often.

  4. Susanne,

    Well yes, I know I'm entertaining. Do you have any thoughts on the subject? *pokes you with her pokey stick* I will make you participate!

  5. I can be simplistic and say that pretty much all religions (that I've ever heard of) can be boiled down to 'the golden rule'. There you go. Simple religion / morality sorted!

  6. Not the older religions. Just. You know. Pointing that out. :) They were all about appeasing the gods so that they didn't wipe out the human population. We didn't start theologizing human interaction until later. And theologizing is so a word. I say it is, so it is!

  7. Hahaha yeah you are totally right! I wasn't thinking of those. *smacks head*

  8. Everyone forgets the old ways!


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