I've already mentioned that Lewis seems to view or at least lay out Christianity as though it is 'corrected' Dualism. There's a Good and an Evil entity in the universe, but rather than them being equal opposites, the Good (God) created everything. Including the Evil entity. Of course, he wasn't Evil when he was created. He chose to become that way. Which I still have issues with, by the way. If, as I have been informed, angels do have the ability to make choices it's just that they can't or don't ever change their minds after the choice has been made. So, presumably Lucifer *chose*, at one point to serve God. Then later on he changed his mind. Which shouldn't have been possible according to that theory. Not only that, he convinced a third of all the other angels in heaven to change their minds too. But now that he's made *that* choice, there's the assumption that he'll never change his mind again. I just...it doesn't make sense to me on some level. I keep reminding myself that Orthodox thought tells me it's not something I should worry about, the ultimate fate of the Devil. That there is the possibility that he could change his mind again and ask for forgiveness. One of those things we just don't know.
Now, my personal theory that 'Satan' is a job. *That* makes sense. Of course it does, it's *my* theory so it will obviously make sense to me. :D
Anyway. Moving on...
Lewis opens the chapter with the question: If, as Christians believe, an evil power has set up shop on the earth and basically taken over, is this in accordance with God's will? If it is, that seems perverse and cruel. If it's not, then He can't be an absolutely powerful being because something is happening that goes against His will and He's not doing anything to stop it. Though you have to ask, if a being is powerful enough to be all powerful, would anything be able to go against it in the first place? That sort of overwhelming force...would anything be able to actually choose to go against it? It'd be like making the decision to operate without oxygen. Anyway.
Lewis compares it to a mother who tells her children that she is not going to make them clean their rooms every night. That they have to learn to do it on their own. And, of course, she goes in one day to find the rooms are a mess. This is not what she would want (not her will) but she has allowed it to happen by giving the children a choice.
In other words - free will's a bugger. God has, according to this thought process, abdicated part of His power. He's saying, I gave you guys directions, then I gave you the ability to choose. I'm not going to force you to do what's right/best/what I want. I could, but I won't. And then we run off and do whatever we want to do.
So why free will? According to Lewis:
"Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free."
Okay. I get that. I even agree with that. Everyone, mark it down on the calendar! For any choice to have real emotional meaning it has to be made freely. Yes, there is an emotional impact from forced choices. There's no denying that. What I mean is that being manipulated or forced into 'love' is not the same thing as choosing love. Or any other choice. I'm probably not making sense here but I can't think of how else to say it. Doing or feeling something because some outside entity has forced that to be your only option does not give it the depth of meaning that you making that choice freely does.
Maybe that is only our perspective though. I mean, we tout free will because we have it and we think that it's the best way to do things. But would we long for free will if we'd never had it? No. My point there? I have none. Just that just because we think the way we do things is best and the 'right' way doesn't necessarily make it true.
Lewis goes on to discuss what the sin of Lucifer was. Pride, putting himself first. Wanting to be God. And that, Lewis says, is the sin that he taught mankind.
"That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.)"
This is another one of those, I get where he's coming from, I just don't agree. Not about the sin that Lucifer first tempted with. I'd agree that that is likely hubris. But about the 'corruption in our sexual nature'. I don't think that human sexuality is corrupt any more than any other human action or feeling is corrupt by nature. Can any aspect of reality be *used* in a corrupt manner? Yes. But if God created it, then it is good by nature. So as long as there is no force, no manipulation, nothing that takes the sexual act and makes it something other than the joining of people in loving fashion then I say it's not corrupt.
"The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else."
I'm just including the above quote for the lulz. Time and place. Eventually we will go beyond even what we have now and cars won't run on gas. And then this quote will make no sense whatsoever out of context.
The point Lewis is trying to make here is that God designed humanity to use Him as 'fuel'. Therefore, without God people do not function properly. That's why people without religion are unhappy. Because they are, of course. All of them. Unhappy and living terrible, awful lives. *straight face* That, according to Lewis, is Satan's work. He's convinced us that we can run on different fuel. So what did God do about it?
According to Lewis He left us our conscience, our sense of right and wrong. Which would ping back to the universal Law of Nature. Ultimate Good that we all know. And not, as I rather think, social constructs of morality. He also left us 'good dreams'. Lewis defines these 'good dreams' as "those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men." It is interesting that many, if not all, ancient religions contain a variation on this theme. But is it surprising? Not really. There's a saying, somewhere, that every story has already been told. Humans imagine variations on the core tales and call them new, but you can boil pretty much anything down to the same couple of stories. And we've been telling them since we learned how. Does that mean that they were hints at the coming of Christ, preparing the world and humanity to accept the idea that a man could be God/part god, die, resurrect and save/do something good for humanity? Sure. If you look at it from that angle. From other angles it just shows that the resurrection story of Jesus is not unique and could well just be an adoption and retelling of any of a million other myths. Sanil covered some of the similarities between Dionysus (I thought it was Mithras, but now that sanil's pointed me in the right direction, it's Dionysus, my bad!) and Jesus on her blog,
And, according to Lewis, He gave us the Jewish people, through whom He laid down two basic concepts - there is only one of Him and He cares about right conduct. Then, He sent us Jesus.
He talks about how unusual/insane it was for someone who came from the Jewish people, the Jewish faith to start claiming he was god. After all, they were monotheists. If we were looking at pantheists, not a problem. Gods mated with humans and had demigod babies all the time. But in Judaism? No. Lewis is trying to show that Jesus must either be who he claimed to be, with pressing reason and authority to make such claims, or he's a mad man. Lewis does not like the fact that some people say they will accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but not as who he claimed to be. Because if he was a mad man then he can't have been a great moral teacher, since he was nutter. And if he wasn't mad, but lying, then he can't be a moral teacher. What with the lying and all. And if he was who he said he was then why can't they take him at his word?