In this episode, Chris Yiesla fills-in for Kurt and talks about the importance of a Mere Christian approach.
Listen to “Episode 20: Mere Christianity: Right and Wrong, a Clue to Meaning in the Universe” on Spreaker.
Chris Y: Hello. Good afternoon everyone. Ignore that last bit. I’m not Kurt Jaros. How are you guys doing today? Welcome to Veracity Hill, striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. My name is Chris Yiesla. I’m normally on the panel sitting on the opposite side of bench of Kurt, but today, our fearless leader Kurt Jaros is taking a much needed day off to spend with his family and I volunteered to help run things here at the base of Veracity Hill. How are you all doing today guys? How was your holiday? Your turkey day? It’s a great time for me especially since I am a single man living in an apartment and living out of a microwave day to day. The other 364 days of the year I am very thankful for a hearty Thanksgiving meal. I was just delighted to have a very quiet relaxing day with not much stress at all, lots of good food, good tea, good pie, and a nice brisk walk in the cool weather and I hope all of you are still alive after the Black Friday madness that ensued, but welcome to Saturday. Welcome to Saturday. We are in the middle of a glorious four to five day weekend and we are going to be talking about things that pertain to truth as we usually do upon this show, but since I’m in the studio today and not Kurt, we are going to be talking about something a little bit different. We spent the last couple of months leading up to the election if you remember talking about truth in the arena specifically of politics and we are all done with that now. We had a lovely show last week, kind of wrapping that all up, and today we’ll be beginning a one-off or a series that we may do again in the future depending on what you guys think and how everything is received. We’re going to be doing a series today on the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
Chris on: C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity
The book is one of my favorite books and it’s a glorious little snapshot of what Christians believe and today actually despite the title of the book, we’re actually going to not spend a lot of time talking about Christianity and I’ll explain that in a second, but as we go forward today, I hope you will forgive my voice quality. The week has left me with a bitter cold that I’ve been fighting for most of the week and it has robbed me of my otherwise boyish voice so if I turn my head to cough for a moment or I don’t come through very clearly, I hope you’ll be very patient with me as I struggle through this along with you.
Today, specifically, I would like us all to kind of step back for a moment and I want to talk to you today not as an American citizen or as a Christian, but as a fellow human being and I’m going to take that worldview cap off and if you’re listening today and you’re a Christian, I pray you’ll indulge with me for a moment and take the Christian worldview cap off for just a moment. If you are a Muslim or a Buddhist, a humanist, agnostic, atheist, evolutionist, a communist, whatever, I pray that you will take these worldviews off for just a moment because I would like to talk about some things that pertain to all of us as fellow human beings made of the same stuff, flesh and blood, who are dealing and living on the same planet. Every now and then as human beings, it benefits us to step back and take moral inventory of ourselves, to wide shot our existence and to wide shot why we are here, to think about these things and whether or not you put aside time to do it, most likely if you are a human you have found yourself faced with these kinds of questions.
Why am I here? Who am I really? Is there a cause or meaning behind life or is it meaningless? Broadly these types of questions are all referred to under a kind of a broad blanket that’s sometimes referred to as the human condition. We kind of stumble through life with these questions and they’re all common. No matter where we’re coming from, what society, time period, civilization, worldview, or religion we have come from, we all ask these questions at some point of our lives where we find ourselves very horrifically staring them square in the face without an answer and so I would like to take some time with you today and see if we can address some of these questions and I can’t think of anyone better in my mind who I have read who does this better than C.S. Lewis. Many of you may be familiar with him. If you’ve never heard of him before, he has written many great non-fiction books on the subject of Christianity but also some fiction books, most popular of which is the Chronicles of Narnia series.
I believe that is seven different books, slanted towards children. He was also a contemporary of the great J.R.R. Tolkien and they actually swapped ideas back and forth, both of their fiction and non-fiction variety and also of the worldview variety. They spent a lot of time just bouncing off of each other and they were very good friends, but C.S. Lewis is a very very well educated man and a very poetic man, and he was not theologically sound when he became a Christian, but he learned how to take the basic truths of Christianity and make them so all humans could understand it regardless of education level or world background and for the duration of this talk, for most of the rest of this talk, I’m probably not going to be mentioning anything about Christianity or God or gods or any such notion.
We’re just going to build towards that eventually, but we’re going to start on common ground with a clean slate so I hope regardless of your worldview you’ll come to this talk with an open mind, because I’m not going to be mentioning Christianity for the bulk of it. I’m not going to be mentioning God or gods or any such notion until toward the end and I hope by the time we get to the end you’ll understand why we have to bring it up, but even then, I’m going to be avoiding whether or not these things are true or not. We may need to mention and not of necessity that I’m going to be trying to avoid adhering to any specific worldview today and I hope whether or not you’re a Christian or not, you will understand why over the course of this talk.
Hope you’ll excuse me as I take some drinks of water today to kind of keep up the pace that we need to be going at. Sometimes I will be giving summaries of what C.S. Lewis is talking about. Other times I will be reading right from the book because I can’t really think of anyone else who says what he says better than he does so you’ll excuse me as we go forth today. I’m going to start by reading the very first section of the very first part of this book, Mere Christianity. Do not be dissuaded by the title. Once again, we’re not talking about Christianity quite yet, so listen to these words from C.S. Lewis and once again bear in mind with the quality of my voice.
Everyone has heard people quarreling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. They say things like this: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”—”That’s my seat, I was there first”—”Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm”— “Why should you shove in first?”—”Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine”—”Come on, you promised.” People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.
Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behaviour does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behaviour which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: “To hell with your standard.” Nearly always, he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise. It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behaviour or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrel in the human sense of the word. Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.
Chris: So this is a very interesting beginning here. We see a couple of things pop up. Subconsciously we all have this kind of agreement about what right or wrong should be. Now bear in mind that as civilizations have come and go the exact needle has fallen on different places as to right or wrong, but me and you living in this society today, we have agreements what a right and wrong should be and more often than not when you wrong me or I wrong you, you come at me with an argument that tries to put me in the wrong and say, “Hey. What you did did not appeal to this thing that I expect you to know about.” Right? I could not quarrel with you about something that had happened if I did not think you were being held to the same standard. Like we said here, the other man very rarely replies, “To hell with your standard.” So we see that very often people quarrel. Every day people get into arguments about things and if we do we find that we try to make exceptions why that should be.
Let me give you an example here. I grew up or I live rather in this town. I have the privilege of living with a wonderful family and I have many kids and I have over the years watched them grow up, but when one of the children accuses one of the other children of doing something or one of the parents tries to discipline a child, the child in question always tries to make an excuse. Not saying that their behavior wasn’t wrong, but there was some exception to the behavior. “Well I only did this because my brother was doing this first,” or “He irritated me,” or “I didn’t really slap her. I was really trying to push her face away.” We all do this. We try to correct our behavior so it fits more in line with the standard that we know the other person is accusing us of not keeping. We seem very obsessed with doing this. But here’s something that’s also very interesting that comes right from the book.
None of us are really keeping this law.
“This year or this month or more likely this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That’s fine. The shady business about the money, the one you had almost forgotten, well that came up when you were on very hard times, and what you promised to do for old so-and-so and you had never done, well you would have never promised it if you would have known how frightfully busy you were going to be. As far as your behavior to your wife or husband or sister or brother, if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at all, and who the dickens am I anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently?”
Chris: Now I’m not having you come out with answers yet. I’m just wanting you to wonder about these things. Look back on your own life, this week, this year, today maybe, and see if these things have happened to you where someone has said a thing and you have reacted in this way. Now C.S. Lewis makes no mention that in the past people have called this the Law of Nature not because it was a law of nature in the same way that the law of gravity is a law of nature, but it was so natural to human beings that they just expect everyone to kind of know it. There may be someone, a rare exception, who truly does not understand this law, but it was so natural so you’ll hear him refer to this as the Law of Nature as we go on, but at this point I want to kind of break this down for you and say that C.S. Lewis has made two assertions about the way we behave from these things.
- Human beings all over the Earth have this curious idea that they ought to behave a certain way and cannot really get rid of it. Again. Human beings all over the Earth have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way and really can’t get rid of it. #2. They do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature, or the law of right and wrong and morality, once again whatever you want to call it, and they break it.
- They do not behave in the way that they think they ought to behave. They know this Law of Nature and they break it. So these are the assertions that C.S. Lewis is making right up front and once again we have to separate this law of human nature from the Law of Nature. For instance, when I drop a stone it obeys the law of nature or gravity. Right? It doesn’t think about whether or not it ought to do it so the law of nature as it applies to nature or any other organism talks about the things that are done. When you drop a rock. It falls always. Right? If gravity is of this way according to the law, but a law of human nature does not say what humans do, it says what humans ought to do and we need to remember that distinction as we move forward. As soon as we bring up these two main points. There’s a law that we seem to all know and we can’t get rid of and two, we don’t obey it, there might rise some objections to saying, “Hey. This isn’t really not a big deal.”
Here’s some objections I want to talk about real quick.
Objection #1: Isn’t what you call the moral law simply a herd or group instinct and has not been developed or evolved over time like all of our other instincts? So this morality we have as humans is not just part of our natural evolution or progression as humans? Has not been baked into us by our genes or by society? So that’s a common objection and makes sense on paper, but I want to break this down in the same way C.S. Lewis does. If you have two instincts in you, the instinct of if you were in a dangerous situation to help someone or to run away because there was a danger, to self-preserve. Right? We have that strong self-preservation instinct or however you call it. You see it much stronger of course in animals. Let’s say that we have this instinct in us to help someone who’s hurt or to run away from the danger that hurt them. Right?
Now of course, that instinct to run is going to be very very strong. I think anyone who understands this dilemma or has been faced with it understands that their first inclination is to run, but whilst they are doing it, they find a third thing that is telling them that it is probably better to help your fellow man than to run, even though the instinct to run is stronger, so if you have this thing that’s judging between the two instincts, it really can’t itself be one of the instincts. For instance, I’m a musician. I play guitar, guitar, keys from time to time, and I have these notes that I play. Right? They’re C sharp, D, B, A, E, and they all have a certain quality to them, but at some times it is good to play a C sharp. Other times it is not good to play a C sharp. Right? You’ll notice that if you’re playing a certain core progression and you play a C sharp in the middle of that it doesn’t sound very good. It makes people wince. Especially if you’re on stage and you look out and see everyone, “hmmm. That doesn’t sound good.” Now the thing that tells me whether or not C sharp is the right thing to play is my sheet music. Right? I have the sheet music in front of me that says “Play C sharp.” That is the right note to play, but it is not itself one of the notes. I think morality works the same way. Morality, there are lots of keys in our life that are our instinct. If you think of a keyboard or a piano, there’s lots of keys in our heart, our emotions, our instinct, our chemical reactions, and they all have different purposes, but the thing that says which one of those things is the right thing to do cannot itself be one of the keys, so morality while we’re still trying to get our grip around it, I don’t think it’s one of the instincts. It doesn’t make sense that it is an instinct that’s developed, because it can’t itself choose between two other instincts. That doesn’t make much sense.
Another objection that comes up is more specific where it says, “Okay. We’ll grant you that. But isn’t this moral law or this right or wrong stuff, wasn’t that just part of society whether you’re in America or across sea in Europe or anywhere else, isn’t this right or wrong specific to my society? Isn’t this just a societal convention that is kind of taught us by our schools or parents? Right? That’s true that we’re taught things in society. We’re all taught things by authority. Most of the things that you believe are on authority. The thing about this picture as far as morality relates to society, even though societies over time and eras and different cultures vary, for instance if I compare the morality of myself to say the morality of the ancient Greeks before the Roman Empire, I could see that things are quite different couldn’t I? Right? But a lot of the things are still similar. Right? We see a lot of similarities. Nations differ in morality, but not so much as people think. For instance, we may have different views from a different nation as far as how many spouses you should take, right? A man might say I can have one wife or five wives, but all nations agree that you should not just have whatever woman you want. There’s a kind of a common understanding there. I could spend more time on this but of course, we need to keep moving. But ask yourself these questions if you think morality’s just a social convention. Ask yourself this, have some societies been more moral than other societies? Have they made progress or improved? Do you think your society has made progress or improved?
But if you think morality is just a social convention, it’s just preference. It’s just put into us by society. You can’t really measure progress can you? None of us can. I would think, and I would like to think that most societies on the planet today, especially the greater world powers of today whether they be over here in the West or out there in the East would say that “Hey, we would like to say our moral conventions of our society are better than say those of Nazi, Germany.” Right? Most of us would like to say that we conduct ourselves better than Adolf Hitler did when he led his nation. Now this is course not reflecting on anything that Germany is doing now, but Germany back in the early 1930’s and 40’s. It was a different time, a different mindset, and different moral standards, but we would all like to say that we are doing better than that, but here’s the trick. The moment that you say one set of moral ideas can be better than another, especially between nations, you are in fact measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other one, but the standard that measures the two things itself is something different. For instance, if I have a ruler and I have made a ruler in shop class or I bought a ruler and I see my friend and he has a ruler and the ruler seems shorter than mine, mine seems longer, well I need to really measure a foot, you would go to the standard of measurement of feet that I believe they have locked somewhere in France. Someone can correct me on that, but somewhere I know they have the standard. They have, “This is a foot.” In order for me to know if my foot, my ruler is closer to a foot than my friend’s foot, his ruler I mean, we both need to go and compare to this standard. Right? We have to say this is closer to a foot so my ruler is more correct. It’s closer to a more accurate foot and we do this as nations, as people. We compare ourselves to other nations. Am I better than this nation? Am I better than this person? The only way we’re able to do that is by in our minds holding up to a standard, so I don’t think it’s something that’s in us by societal means alone. Of course, it’s conveyed that way, but I don’t think it’s the birth child of our society, these morals that we hold ourselves to.
Now we also see once again that we don’t, remember, we have this law that we feel obligated to obey, but we just don’t do it, do we? Right? We have this law that we don’t, so in anything, any system of anything like whether you have a computer or a guitar, there are always consequences for that computer or guitar behaving in a way that it’s not supposed to behave. Sometimes those consequences are very light, but sometimes they’re severe. If my guitar sounds out of tune, well I don’t know if I can play this guitar or I need to retune it. If my computer is not working, I may need to get a new hard drive or I may need to increase the size of my RAM that’s inside my computer, but there’s always consequences for something not behaving as it ought to. Someone might say “Well, hey Chris. I think you’re being a little harsh on humanity. Nobody’s perfect.” And you’re right. Nobody is perfect. That’s exactly what we’re saying. But someone might say, “Hey. Isn’t this adhering of a moral law just a matter of what’s convenient or beneficial to my person?”
For instance, don’t I do things you say are right only because they happen to benefit me? For instance, I might give charity to someone because it makes me feel good and I have change to spare, or I might forgive this person because it’s in my benefit to do so politically, or I might give this person a fund because I might want to call on them in a favor in the future, etc. You can go down the list of ways I think morality might benefit me, but consider this example. Right? When there are two people who wrong you, you grow far more angry with the man who tried purposely to do it than you do with the man who did so on a complete accident. For instance, I’ve had the unfortunate mispleasure as someone who drives a car, to occasionaly get hit or hit someone while I’m in my car. Praise the Lord this has not happened very frequently, but it has happened in the past.
Now sometime last year I was hit by a young man who it was a complete accident. He wasn’t paying attention. His face kind of went completely white and he was very nervous and sweating and he knew that what he had done was very wrong, but you could see his face and the one of this voice and in the shake of his person that it was a complete accident and I might have been, I was a little jipped with him at first, but I wasn’t super mad with him in the end and the whole situation was solved very amicably, but if this man for some reason during rush hour had rammed up behind me and forcibly hit my car in a way that he wanted to hit my car and made no means or attempt to hide that fact that he had intended to hit my car, I would be very furious with him. Why did you hit my car? Why would you do such a thing? Right? So, both of those things inconvenienced me, but I grow far more mad with the second one. Here’s an example that C.S. Lewis gives. Right?
A man occupying the corner seat in the train because he got there first, and a man who slipped into it while my back was turned and removed my bag, are both equally inconvenient. But I blame the second man and do not blame the first.
Chris: When we are trying to bring up this law of morality, well I’m not going to argue with the guy who accidentally hit my car and Mr. Lewis is not going to argue morally with the person who happened to be in the seat that he wanted to take, but I would argue morally with the guy who tried to take my seat, or the guy who purposely and maliciously hit my car. I would try to bring up the moral law that I expected the other man to know about. So it’s more than just a matter of inconvenience.
So what we’re going to do right now, the thing about these things that Lewis has brought up and these objections to it, once again, and I think I forgot to mention this, if you would like to participate in the show, there a couple of ways you can do that. You can text VERACITY to the number 555-888 and if you do that you can text the show questions either while we’re live or off air and you can request topics or guests that you would like to see on the show. If you would like to call in right now and engage in this conversation, the number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483 if you would like to join in this discussion or have a question about what we’ve been talking about today. First before we do that, I want you to think about what we’ve been talking about today. We’re going to go to a short break and when we come back, we’re going to sum up what we’ve been talking about and we’re going to see if we have some answers for why this law is in our hearts so stay tuned. We’ll be right back after a quick word from some our sponsors.
Chris: Welcome back to Veracity Hill. Thank you for hanging out with us after the break. If you want to call in and be part of the show, that number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483 if you’d like to have your voice on the show or chime in about what we’re doing today. If you are friends with me on Facebook specifically you can leave a comment there or on our speaker page there’s actually a chat function if you don’t feel like calling in or can’t remember the number, if you click on the podcast you’re listening to right now we will see it and we will address the answer, question, or concern on the show today.
I want to sum up everything we’ve talked about real quick. I’m going to do it as quickly as possible here so we can continue going on. So we find in ourselves a certain law concerning right and wrong or fair play that we expect our fellow humans to know by default. This is the way we can in our day to day. A law that we did not invent and which we know we ought to obey, so this kind of presents a very interesting situation for us. We have this law in us concerning right or wrong or fair play or whatever you want to call it that we expect our fellow humans to know about. We didn’t invent it. We know we ought to obey it and we consistently fail to keep it within ourselves. We didn’t invent it, but we find it within ourselves. Okay? So everyone tracking with me. This is usually when the human condition questions start to kick in, no matter where you’re coming from. Remember, we’re not talking about Christianity yet or at all. We’re not talking about God or gods or any worldview quite yet. We’re just addressing everything that we’ve run into as human beings and this is when human beings start wondering “Hey. Is there any meaning to life or the universe? Why do I feel the way I feel? Who am I? All these questions start to kick in usually when you come across a moral dilemma like this. We have this thing inside us that we didn’t invent, but we know we ought to obey, and we expect other humans to be the same way.
Now I’m going to bring in some worldviews, but I’m going to keep them as broad as possible just so we can categorize some of these things. So when we start talking about the universe and these questions, which by the way, these are not new questions. Every human being who has ever breathed air has wandered this, has wrestled with these things, so welcome to the club. This is not something new, but it’s so old sometimes that it is new. So over the course of time there have been two very broad views and if you have been a human you have taken one of these two paths when trying to answer these questions. There’s the materialist view and the non-materialistic view or the religious view, not adhering to any specific religion. We’re just saying that sometimes a non-materialist view is called a religious view. So the materialist view would say very shortly and has a lot of views underneath, this umbrella view would say there is not a power or force behind the universe, and obviously the non-materialist view would say there is a power or force behind the universe. Now we need to figure out which one of those things is true, so this is where we kind of have to go beyond what we’re able to measure physically with matter and energy and the realm of science and we have to kind of look at something different. We have to look at ourselves. Right? We have inside information. I am a man and I can look inside and see what things are relatable to mankind. By the way, when C.S. Lewis talks about men here, he’s referring of course to the entirety of mankind, both sexes of the human race, and that’s how we’ll be using it most of the day today. So let me read something that C.S. Lewis says here:
We do not merely observe men, we are men. In this case we have, so to speak, inside information; we are in the know. And because of that, we know that men find themselves under a moral law, which they did not make, and cannot quite forget even when they try, and which they know they ought to obey. Notice the following point.
Chris: Anything studying man from the outside, let’s say an alien species or some other thing, right, that is here with us.
Anyone studying Man from the outside as we study electricity or cabbages, not knowing our language and consequently not able to get any inside knowledge from us, but merely observing what we did, would never get the slightest evidence that we had this moral law. How could they? for their observations would only show what we did, and the moral law is about what we ought to do. In the same way, if there were anything above or behind the observed facts in the case of stones or the weather, we, by studying them from outside, could never hope to discover it.
Chris: So we know these things about stones and the weather and things we observe by observing them from the outside, but if anything we’re observing us from the outside, and when we observe humanity from the outside we cannot in essence discover a moral law and we need to try to figure out is there something behind this law? Something or someone? We’re not saying what it might be or what it is. For instance, think of it this way. I get mail and you get mail, but I live in my apartment and I have roommates over time that have come and gone. Now I live alone, but sometimes their mail still comes to my apartment. I don’t open their mail. I take it upon myself as a good roommate. I don’t open their mail. I don’t invade their privacy. I put it off to the side for them to pick up a later date, but I get mail and I can by looking at their envelopes, the size of the envelope, the color, the weight, the texture, I can discern what that might be inside that envelope because I get similar envelopes and I know when I open this envelope, there’s a bill, and when I open this envelope, it’s a greeting card, and when I open this envelope, it’s a wedding invitation, and I can judge what might be in their envelopes based on what is in my envelope, so I can observe myself as a man and you can observes yourself as a man or a woman, and you can kind of make assumptions about what might also be in your fellow man or woman. That’s what C.S. Lewis is saying here and when we examine these laws in ourselves, we find that there is some kind of thing in us that we didn’t put there, and if it wasn’t put there by me, it must have been put there by something or someone else outside of this law. That’s where we find ourselves right now. There’s something or someone outside of the law. Before we continue, we have a caller on the line. It looks like it might be Kurt. I’m gonna put him on here. Kurt. Are you there? Hello Kurt.
Kurt: Hey. Thanks for having me Chris.
Chris: Hey, Kurt. How’s it going?
Kurt: Good. Good. Good. You’re doing a great job. I just had a remark here about you talking about the materialist or say, naturalist position here.
Kurt: And I like the analogy you’re talking about here with the mail pointing, the envelopes pointing to something beyond it because I think that when naturalists try to ground the moral law in, say, evolutionary progress, I think they’ve failed to remember that evolution just tells us what happened, as you previously mentioned, not just what ought to happen.
Kurt: And so since morality is about what ought to happen, trying to ground morality in the evolutionary process doesn’t do the trick because evolution changes and so what we ought to do very well might change which means as you’ve pointed out these are just preferences. There’s no real ought behind it so…
Chris: Right. Right.
Kurt: So yes. That’s a good analogy. We need to point something beyond ourselves to ground morality so..
Chris: Yeah. Yeah.
Kurt: Yeah. That’s all I wanted to say. I don’t know. I guess if I had a question to you I’d say something like “So with the envelope example, how would you say that that fails, I mean it would have to point beyond, but where is the oughtness thing here?” Maybe that’s not the point of the analogy but the analogy points to something else.
Chris: It does point to something else and we’re actually going to be getting to that in just a second of what is the something behind the law that we feel and if you are a materialist or naturalist and you’re coming from that viewpoint, right now we haven’t said which one of these things is true. We just say what we’re perceiving as human beings and if you are of the materialist nature here and say, “Well this morality that we feel in us Chris, I really appreciate your discussion, but it’s all part of this materialist process and material things and matter and energy, that’s perfectly fair, and if that’s true then you don’t have much more discussion to have like that. That’ll be a very easy question for you to answer because it’s just part of our material and chemical process, but if you are not thinking that way, this is the path we’re going to go down as far as well we have some other questions that need to be answered, because it appears to me when I open my envelope so to speak, that there’s something outside the law. That’s what we’re going to get ready to talk about next.
Kurt: Cool. Awesome. Well thanks so much for my call Chris.
Chris: Thanks so much Kurt for being on. Have a great day.
Kurt: You too.
Chris: Take care.
Alright. Thanks our fearless leader Kurt for calling in and contributing today. So right now we’re at a point where we think that there’s a something or someone behind the law. Right now remember, we’re not talking about a specific God or gods, or any religion. We haven’t even touched this yet. We’ve had some indicators of a wide cone of worldview that it may not be, and if you believe that it’s just part of our chemical reactions and part of the universe and material things, I hope you won’t be offended where we’re going because quite frankly when you answer from a materialistic worldview, it’s very easy to answer, if that’s the path you want to go down then it won’t be very hard for you to contribute to that point, but we’re going to be going from the non-material worldview or that scope of worldviews and we say that we have someone or something behind the law and we have two pieces of evidence that kind of say, “Okay. We want to get to know or discover what it is.” “What is this something or someone behind this law that we feel?”
There are two big pieces of evidence that can kind of direct us to what is this force or power thing like? We have two pieces of evidence. One is the universe itself. If we look at the universe, because this thing must be outside the universe, it might have contributed to the way the universe is now. It might have contributed to this thing it maybe created or set into motion or is constantly shaping or being part of whatever. We see this universe and I can derive from the universe that just very plainly and Mr. Lewis makes the same assumptions, that the universe, He or it must be a lover of beauty because the universe is a very beautiful place. It is. You see things and you’re like “Wow. That looks beautiful. That seems beautiful or feels beautiful.” But at the same time we can derive that this thing is maybe not a friend to man because the universe is a very dark place. It’s very easy for humans to die outside the comforts of our cities. We’re not really climatized for a lot of the habitats on our own planet, let alone the rest of the universe, and it’s very easy for us to die. We’re frail little things. So maybe this thing that made the universe or is part of the force behind it, maybe He’s not a friend to man or whatever, so we can contribute those things, but the second piece of evidence that we’ve been talking about, and this is a better piece of evidence, is the moral law that we’ve been talking about today. This power or force most likely is contributing to this moral law that I didn’t invent, but I find inside myself and that I don’t obey. So here are some things we can pull from the fact that we have this universe and specifically this moral law. If you look at the moral law we might be able to pull some characteristics of this someone behind the law.
Here’s some things C.S. Lewis says, and this is important. This is kind of the crux of the whole day. If you talk about the moral law there’s nothing indulgent about the moral law. It is as hard as nails. It tells you to do the straight thing and it does not seem to care how painful, dangerous, or difficult it is. Everyone likes doing the right thing until he has to consistently do the right thing because that’s usually the hard thing. There are a lot of times when it would be very convenient for me if the right thing were not the right thing and I could go do something else that was not so hard or difficult, but most of the time the right thing happens to do the hardest thing, and if any of you have ever tried to do something right consistently, you know exactly what I’m talking about. So this moral law does not seem to have any sympathy for how difficult something is. It says this is the thing you need to do, do it. No matter what kind of reasoning you try to give within yourself, even if you try to forget the moral law, you find yourself pressed against it is still the right thing in your mind and you don’t know what to do about it.
So let’s talk about the someone behind the law who seems to have this very strong sense of fair play, very strong sense of fair play. He has a strong sense of beauty, and he has a strong sense of reality. He’s very harsh on humans. Right? When we talk about this moral law and this power behind the law here’s something that C.S. Lewis says about the someone behind the law.
For the trouble is that one part of you is on His side and really agrees with His disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation.
Chris: I would say that’s true of all of us.
You may want Him to make an exception in your own case, to let you off this one time; but you know at bottom that unless the power behind the world really and unalterably detests that sort of behaviour, then He cannot be good. On the other hand, we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do.
Chris: Think about that for a second. Once again, we’re not talking about any particular entity right now, but we’re talking about this possibility. If there is someone behind the moral law that He invented or it invented and it is very concerned with these things and it is absolutely good, it must hate most of what we do. All human beings have this moral law in them, this fair play. No matter where you’re coming from, what worldview, what religion, what time period you’ve lived in or live in, you have this sense of fair play in you and you see that it’s coming from a place that you did not create, you didn’t invent it, but you expect everyone to know about, and this power behind the law is very obsessed with this very play. It’s very obsessed with beauty and is very hard as nails and it’s absolutely good and if it is absolutely good, we can’t get around the fact that it must hate most of what I do, most of what you do because you and I both know this law we have inside ourselves, we don’t keep it. We can’t dismiss it, but we can’t keep it. This is a dilemma isn’t it? There’s this thing or power behind the law that it appears that we may have greatly upset. Now I’m going to go ahead and bring a worldview in for a moment. It’s after we have realized there’s this real moral law and a power behind the law and that we have broken the law and you have to put yourself at wrong with that power which apparently we have, it is after all this and not a moment sooner that Christianity begins to talk.
I’m not saying whether or not Christianity is right or not, but the truths of Christianity cannot be explained unless you first understand this point. There is a moral law, we’ve broken it. The power behind the law, we’ve put ourselves at wrong with it. There must be follow that there might be some consequences for that, so what are we to do? It makes our human situation look very bleak, and we can talk about this more next episode and we will, or not next episode, the next time we bring up this topic, whether or not that’s next week or several weeks from now is really dependent upon what you guys want to talk about and how you receive this, but what follows is that we have a lot of worldviews. Right? I want you to put your worldview cap back on for a second. Once again, I think we’ve barely mentioned God and we’ve mentioned Christianity just once now, but we’re not going to be talking about which worldview is right. Merely that we’ve addressed this question of this moral law that we have to answer and that there are some worldviews that try to answer it and that we need to address it, but one thing that we absolutely cannot do is say that any of them will do, and I know that’s very attractive, but I want to spend the rest of our time talking about that point that it’s okay to just kind of accept whatever worldview you want to in light of trying to answer this moral dilemma we face as human beings, as all human beings.
There’s this very popular, especially in the Western world here, there’s this very popular concept that it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. As long as you follow that path you’re going to be okay. Everything will be fine. It was very very popular when I was in college. It’s still popular today. I want to talk about that why that may be wrong. I don’t want to say what beliefs are wrong, not yet, but I want to talk about why this may not be an acceptable way and to do that I have a talk here from a guy named Dr. Michael Ramsden. He gave a talk at my church that I was part of over ten years ago in 2005. The quality on the recording is a little low so I apologize for that, but you can hear him fine enough. This is a section of the talk. It’s not the whole talk. It’s a section of the talk, but he talks about, “Do all paths lead to God?” or let’s broaden it out a little bit. Do all paths lead to this someone or something behind the law? So let’s talk about that and real quick and see what answers we come to. This is Dr. Michael Ramsden. He has been or is, I need to brush up on my current events, associated with Ravi Zacharias and he is a brilliant speaker from Oxford so let’s go ahead and listen to this talk by Michael Ramsden now.
That’s Dr. Michael Ramsden. That talk is excellent. We may share it at a later date. Do you understand what he’s saying here? He’s saying it’s very important that you check your tickets to see what bus you’re on and that’s my goal as we wrap up today’s show, as once again even though I am coming from a worldview and I believe what I am saying is true from a worldview, today we’re not talking about which worldviews are true. We’re talking about this problem that we all face as human beings and it’s something I want you to be sure that you’re not messing around with, that you understand that pursuing an a la carte option is not going to solve this moral dilemma as a human being, that I face as a human being. Not all paths lead to God. Not all paths lead to the answer to this law of right and wrong, to the someone or something behind the law. There may be many paths that get close, but I’m asking you not to necessarily bend to a specific worldview at this point in time, that’s not what this discussion is about, but I’m asking you to carefully consider the journey there. You must carefully consider that this is to be taken seriously and I want you to take it seriously. I want you to not apply the silliness that he’s talking about where all paths lead to God and we can be all-inconclusive that way and everything will be fine and that sounds great on paper, believe it me it does, but if it’s not true that doesn’t help you or I at all if it’s not true. We get to the end of the line and discover that we were wrong all along about what we believed in anything. There are always consequences for that, but that’s what I want to kind of leave you with today and I want to leave you with one last quote from C.S. Lewis here from his book in this section.
There has been a great deal of soft soap talked about God the last 100 years. That’s not what I’m offering. You can cut all that out.
So Lewis and Mr. Ramsden and myself are all very serious about making sure that you take this seriously, that we all take this seriously, and we all don’t try and be silly about it. There’s a moral law inside of us. We have to respond to that. There may be and most likely is a something or someone or a force or power behind that law and it’s silly of us to think that we can make up a way to address the moral dilemma and make our way, our path to this someone or something behind the law, so that’s what I want to leave you with today as we wrap up today’s show. I want to thank you for listening to our discussion about morality, right and wrong, as a clue to the meaning of the universe. Think on these things. Meditate on them carefully. Once again, if you want to text a comment or a question and some feedback from the things you heard today you can text VERACITY to the number 555-888 to begin receiving texts from us and anytime you can text that number to send us any feedback or questions you may have. Once again if you’re listening to Spreaker you can leave a comment on the Spreaker page or you can call in on this number, 505-278-7483, even when we’re not live, you can call that number and leave a message and we can address it or call you back later. We typically address these on the show so if you would like to have something said on the show or you would like to talk to one of us personally, we’d love to walk you through some of the things that we talk about today.
I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and partnership with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, and Evolution 2.0, and thankful so much for the great minds before me who have gone ahead and thought about these things carefully, Mr. C.S. Lewis and Dr. Michael Ramsden. I’m very thankful to our fearless commander-in-chief Kurt Jaros for creating Defenders Media and Veracity Hill and giving us a place to talk about these things and strive for truth no matter what that truth is, to find the answers that we seek in all these arenas in life. I want to thank you so much for bearing with me today despite the change in programming and listening to these things and I just want to thank you so much for continuing to strive for truth in faith, politics, and society. Take care.
Next: Episode 32: Mere Christianity pt 2: The Power behind the Moral Law
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