Friday, October 3, 2008

Mere Christianity

Book One:
Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe

Chapters 1, 2 and 3

We've all heard people quarrel and fight. And they do that because of the Law of Human Nature. If you're not being fair, and I call you out on it you won't reply with "Who cares about this fairness thing." You will most likely try to explain why you were being fair. That is because we both have ingrained in our hearts that fairness is right and unfairness is wrong.

"It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behavior 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...Quarreling means trying to show that the other man is wrong."

That law or rule that both parties have in their mind is the Law of Human Nature. A basic set or morals set inside of each and every one of us. Natives in savage countries or people in ancient times may have had different morals than we do today, but they were not completely different. A total different morality would mean that people we admired for running away in a battle or where people felt proud to back-stab someone who had been so kind to them.

C.S. Lewis said something that caught my attention, "Selfishness is never admired." This struck me kind of funny because I thought about all of the celebrities whose lives are practically built on selfishness. But then I remembered that even in the worldliness of Hollywood people are deeply admired who care for the orphans or give their money to an important cause. The celebrities who are purely selfish may be admired for their good acting or singing, but everyone knows that if they don't help and care for others they are sorely lacking.

We don't have to follow the rules of nature. They are often ignored and soon people become callous to the urge to do the right thing and continue to do wrong. While gravitational law is not a choice (you'll fall if you jump off a building, whether you want to or not), the Law of Human nature is a choice (you can kill that person or not, its ultimately your choice).

"These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in."

According to Lewis, many people argue about this Moral Law saying that its merely instinct, like an animal would have. But that is simply not true. Lewis gave the example of a person who hears a cry for help from a man in danger. When you hear that call you will most likely feel two desires: one to go as far away from danger as you can, and the other to go and help the person calling for help. These are your instincts. The Law of Human nature helps you to decide which one is right (obviously helping the person). Here, though, you still have a choice. You know whats right and you may or may not do that. So the Moral Law is not itself an instinct, its a tool to decipher which of those instincts you should win.

"Consequently, this Rule of Right and Wrong, or Law of Human Nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow or other be a real thing - a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves. And yet it is not a fact in the ordinary sense, in the same way as our actual behavior is fact. It beings to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men's behavior, and yet quite differently real - a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us."

(Whew, that was a deep one. Let's not give up, though! I was tempted to several times, but the fact that this was school work and not optional kept me from it. ;-) This stuff is rich. So stretch your mind and keep reading, even if you normally wouldn't read this kind of stuff. You'll be glad you did.)

1 comment:

Mary said...

Yes, I bet that is a deep one. Keep it up, you are stretching your brain.