Friday, October 17, 2008

Mere Christianity

Book 1:
Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe

Chapters 4 and 5

Ever since the beginning of time, man have been wondering what this universe really is, and how it came to be. There are two main views on the matter. The first, is what's called the materialistic view, which is very similar to the evolutionary theory.

"People who take that view think that matter and space just happen to exist, and always have existed, nobody knows why;and that the matter, behaving in certain fixed ways, has just happened..."

The other view, Lewis called the religious view. "According to it, what is behind the universe is more like a mind that it is like anything else we know. That is to say, it is conscious, and has purposes, and prefers one thing to another."

Science, Lewis says, works by experiment. My high-school science courses (which were Christian textbooks) said that science, is, in essence, a series of experimentation used to interpret God's world around us. Many things can be determined through science: how far away is that star? what is this substance made of? what happens when we heat this up to such-and-such temperature?

"But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes - something of a different kind - this is not a scientific question."

There are some things God has allowed us to know, others, we will never know. Lewis used the analogy of a postman who gives packages to each person on the street. We know that others got packages, but we are only allowed to open our own. The others aren't ours to open. The only package we are allowed to open is that of Man. We can't open the package belonging to the ocean. Or the one addressed to the trees. We open the package that was sent to us.

"But I should expect to find that there was, so to speak, a sender of letters in both cases, a Power behind the facts, a Director, a Guide."

You may think that Lewis has quickly gone through everything and pointed straight to the God of Christianity. But, actually, we've only gotten to a "certain something" out there, a conscience of sorts, a mind over all.

"Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But id does not being in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is not use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth - only soft soap and wishful thinking to being with and, in the end, despair."