Thursday, September 14, 2006

More Lewis Gems w/critiques

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line [b'zman hazeh, many would of course argue for a materialist explanation from evolutionary ethics and Sociobiology; I would point them too many places to list, but among them Holmes Rolston III's Gifford Lectures, "Genes Genesis and God". An avowed evolutionary Theist, scientist and renowned scholar in environmental ethics]. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? [a great way to rephrase the issue. Give me two other examples of "The Universe"...of course, what we allow as going into the meaning of this phrase has changed, will change, etc] If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist–in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless -I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice–was full of sense. [English Lit professors and similar PoMo types will literally argue that indeed, their reading of a book - or reading of something as a book - is a similarly privileged lynchpin of meaning in a universe without]. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.
Very well then, atheism is too simple. And I will tell you another view that is also too simple. It is the view I call Christianity-and-water, the view which simply says there is a good God in Heaven and everything is all right-leaving out all the difficult and terrible doctrines about sin and hell and the devil, and the redemption. Both these are boys ‘ philosophies.
It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of–all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain–and, of course, you find that what we call ’seeing a table’ lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of.
…Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect. …Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have." (Mere Christianity, p.38-42)

Christianity is something one might not have guessed is so clear. Anything infected with the Torah virus is going to be different then expected! And christianity clearly sees itself as standing on solid Torah ground as it's fulfillment.
First off, tons of sites on the Net can offer arguments against Biblical 'fulfillment' via J.C. (Messiah Truth, Outreach Judaism and this link are good places to begin). But C.S. Lewis does not stop there; he offers further that christianity was also a fulfillment of pagan expectations; this is peppered throughout his works, and essentially runs along the line that "dying/reborn gods" in pagan mythology are foreshadowings of the actual real-time, real-place occurance of J.C. dying and being reborn. Without standing on the assumption that Biblical expectations were actually fulfilled - christian "unexpectedness" stands only on this pagan leg. But the gospels are adamant regarding a full, two-legged nature; it probably would not be historical christianity to claim otherwise! One can't hop from leg to leg, argue that "well, maybe it wasn't a Jewish fulfillment, so I'll switch the leg I stand on", like someone tauntingly crossing an imaginary boundary. Also Hebrew Scriptures were canonized and established centuries before the various Councils ultimately established the christian canon of Scripture. Plenty of opportunity was had to choose which christian narratives, among many, most approximately fit both pagan and Biblical material and the consensus of the church (even within the canon, variations exist that have their affects; these were also selected from into the canon of whats believed vs. what's read/studied). In addition, pagan religions were/are so diverse that the role of a "regenerating god" varies by importance, the number of them within a tradition, gender, etc (accounts of a God of the Gods, even over the dying ones, however, are more consistant; I'm not sure how to reconcile this with what I take to be a Dooyeweerdian contention - that such Radical Noncontingents are radically exclusive - considering the profusion of this idea spanning Christian creeds and l'hvdl elaborated on in Rabbinic literature). Such dieties also do not exhaust the narratives of these pre-christian peoples; what of the other myths, gods, etc? Shouldn't they also bear coorelaries in the [surviving/canonical] christian scriptures? to what degree? One could answer that because of the central doctrinal importance of the resurrection, it is the only one that needed foreshadowing. But again; the role over time and place of these foreshadowing dieties varies, based on all manner of completely historical/environmental variables. It's not a central part of my critique, so I don't want to elaborate on it here.


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