Tag Archives: C.S. Lewis

Natural and Supernatural Co-Location

Ed talks about where here is in relation to the supernatural domain:

With rare exception, all of the Christians I’ve ever met ascribe to some version “Heaven” as somewhere different from here and now. But it seems most of the time a mere idea. It’s not part of their calculus of life. They act as if it’s not real; they talk and write and construct a whole framework that denies it. This denial is pervasive. The belief is not a truth, but a mere fact for them, and has precious little effect on how they operate. It’s always out there somewhere and they aren’t striving to connect directly. It’s an orthodoxy without faith.

I can recall a session in the NATO chapel with a bunch of teenagers from those military families in the chapel. I tried to convey the concept of our universe as a mere bubble with distinct boundaries and a distinct lifespan existing within a broader existence that has no such boundaries. I used a lot of jargon common to science fiction from those days. I suppose some of them got it, because you could see the proverbial light bulb flash on their faces. But these were kids just a few years from legal adulthood. Why was this so new to them?

I had always considered it similar to how Ed does, though I can’t trace the reasons how that came to be. As he mentioned, it seems to be the favorite basic idea behind many a science-fiction universe premise, though in most cases if the supernatural can be reached through advanced mechanics, it’s not really the supernatural but another level of the physical domain. The “Outside” from the Ender series is a good example of this, though I think there may have been a non-natural factor needed to access it.

Other works play on the co-location idea, but add an element of sound. C.S. Lewis in his space trilogy mentioned our universe existing as a level of vibration, and Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings cosmology involves the singing of angelic beings as the primary force in the creation of Eä—and remember what happened when a hobbit put on the One Ring? Of course, there’s also New Age explanations that borrow this concept of co-located domains of existence.

Maybe the best starting place is drawing some analogous truths between our domain vs the supernatural domain lies in the phenomenon of embryonic gestation and the natal process. I have some ideas that came from that, but that’s a post for another day.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 10

Buon Natale!

You Barely Make a Difference and It’s a Good Thing – Stop trying to fix the world
Also, you are not advancing the kingdom – “There is no social agenda that has any relationship with the Kingdom of God.”

The Metalhead Kids Are All Right

How Progressives Stole Christian History – Progressivism is an apex-Enlightenment philosophy, and the Enlightenment has nothing to do with God.

The Truth About The Crusades

Winter cycling: good idea or flat-out insane? – Just do it.

English is not normal

C. S. Lewis, H. P. Lovecraft, and the Problem of Alien Worlds

Research Points To Mental Health Risks Associated With Meatless Diet – Eat meat.
Also, eat fish. It’s Christmastime!

Socialism Is Dead. Mises Was Right

The Cult of the Toto Toilet – You’re not a bourgeois sissy unless you call the modern toilet “uncivilized.”

4 Simple Responses to Science-Based Atheism – via Mike Duran,

Study: Elite scientists can hold back science
Also, the death of science.

Random Bonus Thought: No matter how noble or malicious your intent, propaganda does have its place. Many lies have bullhorns, and we all know how truth is received.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 8

It’s been a while since I did one of these!

The Medieval Mind and the Modernist Error – You might be dumber than a 12th century French peasant who makes $2 a year.

Academia’s Rejection of Diversity – AKA: A moral imperative for us, not for them.

The Latest Evidence That Helmet Laws Don’t Help Bike Safety

Science Doesn’t Work the Way You Might Think – “Facts are not autonomous. They gain meaning from the frameworks within which human beings interpret them.”

C.S. Lewis on Science, Evolution, and Evolutionism – “‘Just as my belief in my own immortal & rational soul does not oblige or qualify me to hold a particular theory of the pre-natal history of my embryo, so my belief that Men in general have immortal & rational souls does not oblige or qualify me to hold a theory of their pre-human organic history-if they have one.'”

Modern Educayshun – “Ignore that.”

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The Euthyphro Dumb-lemma

See here and here for reference.

1. Inference (2): “If (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, then they are morally good independent of God’s will.” – Possibly true, but irrelevant, since there’s other things besides God’s will that morality could rest upon: i.e., God’s power or omniscience.

2. Inference (5): “If (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God, then there is no reason either to care about God’s moral goodness or to worship him.” – Again, if all we’re talking about is morals, then this is possibly true, but again irrelevant. There could be plenty of other reasons to worship God that don’t involve Him as the source of goodness or morality.

3. C.S. Lewis’ quote referenced on the Wikipedia page is odd (i.e., wrong): “[I]f good is to be defined as what God commands, then the goodness of God Himself is emptied of meaning and the commands of an omnipotent fiend would have the same claim on us as those of the ‘righteous Lord.'” – Why is the focus on “emptying” the goodness of God’s meaning, when the greater offense would be to place God under the command of an object, like morality? If anything, Lewis should be considering God as axiomatic, not something to be concluded by his material logic or his personal preferences. That Lewis may find a divine command distasteful is irrelevant.

4. The dilemma, interestingly, is a false one, since it considers only a narrow scope of who God is and not His entire being. Josef Pieper, I think, comes close to the explaining it correctly with few words, also from the Wikipedia page: “Only the will [i.e., God’s] can be the right standard of its own willing and must will what is right necessarily, from within itself, and always. A deviation from the norm would not even be thinkable. And obviously only the absolute divine will is the right standard of its own act.”

5. Even better is Katherin A. Rogers’ quote: “Anselm, like Augustine before him and Aquinas later, rejects both horns of the Euthyphro dilemma. God neither conforms to nor invents the moral order. Rather His very nature is the standard for value.”

6. God can do whatever He damn well pleases, as I’ve mentioned this many times before on this blog.

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Living In Taupeville

Once in a while, Relevant Magazine will post something not so completely drenched in Millenial Christian cheese sauce that it’s worth noting. Via Wintery Knight, “What If Having an Extraordinary Life Isn’t the Point?“:

Some have grown tired of the constant calls to radical change. They are less sure they want to jump on the next bandwagon or trail-blaze new paths. And yet, in a culture of revolutions and free choice, little trust and tradition have been preserved to give people the stability and community they desire. We have become caught between these two poles of desiring some kind of normalcy and yet desiring absolute freedom and autonomy.

The new redemption: salvation by fireworks. Someone should point out to SOMA-junkie Christians (I’ve known plenty) that 99% of all of Judeo-Christendom throughout history, by nature of what is ordinary versus extraordinary, have lived unremarkable lives. Unremarkable, that is, to the rest of humanity. No one cares or is affected by how awesome I thought the stars were last week, except maybe those who might read something I would post about them. But the affect on me was undeniable. Check the frame of reference: extraordinary to me, utterly pointless noise to the rest of the world.

C.S. Lewis’ idea that we live in the shadowlands was an accurate statement for his time, but in this Age of iPhone a new lens is needed. We live in a dun-colored small town—Taupeville&—where we live restless, comfortable lives of drab, monochrome unimportance, looking for the newest carnival of lights around the corner.

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Til We Have Faces, Chapter Four, Last Paragraph


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C.S. Lewis On Full Employment Fetishism

Again from The World’s Last Night, Lewis, in a roundabout way, addresses the “all the jobs, everywhere, all the time, for everyone, forever” angle heard during election season nationwide.

Such would seem to be the inevitable result of a society which depends predominantly on buying and selling. In a rational world, things would be made because they were wanted; in the actual world, wants have to be created in order that people may receive money for making the things. That is why the distrust or contempt of trade which we find in earlier societies should not be too hastily set down as mere snobbery. The more important trade is, the more people are condemned to and, worse still, learn to prefer what we have called the second kind of job. Work worth doing apart from its pay, enjoyable work, and good work become the privilege of a fortunate minority. The competitive search for customers dominates international situations.

Within my lifetime in England money was (very properly) collected to buy shirts for some men who were out of work. The work they were out of was the manufacture of shirts.

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C.S. Lewis On Scientific Experiments On Prayer

Years ago, during the Myspace era, there was a study done on the empirical effects of prayer on sick people. The results showed that prayer made no difference in the health of the patient*. I thought the experiment silly since, as God is a person who decides things (not quite like humans do, but I imagine it’s similar) and not a vending machine, answers to prayers are not “input + process = output.” There’s no way of scientifically knowing if a prayer “worked” because there’s nothing to measure; it could’ve worked out the way God intended all along. Bodily death was not originally part of God’s plan but it’s the state of affairs we’re stuck with now—He has already worked it into the equation.

C.S. Lewis addressed the same issue in “The Efficacy of Prayer” from The World’s Last Night (full text here).

Thus in some measure the same doubt that hangs about the causal efficacy of our prayers to God hangs also about our prayers to man. Whatever we get we might have been going to get anyway. But only, as I say, in some measure. Our friend, boss, and wife may tell us that they acted because we asked; and we may know them so well as to feel sure, first that they are saying what they believe to be true, and secondly that they understand their own motives well enough to be right. But notice that when this happens our assurance has not been gained by the methods of science. We do not try the control experiment of refusing the raise or breaking off the engagement and then making our request again under fresh conditions. Our assurance is quite different in kind from scientific knowledge. It is born out of our personal relation to the other parties; not from knowing things about them but from knowing them.

Our assurance if we reach an assurance that God always hears and sometimes grants our prayers, and that apparent grantings are not merely fortuitous, can only come in the same sort of way. There can be no question of tabulating successes and failures and trying to decide whether the successes are too numerous to be accounted for by chance. Those who best know a man best know whether, when he did what they asked, he did it because they asked. I think those who best know God will best know whether He sent me to the barber’s shop because the barber prayed.

* The study was fundamentally flawed, at least as far as Christian doctrine is concerned. In some contexts it might be apropos for church elders to “lay hands” and pray for the sick. Granted, that isn’t the only way but the experiment would have been more comprehensive if that was a considered variable.

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Invasion of the Moral Busybodies

I don’t know much about Cody but I found him engaging, though I didn’t listen to any of the other parts of his presentation yet. Take note of the social contract as the “big other” theory he brings up. It’s a tool of what C.S. Lewis called “moral busybodies“—bureaucrats, activists, and other state-as-religion believers use to encourage (browbeat) citizens to a collective national goal above all other goals.

Ed posted similar thoughts here recently. Being a disruptive force in itself isn’t terrible, but only in the proper context, though I’d think most of the situation is read incorrectly and you’re just acting up for a response. If you’ve ever been “offended” (and said as such) by words on a screen, or use the phrases “advocate for” or “bring awareness to,” or employing “trigger warnings” (the latest craze), you might be a moral busybody. These words are the engine bells that inform us down the tracks that the moral busybody train is barreling down, aiming to butt up against the activist’s version of “sin,” which in reality things that are categorized as bad thoughts—racism, sexism, bigotry, “hate.” The language manipulation of 1984 comes to mind here.

Sure, one could present a case that holding to any of those is a destabilizing force but it reality, bad beliefs affect the believer only and maybe a few close associates. They don’t incur a “social cost” inasmuch as it the phrase implies. People just basically want to control other people, and doing so toward a perceived good—the “big other” mentioned—can give the moral busybody a goal. Modifying others’ conscious mental though life is not as verboten as modifying others’ behaviors. We see former as an infringement on material liberties but the latter as accomplishing an Enlightenment duty. That’s all fine if that’s what gets your jimmies in a rustle, but things have consequences, always. There’s an inevitable blowback to mass social conditioning schemes once the subjects awaken to the experiment.

EDIT :: Part 2 of Cody’s presentation is here.

EDIT 2 :: Another coincidence…Captain Capitalism recently published a post on key words of moral busybodies, though they are for a specific context.

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Stop Using “Amazing” To Describe Your New Haircut

Wise words from C.S. Lewis, for those of us who use “amazing” or “absolutely” x to describe something as impactful as a new casserole recipe.

From The Collected Letters of…:

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

It’s annoying yet forgivable in Facebook status updates, but when you start using them in your narrative in a story, your muse gets gas pains and farts uncontrollably.

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