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Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Postby mwanafalsafa » 14 Mar 2010, 07:11

So I just read what I guess is one of Lewis' essays here: Moderator edit: No links to copyrighted material

I found it quite interesting I have questions about some parts of it.

Firstly this paragraph, talking about the different beliefs a 'good materialist' and a Christian have about society:

Now there are quite a lot of things which these two men could agree in doing for their fellow citizens. Both would approve of efficient sewers and hospitals and a healthy diet. But sooner or later the difference of their beliefs would produce differences in their practical proposals. Both, for example, might be very keen about education: but the kinds of education they wanted people to have would obviously be very different. Again, where the Materialist would simply ask about a proposed action “Will it increase the happiness of the majority?”, the Christian might have to say, “Even if it does increase the happiness of the majority, we can’t do it. It is unjust.” And all the time, one great difference would run through their whole policy. To the Materialist things like nations, classes, civilizations must be more important than individuals, because the individuals live only seventy odd years each and the group may last for centuries. But to the Christian, individuals are more important, for they live eternally; and races, civilizations and the like, are in comparison the creatures of a day.


But could not a Materialist, seeking the greatest good for society as a whole, believe that societies that emphasize the importance of the individual (for reasons unrelated to Christian beliefs) are the the most happy and prosperous? I consider this view to be true but even if it weren't it is still a possible belief for a Materialist to have.

I'm currently considering whether or not Christianity is in fact true. However, it seems to me that whether or not Christianity is true, the general Christian belief system, because of it's essential emphasis on selflessness, individualism, overcoming 'ego issues' and gaining 'self-knowledge' (among other things) is as good a world-view for an Earthly society to have as any yet discovered. (I would consider it more or less 'tied' with Buddhism and other similar philosophies/religions.)

Secondly, Lewis talks about the need to decide whether or not one believes in Christianity rather than let the issue lie:

The man who remains an unbeliever for such reasons is not in a state of honest error. He is in a state of dishonest error, and that dishonesty will spread through all his thoughts and actions: a certain shiftiness, a vague worry in the background, a blunting of his whole mental edge, will result. He has lost his intellectual virginity. Honest rejection of Christ, however mistaken, will be forgiven and healed—“Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him.” 1 But to evade the Son of Man, to look the other way, to pretend you haven’t noticed, to become suddenly absorbed in something on the other side of the street, to leave the receiver off the telephone because it might be He who was ringing up, to leave unopened certain letters in a strange handwriting because they might be from Him—this is a different matter. You may not be certain yet whether you ought to be a Christian; but you do know you ought to be a Man, not an ostrich, hiding its head in the sand.

But still—for intellectual honour has sunk very low in our age—I hear someone whimpering on with his question, “Will it help me? Will it make me happy? Do you really think I’d be better if I became a Christian?” Well, if you must have it, my answer is “Yes.” But I don’t like giving an answer at all at this stage. Here is door, behind which, according to some people, the secret of the universe is waiting for you. Either that’s true or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, then what the door really conceals is simply the greatest fraud, the most colossal “sell” on record. Isn’t it obviously the job of every man (that is a man and not a rabbit) to try to find out which, and then to devote his full energies either to serving this tremendous secret or to exposing and destroying this gigantic humbug? Faced with such an issue, can you really remain wholly absorbed in your own blessed “moral development”?


It appears to me that, while Lewis would most like to see a person believe in Christianity, he would rather see someone explicitly disbelieve it and even convince others of it's falsehood rather than simply ignore the point entirely. Am I getting that right?

Finally, can anyone recommend any other writings were he expands on these ideas? So far I've only read The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, and they were pretty awesome.

Thanks
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Re: Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Postby Sven » 14 Mar 2010, 17:57

Welcome, mwanafalsafa!

As all of Lewis' writings are still in copyright, links to complete selections are not permitted. Quotes such as you've included are ok.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Postby Theophilus » 15 Mar 2010, 18:10

mwanafalsafa wrote:Finally, can anyone recommend any other writings were he expands on these ideas? So far I've only read The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, and they were pretty awesome.

Mere Christianity would probably be the best book to read.
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Re: Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Postby cyranorox » 16 Mar 2010, 19:26

CSL is such a clear mind and help with current conflicts. Culture war? he knows culture is ephemeral, not to be served or idolized at the expense of the person. Christianity as social utility? he scorns that. The Church is not to be harnessed to the service of the rulers, even Christian rulers.

But if you see a bad picture of Christ, in the form of wrong doctrine, misapplied parables, false readings, etc, that is what CSL is talking about in the word against the Son of Man. If you reject the image of Christ shown to you, because it is not even as good as a good man should be [and it happens a lot], you may be confident of reconciliation when you are shown the Truth.
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Re: Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Postby archenland_knight » 17 Mar 2010, 14:35

Cyranorox wrote:Christianity as social utility? he scorns that. The Church is not to be harnessed to the service of the rulers, even Christian rulers.



By the Mane! The world must be turning upside down! I find myself agreeing with Cyranorox. :stunned:
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
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Re: Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Postby cyranorox » 17 Mar 2010, 15:58

;= >
you were also right in your response to 'Dawkins', and if you want a friendly debate on hypostatic union versus soul-in-container, I'm your man.
























;=
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Re: Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Postby archenland_knight » 17 Mar 2010, 16:56

Cyranorox wrote:you were also right in your response to 'Dawkins',


Thanks. I noticed that.

Cyranorox wrote:and if you want a friendly debate on hypostatic union versus soul-in-container,


I thought the EOC accepted the hypostatic union? If so, I guess we agree on that as well. I think that's pretty standard in all Christian churches. (Though a quick peek at Wikki states that the "Oriental Orthodox Church" split with the EOC over this very thing. Hmm. I did not know that before.)

On the other thread in current events, your posts require a more thoughtful response that I have time to give at the moment. I'll try to get to it this week.
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Re: Man or Rabbit? Questions, Commentary

Postby postodave » 17 Mar 2010, 19:54

I wonder if Lewis's argument isn't seriously flawed. The argument seems to be that things are more to be valued the longer they last and that is surely false. In another essay Lewis deconstructs the idea that the smallness of the earth contrasted with the size of the universe makes the earth less significant. He says that we do not think a man who is six feet tall is slightly more imprtant than a man who is five feet tall and goes on to the suggest that if the argument were valid at the large scale it would be valid at the small scale. Now Lewis is arguing that the materialist thinks the large social units like the state are more important because they last longer; does it not follow using Lewis's own logic that both the Christian and the materialist would think the man who lives 90 years slightly more valuable than the man who lives 70 years. Furthermore should we not then think that if a man at the age of 20 finds he has only 5 years to live his value decreases significantly. I feel that a Christian, perhaps more than anyone, would baulk at that suggestion. And in any case the argument Lewis opposes is surely a straw man; if the materialists do think something like the state is more important than the individual(and some materialists such as the Marxiasts do seem to think this), then it is not for this reason they think it. One of the reasons we value a human person is because a person is an agent and can make significant choices, a Christian will say this is part of what it means to be made in the image of God. A Marxist, and many another deterministic materialist, will deny that human beings make significant choices and say history is controlled by something else (ultimately economic factors in the Marxist case, other things for other types of determinist) and I would suggest tentatively that it is this role in determining things that makes the Marxist or determinist downvalue humans.
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But the lamb ran away with the crown
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