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Faith and Knowledge

Faith and Knowledge

Postby jelarso » 09 Jul 2006, 02:25

Can anyone point me in the right direction about what C.S. had to say about these two principles of the gospel? Did he ever speak about the difference, and the transition that is made from faith to knowledge? Thanks for your help.
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re: Faith and Knowledge

Postby Eavesdropper » 13 Jul 2006, 19:20

I think it is in "Mere Christianity" that Lewis writes that "faith is holding on to something your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods." In other words, faith and reason are not opponents, but allies against one's unstable emotions.

Likewise, in Perelandra (?) the main character explains that while his _reason_ accepts that the eldil will carry him safely through space, his _nerves_ do not, and compares his experience to that of a man who, having faith in a future life, is facing a firing squad (the character jokes that it might be "good practice"). Again, reason and faith are similar.

I also vaguely (someone please correct me if I'm wrong) remember reading something in Lewis's study of medieval literature ("The Discarded Image") that the medieval concept of reason included the moral sense.

I would not like to suggest, however, that Lewis regarded reason and faith as equivalent. He does argue, however, against the common perception that they are dichotomous.

I hope that helps! Sorry for the stilted language - the shades of my high school essays are coming back to haunt me.

re: Faith and Knowledge

Postby Eavesdropper » 13 Jul 2006, 19:35

Sorry, I just had an afterthought. You ask about the difference between faith and reason. I don't remember anything specific, unfortunately, but the following might help.

In "The Silver Chair", the green witch tries to enchant the main characters, who are trapped in her underworld, into thinking that the upper world does not exist. She does this partly by magic, and partly by pointing out to them - quite reasonably - that any mental image they might have of the world above is derived from things they have seen in the world below. For example, what they call the "sun" is just a "bigger and better" lamp, and what they call a "lion" (Aslan) is just a "bigger and better" cat.
In response, the Puddleglum the Marshwiggle stamps out her magic fire with his bare feet and says something like this (don't trust my memory, though!): "You may be right, ma'am. Perhaps yours is the only world and we are just four children playing a game. In that case all I can say is this: your world strikes me as a rather poor one, and four children playing a game can make a playworld that licks the real one hollow. I will stick to the playworld. I will live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia; I am on Aslan's side even if there is no Aslan to lead it."
Here, reason and faith _are_ opposed; or, rather, they _seem_ to be but really aren't. In any case, perhaps a distinction between them can be worked out from this passage.

Good luck!

re: Faith and Knowledge

Postby Someone else » 17 Jul 2006, 13:54

Another interesting examination of this is in Lewis' essay, "On Obstinancy in Belief." I have it in the collection of essays called The World's Last Night. As I remember, Lewis says that knowledge applies to things like scientific experiments, while belief/faith applies to relationships. You verify experiments, but you trust your wife (unless she proves to be untrustworthy). It's been a while since I read the essay, so I'm sorry I can't elaborate much. He also mentions that once someone puts faith in God, he begins to experience first-hand knowledge of "our increasingly knowable Lord."

Hope this helps. :smile:
Someone else

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