Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Book II What Christians Believe-Ch. 1 The Rival Conceptions of God

I. Chapter 1: The Rival Conceptions of God
A. If atheism is true all religions are wrong, but if theism is true they all contain some truth. So the Christian view is more liberal than an atheist view.
1. VR: I have a problem with Lewis's claim here. Not all religions are theistic, as Lewis surely knew. Buddhism, at least as originally propounded by the Buddha, has nothing corresponding to the conception of God.
B. Pantheism vs. Theism
1. Pantheists say that God is identical to the universe and is beyond good and evil.
2. Theists say the universe is created by God, and that God is good; that is, he takes sides, some things are good and others are not.
C. VR: Lewis doesn't seem to give an argument for accepting theism and rejecting pantheism, although at one point in his life he accepted a philosophical theory, Absolute Idealism, which is a whole lot like pantheism. But presumably he could give one. If we are aware of an objectively binding moral law, then it is plausible to suppose that the power behind it prefers one thing to another, and not plausible to suggest that Power that undergirds the standard of right and wrong is somehow "beyond" the standard. But Lewis never gets around to giving that argument.
D. The Problem of Evil
1. As an atheist he had little patience with theistic attempts to solve the problem because "whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn;t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by an intelligent power?
2. However, the argument from evil presupposes that we know good from evil soas to be able to judge the universe unjust. In other words, it presupposes that we know that there is a moral law. On the other hand, this "moral law" is just an evolutionary byproduct. It would be just my private idea (or some society's idea) of justice, and there would be no reason to trust that standard as a basis for judging the universe to be unjust. If the world were so bad and senseless, how would we know it? We have to trust the universe in one aspect in order to condemn it in every other.
3. (VR) We have discussed this issue on this blog in the past. An atheist can respond by saying that Christian theism entails that there is an objective standard of justice, and the universe stands condemned as unjust by that standard, in which case the atheist can maintain that Christian theism is inconsistent with its own standard of justice without embracing that standard of justice as true oneself.

1 comment:

Don Jr. said...

In regards to your section (A), it probably depends on what one defines as being a religion. It seems that Dr. Vallicella might agree with Lewis, if one goes by his posts on "What is Religion," part I, II, and especially III.