Wednesday, October 17, 2007


It seems that priesthood brings with it a lot of time spent driving. Tired of talk shows and poor music on the radio, classes from the Great Lecture Series were ordered and they are quite good. The latest one is on the life and writings of C. S. Lewis. I’d forgotten this little formula he used for proof of the existence of God. It is not a bulletproof case but it is worth noting and a fun exercise in logic. I tried to present it here in as short a format as I could for your enjoyment. Apologies in advance for any skips in logic.

1. If I should cut in line in front of a Relativist for the roller coaster at the amusement park, more than likely the Relativist would complain (which well he should).

If we argue we must be appealing to a universal standard of behavior to which we think others should be held accountable. If there is not a universal standard there is nothing more than might makes right and instead of arguing we would best just attempt to beat the snot out of each other. But no, we both make claims to some sort of universal good.

2. But could this be just a natural instinct? Lewis says no (and while very interesting and noteworthy, this could be the weakest link in the argument.) Suppose we have two competing instincts, say one for the self and one for the family. How do we decide which one to go with? He argues that it cannot be yet a third instinct that helps us decide between instincts. It would have no more value than the original two. A squirrel wondering if it should run or take the nut that you are offering eventually lets the stronger instinct win out. But humans debate the value - the worth of each action. So there must be then a third ‘other thing’, a touchstone, a standard that is above the two instincts and helps us decide between them. That is this universal good.

3. So call that “Good” what you will. It can be God or a Superior Being or what have you. There are two choices basically from where this God may come. The Good might be natural, that is, existing in this world or the Good may be from outside of this realm.

If the Good is from this realm, if it is natural or what we call Pantheistic, then the good is of the world or part of the world. The force then is neither good nor bad and we are left with the question once again of finding from where the notion of good comes.

But if there is a good God who transcends this world but communicates with it (Theism), then we have a source of that universal standard, of the good to which we appeal.

4. But how can we say that there is an all-good God when there is so much suffering and injustice in the world? Lewis asks, “How can we know the world is unjust unless we have a just standard?” Therefore there must be a supernatural standard and we call that Good God.

5. Therefore, the most rational explanation for us is what is told to us in Genesis; that the world was made by a good God, but that evil entered into it.

Thank God God exists. It may not be strong enough an argument to convince a steadfast atheist, but if you were wavering and looking for something to hang your hat on, this is pretty cool.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I can't believe in roller coasters.

What was it that stopped C.S. Lewis from confessing the Faith?

Fr. V said...


uncle jim said...

perhaps like Ghandi - the book was great,and this Jesus guy was very great, but the Christians he was meeting didn't match up with what he thought they should be like.

Rob said...

CS Lewis wasn't Catholic but he was a "High Church" Anglican and a devout Christian.