Mere Christianity and Morality


I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Chrsitianity and shall post some of my responses here. You may read or listen to Mere Christinaity here.

Summary of Chapter One: The law of human nature

1. There is a universal standard of Right and Wrong that men expect other men to know, that is obvious to everyone and did not need to be taught.
2. This moral law is the only law people are free to disobey.
3. Moral standards across cultures are more similar than they are different; details differ, but the main thread stays the same. Trying to imagine a totally different morality would be as impossible as imagining a culture in which 2+2=5.
4. Even people who claim that there is no Right or Wrong will claim that something is not right when an injustice is done to them, contradicting themselves.
5. People may make mistakes just as they may get their sums wrong, but morality itself is objective. In fact, everyone breaks the moral law, and our reaction to breaking it, namely being anxious to make excuses and shift the blame away from ourselves, further shows how much we truly believe in it.

C.S. Lewis’ argument at the core is that people will find in themselves an objective moral law, and where would such a law come from if not from God? Francis Collins also uses Moral Law as something (the main thing?) that points towards the existence of a supernatural moral law-giver in his book, The Language of God. Some articles expounding similar ideas here and here.

In general, it’s a very compelling argument because I think it’s a very intuitive feeling for people to want to believe in an objective Right and Wrong. Before I started thinking about this, I thought objective morality had to be right. Subscribing to relative and subjective morality just seemed like a really bad idea that would lead down a slippery slope towards immorality. It also just felt ridiculous, against conventional, rational thought and counter intuitive. And yet, when I read Collins’ and Lewis’ arguments, I felt less than convinced. And the more I read and think about it, the less convincing they become.

Then I watched this three part video series on youtube. It’s not flawless, but it’s very good. All arguments for a Moral Law sounded weaker than ever after that, and I was no longer so wary to let go of the concept of absolute morality. (Although I have yet to redefine and clarify my concepts. Future entry, maybe?)

I think that the explanation of morality given in the videos can be used to counter all of the points proponents of the moral law argument make.

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