One does not need to see the horrific scenes of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to be reminded that the world is not as it should be. It’s far more subtle. It’s ubiquitous yet unseen, tragic yet strangely expected…it’s so…self-reflective. As C.S. Lewis said, the truth is, we’ve all failed to practice the kind of behavior we expect from someone else.
This is a follow-up on my post, “The Tragic Flaw.” In that post I mentioned that “sin” is best defined as the tragic flaw. This flaw is systemic; it pervades the societal construct. As Morpheus would say, it’s the “world” that’s been pulled over our eyes. Yet, like Neo, we know deep down something is wrong…that things aren’t as they should be. But then we should be asking, where does this sense of what “should be” come from?
To tackle this question, I want to show two short clips. The first one is a “Closer to Truth” interview with Francis Collins. Anti-Christians have postulated that the more education one has the less they will need religion, or Christianity in particular. But here we have a really smart, highly-educated scientist who was an atheist and became a Christian. One of the reasons he gives for his conversion was coming to grips with the reality of the moral law. Here’s the interview.
According to Collins, it’s the existence but not the expression of the good that is the explanatory power for God.” He says about this universal concept:
“While we will all excuse ourselves by our current failings by maybe having misinterpreted it, but nobody will say it just doesn’t matter, nobody will say good and evil are irrelevant, nobody will say it doesn’t matter whether somebody tries to be good or not.”
Collins mentions that it was C.S. Lewis’s argument for the moral law that was a major factor in him becoming a follower of Christ. Lewis has written extensively and brilliantly on the subject. Two classic works on this subject are: “Mere Christianity” and “The Abolition of Man.” The following short clip is a recreation of a 1941 BBC radio talk by Lewis on the reality of the Moral Law.
As Lewis asked in the clip, “How did we get the idea of perfect and imperfect behavior?” And then he goes on to debunk two main ways this sense of morality gets explained away:
- Decent behavior in ourselves or others is what’s convenient to us.
- That morality evolves in society based on what’s best for human beings as a whole.
On this second explanation, Lewis insists that these people miss the point about why we feel we ought to do something or not do it. Their argument ends up being circular; they may be saying what is true but they’re not getting any further. He explains why is so:
“If a man asks, “What is the point of behaving decently,” it is no good replying, “In order to benefit society,” for trying to benefit society, in other words being unselfish, for society only means other people, is one of the things decent behavior consists in. All you are really saying is that decent behavior is decent behavior. You would’ve said just as much if would’ve stopped at the statement, “Men ought to be unselfish.”
“Consequently“, as Lewis concludes, “this rule of moral law or human nature…must be a real thing. A thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves. And, yet, it’s not a fact in the ordinary sense, in the same way our actual behavior is a fact. It begins to look as if we’ll have to admit that there is more than one kind reality. That, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behavior and, yet, quite definitely real. A real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us.”