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Source: (consider it) Thread: Atonement in Narnia
Jay-Emm
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A combination of the Moral Influence thread and some unknown thoughts made me think of what Lewis wrote when trying to write an atonement in a children's story.
It seems to me that whether by chance, a sign of how flexible "theories of the atonement" are, or deliberate choice, there are a lot present.

For starters it's easy to see ransom (the 'white witch is owed').

So this is a thread to discuss which ones are present. A bit to discuss the different models and how they fit in a different environment. And a bit of talk about the authors intention.
And room to digress for other books.

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Alan Cresswell

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I suspect that there is enough in the Narnian stories to satisfy people who believe in all the models of Atonement, and not enough to come down very clearly for one model over the others. Which is fine with me, because I don't think any one model is adequate to describe Atonement anyway, though that's often a point where many may come down with a view that Lewis wasn't "sound" if they accept there is only one valid model.

When I was in greater contact with Evangelical culture (long before the movie series) this was a common discussion - usually relating to whether the Narnia Chronicles were a useful resource to reference in evangelism. For some, Aslan being a willing sacrifice to pay the penalty of treason for Edmund was a very clear pointer to (Penal Substitutionary) Atonement, for others the problem they saw was that this death was just for Edmund and not for all Narnians guilty of treason (let alone all Narnians).

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mr cheesy
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As a sidenote, I have often thought how odd it is that so many Evangelicals rate Lewis - given his unconventional views on various subjects - and have contemplated that it must be because of his oh-so-obvious allegorical atonement in Narnia.

That said, I think that it is hard to show that the Narnia death of Aslan is PSA. Indeed, reading the stories backwards (I forget which one the "first" bit of the story is in) Aslan takes (some of) the kids to the very beginning of all things, and then the story becomes one of unfolding revelation through Narnia, the sacrifice and resurrection of Aslan.

It seems to me that in that context of a "full" Narnia narrative, the Aslan character is part of the complete story of defrosting Narnia and his death is part of that. It is central and necessary, but isn't to be understood in isolation.

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Eutychus
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I admit to not following the PSA thread closely, but here is some source material.

Someone seems to have walked off with my copy of TLTWATW but according to the Googles, Aslan explains the Deeper Magic in which a willing victim who has committed no treachery is killed in place of a traitor then Death itself will start working backward.

I find the treatment in Perelandra interesting.

Here we learn (somewhat inconsistently with Out of the Silent Planet) that Ransom's name is no accident. How Malacandra was "redeemed" is not clear, but he says this:
quote:
The small external evil which Satan had done in Malacandra was only as a line: the deeper evil he had done in Earth was as a square: if Venus fell, her evil would be a cube--her Redemption beyond conceiving.
Of course

(***spoilers***)

Ransom ends up defeating the embodiment of evil, the UnMan, and seeing off that planet's version of the Fall, by killing him in a fight - "to enact what philosophy only thinks".

The ultimate expression of "incarnationality"? [Biased]

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
As a sidenote, I have often thought how odd it is that so many Evangelicals rate Lewis - given his unconventional views on various subjects - and have contemplated that it must be because of his oh-so-obvious allegorical atonement in Narnia.

Speaking as an 'evangelical' of sorts, I suspect a lot of this is driven by an intellectual inferiority complex (and the need to have some intellectuals of 'our' own).

Certainly this, plus the general tendency towards hagiography (and possibly some Catholic-envy) seems to drive a lot of the 'Lewis Studies' movement over in the US.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Meseems that with the Aslan story the payment, if you will, is Satanwards, towards the Queen. Given that, it doesn't seem very PSA to me, where the payment is Godward. There's no hint that the Emperor over the Sea is the one being satisfied.

I'd see Aslan's sacrifice as strongly CV. The Queen, representing Satan, is tempted into accepting what she thinks is an even bigger prize, using Edmund as leverage. Aslan is Edmund's champion, acting in his stead (thus there's substitution, but no penal element) and as his champion he invokes the Ancient Magic and so wins the fight.

[ 16. January 2017, 10:10: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Steve Langton
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by mr cheeesy;
quote:
As a sidenote, I have often thought how odd it is that so many Evangelicals rate Lewis - given his unconventional views on various subjects - and have contemplated that it must be because of his oh-so-obvious allegorical atonement in Narnia.
I don't think it's just that - indeed as an evangelical I find the TLTWATW atonement somewhat unsatisfactory. But we do find that Lewis takes the Bible seriously, as witness the essay (originally a talk to theological students) which is now probably easiest available as the title essay of the collection "Fernseed and Elephants".

I try hard not to worship Lewis; I often disagree with him - but I also know that when I end up disagreeing with him it's been a serious battle, so to speak.

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Gamaliel
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Well, seeing as Lewis himself acknowledged his difficulties with the PSA model in 'Mere Christianity' - then I suspect it would be hard to detect a PSA model within the Narnia stories - unless you were so fixated on PSA that you were inclined to read it into every single reference or metaphor concerning the atonement that you were to come across ...

From what I can gather, Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones went so far as to doubt whether Lewis was truly a believer because of his squeamishness and reticence over PSA ...

Which just shows how dominant the PSA model is in some evangelical circles, particularly those of a more Reformed inclination.

PSA IS the Gospel as far as some of these folk are concerned. Anyone who doesn't acknowledge some form of PSA in their understanding of the atonement is deficient in their understanding and may not even be truly converted in the first place ...

Arguably, evangelicalism is broader than PSA, but I can imagine some evangelicals doubting Steve Langton's evangelical credentials because he doesn't hold to PSA but to a combination of Lewis-esque 'Mere Christianity' models ...

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Eutychus
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In further evidence that Randall Munroe reads the Ship, here is today's xkcd comic.

(Doesn't address the atonement issue though [Frown] )

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Jerusalem is a city without walls

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
I don't think it's just that - indeed as an evangelical I find the TLTWATW atonement somewhat unsatisfactory. But we do find that Lewis takes the Bible seriously, as witness the essay (originally a talk to theological students) which is now probably easiest available as the title essay of the collection "Fernseed and Elephants".

I try hard not to worship Lewis; I often disagree with him - but I also know that when I end up disagreeing with him it's been a serious battle, so to speak.

With respect, you are not really a typical Evangelical in many of your views, Steve.

Lewis produced a lot of challenging material, some of which is difficult to reconcile with the views of many evangelicals. For example at one point a character who is obviously a thinly-disguised Muslim is welcomed by Aslan into the community of faith. I'm sorry I don't recall the details.

The Hideous Strength trilogy introduces a lot of challenging ideas to many/most Evangelicals.

Mostly, though, Lewis just wasn't a very interesting or novel theologian. He pointed to other "amateur" theologians (such as Chesterton*) rather than coming up with anything particularly intelligent himself. At best he wrote poorly disguised allegories, a few partly-digested religious pamphlets some half-decent sci-fi and a few mostly meaningless quotes which are widely dispersed.

Truth is he wasn't a great Christian thinker of any great repute, he was an excellent scholar in a completely different field. He wrote a few books that Evangelicals read, scratch the surface of some difficult issues, and go away thinking that this is all they need to read - in the process learning little about Lewis' ideas never mind ever truly getting stuck into philosophy and theology.

Yes, he was a lot more intelligent than me, goes without saying. But Evangelicals could do a lot worse if they spent rather less time focussing on popular Lewis pulp and rather more on truly mind-bending ideas. Of which there are a lot, mostly uninvestigated by most evangelicals.

*who, of course, said a lot of things which are highly problematic for evangelicals.

[deleted superfluous e-mail address]

[ 16. January 2017, 12:30: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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mr cheesy
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Dammit. I accidentally managed to paste in an email address there..

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Gamaliel
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Lewis was a distinguised scholar in his own field, but very much of his time. By the time I studied English at university his critical works were something of a footnote in the development of critical approaches - and if we ever quoted him at all it was in an historical sense.

I agree with Chris Stiles, the reason so many evangelicals go a bundle on Lewis is that they don't have that many scholars themselves and have to appropriate other people's ...

[Big Grin] [Biased] [Razz]

At face value and within his own terms, Lewis was a reasonable popular apologist. He was able to write and broadcast about the Christian faith in a way that made sense to 'the common man' as they would have said in a 1940s/50s clipped BBC English accent kind of way ...

He is also popular, I've found, among RCs and the Orthodox - and it's precisely his pan-tradition 'Mere Christianity' approach that gives him that kind of broad appeal.

But no, he's not a weighty theologian by any manner of means, nor would he have claimed to have been. He's none the worse for that, but let's keep things in proportion and put him into perspective.

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quetzalcoatl
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I'm glad you wrote that, mr cheesy, as I have found Lewis a disappointing writer, and I've been surprised at the high regard with which he is held by some. I spent some time reading some of his essays a while ago, e.g. 'De Futilitate', and found them full of holes. For example, his 'lunatic, liar or lord' trilemma has become famous for its holiness, by which I mean, full of holes. His arguments for objective morality are not compelling.

[ 16. January 2017, 11:16: Message edited by: quetzalcoatl ]

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no path

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Dammit. I accidentally managed to paste in an email address there..

Maybe "CS Lewis' little-known love for VW camper vans" will one day be up there with Adrian Plass' "CS Lewis notes to his milkman"...

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Maybe "CS Lewis' little-known love for VW camper vans" will one day be up there with Adrian Plass' "CS Lewis notes to his milkman"...

Could you edit it out, pretty please.

[ 16. January 2017, 12:29: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Meseems that with the Aslan story the payment, if you will, is Satanwards, towards the Queen. Given that, it doesn't seem very PSA to me, where the payment is Godward. There's no hint that the Emperor over the Sea is the one being satisfied.

I'd see Aslan's sacrifice as strongly CV. The Queen, representing Satan, is tempted into accepting what she thinks is an even bigger prize, using Edmund as leverage. Aslan is Edmund's champion, acting in his stead (thus there's substitution, but no penal element) and as his champion he invokes the Ancient Magic and so wins the fight.

Precisely-- although I tend to see more of the other Satanward theory (ransom) than CV. The main distinction though is, as you note, the direction-- Aslan's death is clearly directed at the White Witch, to release Edmund from bondage.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
]Speaking as an 'evangelical' of sorts, I suspect a lot of this is driven by an intellectual inferiority complex (and the need to have some intellectuals of 'our' own).

I see the same thing going on in the devotion to Tim Keller and Nicky Gumbel (who has the British accent thing going on which Americans always think is a sign of intellectual heft). Of course, we evangelicals DO have some intellectuals of our own, British, American, and other, but we don't recognize them.

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
I'm glad you wrote that, mr cheesy, as I have found Lewis a disappointing writer, and I've been surprised at the high regard with which he is held by some. I spent some time reading some of his essays a while ago, e.g. 'De Futilitate', and found them full of holes. For example, his 'lunatic, liar or lord' trilemma has become famous for its holiness, by which I mean, full of holes. His arguments for objective morality are not compelling.

I started reading Mere Christianity some time last year, and found myself thinking that it consisted largely of the kind of arguments that you would hear in an introductory philosophy class. Not neccessarily wrong(I'm a theist myself, so am open to the ideas), but nothing that anyone who's grappled a bit with the issues in question wouldn't have heard already.

That said, he did have a rather clever, and probably accurate, description of the psychological appeal that the Shavian "life force" has for those who adhere to it, ie. it allows you to think that you're part of something bigger than the material world, but doesn't impose any particular obligations or duties on you.

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mousethief

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Till We Have Faces. That is all.

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Eutychus
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Re: the thread subject, it's a bit "salvation by works", isn't it? [Biased] All that gathering golden lambs' wool and counting rice.

(I read it again after our last mutual appreciation of it).

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Re: the thread subject, it's a bit "salvation by works", isn't it? [Biased] All that gathering golden lambs' wool and counting rice.

(I read it again after our last mutual appreciation of it).

It' certainly about ransom. (as opposed to Ransom who's in another book or three) (gods-ward, too, as cliffdweller would say)

[ 16. January 2017, 16:03: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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Aravis
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Lewis himself maintained that he had not specifically intended to write a Christian allegory. He wanted to write a children's story in the style of E Nesbit; when he began to write, the vivid images in TLTWATW (the lion, the queen on a sledge etc) came from dreams which he tried to combine in a narrative. While in the process of writing the story he decided to bring in Christianity - not to write an allegory in which each part of his own story could find a counterpart in the Bible, but to tell the story of a Christ-like figure in an alternative world.

(Information from various essays of CSL)

And, although he was evidently aware of including a theory of atonement in the book, it is entirely possible to write an atonement scene in a children's book and not notice. I know because I did it myself. I didn't notice until a couple of years after my first book was published.

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
I started reading Mere Christianity some time last year, and found myself thinking that it consisted largely of the kind of arguments that you would hear in an introductory philosophy class. Not neccessarily wrong(I'm a theist myself, so am open to the ideas), but nothing that anyone who's grappled a bit with the issues in question wouldn't have heard already.

It's probably worth pointing out that most people in the UK at the time Lewis was writing, and indeed now for that matter, will never have taken a philosophy class, introductory or otherwise (remember that British education specialises early and thoroughly - I'm qualified to masters level in two subjects and have professional qualifications in education but never touched on any philosophy). Mere Christianity is aimed at the interested and intelligent who might have only a rudimentary education.
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Jay-Emm
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Till We Have Faces. That is all.

Is awesome.
quote:
Eutychus
Aslan explains the Deeper Magic in which a willing victim who has committed no treachery is killed in place of a traitor then Death itself will start working backward.

That is the bit that came across slightly PSA in there (though even there it's delegated, and the beavers respond in the rather natural way). Definitely agree with the large C.V element (I'd remembered the name and description, but forgot they linked). The ransomy elements are definitely clear and explicit.

Where I saw something akin to moral influence being played was in Edmund already being changed. (and to some extent that Aslan gets on with other stuff).
quote:
Stetson
I started reading Mere Christianity some time last year, and found myself thinking that it consisted largely of the kind of arguments that you would hear in an introductory philosophy class

In a sense that's not too surprising. It was a set of radio broadcasts, and conversely was designed to be a (then) different introduction to Christianity without assuming the things the normal presentations do.
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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Jay-Emm:
quote:
Stetson
I started reading Mere Christianity some time last year, and found myself thinking that it consisted largely of the kind of arguments that you would hear in an introductory philosophy class

In a sense that's not too surprising. It was a set of radio broadcasts, and conversely was designed to be a (then) different introduction to Christianity without assuming the things the normal presentations do.
The broadcasts were made during World War 2, when many people who had not thought much about religion suddenly got interested.

Moo

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mousethief

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I once read a description of Lewis's apologetics as "books for the good man who wants to be converted but finds his mind getting in the way." Not sure if that's meant as an insult or as praise.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
I started reading Mere Christianity some time last year, and found myself thinking that it consisted largely of the kind of arguments that you would hear in an introductory philosophy class. Not neccessarily wrong(I'm a theist myself, so am open to the ideas), but nothing that anyone who's grappled a bit with the issues in question wouldn't have heard already.

It's probably worth pointing out that most people in the UK at the time Lewis was writing, and indeed now for that matter, will never have taken a philosophy class, introductory or otherwise (remember that British education specialises early and thoroughly - I'm qualified to masters level in two subjects and have professional qualifications in education but never touched on any philosophy). Mere Christianity is aimed at the interested and intelligent who might have only a rudimentary education.
Also at the time I believe the two alternative belief systems under consideration would be Christianity or atheism-- rather than the various alternatives on offer in today's more pluralistic cultures. So things like his "Liar, Lunatic, Lord" argument make a bit more sense.

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
Also at the time I believe the two alternative belief systems under consideration would be Christianity or atheism-- rather than the various alternatives on offer in today's more pluralistic cultures. So things like his "Liar, Lunatic, Lord" argument make a bit more sense.

I think that has an even narrower target: those who (and I think they were relatively common at the time) claimed to revere Jesus as a moral teacher (based on what he taught in the Gospels) but didn't believe he was who he claimed to be.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I once read a description of Lewis's apologetics as "books for the good man who wants to be converted but finds his mind getting in the way." Not sure if that's meant as an insult or as praise.

Following on from this thought: there is a stream of Evangelical thinking which assumes that Christian (really evangelical) truths are straightforward and that (almost) anyone will be convinced of them if it is explained enough.

Jack Lewis became (unwillingly, I believe) part of that movement by writing books which deliberately addressed certain Christian issues of his day, and there have been a long line of other apologists who have taken their cue from this kind of rhetoric.

The problem, usually unsaid in many Evangelical circles, is that these kinds of efforts only "work" within the narrow paradigm within which they're written (which, at least in the more modern era, I believe are largely Evangelicals seeking to bolster their own faith rather than anyone from outside) and are knocked down fairly easily by anyone who refuses to conform to the expected angle of attack suggested by the apologist.

The thing then becomes a battle of wills; on the one hand the apologist with his ready-made list of questions and easy answers - on the other a bemused (and not yet bored) interlocator who isn't fitting within the box that he is expected to be found.

Again, I don't think Lewis was as stupid as people often seem to make him out to be, but repeatedly using quotes of his like the ridiculous "boiled egg" formulation just shows how little people really think. He's just not that interesting. Read something which actually has a proper argument.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
Also at the time I believe the two alternative belief systems under consideration would be Christianity or atheism-- rather than the various alternatives on offer in today's more pluralistic cultures. So things like his "Liar, Lunatic, Lord" argument make a bit more sense.

The Liar, Lunatic, Lord is explicitly aimed at people who think the Gospels are broadly accurate and that the Jesus represented therein is a great ethical teacher, but that the religious stuff can be dispensed with.
It's true that if you don't accept some of the assumed premises the argument doesn't work, but Lewis is explicitly addressing people who accept the premises.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I once read a description of Lewis's apologetics as "books for the good man who wants to be converted but finds his mind getting in the way." Not sure if that's meant as an insult or as praise.

That was Anthony Burgess. See the last line of this blog post. I'd assume it was written as praise, since it appears on the back of Lewis' book, though I have seen at least one instance of a backhanded compliment used as a blurb on a writer's book.

That aside, I'm not sure how ringing an endorsement it would be, since I don't THINK that Burgess ever re-converted into the kind of Christian that Lewis wanted people to become. He did write that Zeffirelli mini-series about Jesus, and of course go on record as saying that Clockwork Orange has "very Catholic themes".

[ 17. January 2017, 14:15: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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Green Mario
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I was surprised to see Russell Brand quoting "mere Christianity" the other day to support a point he was making about the inadequacy of materialism.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Green Mario:
I was surprised to see Russell Brand quoting "mere Christianity" the other day to support a point he was making about the inadequacy of materialism.

Surpiseth me not - the Hipster Jesus just uses whatever resources he finds lying about - whether they're the gospels, random Christian books or Russian-funded propaganda television channels.

He's either too vain or too stupid to realise that he's being used.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Green Mario:
I was surprised to see Russell Brand quoting "mere Christianity" the other day to support a point he was making about the inadequacy of materialism.

I wonder which argument he cited. If I remember rightly, Lewis criticizes materialism on several counts, for example, that intelligent life becomes a fluke, and that the movement of particles cannot explain beliefs, or in fact, knowledge, or truth.

This latter argument had been advanced by Arthur Balfour, strangely enough, the only case I've heard of where a former Prime Minister made a contribution to philosophical discussion.

There is an interesting critique of this stuff by Elizabeth Anscombe, a renowned philosopher and devout Catholic. This is supposed to have silenced Lewis, don't know if that's true. I can't find her stuff online, but there is a lot on the Anscombe/Lewis discussion.

For example, the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology has a chapter on 'The Argument from Reason', and large chunks of this are available online, and mentions Balfour, Lewis and Anscombe.

[ 19. January 2017, 15:16: Message edited by: quetzalcoatl ]

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no path

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quetzalcoatl
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Also this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_reason

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no path

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quetzalcoatl
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I realized that Russell Brand made 'Mere Christianity' one of his books of the week, in a series he is doing, on books worth reading. Quite interesting actually, although Brand is, to put it mildly, eclectic.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFTsgp0zgcY/

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Eirenist
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Lewis' father was, as he wrote, a 'police-court advocate', and much of Lewis' own argument retains that flavour. This does not detract from his merits as a communicator and teacher, but he was not and never claimed to be, an inspired or original theologian.

One might say, thinking of the emotional life that underpinned his religious writing, that he remained in adulthood a man searching for his mother.

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'I think I think, therefore I think I am'

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Nenya
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
For example at one point a character who is obviously a thinly-disguised Muslim is welcomed by Aslan into the community of faith. I'm sorry I don't recall the details.

Emeth, the noble Calormene at the end of "The Last Battle" who found himself in Aslan's country when he passed through the stable door, despite serving Tash all his life. I've been thinking about him a lot recently in relation to what my attitude should be to those who have other faiths. I don't currently think it's my place to try to persuade them to believe otherwise but this is causing much consternation in the evangelical circles I move in... I need to be a bit wiser about how and where I say things. Any comments or advice, or recommended reading, from Shipmates would be very welcome.

Nen - left of field.

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They told me I was delusional. I nearly fell off my unicorn.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
There is an interesting critique of this stuff by Elizabeth Anscombe, a renowned philosopher and devout Catholic. This is supposed to have silenced Lewis, don't know if that's true.

Anscombe critiqued Lewis' argument. Lewis rewrote it to try to meet Anscombe's objections.
Anscombe claimed that she met Lewis socially within a couple of weeks of the debate and Lewis showed no signs of resentment or dejection. She speculated that reports of Lewis' dejection as a result of her paper were projection by Lewis' friends.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
There is an interesting critique of this stuff by Elizabeth Anscombe, a renowned philosopher and devout Catholic. This is supposed to have silenced Lewis, don't know if that's true.

Anscombe critiqued Lewis' argument. Lewis rewrote it to try to meet Anscombe's objections.
Anscombe claimed that she met Lewis socially within a couple of weeks of the debate and Lewis showed no signs of resentment or dejection. She speculated that reports of Lewis' dejection as a result of her paper were projection by Lewis' friends.

I should think that Lewis would hold very highly a woman who had bested him in debate -- and clearly by changing the book he knew his argument was not up to snuff. Far from resenting her, he would hold her in high esteem. Although maybe not want her along when he's out with the boys smoking and drinking. This esteem thing only goes so far.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Enoch
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The Lewis-Anscombe discussion is famous. It's rather more difficult to find out what the issue actually was between them, what it was that Anscombe is supposed to have questioned/challenged/disproved that is interpreted by some as an excuse to conclude that everything Lewis ever wrote can now be written off as unpersuasive.

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Polly Plummer
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I recall attending a meeting in Oxford shortly after Lewis died. The speaker who was down to talk about his theology said words to the effect that "his theology was pretty useless, so I'm going to talk about him as man and a friend".
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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
The Lewis-Anscombe discussion is famous. It's rather more difficult to find out what the issue actually was between them, what it was that Anscombe is supposed to have questioned/challenged/disproved that is interpreted by some as an excuse to conclude that everything Lewis ever wrote can now be written off as unpersuasive.

Lewis' contribution was rewritten in the light of Anscombe's arguments and I think forms one of the chapters in The Problem of Pain.
Anscombe's argument is in her Collected Papers, Volume 1, on Metaphysics.
Lewis was arguing that a mechanical system in which every state is caused by an antecedent state of the system plus input cannot evaluate propositions as true or false (or probable or possible or unlikely).
Anscombe was skeptical about the argument as put, although IIRC she didn't think there was a convincing argument to show it is possible.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Steve Langton
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by Dafyd;
quote:
Lewis' contribution was rewritten in the light of Anscombe's arguments and I think forms one of the chapters in The Problem of Pain.
Not easily able to check for a bit due to work going on in my flat, but I think the relevant chapter is actually in Miracles.
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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
The Lewis-Anscombe discussion is famous. It's rather more difficult to find out what the issue actually was between them, what it was that Anscombe is supposed to have questioned/challenged/disproved that is interpreted by some as an excuse to conclude that everything Lewis ever wrote can now be written off as unpersuasive.

Lewis' contribution was rewritten in the light of Anscombe's arguments and I think forms one of the chapters in The Problem of Pain.
Anscombe's argument is in her Collected Papers, Volume 1, on Metaphysics.
Lewis was arguing that a mechanical system in which every state is caused by an antecedent state of the system plus input cannot evaluate propositions as true or false (or probable or possible or unlikely).
Anscombe was skeptical about the argument as put, although IIRC she didn't think there was a convincing argument to show it is possible.

It sounds like the argument from reason, although maybe that term wasn't used then.

In other words, a purely natural order cannot give rise to reason or truth, as you say. Sometimes this is expressed as 'a series of deterministic events' cannot give rise to reason or truth. Or sometimes it's phrased as 'atoms in the brain cannot produce beliefs which are true or false'.

It still sounds like incredulity to me, but I will let it rest.

I don't remember anyone saying that therefore all of Lewis's ideas and arguments were rubbish. Who has done that? (This is Enoch's point above).

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no path

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
In other words, a purely natural order cannot give rise to reason or truth, as you say. Sometimes this is expressed as 'a series of deterministic events' cannot give rise to reason or truth. Or sometimes it's phrased as 'atoms in the brain cannot produce beliefs which are true or false'.

It still sounds like incredulity to me, but I will let it rest.

I don't think 'the argument from incredulity' is an actual fallacy. At the very least, there's considerable tension with the idea that the burden of proof lies on the person trying to assert something. At worst, just about any argument that a position is incoherent could be described as an argument from incredulity. The argument from incredulity only really becomes a fallacy when the person has explained the point and the incredulous person hasn't listened.
If I assert that aliens built the Pyramids it is not an argument from incredulity to say that I haven't explained how aliens managed to travel to this planet.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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quetzalcoatl
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Well, I was really saying that incredulity is not an argument. But it depends on how it's expressed. If someone says, 'atoms in the brain cannot produce thought', I would ask, 'why not?'. It seems quite plausible to me, that they can, although neuroscience cannot explain it (yet).

But that assertion might mean, 'I don't believe that atoms can produce thoughts', or 'no-one can explain how atoms can do this', and the second one is correct.

This used to come up with evolution, but has died away. I remember a bishop or possibly an arch who said that it seemed impossible that a polar bear would become white as camouflage, or something like that.

I'm not sure about the argument that natural processes cannot produce reason or truth. Of course, no-one can explain how, but then no-one can explain gravity (yet).

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no path

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Well, I was really saying that incredulity is not an argument. But it depends on how it's expressed. If someone says, 'atoms in the brain cannot produce thought', I would ask, 'why not?'. It seems quite plausible to me, that they can, although neuroscience cannot explain it (yet).

I think I'm going to run the argument using terms Lewis didn't use. But it amounts to the same thing.

I can think of three ways to put the argument, which I think have the same basic structure.

Thoughts are intentional. That is, they represent the world. (Terminology here is contested.) There is a reference to something that isn't the thoughts themselves. If I am thinking of Shakespeare I am thinking of something remote from my brain in space and time.
This is not something that can be described in the current language of physics or in any extension thereof along the same lines.

Thoughts can be true or false. It's essential to the concepts of truth and falsehood that a thought oughtn't to be false. But in the language of physics matter and energy just is in a certain arrangement. There's no way to introduce the normative concepts of truth and falsehood within the current language of physics or any extension similar to the existing.

The truth or falsehood of a thought depends upon the intentional representation. Someone can hold contradictory beliefs about William Shakespeare and the author of Hamlet (if e.g. they think the Earl of Oxford wrote Hamlet) even though William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. This again is impossible to capture in the language of physics. In fact, it puts a serious dampener on the whole proceeding of physics, since it raises the possibility that two statements with the same real world truth condition are not logically equivalent.

To say that there can be a physicalist account of thought is therefore not merely to claim something that has no particular warrant, but to claim something for which we have no idea what that warrant would look like.

Another slightly different argument is that thoughts involve secondary properties: subjective colours, odours, etc. But physical matter only responds to the primary properties: the wavelengths of light, chemicals that trigger receptors in the nose, etc. Progress in physics was enabled by specifically separating off the subjective secondary qualities. But having separated them off you then have no way of putting them back.

I'm not saying that the argument is decisive. Just that it is a large bullet to bite and you need to have a pretty good reason to bite it.
(The main reason for thinking it's not decisive is that mental dualism doesn't really have any theoretically enlightening account of these matters either beyond tautology.)

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I don't think 'the argument from incredulity' is an actual fallacy.

It's an informal fallacy (the premises as stated inadequately support the conclusion being drawn) rather than a formal fallacy (an inherent flaw in the structure of the logic presented).

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Jay-Emm
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If I recall, although you did had the appeal to increduality, you also had a more specific claim.
But also the more specific claim that any thoughts about the validity of thought have to assume the consequent. Which isn't to say it might not turn out to be true (at least it doesn't give a contradiction), but if it was false it could give identical results (among others).

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