Monday, August 30, 2010

C.S. Lewis' Transcendental Argument

I am unaware if C.S. Lewis was familiar with Cornelius Van Til's apologetic work. Nevertheless, Lewis' realization of the futility of his objection to Christianity is a concise example of a transcendental critique that is at the core of the presuppositional defense of Christianity.  The transcendental critique of antiChristian philosophies is that they are all self-destructive -- and thus, there is no philosophical standoff between Christianity and antitheistic and antiChristian philosophies such as atheism, agnosticism and other religions.  C.S. Lewis saw that the presupposition of evil and injustice did not comport with his atheism, and thus his attack on Christianity was, in actuality, a fatal self-inflicted wound to his atheism.  Here is his argument in Mere Christianity:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such a violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet.  Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist - in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless - I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality - namely my idea of justice - was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple.  If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning. [Mere Christianity, pp.38-9.]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hitchens on Deathbed Conversion. Did Hitchens just say he has a soul?

In a recent interview, which you can view here, Christopher Hitchens, who is dying from esophageal cancer, was anxious to dispel, ahead of time, any possibility that some religious groups might try to exploit a "supposed" death-bed conversion.  He wants to assure us that even if he should utter such a conversion, it would be the chemicals in his brain speaking rather than himself.  As he put it, “It would not have been made by me.  The entity making such a remark might be -- you know -- a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain.”

So, he tells us we can rest assured that despite such an event, the real Hitchens is as unrepentant yesterday as he is today, and so shall he be forever.  Any such turn to Christ would be a "fake" C. Hitchens -- a Hitchens controlled by chemicals.  Which brings us to the inconsistency of Hitchens' claim. 

He acts and speaks as if there is a "real" C. Hitchens distinguishable from chemistry in his brain -- but on Hitchens' account of reality, "he" is only matter controlled by physical laws, and he has always been controlled by physics.  The only way to make sense of his statement is that he believes there is a part of himself that is independent of physical laws and immune to changes in his physical state, and "that" C. Hitchens  is the one he feels compelled to assert is real and unrepentant to the end. But such a part -- a persistent, rationally reasoning part that is independent of physical laws and material reality --   is an immaterial part that Christian theism calls his soul.

But that places him on Christian ground -- a ground that he irrationally denies.   Christopher Hitchens is still suffering from intellectual schizophrenia.  Such are the self-contradictions and the absurdities of atheism.