Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Good, Evil, and the Idea of Justice

"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 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 that 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. [... ] 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 know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning."

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"For the purely evolutionary thinker, there is no problem of evil, because there is nothing that qualifies as evil. The natural evolutionary order gives us no standards of justice or goodness, and therefore also nothing that can count as violating them, and therefore constituting evil. And so, for the purely evolutionary thinker, our very deeply human responses of outrage or indignation at evil must be written off as pure illusions."

— Judith Wolfe, C.S. Lewis Symposium, "21st Century Apologetics"

"Lacking belief in the promises and commandments of God, one must fall back on a "man-centred" philosophy-something called humanism or materialism, which accepts this life and its immediate desires as the basis of all conduct. But you can't get a moral law out of materialism. There is no logical reason why a materialist shouldn't poison his nagging wife, if he can get away with it.
"The essential amorality of all atheist doctrines is often hidden from us by an irrelevant personal argument. We see that many articulate secularists are well-meaning and law-abiding men; we see them go into righteous indignation over injustice and often devote their lives to good works. So we conclude that "he can't be wrong whose life is in the right"-that their philosophies are just as good guides to action as Christianity. What we don't see is that they are not acting on their philosophies. They are acting, out of habit or sentiment, on an inherited Christian ethic which they still take for granted though they have rejected the creed from which it sprang. Their children will inherit somewhat less of it."

--Joy Davidman, Smoke on the Mountain.

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