C.S. Lewis on Evidence and Moral Law


We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody [behind the Moral Law]. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, then I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place). The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put into our minds. And this is a better bit of evidence than the other, because it is inside information. You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built. (from Mere Christianity)

Human perceptions carry so much baggage that our conclusions based on them are bound to be, as Lewis would say, rot. This certainly holds for interpersonal relationships and observing other people, but also for our conclusions about God based our extremely limited observations of his creation. Our perceptions also carry so much weight that once convinced of certain conclusions, shaking us loose from them based on new evidence is next to impossible. An evolutionist might—but probably won’t—say, “Humanity is the biased animal.”

With your indulgence, I’ll supply a brief, logical progression: Given that God created us in his own image, that mankind corrupted that image through our disobedience, and that we find the universe beautiful because the Creator gave us the capacity for appreciating beauty, his appreciation of beauty must exceed ours as his power and knowledge exceed ours. For that reason, we know that God’s creation is infinitely beautiful, and our appreciation of that beauty is minuscule compared to his. Since one cannot create beauty unless beauty resides within, the Creator of infinite beauty must be infinitely beautiful.

Lewis pointed out that, based on our observations of the universe, the Creator must be a merciless, great artist. I have no problem with the “artist” part, but he is most certainly not merciless, as evidenced by the many opportunities he gave his people Israel to obey his laws and ordinances. In my Book, God is (excuse the pun) inordinately merciful.

In the same way we know God is beautiful because he gifted us with creation’s beauty, and our ability to appreciate it, we also know that he is the moral God because of the sense of morality he placed within us. At times I’m tempted to dispute any innate, moral component in the human temperament when I see so little of it, but sometimes it wafts forth like a breath of cool air on a hot day. Human morality and goodness is nothing more than the residue of what Creator God originally gifted us with. Even that, however, our first parents managed to corrupt when they disobeyed God’s only rule in the garden, and all of us have faithfully followed in their unfaithful steps. God’s prophet Isaiah clearly sets us straight about the quality of our personal acts of goodness:

6We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
(Isaiah 64:6-7 ESV)

Even so, Lewis was right about the pittance of natural morality remaining in us. If you want to see pure morality at work, observe a group of children playing; kids have definite ideas of fairness, which is a sort of morality. You will also notice, however, that they usually try to enforce said morality on others, while working every angle for their own benefit.

As adults, we become more subtle in our angle-working, but it’s there none-the-less. Our altruistic acts gratify us, as we usually make sure others witness them. You know, a little affirmation never hurts. I may sound cynical, but only rarely will you discover someone performing good works for any reason than ultimately for their own glory. Sometimes that self-interest is pathetically obvious (as with politicians), but usually it’s well-concealed.

If you’re okay with that, you already have your reward; God bears no obligation to issue further attaboys to you. For a little Scriptural verification, check out Matthew chapter six.

Anyone who personally knows God loves him, fully knows that God is love (1 John 4). The only way we can love and work for others in God’s selfless way is by first understanding how much God loves us (vs. 19), and that’s privileged understanding, available only to those who believe in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have accepted the rebirth he died to provide.

If you realize that it’s time to get off your high-horse and bow to the only loving God, I’ll help you find the Way to do just that, ‘cause Jesus is the (only) Way, the (absolute) Truth, and the(eternal) Life. No one comes to the Father but through him (John 14:6).

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