Is Jesus really whom he is reported to have said he was? Was Jesus the Son of God? Lewis believed so and also believed that he had a very good argument for convincing people to agree: if Jesus was not whom he claimed, then he must be a lunatic, a liar, or worse.
He was certain that no one could seriously argue for or accept these alternatives and that left only his favored explanation. Lewis expressed his idea in more than one place, but the most definitive appears in his book Mere Christianity :. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.
He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.
Cubic Meters to Liters
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.
He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. What we have here is a false dilemma or trilemma, since there are three options.
Several possibilities are presented as if they are the only ones available. One is preferred and defended strongly while the others are presented as necessarily weak and inferior.
This is a typical tactic for C. Lewis, as John Beversluis writes:. He habitually confronts his readers with the alleged necessity of choosing between two alternatives when there are in fact other options to be considered. Either morality is a revelation or it is an inexplicable illusion PP, Lewis advances these arguments again and again, and they are all open to the same objection.
When it comes to his argument that Jesus must necessarily be the Lord, there are other possibilities which Lewis does not effectively eliminate.
Those two possibilities are so obvious that it's implausible that someone as intelligent as Lewis never thought of them, which would mean that he deliberately left them out of consideration.
This fact is suspicious given that he was an academic scholar—a profession where such tactics would have been soundly denounced had he tried to use them there.
C. S. Lewis
Are they liars, lunatics, or a bit of both? In effect, then, his infamous false trilemma is based upon the premise of this false dilemma. It's just logical fallacies all the way down for Lewis, a poor foundation for a hollow shell of an argument. Share Flipboard Email. Austin Cline. Atheism Expert. Austin Cline, a former regional director for the Council for Secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism.
Updated February 03, Understanding the Bible's 2nd Commandment on Graven Images. Why C. Lewis and J. Tolkien Argued Over Christian Theology.Lewis and fellow novelist J. Tolkien were close friends. They both served on the English faculty at Oxford University and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the Inklings.
Lewis returned to Anglicanism at the age of 32, owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, and he became an "ordinary layman of the Church of England". Lewis wrote more than 30 books  which have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularised on stage, TV, radio, and cinema.
His philosophical writings are widely cited by Christian apologists from many denominations. InLewis married American writer Joy Davidman ; she died of cancer four years later at the age of Lewis died on 22 November from kidney failure, one week before his 65th birthday.
Inon the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis was honoured with a memorial in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. He had an elder brother, Warren Hamilton Lewis known as "Warnie". When his dog Jacksie was killed by a car, the four-year old Lewis adopted the name Jacksie. At first, he would answer to no other name, but later accepted Jack, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life. As a boy, Lewis was fascinated with anthropomorphic animals; he fell in love with Beatrix Potter 's stories and often wrote and illustrated his own animal stories.
He and his brother Warnie created the world of Boxeninhabited and run by animals. Lewis loved to read; his father's house was filled with books, and he felt that finding a book to read was as easy as walking into a field and "finding a new blade of grass". The New House is almost a major character in my story. I am the product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstair indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles.
Also, of endless books. Lewis was schooled by private tutors until age nine when his mother died in from cancer. His father then sent him to live and study at Wynyard School in WatfordHertfordshire. Lewis's brother had enrolled there three years previously. The school was closed not long afterward due to a lack of pupils; the headmaster Robert "Oldie" Capron was soon after committed to a psychiatric hospital.
Lewis then attended Campbell College in the east of Belfast about a mile from his home, but left after a few months due to respiratory problems. He was then sent to the health-resort town of MalvernWorcestershire, where he attended the preparatory school Cherbourg House, which Lewis calls "Chartres" in his autobiography.
It was during this time that Lewis abandoned his childhood Christian faith and became an atheist, becoming interested in mythology and the occult. He found the school socially competitive. Kirkpatrickhis father's old tutor and former headmaster of Lurgan College. As a teenager, Lewis was wonder-struck by the songs and legends of what he called Northernnessthe ancient literature of Scandinavia preserved in the Icelandic sagas.
He also grew to love nature; its beauty reminded him of the stories of the North, and the stories of the North reminded him of the beauties of nature. His teenage writings moved away from the tales of Boxen, and he began using different art forms, such as epic poetry and opera, to try to capture his new-found interest in Norse mythology and the natural world. Studying with Kirkpatrick "The Great Knock", as Lewis afterward called him instilled in him a love of Greek literature and mythology and sharpened his debate and reasoning skills.
InLewis was awarded a scholarship at University College, Oxford.The argument which McDowell calls the "trilemma" is popular among amateur apologists for Christianity. It was first popularized by C. Lewis, and has become even more common since McDowell reworked it. It is logically weak, but it is rhetorically powerful--as its popularity and recurrence attest--and so worth considering in more detail than it might otherwise merit.
The name "trilemma" is somewhat misleading. Traditionally a dilemma is a situation in which one is faced with two or more alternatives, each of which is somehow bad or unpleasant[ 1 ]. Structurally it might more accurately be viewed as a binary decision in which one of the branches is asserted to lead to a dilemma, thus favoring the other branch. The original form of the argument as made by Lewis was ostensibly directed only at refuting the claim, sometimes advanced, that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not God.
In a nutshell: "If Jesus' claims are not true, then he was either lying about them which is morally reprehensible or he was deluded into believing them, which would make him a raving madman whom nobody would respect as a teacher ; thus he couldn't have been a great moral teacher.
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.
A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. Few people in our society and fewer in the Britain of the 's go so far as to consider Jesus "the Devil of Hell" or a raving lunatic, and by setting these up as the only alternatives to complete acceptance of Jesus' claims, there is an implication that the claims must therefore be true.
In point of fact, Lewis ends one chapter originally, one radio talk with the quote above, and expands on it in the beginning of the immediately following one:. We are faced, then, with a frightening alternative.
This man we are talking about either was and is just what He said, or else a lunatic, or something worse.Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App.
Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Mere Christianity is a theological book by C. Considered a classic of Christian apologetics, the transcripts of the broadcasts originally appeared in print as three separate pamphlets: The Case for ChristianityChristian Behaviourand Beyond Personality Lewis spends most of his defence of the Christian faith on an argument from morality, a point which persuaded him from atheism to Christianity.
He bases his case on a moral law, a "rule about right and wrong" commonly known to all human beings, citing the example of Nazism; both Christians and atheists believed that Hitler's actions were morally wrong.
On a more mundane level, it is generally accepted that stealing is violating the moral law. Lewis argues that the moral law is like the laws of nature in that it was not contrived by humans.
However, it is unlike natural laws in that it can be broken or ignored, and it is known intuitively, rather than through observation. After introducing the moral law, Lewis argues that thirst reflects the fact that people naturally need water, and there is no other substance which satisfies that need.
Lewis points out that earthly experience does not satisfy the human craving for "joy" and that only God could fit the bill; humans cannot know to yearn for something if it does not exist. Read more Read less. Kindle Cloud Reader Read instantly in your browser. Customers who viewed this item also viewed these digital items. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Mere Christianity. Audible Audiobook.
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The Screwtape Letters. The Great Divorce. Recommended popular audiobooks. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5. Where the Crawdads Sing.The Repugnant Conclusion highlights a problem in an area of ethics which has become known as population ethics. Since, arguably, any reasonable moral theory has to take these aspects of possible states of affairs into account when determining the normative status of actions, the study of population ethics is of general import for moral theory.
As the name indicates, Parfit finds the Repugnant Conclusion unacceptable and many philosophers agree. However, it has been surprisingly difficult to find a theory that avoids the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other equally counterintuitive conclusions. Thus, the question as to how the Repugnant Conclusion should be dealt with and, more generally, what it shows about the nature of ethics has turned the conclusion into one of the cardinal challenges of modern ethics. Parfit is not the first philosopher to have noticed that influential moral views may have implications of the sort outlined in the Repugnant Conclusion.
However, it is Parfit who has brought the conclusion to recent philosophical attention both by stressing the importance of the conclusion and by showing how difficult it is to avoid it Parfit Parfit was led to the Repugnant Conclusion by his considerations concerning how we ought to act in cases where our decisions have an impact on who will exist in the future.
Consider the following two scenarios see Parfit chapter 16 :. What ought the women to do in the two cases? In case 1 the obvious answer is that the mother ought to undergo the treatment since her actual child will thereby get a better life. However, it is problematic to appeal to this kind of reason when we turn to case 2.
If the woman postpones her pregnancy, then the child that is brought into existence will not be identical to the child she would have had, had she decided to become pregnant while she was ill it will not be the same ovum and sperm that meet. How, if at all, should a change in the identity of the involved parties in the compared outcomes affect our moral evaluation? A straightforward way of capturing the No-Difference View is total utilitarianism according to which the best outcome is the one in which there would be the greatest quantity of whatever makes life worth living Parfit p.
However, this view implies that any loss in the quality of lives in a population can be compensated for by a sufficient gain in the quantity of a population; that is, it leads to the Repugnant Conclusion.
Consider the following diagram:. The blocks above represent two populations, A and Z. The width of each block shows the number of people in the corresponding population, the height shows their quality of life or lifetime welfare. All the lives in the above diagram have lives worth living.
Consequently, although the people in A lead very good lives and the people in Z have lives only barely worth living, Z is nevertheless better than A according to total utilitarianism. Thus, the attempt to provide a plausible solution to the Non-Identity Problem has led to a seemingly unacceptable conclusion.
Leaving the Non-Identity Problem aside, there are other arguments establishing that the Repugnant Conclusion is not easily avoided. Parfit has developed an argument to this effect. Consider the three population scenarios indicated in Fig. In population Aeverybody enjoys a very high quality of life. The idea is that an addition of lives worth living cannot make a population worse. Thus, the final conclusion is that Z is better than Awhich is the Repugnant Conclusion.
By what apparently constitute sound steps of reasoning we have arrived at an absurd conclusion. This is paradoxical. Well, if it is thought to be suspicious, there is a way of avoiding it by starting with a population like the one in A and adding new people living at a slightly lower level than the people in A in a manner that increases the well-being of existing people. Moreover, there are other abstract arguments leading in the same direction, some of them presented by Parfit himself see section 2.
It seems then that the Repugnant Conclusion is very hard to get around. The main challenge which Parfit presented in his celebrated work Reasons and Persons is to develop a theory of beneficence—theory X he calls it—which is able to solve the Non-Identity problem, which does not lead to the Repugnant Conclusion and which thus manages to block the Mere Addition Paradox, without facing other unacceptable conclusions.Our dance school, L.
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The Repugnant Conclusion
Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Mere Christianity Quotes Showing of God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense.
What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.
You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. Lewis, Mere Christianity. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.
He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.
But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you. 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? This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness.
They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.