Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Review of “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

               So in an effort to better understand how someone could possibly buy into the whole religious ideology, I’ve begun to explore Christianity a bit further.  After scouring many websites and forums “Mere Christianity” seemed to be the most highly recommended book to give to an Atheist according to Christians.  So I took the bait and read this book.  I’ve been trying desperately to find a valid argument for the existence of God.  Not so much because I want to believe, but rather I want to know what could possibly make someone else believe.  I was optimistic that I might find it within “Mere Christianity” since it is so highly regarded among Christians.  However, what I found instead was simply more of the same.  In fact, I found this writing to be one of the worst cases for Christianity that I have yet discovered.

               The last 2 chapters did very well at making the “Modern Christian” look like a sinful heathen.  I actually found it humorous, at times, to read.  The fact of the matter is, based on C.S. Lewis’ interpretation of Christianity I have yet to actually meet a Christian.  That is to say that no one I have yet to meet who call themselves Christians actually live a life of a true Christian according to this book.  So maybe he just got it wrong.  I could believe that if the very same things he preaches in his book weren’t the very things I hear so called Christians say as well.  The discrepancy shows itself in the hypocrisy of these very words.  These people who call themselves Christians and who claim to live by this particular doctrine indeed do not.  They claim they are better people by living their live through the teachings of Jesus yet I have not yet seen it.  Maybe these very same people should read this book as well.  While I’d hate to see them become even narrower minded at least they would be practicing what they preach (as the saying goes).

               I’ve pulled some quotes from this book.  These are just some things that, while reading it, I decided that I would like to touch upon and add my opinion on the matter.  I will add the disclaimer that it is possible that I might have simply misunderstood the point being made or simply took it out of context.  I leave it to you to read the book for yourself and decide.  As it is, this is my take on some of the things C.S. Lewis had to say:

“But when the older thinkers called the Law of Right and Wrong ‘the Law of Nature’, they really meant the Law of Human Nature.”

“…but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law he does not share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the one he can disobey if he chooses.”

               So the gist of this portion of reading is basically on morality.  Not necessarily what is right and wrong but that there are rights as well as wrongs.  This is basically the argument of objective morality that Christians try to use to prove that there must be a God for how else would we know these sorts of things.  Well, if you choose to believe that such a thing as objective morality exists rather than it being a subjective matter, so be it.  The thing is, his whole argument centers around the premise of the aforementioned quotes.  What I find fascinating is that he calls it the “Law of Human Nature”.  Human Nature, even he italicizes the word Human.  The interesting fact about that is what he is going on about this whole time sounds more like Humanism than Christianity.  All he is really doing here is validating the Humanist subculture of the Atheist movement.  That only seems to make the case for Atheism that must stronger in my opinion.  A bit ironic, isn’t it?

“If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe – no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house.”

“Do not think I am going faster than I really am.  I am not yet within a hundred miles of the God of Christian Theology.”

Okay, here we see one of the greatest cop-outs of Christianity.  I add the second quote only to prove that he isn’t even actually arguing about the God from the bible but simply taking a Deistic approach to the subject.  Even so, the point here is that this is what Christians do all the time.  They say that God is beyond our comprehension and therefore there is no possible way to prove/disprove the existence of such a thing.  Basically, we are all too dumb to ever understand it for ourselves so we should just take the word of those who wrote the bible instead.  Then, of course, we have Jesus who is the “bridge” between the level we are at as humanity and the level of the divine in heaven.  So the only way we could possibly ever understand is to follow the teachings of Jesus and transcend from our humanity into something much more.  It is this appeal that has people brainwashed into all this nonsensical doctrine.  I hear many people, most of them Christians, talk about how crazy Mormons are or any of these suicidal cults that have existed.  The funny thing is that Christianity is no different!

“But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money?  Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give his conduct.  Yet this is what Jesus did.  He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured.  He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offenses.  This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.”

“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 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.”

It almost seems unfair to even touch on these quotes.  If this is the best you have to argue that Jesus was the Son of God than maybe you should rethink your faith.  So, what I gather from the first quote is: because a man calling himself Jesus forgave a bad person on behalf of a victim he must surely be the “real deal”.  Well, that’s some rather hard evidence to contest (that was sarcasm just in case you didn’t pick up on that).  Based on this argument I could forgive a rapist on behalf of the woman he raped and by doing so it would prove I was God.  I hope you realize how silly that really is.  As for the second quote, well, that’s just too easy.  I choose the latter.  It has always been my opinion that if Jesus actually did exist and said the things the New Testament claims he said, that he most likely was just a crazy cult leader no different than the likes of David Koresh.*

“I have explained why I have to believe that Jesus was (and is) God.  And it seems plain as a matter of history that He taught His followers that the new life was communicated in this way.  In other words, I believe it on His authority.  Do not be scared by the word authority.  Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy.  Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.  I believe there is such a place as New York.  I have not seen it myself.  I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place.  I believe it because reliable people have told me so.  The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of blood on authority – because scientists say so.  Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority.  None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada.  None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics.  We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority.  A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.”

This here is an excellent example of the true ignorance of the Christian mindset.  To start with, you cannot prove that Jesus ever existed (at least it has yet to be undeniably proven) nor that the things he said or did ever happened.  Therefore, to consider him such an “authority” is an error.  Now, let’s talk about this “authority concept” some.  First off, it is incredibly frustrating to have to explain this over and over again to Christians: An Atheists sense of faith is completely different than a Christians.  Lewis is right in that most, if not all, of us take it on faith that what a physicist tells us about the universe is correct.  But the difference lies in a very crucial point.  Science is conducted through something we sane people call the Scientific Method.  This means we don’t just seem something and make a conclusion based on that alone.  Tests are conducted based on hypotheses and only when there is enough demonstrable evidence are conclusions made.  Even then, nothing is written in stone.  Once our knowledge on things grows and we develop new ways of testing or gain some new knowledge not yet discovered those conclusions can, and will, change.  It was once concluded that the Earth was flat but as well all know today that is not now the case.  Furthermore, when we are told of some new conclusion we are not forced to believe such on faith.  If we so choose we can run the tests and find out the answers for ourselves.  That is science.  Now I must admit that the point, as far as it relates to history, is a little more valid.  There is really no way for me to know for certain that Lincoln ever gave a speech at Gettysburg.  However, I do not base any of my choices in life on this knowledge either.   History is not a doctrine which I live by.  I may take lessons learned from the history I’m taught and make better decisions because of it but I do not do so because they are true.   I do so because I see the logic and reason within the lesson.  I do not go around and kill in the name of George Washington, but people have done such things in the name of Jesus.  And this only pertains to some aspects of our history.  Many other historical facts are derived through the same sort of principals used in science.  Evidence of arrow heads does indeed tell us when our species started to use tools.  We might only be able to speculate how those tools were used but we do know they were man made through to procedure or running tests/experiments.

“According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride.  Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vide: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

“The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming.”

“We say in English that a man is ‘proud’ of his son, or his father, or his school, or regiment, and it may be asked whether ‘pride’ in this sense is a sin.  I think it depends on what, exactly, we mean by ‘proud of’.  Very often, in such sentences, the phrase ‘is proud of’ means ‘has a warm-hearted admiration for’.  Such an admiration is, of course, very far from being a sin.  But it might, perhaps, mean that the person in question give himself airs on the ground of his distinguished father, or because he belongs to a famous regiment.  This would, cleverly, be a fault; but even then, it would be better than being proud simply of himself.

               Yet another technique used to brainwash the masses.  This type of doctrine causes the religious to feel lowly and undeserving.  This is the type of tactic used by slave owners back before it was abolished.  Make the people believe they are beneath you and they will do as you command.  That’s exactly what Christianity is, slavery.  It’s amazing how easy it is for those people of religious authority to use this type of thinking to their advantage.  It’s this type of doctrine that allows little boys to be molested by priests.  Christianity forbids pride.  In my opinion pride, especially in the sense used in this book, is another word for self-esteem.  It is people with low self-esteem who are most susceptible to joining new cults.  Charles Manson, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, these were people who preyed upon those with little or no pride.  I, for one, have plenty of pride and will continue to have it regardless if it’s a so-called sin or not.

“It is very different for the nasty people – the little, low, timid, warped, thin-blooded, lonely people, or the passionate, sensual, unbalanced people.  If they make any attempt at goodness at all, they learn, in double quick time, that they need help.  It is Christ or nothing for them.  It is taking up the cross and following – or else despair.  They are lost sheep; He came specially to find them.  They are (in one very real and terrible sense) the ‘poor’: He blessed them.  They are the ‘awful set’ he goes about with…”

               Yet another example of the type of person Christianity targets.  Isn’t it great how well this religion thinks of its people?

“I want to start by saying something that I would like everyone to notice carefully.  It is this.  If this chapter means nothing to you, if it seems to be trying to answer questions you never asked, drop it at once.  Do not bother about it at all.  There are certain things in Christianity that can be understood from the outside, before you have become Christian.  But there are a great many things that cannot be understood until after you have a gone a certain distance along the Christian road.”

               I added this quote only because I think it is complete nonsense.  All it is basically saying is to really understand Christianity, to really buy into all the illogical irrationality of it, you have to brainwash yourself first.  Which further proves my point that Christianity is nothing more than just another cult, like any other, except that it does a much better job at it than the others.

“The other set were accused of saying, ‘Faith is all that matters.  Consequently, if you have faith, it doesn’t matter what you do.  Sin away, my lad, and have a good time and Christ will see that it makes no difference in the end.’  The answer to that nonsense is that, if what you call ‘faith’ in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it Is not Faith at all – not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him.”

               This here is just a small sample of what lies at the later portion of the book.  And an example of what most Christians say and do as opposed to what Christianity is supposed to be all about.  It’s amazing how many Christians get offended or pissed off at things I say about their religion when, in fact, I know more about it than they do.  I know more about what it means to be a Christian (especially after reading this book) than most Christians and yet I still think its complete nonsense.  Ignorance is the ammo of religion.  Well, I choose not to be ignorant.

               Well, that about wraps up my review of “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis.  I would have to say that I would not recommend this book to my fellow Atheists.  In fact, I found it very difficult to even put forth the effort into reading a lot of it, let alone the entire thing.  The last couple of chapters were the worst as it was really geared towards those who have faith (or at least think they do) rather than a general interpretation of Christianity itself.


 *- Those of you who found this statement absolutely appalling fail to realize that I do not worship Jesus nor believe in any of the Christian doctrine.  So therefore, a statement such as that is nothing more than that, a statement.  There’s no blasphemy in something that does not exist and therefore I stand by my statement.

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