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 Matt Adore
Joined: 10/1/2006
Msg: 51
The Conversion of an atheistPage 3 of 3    (1, 2, 3)
C. S. Lewis said this in the first chapter of 'Mere Christianty'...

But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining 'It's not fair' before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing as Right and Wrong--in other words, if there is no Law of Nature--what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?
 Stonestongue
Joined: 5/18/2006
Msg: 52
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/14/2007 10:50:39 PM

Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later.


That's because your personal version of right and wrong is subjective to everyone elses... So there's no real answer we can ALL agree on for what is right and wrong... That doesn't mean that your version of right and wrong doesn't work for you, but that someone else will see it differently and we have to accept that and agree on a "common sense" if you will...

I don't believe in good or bad... But I believe what I feel to be good and bad... You get my meaning?
 Matt Adore
Joined: 10/1/2006
Msg: 53
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/15/2007 3:50:32 PM
That's because your personal version of right and wrong is subjective to everyone elses... So there's no real answer we can ALL agree on for what is right and wrong... That doesn't mean that your version of right and wrong doesn't work for you, but that someone else will see it differently and we have to accept that and agree on a "common sense" if you will...

When you say that we have to agree on a "common sense", I think that is kind of what C.S. Lewis is trying to say. Here's a quote from chapter 2 of 'Mere Christianity'...

Some people wrote to me saying, 'Isn't what you call the Moral Law simply our herd instinct and hasn't it been developed just like all our other instincts?' Now I do not deny that we may have a herd instinct: but that is not what I mean by the Moral Law. We all know what it feels like to be prompted by instinct--by mother love, or sexual instinct, or the instinct for food. It means that you feel a strong want or desire to act in a certain way. And, of course, we sometimes do feel just that sort of desire to help another person: and no doubt that desire is due to the herd instinct. But feeling a desire to help is quite different from feeling that you ought to help whether you want to or not. Supposing you hear a cry for help from a man in danger. You will probably feel two desires--one a desire to give help (due to your herd instinct), the other a desire to keep out of danger (due to the instinct for self-preservation). But you will find inside you, in addition to these two impulses, a third thing which tells you that you ought to follow the impulse to help, and suppress the impulse to run away. Now this thing that judges between two instincts, that decides which should be encouraged, cannot itself be either of them. You might as well say that the sheet of music which tells you, at a given moment, to play one note on the piano and not another, is itself one of the notes on the keyboard. The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys.
 Stonestongue
Joined: 5/18/2006
Msg: 54
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/15/2007 4:52:52 PM
I can see that completely... But I don't see how it would lead to a belief in a higher power(since the third thing is felt within ones self)... Maybe it's how one looks at it.

To me that sounds more along the lines of Taoism or Zen Buddhism... But, I'm maybe biased since that's the way I see it already...

This is just me though... I wouldn't want to claim to know what was in the man's head... I've only read what you've put here.(Of that book, leastways...)
 Matt Adore
Joined: 10/1/2006
Msg: 55
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/16/2007 3:59:44 PM
More from C. S. Lewis and chapter 2 of 'Mere Christianity'

Other people wrote to me saying, 'Isn't what you call the Moral Law just a social convention, something that is put into us by education?' I think there is a misunderstanding here. The people who ask that question are usually taking it for granted that if we have learned a thing from parents and teachers, then that thing must be merely a human invention. But, of course, that is not so. We all learned the multiplication table at school. A child who grew up alone on a desert island would not know it. But surely it does not follow that the multiplication table is simply a human convention, something human beings have made up for themselves and might have made different if they had liked? I fully agree that we learn the Rule of Decent Behaviour from parents and teachers, and friends and books, as we learn everything else. But some of the things we learn are mere conventions which might have been different--we learn to keep to the left of the road, but it might just as well have been the rule to keep to the right--and others of them, like mathematics, are real truths. The question is to which class the Law of Human Nature belongs.

There are two reasons for saying it belongs to the same class as mathematics. The first is, as I said in the first chapter, that though there are differences between the moral ideas of one time or country and those of another, the differences are not really very great--not nearly so great as most people imagine--and you can recognise the same law running through them all: whereas mere conventions, like the rule of the road or the kind of clothes people wear, may differ to any extent. The other reason is this. When you think about these differences between the morality of one people and another, do you think that the morality of one people is ever better or worse than that of another? Have any of the changes been improvements? If not, then of course there could never be any moral progress. Progress means not just changing, but changing for the better. If no set of moral ideas were truer or better than any other, there would be no sense in preferring civilised morality to savage morality, or Christian morality to Nazi morality. In fact, of course, we all do believe that some moralities are better than others. We do believe that some of the people who tried to change the moral ideas of their own age were what we would call Reformers or Pioneers--people who understood morality better than their neighbours did. Very well then. The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer to that real Right than others. Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something-some Real Morality--for them to be true about. The reason why your idea of New York can be truer or less true than mine is that New York is a real place, existing quite apart from what either of us thinks. If when each of us said 'New York' each means merely 'The town I am imagining in my own head,' how could one of us have truer ideas than the other? There would be no question of truth or falsehood at all. In the same way, if the Rule of Decent Behaviour meant simply 'whatever each nation happens to approve,' there would be no sense in saying that any one nation had ever been more correct in its approval than any other; no sense in saying that the world could ever grow morally better or morally worse.
 Taphophilia
Joined: 4/30/2007
Msg: 56
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History
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/16/2007 4:46:49 PM
Lewis was not familiar with meme's. Which is what he is describing in a round about way.


A community that has survived and expanded for many decades or centuries is one which has provided its members with patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that permit that survival. We could call these patterns memes, or stick to older words such as beliefs and techniques - it doesn't matter. Among the patterns that appear to work well for most societies are ones that encourage extending the range of the instincts of sympathy and love of family to all members of the community, rather than just close relations. Traditions of mutual respect, obedience to authority, cooperation, and so on, are good examples. These traditions make it less likely that community members waste their energies on internal conflicts and use it instead on productive activities, community defense, and, possibly, expansion at the expense of other communities.
 Matt Adore
Joined: 10/1/2006
Msg: 57
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/17/2007 6:18:10 PM
From C. S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" Chapter three; 'The reality of the Law'...

Now have you noticed what follows? It follows that what we usually call the laws of nature--the way weather works on a tree for example--may not really be laws in the strict sense, but only in a manner of speaking. When you say that falling stones always obey the law of gravitation, is not this much the same as saying that the law only means 'what stones always do'? You do not really think that when a stone is let go, it suddenly remembers that it is under orders to fall to the ground. You only mean that, in fact, it does fall. In other words, you cannot be sure that there is anything over and above the facts themselves, any law about what ought to happen, as distinct from what does happen. The laws of nature, as applied to stones or trees, may only mean 'what Nature, in fact, does'. But if you turn to the Law of Human Nature, the Law of Decent Behaviour, it is a different matter. That law certainly does not mean 'what human beings, in fact, do'; for as I said before, many of them do not obey this law at all, and none of them obey it completely. The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not. In other words, when you are dealing with humans, something else comes in above and beyond the actual facts. You have the facts (how men do behave) and you also have something else (how they ought to behave). In the rest of the universe there need not be anything but the facts. Electrons and molecules behave in a certain way, and certain results follow, and that may be the whole story.* But men behave in a certain way and that is not the whole story, for all the time you know that they ought to behave differently.
 flyguy51
Joined: 8/11/2005
Msg: 58
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The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/17/2007 7:14:25 PM
Matt, aren't you starting to worry about copyright infringement here? In any case, it seems that Lewis is arguing for absolutism in these excerpts, not Christianity. So far, there are no references to the Bible or Christian doctrine. Maybe the book should have been titled "Mere Absolutism: Proven With Circular Reasoning."
 Matt Adore
Joined: 10/1/2006
Msg: 59
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/17/2007 7:33:49 PM
From C. S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" Chapter four; 'What lies behind the Law'...

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. All I have got to is a Something which is directing the universe, and which appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong. I think we have to assume it is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know--because after all the only other thing we know is matter and you can hardly imagine a bit of matter giving instructions. But, of course, it need not be very like a mind, still less like a person. In the next chapter we shall see if we can find out anything more about it. But one word of warning. There has been a great deal of soft soap talked about God for the last hundred years. That is not what I am offering. You can cut all that out.
 Feral
Joined: 4/10/2005
Msg: 60
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History
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/17/2007 7:40:41 PM
Wow, it's like having an argument with a dead guy that can't speak beyond what he's already said. Interesting...
 Taphophilia
Joined: 4/30/2007
Msg: 61
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The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/18/2007 7:55:54 AM

and which appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong.


He took this from Mark Twain. It's called plagerism unless you name your source.
 disaronno amaretto
Joined: 12/3/2006
Msg: 62
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/18/2007 7:56:10 AM
Revelation 2:2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;"

Revelation 3:20 " Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me."
 river_loon
Joined: 11/17/2005
Msg: 63
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/18/2007 9:04:09 AM

He took this from Mark Twain. It's called plagerism unless you name your source.


As a fellow/tutor/professor of English at Cambridge; I'm sure that Lewis was aware of the definition of plagiarism.
 Matt Adore
Joined: 10/1/2006
Msg: 64
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/21/2007 4:23:28 PM
Part one of a paragraph from chapter 5 of C. S. Lewis' 'Mere Christianity'...

Then, secondly, this has not yet turned exactly into a 'religious jaw'. We have not yet got as far as the God of any actual religion, still less the God of that particular religion called Christianity. We have only got as far as a Somebody or Something behind the Moral Law. We are not taking anything from the Bible or the Churches, we are trying to see what we can find out about this Somebody on our own steam. And I want to make it quite clear that what we find out on our own steam is something that gives us a shock. We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody. 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. Now, from this second bit of evidence we conclude that the Being behind the universe is intensely interested in right conduct in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness. In that sense we should agree with the account given by Christianity and some other religions, that God is 'good'. But do not let us go too fast here. The Moral Law does not give us any grounds for thinking that God is 'good' in the sense of being indulgent, or soft, or sympathetic. There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law. It is as hard as nails. It tells you to do the straight thing and it does not seem to care how painful, or dangerous, or difficult it is to do. If God is like the Moral Law, then He is not soft.
 Matt Adore
Joined: 10/1/2006
Msg: 65
The Conversion of an atheist
Posted: 5/21/2007 4:25:24 PM
Part two of a paragraph from chapter 5 of C. S. Lewis' 'Mere Christianity'...

It is no use, at this stage, saying that what you mean by a 'good' God is a God who can forgive. You are going too quickly. Only a Person can forgive. And we have not yet got as far as a personal God--only as far as a power, behind the Moral Law, and more like a mind than it is like anything else. But it may still be very unlike a Person.. If it is pure impersonal mind, there may be no sense in asking it to make allowances for you or let you off, just as there is no sense in asking the multiplication table to let you off when you do your sums wrong. You are bound to get the wrong answer. And it is no use either saying that if there is a God of that sort--an impersonal absolute goodness--then you do not like Him and are not going to bother about Him. For the trouble is that one part of you is on His side and really agrees with his disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation. You may want Him to make an exception in your own case, to let you off this one time; but you know at bottom that unless the power behind the world really and unalterably detests that sort of behaviour, then He cannot be good. On the other hand, we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do. This is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we must need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger -according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way.
 Rearden_Metal12
Joined: 6/9/2012
Msg: 66
The Metric Conversion of an Atheist
Posted: 6/24/2012 11:29:27 PM
Thank you very much for writing this! Believers have no clue how depressing it is to know that, there is no grand plan set out for you. The same way that God does not have a plan for the kids dying in Syria. Or those the millions who died during the holocaust, or in Rwanda.
 Inicia
Joined: 12/21/2007
Msg: 67
The Metric Conversion of an Atheist
Posted: 7/20/2012 8:31:29 AM
I like the fact that some of the atheist on here claimed atheism was not a choice for them. For the person with faith why would that be anymore of a choice for them? If you claim you have no choice in your beliefs, and that is deep conviction why should anyone with faith be guided by more logic than that....
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