Remembering that these were originally radio broadcasts,
Lewis has received some objections to his thesis that God
puts a moral law within the souls of humans.
A good apologist knows how to handle objections.
So in chapter 2, Lewis “wants to stop and make his foundation firm”
So he addresses these objections one by one.
In this, Lewis shows us a wise apologist.
He listens so carefully that he can repeat back to his objector
his argument so clearly that the objector knows he has been heard —
and then and only then does he attempt to dismantle the argument.
Listen to just the first two minutes of this video,
and then tell us the first two steps of overcoming objections.
(Though the context is sales, this works for anything!)
1. What stands out to you from the above?
2. Can you think of a couple of reasons to read good apologists like Lewis?
3. What are the first two steps in overcoming objections according to the above lecture?
4. How well do you do this? Give an illustration of when you did this well or poorly.
Monday: Objection: Morality is just the “herd instinct.” (Paragraphs 1-2)
5. Read the first paragraph of Chapter 2. What does Lewis want to do before he continues and why?
The first objection is that the “moral law” of which Lewis speaks, is really just the “herd instinct.” We have an animal instinct to do what the majority does.
With humans, the thought is, if the majority of humans around you are helping others, then the “herd instinct” will make you want to help. If the majority of humans around you are avoiding cocaine, the “herd instinct” will cause you to avoid cocaine. Some philosophers said, “This is not the law of God in your heart, this is the herd instinct.”
Read paragraph 2 of chapter 2.
5. Here Lewis lists the objection of herd instinct. How do you see Lewis first both listening and affirming his objector?
Now Lewis begins to dismantle the objection, talking about two conflicting impulses, using the example of a man in danger crying for help. The herd instinct may make you want to help, and the self-preservation instinct may make you want to run away.
6. In this second paragraph Lewis talks about a third impulse. What is it?
7. Can you give an example of a “herd instinct” that seems immoral to you? Why do you think it seems immoral to you?
Tuesday: The Third Impulse (paragraphs 3-5)
Read the third paragraph beginning with “Another way of seeing…”)
8. Lewis brings up the point that the moral law doesn’t always tell us to suppress the herd instinct, nor does it always tell us to suppress the self-preservation instinct. Sometimes, for example, sexual instinct is good, and sometimes it is bad. What point is Lewis making?
Read the fourth paragraph beginning with “Here is a third way of seeing it.”
9. When he opens this paragraph, he uses logic to show why the Moral Law could not be one of our instincts. What is it? Share an illustration he gives.
Read the fifth paragraph beginning with “By the way, the point is of great practical consequence.”
10. What does Lewis say is the “most dangerous thing you can do” and why? Can you give an illustration?
Morality is Just Social Convention Put Into Us By Education
Read from the 6th paragraph beginning with: “Other people wrote…” all the way to the end, underlining as you read. This is heavy, but if you can get his main point, that will be wonderful!
11. Lewis differentiates between two kinds of things that are taught – things that may be invented by humans, such as driving on the left side of the road, and things that are not, such as math. To which kind of thing does he believe the moral law belongs?
12. What two reasons does he give for the moral law being in the category of things that are not human invention?
13. If moral law is due to education, then the most moral civilizations on earth should be the most educated ones. Do you think that is true? Give an illustration, if possible.
Let’s consider a very educated country in the time of Lewis: Germany in World War II. In the historical fiction novel, Lilac Girls, one of the three women was Herta, based on Herta Oberheuser, a Nazi doctor who performed horrendous experiments in Ravensbruck on the Jewish prisoners. Herta was caught between the herd instinct and the self-protective instinct. Though when she first arrived at the camp, she was shocked at how the prisoners were being treated, for her herd instinct (what her family and friends thought was wrong) deemed it immoral. But then she was told if she didn’t cooperate, they would imprison her family and put her to death. She began to justify the surgeries, and performed them.
15. Which instinct won? Can you empathize or not? Explain.
I6. Read or skim the following article and explain what happened to Herta after the war. How do you think Lewis would explain this considering that the two instincts opposed one another.
17. What is your take-a-way this week and why?