# 3 Mere Christianity: The Moral Law (Ch. 3-4)

Fish do what their Maker created them to do

Birds do what their Maker created them to do

F

The sun does what its’ Maker created it to do

W

Wildflowers do what their Maker created them to do


But man has a quarrel with His Maker

 

Many of you, and I myself, admit that Mere Christianity is challenging!

So I find it fascinating that when Lewis was on the radio, amidst the horror of World War II, men and women who were educated and uneducated; rich and poor, and religious or irreligious listened with rapt attention. When Lewis would come on the radio, one who was there said they would say:

Shut up blokes! Mr. Lewis in on!

When God shakes our world, we often become desperate

for Him, and cry out to Him, and He comes running to help us,

opening our understanding as only He can do.

So if you are still here, or jumping in now, it shows you have

a hungry heart, and may we together ask Him to help us understand.

At twenty-two, God shook my world through my sister’s visit.

So I read Mere Christianity because, as Solomon says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I needed to know:

Is there really a God?

Is He really Jesus?

What is the meaning of the universe?

Since I wasn’t even a Christian with HIs Spirit in me,

I believe He, in His mercy, was giving me understanding.

Still, there was much in the book I didn’t understand,

but I understood enough to fall on my knees and say:

My Lord and My God.

Sunday:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Why do you think you are still here, even though this is challenging?

Monday: The Point of “Book 1: A Clue To The Meaning of The Universe”

Book 1 concentrates on showing there must be a God, a moral lawgiver.

Chapters 1 through 5 make up Book 1. Lewis lays the foundation in Chapter 1 with two premises that he re-states at the end of chapter 1.

3. What are they?

 

I think one of the reasons Mere Christianity has been so successful is that Lewis had the discernment to start, not even with Christianity and Jesus, but with a more basic question — which is where most men were and are today: How do we know there is a God? Instead of starting with the evidence of creation, which many do, but are dismissed if their listener is convinced that no God was needed to create the world, Lewis starts with evidence of a moral law that we did not invent, but that is solidly in our hearts. Even little children sense it.

 

So Lewis takes this truth, which humans know to be true, to illustrate that there must be an intelligent and moral being, who puts this law in the hearts of humans. This is the only “law” that can be disobeyed, for we cannot disobey the laws of nature, such as gravity, but we can disobey the moral law, and, we do. Chapters 2-5 build on this main truth. So Book 1, made up of Chapters 1-5, is to support the premise that there an intelligent being, a moral “God” who puts this law in the hearts of men and women. Beginning tomorrow, we will look at the short chapters of 3 and 4. Then next week we will finish “Book 1” of Mere Christianity. “Book 2” gets into actual Christianity.

4. To review Chapter 2, can you briefly explain why neither the “herd instinct” (what most do) or education is sufficient to explain why man is driven by a moral law?

Tuesday: Reading Chapter 3. The Reality of the Law 

5. Read or watch this 11 minute video of Chapter 3 — or both. Share one thing that stands out to you: 

 

 

Wednesday: More objections addressed

6. Lewis addresses the objection that we behave morally because we have found it benefits us, not because there is a God who put this in our hearts.

A. How does Lewis dismantle that objection?

B. Share a time when doing the right thing actually hurt you, at least short-term.

 

7. Some say we behave morally because it benefits society, which it does. But how does Lewis explain that this is circular reasoning?

Thursday: Read Chapter 4. What Lies Behind the Law

8. Read or watch this video of chapter 4, or both. What stands out to you from this chapter and why? 

 

 

Friday: The Materialist and Religious View

9. How would you summarize the “materialist view” (see paragraph 2 of ch. 4)

10. Why can science never answer either of these questions: “Why is there a universe” and “What is its’ purpose?” (The rest of the chapter)

 

This reminds me of Keller’s sermons on Genesis 1. He says that people approach Genesis 1 thinking it will answer “How was the universe created?” when it actually answers “Why was the universe created?” (To glorify God)

Saturday: 

11. What is your take-a-way and why?

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5. One thing that stood out to me from the video:

 

Well, I found that listening to the text and watching all the clever illustrations brought it alive. I like the example of a stone falling and that a stone, if dropped, doesn’t have to ‘think’ about whether or not it will obey the law of gravity. This type of law is factual. There is nothing above or beyond the facts in nature. But when dealing with humans and the Law of Human Nature, it does not mean what humans in fact, do, but rather what they ought to do (and often do not).

 

6. Lewis addresses the objection that we behave morally because we have found it benefits us, not because there is a God who put this in our hearts.

 

A. How does Lewis dismantle that objection?

 

Lewis gives examples of choosing right behavior when it is not convenient, or beneficial to us. For example, it would be much more convenient to cheat on a test than to spend hours studying and preparing. It may be more beneficial to us, in the moment, to tell a lie so that we don’t look bad to others, yet the right behavior is to tell the truth and maybe suffer embarrassing consequences.

 

B. Share a time when doing the right thing actually hurt you, at least short-term.

 

I think of my job as a home care coordinator at a hospital. Some days we are so busy and can have as many as 10-20 patients discharging home and needing home care set-up. I can be tempted to take my two allowed breaks and a 30 minute lunch, and that will mean that I will leave things undone and if I’m not working the next day, somebody else will have to take care of it. I even tell  myself I will do that, but I end up not taking any breaks or lunch and trying to get everything done and see that the patients’ home care is set-up quickly. Inside of me I have a desire to do a good job and not be a ‘slacker’ and not make more work for somebody else.

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7. Some say we behave morally because it benefits society, which it does. But how does Lewis explain that this is circular reasoning?

 

While it is true, for example, that behaving kindly and unselfishly is good for society, if someone asks, “Why should I be unselfish?” and you reply, “Because it is good for society”, that person may say, “I don’t care what’s good for society; what’s in it for me?” You may reply, “Even if it doesn’t benefit you, you still ought to be unselfish….” and then you are right back where you started! It is a circular argument.

This is the internal battle that can go on inside of me, as I explained above about my job. Why should I care if my co-worker has to finish what I left undone? Why should I care if I slack-off and take a longer than usual lunch and a patient’s home care doesn’t get set-up until the next day? I can start to convince myself that I deserve my breaks and lunch (which technically, I do) but I also get a certain joy and satisfaction from working hard. I find there is this “internal monitor” that encourages me to keep going, work hard, put others first.

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Saturday

11.  What is your take-a-way and why?  This has been a challenging book, but this week I felt a breakthrough in where Lewis is going.  I was told years ago that I needed to read this book, but never had much interest in it.  I have to admit I have an older brother who loves to debate and he has a way of intimidating me which always strained our relationship.  He recommended this book and out of stubbornness I refused.  I really think the Lord meant for me to read it now and not back then.  It has never been important to me to defend my faith in a way that intimidates and that’s what I was learning from my brother.  Thanks for not making me feel stupid!

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11.  What is your take-a-way and why?
My many beginnings of Mere Christianity must have acclimated me to the first couple chapters, but then came chapter 3.  As Laura found herself doing, I too found myself re-reading and watching the youtube video trying to wrap my head around the point Lewis was making.  Chapter 4 made more sense to me.  Lewis is very logical and rational, and even though my mind has more of a tendency towards that manner of thinking, I still find Lewis quite challenging at times.  That being said, when the breakthrough comes and the logic all makes such good sense, I find the additional time and effort well worth it.

Happy Saturday all!

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9. How would you summarize the “materialist view” (see paragraph 2 of ch. 4) 
 

The materialist view is one where matter just existed and, by chance, everything (sun, planets, life) formed from that matter due to the “right” conditions being available.

 
10. Why can science never answer either of these questions: “Why is there a universe” and “What is its’ purpose?” (The rest of the chapter)
 

Science is a study of the observable. It is fact based and uses experimenting to provide evidence to uphold the laws of nature. Lewis says there is a religious view too; a “mind” behind the observable that is responsible for our moral law. Science doesn’t answer the question “Why does the universe exist?” Or why things are as they are (ugh, circular again!).

 

He then goes on to explain that man is unique in that we are “in” the middle of it all and know more because we have a two fold perspective. We can see what man does and we know his internal mindset as well. Scientists (or anyone) studying man by just observing him wouldn’t know there was this internal characteristic. They would only know what they see on the outside. They will never be aware of the inside which is what would be able to answer the questions of “Why?”

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7)  (this is not an answer but comment)  “circular reasoning” is the very thing that caused so much of my ‘hair pulling’ early on; while reading parts of C3 out loud to my husband, I whined, “He’s always talking in circles!”

8)  What stood out to me in C4 was “…Something which is directing the universe, & which appears in me as a law urging me to do right & making me feel responsible & uncomfortable when I do wrong.”  This statement is essentially the same as what Lewis said in C3 that stood out to me as well, “…there is something above & beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behaviour…a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us.”  Yes, light bulb statements for me, too.

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8. What stands out to you from this chapter and why?

 

Love these videos! I liked so much, but at the end, in his “note” that Lewis was unable to share on-air due to time limitations, he said something about what people call “a life force” that is behind the universe, and how it appeals to man because it is “something” with a mind and is comforting to believe in, when you don’t want to think there is nothing more than molecules and atoms out there; in a way, it is religion without the cost. With an impersonal Life Force, there is no imposed morality, no right or wrong, and you can do what you want.

 

9. How would you summarize the “materialist view”?  (see paragraph 2 of chapter 4)

 

The materialist view sort of equals that things somehow “materialized”….the universe was always there, there was some sort of event, maybe an explosion of chemicals that produced our solar system, chance happened to produce a planet with conditions amenable to life, and life somehow evolved from simple amoebas to one day, people.

 

10. Why can science never answer either of these questions: “Why is there a universe” and “What is its purpose”?

 

Science is based on making observations and conducting experiments. Lewis said that even if science was able to explain how everything worked, maybe even exactly how everything came into being, science could still not answer the questions of meaning and purpose. If there is “something behind” the universe, a driving force that is hidden or unseen, how could science ever hope to discover it? It would have to reveal itself.

 

11. What is your take-away and why?

 

I’m glad we’re doing this together, as many others have already said in their posts, that in the past, they attempted to read this book but had trouble understanding it or never finished it. Several years ago I was given a copy and I don’t think I ever even attempted to read it; at that time I didn’t know anything about who C.S. Lewis was and I think I gave the book away. Reading and talking about this is helping me to think more deeply about what I believe and why.

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