We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. 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. ... Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless -I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality--namely my idea of justice--was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.
I spend 16 hours a day trying desperately to convince my kids to treat me exactly the way I'd like to be treated. In fact, as long as I am sharing a house with them, this is pretty much my raison d'etre. I don't know if I'm conveying some kind of holy code of conduct to them. I just don't want to share the house with the psychopaths they would be if I didn't brainwash them.
By the time they leave, they will probably have internalized some of the behaviors I insist upon. And, I'll probably add more complex expectations as they get older which will range from loving & selfless to belligerent & exclusionary, which probably describes the moral baggage we all approach the world with, whether we attribute it to a deity or not.
I'm a BIG fan of C.S., but his argument has two flaws:
a) It conflates atheism and his argument for atheism, and concludes that since the latter fails, then so must the first. For someone normally so clear, I'm rather disappointed in the sloppiness of his reasoning here -- he's better than that.
b) His disproof by evidence of the thesis that there is no meaning in the universe, while poetically nice, is inoperative and not germaine to the question of an unjust world; he's substituting a straw man dismissal for something he can't disprove on its own terms. Lewis was certainly no stranger to theodicy and should instead be arguing for the more epistemologically rational approach of accepting an imperfect and fallen material creation on faith, rather than attempting to wriggle out of faith via logic, which just doesn't work.
I wonder if this is somehow taken out of context as historical statement (perhaps from Surprised by Joy?) of his initial understandings before he really got his thinking cap on straight.
JimDesu, I have had similar thoughts in the past, and have an observation. Lewis is not making a needed distinction here between a formal disproof and the disproof he needed to persuade him personally. He certainly knew the difference, and I think he is offering this as a personal example rather than a more universal claim. I don't know if that was intentional but unstated on his part (unlikely) or sloppy (also unlikely), but it has to be one or the other. It is, as you guess, an historical account of his conversion rather than a formal treatise, and is from Mere Christianity.
As to your second point, please say more, for I am not sure I follow.
Assistant Village Idiot