Tempting Faith

To my mind, a skeptical or rational viewpoint (using these terms fairly loosely) involves not only refusing to automatically accept anything out of hand, but also not immediately rejecting anything. That’s not to say that all things are equal, however. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, while other things can be pretty easily believed or disbelieved without much consideration. This is one reason why I’ve never bought the idea that people who don’t believe in God just don’t WANT to, because we’re hardened our hearts or whatever.

I guess I WOULD think that, but it seems to me that a god who wanted people to believe would attempt to provide the sort of proof every individual person needs. I mean, God can tell how our minds work, right? People who do believe apparently do so because they believe there IS proof. Sure, you’ll occasionally hear something about how a relationship with God is supposed to be based on faith rather than evidence. If that’s true, though, shouldn’t we just believe everything?

Why single out one particular sort of belief? The Bible insists that Jesus worked miracle after miracle and people still didn’t believe, but do we have any evidence for this outside the text itself?

Besides, it’s not like the Pharisees didn’t believe in God or in miracles. Plenty of characters in the Bible work magic without being the Messiah or having the ability to forgive sins.

C.S. Lewis was a major supporter of the idea that non-believers are imprisoned by their own minds, some of the best examples of this in the Chronicles of Narnia being listed here. Andrew Ketterley from The Magician’s Nephew is one of those odd cases where someone is willing to accept all kinds of strange things but for some reason draws the line at others. If you believe in Atlantis and travel between universes, and have seen a giantess rip a lamp-post apart, are talking animals really that much of a stretch? But then, the magician isn’t a skeptic so much as what we might now (and possibly at the time as well; I’m not sure when the term came into vogue) consider a New Age believer, accepting magical thinking but largely disregarding traditional religion. Many of the villains in the Space Trilogy are like this as well. The dwarfs in The Last Battle are a prime example of people trapped by their own disbelief, all imagining they’re trapped in a filthy stable instead of in paradise.

I’m not entirely sure why they all believe the SAME wrong thing, although I guess the fact that they went through a stable door to get there was a major contributing factor. Even when Aslan physically throws them around, they refuse to acknowledge his presence; and the Lion claims he is unable to change their minds. I wonder if there’s a fan theory that the dwarfs were actually right, and a whole bunch of Narnians are stuck in a stable hallucinating about being in Heaven. But if we go by what Lewis obviously intended, the dwarfs are so stubborn that they refuse to accept what’s right there. Obviously our minds and senses are not entirely foolproof. We constantly block some things out and add in others. I’d say, however, that the idea we could totally ignore a physical being making contact with us is…well, not impossible, but unlikely unless we’re severely mentally impaired. It’s not like our minds block out everything we’re not comfortable with. Mine certainly doesn’t, or I wouldn’t be so frustrated all the time.

This entry was posted in Authors, C.S. Lewis, Christianity, Chronicles of Narnia, Magic, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tempting Faith

  1. Glenn I says:

    We all know Aslan is right and anybody who denies him is wrong because the narrator tells us so. We know Aslan is the only God in the Narnia books because he is the only one who appears (when he feels like it) and acts and pontificates and makes weird fussy little rules and huffs in exasperation. In life, C.S. Lewis may have heard a narrator who let him in on all the right ways to think and told him things that never contradicted other things it had already told him (unlike the narrator in the Chronicles of Narnia, say), and if he did, well, isn’t that nice! But just going around believing something because the “tragic showing of disbelief”* is far more tragic than the tragic showing of Belief, hey, if it works for you …

    (*to quote from the list of “lessons” at lumbertonoutpost.com)

  2. Pingback: Aslan Is Just All Right with Me | VoVatia

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