Miracles by C S Lewis Ch 3 “The Cardinal Difficulty of - PDF

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                                        by C. S. Lewis
                         Ch. 3 “The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism”

I. Principle of naturalism: everything is explainable in terms of the Total System of Nature
     A. Not that we know all those explanations, but that Naturalism claims that Nature causes All
     B. If something exists which cannot be explained in terms of Nature, Naturalism would be “in
        ruins” (18)
         i. Any degree of independence from Nature as a whole means we have abandoned
         ii. Naturalism defined again: a whole interlocked system
               a) Examples of explaining in terms of nature
                  •   The action of reading this book at this moment
                      •    It must be a contradiction in terms if we were not reading it right now
                      •    (for the event must have been “caused” all along by nature)
                  •   The reason for reading this book
                      •    Must be because the whole system was bound to take this course at this time
                  •   Point: everything that occurs must be explainable within Nature, or Naturalism
                      isn't valid.
II. Parenthesis: Current (then) scientific thought about subatomic particles
     A. They seem to move in non-predictable ways, seemingly 'on their own' or 'of their own
     B. Lewis terms this the “sub-natural”
         i. If there truly is a “sub-natural” then there could be a supernatural
     C. Philosophically speaking, the scientists seem to be exaggerating. (20)
         i. “the movement of individual units are ... incalculable to us, not that they are in
              themselves random and lawless”
     D. Thus, Lewis doesn't use this argument except as an illustration.
III. Means of knowledge require inference and rational thought
    The key to this section is to understand that there are two types of knowledge. First-hand
    knowledge that we gain from our senses and another type of knowledge that we gain by
    inference from our senses. BH
     A. Everything we know, apart from that received by our senses, is inferred from the senses.
         i. Not that children are small scientists
               a) They do not regard sensations as evidence and
               b) they do not consciously infer the existence of space, matter, & other people
               c) point: they think and do inferencing but they don't know that they're doing it BH
         ii. But, that when we are old enough to consider the matter, and are challenged about what
              we think but haven't experienced, we respond with inferences from our immediate
               a) e.g., the solar system or the Spanish Armada (we cannot “sense” either but we infer
                  that knowledge from other sources, and those from others, and ultimately from our
         iii. Presented with something outside ourselves, but perceived by our senses, the more we
              investigate it we see that its behavior is regular and external (we can't control it) and

             therefore infer it is systematic
              a) i.e., a baby sees a wall, feels the wall, closes his eyes and re-opens them to see the
                 wall is still there. The baby can't wish the wall away (it isn't part of himself that he
                 controls or feels like his hand or his foot) nor does the baby's experience of the wall
                 change (it is still hard, it's still blue, he can't move it, etc.). Thus, the baby infers the
                 reality and rationality of the outside world. By the way, I'm guessing this is why
                 babies love “Peek-a-boo.” The person hides his face and to the child, he seems to
                 have disappeared, for the baby had inferred the person from the experience of seeing
                 his face. Then when the adult suddenly shows his face again and shouts “Peek a
                 boo!” the child is delighted at what seems like magic. They weren't there (his
                 inference), and now they're back (their experience)! The joy of Peek-a-Boo
                 probably diminishes when the child infers that the person is still there even when he
                 can't see the person's face. BH
              b) We infer evolution (a theory) from fossils (which our senses perceive)
              c) We infer the existence of our own brains (theory) because we find brains inside the
                 skulls of creatures like us (perceived by our senses)
    B. All possible knowledge, therefore, depends upon the validity of reasoning (inference) (21)
        i. Our certainty of what we know of things outside our own brains rests on reason
        ii. Thus we use terms like “must be”, “therefore”, and “since.”
        iii. If our certainty doesn't rest on a real perception of things outside our mind, but instead
             rests on mere feelings in our minds, then we have no knowledge.
              a) It would just be a feeling, no more “real” than a mirage. We couldn't know
                 something existed outside our minds, for we would only have feelings inside our
                 minds; feelings wouldn't provide any real insight about the world (nor could we even
                 be certain that there is an outside world). BH
        iv. “Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true.”
IV. Therefore, no account of the universe can be true unless it leaves open the possibility for our
   thinking to be a real insight
    A. If a theory explained everything in the universe but left our minds without thinking it would
       be “out of court”
        i. Why? Because our theory would have been arrived at by thinking, and if the theory left
             us with invalid thinking then the theory itself would be invalid. (22)
              a) “It would have destroyed its own credentials.”
              b) It would be an argument that proves that no arguments were sound
              c) It would be a proof that there no such things as proofs
                 •    which is “nonsense”
    B. Therefore, strict materialism refutes itself
        i. Example from Haldane: “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions
             of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true ... and hence I
             have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”
    C. Naturalism, even if not strictly materialistic, has the same problem
        i. Either, it discredits our process of reasoning, or
        ii. it reduces the credit of our reasoning until it can no longer support Naturalism
V. Proofs: two senses of the word because
   This is a critical section that he explains with illustrations. BH
    A. Cause and Effect:The effect is caused and we know it.

        i. “Grandfather is ill today because he ate lobster yesterday.”
              a) The effect is caused (the lobster caused his illness)
        ii. “He cried out because it hurt him.”
              a) The effect is caused
    B. Ground and consequence: The grounds are inferred from the consequence.
        i. “Grandfather must be ill today because he hasn't got up yet.”
              a) We infer the grounds (he must be sick) from the consequence (he hasn't got up)
              b) i.e., we are inferring the reason why something happened.
        ii. “It must have hurt him because he cried out.”
              a) We infer the grounds (he was hurt) from the consequence (he cried out)
    C. Summary: the first meaning of “because” indicates a dynamic connection between events,
       the other indicates a logical relation between beliefs or assertions.
        i. In the first, the word “because” explains the cause, in the second, the word “because”
             explains our reasoning.
VI. Conclusion: No train of reasoning is sound unless each step is connected with what came
   before it in the Ground-Consequent relation.
    A. If B does not follow logically from A, we think in vain.
    B. The answer to “Why do you think this?” must begin with Ground-Consequent because.
VII. Naturalism and Thought
    A. Within Naturalism, every event is connected with previous events totally in the Cause-Effect
    B. Therefore, within Naturalism, the answer to “Why do you think this?” must begin with
       Cause-Effect because.
VIII.The necessity of a simultaneous “because” in our thinking
        i. Unless our conclusions are logical they can only be true by a fluke.
        ii. Unless our thoughts are the effect of a cause, they cannot occur at all (for we use our
             minds to do them)
        iii. Therefore we need both
IX.Problem: the two systems are totally distinct. (24)
    A. Wishful thinking, prejudices, and mad delusions are all caused, but are ungrounded
    B. Non-rational causes are considered a proof of invalid thinking.
        i. “You say that because you are a capitalist.”
        ii. “You think you're sick because you are a hypochondriac.”
        iii. “You only think that way because you are a man.”
        iv. “Oh yeah? Well, you only think that way because you are a woman.”
             From first edition: Consider the following sentences. (1) ‘He thinks that dog dangerous
             because he has often seen it muzzled and he has noticed that messengers always try to
             avoid going to that house.’ (2) ‘He thinks that dog dangerous because it is black and
             ever since he was bitten by a black dog in childhood he has always been afraid of black

          Both sentences explain why the man thinks as he does. But the one explanation
          substantiates the value of his thought, the other wholly discredits it. Why is it that to
          discover the cause of a thought sometimes damages its credit and sometimes reinforces
          it? … The real difference is that in the first instance the man’s belief is caused by
          something rational (by argument from observed facts) while in the other it is caused by
          something irrational (association of ideas).

            From “Religion without Dogma:” Every particular thought … is always and by all men
            discounted the moment they believe that it can be explained, without remainder, as the
            result of irrational causes. Whenever you know what the other man is saying is wholly
            due to his complexes or to a bit of bone pressing on his brain, you cease to attach any
            importance to it. But if naturalism were true, then all thoughts whatever would be
            wholly the result of irrational causes. Therefore, all thought would be equally worthless.
            Therefore, naturalism is worthless.
    C. All these types of statements imply that the cause fully accounts for their thinking and
       therefore their thinking is invalid.
        i. We don't feel we need to consider if they have valid grounds for their thinking if we can
            fully explain it without them.
X. Further problem: how can grounds have any bearing on thoughts that are caused?
    A. If it's caused, it is linked to the rest of nature and the rest of history, all the way back to the
       beginning. There's no rational thought anywhere in it.
    B. How could logical grounds prevent bad thinking, or promote good thinking?
XI. Only possible solution: mental events can be a cause for other mental events in two ways (25)
    A. by association (“when I think of parsnips I think of my first school”)
        i. the difference is natural causes vs. rational causes for thinking. Mere association
            (turnips/school) is a non-rational cause
        ii. BTW, this is probably a reference to an earlier argument Lewis made that is found only
            in the previous edition of this chapter.

           We must believe in the validity of rational thought, and we must not believe in anything
           inconsistent with its validity. But we can believe in the validity of thought only under
           certain conditions. Consider the following sentences. (1) ‘He thinks that dog dangerous
           because he has often seen it muzzled and he has noticed that messengers always try to
           avoid going to that house.’ (2) ‘He thinks that dog dangerous because it is black and
           ever since he was bitten by a black dog in childhood he has always been afraid of black

           Both sentences explain why the man thinks as he does. But the one explanation
           substantiates the value of his thought, the other wholly discredits it. Why is it that to
           discover the cause of a thought sometimes damages its credit and sometimes reinforces
           it? … The real difference is that in the first instance the man’s belief is caused by
           something rational (by argument from observed facts) while in the other it is caused by
           something irrational (association of ideas).

           We may state it as a rule that no thought is valid if it can be fully explained as the result
           of irrational causes. … Obviously, then, the whole process of human thought, what we
           call reason is … valueless if it is the result of irrational causes. Hence every theory of
           the universe which makes the human mind a result of irrational causes is inadmissible,
           for it would be a proof that there are no such things as proofs. Which is nonsense.

           But Naturalism, as commonly held, is precisely a theory of this sort. The mind, like
           every other particular thing or event, is supposed to be simply a product of [physical
           causes]. … And [physical causes are] not supposed to be rational. All thoughts whatever

           are therefore the results of irrational causes

    B. by being a ground for it
              C. In this way, both being a cause and being a proof would coincide.
    D. Amendment: mental events don't cause other mental events automatically (for we don't see
       all the implications, usually don't see them at once, and often don't see them at all). Thus,
       “one thought can cause another not by being, but by being seen to be, a ground for it.”
        i. Quibble, the metaphor “seen” in “seen to be” can be replaced with another word if
             desired, like “apprehended,” or simply “known.”
        ii. Question: How does one thought “cause” another? In rational thought, it “causes”
             another by being “seen to be” a ground for it.
XII. Nature of rational thoughts:
    A. they are about something other than themselves
    B. they can be true or false
XIII.Nature of natural events:
    A. They are not about anything
    B. They cannot be true or false
        i. To say an event is “false” really means someone's account of an event is false. (26)
XIV.Compound nature of true knowledge (26)
    A. Thoughts are subjective events
    B. Thoughts are insights into, or knowings of, something other than themselves
    C. Illustrated by experience
        i. We figure it out in time “B followed A in my thoughts” (subjective part), past tense
        ii. We assert it as timeless “B follows from A” (rational part), present tense
              a) idea of timelessness of God's speaking
    D. Conclusions
        i. If a thought ever “follows” logically from a previous thought, it always follows
        ii. If we reject such thoughts as merely subjective we discredit all human knowledge
        iii. We can know nothing, beyond our own senses, unless the inference is a real insight such
             as it claims itself to be.
XV.Acts of knowing must be determined by what is known
    A. They are caused by what is known, in a unique sense
    B. It has conditions
        i. attention, states of will, health, etc. (27)
    C. It must be determined by the truth of the thing that it knows
        i. if it were totally explainable from other causes it would not be knowledge
              a) example of tinnitus
                  •   to the extent that the “ringing in the ears” is only an internal subjective event, it
                      is not knowledge of sound
                  •   “real hearing” is what is left over after you have discounted the tinnitus
        ii. Anything which professes to explain reasoning without introducing an act of knowing
             determined by the thing known is really a theory that there is no reasoning.
XVI.Naturalism's problem: it is bound to explain reasoning as determined by something other than
   the thing known
    A. Once (long ago), our thoughts were not rational, they were merely subjective events
    B. Those caused by sources external to ourselves were mere responses to stimuli
        i. Natural selection could have us respond to those stimuli such that it tended to survival

   ii. BUT, it could not, by any improvement of the responses ever turn them into acts of
        From De Futilitate, To be the result of a series of mindless events is one thing: to be a
        kind of plan or true account of the laws according to which those mindless events arose
        is quite another. Thus the Gulf Stream produces all sorts of results: for instance, the
        temperature of the Irish Sea. What it does not produce is maps of the Gulf Stream. But if
        logic, as we find it operative in our own minds, is really a result of mindless nature, then
        it is a result as improbable as that. The laws whereby logic obliges us to think turn out to
        be the laws according to which every event in space and time must happen. The man
        who thinks this an ordinary or probable result does not really understand. It is as if
        cabbages, in addition to resulting from the laws of botany also gave lectures in that
        subject: or as if, when I knocked out my pipe, the ashes arranged themselves into letters
        which read: ‘We are the ashes of a knocked-out pipe.’ But if the validity of knowledge
        cannot be explained that way, and if perpetual happy coincidence throughout the whole
        of recorded time is out of the question, then surely we must seek the real explanation
   iii. True knowledge is achieved by experiments and inferences from them, not by
        refinement of the responses to stimuli.
C. Arguments from experience
   i. example of repeated experiences of finding fire where there is smoke
   ii. But, all of these are invalid inferences
   iii. counter examples:
         a) all swans are white, until we find a black one
         b) water boils at 212°, until we tried a picnic on a mountain
   iv. Thus, all examples of inference from experience are not logical inferences and need not
        be true
   v. Reason comes in precisely when you make the inference and attempt to discover the
         a) Reason does its work when it knows that things “must” be so
D. Arguments against tautologies
   i. essentially an irrelevant argument
   ii. everything is a tautology to him that knows all inferences of everything, but for him who
        is learning or growing in knowledge, their growth is by means of tautologies
         a) example
             •    9 x 7 = 63 is a tautology to him who already understands the times table
             •    incident of a hot summer in 959 is a tautology who knows the global system in
                  its entirety
             •    “God is love” is a tautology to the seraphim, but not to men
E. Argument that we do reach truths by inference
   i. Granted for both parties
   ii. Difference: the Naturalist cannot give a rational reason for how he does so, how he
        comes to have that ability
         a) He can't even explain how his explanation of the evolution of thinking is “right”
   iii. What if he grants that he cannot explain how they came to be able to do it, but they do
        do it, they do do rational thought, and this is because rational thoughts are the most
        useful, and usefulness is what evolution produces?
         a) But how does the naturalist know that it has happened, how does he know his

                current understanding is a real inference, that because it is useful it must reach truth?
             b) “If the value of reasoning is in doubt, you cannot try to establish it by reasoning” **
             c) If by treating it as a mere phenomenon you put yourself outside it, there is then no
                way, except by begging the question, of getting inside again.” (p. 33)
  F. A humbler possibility: we will give up all claim to truth, and only claim our thinking is
       i. No more theology, no more ontology, no more metaphisics
       ii. But also, no more Naturalism, for it is a speculation
       iii. Nature [as a whole] is not an object that can be presented either to the senses or the
       iv. Naturalism then makes a sweeping negative assumption: “there is nothing except this.”
XVII.The Theist's position (34)
  A. He does not admit that reason is comparatively recently developed
  B. The reason of God is older than nature
  C. The orderliness of nature is derived from this reason
  D. The human mind, in the act of knowing, is illumined by the Divine reason (John 1:9)
       i. It is thus set free from complete dependence on non-rational causes
       ii. It can then be determined by the truth of the thing that it knows
       iii. Any preliminary process that led up to this ability in man were designed to lead him
  E. The act of knowing (seeing that something must be so always in any possible world) has a
      beyond-nature element (36)
       i. It must break from the universal chain of mindless natural events in order to be
            determined by the thing known.
XVIII.The “location” of this “supernatural” element
  A. Acts of reason are not “above” or “behind” or “beyond” nature, they are between us and
  B. On this “spatial” imagery, consider Augustine: “if we both see that to be true that thou
      sayest, and both see that to be true that I say, where, I pray thee, do we see it? Neither I in
      thee, nor thou in me but both in the unchangeable Truth itself, which is above our souls.”
      Confessions XII:35
       i. Thus, for Augustine, truth belongs to everybody. He berates people who believe a thing,
            “not because it is truth, but because it is theirs.” “Thy truth is neither mine, nor his, nor
            another's; but belonging to us all, whom Thou callest publicly to partake of it, warning
            us terribly not to account it private to ourselves, lest we be deprived of it.... For he that
            speaketh a lie, speaketh it of his own” John 8:44 (X11:34)
       ii. cf. John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you
            do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?”
  C. Augustine calls it “above our souls” for he is discussing where it comes from, Lewis calls it
      “between” us and nature for he is talking about what it applies to. Lewis is either saying
      this Reason is between us and the nature we are understanding, or it is between us and our
      rational thoughts (cf. p. 38 [“between reason and the whole mass of non-rational events”] in
      Signature series on this).
  D. Acts of inference are prior to our picture of nature as the telephone is prior to the friend's
      voice we hear by it. (36)
       i. These acts of inference do not fit into the picture of Nature
       ii. The item we put into the picture and label “Reason” is always different from the reason

        we are enjoying and exercising while we put it in
         a) Point: the “infrastructure” of reason is not in nature [BH]
   iii. The thinking we are putting into the picture always depends on the thinking we are
        actually doing at the moment (Theistic position). The thinking we are doing does not
        depend on the ideas in the picture (Naturalistic position).
E. The prime reality is our thinking (which is rational)
   i. When we say that anything outside us is real, our judgment rests on this basis
   ii. If we give this up, we have to give up our estimation of the reality of everything else.
   iii. We, as Theists, are not going to give that up, for that would mean giving up Nature itself
   iv. And after all, this book is about the possibility of supernatural events impinging on a
        (real) natural world. [BH]