The abolition ends with Lewis`s exhortation to pause before natural law is degraded into another accident in human history in an entirely material universe. “Explaining” this transcendent reality can explain all explanations. To “see through” the law of nature is to see nothing at all. According to C. S. Lewis, the law of human nature provides clues to the highest realities. We will take a closer look at his case for each of his claims in order. Thus, modern ethical innovations are only fragments of the old natural law, sometimes isolated and exaggerated. When values are maintained, so is natural law. According to Lewis, there has never been, and never will be, a radically new value or value system.
The human mind cannot invent a new value, nor a new primary color. Lewis argues that morality is not something invented by humans, but that it is objective and universal – much like scientific claims about the material world. It resists the idea that morality is something we decide for ourselves and are therefore malleable. Instead, he argues, morality is a fixed, universal truth, and we cannot simply explain what is right and wrong according to our own changing whims. He brings together two important pieces of evidence to support his view: morality is objective because all societies share common moral standards, and morality is universal because these standards remain remarkably consistent across cultures. Just like our friend who cries foul, we know that there is a code of conduct that must be followed because we know how we expect to be treated. But we don`t always treat people the way we`d like to be treated in return. Very often we do not.
We manage to break these integral and deeply rooted rules of human nature by making excuses; as we saw in the counter-argument. Lewis believed that the efforts we make to find excuses for our bad behavior are just further proof of how much we cannot bear to break the law of nature, and how much it weighs on us. Humanity is haunted by the desire to do what is right. People invariably defend their actions with the argument that those actions don`t really contradict a basic standard of behavior or that the norm has been violated for good reasons. People make mistakes, but that doesn`t mean there isn`t clear right and wrong, it just means we can deviate from our trajectory. However, the real course remains the same. Lewis did not condemn people for not always following natural law or suggest that humans must be perfect, he admitted the difficulty. His main concern was that we should not deny the existence of natural law. He believed that the evidence of this independent standard, which is not variable according to opinion or feeling, was everywhere for us.
Lewis concluded that as humans, we know natural law; And we break it. This, he believed, gave us the foundation to understand ourselves and the universe in which we live. Lewis argues that morality is not only objective and universal, but also has no material existence. Moral laws differ from the material world in that you cannot point them out or observe them in the world of things around us as you would with material phenomena such as gravity. Lewis makes three arguments for the immaterial nature of morality. Do you see what I mean by the richness of this text? We are only two sides and C.S. Lewis has already touched on so many important truths. Natural law is something our society likes to pretend doesn`t exist, and yet, as Lewis effortlessly shows here, it`s completely obvious and something most people subconsciously display.
Even 6-year-olds instinctively discover it and recognize it as cruel and unfair when one of their friends does not share, for example. Lewis discusses moral relativism in more detail later in this section, pointing out its absurdity. He asks us to think for a second about what a country with a completely different morality would look like: “running away from battle” would be admired and the “lookalikes” of the “friendliest” people would be a source of pride (6). If a 6-year-old can understand natural law, why not an advanced Western society? Lewis also alludes to it by first mentioning what people do when they have violated the moral law. Instead of admitting our mistakes, we tend to argue that we didn`t really do something wrong or that we were and that this case is a particular exception. I`m sure you`ve experienced this in your own life – I do it often. Not doing homework for one night is good because I`m tired. Eating a piece of cake on the first day of a diet is acceptable because it is a “cheat day”; or, as I`ve experienced, playing Super Mario Galaxy all day instead of being productive and doing the things I should be doing is okay because I`m in quarantine. We are fallen creatures, which is an underlying theme throughout this chapter (although Lewis doesn`t introduce it until much later, as it would cause people to die out immediately).
The first five chapters of C. S. Lewis`s Mere Christianity (1953) deal with this objective standard that people invoke and expect others to respect. Lewis says that while everyone knows the law, everyone breaks it. He further claims that something or someone is behind this Basic Law. This obvious principle of behavior is not created by humans, but it is up to people to obey. Different people use different names for this law – traditional morality, moral law, knowledge of right and wrong, virtue, or way. We will call it the law of nature. Lewis was aware, of course, that the presence of natural and moral evil in the world makes government by absolute goodness questionable at best.
He understood the bitter lament of the poet A. E. Housman against “all that has made the world raw and black” (Last Poems, IX). But Lewis asks by what standard the Creator is judged as a Black Guard. Any such complaint about natural law or its rejection implies in itself an objective order. When people argue, Lewis says, they invoke a set of rules that they expect the other person to know and respect. They accuse their opponent of being unfair, of breaking a promise, of not repaying a good deed, of jumping it in line e.tc. We don`t argue with someone if they`re standing in line in front of us. It`s the same disadvantage of being a step back, so why isn`t it the same? The action breaks the rules we expect everyone to know and respect.
The action itself is “bad” according to these common laws, and that`s what we don`t like. Lewis`s analysis shows that if natural law is sentimental, all value is sentimental.