Good Example Of Lewis And Russell: Correspondence And Divergence Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Christians, Nature, Law, Jesus Christ, Religion, Church, Belief, Understanding

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/01/05

[First Last Name]

English [Number]

One fundamental contextual difference between C.S. Lewis and Bertrand Russell can be found in their relationship with Christianity and Christians. Lewis is a Christian believer who looks at the world and Christianity from the perspective of a Christian. Russell was a non-believer of Christianity and looks at it as a stranger to Christianity, a stranger to Christianity, whose logic had been defined by its lack of sympathy or understanding of the faith. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity and Russell’s speech “Why I Am Not a Christian?” expressed such essential divergence of perspective. However, despite the differences, certain aspects, such as the motive to seek for the simple truths in Christianity or outside it and on the Christian behavior. Nonetheless, the contrasts are enormous.
For the purpose of this essay, two themes were selected among many. First, the Christian definition provides an opportunity to compare and contrast Lewis’s and Russell’s fundamental assumptions in their attempt to define and understand the Christian believer from the perspective of their own personal philosophy and beliefs. Understanding these basic differences will help much in understanding their respective way of thinking in other themes their respective works.
Second, their understanding of the Natural Law (Russell) or the Law of Nature (Lewis) contains important elements that will shed light on their perception of existence whether consistent with or even without the Natural Law. As such, their divergence in viewpoints will provide important hits in their capacity to understand or not the depth of life or the lack thereof.

The Christian Defined

An agreement between Lewis and Russell exists in the contention that to be a Christian, someone must have a convinced belief about Christianity and its teachings, which principle Russell [“definite belief” and “accepted the whole collection of creeds” (Russell 1)] stated explicitly and Lewis assumed and readable in-between lines [“The name Christians was first given at Antioch (Acts 11:26) to ‘the disciples,’ to those who accepted the teachings of the apostles” (Lewis 11)]. It is enough to accept the “common doctrines of Christianity” (Lewis 9). Beyond that, both thinkers differ significantly.
For Lewis, accepting the teachings of the apostles as the central factor in defining the Christian is neither a theological nor a moral one; but an objective one. Once a person accepts the apostolic teachings, he can claim to be a Christian whether or not his life does not express these teachings equivocally [“When a man who accepts the Christian doctrine lives unworthily, it is much clearer to say he is a bad Christian than to say he is not a Christian”(Lewis 11)]. For Russell, believing is both theological and moral. It is also about believing in God, immortality, and of Christ as “at least the best and wisest of men” (Russell 2).
Moreover, it is already presumed in Lewis that Christ is both divine and the best and wisest of men by not mentioning it literally. It expresses the common assumptions among Christians: Christ’s divinity and his being the ultimate Adam, the best specimen of mankind being of God. For Russell, permission was given that even those who may think of Christ as not divine deserves to be called a Christian. This contention, though, has basis in history among the Arians who insisted of Christ as human, not divine. Such mistake, however, is understandable to a non-Christian like him. Then, as he would argue later, Christ was not the “best and wisest of men” (Russell 2). Under Lewis’s definition, though, such belief was unchristian.

The Law of Nature

The only similarity between Lewis and Russell in the issue of the Natural Laws comes from understanding very well the scientific side of describing natural phenomena. However, in the relationship between Christianity and science (e.g. gravitation), both thinkers have nothing in common; and even starkly contrasted each other in certain points.
Lewis maintained that the Law of Nature governs all of creation [“All bodies are governed by the law” (of nature) “a body could not choose whether it obey the law of gravitation or not As a body, he is subjected to gravitation and cannot disobey it: if you leave him unsupported in mid-air, he has no more choice about falling than a stone has. As an organism, he is subjected to various biological laws, which he cannot disobey any more than an animal can. That is, he cannot disobey those laws which he shares with other things” (Lewis 18)]. This law puts an order in everything in nature and all in nature cannot deny its power (e.g. gravitation cannot be denied as man will fall when suspended from the air).
Russell believes, otherwise, without contradicting the phenomenon expressed in nature. “We now find that a great many things we thought were Natural Laws are really human conventions. You know that even in the remotest depth of stellar space there are still three feet to a yard where we can get down to any knowledge of what atoms actually do, you will find that they are much less subject to law than people thought, and that the laws at which you arrive are statistical averages of just the sort that would emerge from chance” (Russell 4). He contended that humans created the Natural Laws when they created the scientific conventions that measured the phenomena of nature through statistical mathematics. His argument proposed that natural phenomena already existed even without Natural Law; that is, despite the Natural Law.
This divergence reflects Lewis’ ability to get into the essence of the natural phenomena, and successfully asked the question, “why is there order in these phenomena?” Russell, conversely, managed only to reach the superficial convention of scientific measurements, and only managed to ask the question, “why are these phenomena measured in the first place?” Russell managed to see the order of nature; but asked the wrong question by assuming that the order in nature has no meaning at all. Lewis, contrarily, asked the right question and saw the hand of God in its ordering.
The comparison of C.S. Lewis and Bertrand Russell through their respective works epitomizes the limits of the insider-outsider perspective when used in understanding Christianity and the Christians. A significant gap does exist between such contextual convergences, which may not be easily bridged without permitting the intervention of faith on the part of Russell.
The themes “The Christian Defined” and “The Law of Nature” clearly delineated these fundamental contrasts between the perspectives of believers and those who do not believe. More than that, the limitations in the perspectives of Russell revealed incoherence and logical fallacies even when he claimed of the fallacies in Christian beliefs (Russell 5). It was clear that he failed to courageously look into the question of order in the realm of nature, which indicates either his fear of getting the correct answer (and skipped asking the right question instead if he knew it) or his understanding of nature itself is so limited to allow him to ask the right question in the first place. In either way, despite his reputation as a political thinker par excellence, he appeared unqualified to discuss the natural law until he spent more time in really encountering the huge and boggling question hidden behind the order of things in the universe, which science cannot interfere with completely and simply had to understand through the use of conventional measures. Lewis, conversely, appeared confident in looking the mystery of nature in the eye.

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