Monday, June 20, 2005

A Way Too In-depth Look at a Famous Quotation:

I read this quote in two different places today:

"I believe in God like I believe in the sunrise. Not because I can see it, but because I can see all that it touches." -C.S. Lewis

The funny thing about this quote is that it can be understood to mean two things-- and both of them are equally absurd:
{SS= He Can See a Sunrise}
{BS= Belief that there is a Sunrise}
{ST= Seeing what the Sunrise Touches}

I'm pretty sure that he's saying this:
(1) ~SS ; BS→ST
He can't see sunrises (~SS)-- and in order for him to believe in a sunrise he must see what the sunrise is touching (BS→ST).

However, it is also possible to understand the quote to mean this:
(2) SS; BS→ST
He can see sunrises (SS) [but that is not the reason he believes in them]; He believes in sunrises because he can see all that the sunrise touches (BS→ST).

Number 1 = dumb because you can see sunrises.
Number 2 doesn't work because it means that he chooses to believe in sunrises because of what they touch when he could have chosen to believe in sunrises because he can actually see them-- this comes across numerous problems; the first being that the only way you could say that a sunrise "touches" anything is to say that the light waves coming from it are what touch things-- and this creates a horrible analogy because there isn't any solid evidence that God touches things in a way similar to the way that light waves touch things. Not to mention that I can't see God like I can see sunrises.

The reason that I believe in sunrises is because I know the definition of a sunrise and I see (if i'm awake) the characteristics that compose sunrises every morning...and I certainly do not see the characteristics that compose God at 6am (or thereabouts) every morning.

--My statements about how I made C.S. Lewis my bitch have been removed because people are overly sensitive about replacing "Christ" with "Crap"... I challenge you to make fun of the title "Mere Christianity" without sounding disrespectful--

Yes this is a ridiculous overanalysis.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To analyze and debate the meaning of the quote is fine, but to insult some one's beliefs isn't very respectable

1:17 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I didn't insult "some one's" beliefs.

If you're talking about where I said "Mere CRAPanity"-- you need to go to find yourself a sense of humor-- it was a joke.

Furthermore, it wasn't even an insult to anyone's beliefs-- it was just a cheesy immature cutdown of a book title-- or perhaps you just didn't know that "Mere Christianity" is the name of a book of his (actually a title given to a series of radio broadcasts he made that was later published in book form).

I was just trying to show that it was ridiculous that I took so much time to dissect a quote of his-- when it is obvious that he didn't put very much thought into the quote in the first place.

It's like doing a serious critical analysis of the movie Rollerball.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Mandy said...

I don't think C.S. Lewis deserves the hype. I think he's got excellent stories, but he shouldn't be made out to be a credible prophet for skeptics. His friends, including J.R.R. Tolkien, who had "converted" him even discouraged him from writing about Christianity. He claims to be an Atheist-turned-Christian, but all throughout Mere Christianity, he talks about being angry with God in his earlier years, which still acknowledges a belief in the existence of God. Therefore, its not right to say that he was an Atheist who reasoned his way into Christianity. I think he was looking for reasons to accept Christianity back into his life, and found them.

With that said, I think Ralph Waldo Emerson would be my MVP on a debate team for the existence of God. He never claimed to be an Atheist at any point in his life, but he is observant of all angles of the question. Unitarians are the cool ones (By the way, there's a UU church by you right off of Wellborn; I've been meaning to check it out).

8:32 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I think Anonymous's only point is that you replaced "Christ" with "Crap" in the title, and that it simply is not the nicest thing, though I can see your line of argument. Sometimes, everyone needs to see that there are differing opinions.

(And yes, I know you actually replaced "Christi" and not just "Christ," but you can see my point.)

10:16 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

By the same reasoning-- I guess by replacing "tape" with "crap" I was doing something that "wasn't the nicest thing" for tape (which I actually hold in the highest respect). I get your point-- but your point was dealing with a point that had nothing to do with the point at hand. For Anonymous to point out points that made their point was pointless. But I must point out the points made by my point: C.S. Lewis' quote = makey-no sensey.

2:46 AM  
Anonymous natie_pie said...

as long as your belief system insists on saying how other people should live, your belief system doesn't deserve any respect.

you defend christ blindly and he really doesn't care if you support him or not. if you follow the example of the christ then turn the other cheek to this kind of inane nonsense. make your life a loving example of what a human can do for his fellow man and don't judge unless you are judging yourself by the same measure.

by the by -- the burning bush that moses encountered was actually wormwood. the smoke made him a medium for the holy spirit.

you can stop this petty ridicule if you stop the petty opression that your beliefs engender. let gay people marry and allow female fertility rights. after you have done this, the christian ethos will have again earned the respect that it deserves.

3:17 AM  
Anonymous chas said...

cs lewis knows that he cannot see what the essence of a sunrise is. you cannot point to something and say "that is a sunrise" because a sunrise encompasses so many different things. there is the reflection of the sun off the clouds, and the warmth of the sun, and countless other things that go into making a sunrise. so in this sense, you can't "see" sunrises, because sunrises aren't just experienced through sight. and you say that it is a horrible analogy because god can't touch someone like light can, but
a) you have no proof or disproof of that and
b) CS Lewis believed that god could touch the world somehow. in fact, the christian faith requires that you believe that god the father touched the world through god the son jesus christ, who actually physically touched people.

so, i think lewis' quote is very relative to how he felt about his faith, and an accurate description.

additionally, there is another way you could interpret it. maybe the reason he can't see the sun physically rise is because the sun is too bright to look at with the naked eye. maybe he meant that you can't see god because it would "blind" us with his glory or something. and maybe that is why cs lewis thinks god doesn't let us see him

1:20 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Yes you can point to a sunrise and say "that is a sunrise".

"Sunrise" is just a label we have given to something we have observed. All labels are truths by definition-- not to say that they actually exist-- but if we know that definition and then we observe the characteristics that make up that definition we know that what we are experiencing is that label.

I think that most of what we experience from a sunrise is from our sight of it-- I guess if you're really sensitive to heat you could feel it... but it boils down to experiencing it. (which is not analogous to God)

I never said that God can't touch things like light can-- I said there isn't any solid evidence that he can. Your point is that there isn't any solid evidence that he can't touch things like light touches things-- I think we can agree that we don't know-- just as we don't know whether or not God can touch the world as CS Lewis believed-- but just because it can't be disproven doesn't mean that my points aren't valid-- I'm not the one making an analogy with something without proof-- So I still hold that it's an unsolid analogy.

The second interpretation suffers from the same problem though-- making an analogy between something that is observable and something that isn't-- and something that is physical and something that isn't... it just doesn't make for a fair comparison.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous cs jewish said...

actually, if you take sunrise literally to mean the object that is the sun physically rising, you can't look straight at it and directly observe it with the naked eye. so in that sense, it is not observable

5:00 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Yes you can... not for very long though. I just did it-- I saw spots for a little bit... but I definitely observed the sun by looking at it.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was Natie_pie trying to say, and to whom?

8:10 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I think he was saying what he said to justify me replacing "Christi" with "Crap".

I could be wrong.

9:06 PM  

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