The forth chapter of Mere Christianity is called “What Lies Behind the Law.” In this chapter, Lewis is talking about some designer or creator.
At the beginning of the chapter, C.S. Lewis states “there is what we call the materialist view. People who take that view think that matter and space just happen to exist, and always have existed.” This is a misrepresentation of what materialism actually is. The materialist view is that matter and energy is all there is. But there are different views about how things got started and how long they’ve lasted. Some believe that the universe has always existed, others believe it had a beginning. Some believe that the Big Bang started the universe. Others thing that there was already something and the Big Bang merely created the universe that we have today.
Lewis went on to say “By one chance in a thousand something hit our sun and made it produce the planets; and by another thousandth chance the chemicals necessary for life, and the right temperature, occurred on one of these planets.” I think that he can be forgiven for not understanding the universe to the degree that we now know it today. However, this book was written around the time when Einstein was developing his Theory of Relativity. Scientists did have a decent understanding of the universe, so Lewis probably could have gotten better information than what he used. Also, people today use this book as their reasoning as to why God exists. They take Lewis’s word at face value. But his science is very wrong. First, things fly into the sun all the time. This is not unusual by any means. Second, this is not how the planets were formed. One theory is that a supernova nearby both the sun and all the planets at the same time. Third, the elements that make up life aren’t that uncommon in the universe. Water is particularly easy to come by. And finally, our planet started off far too hot for life to form. It took a very long time for it to get to the point where life could actually survive. Also, when you’re talking billions of years, a one in a thousand chance is actually pretty good.
He goes on to claim that “what is behind the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know.” What is behind the universe? This is a nonsensical claim. We don’t know if anything is behind the universe, so how can he claim that it is like a mind?
Throughout this entire chapter, Lewis makes it very clear that he has a very poor understanding of science. At one point he says “You cannot find out which view is the right one by science in the ordinary sense,” when talking about materialism versus what he calls the religious view. What does he mean by “in the ordinary sense”? Are there “ordinary” and “inordinary” methods of science? If so, what are they? And why can’t one use science to determine whether or not there is something behind the universe? Scientists are doing just that.
He goes on to argue “But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes-something of a different kind-this is not a scientific question.” C.S. Lewis shows very little understanding of what science is. He seems to believe that scientists merely observe things without ever making any sort of predictions. But this is not the case. Yes, scientists look through telescopes and combine chemical substances. But this is hardly all they do. They use these observations to make predictions. If the prediction comes true, they repeat these trials, create hypothesizes, and eventually develop theories and scientific laws. The scientific laws that he keeps mentioning would be nothing without predictions
He makes the claim that scientists don’t make claims about the existence of God: “And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them.” First, what is a “real scientist” in Lewis’s definition? Second, scientists have been arguing for and against God for a very long time. The Middle Ages at least. Though I do know what he means about journalists and authors. Had he read the Narnia series? Oh…wait…Well writers have been using their works to share their beliefs with others for a very long time, so that’s hardly the only series where the author has an obvious agenda to prove, or disprove, God.
He then makes some more silly claims about science: “Anyone studying Man from the outside as we study electricity or cabbages, not knowing our language and consequently not able to get any inside knowledge from us, but merely observing what we did, would never get the slightest evidence that we had this moral law. How could he? For his observations would only show what we did, and the moral law is about what we ought to do.” You mean like God? He supposedly looks in on us from the outside. He isn’t human, and doesn’t seem to understand how we think. So does this mean that he can’t see this moral law thing?
Then he says “We want to know whether the universe simply happens to be what it is for no reason or whether there is a power behind it that makes it what it is.” We know that the universe happened for a reason. It’s not a conscious reason, but there is a reason. What we want to know isn’t whether or not there is a reason. What we want to know is how the universe came to be.
Lewis then goes on to make some claims that contradict both the Bible and many believers. He says “If there is a controlling power outside of the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe-no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect to it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way.” In the Bible, God is a physical being. He talks to people, they can see him, he even wrestles with people. Many believers believe that God talks to them. Isn’t that God showing himself as one of the facts? What Lewis is proposing is a deistic god, not the God of the Bible. And isn’t this God all-powerful? If so, why would he be confined to only show himself in the form of morality. Lewis is also arguing that God is conscience. But we already have a word for conscience. It doesn’t need another one. Though, even if God could only show himself through the conscience, that is still a physical effect. He’s still doing exactly what Lewis said he couldn’t. And this effect can be tested, so science can in fact say whether or not it exists.
Even if Lewis is avoiding calling this creator God, we still know exactly which god he believes this creator to be, so we can still use this God to criticize his argument because his argument does not fit other claims made about this God. He also shows that he clearly hasn’t done enough research to actually know what he’s talking about.