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David J. Theroux on C. S. Lewis

Incoming from David J. Theroux of the Independent Institute:

Could I interest you in please posting a notice on your blog of the following new YouTube video from the C.S. Lewis Society of California of my keynote talk at the first annual conference of Christians for Liberty, that was held at St. Edwards University in San Antonio, TX, August 2, 2014?

The talk is entitled “C.S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism”.

2 comments to David J. Theroux on C. S. Lewis

  • Paul Marks

    Very good. And a reminder that “Jack” Lewis was not the statist Puritan that some pretend he was.

    C.S. Lewis was a serious thinker – and certainly not just on religious matters.

    This talk is a reminder to look beyond that the political and historical debates that so often viciously divide us (and I am certainly guilty of anger over such matters) – to look to the basic principles that should unite us.

    That human beings are capable of telling right from wrong – moral good from evil.

    And that human beings are capable of choosing moral right and rejecting wrong – of doing other than we do.

    Unless these two principles are accepted then everything else, every political and historical debate, is utterly pointless – indeed absurd.

    On this at least I agree totally with the Rothbardians – for the late Murray Rothbard held to these Aristotelian principles as much as Jack Lewis did. And just as much as Common Sense thinkers such as Thomas Reid did (and Ralph Cudworth long before him), and Oxford Realists such as Harold Prichard and Sir William David Ross (Major Ross) did.

    This does not mean that either seeing what is really “the good” or “the right” (I will not get into any detailed stuff about possible distinctions between them) actually is, is in any way easy – it is very difficult and often requires great thought. We can indeed “get it wrong” – and we can change to become closer to “getting it right”.

    Nor is choosing good and rejecting evil easy – on the contrary it is incredibly difficult.

    Free will is not free – agency (making real choices – not being the slaves of our impulses) requires incredible effort.

    This is the terrible “burden of freedom”, of moral choice. The burden that the National Socialists, and others, offered to free their followers of – to “free them from being free”.

    Just follow the orders of the state – that is the only “good” or “right” say the totalitarians.

    Just follow the literal words of scripture – reason is a “whore” and human beings are utterly vile and totally base (there is no moral sense) said Martin Luther and John Calvin – just as much as the Islamists.

    That “whore” or “slave” reason can not tell moral good from bad (no matter how hard we try) as it is just the servant of the passions. So say the relativists, those who prepare the ground for either secular or religious dictatorship, as people turn to authority in despair at the moral chaos around them. The chaos the relativists have worked to create…..

    And human beings do not choose their actions anyway – everything is predetermined. Said Martin Luther, just as much as any member of AQ or ISIS, and just like some people who regard themselves as “modern” and “scientific” do – the people whom Winston Churchill rightly called those who serve a PERVERTED science.

    I repeat – unless human beings can, with great effort, perceive moral right from wrong, and (again with great effort) have the ability to CHOOSE moral right against the impulse to do wrong, then everything else we discuss is an absurd waste of time.

    Politics, history – all of it.

    This C.S. Lewis understood.

    And thus he fought against what has long, and rightly, been called “the treason of the intellectuals”.

  • ns

    Thanks, Brian, for the link to the video; I’ll have to take a look.

    “Just follow the orders of the state – that is the only “good” or “right” say the totalitarians.” Further on that – there is no morality in the state. The state replaces morality with legality and takes the moral choice out of the decision. Consider Prohibition, the largest (and most studied) attempt to legislate morality, where the results included increased drinking, criminal behavior including violence up to and including mass murder, and made the Baptists partners with the bootleggers. Forcing prohibition does not make the people moral or virtuous, they may conform only out of fear of the state and defy the state whenever they can (as happened during Prohibition). Taking money through taxes for welfare is not following Christian admonitions to care for the poor; there is no virtue (for me or anyone) in money being taken from me at gunpoint for the poor (which often ends up in the politically connected’s bank accounts anyway), but there is in my decision to give to charity. Trying to enforce morality through the state is replacing G_d with the state, and always comes down to replacing an individual’s moral decisions with the whims of the rulers.