fbpx

‘The knowledge of a thing is not one of the things parts. In this sense something beyond nature operates whenever we reason … the distinction is not between mind and matter, or body and soul, but between reason and the whole mass of non-rational events. At that frontier we find a great deal of traffic, bit it is all one-way. Nature is constantly being raided and modified by reason. On the other hand, nature is quite powerless to produce rational thought: not that she never modifies our thinking, but the moment she does, it ceases to be rational. When nature, so to speak, attempts to do things to rational thoughts, she only succeeds in killing them. That is the peculiar state of affairs at the frontier. Nature can only raid reason to kill. But reason can invade nature to take prisoners and even to colonise. Every object you see before you at this moment, bears witness to this truth, the walls, the ceiling, furniture, even your own washed hands and cut nails.

I am only too well aware how shocking this will be for those who are brought up on naturalism. It is frankly a picture in which nature is pock-marked all over by little orifices where reason can do things to her: I can only beg you before you throw the book away, to consider whether your instinctive repugnance to such a conception is really rational or whether it is only emotional or aesthetic. I know that the hankering for a universe which is all of a piece, in which everything is the same sort as everything else – a continuity, a seamless web, a democratic universe; is deep seated in the modern heart, in mine no less than in yours. But have we any real assurance that things are like that? Are we mistaking for an intrinsic probability what is really a human desire for tidiness and harmony? Bacon warned us long ago that ‘the human understanding is of its own nature prone to suppose the existence of more order and regularity in the world than it finds…’ Newtonian atomism was much more the sort of thing we expected than quantum physics.

It is only when you are asked to believe in reason coming from non-reason that you must cry, ‘Halt!’ For if you don’t all thought is discredited. Sooner or later you must admit a reason which exists absolutely on its own. … and it must have been that way from all eternity. But we must remember that reasoning doesn’t just happen to us, we do it.’*

*CS Lewis. Miracles pp: 29 – 32. Collins, 1980

%d bloggers like this: