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Featured Refuting CS Lewis' Weak "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord" Argument

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Hubert Farnsworth, May 13, 2018.

  1. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    CS Lewis' most famous argument for the divinity of Jesus is trivially easy to refute. The argument goes like this, quoted directly from Mere Christianity:
    "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
    We are faced, then, with a frightening alternative. This man we are talking about either was (and is) just what He said or else a lunatic, or something worse. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form."

    Now, of course this argument is intellectually bankrupt. There is no reason why being a great moral teacher and being a lunatic should be mutually exclusive. For instance, Pythagoras was a phenomenal mathematician who revolutionized our view of geometry, yet he was also more than a bit loony, and started his own religion that was primarily based upon his hatred of eating beans. Nikola Tesla was a revolutionary scientist, electrician, inventor, and all-around genius who even predicted future events correctly. Yet he was also irrational in many ways, fearing quantities of anything not divisible by three, and believing that he communicated with Martians. There are many other great scientists, philosophers, geniuses and moral teachers who were mentally ill. I cannot understand why Lewis would think that a mentally ill man could not have good ideas, and I cannot understand how this so obviously illogical argument is still used today as an argument that Jesus must be God.
     
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  2. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Also one cannot assume the Gospels to be accurate. If much of what they write was folklore or exaggeration then one cannot blame Jesus for those "lies".
     
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  3. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that's also true. And given the fact that the gospels were written decades or more after Jesus' life, there is no reason to believe the authors recalled his exact words correctly. Heck, I can't even remember what someone said to be last week.
     
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  4. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    So you are still young. I walk out of the room sometimes and have to walk back in to remember what I was about to do.
     
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  5. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Another possible twist here is that Jesus was a charismatic figure around whom sprouted up tales, legends, and myths after his death.

    C. S Lewis, in my opinion, wrote beautifully clear prose, but in case after case, he simply left out, ignored the "full picture" in order to make his points. You see this not only in his argument about Jesus, but in such works as, say, The Abolition of Man.
     
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  6. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    Lewis was an entertaining writer, but not a very careful thinker IMO.
     
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  7. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    I am confident that this is the true explanation.
    Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Legend?

    Lewis avoids the last part for obvious reasons.
    Tom
     
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  8. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Life sucks!
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    I am amazed that anyone can take any text from the past (and so long ago) as being in any way authentic. Lewis, like so many, is just too accepting of such material. As mentioned, he doesn't even entertain the third possibility, that not everything written about the supposed person of Jesus might not be entirely or at all factual.
     
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  9. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Your paradigm and Lewis' paradigms are different. That is all. I do not think that Lewis' argument is intellectually bankrupt.
     
  10. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    What kind of "paradigm" would make Lewis' argument cogent?
     
  11. atanu

    atanu Member
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    First tell me under what paradigm we can assert 'Lewis' argument is bankrupt'. That I think is a very strong statement to make.

    ...
     
  12. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    You don't seem to understand that you First brought up the term paradigm and you apparently misused it.
     
  13. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    You don't seem to understand that you First brought up the term paradigm and you apparently misused it.
     
  14. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    How about common critical thinking as a "paradigm". I suspect you are using the term "paradigm" in your own unique way here. Your usage makes no sense to me otherwise.
     
  15. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Okay. The easiest word will be 'world view'. Under which world view, Lewis' argument is intellectually bankrupt?
     
  16. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Whatever world view is illogical enough to rule out "legend" as a legitimate option along with "lord, liar, and lunatic".
     
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  17. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Suppose I agree that 'legend' is correct. Does then Lewis' omission of 'legend' make him intellectually bankrupt?
     
  18. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    That or perhaps morally. A moral person does not misrepresent the argument of his opponent.
     
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  19. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Agreed. It does not make him bankrupt. That would be an exaggeration.
     
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  20. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    No, just his argument.
    I have great respect for Lewis. I believe he was brilliant and a great writer. But his apologetics were not at all compelling due to the omissions and assumptions he used.
    Tom
     
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