Puddleglum's argument

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Puddleglum's argument

Postby MinotaurforAslan » Jan 02, 2011 11:58 am

Puddleglum said this in The Silver Chair as a way to convince himself to break free from the Lady of the Green Kirtle's brainwashing attempts...

Puddleglum wrote:I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.


One thing that bothered me about this passage, though, is that it doesn't seem to be a very sound argument. The parallel to our world that I can see is that it's better to "live like a Christian, even if there isn't any Christ", because of the joy and comfort received in the friendship of Jesus and hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

However, Puddleglum's argument seems like it could be used to justify belief in anything - including religions that are a lot more hunky-dory than Christianity.

"I'm going to live like a Walahooga Worshiper, because every one of them goes to heaven, and even if they aren't correct, I'll still die knowing that I'm going to heaven, which is more than people who believe other things can ever say..."
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Ithilwen » Jan 02, 2011 7:52 pm

Haha, I never thought about it that way before.

I think what C.S. Lewis is trying to portray is sticking to your Christian faith even when things look against it. Which is a good thing when it comes to Christianity, because Christianity is true. There are a lot of people who can make Christianity sound false, and bad circumstances that can temporarily make it feel to you like there is no caring God in control of everything. And those are the times when faith is tested, and you have to stick to your beliefs anyway, despite how you feel at the time or how things look at the time.
But this is something that applies to God only. It's good to believe God absolutely, no matter what, because He's God. God doesn't lie. It's a bit different when it is applied to our own personal opinions, or human leaders, because we (or they) are fallible. But God is infallible. So there is no danger in believing God no matter what the circumstances; whereas, there is danger doing that in other areas.


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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Dr Elwin Ransom » Jan 03, 2011 7:55 am

For a long time my interpretation has been that Puddleglum is almost being sarcastic, saying that if the Witch were right about the world being as dark and miserable as she claims, then it would still make sense to "live like a Narnian, even if there isn't any Narnia." But Puddleglum is arguing from the perspective of the worst-case scenario, that there is no Narnia, no sky, no sun, no Aslan -- when they, and readers, know this isn't the case.

So it's actually a more-powerful argument, from the lesser to the greater: if reasons exist to live seeking fantasy faith even if the world is so miserable and hopeless, how much more so do we have reasons for faith and hope in Aslan -- or Christ, in this world -- seeing as how the world is not so miserable, at least, not to the extent the Witch claimed it was? :D
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Lady Haleth » Jan 12, 2011 2:05 pm

Ithilwen wrote:Haha, I never thought about it that way before.

I think what C.S. Lewis is trying to portray is sticking to your Christian faith even when things look against it. Which is a good thing when it comes to Christianity, because Christianity is true. There are a lot of people who can make Christianity sound false, and bad circumstances that can temporarily make it feel to you like there is no caring God in control of everything. And those are the times when faith is tested, and you have to stick to your beliefs anyway, despite how you feel at the time or how things look at the time.
But this is something that applies to God only. It's good to believe God absolutely, no matter what, because He's God. God doesn't lie. It's a bit different when it is applied to our own personal opinions, or human leaders, because we (or they) are fallible. But God is infallible. So there is no danger in believing God no matter what the circumstances; whereas, there is danger doing that in other areas.


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Thank you. I think you said it better than I could. This is an argument that works for Christianity precisely because it is true. You can't just stick it on to any old thing that you make up.
This reminds me of a passage in The Screwtape Letters, which I can't quote exactly because I don't have a copy with me, but the essence was that the cause of evil was never more in danger than when a Christian looks around, feels forsaken by God, but still obeys him.
And there was another passage in Mere Christianity, that defined faith as accepting what you know to be true in spite of changing moods. There will be moods that make it look like Christianity isn't true. But you have to tell the moods where to stop, or you'll never have faith in anything.
I think it was also a bit like Pascal's Wager: "If I believe in God and you don't, and there is no God, we both lose when we die. But if there is a God, you still lose and I gain everything."
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Conina » Jan 31, 2011 3:57 pm

I think living by God's law leads to a happier existence even if upon death it turns out there is no God and no heavenly reward for doing so. Forgiving other people for example. Staying bitter just saps out the joy of one's own life.
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Clive Staples Sibelius » Jan 31, 2011 5:48 pm

MinotaurforAslan wrote:Puddleglum said this in The Silver Chair as a way to convince himself to break free from the Lady of the Green Kirtle's brainwashing attempts...

Puddleglum wrote:I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.


One thing that bothered me about this passage, though, is that it doesn't seem to be a very sound argument. The parallel to our world that I can see is that it's better to "live like a Christian, even if there isn't any Christ", because of the joy and comfort received in the friendship of Jesus and hope of eternal life with God in heaven.

However, Puddleglum's argument seems like it could be used to justify belief in anything - including religions that are a lot more hunky-dory than Christianity.

"I'm going to live like a Walahooga Worshiper, because every one of them goes to heaven, and even if they aren't correct, I'll still die knowing that I'm going to heaven, which is more than people who believe other things can ever say..."


Ok, this might be rather lengthy, so I hope you don't mind.

That's a very good and fair criticism. It can indeed be used to justify belief in anything. But, I think at that point, if there truly was nothing else, believing falsehood would be better thing than looking into the neverending black pit of thought that the witch is trying to convince them of.

Puddleglum isn't denying the truth, he's just saying it sucks. Just because you know the truth of reality doesn't mean you have to like it or live like it. In other words, if the reality of existence is one without God and the only thing to turn to is...well, what? Writers like Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and James Joyce were all atheists who rejected the idea of God. For them the most important thing about being a writer was depicting life as truly as they possibly could. So "the truth of existence" to them was important. They didn't care about writing for "lifting the spirit" through literature. But what is the point about obeying a truth that says "life is meaningless, that is the only truth" as they thought? If there is no compelling force behind The Truth Of Existence, then why should we bow to a mere fact? Puddleglum, again, is saying "okay, I know that existence is meaningless, but I don't have to be your slave and act like life is meaningless if pretending that life isn't meaningless makes me happy."

To live and be happy in a false belief is better than to know life is meaningless and be rot in your own existence (literally).

Look at what Nietzche said and thought, compared to other atheists: that real atheists would have to ditch "morals" altogether, if they truly disbelieved in God. But the more arrogant atheists of today have it better: they cling to basic morals without believing in God, and are better for it. Nietzche famously went insane. His brain turned into a lump of goop. Getting on poetic podium here for a moment: he looked into the blackness of his soul and got lost.

Now look at the other side: when God exists, truth becomes important because it is bound up with our existence and the promise that there is life beyond the confines of the material world. THAT is when the ontological argument of Puddleglum's can become merely an excuse for believing in whatever one wants. So in order to be effective, Puddleglum's argument has to be made in the context of unbelief in something that compels truth.

One more thing (and then I promise I'm done here!): within that context of unbelief in God, is the "believe in yourself" humanism. It is generally so shallow in films that we think nothing of it. The films certainly don't deserve such close scrutiny most of the time. But at a deeper level, this is what is driving the Emerald Witch. She thinks SHE should rule and keep everyone as a slave. She believes in herself as an ultimate power and she is attempting to make her own world and morality. Distinguish this from Puddleglum's appeal: he isn't saying this for a selfish, power-hungry end, but in order to preserve the things that made life bearable and worth living for.

We could go deeper :D .
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Conina » Jan 31, 2011 6:54 pm

Clive Staples Sibelius, interesting. I haven't really thought about LotGK setting herself up as an Übermensch before. Or how carrying out the "self-esteem building" messages in so many movies can come to such a twisted end. But I can agree. Believing in yourself at the expense of having regards for society or appreciating what others have to offer leads to villainous characters.

So its having an internal code of behavior from the stand point that the world might be a kinder, more beautiful, safer place. And living already as if that society exists even when things get kind of insane. Its relevent to right now. I know most people come onto this site for a respite from the crazy world we live in. But things seem to be getting weird right now and Puddleglum's philosophy is getting increasingly relevant to my own life.
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby fledge1 » Feb 02, 2011 8:49 am

I actually really liked what he said. I think what the witch is doing happens to Christians all the time. Where is the proof, if God is so great why...things like that. As a youth pastor I get it all the time. What makes Christianity better then any other religion. Of course Faith is huge here. But yeah, what if it all is a fake. Well, in the end, I would rather live this life the way I do fake or not. If it ends up being fake we have nothing to loose. If it is real well then good thing we choose it because it sure beats hell.
I believe in Christianity as I believe in the sun: not only because I see it, but by it I see everything else. -C.S. Lewis
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Tesseract » Feb 22, 2011 5:53 am

Very interesting post, Clive Staples Sibelius. I agree with you that in the context of the situation, Puddleglum already knew that Narnia was real and his argument was merely a bit of an insult to the Witch's fabricated underground world.

However, I disagree with most of your points.

Clive Staples Sibelius wrote:But, I think at that point, if there truly was nothing else, believing falsehood would be better thing than looking into the neverending black pit of thought that the witch is trying to convince them of.

If there truly is nothing else, the only way you could really be happier believing a falsehood is if you were able to believe it. In such a world, the only advantage that Christianity would have over the vast sea of alternate religions is mere numbers and cultural influence, that could comfort a believer into thinking that he/she was correct in his/her line of deluded thinking.

Then the world becomes a stage for a popularity contest over which falsehood is more appealing. Eventually religions that had most universal appeal would take over. Universal appeal could be the perfect balance of loose laws and believable laws, or tantalizing tales of the inevitable joy of heaven without any mention of hell to cause worry of some sort. The purpose of life would be to stuff yourself so full of lies that you didn't care about the distinction between things that are true and things that aren't.

"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." - Richard Dawkins

Puddleglum isn't denying the truth, he's just saying it sucks. Just because you know the truth of reality doesn't mean you have to like it or live like it. In other words, if the reality of existence is one without God and the only thing to turn to is...well, what?

We turn to working to change our society for the better.

"The first thing you will learn in economics is that all humans are selfish pigs and that everything you will ever do has some sort of selfish motive behind it. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. The key is to find out what acts of selfishness will benefit you the most. If I work hard to improve society, society will ultimately benefit me more." - My High School Economics Teacher

To live and be happy in a false belief is better than to know life is meaningless and be rot in your own existence (literally).

"Far better to accept the hard truth than a reassuring fable." - Carl Sagan

It would be more beneficial to work hard to improve life on earth than to fritter it away hoping for the utopia after death that you would never actually experience.
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Clive Staples Sibelius » Feb 22, 2011 10:11 am

Tesseract wrote:Very interesting post, Clive Staples Sibelius. I agree with you that in the context of the situation, Puddleglum already knew that Narnia was real and his argument was merely a bit of an insult to the Witch's fabricated underground world.

However, I disagree with most of your points.


Your points are good. I argued much the same thing with (believe it or not) a Muslim friend of mine. See my below answers.

(And yes, she is still believes Islam. It was a theoretical discussion like this one ;) ).

If there truly is nothing else, the only way you could really be happier believing a falsehood is if you were able to believe it. In such a world, the only advantage that Christianity would have over the vast sea of alternate religions is mere numbers and cultural influence, that could comfort a believer into thinking that he/she was correct in his/her line of deluded thinking.

Then the world becomes a stage for a popularity contest over which falsehood is more appealing. Eventually religions that had most universal appeal would take over. Universal appeal could be the perfect balance of loose laws and believable laws, or tantalizing tales of the inevitable joy of heaven without any mention of hell to cause worry of some sort. The purpose of life would be to stuff yourself so full of lies that you didn't care about the distinction between things that are true and things that aren't.


I'm not really sure the whole popularity contest thing would matter, would it? If the world is truly a bleak place with no hope (in other words: if God doesn't exist and we are merely apes), what does it matter about a popularity contest? Remember, this is a bleak outlook. The only "good" thing is what makes a person happy. Distinction between lies and truth doesn't matter at that point because there is nothing to compel us to know or love truth: only to seek happiness, survival, and relative safety. The fact that Carl Sagan loves truth despite disbelieving in God means that he has chosen love of truth as his comfort in a godless world. That love of facts ("truth," in a fairly shallow sense) might make him happy, but at the end of the day when he dies (and he did) there are no consequences to the "truth" about the world.

"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." - Richard Dawkins

Without God there is no understanding of the world worth knowing unless it is to make one happy with trivia. Also, Dawkins regularly conflates religion (a system of belief) with belief in the existence of God.

We turn to working to change our society for the better.


Making the world better means making people healthier and happier, right? Science has the former down pretty good. The latter? Not so much.

"The first thing you will learn in economics is that all humans are selfish pigs and that everything you will ever do has some sort of selfish motive behind it. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. The key is to find out what acts of selfishness will benefit you the most. If I work hard to improve society, society will ultimately benefit me more." - My High School Economics Teacher

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Because we are selfish, fallen pigs. Old Wisdom from folks who realized a thing or two about the human race. Not first realized by modern philosophers. Goes way back even before Jesus.

"Far better to accept the hard truth than a reassuring fable." - Carl Sagan

At the point where the "hard truth" means nothing unless we make it mean something? Which is the "reassuring fable," which makes life bearable. Again, Puddleglum isn't denying the "hard truth." But he's not going to act like Carl Sagan just because Carl Sagan told us that there was no God. He doesn't have to because there is no compelling force in a truth that stays put and dies with you.

It would be more beneficial to work hard to improve life on earth than to fritter it away hoping for the utopia after death that you would never actually experience.

Fantasy, or hope, or whatever we call it does not push aside the reality of the world. Sure, there are sheltered people who believe lies. But fantasy, as Tolkien and Lewis believed, was not a denial of reality but an escape from it---an escape that Tolkien likened to an escape from prison. And who are the people who "keep the keys"? We're talking about two guys who were both in the trenches and both saw friends die. They were not sheltered from reality and loss.

To me there is no dichotomy between making the world a better place and having hope for an afterlife. A person may do both, right? And people do, every day. Christianity and some other religions both promote the idea that life on earth is meaningful for what you will get in the next world. Searching cures for cancer, reducing world poverty, and staying mentally healthy are all super important. Believing in a "higher hope" does not detract from that. You can argue that religion distracts people from being as scientific as possible and finding all the cures to all disease and ailment. That's matter of degree.

The real issue is whether, if we all knew God didn't exist, how we would let that affect our behavior. Sagan disbelieved in God. He did a lot to try and better the human condition. I think we can also agree that he usually acted like a good, moral person despite disbelieving in the a source of morality other than the arbitrary human one. In other words, he acted like Puddleglum would in Underland---as best as he knew how. Believing "lies of religion" is not a pre-requisite to Puddleglum's argument. Despite their rhetoric about "hard facts," even scientists like Sagan and Dawkins believe in "reassuring fables." Their fables are those that say we can be happy or happier without God.

PS: Tessaract, are you also a member of Entmoot? :D. I'm hectorberlioz there.
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Lady Haleth » Feb 23, 2011 8:21 am

And there is always Lewis' argument that those who were most focused on the next world actually did the most good in this one.
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby puddleglum32 » Feb 25, 2011 7:56 pm

Yes, i Know a lot of people who argue about that.
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Tesseract » Feb 26, 2011 6:18 pm

Thanks for the reply, Clives Staples Sibelius.

Clives Staples Sibelius wrote:Without God there is no understanding of the world worth knowing unless it is to make one happy with trivia.

Understanding of the world is not "trivia". A modern understanding of viruses and germs has helped us purge the world of some dreadful diseases, such as smallpox. A modern understanding of human biology has led to the clearing up of countless misconceptions. (Some people used to think that a woman was most fertile during menstruation.) :-o

Making the world better means making people healthier and happier, right? Science has the former down pretty good. The latter? Not so much.

Modern scientific advances such as plumbing, crop rotation and countless other things have allowed us to get an increasingly large percentage of the human population to have access to basic life needs, such as food and water. People are generally a lot happier when they don't have to constantly worry about where their next meal will come from.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Because we are selfish, fallen pigs. Old Wisdom from folks who realized a thing or two about the human race. Not first realized by modern philosophers. Goes way back even before Jesus.

I guess the question, then, is did we need religion to tell us this? I don't think so.

Fantasy, or hope, or whatever we call it does not push aside the reality of the world. Sure, there are sheltered people who believe lies. But fantasy, as Tolkien and Lewis believed, was not a denial of reality but an escape from it---an escape that Tolkien likened to an escape from prison. And who are the people who "keep the keys"? We're talking about two guys who were both in the trenches and both saw friends die. They were not sheltered from reality and loss.

Interestingly enough, C. S. Lewis was actually an atheist for a while because of the reality and loss in his life.

And I agree, that's the appeal of fantasy books...they give fodder to our imagination so that it can visualize places seemingly superior to our own word. One might wish that he could experience the same things in reality. And of course, these books can teach us valuable lessons about life as well, But they are ultimately works of fiction, written so that we could imagine the worlds in the first place, the best alternative to such a place existing. Fantasy is an escape - but only a temporary escape.

I don't think it's wise for someone from our world to believe, for example, that Narnia exists. It may make them feel happy, but they're going to be disappointed every time they walk into a wardrobe with high hopes. If one is trying to get somewhere such as utopian afterlife, they will never feel complete because they will spend their whole life expecting something, and never actually experience it. They will never get that moment of final satisfaction in reaching the place that they are trying to get to.

To me there is no dichotomy between making the world a better place and having hope for an afterlife. A person may do both, right? And people do, every day.

Of course. But not having hope in an afterlife does not mean there is no point in making the world a better place.

Christianity and some other religions both promote the idea that life on earth is meaningful for what you will get in the next world.

I find that many Christians view the idea that good works will get you to heaven as offensive and incorrect. My Christian friends during childhood would tell me, "It's Jesus who saves us, not ourselves! All you need is faith!" Belief in Jesus is something that originated from Christianity. Making the world better is something that is not, as you said earlier.

Despite their rhetoric about "hard facts," even scientists like Sagan and Dawkins believe in "reassuring fables." Their fables are those that say we can be happy or happier without God.

I don't think that believing that you can be happy or happier without God is a fable. Many atheists are able to live pretty happy lives without God, such as myself.

PS: Tessaract, are you also a member of Entmoot? :D. I'm hectorberlioz there.

Sorry, I am not.
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Ithilwen » Feb 28, 2011 1:02 am

Tesseract wrote:
Christianity and some other religions both promote the idea that life on earth is meaningful for what you will get in the next world.
I find that many Christians view the idea that good works will get you to heaven as offensive and incorrect.

Yes, you're right, Tesseract. The idea that good works get you to Heaven is incorrect -- the Bible even says so. It says that we are saved by Grace through Faith, and not by Works. The works are our way of serving God because we want to serve Him, and a way of helping others. But they are not what gets us to Heaven.

Modern scientific advances such as plumbing, crop rotation and countless other things have allowed us to get an increasingly large percentage of the human population to have access to basic life needs, such as food and water. People are generally a lot happier when they don't have to constantly worry about where their next meal will come from.


That's very true. Science is a wonderful thing. :) I believe in Science, and I believe it is very useful and helpful and beneficial. I'm also a Christian. I believe God created Science. And I see nothing about my religion that shows Science as something incorrect or unhelpful. I also see nothing about my religion that hinders Science. I've never seen a case where the beliefs of a true Christian got in the way of real Scientific discoveries. I've heard of cases, of course, long ago where superstitious people, and "ceremonial religious" people let their beliefs (Which were based more on ignorance than God's Word) get in the way of Scientific discoveries. But they don't believe the same things a true Christian believes. A true Christian believes that God created Science, and that there are many things about the earth and universe we have yet to discover.

The main difference I've seen between Christian scientists and secular Scientists is their theory as to how the world began. And that doesn't affect every branch of Science. And when it does affect a certain branch, I've heard both positive and negative things about both results -- how the Christian scientists did this good thing because of the creation theory, how they did this bad thing because of the creation theory. How secular Scientists did this good thing because they believe in Evolution, and how they did this bad thing because of their belief in Evolution. There are also Christian Scientists who believe in Evolution. So it seems to me there's been mixed results in both divisions. And that just shows, to me personally, that God uses all sorts of different things for different purposes. He used this person's belief, and that person's disbelief, in order for us all to learn something new in some way.

Interestingly enough, C. S. Lewis was actually an atheist for a while because of the reality and loss in his life.

He also changed his mind about this. And not because the pain had lessened over time, either. In fact, I remember reading a part where he said that there wasn't one moment in any part of his life where the memory of those deaths did not give him terrible pain. So he still had that with him when he decided to become a Christian. The pain did not seem to him like a reason he should avoid or disbelieve Christianity. In fact, his witnessing of loss and death and pain came in handy to achieve a very great purpose. It inspired him to think about pain and loss, and write about them in books like The Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed -- books that have helped a lot of people in many great ways. Which is an example of how God uses death, pain, trials, and everything else "bad" to accomplish something even better than we could imagine.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Because we are selfish, fallen pigs. Old Wisdom from folks who realized a thing or two about the human race. Not first realized by modern philosophers. Goes way back even before Jesus.
I guess the question, then, is did we need religion to tell us this? I don't think so.

We don't need religion to tell us we're fallen pigs. (Although, haha, I have met a few people who might need something to help them realize it. They still think humans are basically good. :P) But just because we don't need religion to tell us this, that doesn't mean we don't need religion at all. The point is, if we are fallen pigs, what do we do about it? This is an especially important question to those who believe -- or are considering in believing -- in an afterlife. After all, if only the perfect are allowed into heaven, and we're all imperfect pigs, how do we get there to avoid Hell? That's where religion comes in handy. ;) So, I guess the real question would be, do you/should you believe in an afterlife? Which I discuss after the next quote...

I don't think it's wise for someone from our world to believe, for example, that Narnia exists. It may make them feel happy, but they're going to be disappointed every time they walk into a wardrobe with high hopes. If one is trying to get somewhere such as utopian afterlife, they will never feel complete because they will spend their whole life expecting something, and never actually experience it. They will never get that moment of final satisfaction in reaching the place that they are trying to get to.

First off, I don't believe Narnia exists (of course), but I do believe in Heaven. And I don't see why it's a bad thing to believe, because --
1. If it does exist, I'll be there, enjoying it.
2. If it doesn't exist -- if there is no afterlife, and we just cease to exist when we die, then I won't be able to be disappointed. I won't exist anymore. A non-existant thing can't have feelings, and therefore cannot have the feeling of disapointment.

Whereas, if I choose not to believe in Heaven, it will also go one of two ways --
1. I turn out to be wrong, there is a Heaven, but I can't go there because I didn't believe. And then I end up going... the other way. :-o :ymdevil:
OR
2. I spend my life believing there is no hope beyond this world, then I die, and I am no more.

Some people say that it's better to believe there is no afterlife, because then you'll live this life on earth to the fullest, and make the most use of your time, instead of wasting your life pining for Heaven. But that isn't the case -- at least, it isn't for me. I believe in Heaven and God. But I'm certainly not just sitting around waiting for heaven to come. I am already living life to the fullest -- using all the time I have to help people in any way I can, so that I can please God, and make the lives of others better too because I care about them. My religion is making me do more, not less. A disbelief in an afterlife wouldn't make me live life any fuller, because I am already doing all I can to live to my fullest. If I turn out to be right, I will be rewarded in Heaven. If I turn out to be wrong, then I have made good use of my life, I lose nothing, and I won't be disappointed because I wouldn't exist anymore in order to be disappointed. :)


~Riella =:)
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Tesseract » Mar 06, 2011 1:27 am

Ithilwen wrote:And I see nothing about my religion that shows Science as something incorrect or unhelpful...I also see nothing about my religion that hinders Science. I've never seen a case where the beliefs of a true Christian got in the way of real Scientific discoveries. I've heard of cases, of course, long ago where superstitious people, and "ceremonial religious" people let their beliefs (Which were based more on ignorance than God's Word) get in the way of Scientific discoveries. But they don't believe the same things a true Christian believes. A true Christian believes that God created Science, and that there are many things about the earth and universe we have yet to discover.

Hmm. Saying that any Christian who hindered scientific discoveries just "didn't get God's Word" and weren't real Christians seems like a bit of an easy way to clear Christianity from tarnish. I could just as easily say that all atheists who were destructive to society didn't get atheism either. ;)

The Catholic Church suppressed critical thinking during the Dark Ages and shunned the idea that we might not be the center of the universe. The Middle East used to be a high point of learning in the world, with the development of algebra and many other things. But recently it has been in an educational withdrawal due to heavy promotion of Koran ideals. Not to mention that people burned animals for centuries hoping that God would heal them instead of developing medicine.

And that just shows, to me personally, that God uses all sorts of different things for different purposes. He used this person's belief, and that person's disbelief, in order for us all to learn something new in some way.

I suppose this just depends on our world views. To me, it would show that the world is random and chaotic.

In fact, his witnessing of loss and death and pain came in handy to achieve a very great purpose. It inspired him to think about pain and loss, and write about them in books like The Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed -- books that have helped a lot of people in many great ways. Which is an example of how God uses death, pain, trials, and everything else "bad" to accomplish something even better than we could imagine.

That's a fair point about C. S. Lewis. But the idea of God using death and pain to accomplish great things is something that has never quite made sense to me. Many Jews abandoned their belief in God while suffering in the concentration camps, and then died, leaving them no chance for redemption or salvation. (Elie Wiesel's book "Night") I can't see God always being able to use death and pain as a good thing when it leads to lost souls.

This is an especially important question to those who believe -- or are considering in believing -- in an afterlife. After all, if only the perfect are allowed into heaven, and we're all imperfect pigs, how do we get there to avoid Hell? That's where religion comes in handy. ;)

Of course, this assumes that religion = a belief in hell. What if there was a religion where people only went to heaven? Then there'd be no problem with being an imperfect pig.
So, I guess the real question would be, do you/should you believe in an afterlife? Which I discuss after the next quote...

I do believe in Heaven. And I don't see why it's a bad thing to believe, because --
1. If it does exist, I'll be there, enjoying it.
2. If it doesn't exist -- if there is no afterlife, and we just cease to exist when we die, then I won't be able to be disappointed. I won't exist anymore. A non-existant thing can't have feelings, and therefore cannot have the feeling of disapointment.
Whereas, if I choose not to believe in Heaven, it will also go one of two ways --
1. I turn out to be wrong, there is a Heaven, but I can't go there because I didn't believe. And then I end up going... the other way. :-o :ymdevil:
OR
2. I spend my life believing there is no hope beyond this world, then I die, and I am no more.

Pascal used the same reasoning in his famous argument now known as "Pascal's Wager". The logic is full of holes, and I think this YouTube video does a better job explaining it than I could do here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZpJ7yUPwdU

And in the end, if your belief in God is really what has fulfilled your life...go ahead and live it. You've placed your bet, and I've placed mine.
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Re: Puddleglum's argument

Postby Ithilwen » Mar 06, 2011 2:14 am

Good to hear from you again, Tesseract. :) I will respond to this when I can find full time to do so properly (Which is definitely not tonight). But when I respond, I will post my response in the CHRISTIANITY, RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY thread, as the discussion has moved a bit off-topic, away from Puddleglum and onto Pascal. I'll post the video you linked me to as well. This will also give the other NW Theology-Giants a chance to respond as well (And they're way better at this type of thing than I am, anyway :P ). :)


~Riella =:)
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