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Mere Christianity

Book

by C. S. Lewis

Born in Ireland in 1898, C. S. Lewis was educated at Malvern College for a year and then privately. He gained a triple first at Oxford and was a Fellow and Tutor at Magdalen College 1925-54. In 1954 he became Professor of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge. He was an outstanding and popular lecturer and had a lasting influence on his pupils.

C. S. Lewis was for many years an atheist, and described his conversion in Surprised by Joy: 'In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God ... perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.' It was this experience that helped him to understand not only apathy but active unwillingness to accept religion, and, as a Christian writer, gifted with an exceptionally brilliant and logical mind and a lucid, lively style, he was without peer.

In 1943 Great Britain, when hope and the moral fabric of society were threatened by the relentless inhumanity of global war, an Oxford don was invited to give a series of radio lectures addressing the central issues of Christianity. Over half a century after the original lectures, the topic retains it urgency. Expanded into book form, Mere Christianity never flinches as it sets out a rational basis for Christianity and builds an edifice of compassionate morality atop this foundation. As Mr. Lewis clearly demonstrates, Christianity is not a religion of flitting angels and blind faith, but of free will, an innate sense of justice and the grace of God.

 
 

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Comments

Great resource to be able to listen to the audio book, Mere Christianity, online. I recently used this to help prepare a lesson for our Sunday school class and was a great resource for me. Thank you for making this available.
#1 - Cary Bohannon - 11/09/2009 - 07:21
i was supposed to read this book for a class, but i forgot, so i listened to it
#2 - Logan Crawford - 12/09/2009 - 19:52
God bless you for this convenient and source.
#3 - Pelagiya - 01/29/2010 - 15:18
I think one of the few flaws in Lewis's reasoning is his main point. That the natural human laws are not instinct but some greater guidance.

If you have ever dealt with drastic annihilation of morals in stroke victims you will see that morals that we feel we should follow (but freely ignore a lot of the time) can be wiped out (guilt for having lost these morals is also wiped out) by death of parts of the brain.

It has also been shown that Animals also have moral leanings and animals also have the will to break these natural inclinations (for animals these include monogamy, incest and murder).

In Lewis's time a lot of this was not known.
I guess you could always argue that god acts through evolution to craft favorable morals but god would only loosely refer to some greater leaning towards order in chaos. If you know anything about chaos in the fractal sense you will see that order comes as a direct result of chaos, not the other way around. So is god chaos or the result of chaos(order)? If you believe god is a superpower above all else then he could only be chaos.
#4 - Kieran - 03/03/2010 - 21:05
intersting...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHrvr5deVF8
#5 - Mark - 03/05/2010 - 03:26
What can be done...
to help these poor neo-intellectuals that define themselves by their so called "debunking" of Christianity. I feel so sad for them but don't know what I can do to break through that shell of ignorance and hate.

I guess I can pray for them if nothing else.
#6 - Soldier - 03/05/2010 - 19:45
Morals, kindness, conservatism come from the individual human being and to claim god has anything to do with it is just selling humanity short.

I'd rather at least try to be intellectual than rely on god to do it for me.
Humans decide the difference between right and wrong and good and evil and to claim these things are just items that grow on a tree we are forbidden to eat from is just...ridiculous!
#7 - Mark - 03/11/2010 - 03:41
Kieran's comment is simplistic at best. A person whose brain has been damaged may be physically incapable of carrying out the normal functions and feelings of morality, but that is something entirely different from morality itself, which cannot exist at all unless it is immaterial. Brains can think about immaterial things (human brains at least) and they can react to them, but that does not mean that they are the SOURCE of them.

It can be hard to grasp for a person just looking for an easy way out of the Christian idea of objective morality. Here's a parallel. When a man loves a woman, his brain patterns change and react. It can be measured. That does not mean that the brain "makes" love. The actions of a person outside of the brain (the lover) is the cause of the emotion of love, and all of its attendant brain patterns.

People losing their capacity for understanding/processing morals through unnatural injury, neither proves nor disproves anything. A dead person, whose body is completely incapacitated, doesn't have any morals at all either. So what? You might as well argue that the entire universe only exists in humans' brains, since we cannot perceive any part of it apart from it being processed through our brains first.

You might as well argue that since some people go blind and can no longer process color, that color is an invention of the brain and the eye and not an objective reality. It's really quite a foolish argument.
#8 - Isaac Amirian - 05/27/2010 - 17:36
re: Isaac Amirian
Thats my whole point. That morals ARE objective, they exist ONLY in the brain. They are abstract reactions influenced by gentic makeup and external interpretation.

"You might as well argue that since some people go blind and can no longer process color, that color is an invention of the brain and the eye and not an objective reality. It's really quite a foolish argument."

Color is a representation our brains use to reference a certain bandwidth of magnetic radiation. Color IS an invention of the brain but the data is real (the real part is the bandwidth the waves occupy...not the color).

So... if all humans died then magnetic radiation would still exist... but morals and color wouldn't. I'm sorry but just because morals are abstract doesn't mean they're not physical.. they are purely physical, like the transistor is the physical part of abstract computer programs in memory. Morals are like the code (which is written by both genetics and external influence... learning). Like the transistor, when a brain cell dies so does morality. Computer programs don't go to heaven so why should our minds along with our morality?

"Brains can think about immaterial things (human brains at least) and they can react to them, but that does not mean that they are the SOURCE of them."

Brains are the source of the ideas/information... but not the raw data/forces. Ideas/information are pure interpretation by the brain and hence immaterial things ARE the direct result of processing in the brain, hence the brain IS the source of information/ideas/objects.. but not the raw data/forces. Raw data (acoustic, magnetic, electric and strong forces) is only real before it hits, for example, the eye. As soon as the human eye converts the light into an action potential it immediately loses all the information the eye cannot physically translate into the action potential. Not only is the brain interpreting the data but it can only rely on lossy and partial data supplied to it by the eye.

"When a man loves a woman, his brain patterns change and react. It can be measured. That does not mean that the brain "makes" love. The actions of a person outside of the brain (the lover) is the cause of the emotion of love, and all of its attendant brain patterns."

Again... love comes from the brain. It is possible for one person to fall in love and not the other. I love my parents not because love is some ghostly vapor floating from them to me. For all I know they may not be my parents at all. Love is an idea and a chemical reaction to that idea, a feeling based again on badly/beautifully TRANSLATED data with influence from genetics and previous idea formation.

"You might as well argue that the entire universe only exists in humans' brains."

If you are talking about the IDEA of the universe then yes... it only exists in our brains. The STUFF outside of us goes on existing but the objects... the separations and labels humans create in their minds vanishes when the mind becomes a disorganized mush of organic compounds (dead).


#9 - Kieran - 05/28/2010 - 03:04
correction
"Thats my whole point. That morals ARE objective, they exist ONLY in the brain. They are abstract reactions influenced by gentic makeup and external interpretation."

Sorry I meant subjective.

The only way to be objective is to take measurements using impartial instruments where the only approximation made has to do with resolution/scale limits. At best this is still only pseudo objective.

Ether way making vast vague generalizations about things such as love and morals might leave you content but its going to leave you dazed and confused when you find you are left with nothing more than "good" and "evil" instead of an explanation and a better understanding of why people do certain things.

The one thing I find great about Christianity is the concept of forgiving people. The dissapointment comes when you find yourself forgiving somone who you think is evil... then you get this great sense of being all saint like.. then you find out the reality of things... that person wasnt evil... just misunderstood due to crappy brain translations of reality and you are left not with forgivness but with self hatred, that you have patronised that person and forgiven them for something that is just beyond your capacity to understand.

BTW I'm baptized Christian.... I just don't believe in god or a lot of the things some people take literally in the bible.

Just be aware I am questioning Christianity.... NOT Christians as fellow human beings. Spirituality helps a hell of a lot of people get though life. Better be Christians than doped up on antidepressants.
Much like I don't drink alcohol and I can argue against it, but I don't think people who drink it are bad people at all and they have every right to enjoy themselves.
#10 - Kieran - 05/31/2010 - 02:51
accident or planned
I ask myself is this a planned organized universe world creation or is this an accident I came to the conclusion it is a planned creation if the creation is planned and has design features who was the planner or designer only God comes to mind. Then i must investigate God we call that religion so i investigated religions many of them Christianity is the only one I found that completely answers all my questions with any real plausibility in my mind it does all come down to a personal decision I thank God for Jesus he paid it all for a morally bankrupt sinner as myself.
#11 - jaybird - 07/24/2010 - 23:28
I respectfully disagree with the person who wrote, "Morals, kindness, conservatism come from the individual human being and to claim god has anything to do with it is just selling humanity short. I'd rather at least try to be intellectual than rely on god to do it for me. Humans decide the difference between right and wrong and good and evil and to claim these things are just items that grow on a tree we are forbidden to eat from is just...ridiculous!"

History proves that sentiment wrong. For the most part, humans have shown themselves to be selfish, self-centered, and ruthless to others. The pervading paradigm of human history is one driven by survival. If you have what I (or my tribe) want and need, we will take it from you. We will take your land, your livestock, your gold, your women, your lives. The Vikings, the Goths, the Romans, you name it, all thought only of themselves, and to hell with anyone else (unless they could be of help).

What is good or evil to one group, is not the same to another. Need we look any further than slavery, the Holocaust, or 9/11 for examples? I, for one, do not place my trust in humans "to decide between right and wrong and good and evil." I thank God for clearly setting the matter straight, and now we have no excuse for behaving otherwise. Unfortunately, too many Christians don't practice what they preach. But that's not God's fault (except for the fact that He gave us free will).
#12 - Neil - 09/28/2010 - 10:40
I ask myself is this a planned organized universe world creation or is this an accident I came to the conclusion it is a planned creation if the creation is planned and has design features who was the planner or designer only God comes to mind.
#13 - assignment help - 11/01/2010 - 23:24
CS Lewis was an absolute genius, great stories with plenty of pace and visionary ideas that really did influence a whole generation of writers.
#14 - long term rentals Marbella Spain - 11/07/2010 - 07:22
Christianity
Very interesting to read about CS Lewis becoming a Christian, I never knew he was originally an atheist. Thanks for sharing.
#15 - Baby Gift Baskets - 11/12/2010 - 09:37
yeah, he is one of the greatest Writers of Britain. The Times ranked him eleventh in their "top 50 writers", and this position is deserved.
#16 - admission essays - 11/16/2010 - 13:56
Jesus wasn't crucified for teaching profound moral truths. He was crucified because the Jewish leaders of the day understood that he claimed to be God Almighty. They couldn't dismiss him for a madman, because he clearly wasn't mad. They couldn't dismiss him for a liar, because there was no fault found with him. They simply had to destroy him because his claim to be God threatened their place in society. Jesus' claims to deity were not a later addition. It was the reason he died.
#17 - 642-982 - 12/02/2010 - 02:54
Lizazoon, before you claim that there are no Jews who can look at the Old Testament prophesies and see clearly that Jesus fits the description of the long-awaited Messiah, I stand as a testament to the contrary. As do men like Ravi Zacharias and David Brickner of Jews for Jesus. You should try reading some of their work. I think you'd find it enlightening.
#18 - F50-531 - 12/02/2010 - 02:58
Just curious: What scriptural support do you reference when you say that all people are spirit-children of God? Will we be like God one day? Will we be gods ourselves? Where is the support for this?
#19 - 642-415 - 12/02/2010 - 23:20
Lewis himself discusses people becoming like God someday. I'll see if I make time to look up scriptures in the Bible. I'm not here to prove anything, though. Just discussing.
#20 - OG0-093 - 12/02/2010 - 23:22
My comments here were more about the past of humanity more than the future. I tend to agree with Lewis a lot about God's expectations for the future. He claims that his reviewers from various Christian denominations approved of most of his content, too.
#21 - LX0-101 - 12/02/2010 - 23:23
I should also note that I agree with Lewis about God seeing all time simultaneously. So, when I speak of time here, I'm just speaking from the human perspective.
#22 - HP2-T16 - 12/02/2010 - 23:24
CS Lewis
Christianity is about humans becoming born again and cleansed of their sins and abstaining from sin. Unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of GOD (John 3:3). Both CS Lewis and Tolkien have ties to witchcraft, this shouldn't be surprising as England is home to the most pure form of witchcraft teaching on earth and the home of the Illuminati. The fact that CS Lewis is lifted high in this modern world and by Hollywood will show any real Biblically astute Christian that he can not be of GOD, he is of the god of this world...Lucifer/Satan
#23 - Christian - 12/10/2010 - 19:00
If all Lewis ever wrote was "Mere Christianity" his contribution to his fellow man would have surpassed the aspirations of most authors because in it he opens the door and invites those in who are seekers of fundamental truth without the trappings. Christ claimed that HE was that Door. Read this simple book and decide for yourself. "God is light and in him is no darkness."
#24 - George - 12/18/2010 - 05:34
I can say..
All i can say i love being a christian and children of god. i'm very proud of it.
#25 - emr systems - 12/20/2010 - 01:53
excellent
This post should be appreciated. Thanks for sharing this information.
it is known intuitively, rather than through observation. After introducing the moral law, Lewis argues that thirst reflects the fact that people naturally need water, and there is no other substance which satisfies that need. Lewis points out that earthly experience does not satisfy the human craving for "joy" and that only God could fit the bill; humans cannot know to yearn for something if it does not exist.

#26 - online cash advance payday loan - 12/28/2010 - 22:09
Christianity is about humans becoming born again and cleansed of their sins and abstaining from sin. Unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of GOD (John 3:3). Both CS Lewis and Tolkien have ties to witchcraft, this shouldn't be surprising as England is home to the most pure form of witchcraft teaching on earth and the home of the Illuminati. The fact that CS Lewis is lifted high in this modern world and by Hollywood will show any real Biblically astute Christian that he can not be of GOD, he is of the god of this world...Lucifer/Satan
#27 - NS0-154 - 12/30/2010 - 04:36
It is no wonder that Christians should revere a miracle-working carpenter:I think one must be the son of a god to build an attic before the rest of the house.feliz aniversario
#28 - momo - 05/10/2011 - 11:53
Deacon
I became interested in C. S Lewis by an article about him in the PittsburghnPost Gazette.
#29 - Jack Orr - 08/29/2011 - 20:47
Mr.
Lewis takes great lengths to show inate to humans is an ideal which is always absent...something mysteriously lost. Man remains an animal devoid of all personal ethics under any drive for survival.
#30 - Mike Donohue - 09/05/2011 - 19:36
You tube changes-webmaster
This is a technical note. If you would like to appeal to a wider audience on you tube, it may be helpful to add the book sections to the description for each video.
#31 - suzanne - 10/13/2011 - 08:38
Re: You tube changes
Suzanne,
As per your suggestion I have added the book and chapter sections to the description for each video. Thanks for the input.
#32 - James - 10/14/2011 - 08:24
to kieran
I think kieran is too much into matrix. computers... NERD!
#33 - FIORE - 11/16/2011 - 07:14
I thank God for C.S. Lewis. Like many other one time rabid atheists, God shows His Glory through these people- just like the Apostle Paul who "saw the light" on the road to Damascus.

As for these non-believers who use their God-given intellect to deny Him, I can only quote The Bible--- "Only a Fool Says there is no God."
#34 - Linda Kay Hutcherson - 01/14/2012 - 23:51
CS Lewis
I find CS Lewis interesting, but outdated. For ex.: his references to indiginous people as "savages", the notion that Buddists and other non-Christians "may still get into heaven" (paraphrased)etc. He is a good example of pre WWII Anglican ideas. His audience was the English upper class/Protestant aristocracy. Not really relevant for people today.I always thought it was really telling that no where in "Mere Christianity" does he talk about the genocide that was going on as he wrote. And yes, there is evidence that folks knew this was going on - in 1943 the NYT wrote and article about Nazis killing Jews and Kristenaught occurred in the late 1930's. So, I do not recommend this book as a proof for the existance of God. There are much better sources for that.
#35 - thoughtful - 02/12/2012 - 18:34
"The theory that thought is merely a movement in the brain is, in my opinion, nonsense; for if so, that theory itself would be merely a movement, an event among atoms, which may have speed and direction but of which it would be meaningless to use the words 'true' or 'false'."
C.S. Lewis

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#37 - Bail Bonds Diamond Bar - 03/03/2012 - 10:24
I'm deep into the Third book, and I have been absolutely enthralled! When I am through, I already have a few friends in mind to share this fantastic resource with! I've heard many a sermon and many a interpretation...but I have never heard and understood, as I have with "Mere Christianity"!
#38 - Brad Jent - 03/05/2012 - 16:03
re: Kieran
'Again... love comes from the brain. It is possible for one person to fall in love and not the other. I love my parents not because love is some ghostly vapor floating from them to me. For all I know they may not be my parents at all. Love is an idea and a chemical reaction to that idea, a feeling based again on badly/beautifully TRANSLATED data with influence from genetics and previous idea formation.'

Having come to the conclusion that love is simply a 'chemical reaction', how has this affected your love life? Do you accept it at face value or are you true to your reasoning? The implication, if you'll indulge me, is that love is a by-product of evolution, that it is an idea and pattern of behavior that is a useful reaction and interpretation of data, but it has no more meaning or truth than that.

To live out this 'belief system' sincerely and authentically would be an interesting exercise not yet carried out by any atheist I know of. All emotion is counterfeit, a parasitic neurological mechanism to promote fecundity.

I am certain however that you have not rejected truth and love because you have reasoned that they are evolutionary by-products or that they do not exist outside your body. I fancy you indulge yourself in relationships, and perhaps debates about the 'true' nature of life and love.

It is riduculous to lay claim to any truths and indeed to the idea of truth, and simultaneously assert that truth is a subjective interpretation of raw data such as electromagnetic radiation and that only this raw data can be accurate.



#39 - Ross Kirkbride - 05/16/2012 - 05:23
Mere Christianity
This is a great article. I am pretty much impressed with your good work. You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. razor synth
#40 - Ricardo - 06/27/2012 - 07:11
I think it is a bit humorous the arguments above about the brain/morality. Forgetting the main thing,God is a Spirit and so are we. Our bodies/brains (physical) are temporary. The real issue is in the Spirit, which is a higher 'law'.
#41 - Lmom - 08/11/2012 - 14:39
"Green Book" education
Some of the comments I have read here reek of a "Green Book" education (see Lewis' Abolition of Man).
#42 - Gopher41 - 08/28/2012 - 13:59
HI
Hey dudes! very beautiful blog nice blog keep it up!!!!! keep post i like this very much...........
#43 - Amazeon Bookmarks - 09/08/2012 - 01:40
In reply to Kieran
Your points seem valid from a scientific point of view when it comes to emotion. But not moral. Isaac made a poor arguement against your example. You are trying to disprove "morals" by proving that they are a chemical reaction that is a part of the brain, and they are but you fail to answer the true question at hand though. Why do those chemical reactions exist in the first place? You also fail to answer as to why the chemical reactions would create "morals" (which can also be defined as a set of rules that men ought to follow but dont) and why we do not follow these morals that our brains are creating. Surely if the brain controlled the whole body and created chemicals which created a feeling that must be followed then the brain would be capable of following them. But it doesn't therefore there must be a greater reason as to why we do not follow them. In your arguement you are saying that human will does not exist. If it did not exist then we wouldnt be able to not follow the morals. If you are simply saying that the brain creates these chemicals but we still have the choice to follow them then the chemicals are pointless and if they are pointless they should not be there in the first place otherwise they are just there by a "fluke" just as everything happend by a "fluke" as most people claim. So we are just the bi-product of many 1 in a 1000 000 chance flukes that happened which means, if we follow this logic, that we are meaningless and again shouldnt be here in the first place.
#44 - Adam - 09/12/2012 - 12:10
Thanks very much for posting this online copy of Mere Christianity, it's saving me hours of note-typing as I study the book. To my mind C.S.Lewis's writings are brilliant, despite their dated quality as noted by thoughtful (#36).
Thanks to Kieran for your well-made observations presenting a different aspect, I once would have whole-heartedly agreed with them/you but I recently got blindsided by God. Maybe it's something that tends to happen with age - I was 58 - and will happen to you too. That would be nice - no offence.
#45 - Anthony - 10/02/2012 - 17:46
if one is not a Christian he/she cannot understand God. I use the Bible as God's Word and therefore my whole consciousness is centered within its pages. Kieran wrote that God (though he/she used "god")is "chaos". They have either not read the Scriptures in its entirety or else did not believe what was written. When I read a love letter from my wife I believe it unconditionally because not only did I read it but I know from whom it came and accept its message as truth. One cannot understand just who God is unless they submit to his maxims and believe that he is "Faithful and True" and offers a fair and equal way to salvation. Today this understanding is available only through his Word. You cannot possibly accept a prophecy unless the Prophet is trusted.
#46 - duane stevens - 08/05/2013 - 11:20
These days a growing number of movies are in the public domain. These works are considered part of the public cultural heritage and may be freely used by all. Public domain refers to the body of creative works and knowledge in which no person, government or organization has any proprietary interest such as a copyright.
#47 - susan - 02/19/2014 - 18:07
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#49 - Morayo - 05/30/2014 - 01:37
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