“Notice, too, their idea of God ‘making religion simple’; as if ‘religion’ were something God invented, and not His statements to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature.”
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I was thinking about C.S. Lewis’s claim that God didn’t invent religion while I was walking today. I have to say that I can see where Lewis can make a semantic case but there is a substantive one to be made for the other side. For Lewis to be right, only the elemental can be from God. I don’t think that tracks. God created man who created the ice cream sundae. The ice cream sundae is still a part of God’s creation and so still created by God. If you make the argument that insubstantial things are of a separate creation then you run into trouble with physics and mathematics and other measures by which we see material creation bound. Did God create the rules of the dice game Einstein says he doesn’t play, so to speak?
One of the great pleasures of walk thoughts is that they wander. The sundae got me thinking about the details involved in creating a universe and what an early riser it must require. What are the machinations? What we may see as roundabout may be the most direct and perfect route. We look at the sundae as a minor result of a greater plan. What if it was the goal?
More Lewis, this time from his essay “On Criticism” which includes commentary on assumptions critics make and pass on as fact when reviewing a work; phrases like “tacked on” and “labored” (or in Lewis’s case “laboured”) applied to parts of a work that may have been central to the author or written with great ease. He writes, “Thus a critic will say of a passage, ‘This is an afterthought.’ He is just as likely to be wrong as right… I as an author may know that the passage diagnosed as an afterthought was in reality the seed from which the whole book grew.” What if the insignificant seeming sundae was the point of it all and that for reasons known only to an omniscient it was best brought to being by creatures capable of free will with a sweet tooth and a knack for building refrigeration devices. Man may be the insignificant actor here; Rosencrantz whose actions set in motion events that caused sprinkles on top. Some Screwtape executed a linguistic sleight of hand diminishing the sundae’s importance by diverting man’s good intentions and making him keep holy its homonym.
“It is no good asking for a simple religion,” writes Lewis in Mere Christianity. Later in the same paragraph he continues, “A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not – and the modern world usually is not – if you want to go on and ask what is really happening – then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.”
I’m lucky to live where I live and have a creek along whose banks I can navigate the paths of wisdom.