You can look at my more detailed notes, but this is an overview of the content of Book II of “Mere Christianity”…
Chapter 1 – “Rival Conceptions of God”
Truth in other religions
If you are Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth…[However,] as in arithmetic – there is only one right answer to a sum…but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others
…these people think that long before you got anywhere near the divine point of view the distinction [between good and evil] would have disappeared altogether…
Pantheists usually believe that God, so to speak, animates the universe as you animate your body: that the universe almost is God, so that if it did not exist He would not exist either, and anything you find in the universe is a part of God…
If you do not take the distinction between good an bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God
…[these people believe in] a God who takes sides, who loves love and hates hatred, who wants us to behave in one way and not in another…
…God invented and made the universe – like a man making a picture or composing a tune. A painter is not a picture, and he does not die if his picture is destroyed
…if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will…a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on putting them right again
Evil and God
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line…I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that then my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies
1. Why does Jack say that when he became a Christian he adopted the more “liberal” view?
2. Is it possible to affirm the truth of other religions while still holding to the absolute truth claims of Christianity?
3. Can you think of any religion completely devoid of ALL truth?
4. Into what two central conceptions of God does Jack say people hold? Do you think we could divide it up in a different way?
5. In what way do these conceptions of God and our attitudes towards the Moral Law and the Universe relate to each other?
6. Why does the very question of asking about evil in the world presuppose the existence of God?