Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Abolition of Man

This was again one of the more difficult readings for me, and it is hard for me to form a deep opinion on something I have not fully comprehended yet. (It may not have helped that since it was hard for me to understand, I ended up skimming most of it...) Nonetheless, I think this piece displays Lewis's intellect and his passion for truth. He discusses the idea of the Natural Law and in what sense us humans have power over nature.

I like the second paragraph where he uses three examples to describe men trying to control nature: the aeroplane, the wireless, and the contraceptive. In a way, we excercise our power by flying when we are not naturally equipped to fly, to access the entire world wide web anywhere and anytime, and deciding when to have a child and when not to on our own terms. However, by using our power we become either the subject or the possessor of the power. By flying we may be exposed to bombs, and by surfing the web we are exposed to ads and spam messages. "What we call Man's power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by." This "power" is obtained not by man only but with nature as the instrument.

I really enjoyed this quote: "Each new power won by man is a power over man as well. Each advance leaves him weaker as well as stronger." This statement is so true, because any power we create on our own will never truly give us power. God has control over all, and when we try to establish control over someone or something withouth Him guiding us, it will inevitably fail. The moral code is written on our hearts, so anything that goes against that may bring us temporary strength but it will only make us weak in the long run.

"It is the magician's bargain: give up our soul, get power in return. But once our souls, that is, ourselves, have been given up, the power thus conferred will not belong to us. We shall in fact be the slaves and puppets of that to which we have given our souls." I think many of us try to have it both ways: we try to follow the natural law and we also try to act like mere nature and follow our own impulses. However, Lewis says this is impossible, and I agree. We cannot try to exert our own power in earthly matters while also claiming that God is all powerful.

During the discussion in class I just kept thinking of Karl Marx and his theory on how we are all living in a constant power struggle between the class systems. We all have this innate understanding of right and wrong, but it seems that the elite no longer believe in an objective truth. We are not striving to know the truth but instead what is 'right' or 'wrong' according to our own ideals. Thus, when something is not right to us we try to exert power over it and manipulate something to fit into our idea of right. The people with the most resources have the most power over people so the elite end up in power over others teaching a 'truth' that does not correlate with the truth written on our hearts.

Although we are created with a sense of what is right and what is wrong, we do not follow it due to the fall. Thus, we cannot only have knowledge of the truth, we must pair it with a desire to follow the truth. We have to want to do right, because the law often gets hidden and if we don't have a desire for it we aren't willing to dig it out again.

I'm not sure how correct my interpretations of this chapter are, but I tried to understand the best I could. Basically we have this objective moral code that transcends time and culture but struggle to obey it. Without God by our sides, we will continue to struggle with right and wrong because we are tainted by sin.

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