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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 C. S. Lewis is known for the Argument from Reason. If our thought processes just evolved randomly, and our minds were not created in the image of a rational and personal God, then why should we trust the thoughts are minds were randomly evolved by chance to have—including the ones about evolution? The fact that we can think rationally and that our thoughts can correspond to reality—not just to physical aspects of it that we get through our senses but to laws and principles—is a great mystery, however you slice it.

C. S. Lewis, his thoughts corresponding to reality.

THOUGHT

Whence comes a reason’s power to convince,

Illuminate the searching intellect

With sudden serendipity of sense?

No change of chemicals or elements

Could equal insight, letting us detect

Whence comes a reason’s power to convince.

Electrical impulses give no hints,

Yield nothing that could lead us to expect

A sudden serendipity of sense.

A chain of neurons firing boldly prints

Its trace upon a screen which can’t reflect

Whence comes a reason’s power to convince.

By faith we must accept this light that glints.

The eye can’t see itself, cannot inspect

Its sudden serendipity of sense.

A mystery much like the sacraments

Whose grace unseen we yet do not reject:

Whence comes a reason’s power to convince?

From sudden serendipity of sense.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

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 Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Jerusalem from the Old City Wall

The early church father Tertullian famously asked, “Where does Athens meet Jerusalem?”  Athens and Jerusalem were synechdoches for Hellenistic and Hebraic culture, or more specifically, human reason and divine revelation.  Tertullian implied that there was no intersection between the two, an assertion that was true in one sense and profoundly false in another.  It is true that God’s revealed truth is a challenge to fallen human wisdom, not a supplement to it.  But the answers it gives are answers to the same questions all human beings have to ask, answers whose full implications can only be discerned in the light of those questions and of the history of our failed attempts to figure them out on our own, with our rebellious assumptions and premises.  The failure to understand the proper relationship between reason and revelation that Tertullian represents has hindered revelation from shedding the light it was meant to shed: that Light that, coming into the world, needs to enlighten every man.

 

THE HELLENE AND THE HEBREW

Commentary, Rom. 12:1 (KJV)

 

So where does Athens meet Jerusalem?

Tertullian couldn’t find a single place

And thus condemned the blind and groping race

To groping blindness.  Greeks?  Well, as for them,

They asked the Questions brilliantly, but slim

Or none the odds that they would ever trace

The Answers, which the Jew in every case

Possessed; the Questions never occurred to him.

 

Separate, they both remain opaque,

A price we pay for our ancestral treason.

The unexamined life will never find

A Cross between the two is what can make

The sacrifice of self an act of Reason:

To love the Lord your God with all your mind.

Modern Jerusalem from Mount Scopus

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

 

CLXXII

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

“What is a soul?” someone once asked C. S. Lewis. “I am,” he replied.  That is, a soul is something that can say, “I.”  This is a deceptively simple and ultimately profound answer, the implications of which deserve contemplation.  Whence comes it that we can say such a thing?  And what does it mean?

Dr. Williams contemplating his soul
Dr. Williams contemplating his soul

The Soul

A simple center of focus, a fury of order

Which takes from available matter what it needs

To body forth itself; a heart that bleeds

Discursive Reason; more, a rapt recorder

Of all that passes, and a subtle sorter

Of all that it collects; a fount of deeds;

A seedling sown, itself a sower of seeds;

Establisher of I/Thou/It, the border.

 

Thus God created it; corrupt, it stays

The same, though in corruption: chaos creeps

In everywhere; the order all decays.

The matter mutinies; the memory sleeps;

The fountain flows polluted; in a daze,

The Reason wanders–and the Reaper reaps.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

CLXVII

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

The theological phrase “the noetic effects of sin” refers to the impact sin has had upon the mind.

The Essence of Sin
The Essence of Sin

THE NOETIC EFFECTS OF SIN

It was too much of reason to expect

The world’s foundations to be excavated

By efforts of unaided intellect.

Finite mentalities could not reflect

Ideas so infinite and elevated;

It was too much of reason to expect.

Still less would so far fallen minds elect

The Truth; it never could be venerated

By efforts of unaided intellect.

Still, their attempts could by no means be checked;

But though they strove and studied and debated,

It was too much of reason to expect.

Each time they thought they knew, their thoughts were wrecked;

Once more the subtle Quarry had evaded

The efforts of unaided intellect.

So why then would so few of them inspect

What in the Bible God himself had stated?

It was too much of reason to expect

From efforts of unaided intellect.

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

Appearance or Rationality?

Yesterday I posted the following comment as my status on Facebook:

“After several years of getting drawn in to various debates on Facebook, I have come to a conclusion. About 95% of the people commenting care nothing whatsoever about evidence or chains of reasoning or the search for truth. They are concerned only with what statements will make them appear cool, intelligent, or with it to whatever group they are trying to impress.”

Not a person I was describing.
Not a person I was describing.

The response–an unusually high number of “likes” and not a few comments–suggested I had hit a nerve.  All of those commenting basically agreed with me.  Either I was in the group they were trying to impress, or I had just attracted all the rational exceptions to the rule.  (Either generalization would probably be dangerous!)

The bottom line is that, while there are many exceptions, the level of rational discourse of which our contemporaries seem capable is distressingly low.  Many apparently think that assertion is evidence, insult is rebuttal, shouting is argument, and repetition is exposition.  It’s not just that they try to get away with these substitutions; they apparently really cannot tell the difference.  They respond to the caricature that is already in their head of the position they are arguing against, ignoring the actual argument that has just been placed before them.

Shakespeare's Grammar School.  He learned to read Latin there.
Shakespeare’s Grammar School. He learned to read Latin there.

How is it that more people are consuming more higher education than ever before while getting so little benefit from it?  There are many reasons.  The expansion of educational opportunity in itself brings a lowering of standards.  Addiction to electronic media has decimated attention spans.  Public figures set terrible examples.  (The entire senate race my state is currently living through consists of one candidate implying that the other is a closet communist and his opponent characterizing him as a Robber Baron; each has called the other a liar, though not in so many words.  Discussion of any actual issues or political principles has been notably absent.)  The media reinforces a focus on soundbytes over reasoned civic discourse. Too many parents no longer teach their kids to practice self-discipline or to take responsibility for their time and be accountable for their actions.  So what’s even a good teacher to do when they get to school?  A climate of Post-Modern relativism cultivates cynicism about truth with a corresponding reluctance to engage in the rigorous disciplines required seriously to pursue it.  All these things make it harder to overcome the basic intellectual laziness and dishonesty that is our legacy from the Fall of Man.

No comment necessary.
No comment necessary.

If you have not yet completely fallen prey to these enemies of the mind, push back against them when you have the opportunity and set a better example when you can.  You’d better.  Otherwise these logic-deficient, evidence-impervious, educated morons that annoy you on Facebook will be the people sitting on our juries and electing our next congress and president.  Oh, wait; it’s worse than that.  They already are.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.
A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

Donald T. Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College and President of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.  To order his books from Lantern Hollow Press, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/