- Religion and Philosophy
C.S. Lewis and Dogs
I Am A Dog, And So Are You.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, in his book 'Mere Christianity', that dogs understand quite a lot about people. They understand what we are doing when we are eating, sleeping, getting warm by the fire. A smart and well-socialized dog knows when someone is happy, sad or angry. They can even interpret the meanings of many words.
But what does the dog think we are doing when we sit motionless for an hour, holding a book and slowly turning the pages one by one? Can a dog even begin to understand the first part of our feelings and thoughts as we read? It seems unlikely. Dogs are limited in ways we are not.
Conversely, we don't understand much of the world as a dog does. The scents he smells out the car window mean little or nothing to us, but are just as real as the world we see, a rich tapestry of reality we know little of. I wish we could meet real aliens, or someday uplift our dogs to human-level intelligence. If we could avoid the urge to turn dogs into mock humans, they might have something to teach us.
Dogs understand our animal natures quite well; we share so many instincts, needs and wants. But what do dogs know of our higher nature? (Many people insist that dogs do have a higher nature; witness the many dogs which have given their lives rescuing people or other animals.)
Humans have an instinct to worship God. The believer in evolution (I am one, sort of) would say that this is the result of a natural process, perhaps an accident related to our queerly evolved brain structure, or perhaps to an evolutionarily beneficial instinct to follow human heroes, to submit to our leaders. It exists in all but a few humans.
I would say that the instinct to worship exists in all humans, but that those who claim not feel this instinct have mistakenly applied it to lower things. Marxists, for example, turned a social and economic theory into a sort of repulsive religion. They had no God but the little one they had made. Modern atheists often seem to have some obsessive fixation or other, many granting God-like powers to natural processes like evolution, or to political leaders.
The power of science to explain the world is limited by our own brain power. We can understand nothing through science greater than our own brains can conceive. If there is an ultimate out there, we will never know it through science. We are too limited, even our greatest geniuses.
So, I am a dog. I know some things, but not all. I know that I never will know all, even when I am brought by God to a higher world. I will still be limited in comparison to God, who is all.
I know little enough of this world, and next to nothing of Heaven. I view Heaven as a dog sees a great tragic play. The dog may see the characters eating a meal. He understands the food, little more. He may catch that the actors are showing fear, anger or happiness. The dog will never know why. He may worry about why he sees anger, or desire the food, but he will never understand the play.
There are many questions in Christianity that I have studied for years. I am a pretty smart guy, but no genius. I can read what much greater thinkers have written and can usually follow their logic. I know that the greatest figures of Christian theology believe in the Trinity. So do I. God is one, but three. God is one. I believe God is one. But logic tells me He is also three.
It is too much for this dog. In ages past wars were fought over whether God is one or three. Our current struggle with Islam is a continuation of this ancient war. I am a dog. Perhaps I will understand better when I can stand, head hung in shame for my poorly-led life, before the Lord. Somehow I doubt that my greater understanding will really help me that much. I am but a part, while God is all. I will never really understand the nature of God.
Past religious thinkers have argued over the nature of the Christ. Is Jesus man, or God? Part man, and part God? All God projecting a human glamoure? IT DOESN'T MATTER! Jesus is, was, and evermore shall be. I believe the argument set forth by our greatest theologians, that Jesus is all man and at the same time, all God.
But, does God Himself care if we small humans don't perfectly understand His nature? How can He care, when He is all and we are parts? He knows we don't understand. It is perfectly impossible for us parts, us dogs, to deeply and truly and fully understand God's nature. For us to fight over these things is simply to fail. Dogs fighting over a dry bone.
The Roman Catholics teach us that in the Eucharist, the actual blood and body of Christ are present. Most Protestants believe the communion is symbolic, and that the elements do not physically become the true flesh and blood of the Christ. GOD IS ALL. He is perfectly powerful to make the Eucharist blood and body for Catholics, and symbolic for Protestants, if He so chooses!
Both may be true. Or neither. I wouldn't like to be the one making claims on God's actual body and blood! The reality of the Eucharist is so far beyond human comprehension that our best minds can only see the shadow of the truth. I believe in the power of the Eucharist. But I don't know what I believe in. My ignorance is nearly total.
Evolution. I can see the power of evolution, raising unthinking slime to human life. But God made the world and God made people. Both can be perfectly true. Time for God is not time for man. The Bible tells us this clearly. When God says he worked for six days and rested the seventh, we don't know what he meant.
We measure time by the sun and moon and stars, God's creations. Genesis tells us God made the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day. What is a measure of an hour, a day, when there is no sun, no clock? God's day is not man's day, and for the first four days, there was no measurable time as we understand it. There is no logical flaw in believing both that God made man, and that he took four billion years doing it.
The Bible says nothing about how God made man. Did he mix us up in a big vat and roast us in an oven? I doubt it, but God is all-powerful. He makes us any way he chooses. The world certainly LOOKS like he used evolution! But again, I have no quarrel with those who choose not to believe as I do. Perhaps this is something we actually will find out about, on that first day in Heaven.
I have but few answers. I am a dog.