Archive for August 3, 2009
As I wrote yesterday, the Queen of Underland in Narnia’s The Silver Chair bears great similarities to the 18th-century philosopher David Hume. Both of them say that any belief in something divine, supernatural, or metaphysical is only a magnified projection of our human experience. Thus the existence of such things has been successfully “explained away.”
Now let us see how the delightfully Eeyore-ish character Puddleglum answers the Queen:
“All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.
“Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours IS the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia…”
Here’s the thing. If this “black pit” of our meaningless world is really all there is, then Reason, too, “is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming.” And in that case, we are asked at the same moment “to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based” (Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?”).
By the way, if you like Narnia, you might also enjoy my book The Crack Beneath the Worlds. One reviewer describes it as “unlike any other” she had ever read and “a magnificent tale full of fascinating surprises and mind-boggling puzzlements.”