From The Perspective Of C. S. Lewis And Reinhold Niebuhr

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Jessica Brazeau
Professor. Kraynak
Reason Faith & Politics

The Issue of Good and Evil from the Perspective of C.S. Lewis and Reinhold Niebuhr

The issue of good and evil has long been a topic of debate amongst the great thinkers of the world. Thinkers like C.S Lewis and Reinhold Niebuhr seem to represent two ends on the spectrum of opinions on good and evil. Lewis is considered a Christian Idealist because he believes we, as humans, are naturally endowed with goodness. Lewis places an emphasis on the intention behind actions and believes that even the most evil actions are done with a misguided intention of doing good. To support this argument, he points to human rationalization and the need to explain evil actions as a sign of good …show more content…

S. Lewis believes humans are inherently good and points to our natural sense of right and wrong and good intentions as a sign of this goodness. According to C. S. Lewis, humans have a natural moral law that helps us differentiate between what is right and wrong. For example, if you saw a man drowning, would you help him? C.S Lewis says that “You probably want to be safe much more than you want to help the man who is drowning: but the Moral Law tells you to help him all the same” (Lewis 10). The moral law is different from our natural instincts of self-preservation. It encourages us to make good and altruistic decisions for the betterment of those around us. When we consider whether something is right or wrong, we are comparing it to a standard of morality that is innate in us. Debating whether to save the man in the example of our natural morality tells us that the right thing to do is to jump in and save him. However, our sense of morality and goodness can also be misguided at times. Throughout history, various conflicts have occurred in the name of some righteous good. Lewis asserts that “We have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad” (Lewis 43). No human enacts injustice with the sole aim of causing harm or offense to another. The evil inflicted by humanity is done with good intentions, albeit misguided at times. Evil actions often are rationalized by the perpetrator to show that they had good intentions. To Lewis, the good intentions of individuals are a sign of our innate

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