CS Lewis’ thought process seems impenetrable. Never will he start on some shaky, unsupported premise and build precariously from there; he lays down the foundation of his argument carefully and elaborately before coming to his bottom line. This intensely systematic methodology is most evident (and, indeed, appreciated) in Lewis’ Mere Christianity, in which he masterfully puts together the case for a “Moral Law” and its intricacies that reigns over all of humanity, but that is often contested. He then goes even further, explaining that for such a thing to exist, there would need to be Something behind it, creating it and planting it in us.
As Lewis points out, an interesting byproduct of this overarching Law is “quarreling”:
Quarreling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.
This seems to often be neglected in argument and debate, especially as it pertains to religion. I certainly am guilty of doing so. I remember getting into the middle of an argument between a Jewish friend and a Muslim friend of mine as they fought over the rights women should have in society; my Muslim friend, for example, thought it natural to prohibit women from revealing more than just their faces in public. As the quarreling raged on, I finally attempted to stop the ruckus by throwing in that “It all depends on your culture, anyways.”
What a useless thing to say.
What I had just done was contradicted the whole concept of a universal Right and Wrong. In a way, I had “Bulverized” on behalf of both sides: “You’re right because you adhere to the standards of Judaism, and you’re also right because you adhere to Islam.” Where did that get us? Nowhere. The fact that the two were quarreling in the first place was because they wanted to call on “some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behaviour or morality,” as Lewis puts it, and awaken the other to the fact that they were breaching the boundaries of said Law in this or that way. But simply stating that they were both right by virtue of being from different backgrounds just sent the argument into a circle: “I’m right because I’m right.” They never got closer to the truth of the situation because both had decided that they needed not listen to the other any further. This is the danger of not recognizing that we all quarrel under the same umbrella; we turn off our sensitivity to the other and dismiss their claims as being foreign and completely detached from our own claims. We are basically claiming that the other is a different kind of human being altogether, which certainly does not help to hinder the spread of “racism.”
Quarreling is surely a good thing, a necessary thing, as it allows us to test our views and values against each other and against the Law; such misguided quarreling, however, leads to dissention and “Bulverism,” and must be called to our attention if we ever wish to work together on finding out more about the One behind the Law.