Thursday, June 19, 2014

CS Lewis Passes on Pacifism (Pt. 3)

In this series, I'm critiquing C.S. Lewis' essay Why I am Not a Pacifist bit by bit. With this particular post, I'd like to respond to his statement that "On the test of fact... I find the Pacifist position weak."

You may be wondering what 'fact' (supposed by pacifists to be true) Lewis weighed and found wanting. The fact in question is whether or not "wars always do more harm than good." Apparently, this is "the main contention urged as fact by Pacifists." It is, of course, entirely possible that the pacifists Mr. Lewis encountered were exclusively of this contention, but if so that is an unfortunate reality because it prevents Lewis from responding to contemporary Evangelical pacifism.

In my observation, most contemporary Evangelical pacifists do not argue pragmatically. In other words, they do not hold to their pacifism because pacifism always yields the best results. Truth be told, some of them would probably agree that "wars always do more harm than good," but few of them, it seems to me, would fail to recognize that some wars created a better situation on earth than would have been produced by simply refusing to fight.

Lewis dismisses the supposed 'fact' that "wars always do more harm than good" on the grounds that this is merely speculative. I completely agree. I also agree with Lewis that "wars never do half of the good which the leaders... say they are going to do." What's more, I agree that "history is full of useful wars as well as useless wars." My issue is that my pacifism doesn't rest on the 'fact' disputed in this section to any degree. I think that it was better for the allies to stop Hitler than it would have been for them to sit idly by.

Lewis has made a good argument against those who are pacifist for pragmatic reasons, but will he have any good arguments against Christ-based pacifism?

No comments: