To All Philologists’ Attention— We Are All Philologist in Some Way

C. S. Lewis, in his imaginative, dreamy and insightful day, said that he observed an encounter in space between a Ghost and a Spirit that used to mutually share opinions while on earth. The spirit expresses the hope that the ghost has now realized that he was incorrect and so changed his views. The main question they explore and the one I want to linger on is whether people should be penalized for their honest opinions. When, for instance, scientists or philosophers observe nature and draw conclusions that end up opposing the truth, should they get punished on the judgment day for that? In other words, is there sin of the intellect?

The ghost maintains that his opinions were not simply honest; they were heroic as well for he asserted them fearlessly (as if asserting them fearlessly makes them honest). When the doctrine of the Resurrection ceased to commend itself to the faculties which God had given him or it (the ghost), he openly rejected it. To this, the spirit replies that their opinions were not honestly come by to them (while on earth). They simply were exposed to a certain ideas that were modern and popular. That catalyzed them to express those opinions. In college, they wrote many famous essays that won them great reputation, but when faced with the question whether there is in fact an abiding principle guiding all natural events, they did not even consider its possibility, and so they give up their faith without any resistance.

The spirit reminisced that they allowed themselves to drift, accepting every half-conscious solicitation from their desires, so they reach a point where they could no longer believed the Faith.

The spirit then offers him to repent and believe. He invites it to the land of answers where it shall see the face of God, and where its thirst will be quenched. The ghost retorts that there is no final answer. “The free wind of inquiry must always continue to blow through the mind”, he says.  The ghost is not even aware of a drink capable of satiating the intellect’s inquiry. Finally, the spirit asks him if he still desires happiness. It replies that happiness lies in the path of duty. So it cannot go with him for there is a new theological society that he can be of some use to.

My honest opinion about this question is: if one does not know the truth and so he/she expresses his/her opinion on an issue where he/she ends up being wrong, of course he should not(will not) be punished accordingly. In this case, it would not be a sin, but an error for according to St Augustine, though every error is in itself an evil, not every error is a sin. Error produces unconsciously is not a sin; if it is a sin, it is not punishable. However, I believe if one consciously ignores the truth for his intellectual insight so as to land to prestigious jobs, or for the sake of popularity, by all means he will have to respond for the debacle he has caused. It seems to me that while both the Ghost and the Spirit had traveled the same road, the Spirit followed genuinely, not knowing that the truth. The Ghost, on the other hand, refuses to admit that he is wrong and does not want to be exposed to the truth. No wonder he is a ghost not a saint.

Would you like to share your opinion about this topic? Please hit comment. Thank you.

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4 Comments

  1. What about someone who has been informed of “the truth” or or understands the position supported by the church and cannot go against their own conscious or intellectual reason which has led them to support an opposing position?

  2. thats the kind of person that merits to be punished for he knowingly denies the truth. by the way, i am using the word “punishment” because Lewis used it. i am not sure that person should be punished; maybe he should just be reprimanded for relying too much on his ability to find the truth alone.

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