Quarrelling 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 & 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.
These then are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.Book 1 Chapter 1, The Law of Human Nature
The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into little devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.
In fact, of course, we all do believe that some moralities are better than others. We do believe that some of the people who tried to change the moral ideals of their own age were what we would call Reformers or pioneers–people who understood morality better than their neighbors did. Very well then. The moment you say that one set of moral ideals can be better than another, you are in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is completely different from either. You are in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to that real Right than others.Book 1 Chapter 2, Some Objections
The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not. In other words, when you are dealing with humans, something else comes in above and beyond the actual facts.
If we ask, ‘Why ought I be unselfish?’ and you reply, ‘Because it is good for society,’ we may then ask, ‘Why should I care what’s good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?’ and then you will have to say, ‘Because you ought to be unselfish’–which simply brings us back to where we started…Consequently, this Rule of Right and Wrong, or the Law of Human Nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow be a real thing–a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves.Book 1 Chapter 3, The Reality of the Law
But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes–something of a different kind–this is not a scientific question…Supposing science ever became complete so that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, ‘Why is there a universe?’ ‘Why does it go on as it does?’ ‘Has it any meaning?’ would just remain as they were?
We want to know whether the universe simply happens to be what it is for no reason or whether there is a power behind it that makes it what it is. Since that power, if it exists, would not be one of the observed facts but a reality which makes them, no mere observation of the facts can find it…The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that is just what we do find inside ourselves. Surely this ought to arouse our suspicions?
One reason that many people find Creative Evolution [a Life Force] so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences.When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand. you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?Book 1 Chapter 4, What lies behind the Law
For the trouble is that one part of you is on his side and really agrees with his disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation. You may want him to make an exception in your own case, to let you off this one time; but you know at bottom that unless the power behind the world really and unalterably detests that sort of behavior, then He cannot be good. On the other hand, we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do. This is the terrible fix we are in. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror; the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.
Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realized that there is a real moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power–it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk. When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor.
All I am doing is to ask people to face the facts–to understand the questions which Christianity claims to answer. And they are very terrifying facts. I wish it was possible to say something more agreeable. But I must say what I think is true. Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without going through that dismay.Book 1 Chapter 5, We Have Cause to Be Uneasy