Most people nowadays say that we are living in the most peaceful era

in history. They say this because there has been a decline in the number of
deaths that resulted from violence. The more violent times here pertain to
the era of tribal warfare. Even if this may be true, the world today still faces
a lot of problems. Today, we are faced with the problems of poverty and
hunger, of armed conflict and proliferation of nuclear weapons, of issues of
climate change and the preservation of nature, and of graft and corruption.
And the question that we have now is still the same question that C.S. Lewis
answered in his book and radio talks almost seventy years ago.
If there really was a God that is good, why would he allow such evil and
injustice to happen to people? How can an entity with absolute power let
something such as evil occur against his will? C.S. Lewis answers this by
saying that it is because God gave us free will. He says that free will leads to
the possibility of wrong and right. He argues that while other people claim to
imagine a creature with free will but will not do wrong, he thinks that it is
impossible for such a creature to exist. This is because if a creature is free to
be good and bad, then there really is a possibility for it to be bad. God gave
us free will because even though it makes evil possible, it is also the very
thing that makes love, joy and anything worth having possible. And to add to
the arguments before, why couldn’t God just create human beings who were
like him, who always chose to do what was right? C.S. Lewis says that
creatures who act like machines would not be worth creating at all. God
made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car that was designed
to run on gasoline would not run properly if something else was given to it. It
is the same with man. God designed man to run on himself. The type of
happiness that God has designed to give his higher creatures is the
happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to him and each other in a state
of love and delight. And in order for these higher creatures to have that, they
must be free. C.S. Lewis says that God knew what consequences remain if
the freedom given was used the wrong way. But apparently, God thinks that

it is worth the risk. And maybe a lot of people would want to disagree with
this. But there is difficulty that comes with this disagreement because he is
the source from which all our reasoning power comes: we could not be right
and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source.
When we disagree with God, it is like we are arguing against the very power
that allows us to argue. If it is this God who gave us all of this and thinks that
it is worth it, then it must really be worth it all.
There are a couple of insights that I really like from the section, “The
Shocking Alternative.” First, I agree with C.S. Lewis that free will really makes
me realize things that are worth having in life. This might be a rather
arrogant and controversial statement because we were all created with free
will. You might ask me how I can say this if I have no experience of not
having free will at all. How can I even talk of knowing that it’s pointless to
live a life that did not involve free will if I actually had free will my whole life?
But I think there is something in our human experience that is quite similar
to it. When I think of a life where man is not free to will what it is he chooses,
I think of the routine setting. I think of workers in the assembly line. Let us
take for example the assembly line in McDonald’s. The team I am part of is in
charge making hamburgers. The task that has been given to me is to simply
put the pickles on the patty. I cannot choose to do anything else in this
assembly line. And so, I go on with the rest of my day just putting pickles on
patties. This goes on the next day, and the day after that, and the week
after, the month after and the year after. There would be no meaning if my
whole life were to be like this. Like C.S. Lewis’ argument, acting like a
machine or a robot isn’t going to do anyone any good. And if you were to ask
me why it is that I feel that such life would not be any good, my answer is
that such life would not do anyone good because every day would just be the
same. Even a few years would feel like an eternity. And a life with no free will
cannot really prove the existence of goodness. I say this because if we were
automated beings to do the good, we would be doing it not because we want

to, not because we believe in the good but because we have no choice but to
do so.
Second, I like the part where in he argues that we can only find our
happiness in God because this was the way we designed. God created us in a
way that our longing for happiness can only be found in him. Others might
ask as to how a God who is supposed to be good be so conceited such that
the creatures he created can only find happiness in him? How can a God so
selfish be good? At first, these questions seem to make sense. It seems to
create an image of a narcissistic God. Why couldn’t he let us find true
happiness in other things? Why does it have to be with him? I was also
startled when I first read this in my Theology class a year ago. But I have
come to understand that designing us to find happiness in him is not an act
that was born out of selfishness. In fact, it is an act that was born out of love
and generosity. We have a God so loving and so good that he wants to share
with us the type of happiness he has. He wants us to feel the very happiness
that he has found. He shares it with us because he loves us and not because
he wants to be the center of the universe. With this being said, I agree with
the statement that we can only find genuine happiness if we find God. This
statement brings me back to my moral philosophy class. Saint Augustine
said that we cannot come to love others properly if we cannot come to love
God first. He says that we cannot find true happiness by looking for it in
ourselves or other people alone. Because even if we do try to look for it
within ourselves or in other people or perhaps in other things, our thirst for
happiness still will not be quenched because we do not know how to love
them rightly and justly. We must come to love God first before we can truly
learn to love other beings the way they deserve to be loved. And I ask you,
how good is our God for he wants us to be able to love others the way that
they deserve to be loved? He wants each and every individual to share in the
happiness he has found. He feels that the happiness he has found is the best
he has encountered and so he wants to share it with us.

The third and last point I would like to highlight is that God thinks that
giving us free will is worth the risk. He would rather risk the possibility of evil
occurring than for us to be mere puppets. Others may find this offensive for
it would mean the possibility of harming other people’s welfare. However, I
believe that it is not the intention of God to do so. I think that the underlying
point that most of us miss is that God has so much faith in us that he does
this. He believes in our capabilities and our hearts so much that he is willing
to risk exactly so much. I think that this just goes to show that God has faith
that we will later choose what it is that is good for it is that which will makes
us happy and whole. I am really am glad that we were given free will. I am
very grateful to God for giving me free will. I know things might have been a
lot easier if free will were not in the picture, but I feel that it just shows how
much trust and faith he has in us. His faith in us is so deep that the
possibility of us going wrong does not faze him at all. The acceptance he
gives us is much more than we could ever deserve. God guides us to what is
good and just but does not force himself on us. Instead, he is patient with us,
showing us the way. He lets us decide things for ourselves- he lets us
experience the happiness that can be found when we are in search for
meaning and happiness in the world.
When I think about our world today, I always find myself going back to
this part of Mere Christianity. It is true that the issues of society today are
also a product of free will. We find ourselves surrounded with so much evil.
But at the same time, it is in cases where it seems all hope has been lost
that goodness is found.
Looking at what’s happened to the Philippines in the few years, I think
that one of the most notable issues we face today is that of graft and
corruption in relation to power. The pork barrel scam is one of the most
controversial topics in Philippine society today. This scam was first exposed
on July 12, 2013. More than a year has passed yet this still remains to be a
hot issue. And I suppose that traces of the bad are seen in this case. And

although I have not started paying taxes, I feel that what happened angers
me too. After all, the billions of pesos in this case could have saved so many
lives. Just thinking of all the medicines that could have been bought; the food
that the people could have been given evokes a fire in my heart. And true
enough, it is because I do not believe that it is right. At a time like this, it
might be understandable to start to loathe free will because it is what
enabled such a thing to happen. And at the same time, some might start
questioning God’s grace as mentioned before. And it is true that this really is
injustice and possibly, evil. And that they have been brought about by free
will. Lines along this would not have happened to innocent people if there
was no free will, or the people would not have been cheated if there was no
free will would come up in discussions. But I feel like the more important
point that we all seem to miss is that we have come to know of this injustice
because of free will. There was someone out there who wanted to use his
free will to do the good. He wanted to tell the people of this injustice so that
something could be done about it. He wanted to follow what goodness it is
that God wishes the world to have. Now, does that not make it worth it? To
find someone in a society and most specifically, in the system of deceit who
wants to do something to change it is truly commendable. And there is true
happiness to be found in that- true happiness not only in the sense that
someone has chosen to do good but also in the sense that there are other
people whose faith have been restored because of this. And I think that that
very act has made it all worth it for surely it will not be the last; it is the first
of many; it is the spark which has started it all. I think that we will one day
see great changes in our society because of this. I believe that the
gravitation towards the good will one day spread far more than we can
imagine.
I also feel quite sad who have chosen to do this. In the previous section
of Mere Christianity, there was a mention of how people do not do the bad
for the sake of doing it. They do it because they are either sadists or they

want to get some benefit from it. And in this case, I think it is the latter.
These people commit crimes of graft and corruption in pursuit of power,
influence, and money. It is sad to think that they have forgotten that what is
essential to happiness is God. Sure, these things may provide you with little
joys but the joys they give are fleeting. After all, God did not design us to run
on things like these but rather to run on himself. Going back to Saint
Augustine, he says that the reason why man is miserable is because he looks
for happiness in places where he will not find it. Human beings expect to be
happy by material things, pleasure, power, money and the company of other
people. And as I have said before, these will make you happy but this
happiness will not last. It is not because there is something wrong with the
things that we love but because we cannot look for the infinite in things that
are finite. The happiness that we are looking for is the infinite joy that comes
with loving God, and when we find this, we can truly love those that are
around us.
This section of Mere Christianity reminds me of Peter Parker. He said
that, “Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words:
"With great power comes great responsibility." This is my gift, my curse. Who
am I? I'm Spider-man.” Although we may not have supernatural powers,
there are a lot of things that come with free will. I think that free will in this
case is the great power he talks about. And true enough, it is both a gift and
a curse for it can enable both the good and the bad. And whatever we
choose to decide, we will have to bear their consequences. But I suppose the
greater picture here is that when we use our free will, it not only affects us
but also the people around us. I do acknowledge the fact that we as human
beings are limited creatures. There is no way that we will do the good at
every single point in our lives. However, that does not mean that we cannot
try. We must strive to use our free will to do what we know in our hearts is
good. And this might not always be easy. Just like what Peter Parker said,
there are a lot of things that life has in store for us that we completely have

no idea about. But it would always be good to remember the results of our
actions. I suppose when times get tough, it would always be best to consider
the love we have and actually act it out. And of course, let us never forget
that although we may make mistakes now, that we may have committed an
act that is bad, we can always do something about it. We can always strive
to do the good and change it.
References:
Augustine. “The Love of God,” (City of God). In Great Traditions in
Ethics, 84‐103.
Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: Macmillan, 1960.