Puddleglums Answer » John C. Wright's Journal
which I found at Vox Day's blog Vox Popoli
Puddleglum is a character in CS Lewis's Narnia series.
I'll repeat JCW's arguments.
There are those who call Christian faith a fairy tale. I assume such scoffers are not old and wise enough to believe in fairies.
To them, I give the answer of that most excellent marshwiggle and insightful theologian, Puddleglum: Suppose my account is a fairy tale. Your account is not even that.
JCW then considers some possibilities.
Life is a bitch, and then you die, and in the end nobody lives happily ever after. Entropy triumphs over all, a nightfall of endless darkness and infinite cold.
JCW states that "if you actually believed your account, the wise thing to do is to swallow cold poison and jump into the sea."
We are all just naked apes or meat machines: our souls are made of atoms blown together by the twelve winds with no more purpose and meaning than the shape of the sand dune: we are helpless and without free will, victims of blind evolutionary forces and blind historical forces. Atop the Holy Mountain no gods dance, and no burning bushes speak. Death is dreamless sleep and soft oblivion. Therefore let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Entropy triumphs over all, a nightfall of endless darkness and infinite cold.
JCW: "This is a poor story: a tale of despair, a myth to justify hedonism."
Man is a rational animal, capable of moral reasoning, creativity, productiveness, love. Man is heroic. Therefore let us live rationally working with mind and heart and soul to produce such works of art and science as befits so dignified a creature: let each man to live for himself alone, a paragon of self-reliance each man in the solitary but invulnerable tower of his self-made soul, never demanding nor making any selfess sacrifice. Nor hopes nor fears of after-lives or nether-worlds need detain us: Therefore let us think, and work, and triumph, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Entropy triumphs over all, a nightfall of endless darkness and infinite cold.
JCW: "This is a poor story: vanity, vainglory, and blindness to the pain and misery of life."
All this has happened before, and all shall happen again. When the world dies in fire, it shall be reborn from ashes, and all the pain and toil and travail, all the blood shed and tears wept, will all be shed anew, accomplishing nothing. The universe is a wheel of pain, and even the gods are nailed to its spokes like Ixion. To be born is to die, to die is to be born. Fate is all.
JCW: "This is too a poor story: all I will say of this account, whether one calls it Greek Ecpyrosis or Hindu Kali Yuga, or Cyclical Universe Theory, is that it is different in name, not in substance, from the Tale of Despair given above."
All this has happened before, and all shall happen again. The universe is a wheel of pain. The pain is caused by attachment to desire, and desire is caused by thought, and thought is caused by self. By means of strict discipline and stern patience, patience longer than many lifetimes, I will learn to detach myself from all thought and therefore from all pain, and enter into a state of perfect nonthinking nonbeing, where I will neither sin nor suffer Karmic punishment for sin. By self-extinction I escape the wheel of pain.
JCW: "This is a poor story: I will say of this account that is has all the drawbacks of the despair of the belief in the Eternal Return given above, but it also has the vanity and vainglory of pretending men can improve themselves into perfection and prelapsarian sinlessness by discipline and meditation."
Then Puddleglum's answer:
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those thingstrees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And thats a funny thing, when you come to think of it. Were just babies making up a game, if youre right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. Thats why Im going to stand by the play-world. Im on Aslans side even if there isnt any Aslan to lead it. Im going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isnt any Narnia.
Commenter Leonard offers this version:
Man is a rational animal, capable of moral reasoning, creativity, productivity, love. Man is heroic. Therefore let us build a city on a hill; let us live rationally working with mind and heart and soul to produce such works of art and science as befits so dignified a creature: let each man to live for the good of all of humanity, a paragon of interdependence, each man a citizen of the world, ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ultimate value, humanity itself. Hopes nor fears of after-lives or nether-worlds need detain us: Therefore let us think, and work, and crush our ignorant enemies, and be merry, and build that city one brick at a time. Tomorrow we may die if humanity demands it, and we will certainly kill if humanity demands that. Enthalpy triumphs but only if we build that city, a dawn of eternal light and justice for all, and infinite love except for those who refuse to join us.