Mere Humanity By Donald T. Williams

Last night, I finished a book I was reading and frankly, I wasn’t impressed. Aside from the quotes I got from some sources, I was thinking that I didn’t really learn anything new and I felt like I was reading something more of a fundamentalist persuasion than an intelligent critique of a view I disagree with.

What a refresher it was to start the next book on my list.

I saw this one at the apologetics conference. The subtitle is “G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien on the Human Condition.” Anyone heavily into apologetics must read the apologetics works of Chesterton and Lewis.

From the first page, I believe I was caught up in this book, which really disappoints me that I didn’t find the time to read today. Of course, I was having Christmas with some friends so I suppose that is justified on some level.

The thoughts I was reading last night were so intriguing and the more I came to know my nature as a human, the more I came to appreciate the glory of who God is. The title in no way is meant to idolize humanity, but one can’t help but think of Psalm 8 and say “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Indeed. What is man?

He starts off his journey with the question of “Is Man A Myth?” Narnia fans will hopefully recognize the title as it was on Tumnus’s shelf when Lucy came to visit him in “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Williams tells us that ironically, the question could be asked of our age also. 

What does it mean to be a human after all? Will reductionistic fallacies end up destroying us? Williams points out how we know more about the physical make-up of a baby in the womb than ever before, and yet, never have we been more uncertain about what all that information is supposed to inform us concerning.

The Chesterton chapter is particularly fascinating as he discusses how Chesterton in “The Everlasting Man” wanted to bring about the idea of man as an animal to its conclusion and see if the people of his day (And ours for that matter) could live with such a conclusion.

One line I found particularly interesting told of how Chesterton had a friend who had seen an airplane rising off and what a wonderful sight it was, but not nearly as wonderful as the sight of a man rising upon a horse. 

It was such a marvelous thought! Truly, there is something incredible about us learning the physical laws enough that we can use them to our advantage, but a horse is different! A horse is a free-will entity that we eventually figured out that we could domesticate. A horse doesn’t naturally have a way to be controlled by man, and yet, we have come up with one. However, most of us probably see men on horses and think nothing of it and see an airplane and consider that the real marvel. We should salute the Wright brothers for the good they brought the world, but I wish we knew that first guy who decided to ride a horse.

For Chesterton, there were two things that were unique as the book tells us. There is the creature called man and there is the man called Christ. In another saying prior to the Chesterton chapter we are asked, “Is man a myth?” We are told perhaps not, but there was a time when a myth became a man. 

As of now, I am on Lewis’s chapter on the Abolition of Man and I still believe this is going to be one of the best books I’ve read. Will a full review of it come up on my blog later on? Probably. For now, I can’t recommend enough that readers of my blog get your hands on this book.

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One Response to “Mere Humanity By Donald T. Williams”

  1. Leonhard Says:

    Did he have any answers for what man was? Or just questions?

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