24 October 2009

Is More Better?

{Size and value}

The whole argument from size rests on the assumption that differences of size ought to coincide with differences of value: for unless they do, there is, of course, no reason why the minute earth and the yet smaller human creatures upon it should not be the most important thing in a universe that contains the spiral nebulae. Now, is this assumption rational or emotional?

I feel, as well as anyone else, the absurdity of supposing that the galaxy could be of less moment in God's eyes than such an atom as a human being. But I notice I feel no similar absurdity in supposing that a man of five feet high may be more important than another man who is five feet three and a half - nor that a man my matter more than a tree, or a brain more than a leg. In other words, the feeling of absurdity arises only if the differences of size are very great. But where a relation is perceived by reason it holds good universally.

If size and value had any real connection, small differences in size would accompany small differences in value as surely as large differences in size accompany large differences in value. But no sane man could suppose that this is so. I don't think the taller man slightly more valuable than the shorter one. I don't allow a slight superiority to trees over men, and then neglect it because it is too small to bother about. I perceive, as long as I am dealing with the small differences of size, that they have no connection with value whatsoever. I therefore conclude that the importance attached to the great differences of size is an affair, not of reason but of emotion - of that peculiar emotion which superiorities in size produce only after a certain point of absolute size has been reached.

  • C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Ed. Walther Hooper) Originally published as Undeceptions: Essays on Theology and Ethics in the UK