Existence is a beautiful thing…knowing that we exist is terrible. We exist in two ways: “bundles of complexes” and “members of economic class”. The fact that we exist in these two ways begs a question, do our complexes or places in economic class taint all of our thoughts or just some? Lewis takes it one step further: “does the taint invalidate the tainted thought – in the sense of making it untrue – or not?”
Before I go into Lewis’s answer to this question, I will give my own. As a Calvinist, I believe in Total Depravity and thus believe that everything is tainted by sin. It is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that absolute truth can be revealed and thus any thought or act done with out the work of the Holy Spirit is tainted. Everything done without the Holy Spirit “misses the mark” of absolute truth and can therefore not be entirely trusted. (Granted, some acts and thoughts miss the mark more than others.)
Lewis goes on to prove that all thoughts cannot be tainted. For if all thoughts are tainted then the very thought that all thoughts are tainted is itself tainted. The argument disproves itself. Since all thoughts can not be tainted, the only other conclusion that can be drawn is that only some thoughts are tainted.
The assumption that many take of every thought being tainted leads into what C.S. Lewis calls Bulverism. If you assume that everything anyone says or does is wrong then you have no need to address any issue at all. This is especially evident in politics. Instead of disproving something that a republican or a democrat says by addressing the issue at hand, most candidates will just discredit their opponent by bashing their past or by simply stating that they are a republican or a democrat.
In the end, someone is right and the other is wrong. The only way to figure out which one is which is through reasoning. Reason, although a gift of God, can be easily misused if it is used to “Bulverize”. If reason is used to Bulverize then it is used to discredit itself. Reason can not be used to disprove reason; a proof cannot show that all proofs are wrong.
Lewis’s main point of this article is the correct use of reason. Anything and everything can be misused, including reason. When issues are attacked directly without using round about methods of proving or disproving something, that is a correct way to use reason. When reason is used this way, it can be used to find absolute truth and in turn bring glory to God.