C.S. Lewis, the Replacement NFL Referees, and an Argument for the Existence of God

September 28, 2012 — 4 Comments

If you’re a Green Bay Packers’ fan, it was an interception

If you’re a Seattle Seahawks’ fan, it was the greatest reception of all time.

If you’re an NFL fan, it was the night the lights went out on the NFL Referee Lockout, the momentum of public opinion turned, and the immediate return of the real NFL referees was guaranteed.

If you’re me, it was an excellent argument of the existence of God.

Here’s the play:

Last Monday night, after an Elders’ meeting at my church, I sat down with my two Labrador Retrievers (Bell and Lucky) to watch the last quarter of the Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.

It was a good game, but there were some bad calls.  The real NFL referees and the NFL owners were having a disagreement, so the NFL has been using replacement referees in all of their games.  These replacement referees don’t have professional football experience, which led to many bad and missed calls in the first few weeks of the season, which led to a growing frustration on the part of NFL fans, which led to an enormous outcry at the call which gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory last Monday night, which led to the NFL owners and real NFL referees reaching an agreement on Wednesday, which led to the real NFL referees taking the field last night (to a standing ovation), which led to an uneventful game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns last night.

Everything is now as it should be, but as I reflect on the controversy generated from “the call” last Monday night I see an excellent argument for the existence of God.

According to NFL.com, last week–after their loss–Joe Flacco (QB of the Baltimore Ravens) said that the replacement referees were “affecting the integrity of the game.”

NFL fans were upset because the replacement officials were consistently making bad calls and it just wasn’t fair.

NFL fans want the games to have integrity, which means they want the law and/or rules of fair play to be followed and enforced.

The games are not fun without integrity, so NFL fans rose up en force this week and demanded that the integrity of the game be restored with the return of NFL officials who understood right and wrong.

My two Labs, Belle and Lucky, never make such demands.

They watched the last quarter of that game last Monday night with me and they didn’t rise up and start yelling at the TV.

They haven’t been bothered, one bit, by the loss of the integrity of NFL football through the inept officiating of referees who are now free to return to judging middle school girls’ lacrosse games.

Why are humans so worked up about right and wrong and the “integrity of the game” and my dogs are not?

My dogs have no sense of right and wrong.  Trust me, I’ve played many games with them and they have no respect for the integrity of any game we play because they have no integrity, nor do they have any appreciation for integrity.  Lucky is the alpha dog and she routinely steals things from Belle while we’re not looking.  We yell at her to give the bone back to Belle, but we’ve never brought her up on charges, called the police, or encouraged Belle to file a restraining order against her kleptomaniac sister because….they are animals and animals don’t understand integrity.

NFL fans do because we are not animals.

We–all NFL fans and humans (with the exception of Oakland Raider fans, who I’m not sure are human)–get upset when NFL replacement referees make bad calls because we understand right and wrong, because we understand integrity, because we are not animals, because we are made in the image of God.

Animals have no sense of right and wrong because God did not make them in his image.

We understand the difference between right and wrong because something or someone instilled in us a moral compass upon our creation and whoever or whatever that something or someone was had to be a sufficient cause for the effect we see around us.

The effect we see around us (a universal and intrinsic sense of right and wrong) must have a sufficient cause (it must be universal, moral, and have the ability to inject that sense of morality into every human being who ever existed.)

This is one of the most powerful proofs of the presence of God.  I see no evidence in the current theory of evolution for a sufficient cause for the universal and intrinsic moral compass in all human beings.  If we humans are evolved animals, why do humans have a sense of right and wrong and animals do not?  I propose that the current theory of evolution does not provide us with a sufficient cause for the universal sense of “oughtness” in the soul of human beings.

I think this universal sense of, what C.S. Lewis calls “oughtness” is logical proof for the presence of God.  Here’s a syllogism to that end:

1.) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2.) Objective moral values & duties do exist.

3.) Therefore, God exists.

C. S. Lewis (former atheist turned Christian) in his book Mere Christianity, begins with the observation that when people argue with one another, an angry person almost always appeals to some basic standard of behavior that the other person is assumed to recognize:

“They say things like this: ‘How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?’—”That’s my seat, I was there first’—’Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm’—’Why should you shove in first?’—’Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine’—’Come on, you promised.’ People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups.”1

They also say things like, “How could that NFL replacement official call that a reception?!?”

Lewis continues:

“The man who makes [these remarks] . . . is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies, ‘To hell with your standard.’ Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off from keeping his promise. It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some kind of Law or Rule of fair play or decent behavior or morality or whatever you like to call it, about which they really agreed. And they have. If they had not, they might, of course, fight like animals, but they could not quarrelin the human sense of the word. Quarreling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ are, just as there would be no sense in saying that a football player had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football.” 2

How cool that C.S. Lewis foresaw our current struggle with the NFL replacement refs and how their lack of “agreement about the rules of football” would negatively impact last Monday night’s football game and offer proof for the existence of God?

Ok, I know, he was not talking about American football, but his point is still relevant: We NFL fans have been so upset with the NFL replacement referees because we have, what C.S. Lewis calls an intrinsic and universal “Law or Rule of fair play.”

Lewis goes on to argue that this universal sense of “oughtness” is a moral argument for God.

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too — for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist — in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless — I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality — namely my idea of justice — was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

We NFL fans were so upset about the replacement referees because they were consistently getting it wrong–they were consistently calling “crooked lines,” “straight” and “straight lines,” “crooked”–which we could recognize because we NFL fans (except for Oakland Raider fans, of course) are humans–made in the image of God so we have an intrinsic moral sense of “oughtness” that alerts us when things are not as they should be.

My dogs have no sense of “oughtness” or “law or rule of fair play” because they are animals.

Animals have no care for integrity because they are not made in the image of God.

We humans were upset with the replacement NFL referees because we are not animals.

So, this Sunday, as you enjoy a great day of NFL football with your pet or pets, take a moment to thank God for giving us a sense of right and wrong because, if he hadn’t, you might be enduring another horribly officiated game.

As I close, let me highlight the important truths in this post:

God exists.

Belle and Lucky are animals.

We are not animals.

Oakland Raider fans are not human.

C.S. Lewis is The Man!

It’s a very good thing that the real NFL referees are back.

That WAS an interception.


1. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1958), 3-4.

2. Ibid, 3-4.

©2012 Arron Chambers


4 responses to C.S. Lewis, the Replacement NFL Referees, and an Argument for the Existence of God



    You have done and excellent job building a bridge between the Monday night football fiasco and the existense of God. What a creative mind you have. Love it! (Oh yes, you are right on about the Raiders, too).


    Excellent post. As a huge CS fan, I loved the way you brought “oughtness” into Monday night football “trauma.” Blessings~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s