Thursday, September 30, 2010

Francis Collins, C. S. Lewis, and the Resolution of Crisis

As I noted in my last post, C. S. Lewis's writings reflect his own crises. For that reason they have spoken to me. But since then, I've paused and wondered: Have CSL's insights helped others?

Here's one significant example I've found: Lewis’s writings resolved the spiritual and intellectual crisis for the famous geneticist and head of the NIH, Francis Collins, perhaps the most prominent scientist in the United States. Collins, in his important bestselling work, The Language of God, that seeks to reconcile Christian faith with contemporary evolutionary genetics, recounts his experience of reading Lewis as a seeker in medical school. Asked by a patient, whose faith supported her doing terrible heart pain, “What about you? What do you believe?” He could only mutter, “Well, I don’t think I believe in anything.” He realized that he had never looked at the evidence for or against God and found this a “thoroughly terrifying experience." Upon request, a Methodist pastor handed him a key apologetics text by Lewis.
The book was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. In the next few days, as I turned its pages, struggling to absorb the breadth and depth of the intellectual arguments laid down by this legendary Oxford scholar, I realized that all of my constructs against the plausibility of faith were those of a schoolboy. Clearly I would need to start with a clean slate to consider this most important of all human questions. Lewis seemed to know all of my objections, sometimes even before I had quite formulated them. He invariably addressed them within a page or two.
Collins represents exactly the kind of person Lewis so often becomes associated with—honestly looking for God in moments of deep intellectual and spiritual crisis. Lewis did speak, and continues to communicate powerfully, to these seekers. He can do the same today. 

At least, that's how I see it. Do you think that's true? Have Lewis's writings given you new insights right when you needed them, at points of personal crisis?


Steven said...

What I loved about this book was the fact that I could pick it up anytime, leaf through it, pick a page, any page...and find an insight that was fresh and new to me or sometimes familiar and comforting. And now I need to buy a new copy as I gave mine away. (I need to do that more often)

Anonymous said...

I must say that I enjoy The Language of God as I enjoy the writings of CS Lewis. These are two men who were blind but now can see. May God bless Dr. Collins and the soul of CS Lewis.

Charles E. Miller, Jr. BA, Old Dominion University; MA, Liberty University