Friday, September 19, 2014

A Brief, Fragmentary Post (Or Maybe Riposte) From and On C. S. Lewis

Continuing in my series of blogs with excerpts from my new book on C. S. Lewis. This one is a bit of a fragment...

C. S. Lewis once remarked that the contemporary atheists of his day made him embarrassed for atheism, especially as he remembered his beloved tutor, William “Kirk” Kirkpatrick. “The anonymous donor who now sends me anti-God magazines hopes, no
WWCS? What Would Clive Say?
doubt, to hurt the Christian in me; he really hurts the ex-Atheist. I am ashamed that my old mates (which matters much more) Kirk’s old mates should have sunk to what they are now.” (Surprised by Joy, 139). 

Would this atheist turned apologist have some rejoinders for the atheism we find today? I think I know where he’d begin. 

In Lewis’s primary works (particularly from the ‘40s), I have discerned a four-part apologetic structure. First of all, in order to even begin steps toward belief, we have to see that there is more to the world than just material stuff. Lewis argues that naturalism or materialism, which is the idea that there is just brute matter, is self-defeating because rational thinking is impossible if we are pure materialists. Secondly, having established that there is more than nature, Lewis proceeded to something more personal or existential—by which I mean ideas that relate to our existence. Human beings seek something that this world cannot satisfy, which points to a God beyond this world. (Lewis established what he called the numinous and later identified with his own quest for joy.) Next, if there is something more than this world has to offer, Lewis moved toward the argument that, like the laws of nature, there exists a law or rule about right and wrong (or the law of nature). It is perceived in the conscience of all human beings and points to the God who created that law within us. Put another way, joy and beauty are tied to morality. Finally, his argument becomes specifically Christian: Jesus Christ is, not only the fulfillment of human myths, but also of our human quest for joy and moral truth. Lewis argues that Jesus must be one of three options: liar, Lord, or lunatic. Lewis concludes that the only reasonable answer is that he is Lord.

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