Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The ever-quotable C.S. Lewis

Another oldie:

Although I have no statistics to back this claim, C.S. Lewis is probably the most quoted Christian apologist of the 20th century. He crops up in diverse discussions and many Christians have assimilated his arguments almost word for word into their apologetics repertoire. Dare I admit that I am not a fan?

In his favour I will say that he has a knack with words, perhaps one of the main reasons he is quoted. He also made, and continues to make, many Christians think about their faith seriously. I have even quoted him once or twice myself. His apologetics, however, are poor. Inevitably I disagree on some points with him, as this is to be expected, but his key arguments are poorly thought out yet widely known or used.

I first encountered Lewis' apologetics through Francis Collins' book "The Language of God". Collins returned repeatedly to Lewis' Moral Law argument, which is, in my humble opinion, a misuse of the arguments. This is yet another point used as 'proof' when it is really only useful, as many arguments are, of providing internal consistency within a world-view - in this case as another inevitable emergent property in line with God's plan. Sadly, though I recommend Collins' book to thoughtful Christians, he often conflates internal consistency with proof.

Since then I cam across Lewis' other arguments, including the easily refuted trilemma - the 'mad, bad or God' argument (did he want to give atheists an easy one?). And found his comments on Satan to be circular. I tried reading "Mere Christianity" and found it more of the same - eloquently phrased floccinaucinihilipilification (yes, I am unashamedly being pretentious). Perhaps I need to read Bishop Harries writings on Lewis, as I did enjoy an article by N.T. Wright on Lewis.

Ranting aside, I did find a quote where I thought old C.S. was spot on, perhaps more so than he realised as he was not a scientist:

Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. I still do not know where else I could have found one.

This could almost be a motto of theistic evolutionists, who, like myself, did not find God by admiring the complexities of creation. Instead, many of us understand the workings of the world and for me personally it is evolution which I am a student of. To find that God is behind all this, ordaining and working through natural laws, is glorious. Nature does not show us God unless we already accept Him, and this quote testifies to that.

I found the quote in the Green Bible, though with no mention of its origin.

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