Friday, May 30, 2008

Try This One on for Size

Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that the atoms inside my skull happen for physical and chemical reasons to arrange themselves in a certain way; this gives me a bye-product, the sensation that I call thought. But if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk-jug and hoping the way the splash arranges itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to atheism, and therefore I have no reason to be an atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I can’t believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.
- C. S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity

Well, so what do you think? (Or do you? Or can you?)

For myself, I had to chuckle. This attempt is quite ingenious. Yet somehow it lacks cogency. I suggest this is because it's so very Western!

Yes, Western. It’s an abstract argument. It assumes that religion is a matter of thought, of manipulating concepts.

For Orthodox Christians, “the case for Christianity” begins, ends, and is our encountering Christ, the Crucified, as the Living One. Period. Nothing short of that seems very convincing.



Chris Jones said...

To be fair, what Lewis (or, as I think of him, St Clive of the Kilns) is doing in this particular paragraph is not arguing for Christianity in particular, but answering a particular argument against theism in general. You are quite right that rhetoric and argument cannot make a Christian; only the encounter with Christ crucified and risen can do that. But specious arguments against theism like the one Lewis demolishes in this paragraph can block a person from being able to have that saving encounter with Jesus Christ.

It has been years (decades, actually) since I last read The Case For Christianity, but I think that the whole volume is like that: it does no more (and doesn't claim to do more) than to remove intellectual barriers to Christian belief. And I think that is true of any work of apologetics.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Yes, good point, and I'll grant you, there's much to be said for demolishing specious arguments!

Encountering Christ, as Saul of Tarsus did, demolishes them all instantly.

But then, we aren't all granted that sort of encounter!

Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
Such a weak argument Lewis makes- are minds were molded by evolution, not chance. Those whose minds failed to work properly died.