by Mark McCartney
Or “Why We Should View the Christian Faith on a Broad Canvas”
Social media, with the easy opportunity of quick- fire twitter feeds and Facebook walls, can bring out the worst in people. I remember once seeing a Facebook post from an atheist which read simply ‘Poor old CS Lewis- not the sharpest tool in the box’. As something of a Lewisophile I managed to resist the strong temptation to reply, ‘Indeed – and which Oxford College is your triple-first from?’
Alas, one of New Atheism’s common lines is that, not to put too fine a point on the matter, people who believe in the existence of God aren’t all that bright. Combining poor manners with patent untruth is never a good combination, and to my mind does no favours to the case for atheism.
There is many a person of above average intelligence who is not persuaded that atheism is true, and CS Lewis was one of them. Whereas my Facebook atheist sneered that Lewis was ‘not the sharpest tool in the box’, by any measure you care to use he had a mind like a razor. He did indeed get a triple first class degree from Oxford, went on to be an Oxford don and a Cambridge professor, and was regarded as one of the leading English scholars of his generation.
Now, do not mishear me here. I am not saying that ‘CS Lewis was a very clever fellow, and he was a Christian, therefore Christianity is true’. What I am saying is, if the likes of Lewis were Christians then perhaps it is not only for the ‘not very bright’. Atheism and theism are both intellectually respectable positions and both sides of the debate have thoughtful people who are trying to make sense of the world via their respective worldviews. Throwing schoolyard level verbal abuse at each other doesn’t help anyone’s case. However, if I was inclined to throw things across the schoolyard to my atheist classmates, one of the things I would throw is books by Lewis.
Because they contain the irrefutable logical arguments which prove the existence of the Divinity? No- though books such as Miracles and Mere Christianity do give much food for thought. Because they reveal a flawless moral character who led a life worthy of a saint? No – for a reading of any biography of Lewis will reveal him to have been a character who had his fair share of ambiguities and faults.
Rather I would be hurling books by Lewis across the yard because I think his works give a vivid feel for the breadth of the Christian view of the world as seen through the prism of a hugely creative mind…
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