When C. S. Lewis’ Rage Against God Hit a Dead End

“If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling ‘whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn’t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?’ But then that threw me back into another difficulty. My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?

A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too— for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies.

Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist— in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless— I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality— namely my idea of justice— was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”

 


 

Lewis, C. S. (2009-05-28). Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (pp. 38-39). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

 

Living Backwards

Its a simple fact really. A stunning fact. A fact that should shake us to the bones: We will all die someday. And yet we live most of our lives furiously pushing forward as if tomorrow has no right not to come. This week some of us were shaken out of the stupor. Something may have happened to wake you up, to make you stop, to let the cold reality sink in. Death is inevitable. This happened to me and some of my friends by the death of a young man. I personally never met him but the pain of a young and untimely death spreads like a cold fog through the hearts of friends and loved ones to all around. It weighs down on us. It says to us in an arresting voice, “Pull over. Stop and think.”

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The Real Conversion of Rosaria Butterfield

This week I have met in my reading an individual who has been challenging me in new and unique ways. Rosaria Butterfield was an English professor at Syracuse University. She was a stalwart feminist and defender of gay and lesbian rights. Rosaria met Jesus in the life and witness of a pastor who was willing to sit and discuss her worldview with her. The book is a fascinating read and very well written. There is so much in it that is challenging me, and so much that could be discussed. But perhaps the biggest thing that stands out to me as I work my way through the first half of the book is her discussion of her entrance into the christian world, and the complexities that this process caused.

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Who Killed Victor Frankenstein?

We’ve all perhaps heard of Mary Shelley’s dark tale of the genius scientist Victor Frankenstein, who’s curiosity and intellect drive him to create a living monster (yes, yes Frankenstein is the name of the scientist, not the monster). Anyways, as the story goes, the beast haunts Victor everywhere he goes, wreaking havoc on his entire life and eventually leading to his very sad death. Frankenstein has now been told and retold for nearly 200 years, and for good reason. It is a magnificent and horrifying exploration of human nature, the limits of science and our relationship to nature. No matter how you slice it, it is rich with meaning and significance. And yet as I read it last year there was one thread in particular that jumped out at me.

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Invasive Faith

Its interesting how the consistent perception within the world around us is that the christian faith (and all religion for that matter) are an escape from reality. We always get this sense that people of faith are coming into their religious experiences as a way of getting away from the challenges and pressures of life in the real world. I can’t speak definitively on other religions, but this is profoundly untrue about the actual christian message.  One of it’s central tenets is that God is invading reality. It is a message of the fact that one of our greatest needs is not escape from but reconciliation to the actual world.

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A Different Kind of Motivation

There comes a point during any good tough hike when the rigor and the pain flip you into a different mental mode. The aching muscles and dwindling mental energy narrows your focus: keep moving. One foot in front of the other. Get to the end. This is actually a good picture of how we often tend to function in our daily lives. We are working for something. Some ultimate end. Some point of satisfaction. Something that will make it all worth the struggle. Underneath the repetitious wheel of daily life we have a bedrock purpose that keeps things turning. Sometimes we may even forget about its existence. But that doesn’t diminish its ever present influence throughout our days and minutes and weeks and months. On this point both Nietzsche and Darwin were right – life is a continual struggle. We are always reaching forward.

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Believing Whatever We Want

There is perhaps no greater value in our society today than the idea of complete personal freedom. We are a generation that looks at the past centuries of cultures and societies and we are pained at the injustice and oppression that seems to fill every chapter of history. It seems that no matter how much the people of the past have sought to come up with comprehensive explanations on how society should see life, they have inevitably led to the ill-treatment and abuse of someone else in the world.

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We Are Fragile

I’m not sure exactly when it happened. But somewhere in these last few years, there grew within me this unshakable awareness that life is very fragile. This awareness came quite unexpectedly. Almost like someone pulled back the curtain in the middle of act three, throwing off both the audience and the actors on stage. It shook up my young and untested sense of the world. It melted that notion that life will always continue to flow as it always had.

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The God Who Bleeds

The question of pain and suffering has been on my mind lately. It is a hard question. One that seems to push any worldview and philosophy beyond its boundaries. Anywhere we look to find a satisfactory answer, we find that the issue in question looms larger than our own powers of comprehension. Sure, some may have purely intellectual ways of answering the question, but they aren’t answers that satisfy the longing of the soul. They are answers “from the view of the balcony” and are not likely to satisfy the questions of the weary travelers on the road.

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That Bloody Jesus Story

In the past week, Michael Gungor has come out criticizing the idea that Jesus’ death was a substitutionary death (a death in our place). The argument he makes is an argument that echoes the concerns of the modern heart, a concern for the violence of ancient religion and their entire notion of a blood sacrifice that had to be made to appease the gods. Bloodshed is a problem often associated with religions throughout all history. Bloodshed is an an utter and tragic horror. It is in many ways the epitome of all that ugliness that fills our world. Gungor therefore argues – what kind of God would require bloodshed to bring about healing and redemption?

Today we live in an aching and divided world. We are longing for real healing, real answers. Contrary to the predictions of the past less and less people seem to embrace the position that states there is no God at all. The vast majority of us believe in a “higher power”, a “force”, a “presences” – a version of God through which we long to come to view of reality that will help us find the path to real healing to all that is fallen and aching in this world. In view of this we understandably recoil as we consider the bloody religions of the past and present. We don’t want violence. We want peace. We want love. We want reconciliation.

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