Saturday, August 21, 2010

CS Lewis: Defender of the Faith, Deluded, Deceiver, or Douche?

CS Lewis was an author and Christian defender of the faith in the early 20th century. Famous for his Chronicles of Narnia, he was well educated and scholarly … and the classic Christian apologist.

I say classic because his arguments for a “Real Morality” (i.e. God given morality), and his famous “Trilemma“ (we know it as the “Jesus was either Liar, Lunatic or Lord” argument ) are so vapid, so fallacious, so easily refutable though research, reason and observation that only a Christian could perceive them as intellectual or worthy of repeating.

Although raised in a religious family Lewis claims he became atheist at the age of 15, only to find Christianity, again, in his later years. But here’s the thing: he claimed that as an atheist he was “very angry with God for not existing". Now think about that. Can you conceive of yourself, or any one who rejects the concept of a god as man made fallacy as being “angry with God for not existing”? It is oxymoronic at best, patently absurd at worst. Atheist at fifteen? Dubious.

Nevertheless, Christians love to quote Lewis, throw his name around, pull examples from his writings, implore us to read his works and use him as some kind of proof of religion’s veracity. After all an “atheist” becoming a Christian makes him the darling of the religiously enamored. It’s a validation of their belief. I would also venture that the insipid and hackneyed platitude “You’re just angry at God” that Christians love to throw at atheists is probably attributable to CS Lewis’ self described anger with god as an “atheist.” Now there’s a contribution to Christian apologetics.

As an example of a Lewis quote that makes any thinking person wince is this:

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

Two things are obvious to anyone with a modicum of intellectual awareness:
1) It is unsupportable opinion in an attempt to establish that strong belief in the afterlife has motivated the best contributions to this civilization.
2) The premise is not intended to be challenged, researched, and evaluated because the examples that disprove it / falsify it are vast.

But that doesn’t matter to believers. They take that kind of statement at face value…as a “Truth.” They don’t think for a moment “What degree of belief in the afterlife did Copernicus have? Did Dr. Christiaan Barnard have? Charles Darwin?” They were Christians all, but not one sliver of historical and corroborated evidence exists that establishes their belief, or degree of belief, in the afterlife. Indeed, there are many examples of hideous Christians’ words, acts, and legacies whose thoughts of the “next world” occupied their minds constantly. Martin Luther comes to mind, and his contribution to anti-Semitism is legend. Perhaps that’s the kind of contribution Lewis admired.

And what about reform Jews and non-believers who have contributed so much to this world that the list would fill volumes; they who never held belief in the afterlife? How does that reconcile with being “ineffective” in this world with no belief in the next? Is it only those Christians who have lesser or no belief in an afterlife that are ineffective in this world –all other believers and non-believers being unaffected by their rejection of the afterlife myth? Please.

Yet Christians elevate CS Lewis to cult figure status; an articulate icon of Christian “Truth;” the poster boy for defender of the faith; a man of letters who has tasted the bitterness of godlessness, rejected it, and come back into light of Jesus’ goodness. In reality, Lewis was a religious hack playing to an audience who are as willing to swallow his shallow apologetics whole as they are to accept without question virgin births or dead things coming to life.

Apparently it doesn’t take much to be a literary hero of Christians; just say you were an atheist once, then blow smoke up their collective asses.


NewEnglandBob said...

The reason that Christians elevate slime balls like CS Lewis to hero status is because they have so few really admirable people to look up to. For every Saint Thomas Aquinas (who was impressive in his time, debunked since) there are dozens of charlatans, liars, fabricators, and fantasy producers who represent Christianity.

When one has a house of cards built from fantasies, wishful thinking and lies, it becomes difficult to defend it. This is true of many religions and also many political movements.

Ahab said...

Christian apologists like C.S. Lewis were not targeting their books at non-Christians. I'm convinced that their books were intended for dyed-in-the-wool Christians who want their beliefs reinforced and their doubts soothed. How even the slowest Christian could find affirmation in the straw man arguments, ad hominems, and appeals to authority found in apologist books is beyond me.

Dromedary Hump said...

NEBob..agreed. There is a dearth of Xtians who meet the criteria as thinking people.
To Xtians, any believer who is published,famous, and sides with them is worthy of their accolades. nevermind that their apologetic skills are lacking, and arguments as empty as Lindsay Lohan's skull.

Ahab... yes, he wrote for Xtians. he reinforeces their delusion just as you said. But I wouldn't give as much credit to Xtians as you do. They have no interest, and even less ability, to expose the nonsense Lewis and other like him espouse. It is up to we the thinking to do it for them.

Anonymous said...

Of course I disagree with C.S. Lewis.

However, one could argue that the 911 hijackers were focused on the other world - 72 virgin rewards. One could also argue that from their perspective they were quite effective.

But they were not moral in any reasonable sense. And in fact, focusing on that future world kept them from appreciating the damage they were doing to innocent life.

longhorn believer said...

NEBob is right. If you're current examples are Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, and Tim Hagard, CS Lewis starts to look pretty good. Sadly, most Christians know far more about them than Copernicus!

Hump, thanks for provoking more thoughts!

Tracey said...

I find it quite annoying that xtians take works of fiction that put skydaddy, junior and/or the righteous spook as the protagonists of the story and call it truth. Take the "Left Behind" series for example. They're convinced that's how it's going to be when skydaddy takes his faithful in the rapture. Meanwhile,I'll be converting the church down the road into an animal shelter and using all of the land for farming. Pipe dream, being as there is no skydaddy and thus no rapture, but I can have my own fiction version of how life without fundies will be, can't I.

longhorn believer said...

This is off topic, but I wanted to throw it out for discussion. Quote from George Will today: "Religion is what it's practioners and followers say and do in any particular era". Thoughts?

Dromedary Hump said...

I don't find George Wills statement particularly thought provoking or insightful.

I imagine one could say that since religions slowly evolve (very slowly compared to secular reasoning), that religion is what a given era's practioners say it is. But so what?

They still believe in a death cult; afterlife, dead things coming to life, god given morality, etc, etc. ad nauseum. The fact that this era's religionists are less prone to stone people to death, due to secular law prohibition one imagines, doesn't mean that religion has dramatically evolved. Certainly not to the point where Mr. Wills "observation" is particularly meaningful.

In fact, I feel aa though I've spent more time typing my perspective on his statement, than his entire statement is worth. :)

Dromedary Hump said...

If only the time, effort, money and real estate held by, and contributed to, the church were put to real world use: food banks, jobs training, mental health programs, sex education and disease prevention, instead of toward mindless sky daddy worship, vestments, anti-human rights programs, building churches, and proselytizing.

There could be some serious improvements to the human condition world wide.That's MY vision of the end of religion.

Infidel753 said...

Defender of the Faith, Deluded, Deceiver, or Douche?

Can I choose more than one?

I remember reading that "lunatic, liar, or lord" argument and immediately thinking that it would apply with equal force to prove that Albus Dumbledore (of the Harry Potter books) was a real wizard. The reason it doesn't, of course, is that Dumbledore was a fictional character in a novel, not a real person. Which is why the argument doesn't work for Jesus either.

Dromedary Hump said...

Indeed, you can pick "all of the above" for Lewis, I do.

The thing about the "Liar Lunatic or Lord" alternatives is that he lacks the honesty (or knowledge) to include the additional possibilities of:
Imagined; Conglomeration of varous pagan man-gods; or revolutionnary raised to god status after his death. History provides multiple examples of these god-creation scenarios.

But, I guess that would require Xtians to have to think harder, and learn more history. Something that doesn't serve the faithful's cause.

Anonymous said...


You are quite correct. C.S. Lewis was being disingenuous with his choice set.

To keep in line with words starting with "L", here is the amended C.S. Lewis's canard I've seen put forth:

"Liar Lunatic,Lord or Legend "

- Fastthumbs

Enrico S said...

Infidel and Hump: Indeed!
I recently had someone telling me that I "needed" to read the Screwtape Letters. She was insinuating that my atheism was a result of a daemon fucking with my brain!

I often wonder if I should invest the time (and money, after all...time is money) to read this stuff simply so I can say that; I did read it and it was sophomoric and stupid but entertaining at best.

In the mean time I suppose I'll continue reading more enlightening books.

Dromedary Hump said...

Yep.. Legend covers it well, and stays with Lewis' "L" theme. Thanks

While we're at it we may as well add the follwing L possibilites: Licentious Loser, Loose Lipped Lint Licker, and Lame Latch-key kid.

I've rarely read a book recommended by a religionist that taught me anything meaningful that I didn't already know, made religion look any better or sensical, or brought me any closer to being less disgusted with their idiocy.

The exception was reading Bishop John Shelby Spong's "Why Christianity Must Change or Die." But given the choice again, I'd have boroowed it from the library and not shelled out cash for it.

Enrico S said...

Hump: I had read Spongs; "Liberating the Gospels" years ago and honestly admit that it was one of the catalysts that moved me from a lazy christian agnosticism to a realization that it's all just symbolism and myth. I have also read WCMCoD, as well as attend a lecture of his here in NJ. He's an odd duck for sure but it would be great if more christians would listen to Spong instead of the fundies.

I recently watched a clip of Spong on a Lee Strobel show. It was so obvious that they had edited the interview and cut Spong's comments short whilst allowing the apologist's comments to ramble on and on.

Dromedary Hump said...

Lee Strobel has a tv show??
Ok.. maybe the end times ARE near ;)