Wednesday, October 16, 2013

C.S. Lewis on Faith and Reason

C.S. Lewis said: “I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of evidence is against it.” 

He tells his case particularly in such books as Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain. Lewis decidedly gave place to rationality. However, while upholding a place for rationality, he was opposed to the rationalism of the Enlightenment, which gave almost no place to the human imagination or to the idea of belief in a personal God. In other words, he opposed what in our day is called Modernism.

Lewis develops his case for Christ in many places, and parts of that case will be developed in future articles.
If Christianity cannot face the toughest questions of our age, it will be the first time in two thousand years.
Many believers today are not aware that the most brilliant minds of all history have been believers. Thinkers such as Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Edwards, and Lewis have given answers to the classic objections.
However, even after one establishes a strong intellectual framework, this will not necessarily assure the absence of doubt. In fact, most of the doubts we encounter are emotional or spiritual in origin rather
than intellectual.

C.S. Lewis maintains: …supposing a man’s reason once decides that the weight of evidence is for it. I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. …there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair; some moment at which it would be convenient if Christianity were not true. And his emotions will carry out a blitz. I am not talking of any moments at which any real reasons against Christianity turn up. Those have to be faced, and that is a different matter. I am talking about moments where a mere mood rises up against it.... Now faith in the sense in which I am here using the word is the art of holding onto the things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods change whatever view your reason takes.

 We can know why we trust in the God who knows why. In other words, there are times in which it may
be wise to trust God even though it may seem to us unreasonable.

C.S. Lewis argues: In getting a dog out of a trap, in extracting a thorn from a child’s finger, in teaching a boy to swim or rescuing one who can’t, in getting a frightened beginner over a nasty place on the mountain, the one fatal obstacle may be their distrust.... We ask them to believe that what is painful will relieve their pain, and that which looks dangerous is their only safety. 

We ask them to accept apparent impossibilities: that moving the paw farther back into the trap is the way to get it out—that hurting the finger very much more will stop the finger from hurting, that water which is obviously permeable will resist and support the body… that to go higher and onto an exposed ledge is the way not to fall.

Full article by Art Lindsley, Ph.D. at the C.S. Lewis Institution.

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