Interesting Argument Against Atheism from CS Lewis

In reading The Silver Chair from CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia to my five year old, I came across an interesting argument from Lewis against atheism, one I hadn’t considered before and wanted to see how you all think it might work “in real life” not so much to convert convicted atheists, but to sway those “nones”, those fence-sitters that lean toward atheism, but haven’t fully embraced it. I’ve placed the passage (with context) from the book on my blog - HERE - for those interested, but the argument, in summary works on comparing the relative worth of the world with Christ vs reality of a Christless world and calls the unbeliever to stand with Christ even without surety of belief. It also exposes the weakness in believing the “real world” (if there is no God) is so much less important than a “make-believe” world (with God) would have been. I was struck by the argument because it works on a visceral level and might work well with those who are not philosophically minded and might not “get” arguments like Aquinas’ proof from contingency.

:thumbsup:
Quite helpful.

What a great way to look at it and respond!:thumbsup:

Very interesting.

BTW, if you like picking up on Lewis’ hidden arguments for faith, just wait until you read The Last Battle. It, especially the latter half, offers an amazing viewpoint of Christianity and atheism, and shows how belief is far superior to unbelief.

Looking forward to it! :slight_smile:

I don’t see how this argument will work to prove a “truth” that God exists to Atheists.

Atheists and Agnostics see the importance, worth and beauty of this “real” world without attributing it to the specific deity of one religion–in fact, that this world would come about with such beauty naturally on it’s own seems even more of a wonder to them.
That someone would want to think our lives and this world mean nothing without the structure of a religion/God and basically just toss it like garbage baffles an Atheist/Agnostic.

And the fact that a person can live in a “Narnian” way (tho i don’t know exactly what that means, cause i haven’t read the book) without an actual Narnia or “play world” existing—shows the exact opposite, IMO, of what you are saying it proves.
It shows that we can have truth and beauty and light and love of each other and grass and sun and moon and stars…even without a deity.

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There are two elements to the argument. First, the idea that a bunch of children (in Narnia) or a bunch of fishermen (for Christianity) or a bunch of bronze age Jews (for monotheism) can create a world with infinitely more value than what would be the “real world” if atheism is true is absurd, therefore atheism must be false. Second, the worth of the world, if only given by us, amounts to nothing, even if we enjoy sun and moon and stars, because we all will (very shortly cosmically speaking) die. Not just you and me individually, but our whole species. Indeed, our whole planet will be destroyed by the sun when it supernovas, leaving behind not a trace. In fact, the entire universe will enter “heat death” eventually, ending any other possible life anywhere in the universe. To live as if the world as “sound and fury signifying nothing” (which is what atheism must ultimately claim) should be a dreadful thought even to the committed atheist. They might have to resign themselves to such a view, if reality is such, but to pretend the world has value on an atheistic conception is to avoid the logical consequences of the position. IOW, never trust a happy atheist :wink:

Then please read the books, it is well worth your time. I read them as child and again as an adult… and each time, I could see the worth of this statement. Hence, even as an Agnostic in my youth, I still sided with the exsistance of God-the-Father. It just took me a little while to see the rest of his love… better to grumble and obey, than to smile and walkaway.

So well put, and yet, I fear that so may will still, “not get it.”
Lead a horse to water, yet you’ll drown that poor thing before you can make it drink one milliliter of water against its will. :shrug:

Hey…thanks for more detail.
But I’m still not understanding your first point there. Perhaps I need to read the book, as another poster suggests, to understand what you are saying?

But for number two, I can say that an atheist or agnostic would say that the worth of lives and the world has even *more *value because it’s finite. Each precious moment is even more important because of this.
Just because a life or civilization or species ends, it doesn’t have to mean it’s worthless. Why would it?

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I will. I’ve had many people urge me to do so…:slight_smile:

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I know many atheists but not a single one resigns themselves to the reality of a Godless world. I think this just shows that atheism is simply unnatural and that all people seek God, even when they don’t know it. To believe that there must be good and justice and love in a meaningless universe makes no sense. Yet they do believe it.

I must read the whole Narnia series, it sounds beautiful. I have only read the first book.

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But (again)…Atheists don’t think or see the universe as “meaningless”.
Do the Atheists you know say they believe this?

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And that is exactly Contra Mundum’s point.

If Atheism is true then the universe is meaningless.
But the universe has meaning.
Therefore, Atheism is false.

The fact that even atheists admit the truth of the second premise (the universe has meaning) simply strengthens the argument.

I think that atheists don’t understand the implications of what they believe :slight_smile:
I see that over and over again. In case you are an atheist you don’t understand it either it seems. (I hope you are not of course.)

Everything in human beings points towards God. We believe in love and truth and beauty even though the world around us is full of anger and death and misery. People
feel that they deserve something better, that truth and beauty and justice simply must be. But that is simply not compatible with atheism. No, truth and justice and beauty don’t have to be, there is no reason for these things to exist. So how do we explain that atheists believe in them? Because we are wired that way, to seek God who is Truth, Beauty and Justice.

That doesn’t work logically at all.
First of all…just to be clear on our definitions…an Atheist is, pure and simple, someone who has not been convinced that a deity exists–a deity that we have described so far, anyway.
If new evidence comes forth of a different kind of God that is very solid, an Atheist will believe with good proofe.

But just because a person has not been convinced of a “God”, it still doesn’t meant the universe is meaningless.
This must be your description of a universe without God. You yourself must think that the universe is “meaningless” without a God.
Someone must have convinced you–or you you decided this on your own–that the universe is meaningless without a God.
But why would this necessarily be the case?
There is no reason for this line of thinking. There is no reason to limit the meaning of life and the universe and only attach it to one of many Gods we have had so far.

An Atheist sees much, much meaning in life even if there is no God.

So to use your same (IMO faulty) logic above…if an Atheist sees a lot of meaning in the universe without a God, therefore “Atheism is true”.

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I still don’t see why/how you feel that what you say above proves God exists though.

Many, many Atheists understand the “implications” of not being convinced there is a God–or at least, what a religious person might feel the implications are.
Many, many Atheists are indeed Atheists because they have researched and studied the history, details, and “implications” thoroughly.
You don’t think that if someone tells you you’re gonna go to hell forever, that you’re not gonna check things out? For sure you are.
I find most Atheists much more knowledgeable about religion than the church/temple/mosque-goers I know.

I actually think that most religious people don’t have a near understanding about what an Atheist thinks and why at all. At least, from the posts I’ve seen here over the last year, that is what I find.

But surely you see that…it is your opinion that everything in human beings turns to a God. There can be many reasons why people believe in love, truth, and beauty…there may be many options out there, we don’t necessarily know everything yet…we are discovering new information about the past, our biology, our environment, the stars, human psychology, the physics of the world around us all the time, every day.

Just because we cannot explain something fully at the moment, or it doesn’t make sense to us yet, doesn’t mean we must continue with the answer our ancestors came up with thousands of years ago. That kind of thinking, in fact, cuts us off from new information and ideas.

And by the way, let’s not forget…there have been many Gods that people have believed in over the last few thousand years that thousands of years later have been put in the “Myth” category. These were God that were taken very seriously at the time.

I’m not saying a God does not exist. A God might exist.
I’m just saying that the reasons you and Pietro and a few others give as your reasoning for God for-sure existing are not solid, logical, or convincing evidence…to many, many of the brightest thinkers of the world, and for a long, long time.

If they were, we would all believe in a God or the God.
Atheists don’t form their opinions merely because they are stubborn or not smart or selfish or something silly like that, as some people do think.

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For my argument (or any argument) to “not work logically at all” it must have either:

  1. at least one ambiguous term
  2. at least one false premise
  3. at least one logical fallacy

Let’s look at the term atheist, the one you think I am using ambiguously. An atheist is someone who believes there is no God, someone who affirms that statement. Someone who, in your words, “has not been convinced that a deity exists–a deity that we have described so far, anyway” would not be an atheist, but an agnostic.

Let’s look at the second premise, the one you think is false. There can be no meaning in the universe or of life without God. Why? Because there must be someone who exists outside the universe to give it meaning. A Godless universe would have the same meaning as a monkey writing a book with his feces, none.

You can think about it like this. There cannot be more in the effect than in the cause. If the universe was caused by nothing or by something random (i.e. without meaning) the universe itself must have no meaning.

Look at it another way. If atheism (as defined above) is true, that is to say, if there is no God, then human thought is nothing more than the random firing of electricity in a clump of grey matter inside your skull. These natural processes can no more “give meaning” to the universe than can the waves that lap onto the sea. Honest atheists, like Nietzsche and Sarte, recognize this. If atheism is true, the universe can be no more than “sound and fury signifying nothing.”

Finally, all life will ultimately perish. You will die. I will die. All humans will die. The sun will, eventually, supernova and burn up the Earth and everything humans even did (if Atheism is true) will be forgotten and will have as much meaning as what ants did or rocks for that matter. In fact, the entire universe itself will, thanks to the second law of thermodynamics, enter “heat death” and cease to have any life anywhere. If such is our fate, there is no real meaning to anything we do or think.

Whether or not atheists recognize this, whether they admit it is true, is irrelevant. Atheism itself entails a meaningless universe as most atheists with the courage to follow their convictions to where they logically lead admit.

This is a silly argument. One which is easily turned on its head. I can just as easily assert the following.

The reasons you and other atheists give for your reasoning that God doesn’t exist are not solid, logical, or convincing evidence…to many, many of the brightest thinkers of the world, and for a long, long time.

If they were, no one would believe in a God or the God.
Theists don’t form their opinions merely because they are stubborn or not smart or selfish or something silly like that, as some people do think.

This also is a silly argument, one that doesn’t follow the same logic in my original argument at all. Again, my argument is:

If Atheism is true then the universe is meaningless.
But the universe has meaning.
Therefore, Atheism is false.

Yours is:

If an Atheist sees a lot of meaning in the universe without God
Therefore, Atheism is true.

I think you can see the two arguments are not even close to the same, logically. For starters, this is a non sequitur. Your conclusion has no relation to your premise. Secondly, you need two premises to prove a conclusion, thus your argument would have to contain a hidden premise (a style of argument called an “enthymeme”). To arrive at your conclusion your second (hidden) premise would have to be “anyone who sees a lot of meaning in the universe has a correct belief about the existence of God” which would make your argument run like this:

If an Atheist sees a lot of meaning in the universe without God
Anyone who sees a lot of meaning in the universe has a correct belief about the existence of God
Therefore, Atheism is true.

But this second premise is clearly false.

I think Pietro paolo has shown what happens when people use logic :slight_smile:

Daddy’s Girl,

you are very much repeating the discourse that is in vogue. What we are trying to explain is that your logic is faulty. If a certain belief system says that the way the world has come into existence and the way that life evolves is random and without anything behind it, then it is insane to insist that the life and the world have meaning. How do you not see that? There is no *inherent meaning *to it all. There is no essence to it.

What is fascinating is that so many people who believe that there is no essential meaning to life still believe that there is essential meaning to life! Despite their atheism they seek meaning and believe that it must exist. I know so many people who are like this. Now, as a Christian I know why: because God has made us that way, to seek Him and to believe that there is something/someone behind it all that gives meaning. But this is a mystery for an atheist because what they believe about the world is in total contradiction. I have yet to hear a coherent explanation from an atheist who believes in the meaningful universe/life. It is just not happening I’m afraid :wink:

The way that some atheists deal with this inconsistency is to claim that each individual must decide on what is meaningful to them and in that way create meaning in life. This is a more coherent position. But still the mystery remains: why are people obsessed with finding meaning in their life when they believe that they live in a meaningless universe?

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