|Gurley United Methodist Church||
Pastor’s Message: “What Christians Believe”
In the first part of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, the author talks about the built-in concept of right and wrong that all human beings, everywhere, seem to have. Even though definitions of “right” and “wrong” change across cultures, the basic moral code is still there.
In Part 2, Lewis moves from recognizing the basic human Moral Code, to distinguishing religious ideas from each other. He makes a particularly strong argument against atheism (the belief that there is no God or gods), which is really interesting since Lewis grew up as an atheist. Famously discarding his prior fight against God and becoming a Christian, Lewis is then able to take apart the atheist argument “from within”, so to speak:
The first big division of humanity is into the majority, who believe in some kind of God or gods, and the minority who do not. On this point, Christianity lines up with the majority – lines up with ancient Greeks and Romans, modern savages, Stoics, Platonists, Hindus, Mohammedans (Lewis’ term for Muslims), etc. against the modern Western European materialist. (p. 43-44)
So Christianity stands with the vast majority of all people who have ever lived, in believing that there is some kind of God or gods out there, over against the tiny number of atheists on their little island who do not. (And the number of modern-day Americans who wish to swim out to that island seems to be growing . . . ) I find joy in this argument, as the arrogance of many atheists – believing themselves superior to the simple-minded and primitive God-worshippers – really puts them out all alone, believing in themselves when they know that they are inherently flawed and make mistakes constantly.
Lewis continues by countering an atheist argument that he himself had made, which kept him from trusting in Christ earlier in his life – namely, if God is just, why is there so much injustice in the world? But as he continued to think on it, where did his ideas of justice and injustice come from?
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. (p. 46)
By disrupting the simple atheist argument about injustice in the world, Lewis proves that atheism itself is simple as well. He continues later in Part 2 to discuss the many complexities of the Christian worldview, and explains that we would never have dreamed up these ideas on our own, without a very real Deity giving us some guidance; we would have settled for simpler explanations that we could easily grasp and agree on.
I hope that these thoughts from one of the great Christian authors will give you hope and strength, when you are next attacked by one of our atheist friends! A gentle reminder: you can request a copy of Mere Christianity in several formats from the main branch of the Huntsville Public Library, and it will be delivered to our Gurley Public Library for you to check out and enjoy.
Grace and peace.