C.S. Lewis (1898–1963) was an Irish author and scholar, famous for the popular Chronicles of Narnia fantasy series as well as his more personal apologetic works, Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain and Miracles.
Lewis has been called the The Apostle to the Skeptics as his works address the common objections that skeptics raise against Christianity.
Religious conversionLewis' autobiography, Surprised by Joy chronicles his journey from atheism to theism and on to Christianity. As a young man, Lewis was an atheist and credits the Roman philosopher Lucretius (94–49 BC) with having the most compelling argument for atheism:
- "Had God designed the world, it would not be a world so frail and faulty as we see."
Indeed, the emotional response may be more consistent with Lewis' views. In his autobiography he described his younger self as being "very angry with God for not existing" and, despite claims that his conversion was based on a critical examination of the evidence, he describes the conversion in a way that is rooted in the emotion of fear:
- "You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."
While it would be dishonest to claim that Lewis was never a "true atheist", it seems reasonable to conclude that he had been plagued with nagging doubts and that his skepticism and atheism weren't strongly supported by rational arguments and evidence. The arguments that he makes in his books, while receiving much praise from Christians and being cited as some of the most compelling and influential arguments by converts, have been criticized by skeptics and atheists. The most famous of his arguments, from Mere Christianity is commonly known as the Liar, Lunatic or Lord trilemma.
C.S. Lewis is much beloved by apologists, which is seemingly odd due to the weakness of all of his arguments. At the most basic level his arguments first assume the truth of scriptures and then try to use this to prove the existence of God. Liar, Lunatic or Lord is repeatedly cited by a number of Christians as an exceedingly good argument even considering its weaknesses. The Argument from Desire has the notoriety of consisting of false premises and still failing to arrive at conclusion which logically follows. What Lewis lacks in the realm of coherent arguments he makes up for in popularity.