C.S. Lewis’ Presuppositional Apologetic Against Atheism
I am not a huge C.S. Lewis fan. I find his appeal to free-will to be stretched because the Bible knows nothing about man’s autonomy. The Bible only speaks of God’s free-will. Even though there are many bones in C.S. Lewis’ writings, there is some meat. One of those meaty sections of Lewis’ writings occurs in his book The Case for Christianity:
Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought. So I can never use thought to disbelieve in God. – p. 32.
This argument gets to the core of any atheist/Christian dialogue. Often, we spend our time trying to defend the manuscripts of the New Testament or the historicity of Christ. Granted, those things are conversations worth having, but they do not get to the core of the problem. The problem is that the atheist and the Christian have two drastically different presuppositions. Those presuppositions need to be compared with one another, and the one that fits reality should be held. That is what C.S. Lewis is communicating in this brief section of his work.
Many atheists that I talk to have great confidence in their thinking, but they often do not try to reconcile the one question that needs to be answered: Why is your thinking trustworthy? If they cannot answer this question, which I would suggest they can’t, then every argument they give against Christianity could be flawed because their reasoning isn’t reliable.
What Lewis is saying is that only the Creator of the universe can give us a basis for trusting our reasoning. Without a creator with an unchanging character, we would have no trust in our reasoning because it could be correct one day and false the next. God is the only reasonable explanation for rationality. Presupposing that the Christian God of the Bible exists is the only presupposition that coincides with reality, because without him, we can’t even trust our own thoughts.
Thanks for reading.