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.


About Travis Berry

I am a blatantly honest person who loves to think, read, discuss, and write about God and theology. I have a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry from Crown College. I work at a church in Houston, TX as a Youth Director and love every minute of it! I am married to a wonderful woman named Becky and we have one amazing child! I have a love for God's Word, and a fervor to live it out in the fullest, and I pray this blog reflects that. Thanks for checking out AnotherChristianBlog!.

Posted on August 1, 2012, in Christianity, Theology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Have you heard of the book “Lewis’ dangerous ideas” by Victor Reppert (probably misspelled) that builds upon C.S. Lewis’ Argument from Reason? You would enjoy it if you have not read it yet (which I will review soon!). It’s great to see another Reformed Presuppositionalist out there!

  2. Sinister Dreams

    The only problem I have with this is the idea of god came from humans, and if we can’t trust our own ideas and thoughts, then how can we trust in the idea of god? Our idea of god? Or the thought of God? The story that was written was written by humans, and maybe our thoughts on language translated it wrong. This could go on an on, for ever and ever, for both sides of the coin. And by god I mean ALL of them, old and new.

    • I think you may have a flawed understanding of the Christian faith. God did not come from humans. God created us. And I think you are missing C.S. Lewis’ point. As you pointed out, our thoughts would have no reliability if there was no god. So, why are the laws of logic universal? Because God created us to be logical, though we are not always rational, beings.


      • Sinister Dreams

        No see, how do we know god created humans? because the bible said so. Who wrote the bible? Humans did. If human thought could possibly be illogical, then everything that has ever been thought of is thereby illogical, including religion. The argument could go both ways, because it’s a circle argument, the worst kind.

      • I disagree with you. Humans penned the Bible, however God inspired the writers to pen those words. Now, from a naturalistic perspective that sounds like hogwash…and I agree. But if you hold a naturalistic perspective then you are described by Lewis. Without a creator with an ultimate mind we cannot trust anything we think. However, since we do trust what we think and value it there must be a creator that gave us rational minds.


      • Sinister Dreams

        Well, I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree on this one. 🙂

      • Travis, IF anyone has the opportunity to take a lecture series based on George Lamsas book about Jesus. Please do. I took the seminar at Southern Methodist University in 1971.
        Our Text book was amazing. One side of the page was the Bible from the King James Version. The page on the opposite side were the words from Jesus in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke).

        This seminar gave me insight. We DO misunderstand some parts of the Bible. HOWEVER, just our Faith in Christ to guide us in our spiritual understandings will bring us to the same place…IF WE ASK WITH AN OPEN HEART to want to know the EXACT truth…. In parts that were “NOT” transcribed correctly because it was transcribed from Middle Eastern way of stating things to a Western Understanding.

        It does NOT change anything about who He was or What he did. It does give great insight as to how we ALL need to Pray for Wisdom even though we believe we KNOW every single word of the Bible.

      • Thanks for recommending that book. However, I am not sure that your post is really relevant to the blog post, but I believe that we should be transcribing the words of the Bible from the Greek not Aramaic. We don’t have any Aramaic copies of the NT so It would seem a little suspect to me to use that as a reference instead of the Greek.


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