Here is a masterful argument used against religion in general and Christianity in particular. It is one man’s statement of disbelief:
…I believe in no religion. There is absolutely no proof for any of them, and from a philosophical standpoint Christianity is not even the best. All religions, that is, all mythologies to give them their proper name are merely man’s own invention… Primitive man found himself surrounded by all sorts of terrible things he didn’t understand – thunder, pestilence, snakes etc… These he kept off by… making sacrifices, etc. Gradually… when man became more refined he pretended that these spirits were good as well as powerful.
Thus religion, that is to say mythology grew up. Often too, great men were regarded as gods after their death – such as Heracles or Odin: thus after the death of a Hebrew philosopher Yeshua (whose name we have corrupted into Jesus) he became regarded as a god, a cult sprang up, which was afterwards connected with the ancient Hebrew Jahweh-worship, and so Christianity came into being – one mythology among many…
(This) is the recognized scientific account of the growth of religions. Superstition of course in every age has held the common people, but in every age the educated and thinking ones have stood outside it… I am not going back to the bondage of believing in any old (and already decaying) superstition.
…I am quite content to live without believing in a (god) who is prepared to torture me forever and ever if I should fail in coming up to an almost impossible ideal (which is a part of the Christian mythology).
Here we see the usual combination of personal distaste for Christianity peppered with some “scientific” reasons for not believing, and then the rather snobbish addition that educated people do not believe in such superstitions. The irony here is that the author of these words was a consummate academic who took an unheard of “triple first” at Oxford University. It is a surprising argument against Christianity because the writer’s name was C.S. Lewis, and about 15 years after writing those words he was converted to the “superstition” he once abhorred! In fact he became Christianity’s most ardent and academic defender! Here is his own account:
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. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.
Leanna and I just returned from a one week study leave in Oxford where we studied the life and writings of C.S. Lewis in his beloved home the Kilns. It was the most fantastic week of learning more about C.S. Lewis and his Christian friends, most notably J.R.R. Tolkien. I will be sharing bits and pieces with you over the next few weeks.
We also spent eight days in Ghana, preaching three times and reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones. Leanna and I lived there from 1988-1994, and it was a delight to return to a place that holds some great memories. Some spiritual lessons emerged from this trip which will also make their way into some upcoming messages.
See you Sunday,