Why am I still a Christian? Some Observations With C.S. Lewis
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
This was written by C.S. Lewis. Now what in the world did he mean by this? Hopefully, this short piece will help you understand what he meant by this, if I have understood him correctly and if I am right that I can relate to what he meant by this statement.
Lewis says that he can see Christianity. By this I take him to mean that he believes in Christianity and experiences the truth of it. We can see the sun when it rises and so we believe that it has risen, though I would not suggest staring at it for too long.
Lewis also says that he sees everything else by Christianity. By this I take him to mean that he believes in Christianity because it is the way to understand everything. We can see everything when the sun rises and so we believe it has risen.
There either is a sun or there is not. If there is a sun, then it is necessary for seeing. If there is not a sun, then we are in darkness and cannot see at all. Let’s suppose that the sun has not risen though. Let’s go so far as to think that the sun does not exist. We cannot see the sun or anything else. We are in the dark.
How does this relate to whether or not God exists? Well, either God exists or He does not. If God exists, then things are as He says that they are. If God does not exist, then things are as we say that they are. There is no other position. Either God is ultimate, or we are. The reason I still believe in the Christian God is the same reason that C.S. Lewis illustrated for us, if I have interpreted him correctly. There are two positions, Christianity and non-Christianity. Christianity says that things are as God says that they are, and interprets everything in light of this. The position that is the opposite of Christianity is non-Christianity, and it says that things are as we say they are, and interprets everything in “light” of this.
My contention is this: Christianity is necessary to understand things just like the sun is necessary to see. On the other hand, non-Christianity is not reasonable because nothing can be understood if we think that it is true. Non-Christianity is like having no sun; we are left in darkness. The reason I am still a Christian is because it makes sense while non-Christianity does not. I know that this is a strong claim, but I plan to support it in this little piece. To do this we will need to pretend for a moment that non-Christianity is true.
As non-Christians, we would want to make moral judgments. One of our strongest arguments against Christianity might even be that a good and powerful God would not allow so much injustice in the world. This seems like a great way to look at the world and a great way to argue until we stop to give our position a little more thought. If we determine what justice is, then it is dependent upon what we say it is, and once we make it dependent upon what we say it is, there is no reason to really suppose that anything is unjust, since we could just as easily say that unjust things are not unjust. This is not how we think though. We cannot help but think that there is some sort of standard for justice outside of us. Either there is such a standard or there is not. If there is not such a standard, and we think that there is, we are irrational and our seemingly wonderful objection to Christianity fails.
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. … Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying that it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. 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. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” – C.S. Lewis
As non-Christians, we would not only think justice and morality to fall to this problem, but laws of thought as well. The standards used to evaluate arguments and reasoning are the laws of logic. If God is not the standard of what is logical and what is not, then we are. If we define what is logical and what is not, the laws of logic themselves become dependent upon us, and there is no reason to think that one thing is logical while another is not aside from our saying, “because I say so”. Our ability to think in any meaningful fashion is lost.
As good non-Christians we will also believe that we are the products of evolution that was not guided by God. Evolution has everything to do with the way organisms behave. Natural selection weeded out those groups that did not behave in a beneficial way. The reason we are here is because our ancestors behaved in a way that they were able to survive. It seems reasonable to say that when our ancestors had true beliefs, they behaved in a beneficial way, but desires also affected their behavior. Think of an ancestor who really desired to pet a raging elephant. His desire was to pet the elephant. The ancestor believed that the best way to pet the elephant was to run away from it. His belief was that running away from the elephant would get him into the position to pet it. What happened? The elephant charged at our ancestor, who wanted to pet the elephant, but thought that the best way to do so was to run away from the elephant. So our ancestor ran away from the elephant and survived. His behavior benefited him in terms of survival, but he still had a false belief. There are so many different situations like this that we can think of; so many possible combinations of desires and false beliefs that we cannot know whether or not we have evolved in such a way that our memory, perception, and reasoning are reliable and produce true beliefs when functioning properly. Since evolution that was not guided by God is one of our beliefs that is produced by our reasoning, we cannot know whether or not unguided evolution is true. So if we think that we are the products of unguided evolution then we have to reject our belief in unguided evolution or doubt that we are the products of it. This means that the belief in unguided evolution defeats itself, since it has to be rejected if it is accepted, and so it is irrational to believe in naturalistic evolution. All of our beliefs come from our memory, perception and reasoning though, so it also follows that we cannot know anything at all if we believe in unguided evolution. C.S. Lewis recognizes this problem as well. He says, “If naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes…it cuts its own throat.”
This is not an exhaustive list of the reasons that non-Christianity is lost in darkness, but it is a good start. Christians believe that God created everything, including us. Things are what they are because of what God says they are in accordance with His plan, and we are His creatures who interpret everything in light of God’s plan. God has given us His moral will in Scripture so that we are able to judge wrong from right and unjust from just. God imposes the laws of thought upon us because we are created in His image as logical beings. God created our memory, perception, and reason as reliable guides to truth when they are functioning properly. So the many problems that face the non-Christian are not problems for the Christian at all. Non-Christians have no place to talk about what
s just and unjust, logical or illogical. In fact, unless a non-Christian actually believes that God exists (and wouldn’t you know it – Scripture says that everyone believes in the Christian God), he or she cannot make any sense out of anything at all!
Why am I still a Christian? I am still a Christian because Christianity alone makes sense. I believe in Christianity, not just because I can understand it, but because by it alone is there a possibility of my understanding anything else. Non-Christians know God as well and function as if they know that God exists, but they deceive themselves into thinking on the surface that they do not believe in God. It is just as Lewis further pointed out, “When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all.”
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