Answers for the Skeptic

While reading a biography, I came across the following views of a young skeptic.

You ask me my religious views: you know, I think, that I beleive [sic] 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—Christ as much as Loki. Primitive man found himself surrounded by all sorts of terrible things he didn’t understand—thunder, pestilence, snakes etc.: what more natural than to suppose that these were animated by evil spirits trying to torture him. These he kept off by cringing to them, singing songs and making sacrifices etc. Gradually from being mere nature-spirits these supposed being[ s] were elevated into more elaborate ideas, such as the old gods: and when man became more refined he pretended that these spirits were good as well as powerful.*

What do you think? Is this a likely candidate to come to belief in God? Will this skeptic ever be convinced of the death, burial, and resurrection? If you are thinking to yourself that this is a hopeless case, let me reveal the young skeptic’s identity — C.S. Lewis.

Lewis loved intellectual argument, not the belligerent kind of harsh words, but the logical type. He eventually saw the weaknesses of the case for skepticism and came to see the case for Christianity. It was not a quick process in his life. From self-proclaimed atheist at age 15, he did not come to believe in Jesus Christ until age 32. First, he had moved from naturalism to idealism, and then from idealism to theism, and from theism to confessing Jesus Christ.

We shouldn’t be afraid of the skeptic’s questions. Good answers exist, and we don’t have to have all the answers when confronted. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for time to think about something. We also can’t expect a skeptic to move from naturalism to belief in Jesus Christ in one bounding leap. (It may be possible but not always likely.) It will be more like moving the football down the field one play at a time. We can also overload people with information. It is better to answer things in their time and simply make progress.

Lewis in the above quote assumes the evolution of religions. This makes religions simply a human phenomenon. Anthropologists had proposed an evolutionary progression. The first stage was mana, a word found in Melanesia in the South Pacific, which means a general awareness of a spiritual force. Next came animism, then polytheism, followed by henotheism (worship of one god, although there may be more), and finally monotheism. The evolutionary model, however, cannot be shown to have actually happened. Further ethnographic studies have led some to propose an original monotheism that led to de-evolution. This would fit with the picture in the early chapters of Genesis.

Let’s share the good news with everyone. You never know who will be a truth seeker. Let’s remember that there are answers for the skeptic.

*The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, p. 56

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