04 December 2006

C S Lewis and materialism

In a materialistic world, does God exist?

“Modern society continues to operate largely on the materialistic premises of such thinkers as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud,” wrote John G Guest Jr in an article tilted ‘C S Lewis and Materialism’ which appeared in the Nov-Dec 1996 issue of Religion and Liberty from Acton Institute. Prof Guest went on to say, “Yet few today feel at home in the materialist universe where God does not exist, where ideas do not matter, and where every human behavior is reduced to non-rational causes.”

I cannot agree with Prof Guest’s statements simply because I do not believe that a materialistic world and God are mutually exclusive concepts. If materialism is a way of understanding reality, then God certainly features there somewhere… along with thoughts and emotions of people. For, if our world is viewed as a process – where change and transformation are critical to its being – God, religion and spirituality has as much a place in it as nature, science, history and politics.

What’s good about Prof Guest’s article is his presentation of British author C S Lewis’ perspective on materialism. C S Lewis, popularly known for his children’s tales ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ (recently made more popular by Hollywood as a film grossing close to US$1 billion), was an atheist from his adolescence until he turned to religion (theism) at age 31, and to Christianity a couple of years later. Upon his conversion, Lewis wrote avidly, even becoming a popular broadcaster on BBC, submitting his views in favour of Christianity, and refuting many of the assumptions and views against Christianity prevalent at that time (i.e. mid-19th century to mid-20th century).

According to Prof Guest, Lewis debunked materialism on issues such as reason and truth, morality, personal responsibility, and utopianism. He mentions that C S Lewis tried to put together a new natural philosophy that understood human beings as they were… with thoughts and emotions… and not explain them away as tiny parts that add up together to make up a whole human being. C S Lewis’ God is central to this new natural philosophy, explaining away rationality and materialism like things from our past. Only God exists. Don’t take my word for it, read Prof John G Guest Jr’s article here.

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