Saturday, August 11, 2012

C. S. Lewis was never a real atheist

A redated post.

According to this essay from an online secular humanist site, which indulges extensively in the "horse laugh" fallacy.

This reminds me of something. Oh I know. Those Christians who say that if you deconvert, you never were a Christian to begin with.

18 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Maybe if I was a Steelers fan at one time I could never become a Colts fan, too! ;-)

Jason Pratt said...

Reminds me even more of those Christians who say there are no real atheists... {rolling eyes}

JRP

Victor Reppert said...

Actually it was in response to some comment like this that I made the now-famous remark that the claim that there were no atheists is "silly". Someone said that there were no true ex-atheists, and I said that this was the atheist version of the statement that there are no atheists. Then, the you know what hit the fan from the Triablogue crowd.

mattghg said...

Surely, though, the "no ex-Christian atheists" view is mandated by the P of a Calivinist's TULIP?

(I'm not arguing for or against Calvinism here, obviously)

Victor Reppert said...

I should note that surely Reformed theology would allow for the possibility that a person might intellectually assent to the essential propositions of Christianity and then cease to assent to them. They would hold, I take it that the person, in that case, held a merely intellectual belief in Christian propositions but never recieved saving faith, and hence they left the fold.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Did Lewis ever publish anything explicitly atheistic? Just curious, I'm not saying that if he didn't, that shows he was never an atheist.

Victor Reppert said...

His Spirits in Bondage was an set of poems he published in 1919 where he reflects an atheist view.

Steven said...

That is a horribly written article... C.S. Lewis was a chicken-shit atheist? Rough....

unkleE said...

I found this comment in the article somewhat confusing: " his ignorance of the subject is a glaring indictment of atheism's failure to educate even its own adherents about the true merits of our position"

I have heard so many atheists on the net arguing that theirs isn't a belief, or a worldview, but a lack of belief in a god, and that apart from that lack of belief, atheists did not necessarily hold anything else in common.

As a christian, I try to respect what non-believers say about their views, so I have come to accept this "non-belief" position. But this seems to be the antithesis.

If the apparently "normal" view is held, much of what he says about Lewis is nonsensical - why should any "non-believer" hold the same views as Patrick Inniss?

Or have I completely misunderstood (again)?

Mr Veale said...

UncleE

(I really need to e-mail you soon BTW)

The idea that atheism isn't a positive claim is rather like saying "innocent until proved guilty" isn't a claim. Atheists are at the very least recommending a belief policy - "do not believe in beliefs of type x, unless conditions y have been satisfied".

So they either have to defend their belief policy, or argue that conditions y have not been satisfied.

Once an atheist enters into a discussion with a theist, they inevitably take a position. And vice-versa.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Such 'negative' atheists are a logical possibility (because of the nonextensional context of belief, A v ~A doesn't hold, in that you can't say:
He believes that A or he believes that ~A.
There probably do exist people without a belief one way or the other, people who lack beliefs about gods are technically atheists (arguably).


But it does come across as a disingenuous ploy when the skeptics point out that logical possibility. People on the internet, and at meetings, arguing that gods don't exist, are not negative atheists.

shiningwhiffle said...

@Blue Devil Knight:

That's pretty much my take as well. I personally think of it as the central equivocation of pop-atheism, and often acts as a kind of bait and switch: the brochure says atheism offers wide-open plains where you can breathe the fresh air of free thought; but when you get there you find most of the place is cordoned off with "HERE BE DRAGONS" signs and much of the rest polluted with contempt for anyone different.

One of the Internet memes I used to see regularly was that atheists can't possibly be fundamentalists because atheism is a lack of belief. Meanwhile, back in reality, "atheist" is no more a neutral description than "Christan" or "Muslim" are: more often they denote active membership in an associated culture.

B. Prokop said...

The most interesting thing about this piece is how it puts the lie to the much-expressed notion that "atheism is not a belief system". Note how it is replete with phrases such as "our position" and "true atheism", as well as the idea that one can be a heretical atheist (with monikers like "chicken-shit atheist").

I'm glad we've at least put that ridiculousness to rest.

Papalinton said...

Innis quotes Lewis, "In Surprised by Joy (now there's a Christian title for you), Lewis characterizes his and others' atheism as follows: "I was at this time living, like so many Atheists or Anti-theists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry at God for not existing. I was equally angry at Him for creating a world." This is kind of like having a dog, but hating it for not barking at prowlers—a dilemma no atheist would recognize."

This is the quintessential nature of atheism; "no atheist would recognize" the whirl of contradiction that Lewis imagines. Should there be 'any whirl of contradiction', those unfortunately afflicted have as ever not drifted far from the superstition tent.

B. Prokop said...

Thank you for proving my point.

Papalinton said...

You made a point?

B. Prokop said...

Most of the time I don't even need to make a point in order for you to be proving it.

IlĂ­on said...

Christ himself (as does Paul, and possibly Peter) says that if you deconvert, you never were really a Christian in the first place ... you know, the parable of the sower, amongst other places.

But, the thing is, *we* frequently cannot tell whom amongst us are and are not the real Christians. Only God knows this; the final answer of whether a man is one of the Redeemed is in the sum of the man’s life.

Is it so surprising that some who presently proclaim their atheism may, from the point of view of eternity, be actually amongst the Redeemed? Is it so surprising that some who presently proclaim their atheism, yet, from the point of view of eternity, are actually amongst the Redeemed, may, from time to time, reflect-in-time what is the case in eternity?

Doesn’t Christ himself say that some who claim to be his, he will turn away, saying, “I never knew you”, and that some who never thought they were his, he will welcome, saying, “Enter into the joy prepared for you, good and faithful servant”?