Friday, June 05, 2009

An atheist critique of the Screwtape Letters

6 comments:

JanusMagus said...

Before dwelving deeper, I'll address the very first critique (of Ltter 1 -- "He never, as far as I know, presents a single example of an actual atheist who actually holds such a view, and prominent atheists of Lewis' day, such as Bertrand Russell, were outspoken rationalists..."

First, where does he get the idea that Lewis means Wormwood's strategy is going to be an atheist position popular in that day--even among famous atheistic philosophers? (yeah..Lewis historically talked rationally with atheists in his day despite this secret knowledge of his).

Second, this point, "the evidence shows that, to the contrary, the majority of distinguished scientists in every "hard" field are atheists." is misleading when one looks at other findings about that as well: Sociological data reveal that academics of almost all social/scientific backgrounds come in with their unbelief and just never lose it. Those with reliigous belief beforehand generally don't lose it either.

There is also something to consider that eminent chemist Fritz Schaefer, III points out in his only book, which is that the average scientist has no more contemplated the philophical questions with more rigor than your average joe (exceptions are there among unaverage scientists like Will Provine or Michael Polayni). Plus, here in the US anyway, ~43% of the average population goes to Church once a month and the same holds for scientists.

Anonymous said...

"In reality, it is atheists who welcome rational argument and challenge, and Christians and other theists who do their utmost to avoid it and shut it out"

I stopped reading here.

IlĂ­on said...

That is a howler, isn't it?

unkle e said...

I think the reviewer has fallen into the (understandable) trap of reviewing the book on his terms rather than based on its purpose. "Screwtape" is not an apologetic, so is not aimed primarily at unbelievers. Therefore one doesn't expect Lewis to present supporting arguments or references for his comments on atheists.

I think that review is about as useful for believers as it would be helpful to Richard Dawkins if I wrote a review of "The God Delusion".

philip m said...

There is a sharp divide between intellectual atheists and dull atheists. The author clearly thinks his breed of atheism is ubiquitous, but it's clear that there are many atheists with very confused and dullish thinking. Just last year we found out how prevalently true this is:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178219865054585.html?mod=googlenews_wsj


With regards to the review, he has to gerrymander some quotes in order to make his point. For instance, he quotes Lewis saying God can't override humans will, and that's the reason he doesn't reveal his presence. What he doesn't quote is that God is constnatly in the business of trying to attract humans through all other possible means, i.e. the quote "all he can do is woo."

The commentary pretends we have no signs or reasons at all to believe in God, and he pretends that Lewis agrees with him.

unkle e is right in where the problem comes from, I think.

legodesi said...

Janus,
"Sociological data reveal that academics of almost all social/scientific backgrounds come in with their unbelief and just never lose it."

Can you cite this? I hope that this is true.