5 C.S. Lewis quotes that may shock you

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Photos taken from image courtesy of C.S. Lewis Foundation/Public Domain

Photos taken from image courtesy of C.S. Lewis Foundation/Public Domain

Photos taken from image courtesy of C.S. Lewis Foundation/Public Domain

Photos taken from image courtesy of C.S. Lewis Foundation/Public Domain

When most Christians think of C.S. Lewis, they probably picture a reserved Englishmen in a tweed suit with a pipe protruding from his lips. They may be surprised to find out he lived secretly with a woman for years. Or that he loved to drink. Or that he may have been, in the words of CNN’s John Blake, “so turned on by S&M that he once asked people at a party whether he could spank them.”

But Lewis’ fan club might be surprised by more than his personal life. Here are five quotes from the Narnia author that might make some Christians scratch their heads:

1. Lewis on Scripture: Though he held a high view of scripture, he might have deviated from some modern conservative Christians’ understanding of what that means. Shortly before he died, Lewis commented in Reflections on the Psalms, that Christians “still believe (as I do) that all Holy Scripture is in some sense—though not all parts of it in the same sense—the Word of God.”

2. Lewis on sexual chastity: Aside from living with a woman with whom he was likely sexually intimate, Lewis’s pragmatic view of chastity might have been unsettling to pietistic Christians, who tend to be rigid in their sexual standards. In Mere Christianity, Lewis sounds quite pragmatic when he says, “We may indeed be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts.  We must ask for God’s help.  Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given.  Never mind.  After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.” He went on to say that this doesn’t mean Christians should not strive for “anything less than perfection” in sexual holiness.


3. Lewis on Genesis: Whether Lewis believed in evolution by the time of his death is a matter of debate. He stated earlier in life that he had no problem with Darwinian explanations for the origins of life, and we know that Lewis refused to write a preface for an anti-evolutionary work, claiming he wasn’t qualified. When it came to the first book of the Bible, Lewis said, “I have therefore no difficulty in accepting, say, the view of those scholars who tell us that the account of Creation in Genesis is derived from earlier Semitic stories which were Pagan and mythical.” (It’s important to note that for Lewis, “myth” is not a deception, but an imaginative way of transferring truth.)


4. Lewis on atonement: Many Christians have strong and specific views on what Christ’s sacrifice means and what it accomplished. Lewis, however, seemed to be more vague. In Mere Christianity, Lewis admitted not knowing how the atonement worked: “The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter. A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work.”


5. Lewis on hell: It is uncertain whether the British writer believed, as many conservative Christians do, that hell is a place of eternal and conscious punishment for the damned or if Lewis believed in annihilation—that those who go to hell eventually cease to exist after paying for their sins. In The Problem of Pain, Lewis wrote the following:


Destruction…means the unmaking, or cessation, of the destroyed. And people often talk as if the ‘annihilation’ of a soul were intrinsically possible. In all our experience…the destruction of one thing means the emergence of something else. Burn a log, and you have gases, heat and ash. To have been a log means now being those three things. If soul can be destroyed, must there not be a state of having been a human soul? And is not that, perhaps, the state which is equally well described as torment, destruction, and privation? You will remember that in the parable, the saved go to a place prepared for them, while the damned go to a place never made for men at all. To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being in earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity. What is cast (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is “remains.”


He goes onto say, “That the lost soul is eternally fixed in its diabolical attitude we cannot doubt: but whether this eternal fixity implies endless duration—or duration at all—we cannot say.”


Would C.S. Lewis’ views on hell or any of the above topics have earned him a “Farewell, C.S. Lewis” tweet were he alive today? That’s anyone’s guess. But certainly Lewis was more complicated and his views more nuanced than the picture history has painted.


  • jen

    His comfort in the Mystery is what I love about him. I don’t think any of these are (or should be) scandalous, but honest. He didn’t know some stuff. He wasn’t perfect. He knew he didn’t have all God’s ways figured out. And it was ok. Unlike the American evangelicalism that deifies him, he had the ability to admit “I don’t know, but I trust. I can’t understand all of Him. If I could, He wouldn’t be God.” Too many leaders don’t have that humbleness.

  • Atheist Max

    C.S. Lewis made up his own Christianity. And why not? Everyone else does. The raw material is cheap and easy to play with.
    The CS Lewis Institute could easily start a congregation if it wanted to.

    C.S. wrote that Jesus was either “a Liar, a Lunatic or Lord.” Then, having ruled out the first two, made his choice.

    But he quite lazily didn’t consider the most likely answer, which also starts with the letter ‘L’ – “Legend”.

  • Joe Carter

    Your selective quoting of Lewis on chastity is highly misleading. Here is the entire passage: http://www.merelewis.com/CSL.mc.3-05.SexualMorality.htm

    It it neither ‘pragmatic’ nor ‘unsettling to pietistic Christians’ since it is the orthodox Christian view of chastity.

  • Dave

    Right On Jen!

  • Atheist Max

    “Comfort in the Mystery” is what you love about C.S.

    Because I Iove a different “C.S” who not only loved mystery,
    but he wanted to pursue it. The great Atheist, Carl Sagan. 🙂

  • Phil


    No serious historian doubts the existence of Jesus. He did exist. The question is, is he who he said he was?

  • Jonathan, thank you for bringing this to light. Yes, I knew most of these things (except for the S&M–that was new to me). And, yes, as a Reformed Christian, I am aware that all of us are works-in-progress. What you “revealed” in this article will in no way cause me to love the works of C.S. Lewis any less. His mastery at nuance and expression makes my jaw drop on a regular basis.

    Sure, I disagree with the minor–even major–theological point, now and then! (With Lewis, as well as with most other Christian writers.) But we are all striving to understand this God-stuff and Jesus-narrative and church-story as best as each of us can. I firmly believe that each of us comes from a unique situation, has a separate point of view. Although my POV is similar to several other people’s POV, they are not exactly identical. Similar to my theological understanding. Related to my POV, my theological understanding comes from–is forged by, even despite–my life experiences.

    So to recap, C.S. Lewis is indeed a work in progress. As are we all. Thank you for excellent insights into the person, the man.

  • Steve Odom

    This seems pointlessly provocative, since anyone who’s read CS Lewis will not be surprised that he was, in his time, a moderate, low-Church Anglican, who was not a technically qualified theologican and constantly demurred at technical questions of the kind here mooted.

  • Great quote: “It’s important to note that for Lewis, ‘myth’ is not a deception, but an imaginative way of transferring truth.”

    Brilliant. This is a perfect reminder that theology is simply an attempt at understanding the mystery of the Divine. Its a conversation to be shared rather than a creed to be repeated. Myths, parables, stories, etc. all are creative ways we can share where we are in that journey.

    It is when we authentically share from our own faith story while learning from the stories of others that we learn more about the truth of who God is and what a healthy faith journey looks like. It is not healthy to believe that any one of us has a flawless faith story. We are all flawed and so we all have an amazing faith story to share.

  • I reprint the follow-up to that quote, which is published above:
    “He went on to say that this doesn’t mean Christians should not strive for “anything less than perfection” in sexual holiness.”

    And I said his statement “MAY HAVE BEEN unsettling to pietistic Christians.” That’s my view; it doesn’t have to be yours. I can tell you as someone who has spent three decades in hundreds of evangelical churches hearing perhaps more than 10,000 sermons, I think this would be an unsettling statement to some pietistic Christians.

    In the youth groups and Sunday School classes I attended growing up, we never discussed what to do IF one failed to meet sexual standards. This is why sermons and Bible study discussions centered on “virginity.” In fact, I never encountered the concept of “chastity” until my junior year in college. This may not have been your experience, but it is a legitimate and not a limited one. And it does–regardless of whether it sits well with you–raise the question of whether a view I characterize as “pragmatic” would be unsettling to those pietistic Christians who are less so.

  • You might note that Alister McGrath–certainly someone who would be included in “anyone who’s read CS Lewis”–suggests that Lewis had substantial theological chops. McGrath actually suggests that you could build a theology course around Lewis’ writings. So I’d say your remarks here need a bit more nuance.

  • Jack Stephens

    At least someone named Jesus existed, but this is theologically irrelevant. The Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament has no historical justification.

  • Atheist Max

    Yes, I believe the legends of Jesus are based on some real figure in the middle east at a time when gurus and messiahs were a dime a dozen.
    And Heracles was very likely a real person too, later to become the puffed up dying and rising god in Legend of Hercules.

    Today, Paul Bunyan is a legendary lumberjack, possibly based on a real Canadian from the Papineau Rebellion of 1837. As part of a promotion in 1910 the story resurfaced with accretions such as a ‘blue ox’.
    All it needs to become religion is bit of nonsense about The Golden Rule and a few ‘eye witnesses’ to a miracle.

    Just ask a Mormon how quickly real people can become legends!
    There were no Mormons at all 200 years ago. Now look!

    Legends are formed because of oral tradition. You need to add a little magic to make the story worth telling – and worth remembering.

    None of the superstitious stuff is true.

  • JOhn

    @ Atheist. You faith is almost as unwavering and inviolate as the Christians you insult and dismiss. Yes I know you claim to have once been a Christian. The point is you put your faith in the power of your own intellect and experience whereas others put their faith in mystery. What makes me curious is why you are so militant about targeting other people’s positions of faith. If you are an American do you believe in the Constitutional Freedom of Religion or do you subscribe as many militant religiophobes that religion is the root of all evil?

  • Rob T

    ….There is no question that Jesus was not who he said he was. He was not even who others said he was.
    We know this because he left behind a bunch of conflicting parables, words and ideas, written in conflicting gospels by others – so conflicting in fact, that after 2000 years the disagreements still rage, and people still die over it. Christianity is self-contradictory. It makes no sense. That is why there are 36,000 sects of Christianity in the world – all of them claim to be the one true faith. Religion needs to fade away. albeit very slowly, it is.

  • Rob T

    Because you asked….

    Religious fervor is the most pressing danger at the moment in America:
    The highly funded drive by religious organizations to obliterate science teachings in our schools with the nonsense of “Creationism”.

    These “faith-based” efforts are just dangerous:
    To end church/state separation, the genital mutiliation of children, the rights of women over their own bodies, the rights of homosexuals, religious influence in government….just to name a few.

    Yes, religion is toxic and mindless. We’d be better off without it.
    But that is a longer discussion.

  • Thanks for this, Jonathan! I recall during the Rob Bell controversy wondering to myself why people were treating Bell’s questions as if they were new. The same questions on hell were raised by Lewis decades ago in “The Last Battle” and “The Great Divorce.” Lewis was certainly a deeply theological thinker (contrary to Steve Odom’s perspective).

    In fact, you are correct in saying that a course could be built around Lewis’ writings. I took such a course in my Master’s program at Fuller Seminary. “The Theology of C.S. Lewis” was one of the most enriching courses I’ve ever taken. Gary Deddo was the professor.

    Keep up the good work, Jonathan … and how ’bout that endorsement 🙂

  • Thinkling

    Hmm, must be a slow news day at RNS. I can imagine the only folks who might get bees in their bonnets are those who are having a slow day at their church social hall. I read the words of someone with more writing skill and humility than detailed theological precision, to which I (and most) would say “Yeah that’s him”.

    One far more controversial statement he made was (roughly) “you are not a body with a soul, rather you are a soul with a body”. That one actually did rankle quite a few feathers. But I understand if it was omitted because it is much more well known.

    The clarification about myth is interesting in that until only a few years ago it would not even be necessary. But that is a whole different story.

  • Atheist Max

    ROB T,
    I would disagree that religion is mindless. There is something to ancient philosophy which attempts to answer things for which there are no answers at the time. The idea that compassion, for example has a special effect on the recipient as well as the giver is not ‘mindless’.

  • Atheist Max

    JOhn – What is wrong with putting faith in one’s own intellect!? There is evidence that my intellect has served me very well!
    On the other hand, there is no evidence that a God even exists – so why put “faith” in something for which there is no evidence at all? How is that different from putting faith in an invisible umbrella in the middle of a rain storm???
    It is utterly meaningless.

  • Atheist Max

    You have a long wait.

  • Rich Tuttle

    So is this a shot at Piper with the “Farewell Rob Bell” tweet? If not, one wonders what the purpose of this article is. “Shock” is obviously not the main point, since #2 is only shocking to folks who grew up in bad youth groups, #’s 3 and 5 are qualified by uncertainty of held beliefs, and #4 is simply an expression of orthodox faith without labels.

    With the lack of ‘shock’, annotated quotes, and the Piper dig, it comes off like you have an axe to grind.

  • EVA-04

    Oh, those aren’t “shocking” quotes from C.S. Lewis. Now HERE’S a shocking quote (taken from a letter to Sheldon Vanauken, known to many of us from the book “A Severe Mercy”).

    “I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin. This leaves the homosexual no worse off than any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying. Second, our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (John 9:1-3): only the final cause, that the works of God should be made manifest in him. This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.’ Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations which, if so disabled, we can’t lawfully get. The homosexual has to accept sexual abstinence just as the poor man has to forego otherwise lawful pleasures because he would be unjust to his wife and children if he took them. That is merely a negative condition. What should the positive life of the homosexual be? I wish I had a letter which a pious male homosexual, now dead, once wrote to me—but of course it was the sort of letter one takes care to destroy. He believed that his necessity could be turned to spiritual gain: that there were certain kinds of sympathy and understanding, a certain social role which mere men and mere women could not give…Perhaps any homosexual who humbly accepts his cross and puts himself under Divine guidance will, however, be shown the way. I am sure that any attempt to evade it (e.g. by mock or quasi-marriage with a member of one’s own sex even if this does not lead to any carnal act) is the wrong way. …

  • Phil

    Really, no question, huh? No question whatsoever?

  • Soggy01

    actually, its like being in a rainstorm and holding an umbrella…and believing the umbrella did not materialize from nothing but rather must have been made by someone or something…which does your logic tell you is more plausible…an umbrella that materializes from nothing or one that is made by a creator?

  • Michael

    Why do you think it is so important (to you at least) that all of us must be told that you are an atheist? No need to answer, since this is a rhetorical question, more for your benefit than ours.

    The last 10 million words on the subject are yours, please try to stay under that limit, in case there truly is someone in hearing your evangelizing and proselytizing.

  • JB13

    EVA-04, I don’t know if CS Lewis would be welcome in conservative evangelical circles today. But he most definitely would be denounced as a “bigot,” “religious zealot” and “Christianist whackjob” by the secular Left. So, he may have fit right in with most American evangelicals, after all.

  • Michael

    Circumcision is harder on a child than abortion?

    Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and Stalin’s purge of the Ukraine are three examples of atheists reforming society to their liking, so if you are yearning for something similar and don’t see it in this life, there’s a good chance (if you stay your course) that you will see something like it in what comes after.

  • Susan Humphreys

    Now Max I like your comment here. And you probably thought I would never give you credit for a wise, as in thoughtful remark. C.S. Lewis presented three options “liar, lunatic or lord” as though there were ONLY 3 options and you quite clearly pointed out a fourth “legend”, or as I would have put it a myth. But I love your alliteration! That is using rational and logical thinking!

  • Mack Hall, HSG

    Yawn. Shocking? To whom?

  • Karen

    What makes you think your intellect was not made by God? You must think it just came together after millions of wrong attempts! Yes, just like a computer “just comes together” from someone throwing electrical components up in the air.

  • Rob T

    Jesus was ____________.

    Depending on your denomination please fill in the above blank with any of the assertions and speculations below:

    Jesus was Yahweh on earth.
    Jesus was not Yahweh but his son.
    Jesus was not a god.
    Jesus was a spirit.
    Jesus was a man.
    Jesus was not a man.
    Jesus was a teacher.
    Jesus was not a teacher.
    etc, etc…etc.

    The legend of Jesus is garbled, conflicted and unintelligible – for a thinking person that has to rule out Jesus as a ‘god’ right there.
    Without question.

  • Rich,

    With all due respect, I think this article could only be construed as a “shot at Piper” or my having an “axe to grind” if you’re not thinking deeply about what I’m actually saying. That tweet has been seen as emblematic of a propensity among some modern Christians to oust or “excommunicate” certain public Christians if they espouse views that deviate from what those leaders believe are orthodox doctrines. So it is quite relevant to ask–somewhat tongue-in-cheek of course–whether C.S. Lewis would have had a “farewell” moment had he been writing today. That’s not a shot at anyone. It is a legitimate question, and it has very little to do with John Piper, who I think is a fine thinker overall.

    And additional thought on #3: If you think that suggesting Genesis was “myth” in any definition of the term wouldn’t create controversy today, you weren’t paying attention to Andy Stanley’s comments about Adam and Eve. Or more generally, you’ve not been following either the origins or Bible wars of the last 50 years.



  • Atheist Max

    My intellect is explainable – I have evidence to describe it.
    God is not anywhere in sight. And there is no reason to believe in a god. Why not two Gods? Or three Gods?

    If God exists he is very comfortable with most of the people on earth NOT believing in him. We know this from looking at the world’s thousands of religions – and yet ONLY ONE of those religions can be true (if any) because they conflict with each other!

    Which is more likely:
    That all people were created by one god?
    Or that people created thousands of gods?

    You know the answer.

  • Shawnie5

    Do you EVER contribute anything which is not ripped off from somewhere else?

  • Shawnie5

    Don’t get too excited. Max is regurgitating a Bart Ehrman quote which can be found on any number of atheist propaganda sites–which is where most of his comments come from

  • Atheist Max

    I was about ready to take a break.

    I am aware that I am worthless to you.
    But there are Christians who question whether blood pouring out of a dying man on a cross makes any sense whatsoever.

    I am speechless with thanks to the Atheists who opened my eyes.

    But I am no ‘evangelizer’.
    Just want to make sure you keep your religion
    out of my politics.

  • Atheist Max

    What? Which Bart Ehrman ‘atheist’ quote are you talking about?

  • Atheist Max

    Shawnie, I have been an Atheist for a few years – in my journey I have picked up thousands of pages of biblical study and ways of expressing these ideas carefully for the sake of brevity.
    I admit sometimes I don’t remember exactly where I learned something – William Lane Craig, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Darrell Ray, etc….but I wouldn’t type it if I didn’t agree with it.

    Yes, when I read “Mere Christianity” I knew I disagreed with C.S Lewis’ on his conclusion that JESUS WAS ‘LORD’. But I didn’t know exactly why. I didn’t know what the fallacy was – but I knew there HAD to be one.

    I read a very comprehensive article on Lewis which pointed out that there were many other options C.S. left out of his analysis and LEGEND was one of them.

    If you KNOW where I got that analysis I would appreciate it because I no longer have the article and don’t remember who wrote it.
    I agree with it completely none the less.

  • Atheist Max

    Shawnie is correct, I can’t take for the alliteration.
    I read an analysis of C.S. Lewis someplace where the fallacy was pointed out. I can’t remember who wrote it. But I liked it because it finally answered a question about Lewis’ argument which had dogged me for a long time. Lewis was a lazy thinker and his friend Tolkien so much as told him so.

  • Atheist Max

    To bring up Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot is a slander and I reject it.

    None of those governments were Atheistic. They were religious in the same way North Korea is religious – enforced superstition is not Atheism!

  • Atheist Max

    I’m against abortion, personally. For humanitarian reasons.
    But the law insists women have a right to their own bodies. And that is a wise law.

    Besides, the only record where God has anything to say about abortion is where he commits it routinely. You won’t find any support for anti-abortion in the Bible – it is a purely humanist movement.

    “Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer… Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts…they shall bear no fruit: yea though they bring forth, YET WILL I SLAY even the beloved fruit of their womb.” (Hosea 9:11-16)
    Jesus reinforces such passages. (JOHN 1:17)

  • Mikehorn

    I’m glad cs Lewis realized many might consider the Jesus story to make no sense. Everything leading up to a death to satisfy the wrongs everyone else committed was common to the time, the idea of blood sacrifice as a form of scapegoating. While accepted at the time, now it presents an ethical problem right at the heart of the religion. No responsibility, especially for those sects who claim faith is the only route to salvation. I attended a Christian funeral once where the pastor tap dances around the fact that the deceased was a complete jerk who never helped anyone, but had great faith and was therefore deserving of eternal bliss through the sacrifice of Jesus….

    The faith has another problem. Jesus died to (according to what I was taught as a young catholic) to absolve original sin, which is an example of divine design flaw. So god created heaven and hell, and through incompetence designed garden and humans in a way to ensure failure, then sacrifices part of itself to absolve, but still condemns flawed creature it designed as imperfect to eternal punishment for finite transgressions. So, god created to menace that god also provided the protection for and prescribed how to pay for protection. These are the actions of a petty mob boss squeezing a poor neighborhood. Is this really a version of divine worth worshipping?

  • Whitney Clayton

    Like every person about to do something foolish, i want to start by saying, I don’t normally do this. But. Here I am commenting. I, like you, Jonathan, find CS a fine thinker, and I am astounded by his ability to express himself clearly, with such tangible illustrations. I do not however feel the need to defend his views anymore than I feel the need to defend any random christian’s views. However, I do defend against character attacks, and i think your incendiary intro is a little over the top. Two of the three tidbits you gave at the beginning (drinking, extramarital and secretive relationship, and s&m quote) are deeply misleading. The extramarital affair began when he was a nonbelieving, early 20-something, and his devotion to the woman 20 years older than himself continued through her years of sickness and old age. It is entirely a mystery what was going on and why, but it started as a sincere and godless love for her that ended in years of dutiful devotion. That is much less inflamatory than your statement implies. And the other statement was made while drunk at a college party, again before he became a Christian. I am just thankful every stupid statement I made as an immature partier was not recorded to be held against my character and legacy as an adult!
    I only know this because I am currently reading a biography on him. I love your writing, Jonathan, but i think those statements were a little misleading with regards to character of Lewis.
    The other two statements aside, the man drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney – neither advisable in my opinion regardless of religious stance!

  • cken

    Yes one the mystery of the universe. The other the mystery of God. Had either come close to solving their mysteries, they would have likely discovered they ended up at the same place, answer, or conclusion.

  • cken

    And why exactly is the Atheist belief system better than the Christian belief system? The Atheists had Stalin, Hitler, Khan, Idi Amine, etc. ad infinitum. Human nature can be very evil regardless of the belief system they adhere to. Perhaps you are just holding Christians to a higher standard than yourself.

  • Atheist Max

    Mikehorn, Exactly.

  • Whitney,

    Thanks for writing. I actually consulted two Lewis scholars about the relationship above. It wasn’t intended to mislead, and I didn’t mention, for example, that Walter Hooper (and I believe Alister McGrath as well) argues that it was almost certainly a sexually intimate relationship. Rather, I used it to provide one instance of something that surprises those who tweet Lewis’ quotes without much knowledge of Lewis the man. Every one, of course, has these chapters in life.



  • Atheist Max


    That is a slander.

    These Straw-men are NOT examples of Atheism:

    Stalin was a self-appointed intermediary (CZAR) between God and the religion of the state. He demanded FAITH in that religion including the miracles of Lysenko, or death.
    That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

    Pol Pot was a Theravada Buddhist who ‘divined supernatural heaven’ of which he appointed himself leader and he demanded allegiance as self-appointed head of the religion of the state of Cambodia. He was against all education and science. What Atheist ever did that?
    That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

    Hitler and his SS were all confessing Catholics and Christians, hailed a faith in the Aryan Race divine by God’s judgement and demanded full faith in the religion of the state. “Gott Mit Uns” God With Us.
    That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

    Emperor Hirohito, was another cult of the Sun God – the sacrificial Kamikazes and the war with ‘sacred’ Japan.
    That is not Atheism – it is FAITH

    However, The United States Constitution remains the only Godless constitution in the world even today, thanks to Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin – That is ATHEISM !
    And happily we are enjoying it still today!


    War on Aids – 20 Million Dead – Catholics obstructed condoms over a 20 year period through their clinics as women begged to be saved from their husbands (“Aids is bad but condoms are worse” – Popes)

    Spanish Inquisition – 900,000 dead – Catholic

    The Crusades – (1095 c.e. -1291 c.e.) 2 Million dead – Catholics
Jewish Pogroms – 3 million dead excluding the Holocaust

    Witch Hunts – 500,000 dead

    Ireland – 600,000 dead (Catholic vs. Protestant)

    Rwanda 1994 (Catholic Facists killed 800,000 with machetes)

    Boznia-Herzegovina (Catholic Facists)

    The Ivory Coast civil wars (Catholic Facists)

    Franco, the Spanish Civil War (Catholic Facists)

    Cypriat War (Catholics)

    East Timor civil war

    Sri Lankan civil war

    Syria vs. Israel

    Kashmir civil war

    Chechnya civil war

Thirty Years War (Protestants VS. Catholics)

    WW1 – War of Christendom (37 Million dead)

    WW2 Nazi Anti-Semitism, “Gott Mit Uns” (‘GOD WITH US’)
    … AND Hirohito’s Shinto religion/Axis powers – 50 Million

    Albigensian Crusade, 1208-49
    Algeria, 1992-
    Baha’is, 1848-54
    Bosnia, 1992-95
    Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901

    Constantinian Empire & Christian Romans, 30-313 CE
    Croatia, 1991-92
    English Civil War, 1642-46
    Huguenot Wars, 1562-1598
    India, 1992-2002
    India: Suttee & Thugs
    Indo-Pakistani Partition, 1947

    Iran, Islamic Republic, 1979-

    Iraq, Shiites, 1991-92

    Jonestown, 1978

    Lebanon 1860 / 1975-92
    Molucca Is., 1999-
    Mongolia, 1937-39

    Northern Ireland, 1974-98

    Russian pogroms 1905-06 / 1917-22

    St. Bartholemew Massacre, 1572

    Shang China, ca. 1300-1050 BCE

    Shimabara Revolt, Japan 1637-38

    Sikh uprising, India, 1984-91

    Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1834
    Taiping Rebellion, 1850-64

    Tudor England

    Vietnam, 1800s

    Witch Hunts, 1400-1800
    Xhosa, 1857

    Arab Outbreak, 7th Century CE

    Arab-Israeli Wars, 1948-

    Al Qaeda, 1993-

    Dutch Revolt, 1566-1609

    Nigeria, 1990s, 2000s

    700,000,000 people dead because of religion.
    400,000,000 attributable to Christianity alone.

    Yet God doesn’t appear to take a side in these battles.

    Now, please show me where Voltaire, Carl Sagan, Mark Twain or Isaac Asimov ever burned a witch!

  • Fyodor

    What’s shocking about this, Eva? This represents 20 centuries of Christian thinking. Do you mean it’s shocking that Lewis (who died 50 years ago) didn’t share the up-to-the-minute tolerance of 2014, when much of the church forgot the last 20 centuries?

  • Joe Schmoe

    Thinkling, that quote “you are not a body…” is a popular misquote of Lewis that’s been traveling around on the web for a while. It’s from a quote from George McDonald (a newspaper attributed it to him) and a slight variation of the quote is found Walter Miller’s book “Canticle for Leibowitz,” which seems to have popularized it.

  • Nathan R

    It’s a bad sign when one fails even to knock down a straw man. I say straw man, because an article prefaced with “most Christians…” “probably picture…” “they may be surprised…” “may have been so turned on…” is an article that assumes a lot of facts not in evidence, both about the (imagined) audience of “most Christians” and the (historically unclear) subject Lewis.

    That said, the point of the article appears to be zinging “most Christians” for what the author perceives as critical shortcomings in Lewis’ orthodoxy. This is presumably the equivalent of the political debating trick of “Even John F. Kennedy lowered marginal tax rates” or “Even Ronald Regan raised payroll taxes.” Such a position is rarely rigorous since it contains two constituent pieces which must both be defended: (1) that the subject (in this case, Lewis) can be said to speak for the audience on all relevant subjects, and (2) that the quotes or positions referenced actually subvert some set of beliefs held by the audience. These “surprising quotes” fit the bill on none of the above. More succinctly, the quotes are neither “surprising” to most Christian Lewis fans, nor particularly “troubling” even if one were surprised.

    Lewis’ position on Scripture was very clear, articulated in numerous places, and is in no way surprising. Lewis is famous for describing the Gospel as a “true myth” and, in fact, the factual ground of all enduring myths. This pervades is writing, and is entirely consistent with his literary and critical background. Moreover, it is entirely consistent with most serious Christian biblical hermeneutics approaches. The staunchest young-earth Anabaptist will be happy to confirm that poetic books are read differently from historical chronicles, and different still from Gospel or Epistolary writings. Moreover, reading the Bible as literature is common enough to have spawned books and courses on exactly that subject. That Lewis takes a literary interpretive approach to Genesis surprises almost none and is probably controversial to few more.

    Lewis’ quote on chastity is blindingly obvious and blindingly orthodox. It is no more “pragmatic” and equally as “rigid” as any modern Evangelical approach. Lewis straight-out says that chastity is to be maintained, absolutely. Failure to maintain chastity is sin. Sin requires repentance and rededication to sin no more. This could not surprise anyone or be any less controversial.

    Lewis’ quote on Genesis is more of the same with the Scriptural comment noted in #1. That Lewis would approach Genesis in a non-scientific interpretive mode is neither surprising nor contradictory to most Christian approaches.

    The quote on atonement is still more baffling in its inclusion. “Mere Christianity” was deliberately written to sidestep subsidiary theological disputes which are generally acknowledged, even by those disputing them, to be outside the grounds of “saving orthodoxy” such that saints may disagree. Remaining “vague” on a subsidiary issue such as the exact mechanics and terminology of atonement is pretty much the whole point of “Mere Christianity,” which was intended as the opposite of a Scripture-heavy doctrinal argument. Lewis is not denigrating the legitimacy of such an argument; he is ignoring it in the same way that a second-grade math teacher will ignore differential equations.

    Finally, Lewis’ quotes on hell are typical of his speculative and image-rich approach to the subject (he also described a “confusion” of damned souls as being “melted into their master” in “Perelandra” as well as being consumed like “fine wine” in “Screwtape Letters”). Note that nothing in these quotes indicates that Lewis thinks that hell does not exist; nor disputes that hell is a destination of some souls; nor disputes that hell’s suffering is an appropriate sanction for sinful men. One might just as well cite his description of hell in “Great Divorce” as, essentially, a dull joyless suburb, to argue that Lewis fervently believed that hell would have houses. Lewis’ imaginative guesses at the form of hell are, again, not very surprising. I believe I come down somewhat differently than Lewis on the form of it, but he clearly believes there is a Hell and that bad men will end there, which is about as far as most orthodox Christians will take it. There are very few, if any, Christians who would argue that the exact nature of the form of hell’s punishment is any kind of central salvific doctrine. This is in significant contrast to Rob Bell, who I presume is being referenced in the snarky “Farewell C.S. Lewis” comment, whose position appears to be that hell does not exist and that no bad men will end there. Bell’s position calls into question the necessity of Christ’s salvation; Lewis’ exercises in metaphor do not.

    Lewis did not speak for me, or many Christians, on each and every point of doctrine. I am a Christian, not a Lewisian. But these quotes are well-known and typical of Lewis’ oeuvre, and do not even highlight likely points of actual disagreement. In short, no Christian with any familiarity with Lewis would be surprised at these quotes, nor would many Christians find them particularly objectionable. But I suppose this is neither the first, nor the last, post to attach Lewis’ name and cachet to a shallow article to drive page hits. Well played, in that regard – I was caught.

  • Fyodor

    It is interesting, and noteworthy, that the same author (Piper), who wrote Rob Bell off, loves Lewis. I find myself agreeing with Piper on both counts, yet it Is inconsistent. But it’s not entirely inconsistent. Lewis at least clearly loved and valued and believed in the truth. To me, Bell is a tiresome questioner who lives to raise doubts, without a corresponding concern to answer big questions. How anyone could watch his hip yet joyless Nooma videos and get excited remains mysterious to me. Lewis had awe over beauty — the beauty of creation and the beauty of the truth.

  • Paladin13

    Poor Carl Sagan found out his atheism was false and now he is spending “billions and billions” of years in captivity to his sins. Too bad.

  • Fyodor

    Another mystery: why these facts that were reported in a recent Lewis biography are so agitating tooso many people. They are facts!

  • Joe Schmoe

    Jonathan, while your statements are supported by the scholars, of course, the fact is that you did leave out in the intro that the “lived secretly with a woman for years” and “turned on by S&M” parts were pre-conversion. By mixing it with his drinking and smoking, which were throughout his life, the average reader easily gets the impression that all of them were throughout his life. I.E. given the title of the piece, most folks will read it as “C.S. Lewis did all these things while he was a Christian.” Whether intended or no, it comes across as misleading albeit a salacious “catch your attention” intro that is common in online journalism.

  • Joe Schmoe

    Nice analysis, Nathan R. I was thinking much the same when reading through.

  • FAMiniter

    AtheistMax – this is actually a reply to your prior post listing various religious wars. You left out what may be the worst of them, the Taipeng Rebellion in China (1850 – 1864), led by Hong Xiuquan, who announced that he had received visions in which he learned that he was the younger brother of Jesus. 20,000,000 to 50,000,000 dead.

  • Atheist Max

    THANK YOU for that information.
    Every time I talk to someone about those wars which were expressly religious I learn of a new one I had never heard of.

    50,000,000 dead in the Taipeng Rebellion.
    All because of a religious vision ….Ugh.

  • nathan

    This is much yack about nothing. C.S.Lewis never considered himself to be a great theologian. He was however, an intellectual, a great writer and a committed Christian. The story of his conversion from atheism to Christianity is worth the consideration of every “atheist.” And the conversion of fellow British scholar and atheist, G.K.Chesterton, also! Reading C.S. Lewis on Christianity, or history or literature, is like being taught at the knee of your favorite uncle. He’s enlightening, provoking and above all….kind. Most of the crapola written in response to Merritt’s piece are by people that have opinions on C.S. Lewis, but have probably read nothing by him. Merritt’s essay also has little to offer. Shut up and read C.S.Lewis!

  • Art

    Sad. Just plain sad.

  • Atheist Max

    Ridiculous. Get over yourself.

  • Scott M

    Too bad you cant keep your atheism out of politics. The idea of a Republican Democracy is such that our foremost inalienable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No democracy can vote these rights away (murder by majority vote) because they were endowed to us by our Creator. Period.

  • Golo

    I am not at all surprised to learn what a nasty piece of work C S Lewis was in private life. I guessed as much from his hot gospelling confidence trickster’s theology. Anyone who wrote what he did had to be a liar and completely insincere and lacking in an atom of goodness.

    No, none of this shocks me. it just shows my gut insitinct is sound.

  • Scott M

    Ive studied Mere Christianity until its dog-eared. Each time with an open mind; looking to interpret things in a new way. This book is full of Biblical Citations.

    If you studied the Liar, Lunatic, or Lord argument you would understand the logic that He didnt leave any other option by virtue of what He said. You”ll have to produce a more cohesive theological support for you Legend theory.

  • Guy

    God knows which of us will accept him and go to heaven and which of us will not and go to hell. He has always known this. Yet he continues to watch millions of precious little babies be born know he will be burning them for eternity in hell. Doesn’t make sense to me. Heres another one. A christian husband and wife are faithful to god. They have 3 wonderful children, who grew up to be very good, kind and loving adults who always helped others and treated people the way they wanted to be treated. But they did not accept jesus as their savior. They simply did not believe. So the christian husband and wife die and go to heaven where there are no more tears. But wait, they know their children did not accept jesus and are burning in hell. How can you be happy knowing your loved ones are burning in hell eternally. Makes no sense to me. Jesus’s father is the epitome of cruelty. Thanks goodness he does not exist.

  • Jay

    Having read CSL deeply and for many years I have to admit that I admired his skills, and intellect, but in the end even he could not untwist the Gordian knot of Christianity for me. He may in fact have helped me see more clearly that the ‘mysteries of God’ were nothing more than incomprehensible doctrines, created as ad hoc attempts to tie together disparate and contradictory declarations / myths / legends / clearly wrong assumptions.

    My most prized gift from CSL has been his help in freeing myself from the bondage of religion. If he WAS a devotee of S&M, well at least he enjoyed his human existence.

  • Atheist Todd

    Atheist Max…. You are my hero! Ksst4477@gmail.com chat me up some time

  • james

    “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”

    david hume, on supposed virgin birth; “What is more likely, that the natural order has been suspended, in our favor, a miracle performed, or that a bronze-age Jewish girl told a lie?”

  • Edward Borges-Silva

    Since you reject what most people would regard as a basic definition of Atheism; I would appreciate a clear succinct definition of your own, though I wonder what qualifies you to define the term for everyone else. I take it to simply mean a disbelief in any overarching supernatural Power or Designer.

    I respect your view that Stalinism, Maoism, et. al. are forms of religion, but that does not mean that their disciples were not atheists. Atheism itself may be defined as a form of religion.

  • Paul Frantizek

    Good read. Sad to see the atheists have arrived to troll the comments. Oh well.

  • The only people shocked by these quotes are the people who never read any C.S. Lewis. It’s sort of a right of passage in educated Christian circles to read C.S. Lewis, love C.S. Lewis, struggle with C.S. Lewis, and then come to terms with the fact that he (like any serious Christian in the last 2000 years) is a mixed bag — and that the way to sort the good from the bad is by comparing what he wrote to Scripture.

    I realize that’s a rather quaint approach that’s prone to denominationalism, but it’s also what people who graduated from High School, intellectually, are forced to do with the Christian faith.

  • Mikehorn

    Most of stalin’s citizens were Russian Orthodox, a power he harnessed like Mao chose to harness catholic bishops. China and the Vatican argue still about the role and loyalty of bishops. This has also been an argument in America, and it was one of the defining issues in Europe for more than 1000 years: who are bishops loyal to? Religious freedom, yes, but the Vatican also claims statehood, with ambassadors and everything else. When a bishop speaks on politics, we tolerate that far more than we would the same action from the British Ambassador. The ambassador might get recalled and replaced for engaging the way bishops do. But bishops swear loyalty and subservience to a foreign head of state, the Pope. And, yes, Catholicism is by far the majority of Christians both worldwide and in America. The Vatican doesn’t claim worldly power now, but did so as recently as the 1800’s.

    China is a bit of a red herring in this conversation. Mao kinda sorta adopted Stalinism, but I think history will judge him another Chinese emperor, one whose defining action was booting out Western colonialism. His break from the Soviets was a major political moment in the 20th Century. But China before Mao was Buddhist and Confucionist and Toaist, none of which require supernatural belief. China before Mao was 90% or more atheist already. Compare this to Japan, which was and is majority Shinto: pagan. Or N Korea, which is a really bizarre mix of Shinto-like worship and the most extreme dynastic monarchy in recent history (N Korea is definitely not Communist, though it has distorted traces of Stalinism).

    For the record, Nazi Germany was split between Lutheran Protestant and Catholic, with most Christian sects tolerated or encouaged. Hitler was a Catholic in good standing (ie not excommunicated. Don’t know his mass attendance). The nazi version of nationalism stated that Christian religious belief was the basis for good citizenship. Vocally opposed to Soviet official atheism. Nazi soldiers were almost to a man Christian, the army’s slogan on their uniform belt buckle: “Gott mit Uns!”, or God with Us!

  • Mikehorn

    I’ve attempted to keep my objections civil and on point.

  • Mikehorn

    He also wrote good science fiction and fantasy, which nearly everyone can enjoy. I find his theological stuff sophomoric, shallow.

  • Mikehorn

    Interesting. Many people read the Bible and get there, but I might reconsider what I got from Lewis in light of your comment.

    My defining reads were:
    The bible
    Catechism of the Catholic Church
    Catholic literature for teenagers
    Canon law
    Paul Johnson’s (a catholic historian) “History of Christianity”

    All of the above led me away from Christianity.

    If you are already a doubter, or just want to be informed for whatever reason, check out:
    “Doubt” by J.M. Hecht

  • Mikehorn

    EBS, what is your definition of atheist?

    Mine is lack of supernatural belief. Put another way, there isn’t a religion in existence that convinced me.

    As a child I was convinced of Catholicism, but that started fading by the time I was 14, and was completely gone by 20. Those six years had me studying Catholicism and Christianity more broadly in great depth. Also Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism. The Hindu writings are quite beautiful, if you haven’t read them. But nothing I read came close to convincing me. Most people don’t know their own religion, so talking was usually a bust. Or people are hyper focused on one or two issues and forget the rest, becoming hypocrites and jerks (I’m looking at you, anti-choicers) so tied up in logical fallacies they might never find the way back to humanity.

  • John

    Quote 1 says that Lewis does not accept the inerrancy of Scripture — i.e., he is not a fundamentalist. Since the vast majority of Christians aren’t fundamentalists either, this places Lewis firmly in the mainstream. Indeed, such atypical Christian thinkers as Augustine and Basil the Great made similar statements. Hugh of St. Victor wrote a longish book on the various ways of interpreting scripture in the 12th Century.

    Quote 2 says that we can avoid sin only through the help of God. The opposing view, called Pelagianism, was deemed heretical in the Fourth Century. BTW, Lewis did not “live with” Joy Davidman, he was married to her. Indeed, the marriage came well before any sexual intimacy, since he originally married her so that Joy — an American — could stay in the UK when her visa was not renewed. The two did not live together until she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. See the film Shadowlandsfor their relationship.

    Quote 3 is saying that, like the overwhelming majority of Christians, Lewis was not a creationist.

    Quote 4 is merely saying that we do not know exactly how Christ redeemed us. Quelle surprise!

    Quote 5 is perhaps surprising. He is saying that perhaps, instead of going to Hell, the souls of the damned may be destroyed instead. He is, of course, not the first to entertain that idea.

  • Mikehorn

    Nathan, that is one of the most interesting posts I’ve read. I had ignored the straw man, but did consider “no true Scotsman”. Christians fighting over arcane bits of theology either amuses or saddens or horrifies, depending on context.

    Thanks for pointing out most Christians ignore CSL. Catholics prefer Tolkien in that role, but most go elsewhere.

  • Atheist Max

    Christians are trolling the whole world. You are a danger to yourselves.
    A few challenging comments by Atheists should be welcomed.
    Imagine your life without the rational influence of Atheism:

    “Watching horror films is a way to bring demons into your life and it might stop your car from working.” – Pat Robertson

    “Kill the infidel” – Quran
    “Kill the non-believers” – Torah
    “Kill my enemies” – Jesus Christ (Luke 19:27)

    Religious people are caught in a game of chicken – Atheists just want everyone to come to their senses.

  • Joe

    I feel like the C.S. Lewis contradict most of what the article’s author seems to believe C.S. Lewis is saying. Overall, it seems like a poor interpretation of what Christians believe and a poor interpretation of these quotes. Or maybe I am just out of touch with main stream Christians.

  • Atheist Max


    Atheism is strictly about belief.
    It is not a CLAIM that there is no god.

    Atheist – “I do not believe in any gods”
    Agnostic – “I do not know if any gods exist”

    Theist – “I know there is a god”

    A few people are ‘Gnostic Atheists’ or ‘Hard Atheists’ – they do CLAIM that God does NOT exist. I make no such claim.

    If God does exist, and if he is good, he must forgive me for being honest. I simply cannot believe in gods. I have seen no argument and heard no compelling demonstration in favor of a god, yet.
    I am rather joyous that there is no indication that it is real.

  • Atheist Max

    It is your great fortune that you live in an Atheistic Constitutional democracy which allows all faiths to flourish as they wish.
    America has a GODLESS constitution – still the only one on earth – where no particular religion is OR CAN BE established.

    My only purpose here is to convince you to help us keep it that way be rejecting any effort to mix politics and religion.

  • Rich Tuttle

    It’s still feels like a dig at Piper and like minded conservatives, even if the tweet has become emblematic. My point is that this article sounds more like shoehorning an agenda than anything else. If that’s not what you’re doing then cool, I’m just saying that’s how it comes off.

    And regarding # 3 (and 5) my point wasn’t that such a belief wouldn’t create controversy, but that you had to qualify each quote as either being arguable or an idea that Lewis may not have ultimately held on to. Which is hardly shocking.

  • Artaban7

    “But the law insists women have a right to their own bodies. And that is a wise law. ” –Atheist Max

    If it were her own body, the baby’s DNA would be identical to hers. It’s not. It’s unique, from the moment of conception.

    If it were her own body it wouldn’t be possible for the blood type to be different from the mother’s. But such is often the case.

    I thought atheists were supposed to be much vaunted defenders of science and reason, but it seems the science doesn’t really matter to you. Interesting….

    What I hear you saying is that it’s wise to have a law that designates a specific location in which it’s perfectly legal to end an innocent human life, which is madness and inhumanity at once…

  • Artaban7

    If one swallows the “Legend” argument he/she must be willing to dismiss most of what is accepted as “recorded history”.

    There is more evidence for the existence and actions of Jesus Christ than there is for any other ancient historical figure prior to the 1st century (including Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, etc).

    If Jesus was a pure fabrication and not a living person, why do so many of his enemies write of him as a historical reality?

    The (pagan) Romans acknowledge they executed him as a criminal. The Pharisees go to great lengths to try and explain how his tomb is found empty. The Talmud even admits he performed supernatural acts, but attempts to explain they were not achieved by divine power (claim he was a magician).

    The simple fact is there is a mountain of eyewitness testimony for the life, actions, and even Resurrection of Christ, and while enemies of Christianity try to refute the Resurrection, NO ONE living in 1st century Palestine tries to argue that the man didn’t live!

    You have to go much further down the historical path before you find anyone making such an absurd, unsupported claim.

  • Larry

    Because you were in the afterlife to see him. 🙂
    Too bad you didn’t stay there.

    Beating up on Carl Sagan is like belittling Fred Rogers or Jim Henson. Its just tasteless to besmirch someone beloved by so many, whose works has unambiguously left the world a better place.

  • Artaban7

    There is nothing contradictory in the canonical gospels. There may be material that is paradoxical, but paradox does not in fact make something untrue.

    We have 4 different Gospels because we have multiple eyewitnesses, and any time you question a group of people about one event you’ll get very different accounts of what happened. The modern legal/police system fully recognizes this–indeed if all the witnesses recount things identically, that is evidence of collusion and fraud.

    You can prove this quite easily. Stage a fake verbal fight with a loved one and friend, record it, then have someone ask the eyewitnesses to describe what occurred. You’ll get wildly different accounts, and some reports that don’t match up with the recorded video (especially since we are not a culture of oral tradition anymore). Many law schools do just such an exercise to teach about eyewitness testimony.

    You have to recall that the Apostles/Disciples probably heard Jesus give the same teaching or Sermon repeatedly, as he went about preaching from place to place. That’s why the Synoptic Gospels share a good amount of identical material, but have some differing details.

  • Larry

    The problem with recorded history of Jesus was it was neither history nor recorded. There is no contemporaneous historical account of him. He would not have merited it in his time. A peasant of little consequence with the Roman imperial system and only of temporary local interest. Jesus did not write his own accounts. Instead it is 2nd hand through the Apostles. All of which was edited for effect by the Council of Nicaea. None of your “eyewitness” or “recorded” accounts were written around the time of Jesus’s life. Most of which date centuries after his death.

    Plato, Socrates and Aristotle wrote their own works and were of high enough social standing to merit being recorded in mundane records at the time and accounts of famous contemporaries. We know how they lived and died since all three had direct contact with the powers that be of their cultures.

  • Larry

    Actually no serious historian can prove his existence, or rule it out entirely. He probably existed but there is nothing really reliable to go on, nor would there be. What survives antiquity and what doesn’t is fickle.

    At best they can say, he probably existed.

  • Artaban7

    Atheist Max just destroyed his credibility completely with his grossly inaccurate “death toll” list.

    For one, the “Spanish Inquisition 900,000” isn’t a figure any credible historian agrees with, nor is it supported by either the exhaustive records of the time or the forensic evidence (exhumation of bodies and examination of graveyards).

    Try 3,000-5,000, over a time period of 356 years, that’s just over 14/year. The ATHEISTIC (Max’s own words–since you claim that is the nature of our Constitution) American legal system has killed more per year than the Inquisition did.

    If Max is so very wrong about that, what else is he grossly wrong about (or deliberately falsifying)?

  • Anon

    Your comment sounds “very evangelistic”. Trying to persuade others of your beliefs (no matter what they are) is the essence of evangelism.

  • Larry

    Only if he was alive today. The Britain he lived in considered homosexuality a criminal offense. They also believed racial segregation and imperialism were generally good things. Times change.

  • Rob T

    Artaban7, You are wrong – We have no eye-witness accounts of Jesus.
    All of the gospels are contradictory as well as self-contradictory.

  • Rob T

    Yes, Atheist Max is wrong about the number who died in the Spanish Inquisitions. It was not 900,000 as he says.
    But there is no doubt the number was at least 200,000 by the accounts on Wikipedia and elsewhere. His other numbers are not far off.
    Plus it is amusing that you think a woman does not own her own body – guess that says something about your sort of Christianity. Try to convince women to see things your way and we’ll see a few more atheists in our corner

  • Hamid Alhab

    A MAX; enjoying your posts at RNS. Very thought provoking.

  • Artaban7

    The 3,000-5,000 figure I quote was from a source linked on wikipedia. Luck under the “Death Toll” subsection for Spanish Inquisition. Don’t know where your 200,000 figure is coming from, so it very much is in doubt. It was a popular Protestant polemic during the European Wars of Religion to claim the Catholic Inquisition killed a million or more, but that has been thoroughly discredited by forensic investigation.

    Other figures and claims of his are off. Hitler was not Catholic by any definition of the word. He didn’t attend Mass, or practice the Sacraments. Can you be on a team if you don’t attend practice or play in the game?

    He and these allegedly “Catholic” SS members executed 81% of the Catholic clergy in Poland alone. Catholics and Protestants that stood up to them were imprisoned and executed (like Titus Brandsma, Fr. Kolbe, Sr. Teresa Benedicta, all of whom denounced Nazi ideology publicly in [Catholic] print). Please, actions speak louder than words, and its pretty clear they weren’t Catholic or Christian.

    Communism is atheistic, and Marx explicitly said so. Communists confiscated religious property, imprisoned religious ministers, and directly outlawed the practice of religion in countries from Mexico, China, Cambodia, Russia, etc. What is more atheistic than those anti-religious actions? If that doesn’t fit the definition, what does?

    And Communism led to the deaths of between 160 million and 500 million (according to the Black Book of Communism) last century alone.

    We could certainly quibble over whether Fascism is intrinsically atheistic. We could argue over whether atheism is nothing more than a religion of personal idolatry, and whether the human person, being innately religious, makes Reason or the State into a God when it rejects the explicit acknowledgement of him.

    But I would hope we could all agree that there is a darkness in humanity–regardless of the label we choose to attach to ourselves. We are supremely good at deluding ourselves, and have not we all dressed selfish actions or intentions up in the justification of the “common good”, “religion”, “reason(ableness)”, etc.?

    My point is that I’ve encountered atheists that seem to think some Utopia awaits us if religion is abolished. The truth is sinful, selfish people will use some other excuse, label, or justification to commit evil. The problem is not religion. The problem is sinful human nature. And atheism has no program to really deal with that.

  • Larry

    I always find the following quote a great simple description of atheism.

    “Atheism is to religious belief what bald is to hair color.” 🙂

  • Shawnie5

    You are in no position to categorically call Artaban wrong, Rob. You, and others, may believe that we have no eyewitness accounts of Jesus but that is no more than inference and speculation. No one has ever produced any particularly compelling evidence with which to rebut the traditional attributions.

  • Shawnie5

    Even the most skeptical scholars do not place the gospels any later than about AD 80, not “centuries later.”. And they edited nothing at Nicea. Nicea’s purpose was not to compile or edit scripture but to decide a theological question using the writings which were universally accepted as authoritative by Christians of the time.

  • Atheist Max


    The Spanish Inquisition lasted for 700 hundreds years. My figures are from a book, “The Spanish Inquisition: A History” by Joseph Perez. The exact number of deaths is IMPOSSIBLE to measure because of the continuing slaughter over so many years 1231 AD to 1826 – and the records are spotty and the methods of death were neglect and starvation in prison as well as torture and being burned alive.

    The specific number of humans burned alive FOR WHICH THERE ARE RELIABLE RECORDS numbers at a approximately 34,000 human beings burned alive. This can only be the most conservative number since records were not kept from all the provinces!

    Hundreds of thousands of additional deaths are known to have happened from starvation, torture and long-term imprisonment.
    700 years of Catholics killing people for not being Catholic!

    The number killed in secondary ways number 200,000 at minimum. Read the ENTIRE wikipedia article. An additional 600,000 people who were tried and many lived under constant threat or house arrest on some number of occasions – it is unknown.

    It is like trying to figure out how many indians the American settler’s killed in the first 400 years. All we know is that the population mostly vanished!

  • Atheist Max


    Adolph Hitler was as Catholic as many Popes!

    His first Peace Treaty was with the Vatican in 1933 which celebrated his birthday with the ringing of church bells throughout Europe – every April, EVEN THROUGH THE WAR!

    Hitler’s favorite parable is said to have been “The 12 Minas” :

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their king, and EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    In Germany during the Nazi era, a 1933 decree stated that “No National Socialist may suffer detriment… on the ground that he does not make any religious profession at all”.[15] However, the regime strongly opposed “godless communism”,[16][17] and most of Germany’s atheist and largely left-wing freethought organizations were banned the same year; some right-wing groups were tolerated by the Nazis until the mid-1930s.[18][19] During negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of April 26, 1933 Hitler stated that “Secular schools can never be tolerated” because of their irreligious tendencies. In a speech made later in 1933, Hitler claimed to have “stamped [Gottlosenbewegung] it out”. The word Hitler used, “Gottlosenbewegung”, refers specifically to the communist freethought movement, not atheism in general.

    From the earliest formation of the Nazi party he expressed his Christian support to the German citizenry and soldiers. He was baptized as Roman Catholic in Austria, attended a monastery school and was a communicant and an altar boy in the Catholic Church.

    Hitler was confirmed as a “SOLDIER of CHRIST” and his goal was to become a priest. He was never excommunicated or condemned and the church had stated that he was “Avenging for God” in attacking the Jews for they deemed the Semites the killers of Jesus.

    Hitler was given VETO POWER over whom the Pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany!
    ….and forged a treaty whereas the National Socialist state was officially recognized by the Catholic Church, “The Vatican Koncordat” of 1933.

    In a letter to the Nazi party, he wrote “…this treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism is hostile to religion is a lie.”

    He allied with Pope Pius in converting German society and made a deal with the church whereas the church absorbed Nazi ideals and preached them as part of their sermons, and in turn, Hitler placed Catholic teachings in public education. This lead to Hitler enacting doctrines of the Church as law. He outlawed all abortion, raged a death war on all homosexuals, and demanded corporal punishment in schools and home.

    Hitler was quoted, “The National Socialist State professes its allegiance to positive Christianity. It will be its honest endeavor to protect both the great Christian Confessions in their rights, to secure them from interference with their doctrines (Lehren), and in their duties to constitute a harmony with the views and the exigencies of the State of today…Providence has caused me to be Catholic, and I know therefore how to handle this Church.”

    In fact, the Holocaust grew out of Hitler’s Christian education due mainly to Jews having an inferior status in Christian Austria and Germany. The Christians there blamed the Jews for the killing of Jesus and the hatred that Hitler fostered against Jewish people began from the preaching of Catholic priests and Protestant ministers throughout Germany. It is well known that Martin Luther held a livid hatred for Jews and their religion. Luther wrote a book titled “On the Jews and their Lies” which set the standard for Jewish hatred all the way up to World War 2.
    Hitler, of course, expressed enormous admiration for Martin Luther.

    The Nazis began to control schools insisting that Christianity was taught. They included anti-Semitic Christian writings in textbooks and were not removed from Christian doctrines until 1961. Nazi soldiers wore religious symbols and placed religious sayings on military gear. The official army belt buckle read “God With Us”. They got sprinkled with holy water and listened to Catholic sermons before going out on maneuvers. The Nazis had a secret service called the “SS Reich” that would act as spies on the dealings of other citizens and if anyone was suspected of heresy they would be prosecuted.

    Here is Hitler’s commitment to Christianity:
    “We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” -Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933

    “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.” -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922

    “Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars. Only from this fanatical intolerance could its apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute presupposition.” -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf

    “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)


  • Rob T

    Bart Ehrman in particular comes to mind for completely destroying the notion, in scholarly way, that there are any eyewitness accounts. There are none. As Bart says, we only have “copies of copies of copies of copies” of the Gospels and in no case are the ‘authors’ are who they say they are. Of the letters of Paul, some are authentic, but Paul never saw Jesus and even says it was not the ‘physical Jesus’. And he seems to have known nothing about any of the miracles or the resurrection of Jesus. So…Slam dunk.

  • Atheist Max


    Are you trying to say that hundreds of Zombies walked around for an entire week!? (Matthew 27:53) And YET THOMAS MISSED IT?


    Thomas seems to have missed all of the many resurrections which supposedly happened on the day of the Crucifixion. And it isn’t clear how or why he could have missed them:

    “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
    “Then, behold, … MANY BODIES OF THE SAINTS AND PROPHETS who had fallen asleep WERE RAISED FROM THE DEAD; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:51-53)

    So….. many were risen immediately, and after Jesus rose these risen people were all over town!

    Yet, astonishingly, Thomas absolutely refused to believe such resurrections could happen even though THOMAS HAD BEEN in Jerusalem that week.

    Thomas not only refused to believe in these resurrections – but… continued to disbelieve even a full week later.

    We know this because Thomas rejects the disciples.

    “….the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
    “But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I WILL NOT believe.”
    “A WEEK LATER his disciples were in the house again…”(John 20:25)

    This reveals that Thomas did not believe Matthew’s version of the Crucifixion with the many risen saints.

    Had Thomas believed, he would have been happy to hear that Jesus had risen also.

    BUT NO! Instead, Thomas REFUSED to believe.

    If Thomas didn’t believe in the resurrections (zombies) in Matthew even while Jerusalem was supposedly full of these people all week why should anyone else?

    Either Matthew is correct or John is correct
    but they cannot both be correct about Thomas!

    To make things even more unbelievable,
    Luke says Thomas witnessed Jesus on the very day of the resurrection, THOMAS saw the wounds along with the other 10 remaining disciples in Jerusalem and was instructed to stay in town by Jesus himself.

    “…they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together … Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:31-36) THE ONLY ONE MISSING WAS JUDAS!

    There is no way to fix this problem.
    All of the gospels refute each other.
    Grow up. It didn’t happen.

  • Atheist Max



    Why didn’t Thomas reject Matthew’s account of the crucifixion?
    Why didn’t Thomas believe his own eyes on the day of the Resurrection? (Luke 24:31-36)
    Why does John directly contradict Luke? (John 20:27)
    Why believe Thomas at all?

  • Shawnie5

    Max, stop and think for yourself for a moment. If you were, say, from Baltimore, and were visiting DC for some special event, and a bunch of people you never met and knew nothing about walked out of Arlington National Cemetery, you would have no clue about whether they were resurrected or not. They’d just be a bunch of strangers to you, and their resurrection would be quite easy for you to “miss.”. But if your recently-executed best friend, with the wounds of his execution still upon him, walked up and said hi, of course that would be altogether different–just like it was in Thomas’s case.

  • Atheist Max

    The Gospel of John and the Gospel of Matthew are completely contradictory on the question of Thomas. But just in case you don’t get it….
    Your excuses won’t work for 11 very specific reasons
    (Luke 24:31-36)

  • Karen

    You ask, what’s wrong with putting faith in your own intellect? Well, I guess nothing, if you never have a problem that your intellect can’t solve, and you live an idyllic life — (and since there’s no God, you just go “poof”– out of existence). But- suppose “life happens” —suppose you end up losing that wonderful intellect – where are you then? What do you have when you get Alzheimer’s, dementia, or perhaps end up on tubes in a hospital, after some drunk driver jumps a median and hits you head-on? Again, if you’re REALLY sure there’s no God–I suppose you have no problems. But if you’re wrong, it could be an eternity contemplating that mistake- a very,very bad eternity. Why not solve the issue once and for all, man-up. and ask Him if He exists – honestly, with an open mind to be proved right or wrong? Then you’ll know. But don’t ask Him if you’re just doing a mental exercise and aren’t for REAL- He doesn’t play games. FYI- I prob. won’t be on this website again- I’m here only because I was biding time waiting for a job. May the Force- the real One– be with you and give you peace.

  • Shawnie5

    My friend, Bart Ehrman destroys exactly nothing. In his books he makes much of minor textual variations within different manuscripts (the vast majority of which are spelling errors), while neglecting to demonstrate how these impact the faith in any way. But on the question of the authorship of the gospels he operates almost entirely upon assumption. Assumption that the dates he assigns to the gospels are correct (no compelling evidence has ever been offered on this subject), assumption that the gospels were themselves the earliest writings on the life of Christ (which ignores the probably existence of Q, as well as Luke’s specific statement that there had been other early writings), and most ludicrously of all, assumption that we are in a better position today, 2000 years after the fact, to know about the gospels’ authorship than the earliest church fathers, from the turn of the 1st century onward, who made the original attributions. Generally historians accept plausible attributions of written works made by persons from the same general time and place, particularly when they are unanimous and completely uncontested as were the gospel attributions, unless convincing rebuttal evidence is presented. None has been produced, and at this late date it is unlikely that any ever will be.

    Anyone who thinks that throwing out a “scholarly” name constitutes a “slam-dunk” on any subject is far too gullible. As evidenced by your false assertion, no doubt parroted from someone else equally clueless, that Paul never spoke of Jesus’ resurrection–itself the greatest and most significant miracle of the entire gospel narrative.

  • Atheist Max

    Who was Mark and why should anyone believe him? He was not an apostle and was not an eyewitness.

    Who was Luke and why should anyone believe him?
    He was not an apostle, either. And he was not an eyewitness because he draws directly from Mark – why would an eyewitness lean on another text?

    Why believe Matthew? His gospel reveals in several places that the writer IS NOT an eyewitness. Plus he also relies on Mark – why would an eyewitness do that?

    All of the scholarship shows the earliest Gospels we know of were written in Greek. All of the Apostles were illiterate and lived nowhere near Greece. And we have no “autographs” i.e., the original gospels. What we have are copies of copies of copies of copies which didn’t surface until the 2nd century.

    Hard to see any authorship worth mentioning.

    The letters of Paul appear to be the first things written regarding Jesus some 15-20 years after Jesus died. Though no originals exist, most (but certainly not all) of these letters are considered authentic by scholars for very specific reasons.

    Mark is the first Gospel, written around 70 A.D. No original exists.
    The other gospels follow with John being the last, produced around 95-100 A.D. Decades after the death of Jesus. Again, no originals exist. Just the copies of other copies.

    Who was Mark?

    He was not an apostle. Why should anyone believe him?
    Who was Luke? Also not an apostle. Though he may be the Greek link this argues against an eyewitness.

    Further, the names the Gospels are attributed to are neither the authors nor necessarily connected to those individuals.

    And Matthew strangely refers to himself in the 3rd person – “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9). Peculiar for eyewitness testimony.

    According to the Gospels themselves neither Mark nor Luke were among those with Jesus. The Gospel of John is written so long after Jesus died that it could only have been written by many people, perhaps dozens and may bear no resemblance to anything of John himself. We can’t know.

    “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” (Matthew 10:24)

    As you can see, no Luke and no Mark are among the apostles.
    But the scholarship, interesting as it is, does not give us what we want regarding authorship.

    Time to grow up. It isn’t real.

  • Shawnie5

    “Your excuses won’t work for 11 very specific reasons (Luke 24:31-36)”

    Max, you’re forgetting that the author of Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 1:21-23 records that the remaining disciples chose a replacement for Judas, named Matthias, who had been with them from beginning to end and was, quite specifically, a witness to the appearance of the resurrected Christ. To Luke, the disciples are ALWAYS a group of twelve.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but the desperate lengths to which you evangelical atheists go to attack the gospels actually smacks of fear.

  • Atheist Max

    So these holy people walked out of the ground – as you agree – and talked with people IN JERUSALEM from the day of Jesus’ crucifixion for some period of time. (Matthew 27:53).

    The whole city saw these people and visited with them. They ‘saw’ the people too, presumably (their eyes had returned I suppose) and they must have had enough flesh on them to look like their original selves since Matthew identifies them as ‘saints’ and ‘prophets’.

    After a few days of visiting and perhaps eating and drinking (did they have their vocal chords and stomachs again?) they were able to walk and visit. It had to be AN ENORMOUS EVENT – much, much more impressive than the resurrection of JESUS!!!!

    Yet… Thomas was
    “…In Jerusalem”(Luke 24:31-36)

    A week later he says:
    “I will not believe until I put my hand in the…”(John 20:25)

    This is ridiculous. Of course Thomas’ reaction would have been – OH! YOU MEAN JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD TOO??? GREAT!!!!

    You have been played by the oldest story ever told.

  • Shawnie5

    @Max: Um, it is not news that Luke and Mark were not eyewitnesses. According to the earliest church fathers Mark was a relative of a wealthy Jew named Barnabas. He set out on a missionary journey with Paul and bailed before getting very far, but later accompanied the Apostle Peter on his travels and recorded Peter’s recollections of the life and teachings of Christ. Again, you’re making speculative assumptions about the date of this gospel’s writing–no evidence anywhere–as well as its being the earliest gospel (it may be, but this is far from established).

    Luke was the traveling companion of Paul, certainly not an eyewitness but a careful historian who states in his preface that he had used many eyewitness sources in his biography of Christ.

    There is nothing in Matthew’s gospel that rules him out as an eyewitness. And again you are assuming that he actually relied on Mark–the earliest church fathers’ writings on the subject indicate that Matthew’s gospel came before Mark’s (written first in Hebrew and then translated over into Greek). You’re also assuming that neither of them used any earlier written records.

    “The Gospel of John is written so long after Jesus died that it could only have been written by many people, perhaps dozens and may bear no resemblance to anything of John himself. We can’t know”

    More assumptions. Of course the earliest fathers attest that John was the last written gospel, intended to supplement rather than rehash what had already been recorded. I see nothing in your speculative comments that rebuts the traditional attributions.

    Ancient written works were typically not “signed” by the authors. Usually an author’s scroll had a tag on it with his name, and of course if the originals are gone then so are the tags. The author of the gospel of John, however, does identify himself in the last chapter. And the attributions to the traditionally known authors, made by those in a much better position to know than we are, are unanimous. No alternative author was EVER suggested for any of them, even by their most fervent detractors such as Marcion.

    And seriously, you have never read a work where the author referred to himself in the third person? I read my first at the age of eight (the Little House books). Jesus, BTW, referred to Himself in the 3rd person all the time (“The Son of Man will be handed over,” etc).

    The gospels, of course, were written in Greek because this was the universal language of business, commerce and literature within the Roman Empire including the provinces. Mark came from a wealthy background and certainly had the opportunity for education, and Luke was a physician and obviously educated. Matthew was a tax collector, meaning he would have had to submit written reports (in Greek) to Rome about amounts collected and from where. And even if John did not write Greek when he walked with Jesus (another assumption), by all accounts he lived a long life and certainly had plenty of time to learn to write.

    Why are you so afraid of the gospels being authentic? You wouldn’t believe their claims even if their dates and authorship were beyond dispute, would you?

  • Atheist Max

    Do you know what you doing? You are trying to pull off a con job!

    Matthias was chosen after Jesus “rose up to heaven” well after the day of the resurrection when Jesus appeared “to the 11” (everyone except Judas)

    And furthermore, nobody “witnessed the resurrection” except the roman army – who supposedly were so amazed and impressed that they shrugged it off for a few shekels! Some RESURRECTION!

    “Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
    And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
    So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.” (MATTHEW 28:11-15)

    So, these unfortunate guards had to try to get away with the absurd tale that they were asleep but none-the-less saw what happened!?

    We are expected to believe that and that these soldiers were the sole witnesses to the greatest event in Christian history – Jesus’ resurrection – and to have seen a great earthquake and an angel descend from Heaven and roll the stone away then sit on it talking to Mary Magdalene and ‘the other Mary’ and yet they remained unconverted.

    Just to emphasise that point: the only human witnesses to the alleged resurrection of Jesus were not convinced by it! Instead, they accepted money to lie about what they had seen.

    Nobody would lie about that, not for money! Not for anything!

    But a whole army of soldiers? Come ON!

    By the way, what does this do to the whole nonsense about ‘free will’?
    Apparently Jesus can go all the way and show himself resurrected and still the Roman soldiers end up not believing? Were they all from his hometown? LOL!

  • Shawnie5

    Thomas may well have “missed all this.” In fact, most of the disciples may have “missed all this” until after the fact, as John records that they were hiding behind locked doors, no doubt wondering if the soldiers might be coming for them next.

  • Atheist Max

    “the desperate lengths to which you evangelical atheists go”

    If you have an argument, I’m very interested.
    But so far, you are not even getting past the obvious nonsense.

    #1. Thomas was unimpressed with Matthew’s account of what happened with the zombies.

    #2. No matter how you add up “The 11” in Luke (24:31-36) there is every reason to understand that Thomas was there.

    #3. Matthias is a rabbit out of a hat, just a trick to get to “12” after Judas left the picture. I’d believe in Zombies first!

  • Shawnie5

    Matthias was chosen later but by the time Luke wrote all of this down he had been one of the 12 for quite some time, and was specifically recorded as having been a witness to the resurrection, so I do not see the problem here.

    Again you’re making assumptions about the soldiers. No doubt they were shaken by the vision of the angel, probably doubting their own sanity, and definitely afraid of losing their lives for dereliction of duty, so they impulsively acted in their own defense. You don’t know that they DIDN’T come to faith in Christ later, when it became more clear exactly what all had been happening.

  • Shawnie5

    Max, try to focus. There was no account for Thomas to be “unimpressed” with. Matthew never saw ANY “zombies” to tell about until well after Jesus’ resurrection and in all likelihood well after the incident with Thomas as well. He writes from hindsight.

  • Atheist Max

    Upon KNOWING that your LORD JESUS has risen already (Luke 24:31-36) the disciples could not possibly worry about death from soldiers! On the 3rd day Jesus had already appeared to all of them. Meanwhile, The zombies were walking around ALL WEEK!
    Yet Thomas – despite having seen Jesus already, and likely the zombie saints as well – was incredulous still at the end of the week (John 20:25)?

    Thomas is one of many smoking guns
    which proves the gospels are contradictory and impossible to follow.

    Thomas is claimed to be in Jerusalem (as one of the 11) and is told by Jesus to “stay there” and he can only be the biggest idiot if he can’t catch a glimpse of any of these zombie saints!

    Of course none of this makes any sense at all. Far from edifying!
    The idea any of this could lead anyone to “God’s Perfect Grace” is hilarious.

  • Atheist Max

    “you’re making assumptions about the soldiers”

    If something in the Gospel is incomplete, (soldiers, zombies or otherwise)…Am I NOT allowed to go with my best guess?

    But you are allowed?

    If so, then by what measure do you claim God to be the Authority of the Bible?
    Like a Parlor Trick, you have made it your own story….and nobody else’s. And your interpretation just happens to be….God’s!

  • Atheist Max

    To me “Man Up” just means, be honest. And it goes for women, too.
    If the threat of Hell is all this is about, I am certain God does not exist.
    I have had plenty of losses in my life. I was a Christian for 44 years.
    Belief in God did not help me, it only hurt.
    Imagine being in a doubtful sad place in your life, and someone says, “you better believe in God, because otherwise he will send you to Hell.”
    All I can say is I never ‘Manned UP’ more than when I faced the truth that if a God needs to try to scare a little guy like me to get my attention, he isn’t worth a spit.

  • Steven b. Topkin

    ATHEIST, dude. whoever the heck you are your response to Karen actually choked me up. You really tell it like it is, man. wow.
    huge props. Amazing answer.

  • Atheist Max

    “…the disciples may have missed all this…”

    So you admit it, perhaps Matthew was not an eyewitness. What else did he probably not witness?

  • Atheist Max

    “Matthew’s gospel came before Mark’s (written first in Hebrew..”

    What?! Where is your evidence?

  • Mikehorn

    If you resort to paschal’s wager for your faith, you have weak faith indeed. The wager is a form of belief based in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of a tyrant god. Any god that would be happy with me basing my faith on an irrational gamble rather than using the intellect I have would be a god worth opposing, not praising. If that god does exist and did give us intellect, then the wager is a bad choice again, because you failed to use what is given to you, throwing away divine gifts. That parable about three managers given a bit of wealth while the rich man was away comes to mind.

    The bit about dementia is a red herring. At that point we aren’t capable of making rational choices, so the wager falls again because our ability to consider otherwise no longer exists.

  • Your quote of Jesus is from a parable he is telling, the words of a character in that parable. Your ascription of those words to Jesus is technically true but intended to convey a lie. You’ve done this before and been challenged on it thus suggesting you are a liar.

  • In other words, you have no proof so you have to resort to an argument from authority, as you did with the “s&m” comment. It reveals where your mind goes.

  • Shawnie5

    Max, your chronology is all over the place. The disciples were afraid and lying low until after they saw the risen Christ. THEN they ventured out and began worshipping and praising God in the temple and likely sharing the news with everyone. But the “zombies” as you continue to call them were still strangers to them. They wouldn’t have known or recognized any of them as such until they had a chance to talk to those who did, and figure out what had happened.

    I think, like many who are trying valiantly to pick apart the gospels, you’re approaching the gospels from a fundamentalist mindset, evidently under the impression that an incongruous detail or two (assuming there are any) invalidates the whole. I’m not hung up on inerrancy in this sense, since I think of the gospels as somewhat akin to depositions rather than as something dictated word for word by God. As such, they present no problems of any significance. But exchanges with atheist such as this one always show just how little their difficulty with the gospel has to do with evidence and how much it has to do with the heart. Where the gospels agree you all call plagarism (Matthew and Mark, for example). Where they diverge you call conflict. It would be a lot more honest (and would save a lot of time) to simply admit that there are no circumstances under which you would accept the gospel’s claims regardless of their authenticity or reliability. After all, that was the position of most of the ancients. Nobody from the 1st or 2nd century (that we know of) ever attacked the authenticity or authorship of the gospels–they simply didn’t believe it.

  • Shawnie5

    The writings of Papias (no longer extant) ca. AD 125, as sourced and quoted later by Irenaeus, discuss the background of both Matthew and Mark’s gospels.

  • Pingback: Stories I’ve Found, 3/14/2014 | homiliesandstraythoughts()

  • Atheist Max

    “I think of the gospels as somewhat akin to depositions rather than as something dictated word for word by God.”

    AND Human ‘depositions’ are not AUTHORITATIVE.
    You claim the Bible to be authoritative, and you Christians use it to form strict doctrine based on that claim.

    You are admitting exactly what I accused you of all along.
    From “God needs innocent blood spilled”(Acts) to “God speaks in earthquake language”(Matthew)

    The Bible is mistaken because the humans who created it were sorely mistaken. They were superstitious, ignorant people who thought a thousand crazy ideas which we now know are ridiculous.

  • Atheist Max

    I told no lies.
    “Jesus said, ‘But those mine enemies, which would not have me as their KING, bring hither, and EXECUTE THEM in front of me. ‘ (Luke 19:27)

    It does not melt my heart with love for Jesus
    to know that this line is at the “Parable of the 12 Minas” which some say was Hitler’s favorite parable.

    Hitler was a Catholic and saw “the Jews” as the SPECIFIC enemy in the parable (those who “would not have me as their King”-Jesus)

    The deaths of at least 6 million Jews could possibly be tied to this one parable.

    For you to say that I took it out of context or ‘lied’ is beyond civilized discourse. The Parable of the 12 Minas remains perhaps the most dangerous words in the Bible – and you can blame Jesus directly for the way it was “MISINTERPRETED” since he should have known better.

  • Shawnie5

    Depositions are not authoritative in and of themselves, but they ARE evidentiary. Evidentiary of what someone did and said — and also of what is inconsistent with what they did and said. And we use depositions to make some pretty significant decisions — such as whether to end someone’s life or not.

    This is why I generally don’t get into the question of the existence of God or the divinity of Christ. The evidence is there, and it is entirely up to you as “juror” how much weight to attach to it. Where I come in is when people try to attack the evidence itself on spurious grounds. If you want to repudiate the doctrines of Christianity, do so honestly.

  • Larry

    “Accepted as authoritative by Christians” is not the same as objectively authoritative or even contemporary and accurate.

    There are no eyewitness or recorded accounts which did not occur long after the fact. The history simply is not there. Nor are there confirmations of the Gospels through mundane records. Nor should one expect to see them. Jesus and company would have fallen “under the radar” of the sources most likely to have survived antiquity at the time.

    This does not rule out the existence of Jesus but it is hardly clear evidence either. I am more willing to chalk it up to Jesus likely to have existed than not. It is the most rational course of direction given the evidence.

  • Larry

    Depositions are contemporaneous with events and first hand accounts of personal knowledge. When they go beyond the speaker or speak of actions of others, they become hearsay. Hearsay is not authoritative unless there is some condition which makes it credible. At best the Gospels are hearsay.

    The evidence out there is sparse, lacks direct temporal connection to the place, time and people depicted and is unlikely to have possible existing contrary authority to verify it. Not much to go on.

    Not enough to make a case out for the existence of Jesus but not enough to rule him out either. It all depends on who is making the claim and the burdens of proof that entails.

  • Larry

    “The writings of Papias (no longer extant) ca. AD 125, as sourced and quoted later by Irenaeus, discuss the background of both Matthew and Mark’s gospels.”

    A record which does not exist, referenced almost a century after the fact in commentary on a source which was never first hand to begin with. If that doesn’t fit the definition of hearsay, nothing will.

  • Atheist Max

    Yes. …The Bible demands that I become a ‘JUROR’.
    But then it denies us the right to ‘A Verdict!’

    If you judge the whole story is untrue, you are condemned to Hell.
    Not a problem for me. I already dismissed the story!

    But for those who shove this nonsense into our laws, we are told OUR VERDICT is being denied to US!

    As in:
    Mandatory Trans-vaginal probes – Virginia Legislature

    Obstruction of prescriptions – Illinois, Washington

    Discrimination as religious choice -Arizona (SB-1062)

    Anti-Gay laws – Texas

    Anti-women’s rights laws – Texas, Louisina, Virginia

    Creationism to replace all Science Education in all public schools: Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina

    If Christians want me to recognize their VERDICT on the Bible.
    They must allow me to recognize MINE!

  • I did not make an “argument from authority” above, actually. That would be stating, “You should believe x because so-and-so believes x.” By contrast, I referenced two Lewis biographers who make assertions based on what we know to be true about Lewis’ life. Agruments made in (at least) two rigorously researched biographies is not the same as having “no proof.”

  • Edward Borges-Silva

    John is correct; you’ve taken a character from a parable and applied it to Jesus Himself. But in a sense you are correct. The parable was meant to illustrate that when Jesus returns to judge the world, He will separate the sheep from the goats, i.e. His disciples from those who have rejected Him, and He will cast those aside who have chosen from their own free will their eternal consequences.

  • LizzieClyde

    Hear! Hear! Whitney I think the same way. Just as I believe the Bible must be taken as a WHOLE and not verse by verse, I believe Lewis must be taken as a WHOLE and not paragraph by paragraph. That means, including the Narnia series and the Space trilogy in the mix. I find that Lewis is incredibly consistent throughout his writing – on the grand scheme of things.

  • Shawnie5

    @Larry: Depositions are NOT necessarily contemporaneous with events. The deposed must have personal knowledge (otherwise they would not be asked for a deposition at all), but two of the gospels are attributed to eyewitnesses, one to a scribe of an eyewitness, and one to an interviewer of eyewitnesses. If we consider only the eyewitness gospels–once again, where is your evidence that the earliest church fathers’ traditional attributions of these gospels, all plausible, unanimous and uncontested, are inaccurate?

    And you do NOT want to wander off into hearsay. I’ve yet to meet an atheist Bible-basher who understands what hearsay is and isn’t, much less what constitutes an acceptable exception. It’s a difficult concept even for law students to master.

  • Shawnie5

    @Larry. That is not even remotely a definition of hearsay. Again, you don’t want to wander off into this. You’re in over your head.

    Again, where is your evidence the source, attributed as acceptably as any other ancient written work, is NOT first-hand?

  • Larry

    The problem is none of the Apostles are describing their own actions and several of them are not even eyewitnesses. You just assumed they were. An account of what another person says is not considered reliable for the truth of what that other person said. Its hearsay.

    “but two of the gospels are attributed to eyewitnesses, one to a scribe of an eyewitness, and one to an interviewer of eyewitnesses.”

    In other words neither alleged eyewitness wrote their own statements. We are reading the third-hand accounts long after the fact. When recall or accuracy would be considered least reliable.

    I am not the one making the claim here. That historical evidence exists as to the existence of Jesus and the accuracy of the Gospel. Artaban7 and yourself made such claims. The burden is entirely yours. Neither of you have reliable evidence. Merely centuries of accrued unreliable and largely assumed stories.

    I am merely stating that the evidence for or against the existence of Jesus and the accuracy of the Gospels does not exist. Nor is likely to. I am willing to honestly say the situation is unclear rather than dishonestly pretend otherwise as you have done.

  • Larry

    I am not the one making the claim. You and Artaban7 are. I don’t have to prove the works aren’t reliable 1st hand accounts. You have to prove they are. You have shown that is not the case.

    In fact Shifting burdens of proof away from the one making the claim is a sure sign of someone making an intellectually dishonest argument.

    Hearsay is recalling the statements of someone other than the speaker for the purposes of conveying the truth of said statements.

    An account written about what Jesus has said by someone other than Jesus, which was then transcribed a century after the fact by another is as close to hearsay as you can get. Since Jesus did not write his own statements, even the alleged eyewitness accounts of what he said would be considered hearsay. Especially if one is trying to convey the truth of what Jesus said in a literal factual manner.

    You admitted yourself, it was a source long lost recounted by another writer as commentary on the writings of yet another person describing the subject person. That is at least 4 steps removed from the source and as unreliable as you can get.

  • Shawnie5

    @Larry: You misunderstand my words. Two gospels are attributed to eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) while a third (Mark) is attributed to an apostle’s scribe and the fourth (Luke) to an investigative historian.

    Now, authentication is not a difficult matter. The two eyewitness gospels have been plausibly and unanimously attributed by the earliest church fathers, who were in a far better position to know the origins of their foundational documents than we are 2000 years later. Many historical documents have been attributed on far less. If you have some evidence with which to rebut those attributions, by all means present it.

    So much for authentication. As far as hearsay goes, most of what is in the gospels is not a matter of hearsay at all. What the eyewitness gospel writers report having done or having seen Jesus and others do is not hearsay. The recorded statements of Jesus are not hearsay if offered for the purpose of simply proving his existence, either. You might have an argument that Jesus’ recorded statement are hearsay if offered for the truth of their content (that He really is the way/truth/life, etc), but then you must deal with over twenty exceptions to hearsay, including statements against interest, excited utterances, dying declarations–not to mention, ironically enough, ancient documents.

    But I ask you, as I did Max, why do you care? You would not accept the gospel claims even if the gospels’ authorship and authenticity were beyond dispute, would you?

  • Shawnie5

    @Larry: See my discussion of authentication and hearsay above. I see no reason to repeat it here.

  • Larry

    @Shawnie, your take on hearsay is completely incorrect.

    A person writing about their own actions, own words or events they saw and attesting them to be true = not hearsay
    A person writing about what another person said = hearsay

    Your evidence is sketchy. Not clear and convincing evidence. At best an argument against those who say Jesus never existed. But hardly anything which proves he did. It all depends on who is making the claim and for what. The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. There is not enough evidence going in either direction.

  • Steve

    Why? Because men are confused? That’s your logic? And it is without question? Doubtful. Jesus IS at least four of those on your lost. He is Yahweh, He is His Son, He is a man, He is a teacher, etc., etc…etc.

  • Steve

    @Atheist Max – I don’t believe you are an atheist. I hear you cry slander a lot. But I think you are just a big baby that needs to get over the fact that the Christian God you supposedly believed in for 44 years wasn’t a genie in a bottle to give you everything you wanted, your way, in your timing. If you knew God like you claim you did, then you would know that as a believer, we are called into the fellowship of his sufferings. No one likes to suffer. But it is part of a fallen world which is fallen because people couldn’t listen to God. They boo hooed because they wanted what appealed to them and they wanted it now. So God separated from them. You need to get over yourself and stop acting like you are angry at God, and telling everyone how wrong we are. You can believe what you want as can we. But while you sit there and cry foul and slander us, these people only offer truth and you know it deep down in the recesses of your soul. You want to drag the whole of history into it unnecessarily to impress your cronies who idolize you now. Now you are a god! Therefore, you must not exist. And you aren’t hurting us because we know you are angry at God and we are the vent of your frustration because you didn’t get rich and have absolutely no problems ever. It is part of the Christian suffering I just described above. We just accept it. Perhaps instead of trying to make God come to you on your terms, you go to God on His. It is that human thing called humility, but that human thing called pride may be what stops you. What does reason suggest?
    Now, how is the law a wise law for the woman to kill a baby? She is more important than the baby? Her party life is more important that responsibility for her poor decisions? I don’t think so, and your reason would be indicative of that.
    Have you ever heard of Molech? He is a Canaanite god? Yeah, the man and woman were required to take their baby(ies) and sacrifice it to Molech. She would take the baby and wrap it in cloth and place it on the arms of the statue of a man with a face like a bull and his arms outstretched over a fire pit. And it would roll down its arms and fall into a fire. And the parents stood there emotionless to appease their god and get his blessings. Men and women today do the same thing they just don’t realize they are engaging in idolatry. They turn the child over to death so they could get the perceived blessings of life (i.e. they can go out and party and sleep with someone else next weekend with no responsibility for her actions). And before partial birth abortion, women could give birth and the children were left to die on the table for up to 8 hours before doctors intervened. Sick. Tis principle is found in Lev. 20:1-8
    20:1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
    2 “You shall also say to the sons of Israel:
    ‘Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
    3 ‘I will also set My face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given some of his offspring to Molech, so as to defile My sanctuary and to profane My holy name.
    4 ‘If the people of the land, however, should ever disregard that man when he gives any of his offspring to Molech, so as not to put him to death,
    5 then I Myself will set My face against that man and against his family, and I will cut off from among their people both him and all those who play the harlot after him, by playing the harlot after Molech.
    6 ‘As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.
    7 ‘You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.
    8 ‘You shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.

    According to God, they and the advocates of it will not go unpunished. So do you really think people could do this wickedness and not get judged? Do you think the wickedness in this world is going to go unpunished? Reason would suggest otherwise, they just call reason Karma these days.

    I believe you know better which is why I think you aren’t an atheist, your just ticked off at God. I pray you repent and return to the God who bought you.

  • Atheist Max


    Oh, I’m an ATHEIST all right. I do not believe God exists. I see no reason to believe in any God.

    You Christians would be no problem if you kept your belief to your churches and your homes.

    Instead, YOU ARE on the march to shove your nonsense on the rest of us.
    To seize the levers of government to push your ideas on “all Americans, even non-believers” (Truth Ministries) and to promote church doctrine across American law.

    “America stands at a defining moment,” said Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition. “The only comparison is our battle for American Independence”

    Right-wing Evangelical ministries like ‘Truth In Action Ministries’, spend millions of dollars a year on causes like these:

    Mandatory Trans-vaginal probes – Virginia Legislature

    Obstruction of prescriptions – Illinois, Washington

    Discrimination as religious choice -Arizona (SB-1062)

    Anti-Gay laws – Texas

    Anti-women’s rights laws – Texas, Louisina, Virginia

    Creationism to replace all Science Education in all public schools: Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina

    Preserving our Agnostic U.S Constitution – which already preserves everyone’s religious freedom – is increasingly difficult simply because religious people do not understand the separation of Church and State.

    You don’t understand how and why that separation preserves YOUR own religious freedom. YET YOU AND YOUR CHURCHES THEY ARE FUNDING ITS DEMISE!

    So let’s be clear.
    You are talking to an Atheist. I don’t accept your God claims at all. I consider them dangerous and immoral.

    But you are allowed to have your religion as long as you let me keep my NON-RELIGION.


  • Rob T

    The “Legend of Jesus Christ” was a sad chapter in human history.
    Once known as “Christianity” it has been debunked by too many people and it is now on fading away in the West.

    For example:
    Where is it written in the Bible that JESUS AND YAHWEH ARE THE SAME?

    If you find it you are in trouble.
    And if you don’t find it you are in trouble.

    If JESUS IS God then he is Yahweh and he is directly AND PERSONALLY responsible for originally dictating the Old Testament evils: Murder, Genocide, Slavery, Torture, Abortions, etc.

    If He isn’t God….well. 2000 years of Christianity is over.

    Why is this happening now? Because the internet has enabled everyone to find the answers. Religion cannot stand up to answers.

  • Atheist Max


    You are against Abortion. I am, too. But the LAW OF THE UNITED STATES SAYS women have a right to their bodies. So too bad. Like it or not, women must have a right to their own bodies – if we want to cut down on abortion we need to increase contraception and help with adoption.

    I know you want to roll back women’s rights here. And you want to stop women from getting contraception, too. But that is why you need to take your stone age philosophies and keep them in the dark corner of your churches and homes.

    Don’t try pushing your religion on the rest of us. We already know about it and we have decided it is disgusting. Bad as Abortion may be – (and it is debatable) condoms and other sexual contraception choices are an excellent way to avoid pregnancy. Get out of the way and maybe something good can get done.

    Religion has no place in the conversation about how to make society better. Keep it at church.

  • CSL only seems uncomplicated till you read his works!

  • Shawnie5

    As I expected, you do not grasp hearsay any better than the overwhelming majority of atheists who talk about it with regard to the gospels. A statement about what another person said is only hearsay if offered for the purpose of proving the truth of that statement. A statement that Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” is hearsay for the purpose of proving that He is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is not hearsay for the purpose of proving that a person named Jesus was teaching in the 1st century AD in Judea.

    Now, even if Jesus’ recorded statements are hearsay, (as I’ve already explained but will explain again if I must) the Federal Rules of Evidence list more than twenty exceptions to hearsay, into many of which the gospel statement fit quite nicely. Statements against interest (many of Jesus’ statements–too many to list here–nearly got Him attacked by mobs and ultimately did get Him executed), present-sense impressions (my soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death, etc), dying declarations (It is finished, etc), excited utterances (Oh Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers!, etc.) are some examples. The “ancient documents” exception works without even bothering with the other exceptions. And finally, a judge can create an exception for hearsay whenever he decides it is warranted, if he judges that the statement’s probative value outweighs its potentially prejudicial effect.

    “At best an argument against those who say Jesus never existed. But hardly anything which proves he did.”

    I’m not talking proof here; I’m talking evidence. Evidence is a matter of law. Proof is in the eye (or more accurately, in the heart) of the beholder. Feel free to disbelieve the evidence, without any challenge. But if you attack the evidence on spurious grounds you will of course be challenged–after all, that is what law students spend a great deal of time and money learning how to do.

  • Molly

    Wow, these quotes are completely taken out of context. Not to mention that this sexual sin that Merritt is discussing, like Lewis’s intimacy with Janie Moore and the “spanking,” are pre-conversion Lewis.

  • Nate

    Just an observation. Why is it that every belief blog or website I read that posts about Christian topics are FLOODED with athiests attempting to stir up ‘discussions’ (arguments) about God’s existence?

    There is plenty of evangelism going on in the comment sections of these websites and about 90% of it is from atheists. Make no mistake, atheism is a religion.

  • Ahem….CS Lewis was not English, he was Northern Irish. That’s kind of like calling Jim Carrey or Neil Young, Americans. And yeah I did just compare Jim Carrey to CS Lewis…but otherwise great post!

  • Mike

    First and foremost, I’m a Christian.

    However, please stop saying that atheism is a religion. It isn’t. Like every atheist ever tries to point out (and they are correct in doing so), it is a rejection of religion.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. Where this idea (“atheism is a religion”) came from actually has merit; that atheism requires “faith.” However, the “faith” of atheists, I would hope, is very, VERY different from your or my faith in Christ as our redeemer and savior. No worldview (atheism or Christianity or any other) can fully explain the world as we see it. Every consistent worldview requires some extrapolation or inference from principles derived from parts of what we can see, taste, feel (etc.) empirically. So, in all reality, every thing takes an amount of faith. But saying that “phenomenal world” (as opposed to the noumenal world) actually exists is not a religion. Neither is atheism or anything else that takes some measure of “faith” because as I pointed out, that would make EVERY belief a religion or religious inference.

    Also, what is wrong with arguments? At least, what is wrong with logical ones? Do you belief that the suppression of ideas is good or that Christianity is too weak to stand up to argument. IMO, the arguments are really the only thing interesting in these articles (that definitely says something about my character :p). I would love to have an atheist friend to bounce ideas off. And I think in general, a Christian having an atheist to talk to just keeps things in perspective. An open mind is the best thing a human being can possess, in my opinion.

  • Mike

    Have you heard of the common four arguments for God’s existence? The only really compelling one is the ‘moral argument,’ in my opinion.

    I’ll relay it briefly so you don’t need to look it up. The idea is illustrated in this quote from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. “Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice” (part I, chapter 13). Now imagine that Hobbes is not speaking of civil law, but of moral law. There is a need for a “common power” if you are to say that the killing of all of those innocent humans is wrong (as you mention earlier), otherwise there is no moral injustice simply because you have no universal standard to appeal to. Now Christians (and any other religious persons) are logically consistent when they judge acts like the Rwandan Genocide, even if committed under the banner of Christianity because the Bible presents a standard (though a confusing one).

    Now there are several options for the atheist to still appeal to some universal principle to say killing innocent children is bad and should not be done. The best are probably 1) deducing some principle with logic that says killing innocent people is wrong (as reason is a “common power” or sorts), or 2) holding the actions of people accountable to the laws or social norms of their respective times. Note that this is obviously not an exhaustive list.

    I would be fascinated by and ever in awe of you if you can do the first and the second has some VERY unpleasant and even counterproductive consequences (basically, that Hitler can do what ever the heck he wants if the laws of the nation say it’s okay because that’s the standard that he’s held to). Also, I would be impressed if you could find another “common power” or universal principle to appeal to that shows that killing innocent children is wrong. I’m not saying its impossible, just that it’s never been done before to my knowledge. The only option left to judge with is God or a god unless you can show otherwise.

    Let me draw out the consequences of this. Being an atheist you have no right to call the murder of all those people wrong. You can have your opinion on it (for sure), but it is rather impolite to say that the Holocaust was bad and should not have been done. If you are okay with that, then you have proved my point wrong or at least ineffective.

    I guess I really should put this argument in its place. Its purpose is to make the opponent so sickened and uncomfortable that they do not want to exist in a world without a god. Now this may not be the best reason for believing in a god, but it is certainly a logical one, and that’s what you asked for. Many people have stated this argument better than me so just because I may have failed to show you the merit of this argument that does not mean it has none (it really does, trust me, even if you answer it). This post is rather sloppy but I did my best to convey the logical points of the argument with or without finesse.

  • HB

    Late to the conversation, but I love both C.S. Lewis and Carl Sagan, for totally different reasons. One does not have to choose religion OR science, if that is the false dichotomy you find yourself trapped in. That goes for both the proclaimed atheists and Christians commenting in this thread. 🙂

    Also, I don’t believe in shoving my beliefs on someone else. I think a lot of Christians in America desire a theocracy without even realizing it. That is not what the Founders intended, regardless of their own religious beliefs (which were NOT all Christian, but I digress).

    Anyway, I see many posts that have little or nothing to do with C.S. Lewis or the original blog post. Thank you to the blog author for reminding us that even some of the most respected and well-regarded Christian scholars/theologians/philosophers/etc. are human and therefore will surprise, confound, and even disagree with us–but that doesn’t mean they aren’t true Christians.

  • @Max

    Yes, Jesus said that. Non-believers interpret his scripture to mean what they want, how they want, in the timing that they want. Those who are in the Spirit, see the scripture as the living Word of God and the Word is transformed.

    I have hope for someone as smart as you are. I trust that in His timing that the servant that He chooses to send your way, will have the Truth set before you, so that you may understand the Gospel.

    Peace be will you Max.

  • Tony

    Do they really think Lewis has God all figured out?
    None of us do…
    Well said Jen

  • Tony

    I find it odd that whe ateists argue about God they use relgion to attack him, yet when Christ was on the earth he opposed religion greatly, no where in the Bible does Christ speak to anyone as he spoke to religous leaders.

    He called them “Fools” “Hipocrytes” “Snakes”

    So obviously people have the wrong perspective about who God really is
    Im not sure anyone here talks about the same God which is why no one gets anywhere in these stupid arguments.
    Religion has God all figured out, because if they know God they can manipulate him. Which is why Lewis had his mind blown, we cannot understand God with our own intelect. None of us will ever beleive in God because of intelect but of faith.

  • Tony

    Amen Joe!, Amen

  • Tony

    Christianity, my friend, is only contradictory when one does not:
    a) Study it
    b) Put it into proper context
    c) Interpret correctly
    d) Doesnt want to beleive
    e) Doesnt have the revelation of the holy spirit

    If Christ was a madman, his words, his teachings and his followers would have disapeared with the wind. The writtings of the disciples would have been mere scribblings. No serious Scholar or Historian would ever even doubt his existance.
    Now let me tell you when a sect or denomination is a false one:
    1) they deny the deity of Christ
    2) They alter scripture
    3) They have “New Revelation”
    4) The have odd rituals and practices that contradict scripture
    5) They idolize their founder or leader
    6) They are just plain weird

    Jesus was not religous, Jesus was a normal man, he was not a weird pycopath
    Why would he go to a wedding?
    Why would they invite him?
    (he was likeable)
    Why would he turn water to wine?
    (its not like it served any devine necessary purpose)
    His foes acussed him of eating to much and hanging around with sinners
    He didnt flash his power, he didnt flex his muscles
    He came as a man and suffered as a man son that no one could ever say “you dont know what I have been through”
    He died for us regardless of what we have done, or how smart we think we are.

  • David Brunell

    Thank you, Nathan R. for such an excellent response to Jonathan Merritt. You were so thorough and detailed and made so many excellent points that I wondered how he would respond, but I do not see any response from him. I’d like to add that in regard to that claim that Merritt made that Lewis secretly lived with a woman for years, in addition to how it was an egregious omission that this alleged activity was before Lewis became a Christian, it would have been much more fair if he had said that Lewis MAY have lived secretly… For it is by no means clear that his relationship with Mrs. Moore was sexual. I have read many sources on this and there are many conflicting opinions. Why does there seem to be such a desire to pin on Lewis such bad things! I rarely read anyone saying how he was honorably keeping his promise to his friend Paddy Moore in World War I that if he (Paddy) should be killed that he (Lewis) would take care of his mother. Even before Lewis became a Christian he showed traits of honor such as in keeping his word. I find it very distasteful how people try to pin salacious things onto him. It reminds me of years ago when a movie came out about George Washington that suggested he had affairs. I can still hear Dr. D. James Kennedy denouncing that suggestion as not having a shred of evidence. While certainly there have been arguments suggesting a possible shred of evidence that Lewis had a sexual relationship with Mrs. Moore before he became a Christian, to be fair one should state that scholars are very divided on this issue, and in the end I don’t see how anyone can know for sure. And even if it is true, it doesn’t matter at all, because that was before Lewis became a Christian. How about concentrating on what he was like after he became a Christian, like how he spent hours every morning answering personally ever letter he received rather than giving into others’ suggestions to send a “form letter,” as he considered it his Christian responsibility to respond to each one. How about concentrating on how he gave away most of his income to others in need to the point of his being in need himself. He was not some ivory tower person who didn’t live out his faith. Perhaps we would all do better to be inspired by his Christian example of living out the Christian virtues than by trying to pick at things he said or MAY have done before he became a Christian.

  • Michael

    5. Lewis on Hell. Think you may have it wrong or focused just on one aspect of his writings. CS Lewis also said, “”There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

    Sounds to me like he was pretty much believed in “hell”…i.e., “immortal horrors” forever. His second part of this wonderful quote is very much in line with Paul’s letter to the Corinthians….with gifts of faith, prophesy, etc., we have nothing if not love. My take away: every human being ever should be treated with love as a true gift from God.

  • jp

    Here here jen. Wonderfully stated.

  • Roger

    Most philosophers would say that ‘Atheism’ is a “belief” system whose god is “no God”.. People who hold beliefs ‘espouse’ them (as you are doing)… people who really don’t give a ‘damn’ do not.

    I wouldn’t even debate the issue however what I have always found amazing is that ‘atheists’ inevitable point to “all the DEAD people” because of religion and quickly state that those atheistic based / force governments “are not” and you cannot hold all those millions of dead against the “there is not god” religion of atheism. No, you cannot, absolutely not… because atheists cannot believe for one minute that a lack of clear moral direction causes any negatives.

    Be that as it may… those with eyes to see and ears to hear have to look at astrophysics and ask themselves… as science has, how did this all come about? Oh, I hear him scream… with so many stars, with so many solar systems, oh… we are not the ‘chosen’, on and on. Unfortunately we are seeing the growth of deism within the astrophysics scientists based purely on the findings regarding the universe. The overall ‘likelihood’ of everything (all the ‘have tos’ in order to have an ‘earth’ that is ‘populated’ and in existence as ‘man’ recognizes it, all those requirements – say, ‘you’ don’t believe in primordial ooze do you?) happening in such a manner as to support life and have that life be able to ‘see’ forward and backwards into ‘the time continuum’ of our cosmos, to exist exactly where and how we are/do… right now… well that ‘probability’ is 1 in 10 followed by 700 zeroes (and climbing as more requirements for ‘existence’ are discovered)… So even if you don’t believe in the God of the Bible (which, BTW, is strangely accurate describing in lay terms exactly what scientists ‘say happened’ when the universe came into existence) any rational individual has to believe in “a” god or power of creation that ‘mucked about’ with all the likelihood scenarios enough to provide a platform for the very people who say ‘it/he does not exist.’ Kind of like saying the ‘air you breath doesn’t exist.’ But people are people and they will decry the vary source of their existence out of, well, nothing more than ‘self-admiration.’

  • @Atheist Max#

    Congratulations. You have caused 1,000,000 little children to turn away from the Lord Y’shua!
    Is that what you are waiting to see? Waiting to gain some proselytes to the Darwinian Religion?
    You would be reminded of it on judgement day.
    You need to wake up.
    You truly are double minded with your double speak and forked tongue.
    You say it is alright that Christians have their religion yet you go onto this forum posted by a believer presumably for other belivers and you do all you can to attack and rail agaist belief in Christ and the Bible.
    yeah, Christian was a word coined by pagans to defame and ostacise believers but we have taken it unashamedly and made it our own.
    Sure some Christians have wacky belief, they unknowingly worship the Sun and the Babylonian Trinity, Nimrod’s son, the Pine god, and Pan the hored god of the forest when the celebrate Christmas and worship Ishtar, one of the Babylonian Trinity on Easter replete with all of the ancient symbols of fertility. There are many who use a pagan cross symbol which stands for the four cardinal points for use in navigation and astronomy ignorant of the fact that Christ was hung on a simple cross, that is a stake or pole – stauros in greek. There are those who carry around a pagan fish which were used by followers of the Priests of Dagon.
    There are those who ignorantly keep the six-pointed star admiringly thinking it to be a family crest of King David but is used in witchcraft and Freemasonry, Theosophy, and even popular in Islam and Hindu Temples in India and Nepal, and Tibet.
    However, there are those of us who are awake. There our those whose faith will never be shaken and your ramblings are as futile as trying to catch the wind with a net.
    I can say without any doubt whatsoever that you have never known Yah our Elohim or else you would have nothing but good to say abou Him. I think you ought to read the Bible more and repent of your sin. Stop trying to justify your love of darkness and come to the light of Truth, Y’shua. All you have to surrender is everything which means nothing anyway. Allow Him to make you into a new man tht is pleasing to Him. Deep down, I know, you know He exists, but even the demons know and thry tremble in dread. You don’t want to breathe your last and not know where you are going when you die. Hell was not made for men but for the Slander, the Accuser of the brethren and the fallen angels who left their first estate. They want to prevent you from coming to repentance. The offer is on the table and the Good News has beeb told to you. Whether you trample it in the dirt like a pig given some pearls or behold them to be the priceless treasure they are is uo to you. However, in any case, please stop going on these forums to stir uo strife and contention. It is a worse thing than you know.

  • Jacky

    LOL, “left the world a better place” Are you kidding me? How did those wealthy, self-loving idols make our world a better place? They were bitter and loved money. That only paved the way for more like them..that is not truly helpful.

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