Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The appeal of atheism

CS Lewis speaks in Surprised by Joy of the great appeal that atheism had for him...

"the materialist's universe had the enormour attraction that it offered limited liabilities. No strictly infinite disaster could overtake you in it. Death ended all...The horror of the Christian universe was that it had no door marked Exit. It was also perhaps not unimportant that the externals of Christianity made no appeal to my sense of beauty....Christianity was mainly associated for me with ugly architecture, ugly music....But of course what mattered most of all was my deep-seated hatredof authority, my monstrous individualism, my lawlessness. No word in my vocabulary expressed deeper hatred than the word Interference. But Christianity placed at the centre what then seemed to me a transcendental Interferer."

It is often the position taken by the evangelist that Christianity is inherently attractive and that if people think for a moment, then they will choose it. Now, I don't want to dispute that at all, and yet Lewis reminds us here of something else. The gospel will always be unattractive in many ways, and perhaps an evangelist's job is to explain as much why it is so darn unappealing. Understanding my dislike may after all lead to that dislike being removed. Lewis's awareness of his fear of Cosmic Interference helped him see why he disliked God so much, and played a role in engendering a desire for God in him.