My own heart and mind were first turned to God by reading C.S. Lewis and specifically Mere Christianity. Since that time, I have read most of Lewis’s works, fiction and non-fiction and, suffice it to say, I am a fan.
Though his writing style is relatively simple (some find him difficult, but I fear this is due to the low level of literature in our day), he is a well-read scholar in the humanities. I once read a lot of philosophers on the subject of love and then found Lewis’s The Four Loves to be a soul-delighting stroll through bright meadows and green hills. Yet I concluded that Lewis had read every idea I had encountered and more though he did not put on any pretense or footnote hundreds of references.
In particular it was the moral argument for God that persuaded me to give up my nineteen years of agnosticism with atheist leanings. I won’t rehearse the moral argument for God here, but I encourage you to read it for yourself, preferably in Lewis’s version and not in some shoddy website (if you go immediately after this and google the term “moral argument for God” I will symbolically punch you).
I was reminded of the power of discovering evidence for God in my own world and within the bounds of what knowledge I can posses when I picked up Francis Collins’ The Language of God.
If you don’t know, let me tell you that Francis Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project and is, therefore, no mean scientist. He is persuaded by his studies that evolution explains the history of life on this planet. He also believes quite firmly in God and in Christianity.
Lately, at the local Borders bookstore, I have noticed the growing section of atheistic books, the new atheists as they are called, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris to name the leading writers. The only one whose prose even interested me so far is Christopher Hitchens. The man is a great writer (though I am sad to say I find his philosophizing unsophisticated).
It seems I have seen, though I cannot quote a title, a volume or two specifically seeking to overthrow the moral argument on the basis of evolutionary science. In order to do that, the evolutionary scientist must explain altruism and moral codes genetically.
The books now popping up on Borders Bookstore shelves claim to do that.
It was refreshing to read Francis Collins, in the very first chapter of his book, explain and simply refute these counter-arguments vaunted against the moral argument. It is nothing more than wishful thinking for people who wish God did not exist to take the thorniest intellectual and epistemological problem of atheism and try to rationalize it away.
And the irony is that those who so greatly wish to prove a Godless universe cannot escape the moral law themselves, and find themselves living according to the very thing they deny exists. Truth, in some cases, is inescapable even to those who choose not to look upon it.
Meanwhile, Collins’ obvious reverence for Lewis and especially for Mere Christianity reminds me of the joy I have had in reading Lewis over the years and often rereading him.
The following is a short list of recommendations for those who might decide to read the greatest writer, in my opinion, in recent Christian literature, if you judge writing by both style and import:
Mere Christianity is your first assignment in Lewis. It is very short and you could finish in a few days of light reading.
The Great Divorce is about residents of hell who take a field trip to heaven. It should be your second stop and it may leave the longest impression. I have read it a dozen times.
The Four Loves is another life-changing book and will not only inform, but completely capture your soul if you have a shred of humanity in you (which, of course, you do).
Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra are the first two in a science fiction trilogy. They are theological science fiction and if you read them you will quickly see what I mean. The third is not as good, but if you are in love with the series, go ahead and try the third one too.
’Til We Have Faces is a bit harder, more literary and dense, in terms of fiction, but is one of the greatest novels I have ever read. This book does not get enough appreciation in my opinion.
Narnia would be a great read after you have absorbed the Lewis essentials above.
The Screwtape Letters are not as good, in my opinion as those listed above, but worth reading if you have captured the Lewis bug.
Other works by Lewis: I haven’t mentioned them all, but the titles above are more than a good start. Happy reading.