Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason

Article excerpt

C. S. LEWIS'S DANGEROUS IDEA: IN DEFENSE OF THE ARGUMENT FROM REASON. By VICTOR REPPERT. InterVarsity. 132 pp. $13 paper.

Judging them solely by their impact on the educated public, Biaise Pascal and C. S. Lewis must count as the two most effective apologists for the Christian religion in modern times. But to narrow the focus and judge them solely by their impact on professional philosophers, Pascal must count as the more effective. I say this not to denigrate Lewis or to praise Pascal's evident genius but merely to point out a fact of readership: that Lewis, perhaps because of his pleasantly accessible and avuncular style or maybe because he was a literary critic by profession and not a tenured philosopher, is often dismissed by philosophers as a lightweight. Victor Reppert begs to disagree. By carefully confronting Lewis' "argument from reason" (which states that logical arguments cannot be the result of brain events alone but are ultimately founded on the inexorable entailment of truth, or at least on the desire for it) with a whole array of arguments from Darwinian naturalists (who insist that mental events, including the logical operations of reason, are caused solely and sufficiently by the brain), Reppert not only shows the tenabihty of Lewis' argument against all comers but also demonstrates how much Lewis anticipated and refuted arguments that never seem to die out (as seen most recently in Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea, to which Reppert's essay serves as the obvious riposte). …

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