Article VII: The Wardrobe

Written by:
Jacob King

The idea of believing in some mysterious higher power seemed attractive at the moment. But, if I believed in this supposed cosmic God-family blindly, and without sufficient evidence, what would separate me from, say, a terrorist? 

Think about it

We’d both feel an emotional high at the thought of a God existing — possibly because our beta-brains feel more secure with an all-powerful alpha-ape-in-the-sky, who has some grand purpose for our lives (even if that “grand purpose” for a terrorist is pretty messed up). But the problem in both cases is having those beliefs without enough (or any) evidence that they are grounded in reality. With blind faith, and a religious teacher with enough charisma, I could possibly be persuaded to buy the next plane ticket to Syria to join the ISIS team. Or, if ISIS wasn’t cutting it, there are other good choices for blind faith cults, like Scientology, which is happy to assist me in finding that grand ol’ purpose—for a slight fee, of course: It's only five hundred thousand dollars to reach the top level of Scientology enlightenment. What a deal.

I wasn’t about to do this whole blind faith thing. I needed undeniable evidence that what Christianity claimed about the eternal was true. But does such evidence actually exist?

There is, arguably, no other person who has had a more prolific impact upon Christianity in the 20th century than the great and powerful C.S. Lewis.

C.S. Lewis was a British writer and Professor of English Literature at both Oxford and Cambridge University who soared to legendary status with his Chronicles of Narnia series. He was also a theologian who wrote the well known books The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity. What is less known about C.S. Lewis is that for most of his young adult life he was a staunch atheist. He hated the idea of the “transcendental Interferer”:

“What mattered most of all was my deep-seated hatred of authority, my monstrous individualism… No word in my vocabulary expressed deeper hatred than the word Interference. But Christianity placed at the center what then seemed to me a transcendental Interferer… There was no region even in the innermost depth of one’s soul (nay, there least of all) which one could surround with a barbed wire fence and guard with a notice No Admittance.”

Lewis quotes one of the strongest arguments for atheism, offered by Lucretius — an early Roman Epicurean poet (Epicurus is the Godfather of hedonism):

Nequaquam nobis divinitus esse paratam

Naturam rerum; tanta stat praedita culpa

Had God designed the world, it would not be

A world so frail and faulty as we see

But most importantly for Lewis, there didn’t seem to be sufficient evidence for this “transcendental Interferer,” anyhow: How could this religion, among all the others in history, contain the full truth? He writes, “In the midst of a thousand such religions stood our own, the thousand and first, labeled True. But on what grounds could I believe in this exception?

It obviously was in some general sense the same kind of thing as all the rest…”

With his wanderlust for the occult and the lack of evidence for God, “it was always winter but never Christmas” for Lewis in his early experience with Christianity, until one day he decided to leave the faith for good:

“I became an apostate, dropping my faith with no sense of loss but with the greatest relief... This had to be accepted; one had to look out on a meaningless dance of atoms, to realize that all the apparent beauty was subjective phosphorescence, and to relegate everything one valued to the world of mirage.”

When he began his professorship at Oxford University he was confident in his atheism and comfortable in his intruder-free life.

But something happened to C.S. Lewis that he didn’t anticipate.

Soon after he arrived at one the most sophisticated universities of his time, he was shocked to discover that many of his fellow professors, some of the most brilliant minds of his time, were strange “thorough-going supernaturalists.” And, as chance would have it, one of these strange supernaturalists was none other than the creative and literary genius, J.R.R. Tolkien—author of The Lord of the Rings series.

Tolkien was a devout Christian, and, despite Tolkien’s supernaturalism and Lewis’ atheism, they quickly formed a deep Frodo-and-Sam type friendship. J.R.R. Tolkien said at the death of C.S. Lewis many years later, "So far I have felt the normal feelings of a man of my age—like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: This feels like an axe-blow near the roots..." They would often meet for long hours at The Eagle and Child Pub, sharing English pints and smoking pipe-weed, while reading over each other’s manuscripts.

As time passed in Lewis’ tenure at Oxford, this supernaturalism began to grow on him.

He couldn’t shake it.

During his time with his strange friends, like Tolkien, he was being presented with the evidence for God for the first time and it troubled him. “A young atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully,” Lewis commented. “Dangers lie in wait for him on every side.” So he vigorously resisted conversion, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape,” especially when the evidence started to point vertically.

But after five long years of resisting the evidence, he became painfully convinced; and the idea of believing in the world beyond The Wardrobe began to make sense: this Intruder had finally made his way through the “barbed wire fence.” One fall evening at Oxford, he took a walk with Tolkien and another friend which ended up lasting through the night; and by dawn he decided to take down that “No Admittance notice” once and for all. Lewis couldn’t deny the evidence any longer; so on that fateful morning he chose to be reunited with (the transcendental) Them.

In my own life, I needed this walk with Tolkien and Lewis.

I needed to see the evidence that proved to Lewis and Tolkien that this paranormal Wardrobe actually existed. What kind of proof could there be to convince these intellectual giants — especially Lewis who loved the idea of complete control of his life and loathed the idea of the intruder; who didn’t accept a religion based on familial heritage but needed utmost proof – to cause them to unite their brilliant minds with God? How could one know the truth about God, for sure?

Next Article: Abracadabra

Is this the first INE article you've read? If you're curious and want to read more, click here to start at the beginning: No One Knows?

Subscribe to get the next drop