The Enduring Legacy of C.S. Lewis

 Before the holidays I was reading a short biography of C.S. Lewis called, Not A Tame Lion, which does a good job of integrating Lewis’ life and writing themes. I was amazed at how well his writings hold up in the 21st century; his arguments and discussions continue to be relevant and potent responses to the claims of materialism and naturalism. Shortly after that I came across this article on the CNN site about the enduring legacy of Lewis. It chronicles the continued popularity of Lewis after 50 years.

For myself, I think the endurance of ideas says something about their truth. In a free society good ideas survive while bad ones fade away. I think the perseverance of an idea is an indication of its ability to accurately describe reality and human experience – and its ability to help us live our lives better.

I predict in 25 years very few people will know who Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens are. They will be footnotes in philosophical skirmishes of the very early 21st century. But the words of Lewis will be as popular then as they are today, and the teachings of the person he wrote the most about, Jesus Christ, will continue to guide the lives of billions of followers.

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7 Responses to The Enduring Legacy of C.S. Lewis

  1. kenetiks says:

    For myself, I think the endurance of ideas says something about their truth. In a free society good ideas survive while bad ones fade away. I think the perseverance of an idea is an indication of its ability to accurately describe reality and human experience – and its ability to help us live our lives better.

    The very fact you use the word truth here is again quite irritating. I’ll reiterate shortly my objections to the continued abuse of the word truth. You seem to use this word as if it shifted reality to make whatever is being said factual. In fact the continued use of the word truth has lead me to almost completely stop using it. Because in a conversation with the religious the word truth is bolted onto whatever they’re saying and they never mean real or factual.

    My second observation that I would like to point out should never have been stated to begin with.”For myself, I think the endurance of ideas says something about their truth.“. No it most certainly does not. Nothing could be farther from the truth and I feel you should have thought this out a little better.

    I predict in 25 years very few people will know who Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens are. They will be footnotes in philosophical skirmishes of the very early 21st century. But the words of Lewis will be as popular then as they are today, and the teachings of the person he wrote the most about, Jesus Christ, will continue to guide the lives of billions of followers.

    I can only hope that neither of these intellectual giants are forgotten. Nor, as it might surprise you to know, do I wish Lewis to be forgotten either. Even though I find Lewis’ arguments to be easily dismissed as wishful thinking, I do not feel that theological works should be forgotten and I wouldn’t suppress them even if I could.

  2. Justin says:

    Richard Dawkins may be an expert biologist, but his book has so many logical fallacies in it he could hardly be considered an intellectual giant in the field of philosophy. There, he’s only a layman, and not a very thoughtful one at that, unless you count his making money off of selling books.

  3. kenetiks says:

    Richard Dawkins may be an expert biologist, but his book has so many logical fallacies in it he could hardly be considered an intellectual giant in the field of philosophy. There, he’s only a layman, and not a very thoughtful one at that, unless you count his making money off of selling books.

    I’m not a raving Dawkins fan myself. He makes some good points and some of it is useful.

    But, in his defense, I don’t think he sets himself up as a philosopher.

  4. jackhudson says:

    The very fact you use the word truth here is again quite irritating. I’ll reiterate shortly my objections to the continued abuse of the word truth. You seem to use this word as if it shifted reality to make whatever is being said factual. In fact the continued use of the word truth has lead me to almost completely stop using it. Because in a conversation with the religious the word truth is bolted onto whatever they’re saying and they never mean real or factual.

    I am sorry if it wasn’t clear, but my intended use of the word truth is exactly as you suggest – real or factual; or more precisely, an accurate description of reality.

    My second observation that I would like to point out should never have been stated to begin with.”For myself, I think the endurance of ideas says something about their truth.“. No it most certainly does not. Nothing could be farther from the truth and I feel you should have thought this out a little better.

    Well, I think what it needs is this caveat, and I might re-state it this way, “For myself, I think the endurance of ideas despite thorough criticism and challenge says something about their truth.” I suppose an idea that has been accepted and that has never been challenged could persist despite being false.

    I can only hope that neither of these intellectual giants are forgotten. Nor, as it might surprise you to know, do I wish Lewis to be forgotten either. Even though I find Lewis’ arguments to be easily dismissed as wishful thinking, I do not feel that theological works should be forgotten and I wouldn’t suppress them even if I could.

    Well, just to be clear I don’t think we should engage in some sort of historical purging, I just think it’s normal for failed ideas to fall by the wayside. I think there is a reason we don’t generally take Freud seriously anymore – because his idea were challenged and lacked intellectual vigor.

  5. DanJames says:

    Just a comment, I found it humerous that because this is a thread about C.S. Lewis, I couldn’t read Kinetiks’ initial comment without hearing the voice of the Episcopal ghost from the audiobook version of The Great Divorce.

  6. kenetiks says:

    I am sorry if it wasn’t clear, but my intended use of the word truth is exactly as you suggest – real or factual; or more precisely, an accurate description of reality.

    It wasn’t that you weren’t clear. You were using it in the same context that you did when I originally came here. I understand you think you’re using the word to describe real and factual reality but you’re using it to describe your worldview.

    Well, I think what it needs is this caveat, and I might re-state it this way, “For myself, I think the endurance of ideas despite thorough criticism and challenge says something about their truth.” I suppose an idea that has been accepted and that has never been challenged could persist despite being false.

    That sounds much better.

    Although, just as a side note; This doesn’t state whether the criticism is accurate or true. I suppose one could come under entirely accurate criticism and still trudge on being entirely deluded anyway. I don’t see why anyone would but anyway thanks for clarifying.

    Well, just to be clear I don’t think we should engage in some sort of historical purging, I just think it’s normal for failed ideas to fall by the wayside. I think there is a reason we don’t generally take Freud seriously anymore – because his idea were challenged and lacked intellectual vigor.

    I don’t feel we should either. I don’t even think we should purge failed either. Even failed ideas aid in the process of learning and can be great tools. We should however recognize failed ideas as just that, failed and learn from our mistakes but I don’t feel that either Dawkins or Hitchens have failed as a whole. They may each entertain certain notions that are wrong but that doesn’t make everything they do incorrect. As I said, I’m not a raving Dawkins fan, I think he’s done a lot of good and probably a great deal in his field of expertise and to raise awareness for science and biology. Hitchens has done much the same for history and literature. Much of the same could be said for Lewis raising awareness in(even if I wholly disagree) theology.

    I fail to see why the wholesale loss of the works of these people would be anything but tragic.

  7. jackhudson says:

    It wasn’t that you weren’t clear. You were using it in the same context that you did when I originally came here. I understand you think you’re using the word to describe real and factual reality but you’re using it to describe your worldview.

    Well I don’t think reality and my worldview are mutually exclusive; at least I hope not. I imagine no one does – I would think most people have a worldview because they think it comports with reality; one wouldn’t intentionally hold a worldview one understood to be contrary to reality.
    Though I do think there is a difference between reality, as much as it consists of things that exist (planets, organisms, individuals, rocks, gods, etc) and beliefs and understanding about those things, which cumulatively constitutes our worldview. So then I am saying that those beliefs which most accurately describe a correct understanding of reality (i.e. things that exist) will persist in an environment of free inquiry and vigorous rational testing. I hold that the ideas which Lewis articulated and argued for are more likely to be true because of their persistence.

    I don’t feel we should either. I don’t even think we should purge failed either. Even failed ideas aid in the process of learning and can be great tools. We should however recognize failed ideas as just that, failed and learn from our mistakes but I don’t feel that either Dawkins or Hitchens have failed as a whole. They may each entertain certain notions that are wrong but that doesn’t make everything they do incorrect. As I said, I’m not a raving Dawkins fan, I think he’s done a lot of good and probably a great deal in his field of expertise and to raise awareness for science and biology. Hitchens has done much the same for history and literature. Much of the same could be said for Lewis raising awareness in(even if I wholly disagree) theology.
    I fail to see why the wholesale loss of the works of these people would be anything but tragic.

    Well sure, I think their works could be available to future generations as examples of the silliness of the early 21st century along with Justin Beiber CDs and DVDs containing all the episodes of the Kardashians reality series. 🙂

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