Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Reality Test 14-How has my thinking gone wrong?

Posted by Ann on October 5, 2010

14) Being a smart person who writes well and is considered an expert in a particular field of study doesn’t make that person right

Before I get started here on why being an authority does not translate into correctness, I’d like to make the observation that C.S. Lewis looks like a moron (can’t resist an ad hominem attack). Okay, that out of the way, C. S. Lewis has actually made statements indicating he is a racist, sexist bigot who thinks “homos”, his word, are perverted (I don’t need to support this statement, just read Mere Christianity). Christians who idolize him must somehow excuse some of his statements as being “old-fashioned” and still love his other non-bigoted apologetics.

American culture loves to rely on authorities to tell them what to think, especially when that authority has a doctorate and is very intelligent. Throw in looks, confidence, and humor and the person has even more credibility. Unfortunately, being a member of Mensa does not exclude belief in the paranormal. We may think having a high IQ somehow indicates a person is superior, but being an authority in a certain topic, or having a PH.D. in one or two fields mainly just provides that person with extra knowledge the layman doesn’t have in those fields. It doesn’t give the social scientist expertise in physics, for instance, or the theologian expertise in science in general.  It doesn’t make the person who speaks several languages any special knowledge regarding psychology. But who is making a claim makes a difference to us since we lean on the idea that a person who has been established as right about something in their field must mean they also have general superior knowledge. It is easier to laugh off the psychic because they are wrong in an obvious way, but then listen to the Christian apologist who has a doctorate and studied the Bible extensively, and maybe even was an atheist in the past, gasp, who converted to Christianity. The conversion from atheism gives a theologian a little extra authority boost because he was brought to the light (instead of the completely rational other option that it indicates his not so brightness–I’ve read the Narnia series, Mere Christianity, A Grief Observed, and The Screwtape Letters so it can’t be said I don’t know C.S. Lewis).

In conclusion, being an expert in a field may be helpful in separating possible charlatans from people who have solid ideas, but it does not make it safe to accept ideas as correct because a person we respect supports them, also known as false positives. Neither does it make it safe to deny ideas as correct because a person we disrespect supports them, also known as false negatives. What to do? We can rely on the one thing we can rely on, the actual evidence that exists in our world. C. S. Lewis making a statement for universal morality coming from God as the truth, or of Jesus being either a lunatic, liar or God (Lord), does not make either of those statements true, even if he is considered an authority by theologians. Regarding the 3 L’s, why are the options limited–maybe Jesus is a fictional character, or largely fictional, or maybe he was just trying to figure things out like the rest of us. C. S. Lewis’ ideas are based on stuff he came up with in his mind and from reading other philosophers and theologians, but to this day there isn’t a shred of evidence to support any of his ideas.

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9 Responses to “Reality Test 14-How has my thinking gone wrong?”

  1. Bob said

    I’ve had a LOT of Christians use C.S. Lewis’s “Lunatic, Liar or Lord” argument–which I like to call “the argument from alliteration.” It reminds me of O.J. Simpson’s argument from rhyme, “If the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit.” You really do have to be a simple-minded person to miss the fact that there are many other options for who or what Jesus was. I like Dan Barker’s continuation of the alliteration (or was it Bart Ehrman?) by adding Legend to the list. But, of course, Christians don’t want a non-belief option in there, which is why C.S. Lewis made use of the either-or argument fallacy in the first place.

  2. Ann said

    Some people glorify simple-mindedness. It makes life cleaner, not so messy. If it’s too difficult, then go for the simpler option. However, it’s irrational to think the right and best way is always the simplest. But you’ll never know if you always opt out for the simplest (or easiest). One thing I’ve learned from life, sometimes the best things in life aren’t free, and worth the struggle. Psychologists will tell you that in order to experience growth, pain is often inevitable but worth the release to the more fulfilling life, sometimes one not dreamed of–why we call life a journey without a destination, a process without an end (except in death, of course).

  3. susannahww said

    I’ve been reading Deacon Duncan’s takedown of Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. (The introduction to the series is here.)

    Now I find it amazing that I read all of that and didn’t see how contrived his “logic” was.

    • Ann said

      I know. I used to think C.S. Lewis was it! He was the guy who made Christianity so much more sensible and logical. He lures people in by making them believe they are part of the new group of evolved human–one of those humans who stands out among other Christians as a model for morality and compassion, modeling Jesus’ humility and nobility. As soon as you start working on being more humble than others you realize how arrogant that is.

      • Ann said

        P.S. I recently read a FB comment by a liberal Christian that went something like “real faith is held by the people who lose their faith, because then they don’t have faith and now it becomes real”. What the hell does this mean? I’m so confused. LOL! In other words, the only real Christians are atheists? Sounds sorta like C. S. Lewis’ gobley goop logic.

        • Ann said

          (my more real interpretation: I’m no longer a conservative Christian who believes in all that conservative legalistic garbage. So now that I’ve lost my faith, I can experience real Christian faith. Now I’m a better and more real Christian than conservative Christians.)

          What I can’t figure out is why still believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit once the whole belief system has already been debunked???!!! It’s like saying, because God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit mean something to me, in my head, I refuse to give the deity(ies) up and will believe even though there are a whole lot of people who don’t believe any of it, because there is no reason to believe any of it. And I admit these people who don’t believe any of it also have moral lives. In fact, statistically speaking, more moral lives than those who are religious (by our own religious moral standards).

  4. susannahww said

    All of that, being Lewis’ apologetics, not Duncan’s takedown.

    Just thought I’d clarify. I wish there was a preview button here.

  5. Ann said

    I like that according to our site stats someone searched today for the phrase “CS Lewis was a moron” and got our site as a search result.

  6. Ann said

    C.S. Lewis is not wrong within his particular field of study (for a theologian he’s at the top of his game–he’s an expert). The problem for theology is the lack of any evidence at all for its basic premises. Theology is not a scientific field. There is no research in theology. No science. Theology is completely based in beliefs and ideas, faith in the non-verifiable.

    What gets me is when people blind themselves to science, valid science based in evidence. Typically it takes generations before people actually start applying evidence-based knowledge that has been around for decades.

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