“Is Theology Poetry?” by C.S. Lewis

Sunset over the Callanish Stones

The Callanish Standing Stones are located near the village of Callanish on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.The stone circle was constructed by Stone-Age people some 4500 and 5000 years ago, and is believed to have been used as a sort of astronomical observatory. This photo was taken at sunset in June by Micheal Blanchette

This is one of my favorite essays by C.S .Lewis.  It was first presented to the Oxford Socratic Club on November 6, 1944.  This lecture is as rich as poetry for it contains some of the key ideas that led Lewis out of atheism and finally into Christianity – namely the argument from reason and Christianity as the true myth.  Here is just a taste and a link to the entire lecture below.  As I have mentioned before, the argument from reason is very important to me, too, for I clung to it during a long season of spiritual doubt.


“I was taught at school, when I had done a sum, to ‘prove my answer.’ The proof or verification of my Christian answer to the cosmic sum is this. When I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonising it with some particular truths which are imbedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole. Granted that Reason is prior to matter and that the light of the primal Reason illuminates finite minds, I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in. If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. And this is to me the final test. This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams; I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner; I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience. The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world; the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific points of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the subChristian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

Read more here:  Full text – “Is Theology Poetry?”

Photo Credits:  Michael Blanchette Photography

2 thoughts on ““Is Theology Poetry?” by C.S. Lewis

  1. Pingback: The Non-Religious Person Does Not Exist | Keeping Your Kids Christian

  2. Pingback: The Burden of Doubt: A Cross to Bear | Along the Beam

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