A new book explores what C. S. Lewis believed about the multileveled nature of reality.
I still remember vividly the intellectual liberation I felt when I read the first letter of C. S. Lewis’s TheScrewtape Letters during my graduate years at the University of Michigan. It was not my first time reading the book; that had taken place when I was a teenager. But when I read it this time, it came alive for me in a new and bracing way.
Secular colleges and universities, like the secular world itself, have a way of convincing students, without them realizing they are being convinced, that the real, solid world belongs firmly in the realm of science and that anything relating to God or heaven belongs in the abstract, invisible world of dreams and wish fulfillment. Reason, in this telling, is on the side of those who keep their eyes fixed below, while those who wish to turn their gaze upward must be satisfied with faith. Growing up means learning to trust reason, face facts, and accept the world as all there is—at least all there really is.
In one fell swoop, The Screwtape Letters tore away the curtain to expose the phony smoke and mirrors behind this worldview. Reason, logic, and argument, Lewis helped me realize, belong neither to the devil nor to the atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists. It is God, the one Screwtape calls the Enemy, who invented these tools and uses them with greater skill, precision, and honesty.
Thus, when his nephew Wormwood shares his plan of using logical scientific arguments to draw his patient away from God, senior tempter Screwtape warns against using such a dangerous strategy:
The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting He has been shown …