Philosophy, apologetics, and the ‘big questions’ fascinate me. There is a reason the ancient scientists were also philosophers: they understood that the search for truth, whether physical, supernatural, or psychological, was the same search, and all honest and accurate observations would point the same direction. For the most part, famous philosophers across the ages have denied the reality of God, or denied His willful activity in current history, and so they were limited to finding only purposelessness and emptiness at the end of their searches. But also over the millenia there have been those who’ve valiantly defended the cause of Christianity, finding how it “made sense” to our finite human minds. In the recent century, two particular men stand out as having a particularly impressive effect on our understanding of ourselves, our life, purpose, and the ‘big questions’.
C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud are two names not often seen together, but their lives contain many intriguing parallels and they struggled with and wrote about many similar issues. C.S. Lewis, “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England”, is perhaps best known as the author of the children’s series “The Chronicles of Narnia“ but I knew him first as the author of “Mere Christianity“, an impressive discussion of the superiority of the Christian faith in addressing the issues of life. Freud, on the other hand, was a renoun atheist with a prolific pen who we credit with creating much of the field of psychoanalysis as we know it today. They have been brought together masterfully by Professor Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. of Harvard, who has taught a class comparing and contrasting the teachings of these two profound thinkers for the last 25 years. The book is “The Question Of God” and I recommend it unreservedly.
Over 25 years Mr. Nicholi has amassed an impressive catalogue of writings, interviews, private and public letters, and general teachings of both these men, and he has put them together in a compelling narative which, for what could have been a dry academic tome, is a jem. I found the book a page-turner, and it’s svelte 300 plus pages belies it’s depth. So pick it up, brew a cup of your favorite brew, get a good fire burning, and dive into this excellent chronicle of the personal truth quests of two brilliant men.