C.S. Lewis: A Challenge for Christian Scholars

To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticism which deny intellect altogether. Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion. 1 By C.S. Lewis in Learning in War-Time.

Christian scholars have the special task of providing intellectual answers to the scholarly challenges to Christianity. In the field of neuroscience, there are a host of deep questions.

  1. The nature of the human intellect
  2. What constitutes a person?
  3. The immortality of the human soul
  4. The evolution of consciousness
  5. The basis of the free choice of the will
  6. Why do humans have a moral sense?
  7. Are humans different from animals qualitatively?
  8. What does it mean to be made "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:26-27)?

Normally, a Christian who has a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience has an superb education in the natural sciences. Graduate and post-doctorate studies are often focused upon a specialized topic. Having an advanced degree in neuroscience gives a Christian credibility in learned circles. However, there is a need for a Christian scholar to do additional studies in theology and philosophy from a Christian perspective. In this way a Christian scholar can contribute to the intellectual defense of the Christian world-view.

The words of C.S. Lewis are especially relevant for us. It required perseverance to earn a Ph.D. degree. And, it is a continuing challenge to accomplish significant research and to publish its results. However, as Christian scholars, we have the challenge and opportunity to answer the intellectual challenges to Christianity. This means additional studies in theology and philosophy. May the words of C.S. Lewis inspire us to meet the challenge.

1< C.S. Lewis, Learning in War-Time, In: The Weight of Glory, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1980, p. 28.

Last Edited 11-17-2001

Ted J McDonald