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03/28/2005: "The Question of God"

Book Review: The Question of God
By: Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr.

There would surely be strong evidence to support the statement that C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud were two of the most influential thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The similar threads that run through their lives were quite striking, including great losses at early ages, disconnected relationships with their fathers and their materialistic atheistic worldview. Their lives were quite similar until that fateful day, until Lewis became a Christian.

Dr. Armand M. Nicholi tells a truly fascinating tale of a conversation that never occurred between these two great thinkers and pulls back the covers of these men’s lives so that we can see how their thinking effects their actions and their lives. We get to see in real terms, how a life animated by a Christian worldview lived out authentically changes a person and truly makes the individual a better being. At the same time we see how a totally materialistic worldview can affect a person’s ability to live well, to make friends and to be happy.

As I read the book I had to continually ask myself, is it possible that this story is very biased or is the life and story of C. S. Lewis so much more enchanting and encouraging than the life of the Sigmund Freud? My conclusion to that question is a resounding No. The book is not biased, and in fact, I think Nicholi at times approaches the line of going overboard to make it balanced. At the same time I am much more attracted to the thinking and life of Lewis.

In Freud’s philosophical writings he divides all people into two categories, “believers” and “non-believers”. It is amazing for a psychiatrist to use such language and make this distinction, but at the same time, it is indeed true. What we see throughout the rest of this book is how these dramatically opposed worldviews affect everything of importance in a person’s life.

Lewis knew the beliefs and the atheistic views of Sigmund Freud and he himself held these views as a young man. After he became a believer, he was able to use these arguments to argue strongly for the Christian worldview. Nicholi shows throughout the book how Freud’s view of life causes conflict, pain and struggle and at the same time how Lewis’s worldview brings friendship, comfort during struggle and peace.

Nicholi gives many examples of this contrast in the book. Two great examples are…
• Freud was considered the “father of sexual freedom” while in reality actually live a life that could be considered “sexually repressed”. While Lewis lived a life of sexual joy and freedom, with his wife commenting openly on his “sexual prowess” and Lewis comments how they “feasted on love”.
• Freud seemed to have many acquaintances and friends but he seemed to lose many of his friends in great conflict over the arguments and disagreements that they had. Many of these once close relationships would be broken permanently with great acrimony and pain. On the other hand, we see Lewis, who had been morose, depressed and disinterested in friends before his conversion and became very outwardly focused and a great friend after his conversion. He built great lasting friendships that became a large part of the joy of his life.

This book opened my mind to many new insights. I found myself thinking that Lewis would be a great example of how to live a wonderful life as a Christian. I also found myself adding to my reading list some of the classic literature that Lewis loved so much.

If you’re interested in examining the lives of two great thinkers in an expertly weaved tale, this is a must read book to be added to your reading list.

Product image for ASIN: 074324785X

The Question of God:
C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud
Debate God, Love, Sex,
and the Meaning of Life

Replies: 2 Comments

Thsi has nothing to do with your most recent post, but you would probably be interested in this:,0,3070961.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Good article said @ 03/28/2005 08:04 AM CST

I think you may be surprised to find that I significantly agree with Rev Wallis. Read my previous post on the subject of caring for the poor.

One thing we need to be careful with is the concept of peace. If we think we can unilaterally be a country of peace, we are misunderstanding the nature of man. Man is evil and there will always be wars. Even Jesus said at the end "there will be wars and rumors of wars". I really don't believe that in this world there will ever be peace. That is not to say that we should not strive for peace, but there is an even more important goal than peace on earth and that is peace with God.

Thanks for the link.

Q and A Blogger said @ 03/28/2005 09:02 AM CST

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