"This elegantly written and compelling comparison of the worldviews of Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis provides a riveting opportunity to consider the most important questions mankind has ever asked: Is there a God? Does he care about me? This profound book is for anyone who is earnestly seeking answers about truth, the meaning of life, and God's existence." -- Francis Collins, Director, National Human Genome Research Institute Many of history's greatest thinkers have wrestled with the ultimate question of belief and nonbelief in God. Though it might seem unlikely that any new arguments could possibly be raised on either side, the twentieth century managed to produce two men who each made brilliant, new, and lasting arguments, one in favor of belief and one opposed. Few spokesmen have ever championed their respective positions better than Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis. Sadly, as far as we know, they never met or debated each other directly. In The Question of God their arguments are placed side by side, as if they were standing at podiums in a shared room. Both thought carefully about the flaws and alternatives to their positions; each considered the other's views. Both men considered the problem of pain and suffering, the nature of love and sex, and the ultimate meaning of life and death. Here, with their debate made explicit, we can take ringside seats at one of history's most profound encounters. For more than twenty-five years Armand Nicholi has studied the philosophical writings of both men, and has taught a popular course at Harvard that compares the two worldviews. In The Question of God he presents the fruits of years of labor among the published and unpublished writings of Lewis and Freud, including an extensive exploration of their private letters. He allows them to speak for themselves on every major question of belief and nonbelief, but also skillfully draws conclusions from their own lives. Why did Freud have such difficulty maintaining lifelong friendships? How did Lewis's friendships change after his transition from atheism to belief? Why was Freud unable to willfully ignore his own internal moral sense, even though he believed it to be purely a product of socialization and not in any way eternally "true"? The Question of God may be the best book about belief and nonbelief ever written, since it does not presuppose which answer is correct. Instead, it uses two of history's most articulate spokesmen to present arguments on both sides. In the end, readers must join Nicholi's hundreds of former students in deciding for themselves which path to follow.read more
A great book. I hated it.This isn't really a "debate;" it's a biography of three men: the pre-conversion Lewis, and the post-conversion Lewis, and Freud. Nicholi does a great job of portraying both Lewis and Freud, perhaps two of the greatest minds of the last century.Could any two men have needed religion more than Freud and Lewis? Both experienced suffering, as do we all. Freud was a noted atheist his entire life, yet the question of God continued to preoccupy him. Lewis was an atheist for the first third of his life, and writes "I was very angry with God for not existing. I was also equally angry with Him for creating a world ... why should creatures have the burden of existence forced on them without their consent."One embraced Christianity, the other did not. One died contented, the other remained forever trapped in misery, powerless to do anything about a world view that offered little hope of happiness, longing for death yet greatly fearful of it. Freud finally chose to end his life by morphine injection.Lewis' conversion brought inner quietness and tranquility. The book's author, Dr. Nicholi, is apparently a Christian; subtle hints throughout the book make clear his approval of Lewis' conversion to Christianity. Yet, whether Nicholi grasps this or not, his is not a book about choosing belief or unbelief. Freud and Lewis were both well-versed in the Bible. Freud could no more have chosen to believe than Lewis could have chosen unbelief. Experience, disposition, and impeccable logic developed the world view of both men.As many of you know, I am a "liberal Christian;" I can no longer take the stories and promises of the Bible literally. By the end of Nicholi's book, I had no idea whether to rail at God for the unfairness of life or sneer at Lewis for succumbing to a fairy tale so as to distract himself from life's suffering.One thing is clear: Lewis was happy.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
No rating provided
While Freud and C.S. Lewis never actually met, the atheistic theories of the psychoanalyst and well-known unbeliever are pitted against those of the Christian don in The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. Author Armand M. Nicholi Jr. is a Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor who has taught a class on the theological writings of Freud and Lewis for more than 25 years. In this accessible study, he outlines the lives of the two thinkers, both preoccupied with the question of god's existence, and compares how the two approach questions of conscience, happiness, pain and death. (Apr. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved