Is Theology Poetry?
My favorite quote by C.S. Lewis comes from the last sentence of his 1944 lecture for the Socratic Club Is Theology Poetry? I’m excited to teach my C.S. Lewis winter course for my fifth time at Boyce College. I found this post in the archives this morning while getting some material together for the class. Here are some excerpts from Lewis’s essay:
“I was taught at school, when I had done a sum, to ‘prove my answer.’ The proof or verification of my Christian answer to the cosmic sum is this. When I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonising it with some particular truths which are embedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole. Granted that Reason illuminates finite minds, I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in.
If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on bio-chemistry, and bio-chemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees.
And this is to me the final test. This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams: I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner: I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience.
The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world: the dream world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific point of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.”