Thursday, February 16, 2012

Isaac Asimov, C.S. Lewis, and the Reagan Doctrine

I was feeling inadequate and incomplete because of my skepticism about religion and God, so I requested a clear indication.

And it did seem that the answer to my request for a signal of whether God was indeed there was all signs point to yes.

And then, of course, I had to start thinking.

My average education was not serving me well here, so I looked up two scholars, Isaac Asimov, and C.S. Lewis. 

Both frighteningly over educated, and born within 25 years of one-another, they had strikingly different views of God and religion.

Lewis, from Ireland, was an atheist, then theist, and eventually a devout Christian.

Asimov, originally from Russia but smuggled into the United States by his parents, probably could be called a reluctant atheist.

Lewis writes in blossoming, flowing and rich descriptions in contrast with Asimov's sharp, clean and direct sentences.  Asimov won Nebula and Hugo awards for his writings, and his short story "Nightfall" is considered by many the best science fiction story ever written.  Read "Nightfall" here:

Lewis has written the Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, and many additional Christian-themed books, several made into well-known and popular movies.  He was moved to re-devotion to Christianity partially by his good friend J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit.

Asimov called himself an atheist, but with reservations.  He believed the term stated what he did not believe in, but neglected what he did.  He considered himself a humanist.  Although he wrote in simple and straightforward sentences, his mind was anything but simple.  He was a long-standing member of Mensa, and served as VP of the High IQ Society.

And now to the theological arguments.

Lewis's books argue that most evidence is based in favor of Christianity, and reasonable people should therefore be Christian.  (This is the most simplified version of his idea.)  He did not feel one should believe in Christianity if, in their opinion, the signs pointed otherwise  He did not believe "leaps of faith" served a skeptic any purpose.  But, for those who considered themselves devout Christians, he believed it better "to believe based on faith rather than evidence.  For a complete view of Lewis's ideals please read here:

Asimov pointed out that Ronald Reagan stated that anyone who does not believe in God cannot be trusted because they have nothing to motivate them to behave properly.  Asimov felt this was sad, inferring that people needed to be bribed and scared into behaving a certain way according to the "Reagan Doctrine," and we do not have the ability to keep our word or behave properly simply based on a sense of honor.  If we help someone, keep a promise, or just act basically decent, we are merely buying a "ticket to heaven."

I found the Reagan Doctrine fascinating, and hope you take the time to read this interesting treatise on a touchy subject.  :)

Day 12 of 100 Unfortunate Days

Everyone thinks the anti-Christ is the devil, but it’s not. It’s a person just like you or me. Then the anti-Christ could tell you that if you do not go to church and follow him, you will go to hell. Or maybe he is right and IF you go to church you are following not the teachings of God, but of Satan. Satan is the father of lies, right? How the hell are we supposed to know who is lying


  1. If there is a God, would you change anything about who you are or how you live? If there isn't a God, would you change anything about who you are or how you live? If you are doing the best that you can to fulfill the promise inherent to your life, then I'd have to believe you're already living in a way God would condone. I doubt you'd suddenly not want to live up to your own potential even if you were hand-delivered incontrovertible proof of a lack of God. It seems that regardless of God's existential or demonstrable reality, the only option is to be who you are. Thought and belief and questioning and faith are all parts of discovering who we are as individuals. If you find God, I think you'll still be you. Same if you don't find God. I've told you in a previous post that I'm a humanist, so feel free to frame what I say within that context (I am!).

    I'd never heard of the Reagan Doctrine, but pending further thought and research on my part, I have a tentative agreement with Asimov's interpretation.

  2. "Asimov called himself an atheist, but with reservations. He believed the term stated what he did not believe in, but neglected what he did."- Very interesting. Hadn't thought of it that way.

    Seeing the mention of theism reminded me that I've taken to calling myself a modern deist these past several years. It's sort of a new take on the watchmaker approach. Maybe more food for thought for you in your explorations.

    Look forward to your interview next week.

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog


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