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

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Overview

Throughout the ages, many of the world's greatest thinkers have wrestled with the concept of — and belief in — God. It may seem unlikely that any new arguments or insights could be raised, but the twentieth century managed to produce two brilliant men with two diametrically opposed views about the question of God: Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis. They never had an actual meeting, but in The Question of God, their arguments are placed side by side for the very first time.

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

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Overview

Throughout the ages, many of the world's greatest thinkers have wrestled with the concept of — and belief in — God. It may seem unlikely that any new arguments or insights could be raised, but the twentieth century managed to produce two brilliant men with two diametrically opposed views about the question of God: Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis. They never had an actual meeting, but in The Question of God, their arguments are placed side by side for the very first time.

For more than twenty-five years, Armand Nicholi has taught a course at Harvard that compares the philosophical arguments of both men. In The Question of God, Dr. Nicholi presents the writings and letters of Lewis and Freud, allowing them to "speak" for themselves on the subject of belief and disbelief. Both men considered the problem of pain and suffering, the nature of love and sex, and the ultimate meaning of life and death — and each of them thought carefully about the alternatives to their positions.

The inspiration for the PBS series of the same name, The Question of God does not presuppose which man — Freud the devout atheist or Lewis the atheist-turned-believer — is correct in his views. Rather, readers are urged to join Nicholi and his students and decide for themselves which path to follow.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis never had the pleasure of meeting. But if the two famous men had gotten together, they probably would have intensely debated the existence of God. Here, Armand Nicholi simulates such a discussion, pitting Freud's secularism against the spirituality of Lewis.
Publishers Weekly
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) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Over the years, a number of good biographies of Lewis, the perennially popular Christian apologist, have been published. George Sayer's Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis is probably the least controversial of them, while A.N. Wilson's C.S. Lewis: A Biography is likely the most. This portrait by Downing (English, Elizabethtown Coll.; Planets in Peril) is unique in that it treats one aspect of Lewis's life: his conversion from atheism to Christianity. Focusing on his subject's inner journey, Downing considers the effect on Lewis of his mother's death; his estrangement from his father; the influence of a rationalist, atheistic, but well-loved mentor; his early interest in the occult and paranormal; and the trench warfare he experienced in World War I. Making use of both published and unpublished writings, Downing shows a deep understanding of Lewis and writes in a flowing style. For more than 25 years, Nicholi (psychiatry, Harvard Medical Sch.) has offered a course in which he compares the thought and life of the atheist Freud with that of Lewis as a way to consider questions about the existence of God, love, sex, and the meaning of life. Nicholi generally maintains a balanced view, letting Freud's and Lewis's words and actions speak for themselves. He examines why Freud remained an unbeliever (though not an unthinking one) and why Lewis accepted Christianity. While his sympathies obviously lie on the side of faith, Nicholi nevertheless offers a balanced view of Freud. Both books are well written and worthy additions to the rapidly growing literature on Lewis, although Nicholi's will probably appeal to a broader audience. Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A careful examination of two major, and conflicting, currents of modern thought. Those currents, in the view of Nicholi (Psychiatry/Harvard Medical School), turn on the question of whether God exists. The founder of modern psychotherapy thought not; Sigmund Freud held that the belief in an "idealized Superman" is "so patently infantile and so foreign to reality that . . . it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never rise above this view of life," asserting that only scientific education could turn people away from "the fairy tales of religion." British writer and popular theologian C.S. Lewis argued in the affirmative, having turned from youthful atheism to a more or less orthodox Christianity in middle life and becoming preoccupied thereafter with the "questions of how to escape corruption in living and how in death to give meaning to life." Setting these thinkers in opposition is admittedly an artificial construct; it can be objected that Freud (1856-1939) and Lewis (1898-1963) were two generations apart and did not publicly debate each other. (Although Nicholi speculates that they might have met briefly at the very end of Freud's life.) Einstein and Muggeridge, Bohr and Schweitzer, or even Sagan and Tolkien might have done just as well in serving as spokesmen for their respective causes and in making the author's point. Yet Nicholi ably makes his case for pairing Freud with Lewis, and his essay takes inspired turns as he examines how believers and nonbelievers think about such thorny matters as forgiving those who have trespassed against us, dealing with the pain the world deals us, and even loving ourselves. Palatable food for thought for readers preoccupiedwith life's big, ultimately insoluble questions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743202374
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He has an active practice as a psychiatrist and serves as a consultant to government groups, corporations, and professional athletes. He is married, with two children, and lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

On the morning of September 26, 1939, at Golders Green in northwest London, a group of friends and family gathered to mourn the death of Sigmund Freud. After his body was cremated, Ernest Jones, in his funeral oration, noted that "he was being buried...[as] he would have wished...in sheer simplicity, without a note of pomp or ceremony." Stefan Zweig, the author, closed his remarks by predicting that "wherever we seek to advance into the labyrinth of the human heart, henceforth his intellectual light will shine upon our path."

The front page of the Sunday New York Times declared in a headline: "Dr. Sigmund Freud Dies in Exile at 83." And in the subheadlines: "Founder of Psychoanalysis...Succumbs at His Home Near London." The article described his recent escape from the Nazis, who burned his books, dismissed his theories as pornographic, and demanded a ransom for his freedom. It also mentioned Freud's "worldwide fame and greatness," referring to him as "one of the most widely discussed scientists," mentioning that "he set the entire world talking about psychoanalysis" and noting that his ideas had already permeated our culture and language.

As a young teenager, Freud demonstrated academic brilliance, ranking at the top of his class for seven years and graduating summa cum laude from the "Gymnasium." He entered the University of Vienna when seventeen years old, read widely in several languages, conducted research, and studied subjects ranging from physics to philosophy.

Today historians rank Freud's scientific contributions with those of Planck and Einstein. He appears on most lists of the greatest physicians in history. He was recently onthe cover of Time (with Albert Einstein) for an issue dedicated to the greatest scientific minds of the century and ranked sixth in a book on the hundred most influential scientists. Yet if Freud's fame and influence have continued to grow since his death more than sixty years ago, so have the criticism and the controversy surrounding him. He persists in spite of it all. Freud's photo graces Austrian currency. His ideas remain permanently embedded in our culture and our language.

We use terms such as ego, repression, complex, projection, inhibition, neurosis, psychosis, resistance, sibling rivalry, and Freudian slip without even realizing their source. Freud's model of the mind is still perhaps the most developed of all. Of the more than one hundred forms of psychotherapy, many continue to use one or another of Freud's concepts. Perhaps most important of all, his theories influence how we interpret human behavior, not only in biography, literary criticism, sociology, medicine, history, education, and ethics -- but also in the law. We now take for granted the basic psychoanalytic concept that our early life experiences strongly influence how we think, feel, and behave as adults. Because of the unmistakable impact of his thought, some scholars refer to the twentieth century as the "century of Freud."

As part of his intellectual legacy, Freud strongly advocated an atheistic philosophy of life. He referred to this view as the "scientific Weltanschauung." Freud also waged a fierce, ongoing battle against the spiritual worldview that he referred to as "the religious Weltanschauung." Freud's philosophical writings, more widely read than his expository or scientific works, have played a significant role in the secularization of our culture. In the seventeenth century people turned to the discoveries of astronomy to demonstrate what they considered the irreconcilable conflict between science and faith; in the eighteenth century, to Newtonian physics; in the nineteenth century, to Darwin; in the twentieth century and still today, Freud is the atheist's touchstone.

* * *

Twenty-four years after Freud's death, on the morning of November 26, 1963, at Oxford, England, northwest of London, a group of friends and family gathered at the Holy Trinity Church at Headington Quarry to mourn the death of C. S. Lewis. The service began with the quote "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord." After the service, the group walked slowly into the cold, clear day, and watched silently as the coffin was carried from the church to the churchyard for burial.

The New York Times of November 25, 1963, amid numerous articles on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, announced in a headline: "C. S. Lewis Dead: Author, Critic 64." Under a photo, and an article of several columns, the Times surveyed Lewis's prolific life, mentioned his reputation as a brilliant scholar, reviewed some of his scholarly and popular works that had already sold millions of copies, and noted that his success as a writer occurred after his change of worldviews, from atheist to believer.

Lewis, the celebrated Oxford don, literary critic, and perhaps the twentieth century's most popular proponent of faith based on reason, won international recognition long before his death in 1963. During World War II, his broadcast talks made his voice second only to Churchill's as the most recognized on the BBC. A few years after the war, a cover article in Time magazine described him as the most influential spokesman for the spiritual worldview. His books continue to sell prodigiously and his influence continues to grow. During 1998, the centennial year of his birth, conferences focusing on his work were held throughout the United States and Europe. His extraordinarily popular Chronicles of Narnia ignites the imagination of children around the world. The sheer quantity of personal, biographical, and literary books and articles on Lewis, the vast number of C. S. Lewis societies in colleges and universities, and Shadowlands, the award-winning London and Broadway plays and the movie based on his life -- all attest to the ever-growing interest in the man and his work.

Lewis began his brilliant academic career as an undergraduate student at Oxford, where he won a triple first, the highest honors in three areas of study -- a feat seldom achieved. After finishing his studies, he stayed on at Oxford as a member of the faculty. For the next thirty years, he taught philosophy and then English language and literature. In 1955, he left Oxford to accept a chair in medieval and Renaissance English literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge University. At both Oxford and Cambridge, his immensely popular lectures often filled lecture halls to standing room only.

Lewis embraced an atheistic worldview for the first half of his life and used Freud's reasoning to defend his atheism. Lewis then rejected his atheism and became a believer. In subsequent writings, he provides cogent responses to Freud's arguments against the spiritual worldview. Wherever Freud raises an argument, Lewis attempts to answer it. Their writings possess a striking parallelism. If Freud still serves as a primary spokesman for materialism, Lewis serves as a primary spokesman for the spiritual view that Freud attacked.

Sadly the two men never debated directly. When Lewis began teaching at Oxford, he was in his twenties, and Freud was already in his mid-seventies. Lewis was well aware of Freud's theories; the new psychology was widely discussed. Even earlier, by the time Lewis enrolled as an undergraduate at Oxford, Freud had already become father of the new literary criticism that Lewis studied. Later, Freud may very well have read some of Lewis's early writings -- such as The Allegory of Love, published to critical acclaim several years before Freud died. He may have read Lewis's Pilgrim's Regress, in which Lewis satirizes Freudian psychology. Lewis named one of the characters Sigismund, Freud's real name until, at the age of twenty-two, he changed it to Sigmund.

Unfortunately, because Lewis trailed Freud by a generation, his responses to Freud's arguments were the last written word. Freud never had the chance to rebut. Yet if their arguments are placed side by side, a debate emerges 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.

Thirty years ago, Harvard invited me to teach a course on Freud. I have been teaching it ever since to the undergraduates, and also for the last ten years to the Harvard Medical School students. At first, the course focused solely on Freud's philosophical views. Roughly half of my students agreed with him, the other half strongly disagreed. When the course evolved into a comparison of Freud and Lewis, it became much more engaging, and the discussions ignited. I have been teaching it that way ever since. I found, however, that a third voice needs to be added to that of their writings, in the form of their biographies. Their arguments can never prove or disprove the existence of God. Their lives, however, offer sharp commentary on the truth, believability, and utility of their views. (In analyzing their biographies, however, we do well to keep in mind that human beings do not always live what they profess, nor profess what they live.)

* * *

The purpose of this book is to look at human life from two diametrically opposed points of view: those of the believer and the unbeliever. (Freud divided all people into these two catagories.) We will examine several of the basic issues of life in terms of these two conflicting views. We will look at both views as objectively and dispassionately as possible and let the arguments speak for themselves. (I am aware that no one -- including the author -- is neutral on such emotionally charged issues. None of us can tolerate the notion that our worldview may be based on a false premise and, thus, our whole life headed in the wrong direction.) Because of the far-reaching implications for our lives, we tend to dismiss and contradict arguments for the worldview we reject. I hope each reader will critically assess the arguments of both Freud and Lewis and follow Sir Francis Bacon's advice to "Read not to contradict...but to weigh and consider."

Socrates said "the unexamined life is not worth living." Within the university, students and professors scrutinize every possible aspect of our universe -- from the billions of galaxies to subatomic particles, electrons, quarks -- but they assiduously avoid examining their own lives. In the wider world, we keep hectically busy and fill every free moment of our day with some form of diversion -- work, computers, television, movies, radio, magazines, newspapers, sports, alcohol, drugs, parties. Perhaps we distract ourselves because looking at our lives confronts us with our lack of meaning, our unhappiness, and our loneliness -- and with the difficulty, the fragility, and the unbelievable brevity of life. Pascal may have been right when he observed that "if our condition were truly happy we should not need to divert ourselves from thinking about it...the sole cause of our unhappiness is that we do not know how to sit quietly in our room." One of my Harvard students stated during a class discussion that "living a human life is a scary business." Perhaps the reason we find it difficult to sit quietly and examine our lives is because doing so makes us anxious. But until we examine our lives, we can do little to make them less unhappy and more fulfilling. It is my hope that Freud and Lewis can jointly guide us through just such an examination.

* * *

Whether we realize it or not, all of us possess a worldview. A few years after birth, we all gradually formulate our philosophy of life. Most of us make one of two basic assumptions: we view the universe as a result of random events and life on this planet a matter of chance; or we assume an Intelligence beyond the universe who gives the universe order, and life meaning. Our worldview informs our personal, social, and political lives. It influences how we perceive ourselves, how we relate to others, how we adjust to adversity, and what we understand to be our purpose. Our worldview helps determine our values, our ethics, and our capacity for happiness. It helps us understand where we come from, our heritage; who we are, our identity; why we exist on this planet, our purpose; what drives us, our motivation; and where we are going, our destiny. Some historians of science such as Thomas Kuhn point out that even a scientist's worldview influences not only what he investigates but also how he interprets what he investigates. Our worldview tells more about us perhaps than any other aspect of our personal history.

Both Freud's and Lewis's views have existed since the beginning of recorded history -- the spiritual worldview, rooted primarily in ancient Israel, with its emphasis on moral truth and right conduct and its motto of Thus saith the Lord; and the materialist or "scientific" worldview, rooted in ancient Greece, with its emphasis on reason and acquisition of knowledge and its motto What Says Nature? All of us embrace some form of Freud's or Lewis's worldview. If we accept Freud's materialism, we may call ourselves atheists, agnostics, or skeptics. There are likewise many different expressions of Lewis's worldview. We will consider the specific form of the spiritual worldview embraced by Lewis and, according to a recent Gallup poll, by more than 80 percent of Americans.

Why Freud and Lewis? For several reasons. First, both write extensively about a specific, representative worldview with great depth, clarity, and conciseness. Freud won the coveted Goethe Prize for literature, and Lewis became a professor of literature, a noted literary critic, and a widely read, prolific author. Furthermore, both wrote autobiographies and thousands of letters that provide a reasonably good perspective on how they lived their lives. Freud and Lewis provide a particularly clear lens through which we can examine these two views.

Are these worldviews merely philosophical speculations with no right or wrong answer? No. One of them begins with the basic premise that God does not exist, the other with the premise that He does. They are, therefore, mutually exclusive -- if one is right, the other must be wrong. Does it really make any difference to know which one is which? Both Freud and Lewis thought so. They spent a good portion of their lives exploring these issues, repeatedly asking the question "Is it true?"

Freud was preoccupied with the question of whether or not God exists. In a collection of letters he wrote as a college student at the University of Vienna, the question of God's existence arises constantly. It continues throughout his philosophical writings until his last major work, Moses and Monotheism. In "The Question of a Weltanschauung," Freud argues against the existence of God. He points to the problem of suffering and he develops the psychological argument that the whole concept is nothing but a projection of a childish wish for parental protection from the vicissitudes and sufferings of human existence. He also argues against the objection of those holding the spiritual worldview that faith "is of divine origin and was given us as a revelation by a Spirit which the human spirit cannot comprehend." Freud says this "is a clear case of begging the question" and adds this comment: "The actual question raised is whether there is a divine spirit and a revelation by it, and the matter is certainly not decided by saying this question cannot be asked."

Lewis agrees with Freud that this is indeed the most important question. He writes: "Here is a door behind which, according to some people, the secret of the universe is waiting for you. Either that's true or it isn't. If it isn't, then what the door really conceals is simply the greatest fraud...on record." Because so many people embrace Lewis's answer -- a recent Gallup poll reports that the vast majority of adult Americans believe in God -- Lewis is right: if not true, then the spiritual worldview is not only a fraud but also the cruelest hoax ever perpetrated on the human race. And the only alternative is to follow Freud's advice to grow up and face the harsh reality that we are alone in the universe. He says we may find less consolation, but the truth, harsh as it is, will ultimately set us free from false hopes and unrealistic expectations. But if the spiritual worldview is true, then all other truth fades in significance. Nothing has more profound and more far-reaching implications for our lives.

If both Freud and Lewis thought the question of God's existence to be life's most important question, let's see how they arrived at their conflicting answers. And let's see if their biographies -- how they actually lived their lives -- strengthen or weaken their arguments and tell us more than their words convey.

Copyright © 2002 by Armand Nicholi

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
1 The Protagonists: The Lives of Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis 13
2 The Creator: Is There an Intelligence Beyond the Universe? 36
3 Conscience: Is There a Universal Moral Law? 57
4 The Great Transition: Which Road to Reality? 76
5 Happiness: What Is the Source of Our Greatest Enjoyment in Life? 97
6 Sex: Is the Pursuit of Pleasure Our Only Purpose? 126
7 Love: Is All Love Sublimated Sex? 160
8 Pain: How Can We Resolve the Problem of Suffering? 187
9 Death: Is Death Our Only Destiny? 216
Epilogue 240
Notes 245
Bibliography 282
Acknowledgments 286
Index 287
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2004

    Informative

    I haven't finished yet (thus only 4 stars), but so far Nicholi's use of more than just biographies about Freud and Lewis impressed me most. Their personal letters show the real conflict between what they believed and what they taught. The arguments against Freud seemed a bit biased at times, but it was extremely refreshing to hear something other than complete praise for him. It shows the reality that even Freud found it nearly impossible to actually live life based on his philosophies, which many are still trying to do. Too many people base their lives on Freud's teachings without ever taking an intellectual look at the alternative (buying into Freud's opinion that all religion is 'fairy tales'). This book gives everyone the opportunity to make a truly informed decision, based on an observation of the teachings, lifestyles, and personal testimonies of each man.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2007

    A reviewer

    Maybe it only seems like this book is biased because Lewis was far more intelligent than Freud, and the arguments he made are just better arguments. Freud is slowly fading into obscurity in the psychological profession, and only the outrageous nature of his claims has kept him around for so long, (Ex: The Oedipus Complex)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    Good book for personality review of Freud and Lewis. It is also good if the reader is interested only in debating the existence of God. If however the reader is looking for answers to the question of God, they would do better to read Biblical Paradigm Shift.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2006

    Arguments to be considered

    Wether or not you agree with the authors bias toward faith, the arguments presented are ones worthy of thought. The discussions which were quoted from Freud and Lewis' own writings presented honest quandrys from their own experience and showed the divergent paths which were taken and the results of those paths. The book is curious and gives the reader pause to reconsider the path of faith.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2006

    A good read...

    Of course Freud and Lewis never debated and of course Freud never got to post a rebuttal to Lewis, but the book is still very well written. On the contrary to some other reviews, I don't find much bias in reading through this book. Both sides are presented without much opinion from the author. It's up to the reader to decide which gentlemen presents the most truth in their timeless arguments.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2005

    Dr. Nicholi is an apologist for faith based beliefs

    Absolutely and clearly biased in favor of faith. Dr. Nicholi establishes an atheist strawman out of Freud and relentlessly attacks it. While it might satisfy some deep emotional desires of Christians to watch a symbolic atheist burn in effigy, it establishes no dialogue or real examination of the differing views. I've had more balanced and rewarding conversation with a local pastor regarding religion.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2005

    This is not a debate! It is clearly one-sided,

    The book is supposed to be unbiased. However, it is completely obvious that if you are a christian, you will love this debate, and if you are an atheist, you will not. The author of this book is clearly christian. He contantly has Freud's statements on topics then C.S. Lewis' criticisms of Freud's statements on those topics. These two authors did not really live during the same period, though the author tries to say that it is possible that the two could have met once right before Freud's death. I don't think that that had happened though. C.S. Lewis obviously had the time to read Freud and his writing, and then strike it down. Would it be fair for the author to have C.S. Lewis debate a prominent atheist of today in a book? No, that debate would not be fair because the atheist of today would be able to read C.S. Lewis' writings and then criticize it all throughout the book, without having a response given by C.S. Lewis on the criticism in the process. Because the author tried to act as if he is unbiased when he is clearly not, which therefore made the book uninteresting and not debatable and equal, the book deserves a low rating.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2004

    The Question of God

    **** Not everyone can attend Harvard, but everyone can read a book that details one of the more popular courses offered there. Though a generation separated C S Lewis and Sigmund Freud, they played highly influential roles, albeit polar opposites, on the thought life of the last century. Both began as atheists, and both suffered greatly in their times, but Lewis was found by God, Freud rejected God. Thus, their views on life were the antithesis of each other, and in the contrast lies a wealth of debate for the inquiring mind. Though it begins in a rather dry fashion, once past the biographical details, it turns fascinating, especially when the author turns to questions of pain and evil. ****

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2004

    Interesting Book!

    I keep reading reviews where people say it is a little biased towards Christianity. I'm not sure I agree. I think more likely Nicholi gives a fair hearing to both sides, which often does not happen, and so it seems like he is more for Christianity than he is. My guess is he's a Christian, because not very many secular professors I know would be as fair towards Lewis's views as Nicholi was. If he happens to not be a Christian (I don't know) than I applaud him for his wonderful objectivity. Also, maybe it only seems biased because Lewis's ideas make more sense from a viewpoint of Common Sense? Anyway, Freud was also very well portrayed, but I think his life provides all bias that is needed. You'd have to be biased towards freud to make his worldview seem to work for him as well as Lewis'. Just a thought. Very good book. Everyone should read it. :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2003

    Thought provoking

    I am 15 and read this book a little while ago and it was terrific! At first I had alot of doubts bout reading it but I learned alot about C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Frued. The book dosen't reveal too much about the authors opinions, though I do agree that searching well you could tell he was a Christian. Over all this book was stupendous and I recomend it 100%!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2003

    Interesting to read

    I liked this book very much, but I recommend The Throne Room; for a clear conception on God.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2003

    Unfair Fight?

    The book is quite interesting from the standpoint that it compares the worldviews of two great, familiar minds. Problems arise, however. It becomes quickly apparent that the author is Christian. This materializes in statements along the lines of 'Freud thought so-and-so, but C.S. Lewis knew...' Also is the problem that, though Freud was a brilliant psychoanalyst, it is not fair to pit him against C.S. Lewis in philosophy. The book even includes Lewis's quote: 'when [Freud] goes on to talk general philosphy he is speaking as an amateur...I have found that when he is talking off his own subject and on a subject I do know something about...he is very ignorant.' Reading this book brings you to the general conclusion that Lewis is right, Freud is wrong. This could be for various reasons. To get a better understanding of the ideas you may just want to stick to the writings of Lewis and other philosophers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2002

    enjoyable

    The author did a decent job presenting the worldviews of the 2 great thinkers fairly. Not only did I gain a better insight about the personal lives of Lewis & Freud, but most important of all, how their worldviews had led them to take on different paths in life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2002

    Intense

    This book is an intense analysis of existentialism and religion. Does God exist? Why do we exist? The age old questions. Great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2002

    A Thoroughly Enjoyable Read

    Few individuals have better argued, and are better remembered for, their positions on the issues of belief and non belief than the Cambridge and Oxford fantasy author Lewis, who advocated the spiritual world view, and the world renowned Vienna physician and father of psychoanalysis Freud, who advocated the secular world view. In 'The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex and the Meaning of Life,' Harvard psychiatrist Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. provides the reader with an outline of more than 25 years of study, plus a popular class he has taught on the subject of Freud and Lewis. Erudite and meticulously sourced from both published and unpublished writings of the two great 20th century intellectuals, I finished the book wanting to take the author's class, or at least observe it. Nicholi images a debate between the two, although, as far as we know, the two never met or debated. After brief, introductory biographies, Nicholi compares the arguments of the two from their perspectives on the topics of God, love, sex and the meaning of life. Nicholi ends his thoroughly enjoyable book by pondering the question of whether or not Frued and Lewis ever met in person. Freud spent the last 15 months of his life in exile in England after the Nazi take over of Austria from June 1938 until his physician-assisted suicide in September 1939. Freud was reported to have been visited by an unnamed English professor. Was it C.S. Lewis? Perhaps Nicholi's next project will be to write a play about how such an imagined enounter might have transpired. I don't think the book is biased towards Lewis, as some might argue. In fairness to Nicholi, he is only presenting the reader with what the documentary record has to offer him. Said record shows a deeply pessimistic world view presented by Freud, and an optimistic world view presented by Lewis. Highly recommended.

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    Posted November 4, 2010

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