The Liberal Arts, Antidote for Atheism

A partial theological justification for the liberal arts

Open access

Abstract

C. S. Lewis once stated that the decline of classical learning was a contributory cause of atheism. This article explores why he made this very unusual statement, describing how Lewis saw the Classics as a literature full of gods and goddesses, providing hints of truth, giving us things to write about, and preparing for the Christian faith. Using some remarkable quotations from Virgil and Plato, Lewis demonstrated how those writers anticipated both the birth and the death of Christ. Lewis’s concept of myth, powerfully present in the Classics, shows how the Gospel story itself is a “true myth,” one with a pattern that is similar to many of the pagan myths. The personal story of Lewis himself demonstrates how the Classics, and, more broadly, the liberal arts were a testimony to the truth of God and how the Greek plays of Euripides, the philosophy of Samuel Alexander, the imagination of writer William Morris, the poetry of George Herbert, and the historical sensibility of G. K. Chesterton combined (with many other similar influences) to convince Lewis that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were especially a “true myth,” one that happened in history, demonstrating him to be the Son of God.

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Linguaculture

The Journal of Linguaculture Centre for (Inter)cultural and (Inter)lingual Research, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi

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