Religion: Don v. Devil

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Heaven & Boiled Fish. Lewis sees no good reason to accept the modern dictum that "scientific" explanations are more authoritative than theological ones: "The old atomic theory is in physics what Pantheism is in religion—the normal, instinctive guess of the human mind, not utterly wrong, but needing correction. Christian theology, and quantum physics, are both, by comparison with the first guess, hard, complex, dry and repellent. The first shock of the object's real nature, breaking in on our spontaneous dreams of what that object ought to be, always has these characteristics. You must not expect Shrödinger to be as plausible as Democritus; he knows too much. You must not expect St. Athanasius to be as plausible as Mr. Bernard Shaw: he also knows too much."

Lewis' idea of Heaven is not the 20th Century's watered-down version of ineffable, gaseous ecstasy, but a state as real as Sunday morning breakfast. It's right there in the New Testament, says Lewis, referring to the resurrected Christ taking food with His disciples: "If the truth is that after death there comes a negatively spiritual life, an eternity of mystical experience, what more misleading way of communicating it could possibly be found than the appearance of a human form which eats boiled fish?"

Sex in Heaven? Bachelor Lewis is no man to be afraid of that one either: "The letter and spirit of Scripture, and of all Christianity, forbid us to suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life; and this reduces our imagination to the withering alternative either of bodies which are hardly recognizable as human bodies at all or else of a perpetual fast. As regards the fast, I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer no, he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don't bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it."

Steep Descent. The man who can put medieval scholasticism into such comfortable modern dress was born in Belfast, Ireland, where his grandfather, an itinerant Welsh boilermaker-turned-shipbuilder, had settled. At the age of twelve, young

Clive deserted the Church of Ireland (affiliated with the Anglican Church) for atheism. After a brief World War I career as a 2nd lieutenant in France, where he was wounded in the back by a British shell that fell short, Lewis graduated from Oxford with honors, tried a few years as a starveling poet, and in 1925 happily accepted his present post.

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