The Lewis Legacy-Issue 70, Autumn 1996
Anything May Exist: C.S. Lewis and Karl Marx
The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing
September 1, 1996
The following little-known descriptions of Christianity are from the writings of C. S. Lewis and Karl Marx:
1. Union with Christ imparts an inner elevation, comfort in affliction, tranquil reliance, and a heart which opens itself to everything noble and great not for the sake of ambition or desire for fame, but for the sake of Christ. Union with Christ produces a joy which the Epicurean seeks in vain in his shallow philosophy, which the deeper thinker vainly pursues in the most hidden depths of knowledge. It is a joy known only to the simple and childlike heart, united with Christ and through Him with God, a joy which elevates life and makes it more beautiful.1
2. You know, I think, that I believe in no religion. There is absolutely no proof for any of them, and from a philosophical standpoint Christianity is not even the best. All religions, that is, all mythologies to give them their proper name, are merely man's invention--Christ as much as Loki. Primitive man found himself surrounded by all sorts of terrible things he didn't understand--thunder, pestilence, snakes, etc: what more natural then to suppose that these were animated by evil spirits trying to torture him. These he kept off by cringing to them, singing songs and making sacrifices etc. Gradually from being mere nature-spirits these supposed beings were elevated into more elaborate ideas, such as the old gods: and when man became more refined he pretended that these spirits were good as well as powerful.
Thus religion, that is to say mythology grew up. Often too, great men were regarded as gods after their death-such as Heracles or Odin: thus after the death of a Hebrew philosopher Yeshua (whose name we have corrupted into Jesus) he became regarded as a god, a cult sprang up, which was afterwards connected with the ancient Hebrew Jahweh-worship, and so Christianity came into being-one mythology among many. Of course, mind you, I am not laying down as a certainty that there is nothing outside the material world; considering the discoveries that are always being made, this would be foolish. Anything MAY exist.2
In fact, these two statements were made when Lewis and Marx were still boys and not really so settled in their beliefs as they sound. The first one was by Karl Marx, and the second was by C.S. Lewis.
1. Young Marx's praise of Christianity (sometime circa 1830) was published in "Karl Marx as a schoolboy" in the German volume Karl Marx,Friedrich Engels Gesamtausgabe. The passage was quoted in "The Baptism of Karl Marx" by Eugene Kamenka (lecturer in philosophy, University of Malaya) in The Hibbert Journal, vol. 56, no. 3 (April 1958), pp.345-46.
2. Young Lewis's condemnation of Christianity is found in a letter he wrote to his friend Arthur Greeves on October 12, 1916 (as published in They Stand Together, p.135).