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The False Anscombe Legend

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 81, Summer 1999 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

“Surprised by Freud”
by John Beversluis
Christianity and Literature, Winter 1992
A review of A. N. Wilson’s Lewis biography

First, the Anscombe debate was by no means Lewis’s first exposure to a professional philosopher: he lived among them all his adult life, read the Greats, and even taught philosophy.

Second, it is simply untrue that the post-Anscombe Lewis abandoned Christian apologetics. In 1960 he published a second edition of Miracles in which he revised the argument of his third chapter and thereby replied to Anscombe.

Third, most printed discussions of the debate, mine included (65-73), fail to mention that Anscombe herself complimented Lewis’s revised version on the grounds that it is deeper and far more serious than the original version (see Anscombe ix-x).

Finally the myth that Lewis abandoned Christian apologetics overlooks several important post-Anscombe articles, among them “Is Theism Important?” (1952) — a discussion of Christianity and theism which touches on philosophical proofs for God’s existence and their relevance to the religious life — and “On Obstinacy of Belief” (1955) in which he defends the rationality of believing in God in the face of apparently contrary evidence (the issue in philosophical theology during the late 1950s and early 1960s). It is rhetorically effective to announce that the post-Anscombe Lewis wrote no further books on Christian apologetics, but it is pure fiction. Even if it were true, what would this Argument from Abandoned Subjects prove? He wrote no further books on Paradise Lost or courtly love either.