I recently dusted off a small book I received as a gift dated “Oct. 9, 1989.” That was my birthday. I was a junior at the University of Illinois and still exploring the meaning of Christianity. Two friends who gifted me Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis must have thought that it would be helpful in my discovery of what it means to be an authentic Christian.
My memory is a bit vague as to when I read it exactly. But I do remember reading it and thinking, “Lewis explains the reality of God by talking about why we have certain morals and what gives meaning in our universe. That’s pretty neat.” As I’m reading it again 26 years later, I see not only how helpful it was to my faith back then but also how valuable it is to my pastoral ministry now in Seattle.
As an atheist-turned-Christian-apologist and author, Lewis dealt with similar worldviews and objections to Christianity during the 1940s and 50s in England that we are facing here and now. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. He addressed many who believed this earthly life is all that there is as well as those who believed that Christianity is just another world religion that promotes a certain kind of morality. And then in one page, Lewis succinctly explains “the Inbetween view called Life-Force philosophy, or Creative Evolution, or Emergent Evolution.” This is the view held by many of our friends in our beautiful city of Seattle today who find comfort in saying, “I am spiritual but not religious.” But why is this worldview and stance so appealing to many Seattleites? Same reason why reasoning Brits were attracted to it.
One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?
So there it is. Does this resonate with anyone? Many of us Seattleites want the benefits of Something (or the universe) watching over us, but not the accountability of how we live our own lives. We (including many Christians!) want love but not a Relationship. We are in charge. Or are we?