The bright young student in the first row looked up at me with surprise: "C. S. Lewis was an atheist?" Several undergraduates in the class nodded and audibly confirmed my statement. "I had no idea," he muttered wide-eyed as he jotted down some notes. Indeed, C. S. Lewis ("Jack" to his friends) considered himself an atheist, albeit a confused one, until his time at Oxford:
I was at this time living, like so many Atheists or Antitheists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world. (1)According to literary legend, Gertrude Stein said to Ernest Hemingway and his fellow expatriates living in Paris in the 1920s (most notably, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound) that they were all a "lost generation." She was referring to those who came of age between 1914 and 1918 during World War I. More than 9 million soldiers died, over 20 million were wounded, and 7 million were permanently disabled; and at the end of the war, a worldwide epidemic of the Spanish Influenza killed another 50 million people. Disillusioned by the war's devastation, the "Lost Generation" became generally cynical about morality, society, and religion-basically, they "lost" their way. This abandonment of Victorian ideals led to the "anything goes" Jazz Age (as portrayed in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby), which crashed with the Stock Market in 1929 and crumbled to dust in the Great Depression of the 1930s; and barely 20 years after the "War to End all Wars," the world found itself destructively embroiled again on a massive scale.
Patricia Anders (MA, MFA, Chapman University) is managing editor of Modern Reformation magazine.
Issue: "The New Atheism" March/April 2008 Vol. 17 No. 2 Page number(s): 36-37
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