“Imagine There’s No Heaven? C.S. Lewis on Making Space for Faith”

by Dr. Michael Ward

C.S. Lewis is best known for his Narnia books, but his professional expertise was literary criticism and literary history.  In that capacity, his principal work was a study of English literature in the sixteenth century, which he commenced with an overview of the ‘new astronomy’ that was developing in that period.  My essay will examine the reasons for Lewis’s scholarly interest in this ‘new astronomy’ and show how it relates to his better-known works in fiction and apologetics.  I will show that Lewis had a profound concern to ‘re-enchant’ the universe, a campaign he mounted on three fronts: as an academic, as an apologist, and as an imaginative writer.  He aimed to push back philosophically against reductive materialism, to tend pastorally to the existential wounds caused by the alienating effects of dualism, and to inspire poetically the capacity for a more holistic spiritual harmony between man and the cosmos (Psalm 19:1-4; Psalm 8:3-4; Colossians 1:16-18).

Dr. Michael Ward is a Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and a Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University. He is the author of the award-winning Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis (Oxford, 2010) and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis (Cambridge, 2010). His website is: www.michaelward.net