What a concept! Take the best proponents of atheism and theism from the twentieth century, and allow them to debate the pressing human existential questions. Sigmund Freud, father of modern psychology and psychoanalysis, and ardent materialist, atheist and naturalist, versus C.S. Lewis, Christian, scholar, literary critic and former atheist. Dr. Armand Nicholi Jr points out in The Question of God that atheist and theist are really the only two categories necessary (Freud thought so as well); one either thinks there is a God, or one thinks that there is no God. So why Lewis and Freud as representative of these two categories? For Nicholi it was their extensive writings on the subject and the availability of accurate biographical information, which showed how consistently each lived out their worldviews.
Nicholi sees two major questions that need to be answered, each of which is subdivided into more specific questions. Part one of this book looks at the question of what we should believe, with its related questions about an intelligence beyond the universe, the existence of a universal moral law, and which road (atheism or theism) is more realistic. Part two asks how we should live, with an investigation into happiness, sex, love, pain and death.
Nicholi quotes extensively from the philosophical and personal writings of both Freud and Lewis. The philosophical writings set out what each claimed to believe; the personal writings offer a picture of the viability of the worldviews set forth in the philosophical writings. Therefore, we are treated to a fascinating look at how Lewis and Freud thought we should live, and an insightful look at how Lewis and Freud each actually lived their lives. Though Lewis and Freud never debated in the course of their lives, Nicholi's side-by-side presentation of their views makes it seem like the two truly are in the same room debating. Their arguments are allowed to speak for themselves, and the reader is left to decide who has presented the better argument. Fascinating.