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Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis probably never met—though there is evidence that an unnamed Oxford professor called on Freud during the 15 months he lived in England before his death in 1939. If that professor was Lewis, Freud would have been 82 or 83 and Lewis 40 or 41. Lewis would by then have been a Christian for about a decade. His most important apologetic works were still in the future, but he had already begun to express his faith in symbol and metaphor (The Pilgrim's Regress and Out of the Silent Planet). Freud's major works were all behind him and his cultural legacy was already created.

If these two intellectual giants had met, their contrasting views—of God, religion, morality, truth, love, sex, suffering, and death—would have been revealed in stark contrast to each other. Though it is doubtful such a conversation ever took place, we do now have a thoughtful book that places Lewis's and Freud's fundamental ideas next to each other: Armand Nicholi's The Question of God. Nicholi has been teaching Harvard students (both undergraduates and medical students) about Freud's thought for over 30 years. Students have given his course, "Sigmund Freud & C. S. Lewis: Two Contrasting World Views," excellent ratings in a guide published by Harvard's Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE). To quote from the CUE Guide for 1993-94, "Calling the course one of the best at Harvard, and helpful in expanding one's understanding of one's self and one's personal life, nearly all of those polled recommended [it] without hesitation."

As one of the great explainers of the modern era, Freud was to human behavior what Marx was to economics and Darwin was to biology. You simply weren't educated unless you knew the thought of these three architects ...

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April 22, 2002

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