Years ago, when I ministered on a college campus, a student came to me one day and announced, "I don't think I can believe in God anymore." I don't remember clearly, but perhaps I had just come from teaching a class in systematic theology. In any case, I was in systematic theology mode that day, and I began to list off the classic arguments for God's existence: the teleological argument, the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and so forth. I was about wrap my tongue around St. Anselm's famous phrase, "That than which none greater can be conceived," when the student caught my eye, and I stopped talking.
"I didn't mean it like that," she said. "I meant that since Jenny died, I feel like God isn't there when I pray. I don't know how he could let her die in that car crash. She was so young. She had so much to live for. God could have prevented it."
It was an "aha" moment, a few crystalline seconds in which the abstract question addressed by Anselm and Aquinas became personal, painful, and existential.
Armand Nicholi's 2002 book The Question of God took the question of God's existence away from the abstract arguments and placed it squarely within the personal lives of two of the greatest arguers of the 20th century: Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis and wellspring of modern atheism, and C. S. Lewis, literary critic and popular defender of the faith. Now that book has been translated into visual form for television. "The Question of God" airs on PBS, September 15 and 22 (as they say, check your local listings).
Historical narratives are put to many uses, from sending troops into battle (Remember the Alamo! Remember the Maine!) to inspiring sacrifice and missionary fervor. The story of Jim Elliott and his fellow ...