The Lord of the Rings is a timeless classic, able to capture the minds of young and old alike. But apart from its singularly masterful writing and vivid imagery, The Lord of the Rings has an element of theological truths interwoven into its very fabric in such a way that even the most hardened skeptic can still enjoy the story. Sometimes, apologetics is just about picking the right bedtime stories. #LotR #apologetics Click To Tweet
In this very first “Article of the Week,” Rebekah and I discuss Fredric Heideman’s “I was an Atheist Until I Read The Lord of the Rings. As an intro, we quickly discuss what a syllogism is (see terminology section below) and how it is important for understanding classic apologetics arguments like “the argument from desire,” “the moral argument” and “the argument from reason.” Though Heideman doesn’t use these phrases in his essay, Rebekah and I point out along the way each and every time these classic arguments were employed and how they changed the heart of a young atheist from validating materialism and naturalism to embracing theism.
You don’t have to be an apologetics master to argue for the truth of Christianity! Sometimes, it’s the very stories that you choose to read to your children at bedtime that can begin imparting foundational truths of the faith deep into their hearts before they are even old enough to process the arguments. Romans 2:15 talks about how the word of God is written on our hearts. Stories can act like a chisel that comes along and makes each stroke God’s innate law much deeper, making His word not only written on our hearts, but fortified and much more difficult to erase once your kids get old enough to start interacting with skeptics and difficult questions.
People and resources mentioned:
- Article of the Week: I was an Atheist until I Read ‘The Lord of the Rings by Fredric Heideman on Word on Fire
- J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings
- C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Silver Chair, The Problem of Pain
- Peter Kreeft on Argument from Desire
- G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man
- Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)
- Apologetics for the 21st Century by Louis Markos
- Why I am A Christian (David Wood, Former Atheist) – video
- Hillary Morgan Ferrer talk: Stealing Past Watchful Dragons
- Rebekah Valerius paper: A Journey of Recovery: Natural Theology in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkein in Three Parts
- Syllogism: An argument composed of two premises (reasons) and a conclusion that necessarily follows from them.
- Argument from Desire:
Premise 1: Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.
Premise 2: But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.
Conclusion: Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.
– Peter Kreeft on Argument from Desire
- Moral Argument: “There are things that are objectively morally right/wrong (torturing babies for fun is obviously wrong – this is innate knowledge). That we try to justify the evil we do shows we have an innate moral sense. From where did this moral compass come that everyone has? A moral law has to come from a moral law-giver.” – Hillary Morgan Ferrer
- Argument from Reason: “How can we trust that our thoughts have any sort of correspondence to the truth when they’re ultimately just the random motions of atoms in our brains?” – Rebekah Valerius
- “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
- “If you are merely a skeptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, ‘Why should ANYTHING go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?’ The young skeptic says, ‘I have a right to think for myself.’ But the old skeptic, the complete skeptic, says, ‘I have no right to think for myself. I have no right to think at all.’ There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped.” – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
- “Naturalism cannot be rationally affirmed. If naturalism is true, then our cognitive faculties are the product of an evolutionary process which is not aimed at the production of true beliefs, but is aimed at the beliefs that help you survive.” – Alvin Plantinga’s EAAN (see resource above)
- “The more you know the end, the more the beginning makes sense.” – Hillary Morgan Ferrer
- “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” – Colossians 2:8 (NIV)
- “Pain is God’s megaphone” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
- “In the specially Christian case we have to react against the heavy bias of fatigue. It is almost impossible to make the facts vivid, because the facts are familiar; and for fallen men it is often true that familiarity is fatigue. … It is well with the boy when he lives on his father’s land; and well with him again when he is far enough from it to look back on it and see it as a whole. But these people have got into an intermediate state, have fallen into an intervening valley from which they can see neither the heights beyond them nor the heights behind.” – G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
- “There are all these truths that, if we try to take them in through our mind, sometimes we have defenses in our mind that will keep us from being able to hear that truth, and it has to sneak in through our heart, through our imagination, if it’s going to be able to reach the innermost parts of us. It doesn’t have to be some fancy, philosophical argument to be an apologetic argument. It can be something as simple as a really well-crafted story.” – Hillary Morgan Ferrer