“Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”
― C.S. Lewis
It helps reading it in context. The idea is that if there truly was no meaning to life and the universe, then the question would never have come up for debate- no one would have any reason to argue against it.
I’ve read it in context (I used to be a huge fan of Lewis) and it still doesn’t make sense. Just because there’s a question doesn’t mean there’s an answer. Can you explain why the lack on inherent meaning in a universe would not cause us to ask the question of its existence?
We would be as animals, looking only for survival and reproduction. That that ISN’T the case, and that we seek meaning in the universe instead implies that we know it exists. If the universe was meaningless, we would take it for granted that it had no meaning, and religion would never have been created.
So this is the argument: If meaning exists, then we would search for it. We search for it, therefore, meaning exists. This argument, while valid, is certainly not sound. That first premise needs some work. Meaning itself is an intangible, abstract concept. We did not search for Communism in the 1200s, yet Communism, we could argue now, exists. The point is that we cannot determine the existence of something based upon our search for its existence.
But I think it’s also important to remember that C.S. Lewis was a former atheist himself. When he talks about atheism, I assume he’s speaking foremost to his own experiences with it. It is certainly possible to believe in meaning as an atheist and to have meaning in your life, but for many people who re-evaluate belief later, it’s a philosophical idea that seems lacking. That’s what I think C.S. Lewis is getting at, and also why the quote speaks to my own experiences. I feel the same about deism.
Why is this important? Being an atheist simply means you lack a belief in God or gods. Atheism is not a belief structure. There are no tenets of atheism. You’re using the fallacy of argument from authority to try to give his words more credence.
I do admit that the comfort from having supposed inherent meaning in the universe is not there. And it’s something that many if not all atheists struggle with at some point. But simply because it’s more difficult to live in a world with no inherent meaning (though i don’t think it necessarily is) doesn’t mean it’s not true.