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The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life
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The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  2,516 ratings  ·  172 reviews
"This elegantly written and compelling comparison of the worldviews of Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis provides a riveting opportunity to consider the most important questions mankind has ever asked: Is there a God? Does he care about me? This profound book is for anyone who is earnestly seeking answers about truth, the meaning of life, and God's existence."-- Francis Collin ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 26th 2002 by Free Press (first published 1988)
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I'm a bit conflicted about how I feel about this book. It was for sure worth the read; I learned a lot, and I went through different emotions as I read it and thought both about the material in the book and how the ideas fit into my life. The book is flawed, in my opinion, but could of the bias it takes on the side of Lewis. It's main argument boiled down to: Freud had a depressing life and was an atheist, Lewis had an enjoyable life and was a believer, ergo, believing is the right way to go. I ...more
Erinina Marie
Always a touchy question, there were probably never two more notably opinionated scholars to debate it. Overall, the author uses his research into their letters, lives and published writings to try to formulate a debate on the main topics of love, sex, death, pain and how to live life from a materialist vs. spiritual worldview.

Saving the author’s notably biased conclusions for your own perusal, I found the work enlightening not only on topics of spirituality and psychoanalysis, but as a biograph
A good premise, but a flawed execution. Worth reading if you have an interest in one of the men, but I wouldn't hold this up as a prime example of scholarship...

Nicholi never quite gets into his groove when he discusses these two men. Sometimes he switches back and forth between them with each paragraph, and sometimes he devotes whole long sections to one man, before ending it and moving on to another long section for the next. He constantly throws in quotes, but never really addresses, evaluate
Paul Toth
Like comparing apples and rocks. Freud's the apple from the nonexistent Tree of Knowledge, and C.S. Lewis the unfortunately all-too-prevalent Christian apologist whose arguments take rocks in the head to accept.

Consider this paraphrased example, which Lewis uses to explain the beginning of his career in helping people better deceive or come out of the wisdom of doubt into into the molesting hands of faith:

~~~ I felt joy. Therefore, a place for joy must exist. Therefore, someone must have made
Gregory K.
For those who are not very familiar with the biographies and the ideas of Freud or CS Lewis I think this book would be a great starting point. This book paints a general picture of each man, of their lives and of what they believed. There are also many useful references to the books they have written and the books that influenced them at certain key points in their lives.

It is important to note that this is not really a 'debate' as the book cover proclaims. Really this book is more of a comparis
Jonathan Ridenour
Jun 15, 2007 Jonathan Ridenour rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
An incredible read. This book compares the lives of Lewis and Freud from a fairly psychoanlytic perspective, that is how their signficant relationships and upbringing shaped their theology, philiosophy, and psychology. Its clear from reading this book why one chose to believe in God and the other saw it as a form of neurosis. This book tackles the important topics of Love, Sex, Friendship, God, Pain, & Death. I just re-listened to the unabridged audio and its a great book. The author is clea ...more
Lee Harmon
A great book. I hated it.

This isn't really a "debate;" it's a biography of three men: the pre-conversion Lewis, and the post-conversion Lewis, and Freud. Nicholi does a great job of portraying both Lewis and Freud, perhaps two of the greatest minds of the last century.

Could any two men have needed religion more than Freud and Lewis? Both experienced suffering, as do we all. Freud was a noted atheist his entire life, yet the question of God continued to preoccupy him. Lewis was an atheist for the
Fantastic. A most interesting book.

The Question of God is a fascinating book. I heard it is an audiobook. I listen to audiobooks as an interesting diversion during my commute to work and I found this book to fit the bill perfectly. It is narrated wonderfully by Robert Whitfield.

Fans of Freud have complained about the book because they think that Lewis comes out of these debates much stronger than Freud. I agree. But, I do not think Freud was disparaged or misrepresented in these "debates."

I couldn’t even finish this book because the author’s extremely apparent bias was getting in the way of everything (despite his claim in the introduction that this is an “objective and dispassionate” venture). The premise is intriguing but I quickly realized that the way it’s set up here is all wrong. First of all, Freud discusses religion where Lewis discusses Christianity. Nicholi’s proposal that these are equivalent topics says all you need to know about where he’s coming from. Secondly, Lewi ...more
As wonderful a book as I've read in some time. The author, Nicholi, walks a narrow, but fair path between both Lewis's and Freud's divergent philosophies on God and spirituality. As someone who has never read anything written by either Freud, OR Lewis, I found this book to be an amazing insight into their psyches as they grew and developed into adults, and grew to either embrace or grow disgusted with the world.

Where Lewis sees a positivity and a goodness to await, Freud sees only the negative,
This was a really good book, despite the author. If it weren't for the author, I'd have given in 5 stars, because both Freud and Lewis are such interesting people, or at least wrote interesting things. But my god, this writer was so... argh!!!!

First: There should not be debates between atheists and Christians. Christianity is too specific. There should only be arguments between atheists and theists. The details of theist should be left for later.

Second: CS Lewis is of course well known for bein
Joshua D.
Armand Nicholi, Jr is a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School. He is an expert in Freud studies and has done extensive research both on Freud's psychoanalytic method and his life (including regular meetings with Freud's students and even his children). For years Nicholi taught a class on Freud's worldview. But as the years went by he thought that for the class to be more effective, Freud needed a foil: someone who shared some common biography but ultimately embraced a different wo ...more
A fantastic, if somewhat academic, look into a couple of the most influential minds of the 20th Century. This book is essentially a post-humus debate about religion, the existence of God, and the relevance of God in our lives (with respect to morals, death, sex, etc.). Critical reading for any individual who is a fan of EITHER C.S. Lewis or Sigmund Freud. I would also recommend it to anyone who has struggled with this debate themselves (i.e. whether or not there is a God, and what it means in my ...more
Sep 18, 2009 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, especially Lewis fans
Recommended to Emily by: book club
This book is genius! Nicholi takes the letters and writings of both C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud and debates the existence of God. It is extremely well done. The reader sees the incredible torture that Freud put himself through because of pride and stubbornness. On the other side, we see the joy experienced by Lewis as he humbled himself and began to believe in a higher power than his own intellect. Nicholi is brave to even write a book like this, but even more courageously, he comes down firmly ...more
Thank you, Emily, for finding this gem! Appreciate even more, your excellent review of it. I found it interesting to read about the personal lives of both of these giants of the 20th century. I agree with you that Lewis obviously came through his experiences with life and with God in way better shape than Freud did. This read was extremely enlightening and I am grateful to be reminded about a writer who is much loved due to his Christian beliefs and who I need to revisit soon. This may well be o ...more
Jul 26, 2007 Sørina rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: um... nobody?
Well, I guess I wouldn't say to avoid it. But it's not actually a book: it's a very clever string of quotes from the writings of Freud and Lewis. And the prose is not very smooth prose or well organized, which is annoying. Basically it's a substitute for thinking about the ideas of Lewis and Freud on your own; but since most of us don't have good enough memories or enough time to read all (or even most) of the works of those two thinkers and compare their works, it's very handy. Especially as I' ...more
Madeline Ellis
Wow great book. i love C.S.Lewis..and this book is a wonderful comparison of his life and beliefs and teachings etc. to that of sigmund freud. it is a very thorough deep look into the lives of these two men who have had such a huge impact on the way we see things today. very fascinating. i loved it obviously but i might be weird...
Very interesting book that compares the views of C.S. Lewis and Sigmun Freud. It seems to me that Lewis thought about things on a more complex level than Freud...he dug deeper into issues and followed through more thoroughly in his thinking.
really enjoyed it. kept me interested the whole time. lots of good quotes. it wasn't supposed to be biased. but maybe i'm just biased b/c i think Lewis came across much more positive. and freud more of a weirdo than i even thought he was.
Dr. Jayce O'Neal
A delight conversation between two of the leading minds of the past 100 years. A debate between an atheist and atheist turned Christian thinker. Any person who has ever questioned about life, God, or love sould read this book.
Jeremy Rios
A pretty good book. I didn't know much about Freud going into it, and was grateful to learn more about him (he is, essentially, the godfather of modern atheism). The central idea of the book was very interesting, and the comparison, I suppose, might be enormously helpful for a person wavering between modern ideologies.

My problems with the book were twofold. First, I didn't feel like Nicholi's assessments and presentations of Lewis's arguments were very good. I've read quite a bit of Lewis, and
Not bad. Pretty faithful to Lewis. And Freud i believe. The comparison was interesting. Time would be better spent just reading some of Lewis' works. Read in 2009.
SO excited about this one. Taking all my willpower not to skip homework and just read it right now...
Freud and Lewis debate God, love, and sex. Do you really need more information than that?
I appreciated his insights on both Freud and Lewis. I agree with critics that say he seemed in favor of Lewis but, I'm not sure if it was totally against the spirit of what he was trying to do since Freud was certainly a pessimistic person. It seems his atheism had a good deal of influence on his pessimism and we can even see that in modern atheists such as Christopher Hitchens. Furthermore, Dr. Nicholi had studies to back up his musings and assertions. I think the rhythm could've been more cons ...more
Very enjoyable, life's biggest questions as answered by two great minds: God, conscience, happiness, sex, love, pain, and death. I think Freud is slightly better on facts, and Lewis is better on ideals. Most surprising to me was that Freud believed in and lived by the Biblical prohibition of sex outside marriage.

Their writings remind me of something Henri-Frédéric Amiel said—"All appears to change when we change." That is, emotion and circumstance easily distort our perception. One wonders whet
Suppose Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis had met and conversed with one another? What would have been shared between them? Armand Nicholi poses this question as the basis of this work, written when he was an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Having some curiosity myself about Freud and some respect for Lewis, I dived into the work more-or-less a blank slate. It seems that both men experienced tragic loss and disappointment and exclusion as youth--driving both to a
This was somewhat worthwhile, but mostly because of the insight into the personal lives of Freud and C.S. Lewis - while the author purports to make the book appear to be an objective look at their (generally opposing) views on various philosophical topics, it quickly becomes clear that the author leans fairly heavily toward Lewis' opinions and away from Freud's. This in itself isn't that bothersome, so long as you realize it - the thing that bothered me the most was that the author seemed to lar ...more
Honestly this book wasn't what I had expected when I started to read it. The book's description promises a debate, but my issue with this debate is that it is far too biased towards C.S. Lewis and that somewhat turned me off a bit. I also wasn't really expecting to read a biography of both authors when I started reading. I mean during the first chapter I thought it was OK for the introduction of the debate but the debate is basically based on how they lived their lives, so it turns out being thi ...more
Shauna Johnston
The Question of God is based on Harvard Professor Armand Nicholi's course comparing two great historical figures and their worldviews. CS Lewis represents "the spiritual worldview", while Freud represents "the materialist, atheist worldview." Professor Nicholi argues that everyone falls somewhere in one of these two worldviews. Nicholi tries to be neutral on the question of who's right and who's wrong and let the reader come away with their own answers and questions after having read the convers ...more
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