Question:

I recently read that C.S. Lewis, who is one of my favorite authors ever, believed that some chapters in Genesis were "true myths" as he called them. "True myths" being stories of both fact and fiction. Chapters concerning the history of Adam and Eve or Noah and the Ark or Jonah and the Whale (I know it's not in Genesis) that were inspired by God just like the rest of the Bible.I guess his reason was that since so many cultures and civilizations have similar stories of one man and one woman that fall morally (involving serpents also)and great flood myths and all that. He believed the only difference between those stories and the Hebrew ones was that the Hebrew ones were God inspired. The Hebrew ones God wanted written so the peoples of the world could relate to and understand Him better. What do you think?


Answer:

I like C.S. Lewis' writings. He says many profound things. However, he isn't always right and in this case he is just plain wrong.

The Bible says God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). It is not that God choose not to lie, it is that He is not able to tell a lie. That is why the inspired word of God is called "the truth." (John 17:17). That some people have a hard time grasping how some events could be real doesn't change the claim that it is real and true.

Let's take Adam and Eve. Paul said, "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26). That statement has been proven literally to be true. The Bible states we are of one blood because God created Adam and then formed Eve from Adam's rib. In other words, Eve was the modified clone of Adam. Science has even suggested that all humans come from one common male ancestor and one common female ancestor. They try to explain away that finding, but it all matches what the Bible has always said.

Jesus stated that the foundation for marriage is the fact that Adam and Eve were the first to marry at the beginning. "And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate"" (Matthew 19:4-6). Jesus did not treat this as a myth but as a truth that proves a law and settles disputes about the law.

Jesus also referred to the fall of man when he talked about the nature of Satan. "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44).

Nowhere are the stories from the Old Testament referred to as fables which can be ignored. Jonah's time in the great fish (not a whale by the way) is the allegory to Jesus' three days in the grave. "But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:39-40). The conversion of Nineveh is offered as evidence that the Jews of Jesus' day had less faith. "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here" (Matthew 12:41). If this was a fable, then it need not be believed and, thus, it would not serve as evidence.

Noah is mentioned by Jesus as well. "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:37-38). If Noah, the ark and the flood were just a myth, then it would be reasonable to claim that Jesus' second coming is just a myth as well. Peter, however, says the destruction of the world was a fact that people rather forget. "For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Peter 3:5-7).

No, the Bible does not treat the stories of old as myths but facts that can be relied upon as true and from which further truths can be derived.

Yes, many cultures have vaguely similar stories. That is to be expected when people pass down their memories of the events of the past. The fact that almost every culture has a flood story is evidence that there was a common memory of such an event. What the Bible claims is to be an accurate record of the events because God inspired the records.

"Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,' Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it" (Isaiah 46:9-11).

"Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear and say, "It is truth." "You are My witnesses," says the LORD, "and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me" (Isaiah 43:9-10).

Thank you for this. I understand. That was bothersome coming from him.

Like any other uninspired writer, C.S. Lewis does make mistakes.