David Couchman
David Couchman is the Director of Focus and the producer of the 'God: new evidence,' 'God and the Big Bang,' 'After Life?' and 'Jesus Myths' video series. More...

Digital Evangelism blog

Philip Pullman & C S Lewis

Philip Pullman criticizes C S Lewis, but does he have anything true and positive to put in place of Lewis's Biblical vision?

Both Philip Pullman (in 'His Dark Materials') and C. S. Lewis (in the 'Narnia' series) are extremely popular fantasy authors. While Lewis's books are suitable for young children, Pullman's trilogy is written for more sophisticated teenagers or young adults. Both Pullman and Lewis have a worldview that influences their writing - Lewis as a follower of Christ, Pullman as an atheist - in fact, 'His Dark Materials' has been described as 'C. S. Lewis for atheists.'

Pullman has made no secret of his hatred of the works of C. S. Lewis. He describes them as:

One of the most ugly and poisonous things I have ever read, with no shortage of nauseating drivel.

Pullman has three main criticisms of Lewis. We can respond to two of these fairly quickly, while the third needs more careful thought:

Questions for discussion

  • This article claims that Pullman is dishonest in the way he describes what happens when we die. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • Is it true that C. S. Lewis 'celebrates death?' If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Does it matter that writers like Pullman and Lewis write with a purpose when they write stories? Should this affect how we read the stories?
  • Does Pullman's propaganda spoil his stories? Is it so direct that it becomes ineffective?
  • What do you think people might criticize 'His Dark Materials' for in fifty years' time?

Want to comment on this feature?

You can comment on 'Philip Pullman and His Dark Materials' here. If you disagree with what we say, please tell us why - politely. Comments are moderated. We will post comments that disagree with us. We won't post comments that are abusive or use bad language, or that just repeat points we've already responded to in the FAQ.

People often disagree with what we say on these pages. This is OK. However, if you read these pages carefully, you'll see that we aren't recommending that the films should be censored, or that Pullman's books (or Pullman himself) should be burned, or that people should be otherwise prevented from watching the films and reading the books. We disagree with what he says; not with his right to say it. We uphold the right of free speech, even - especially - for views we disagree with. Will you do the same if you disagree with us?

Web Sites

The Golden Compass - the official web site of the movie.

His Dark Materials web site, containing many interviews and news stories.

The Bridge To the Stars - a 'His Dark Materials' fan site, with the latest news and info on the HDM books, movie and stage version, as well as an active discussion forum

The Truth in 'The Golden Compass' - a video from Tony Watkins, Culturewatch

'Dark Matter: a thinking fan's guide to Philip Pullman', by Tony Watkins - a collection of resources including Tony's book about Philip Pullman and a briefing paper for churches on The Golden Compass.

'Hollywood Jesus' Philip Pullman resource center

Pullman vs. The Magisterium, by Terry Mattingly

The Golden Compass: Pointing in the Wrong Direction - Steve Cable, Research Associate of Probe Ministries, gives his response to The Golden Compass.

The Golden Compass - Christianity Today contributor Peter T. Chattaway's review of the movie.

Thinking Christian Blog Tom Gilson's blog review of the His Dark Materials trilogy.

The Golden Compass: A Briefing for Concerned Parents - Dr R. Albert Mohler, Jr outlines the worldview and the agenda that lies behind the His Dark Materials trilogy.

The Golden Compass: A Primer on Atheism - Russ Wise explains The Golden Compass as a primer of Atheism, and presents suggestions of how Christians, especially parents, can respond.

Atheism For Kids - Gene Edward Veith examines the attack on C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia as the behind the scenes passion of author Philip Pullman.

'The most dangerous author in Britain'? Article from 'The Mail on Sunday', 27th January 2002. "Philip Pullman is being hailed as the new C. S. Lewis after being awarded the Whitbread Book of the Year prize for his latest novel aimed at children: The Amber Spyglass. The judges described it as visionary, but Peter Hitchens reveals that the author appears to have his own sinister agenda..."

See also: 'A labour of loathing.' Peter Hitchens on the worship of Philip Pullman, who has set out to destroy Narnia. From 'The Spectator', 18 January 2003