Russell and Duenes

C.S. Lewis’ Reflection on the Strangeness of Time as an Evidence for God

with 4 comments

One of the great treasures found in Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy are the 18 previously unpublished letters by C.S. Lewis. Lewis and Vanauken had a correspondence, beginning with the unbelieving Vanauken’s questions to Lewis about the supposed truth of Christianity and Lewis’ experience of conversion. Lewis writes about a number of things in these letters, but one thing struck me in particular, and comports with a sentiment that Lewis intimated elsewhere in his famous words, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.” Lewis writes,

A wish may lead to false beliefs, granted. But what does the existence of the wish suggest? At one time I was much impressed by Arnold’s line, “Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread.” But surely, tho’ it doesn’t prove that one particular man will get food, it does prove that there is such a thing as food! i.e. if we were a species that didn’t normally eat, weren’t designed to eat, would we feel hungry? You say the materialist universe is “ugly.” I wonder how you discovered that! If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don’t feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Of if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (“How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up & married! I can hardly believe it!”) In heaven’s name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal. [p.90]

I had honestly never considered Lewis’ observation about our stance toward time. Yet it is profoundly true, and another evidence that we were designed for another world, another kind of life, one that never ends. As it is written, “God has put eternity in their hearts.”



Written by Michael Duenes

December 1, 2010 at 10:09 pm

4 Responses

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  1. D-

    This is probably the same as what Lewis was getting at, but what about the human quest for meaning? Why do we have it? Humans have a desire for meaning that is so deep, it’s not unusual for a rich popular person to kill himself in despair. Would an animal do that?

    Why do we have a such a desire for meaning that cannot be met by material means, if there is no such meaning in existence?



    December 8, 2010 at 8:36 am

    • Best thing I’ve read in a while, Bates. Glad I stopped in here tonight. I need to think on this stuff.


      December 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm

  2. […] of this argument that we come across the famous line, “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 […]

  3. […] Even more significantly, however, our awkward relationship with time is indicative of something deeper.  C.S. Lewis put it this way: […]

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