“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Reason of the Heart, Part IV

I was told once that comfort or desire does not indicate truth. However, when we really consider these things, it becomes clear that, in a sense, our desires do indicate truth in a profound way. There are times when we think, “ah, yes, this is quite obviously and logically true.” In the same way, there are times when we are moved emotionally to think, “yes, this is truth, this is the true nature of reality.” We know intellectually that we exist. As Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” This is self-evidently true, and there is no uncertainty in whether or not we exist (that is, I am confident of my existence, and I suspect you are confident of your existence). Similarly, but in an emotional way, I know that there is a meaning, a purpose to reality. Asking “why must there be a point?” is sort of like asking “how do I know I exist?” Just as the awareness and experience of our thought and consciousness helps us to know that we exist, an awareness and experience of emotion in particular leads us to think that there is meaning to reality. Moreover, I think that it is not at all a stretch to conclude, based solely on a consideration of the reality we perceive and the emotions we feel, both pleasant and unpleasant, that there is, in the end, a happy ending. Without even considering God’s existence, this seems quite obvious to me. Although I cannot be as objectively certain of these things as I am of my own existence, it remains true that, as Pascal said, “the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” Although these things are not as easily realized as our existence, or the laws of logic or mathematics, they are nevertheless true.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis writes:

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. 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 world…probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”
Deep down we desire a greater reality, a truth beyond what we perceive in this world. We see the trees and feel the wind and hear the voices of little children and we KNOW there is more. We know that there is, you might say, a bigger something out there. This desire is in fact evidence for the existence of such a reality – a world greater than, more beautiful than, and beyond the one we see. The idea of a God as the single, unique, absolute, and ultimate source for such a greater reality and higher beauty makes quite a lot of sense when you think about it. In addition, our inclination to admire greatness and beauty points towards the reality of a greater beauty, and, as Lewis writes, suggests that we are in fact, in some way, meant to admire and be drawn to such a greater beauty. Again, the idea of a God as the great, perfect source from which and to which this admiration comes and goes, seems to be a fair possibility. I am not saying here that these things prove or point straight to an omnipotent eternal being, but that they perhaps mildly suggest such a being. We see, all over the world and all throughout history, people pursuing truth and seeking some deeper, spiritual reality beyond this world. This is the case in all kinds of religions or spirituality movements. This seemingly universal human desire for something beyond this world suggests that there is in fact such a reality. Thus, in addition to all other intellectual considerations, our mere desire for a greater, deeper reality is a piece of evidence for such a reality, and for God.

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