Tag Archives: CS Lewis

The passionate genius, Simone Weil

Français : Bourges - 7 place Gordaine - Plaque...
Français : Bourges – 7 place Gordaine – Plaque commémorative Simone Weil (1909-1943) professeur à Bourges en 1935-1936 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who is, or was, Simone Weil? If increasing attention in the way of books and a newer documentary mean anything, particularly considering her death was some 70+ years ago, then she’s obviously “somebody.” At least two meanings of the word “prodigy” apply to Simone: (1) she was known to be a genius from a very young age and is a recognized philosopher, and (2) by her short, painful, yet beautiful and selfless life. Being a Christian mystic and having been “adopted” by Catholics (Simone never became a member of any church), had perhaps contributed to a certain level of obscurity until more recent years.

All books that bear Simone’s name were published after her death (1943), with one of the most well-know being Waiting for God (WfG; 1951), a collection of spiritual letters and essays. Much has been made of her spiritual life – and rightly so – but for a biography that focuses on her philosophy, see Palle Yourgrau’s Simone Weil (Reaktion Books 2011). A 2010 documentary made the film festival rounds and is now on DVD: An Encounter with Simone Weil. The odd film focuses on life, death, suffering generally, and on these words of Simone’s specifically: “Attention is the rarest form of generosity.” (I wrote a fairly in-depth review of the documentary here: Secular Girl Activist meets Christian Girl Activist . . .)

Simone was born in France in 1909 to agnostic Jewish parents. At the age of six she could quote classic poetry, and despite interruptions in her education (and the onset of migraines), she received her baccalaureate at the age of 15. Simone had a deep desire to know “truth,” so she attended graduate school and became a teacher of philosophy.

Do not think that she lived comfortably from the “ivory tower.” As early as age five she refused to eat sugar because the French soldiers could not have it, and she maintained this practice of food-denial all of her life. She chose not to turn the heat on in her rented rooms since the unemployed could not afford it themselves, and gave much of her salary to the poor and to workers’ causes. She was very politically active, striving to secure better conditions for factory workers, and was involved with the defense of her country during World War II.

Simone seemed to apply her whole self towards realizing her convictions. Even though frail, she was always working, thinking, writing—incessantly doing. She even went so far as to travel to war-torn Spain, in 1936, to fight against the Fascists. She was a pacifist but felt so strongly about the cause that she volunteered for the most dangerous assignments. Because of a severe cooking-related accident, however, Simone did not stay there for very long. And her witness of an execution of a 15-year-old boy by the people she supported, among other things, caused her to not return.

Perhaps the personal experience of war caused a crack in Simone’s idealism that became an entryway for God. In 1937, Simone wrote of an encounter while at Assisi: “something stronger than I was compelled me for the first time in my life to go down on my knees” (WfG pp 67-68). Then in 1938, while having severe migraines during Holy Week services, Simone had the experience of separating herself from the pain to enjoy the beauty of the service and to receive understanding of the passion of Christ. That same year, while reciting a Christian poem about accepting Christ—which she claims she hadn’t understood as such—Christ indeed “came down and took possession of me” (WfG p 69).

Though she accepted Christ, Simone’s writings are controversial. Some do not believe Simone was really a Christian; she had consideration and respect for other religions, and some fairly unorthodox theological views. In her “religious” writings, she often wrote of wrestling with God over truth. Though she wrote about spiritual truths found in other religions, or even myths (CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien held similar views), in the final analysis only Christ is truth: “Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms” (WfG p 69).  A useful work in this regard is Simone Weil’s Apologetic Use of Literature (Marie Cabaud Meaney 2008).

Her friends in faith were Catholic, but she refused to enter the church because of its history and its exclusionary practices. Despite being an “outside Christian,” she wrote conventional ideas like: “It is not my business to think about myself. My business is to think about God. It is for God to think about me” (WfG pp 50-51), and “. . . I think that God himself has taken it [her soul] in hand from the start and still looks after it” (WfG p 73). Going deeper into her thought we find: “Only obedience is invulnerable for all time” (WfG p 63), and “. . . I always believed that the instant of death is the center and object of life” (WfG p 63). Significantly, and counter to some who attempt to claim that Simone was not a Christian, she told a friend a few months before she died: “I believe in God, in the Trinity, in the Incarnation, in the Redemption, in the teachings of the Gospel” (from Simone Weil, by Stephen Plant, p 33).

[If you’re interested in more of Simone’s words, I wrote a “found” poem with her words–it is the 2nd poem on that linked page.]

____________

© Vicki Priest 2014, 2012 (this was published at Examiner.com 2011, then at withchristianeyes.com)

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“A Grief Observed” (C.S. Lewis on his wife’s death)

GriefObserved001“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” so quotes Lewis (p 65) near the end of his published journal entries that relate to the loss of his wife, Helen.  (Lewis doesn’t give the author of the quote, but it’s from Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of [Divine] Love.)  When I finally got to reading this little book, I found it to be a gem of thought, writing, and emotion.  In it Lewis confronts God, then affirms His love for us—even if it’s like the tough love of a dentist or surgeon.  One of his stepsons (Douglas Gresham) wrote so aptly in the introduction:  “It is true to say that very few men could have written this book, and even truer to say that even fewer men would have written this book even if they could, fewer still would have published it even if they had written it (p xix).

Yes, indeed.  My response after reading entries in which Lewis describes his wife’s character was:  “What a guy!”  Lewis eulogizes, “H. [Helen] was a splendid thing; a soul straight, bright, and tempered like a sword” (p 42).  He adds later:  “I see I’ve described H. as being like a sword.  That’s true as far as it goes.  But utterly inadequate by itself, and misleading.  I ought to have balanced it.  I ought to have said, ‘but also like a garden.  Like a nest of gardens, wall within wall, hedge within hedge, more secret, more full of fragrant and fertile life, the further you entered.’  And then, of her, and every created thing I praise, I should say, ‘In some way, in its unique way, like Him who made it” (p 63).

These laudatory quotes belie the overall tone of A Grief Observed, however.  While the end is a happy one, the heart of this book includes the racking grief over the loss of a lover, the struggle with faith when God seems absent but is most needed, and the questioning of God’s goodness.  Lewis put it this way:  “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly.  Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively.  But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand” (p 25).

At the beginning, in the first of only four chapters, Lewis asks, “Where is god?”  He likened God’s perceived absence during his desperation as a silence behind a door, which had been slammed in his face, and then bolted.  He struggled with this lack of comfort from God, writing that “the conclusion I dread is not ‘so there’s no God after all,’ but ‘so this is what God’s really like.  Deceive yourself no longer” (p 7).

Lewis is angry with God and tries to understand “goodness” in His terms.  He concludes that the real problem is his own shallowness of faith.  His faith is like a rope that didn’t bear him when needed, he claims, being just a “house of cards.”  He connects true faith with outwardness:  “If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came.  It has been an imaginary faith . . .” (p 37).  Amazingly, this response to grief is coming from a man that many consider the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th century.

Being a great Christian thinker, Lewis couldn’t help but comment on consolations he received from various people.  He derides the feeble platitude, “She will live forever in [your] memory” (p 20, and negatively considers the ideas we hold of the dead being both joyous and brought immediately into God’s presence.  His commentaries relate to his desperate perplexity over Helen’s continued existence.  His prayers to God meet only silence; his questions to Him about Helen are unanswered.  Lewis felt that there was a “sort of invisible blanket between the world and me” (p 3), but this blanket appears to have enveloped his spiritual life as well.

A little over half-way through his journal, Lewis experienced not only a lifting of the blanket, but a strong sense that Helen was indeed “still a fact” (p 51).  When he stopped worrying about how much he remembered of her, she seemed to be, in a certain sense, everywhere.  His relationship with God began to reopen and he surmised that God had needed to show him what a flimsy house his faith really was.

He realized that he should have been praising God more, knowing that the act of praise brings joy.  He realized more fully that we need to love God, not our own ideas of Him, and to duplicate this in all our relationships.  He accepted that there are mysteries that will be solved only in heaven, and that “our apparently contradictory notions . . . will all be knocked from under our feet.  We shall see that there never was any problem” (p 71).

But Lewis leaves us with something that some people may find hard to accept:  an experience of Helen, her mind meeting his.  He says of it, “I had never in any mood imagined the dead as being so—well, so business-like.  Yet there was an extreme and cheerful intimacy.  An intimacy that had not passed through the senses or the emotions at all” (p 73).  He reports more of the encounter than this quote, of course, and analyzes it in relation to intellect, love, emotions, and the resurrection of the body.  As he himself concludes, “We cannot understand.  The best is perhaps what we understand the least” (p 75).

© Vicki Priest 2014 (this was moved from withchristianeyes.com; posted and revised since 2001)

 

John Lennox on the Resurrection: why Hume, Dawkins, and others got it wrong

John Lennox, Oxford professor and Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, concisely gives us compelling reasons why two widely used anti-resurrection arguments don’t make much sense:   Hume’s and Dawkins’ on “no possibility of miracles,” and the more widely scoffed-at “empty tomb” claims by the first Christians.

What amazes me, as it astonishes Lennox, is that anyone can rationally affirm and adhere to the 18th century philosopher Hume’s argument against miracles, which says that:  miracles go against the laws of nature, therefore they don’t exist.  We study nature and have found  laws of nature by observation, but we can’t rightly claim that something doesn’t exist or won’t happen just because we know of such laws.  What is even more odd is that Hume didn’t actually believe the Laws of Nature were necessarily always uniform:  “He famously argues that, just because the sun has been observed to rise in the morning for thousands of years, it does not mean that we can be sure that it will rise tomorrow.  This is an example of the Problem of Induction: on the basis of past experience you cannot predict the future, says Hume.”  If this is so, then “if nature is not uniform, then using the uniformity of nature as an argument against miracles is simply absurd.”

In his usual clear style, CS Lewis points out how easily Hume’s argument can be refuted (as quoted by Lennox):

If this week I put a thousand pounds in the drawer of my desk, add two thousand next week and another thousand the week thereafter, the laws of arithmetic allow me to predict that the next time I come to my drawer, I shall find four thousand pounds. But suppose when I next open the drawer, I find only one thousand pounds, what shall I conclude? That the laws of arithmetic have been broken? Certainly not! I might more reasonably conclude that some thief has broken the laws of the State and stolen three thousand pounds out of my drawer. One thing it would be ludicrous to claim is that the laws of arithmetic make it impossible to believe in the existence of such a thief or the possibility of his intervention. On the contrary, it is the normal workings of those laws that have exposed the existence and activity of the thief.

After making some thoughtful points, Lennox concludes:  “When a miracle takes place, it is the laws of nature that alert us to the fact that it is a miracle. It is important to grasp that Christians do not deny the laws of nature, as Hume implies they do. It is an essential part of the Christian position to believe in the laws of nature as descriptions of those regularities and cause-effect relationships built into the universe by its Creator and according to which it normally operates. If we did not know them, we should never recognise a miracle if we saw one.”

Lennox goes on to use biblical passages to flush out the truth that people at the time of Christ, and earlier, didn’t easily believe miracle stories either.  They knew how nature worked and what was unusual or seemingly impossible.  Therefore, their ancient witness is just as valid as if you or I saw Jesus resurrected.  Lennox also discusses the real importance of female witnesses to the resurrection.  Please see his article for the full discussion of certain anti-resurrection arguments used by skeptics, and the thoughtful responses he provides.  And, have a joyful Easter!

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Christian Poems XII: Three by C.S. Lewis

The Naked Seed [1943]

My heart is empty.  All the fountains that should run
With longing, are in me
Dried up.  In all my countryside there is not one
That drips to find the sea.
I have no care for anything thy love can grant
Except the moment’s vain
And hardly noticed filling of the moment’s want
And to be free from pain.
Oh, thou that art unwearying, that dost neither sleep
Nor slumber, who didst take
All care for Lazarus in the careless tomb, oh keep
Watch for me till I wake.
If thou think for me what I cannot think, if thou
Desire for me what I
Cannot desire, my soul’s interior Form, though now
Deep-buried, will not die,
–No more than the insensible dropp’d seed which grows
Through winter ripe for birth
Because, while it forgets, the heaven remembering throws
Sweet influence still on earth,
–Because the heaven, moved moth-like by thy beauty, goes
Still turning round the earth.

——

The Apologist’s Evening Prayer [1964]

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no signs, deliver me.

Thoughts are but coins.  Let me not trust, instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

——

Dungeon Grates [1919]*

So piteously the lonely soul of man
Shudders before this universal plan,
So grievous is the burden and the pain,
So heavy weighs the long, material chain

From cause to cause, too merciless for hate,
The nightmare march of unrelenting fate,
I think that he must die thereof unless
Ever and again across the dreariness

There came a sudden glimpse of spirit faces,
A fragrant breath to tell of flowery places
And wider oceans, breaking on the shore
For which the hearts of men are always sore.

It lies beyond endeavour; neither prayer

Nor fasting, nor much wisdom winneth there,
Seeing how many prophets and wise men
Have sought for it and still returned again

With hope undone.  But only the strange power
Of unsought Beauty in some casual hour
Can build a bridge of light or sound or form
To lead you out of all this strife and storm;

When of some beauty we are grown a part
Till from its very glory’s midmost heart
Out leaps a sudden beam of larger light
Into our souls.  All things are seen aright

Amid the blinding pillar of its gold,
Seven times more true than what for truth we hold
In vulgar hours.  The miracle is done
And for one little moment we are one
With the eternal stream of loveliness
That flows so calm, aloof from all distress

Yet leaps and lives around us as a fire
Making us faint with overstrong desire
To sport and swim for ever in its deep–
Only a moment.

O! but we shall keep
Our vision still.  One moment was enough,
We know we are not made of mortal stuff.
And we can bear all trials that come after,
The hate of men and the fools loud bestial laughter
And Nature’s rule and cruelties unclean,
For we have seen the Glory–we have seen.

CS Lewis - mystery photo (modified from internet image).
CS Lewis – mystery photo (modified from internet image).

——

* This poem speaks of Lewis’ moments of “joy,” spiritual glimmers of God, prior to his actual conversion to faith.  Of the book that this poem was published in, Spirits in Bondage; A Cycle of Lyrics, in Three Parts (pp 40-42), Lewis wrote his friend Arthur Greeves “. . . nature is wholly diabolical & malevolent and that God, if he exists, is outside of and in opposition to the cosmic arrangements” (CS Lewis by B Gormley, p 61).  Stanza breaks were added by me . . . for ease of reading.

The other two poems can be found in CS Lewis: Poems (1964), pp 117 and 129.

C.S. Lewis’s Conversions: Atheist to Theist, Theist to Christian

Rare early picture of CS Lewis, on the cover of “All My Road Before Me” — from his early and agnostic or atheistic days.A Christian Conversion Experience:  C.S. Lewis

Contemporary apologetics so often focus on the issues of biblical reliability and understanding in relation to science, and on the question of evil, as these are the currently contested concerns.  One apologetic that points towards the existence of God, however, is one that is generally not “scientific” enough, and that is a changed life.  Not a temporary change, which can indicate a simple excitement of a person’s will, but a permanent change evidenced by the long term.   So let’s look at the conversion experience of a well-known person, C.S. (Jack) Lewis.  Lewis was an Oxford and Cambridge Professor (English and Philosophy) and the well-known author of both fictional works like The Chronicles of Narnia and of highly valued scholarly works.

To anyone who comes in contact with atheistic thought, what Lewis wrote to his best friend in 1916 (below) will seem quite familiar.  What made him come to that conclusion, and what made him change his mind?

“I believe in no religion.  There is absolutely no proof for any of them, and from a philosophical standpoint Christianity is not even the best.  All religions, that is, all mythologies to give them their proper name, are merely man’s own invention” (Hooper p. 9).

Lewis, or Jack, was brilliant from early age, having been tutored at home until he was nine, when his mother died.  As if this great sorrow was not enough, Lewis’ dad sent him away to school, from their home in Ireland to England.  Lewis’ older brother, Warnie, attended the very small school with him, but Jack hated it, and with good reason.  The headmaster, a Reverend, was abusive and eventually deemed insane.  At his next school, Lewis experienced an occultist head matron.

One can see the progression of Lewis’ road to apostasy from his parents’ Anglican faith:  God did not heal his mother, one school leader was a cruel and crazy believer, and the other was a non-believing occultist.  By the time Lewis attended his third school, he was an atheist.  Hating this school as well, Lewis’ father sent him to learn under a distinguished tutor, who happened to be an atheist also.  Lewis was superb at languages and translating.  As his tutor wrote, Jack had “a sort of genius for translating . . . .  He is the most brilliant translator of Greek plays I have ever met” (Gromley p. 36).

He went on to learn and teach at Oxford, with WWI service (and related injury and recovery) sandwiched in.  After the war he lived with his adopted family, a much older atheist woman and her daughter.

So what would cause Lewis to stray from his atheism?  A couple of strongly held ideas played their parts.  One was the concept and experience of what Lewis termed “joy” – a pang of intense bliss and longing, followed by a strong desire to experience it again.  The other was his concern, from an early age, that if Christianity were true it could be shown that paganism prefigured it, or that Christianity fulfilled paganism.  Indeed, Lewis felt his pangs of “joy” when reading the northern pagan mythologies that he loved so much.

Jack Lewis wanted to be his own man; he did not want to acknowledge a power or diety that demanded loyalty.  Through the years, however, seeking truth and being drawn to authors and friends who helped him with answers to his search for “joy” as well as his concern over God’s communication with the pagan world, Lewis’ heart and mind opened enough to hear God give him a choice.

“. . . a fact about myself was somehow presented to me.  I became aware that I was holding something at bay, of shutting something out. . . .  I felt myself being, there and then, given a free choice. . . .  I could unbuckle the armor or keep it on. . . .  The choice appeared to be momentous but it was also strangely unemotional.  I was moved by no desires or fears.  In a sense I was not moved by anything.  I chose to open . . . .  Then came the repercussion on the imaginative level.  I felt as if I were a man of snow at long last beginning to melt.  The melting was starting in my back – drip-drip and presently trickle-trickle.  I rather disliked the feeling” (Lewis p. 123).

This experience of Lewis’ happened in 1929, and it was “conversion” to belief in God, not in an afterlife or in Jesus Christ.  Lewis still thought that parts of Christianity were a kind of myth, yet he wanted to know the truth and to live truth.  God gave Lewis many nudges, even via an ardent atheist who thought that it really did seem as though God made the pagan myths come true through Jesus Christ.  This atheist’s admission shocked Lewis.  Jack’s good friend J.R.R. Tolkien helped him with this issue, too, as did Hugo Dyson, on a pivotal walk in September 1931:

“Tolkien was convinced that myth, such as the Norse myth of the death of Balder, or the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros, was not the opposite of fact.  These stories were a way of expressing truths deeper than fact. . . .  [Tolkien declared that] not only did the truth in myths come from God, but a writer of myths could be doing God’s work in the world.1 As Tolkien talked, there was a sudden rush of wind out of nowhere, as if to underline the message.  The three men held their breath, feeling the importance of the moment” (Gormley p. 95).

Later that month Lewis had a second, more subtle, conversion experience.

“As I drew near the conclusion, I felt a resistance almost as strong as my previous resistance to Theism. . . .  Every step I had taken, from the Absolute to ‘Spirit’ and from ‘Spirit’ to ‘God,’ had been a step toward the more concrete, the more imminent, the more compulsive.  At each step one had less chance ‘to call one’s soul one’s own.’ . . .  I know very well when, but hardly how, the final step was taken.  I was driven to Whipsnade [Zoo] one sunny morning.  When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.  Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought.  Nor in great emotion. . . .  It was more like when a man, after long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake” (Lewis pp. 129-130).

So, finally, Lewis found that myth had become fact (that is, Jesus was “the god that died”) and that the pangs of “joy” had been sign posts to God.

As Lewis had written in Surprised by Joy, “all” is required of a person who acknowledges and worships his maker, and Lewis gave his all.  He is considered to be the greatest apologist of the 20th century, having written Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, and more.  In addition, he was a very popular layman preacher in Oxford.  As a “secular” scholar and author, he wrote poetry, the highly regarded “A Preface to Paradise Lost,” The Discarded Image, and others.   Lewis was the president of Oxford’s Socratic Club from 1942-1955; this was a philosophy group that delved into the pros and cons of the Christian faith.

As if the schedule demanded by all that was not enough2 – don’t forget that he taught as well – Lewis was kind enough to answer all his letters (as he became “popular” he had the help of his brother, and then his wife).  He always helped those in need–in a very personal way when the opportunity arose–and in a more general way through significant monetary giving.  His apologetics show a concern and love for the common man, being theological and philosophical explanations open and accessible to all.   Jack’s life was one humanly lived and beautifully lived.

_____________

Notes

  1. Indeed, as probably all of you readers know, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the great “modern myth,” The Lord of the Rings.   It’s likely that many fewer are aware of Lewis’ re-told myth of Psyche and Cupid (or Eros) in Till We Have Faces.
  2. Lewis had a truly unbelievable photographic memory, easily quoting pages from books that someone happened to mention.  This gift was obviously a very great help to his studies, writing, lectures, etc.

____________

Sources

Gormley, Beatrice. C.S. Lewis: Christian and Storyteller. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1998.

Hooper, Wlater. C.S. Lewis: A Complete Guide to His Life & Works. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996.

Lewis, C.S. “Surprised by Joy.” In The Inspirational Writings of C.S. Lewis, by C.S. Lewis, 1-130. New York: Inspirational Press, 1994 (1955).

© Vicki Priest 2012 (this is an edited version of my article at Examiner.com, published 2011)

 

A Short on the Argument from Desire (Goethe, Lewis, Kreeft)

Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, has written that C.S. Lewis’s “argument from desire” is, apart from Anselm’s “ontological argument,” “the single most intriguing argument in the history of human thought” (p 249).  This is an argument for the existence of God (and heaven).  St. Augustine and Goethe also used this argument.

So what is this argument that so many have claimed is actually the best one for God’s existence?  Kreeft provides a concise description:  “The major premise of the argument is that every natural or innate desire in us bespeaks a corresponding real object that can satisfy the desire.  The minor premise is that there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature, can satisfy.  The conclusion is that there exists something outside of time, earth, and creatures which can satisfy this desire” (p 250).

You experience hunger and desire food, and the object of your desire is naturally attainable.  The same can be said of sleep, sex, and friendship.  But what of pangs from joy and beauty?  What of that inexplicable longing at the crashing of ocean waves, or from being immersed in certain music, or desiring a love that a sexual relationship does not fulfill?  We experience a thing or person, yet instead of fulfilling desire, they create another – one that is not attainable on earth.  In describing Goethe’s thoughts on it, Timothy Keller in The Reason for God wrote, “We not only feel the reality but also the absence of what we long for” (p 134).

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing (Lewis, 29).

While Kreeft addressed the philosophical criticisms of the argument in his 1989 article (see sources below), Keller takes on the more recent science-oriented critiques in his 2008 book.  Evolutionary biologists believe all that we are is based on natural selection, and so belief in God and all religious feelings are the consequence of adaptation.  How our awe over a beautiful sunset could be explained in these terms is mysterious, but otherwise, there is a serious flaw in this line of evolutionary thinking that some have pointed out.

The flaw is that evolutionary theory says that we cannot trust our own senses or thoughts. Our brains are conditioned for survival (adaptive behavior), and not necessarily for reality or “truth.”  Richard Dawkins, Patricia Churchland, and Thomas Nagel have all said the same, as well as Charles Darwin himself.  So . . . by their own claims, there is then no reason to trust their thinking on the subject.  As Wieseltier wrote in the New York Times,

. . . if reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection?  The power of reason is owed to the independence of reason, and to nothing else . . . .  Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.

So what are you going to pay attention to?  Your own inner voice and experience, or the assertions of those who claim that our thoughts are guided only by our body’s need for survival – and that “truth” isn’t necessarily beneficial?  I’ll leave you with some of CS Lewis’ thoughts on this, from his “Weight of Glory” sermon (1941):

Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modem philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth. And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere. When they want to convince you that earth is your home, notice how they set about it.

They begin by trying to persuade you that earth can be made into heaven, thus giving a sop to your sense of exile in earth as it is. Next, they tell you that this fortunate event is still a good way off in the future, thus giving a sop to your knowledge that the fatherland is not here and now. Finally, lest your longing for the transtemporal should awake and spoil the whole affair, they use any rhetoric that comes to hand to keep out of your mind the recollection that even if all the happiness they promised could come to man on earth, yet still each generation would lose it by death, including the last generation of all, and the whole story would be nothing, not even a story, for ever and ever.

If Lewis could say this in 1941, how much more could he say today, when Naturalism has had one or two more generations to influence the population?  So many today don’t even try and pretend that there is an inner voice, an inner knowledge or longing, of a future beyond death.  We are evolved,* purposeless, and mortal.

* For a treatment on the lack of evidence for human evolution, see Science & Human Origins (2012).

Sources:  Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (Dutton 2008); Peter Kreeft, “C.S. Lewis’s Argument from Desire,” in The Riddle of Joy: G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis (M. Macdonald and A. Tadie, editors; Eerdmans 1989), CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (Touchstone 1996).

[A version of this appeared previously in Examiner.com, by the author]