“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.”
— C.S. Lewis

Dear Mr. Lewis,

You could be an alien (what I would pay to see you discuss this with Dan Aykroyd), but most likely it means you need to learn to accept reality and not invent a fantasy land to avoid the fact that sometimes we don’t get what we want. If no experience in this world will satisfy you, then perhaps you:

  1. Have not experienced enough of the world to understand how fulfilled you can be as a part of it.
  2. Refuse to be content.
  3. Misunderstand your desires.
  4. Are deluded into thinking what we desire should be fulfilled.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy drinking vodka with Dan Aykroyd.

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24 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis and Reality”

Three Ninjas · September 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm

This used to be convincing to me.

    godlessgirl · September 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Anything Lewis wrote was convincing to me. I probably even believed in Narnia.

      Heather · September 9, 2011 at 4:09 am

      I think a lot of theists feel that they should create ‘another world’ to help them in this one. I used to be one of those people. Now that I see the world in a more realistic light, why do I need to go back to the cave?

        Daniel · September 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm

        That seems a little unfair. I don’t feel taht I need to create another world, I just operate on the assumption that another world exists. I think that that’s a significant distinction from what you accused theists of.

          k77 · September 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm

          But what RELATION does that ‘other world’ have to this one? And what does it mean for how you view and interact with this world?

          Lewis saw life and the world as enemy-occupied territory, one part prison and one part sewer. The only meaningful thing you could do is convert, and the best thing that can happen to you then is death.

Kari · September 2, 2011 at 7:54 pm

C. S. Lewis seems prone to setting up false choices for himself. To wit: liar, lunatic, or Lord.

k77 · September 3, 2011 at 4:26 am

In Mere Christianity this man defended witch burning on the grounds that the burners sincerly believed witches existed.

In The Last Battle, he allowed the faithful servants of the false Aslan into Heaven, even though they helped in the persecution of Narnians and the murder of all those trees on the grounds that they sincerly believed they were doing good. I wonder what Aslan would say to participants in the Holocaust who sincerly believed in such slanders as the Elders of Zion. (Perhaps Hagee was right and Hitler was god’s instrument all along.)

It is the final irony that the man who once railed against the poison of subjectivism must resort to subjectism to defend his god.

    Daniel · September 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Difference: Witches were thought to be servants of the Devil, which is a big step away from just believing in a person pretending to be God.

      k77 · September 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm

      Big step? It’s the tiniest of tiptoes.

      Also, you’ve missed the point of my argument entirely. Xianity DEMANDS that it’s adherents believe witches and demons exist.

      Belief in God means believing in the devil, which means believing in witches.

Lee · September 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

I remember enjoying the Out of the Silent Planet trilogy however I read it when I was maybe 14 and attending a private, fundamentalist christian High School so I was probably predisposed to enjoy it. I can’t even remember what the books were about now. I only remember the cover art and that just barely.

On a side note, Mr. Akroyd makes some otherworldy delicious vodka. And the bottle is neat.

Adelaide · September 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

It would just be so much easier to read and enjoy if I didn’t know anything about his agenda. I wish I could just take it as a piece of literature like I can with Rowling or Pullman.

andrew parker · September 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm

“1. Have not experienced enough of the world to understand how fulfilled you can be as a part of it.”

Funny that at the ripe age of 31 CS Lewis became a christian after being a lifelong atheist. He had fought in wars, been around the world, I’d say he experienced a lot. How old are you again? 🙂

“2. Refuse to be content.”
Why be content? Why not satiate every urge I have like an animal? Surely evolution would lead me to think that’s best for me.

Godless Girl, I will tell you exactly what I told my close friend (who grew up all his life in a christian home) when he recently told me he was an atheist: You don’t have the spirit of God and you’ve perhaps never had it. Ask God for it and maybe he will be pleased to show you himself.

I don’t think the spirit of God came upon me until I was 27 years old. I had basically spent most of my life with a lot of bullshit up until that point.

Suddenly when God actually came upon me I WANTED to read the bible…. I WANTED to spend time with him…. I WANTED to be around other believers. AND I DON’T KNOW WHY. Because I never wanted any of these things before.

The problem is that you don’t have the spirit. It’s incredibly simple.

    Silus · September 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    @ Andrew Parker
    This is how I read your comment:
    Point 1: “You are too young, therefore your experience is invalid”
    You appeal to the authority of age to deny someone else their own choice.

    Point 2: “If god doesn’t exist, we should all act immoral!”
    You claim that morality is impossible without God, despite its roots in empathy and socializing. Indeed, there is a fine evolutionary explanation for morality in that it increases the overall survival of a whole community, whose members are then more likely to have more offspring.

    Ending paragraph “Believers have this super special thing. You don’t have it. Nya.”
    Complete rubbish.

    These are all pretty shoddy arguments. Personally I find none of them convincing in the slightest.

      andrew parker · September 13, 2011 at 2:17 am

      “These are all pretty shoddy arguments. Personally I find none of them convincing in the slightest.”

      Have you ever stopped and thought for a second–in the flurry of being so right all the time–that perhaps you’ve overlooked christianity because republicans have gotten attached to it? Isn’t it worth investigating for yourself?

      Life is about more than being right on a message board. Cheers.

      “there is a fine evolutionary explanation for morality in that it increases the overall survival of a whole community, whose members are then more likely to have more offspring.”

      Read a bit more on evolution (I’ve got a few books I can recommend for you) and you’ll see that sociologists are grasping at straws and literally at a loss for words on how morality developed. We simply don’t know.

      There’s a lot of fine ideas about how empathy *could have* evolved but almost no hard data.

      Humans and animals are so very different. Humanity doesn’t follow the evolutionary logic that almost every organism on earth does.

      Why?

      Why are humans so different than every other animal on earth?

      Hmm…

        David Evans · September 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm

        “perhaps you’ve overlooked christianity because republicans have gotten attached to it?”

        Speaking for myself, I was a Christian and an avid reader of Lewis as a child. I became an atheist long before Republicans meant anything to me. Since I am fortunate enough to be British they still don’t mean much.

        “There’s a lot of fine ideas about how empathy *could have* evolved but almost no hard data.”

        And your hard data for your view is?

        David Evans · September 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm

        “Humans and animals are so very different. Humanity doesn’t follow the evolutionary logic that almost every organism on earth does. Why?”

        Because we are, by a large margin, the most intelligent of the animals. As such we can decide to go against our immediate instincts.
        But so can other animals. Some apes have been shown to act altruistically and to have a sense of fairness, e.g by refusing a reward if it is not given equally to their fellows. If morality comes from the human soul rather than evolution, where does theirs come from?

    k77 · September 13, 2011 at 12:58 am

    -fought wars, been around the world-

    Lewis was outside of England exactly twice, once while fighting in a war (and I imagine how that experience colored his view of the world) and once as an older man when he took a vacation in Greece. That was after he converted due to his unresolved daddy issues.

      andrew parker · September 13, 2011 at 2:12 am

      He probably enjoys you projecting your commentary on the most intimate decisions of his life.

        k77 · September 13, 2011 at 6:27 am

        He – and you – have got no problem telling nonbelievers what our motives really are.

Rootboy · September 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm

In one of the Narnia books (Silver Chair I think?) whichever group of protagonist English kids this book has are in some kind of deep dank pit with a witch, who tells them that this is the whole universe and their memories of the outside are just a delusion. And someone responds (paraphrasing) “if this crappy place is the whole of the world I’d rather stick with my fantasy”. This drives me nuts.

David · September 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I understand Lewis had a theology based agenda, but maybe you are over analyzing this quote. It sounds like he is just expressing the common problem that many humans have experienced. A lot of people feel like they don’t fit-in with the world, like everything they want is going against the entire universe.

It’s not a rational problem, but it is a common problem that a lot of people, including myself have faced.

So maybe Lewis really believes he was made for another world (most likely heaven), but I think the quote still has a lot of value for anyone that is feeling alien-like for whatever reason.

T K · September 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I appreciate your reframing of C.S. Many ‘thinkers’ in the first half of the 20th century painted themselves into a corner then declared some TRUTH based on the situation they found themselves in.

One thought about this which is a smidgen off topic. I wonder how common it is that former Christians went from Christian to Questioning to C.S. Lewis to Atheism or Agnostic. You, someone in your comments, 2 of my friends (one atheist, one agnostic) and me (agnostic). Now I know that is a very narrow sample, but it makes me wonder if C.S. is the gateway out of Christianity…despite his best attempts.

BTW. C.S. does several great quotes that are relevant to anyone. My fav is “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.””

Ady · January 26, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Wow what a waste of breath this blog is. Don’t suppose you will allow this post to go up, as your blog seems to only represent your own views

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