Saturday, August 31, 2013

C. S. Lewis and The Crisis of Feelings

I'm finishing up my manuscript on C. S. Lewis in Crisis, and I think this chapter is just about final form. Let me know if you agree.
 Heed not thy feelings: Do thy work. George MacDonald
During the early 1960s, the Christian Century published a series of answers by prominent authors to the question, “What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?” The 6 June 1962, issue featured C. S. Lewis. Here are the ten books in his list:

1.     Phantastes by George MacDonald
2.     The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton
3.     The Aeneid by Virgil
4.     The Temple by George Herbert
5.     The Prelude by William Wordsworth
6.     The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto
7.     The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius 
8.     Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell 
9.     Descent into Hell by Charles Williams
10.  Theism and Humanism by Arthur James Balfour

What strikes me is the mixture. Some have a specific engagement with secular philosophy—here I particularly highlight Boethius’s sixth century Consolation, and his profound critical reception of Greek philosophy. Others are especially Christian, like Chesterton’s Everlasting Man, which offers a Christian vision of all human history, and which affected Lewis profoundly; similarly MacDonald’s Phantastes, a book that “baptized” Lewis’s teenage imagination. He read both before he became a Christian—one provided a rational vision, a supposition of how to make sense of history from Christian faith; the other an imaginative approach to Christian truth. But others are not in any way Christian, like The Aeneid, written decades before Christ and which Lewis loved so much he began a translation of this classic. This too moved and shaped him.
      Since Lewis was foremost a literary man, this list also reveals a great deal about three sides of Lewis and mirrors the three sets of crises I am analyzing: first of all, those related to moving away from atheism, second, those that had a theological focus, and finally, those that expressed common human themes. Indeed, to this point, I have looked at C. S. Lewis’s crises with atheism, the reasons that not believing in God became problematic and how he leveraged those insights to create a powerful set of apologetics. Outside of his fantasy work in The Chronicles of Narnia (where some of this apologetic work is slipped in through imagination), Lewis is perhaps best known for his countering atheism. I have also explored how he turned his considerable intellectual and imaginative powers to the crises of Christian faith in the twentieth century and the issues presented by believing in Jesus Christ as the unique Son of God—even as this insight overlaps with his arguments against atheism—and then to the Bible as God’s word. But there remains one additional side to him.
      Lewis always maintained a healthy, and sustained, understanding of life as it is lived by all humans, marked by disappointment and depression, suffering and trials, as well as the prospect of death, that we can all see and that none of us will escape. I suspect his setting in life—his teaching at two secular universities, Oxford and Cambridge—kept him mindful of those that never walked inside Magdalen College’s chapel or read the pages of the King James Version as a devotional practice.
      Here was a man that relished a good walk, a pint of beer with his friends, and reading exceptional books. Here was a man who also described personal crises not limited to believers in Christ, like disappointment over never achieving recognition as a poet or the death of a friend in battle. Indeed, the Bible itself recognizes the destiny of all humankind and its sorrows: “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7, KJV). For this reason, I continue to turn to Lewis because, frankly, I’m not always drawn to people that display their spirituality too boldly in their writing, or who seem to think that all of life consists in praying, reading Scripture, and singing hymns, and not also filling the car with gas, having keys copied at the hardware store, buying butter, flour, and orange juice at the grocery store, let alone watching your children grow up, realizing your time on earth is also passing, seeing parents age and die, or grasping that dreams you once held will never come to pass.

Feelings were secondary for Lewis
Given all these daily, quotidian issues, how do we know what to do? Contemporary American culture has a nearly universal slogan: “if it feels right, do it.” Feelings—particularly the emotional rush of life—remain the final arbiter of truth and decision-making for our culture. And sadly that is true for those inside the church as well where I often hear distrust of “head knowledge” and an emphasis on the interior life, which in this case, usually means our emotions. I read this the other day: faith is “much deeper than intellectual agreement with facts” in that it “affects the desires of one’s heart.” With the way most of us define “heart” as a place where we feel emotion, that sounds a lot like feelings are more important than thought.
      Certainly, it is the nature of American revivalism that we tend to want a “burning in the bosom” and the feeling of conversion. Too much of Christian spirituality implores us to introspect and see how “the Lord is working,” and “see whether you feel God’s joy.” There are some historical roots: early Puritans, who were anxious about whether God had elected them or not, worried about signs of salvation, about whether they felt God’s concerns, although this was never what John Calvin wanted with the doctrine of predestination. Later, in our history, revivalism looked to the “warming of the heart” as signs of salvation—which are certainly elements of Christian belief—but often excluded rationality and obedience.  Contemporarily, our obsession with feeling good has us wandering around for giddiness.
      So this fixation on feelings is not new to the Christian faith, and even as this country has become less Christianized, we are still obsessed with feelings. But we should know better. C. S. Lewis certainly did. He was convinced that our feelings often deceive, and true life begins when the rush of feelings lets off. As he wrote in a letter from 1950, “Obedience is the key to all doors: feelings come (or don’t come) and go as God pleases. We can’t produce them at will and mustn’t try.”[1]
As I’ve emphasized above, Lewis was not given over simply to intellectual abstraction either. He believed that what we know must affect our lives. In this way, he mirrors the biblical emphasis on the “heart” not as the arbiter of emotions, but as the center of action. So it’s neither feelings nor abstract cognition that matters. Eugene Peterson, when he paraphrases the Bible in The Messages gets it exactly right in his rendering of Galatians 5:25, “Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives” (italics are mine).[2] Mere ideas and changeable feelings do not themselves lead to action. Or as Lewis put in the mouth of Screwtape,
The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance. Let the little brute wallow in it. Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it… Let him do anything but act.[3] 
     All this sounds profoundly wise to me. Although I was struck by the rationality, as well as the imagination and emotion, in Lewis when I first read him as a teenager, these certainly weren’t the only element of his work that sustained me. In fact, as I’ve learned from him over the past thirty years, and as I’ve seen him work in the lives of my congregations, his wisdom has played a major role. Because wisdom speaks to the center of our lives—biblically speaking (not culturally speaking) “the heart”—wisdom leads to proper action. Being an eighteen year old, I needed a little wisdom, whether I felt like I needed it or not. Thirty years later they still speak to me and to those I’ve nurtured, taught, and counseled as their pastor. Lewis’s wisdom helped me grasp the crisis inherent in the tyranny of feelings. This is a crisis no one I’ve met escapes—it is a crisis inherent in the human condition—and Lewis speaks from wisdom, but he also sees the spiritual depth behind this crises.

Thrill, then work, then happiness
Lewis reminds us that most important activities in life begin with duty and end with joy.
      He offers that all good things—like love—start with emotion, but become better when work hard, become less enthralled, and move past mere feelings to where real enjoyment can be found. This is the path of obedience. For example, Lewis wrote to Edith Gates in 1944, “we have no power to make ourselves love God. The only way is absolute obedience to Him, total surrender. He will give us ‘feeling’ He pleases. But both when He does and when He does not, we shall gradually learn that feeling is not the important thing.”[4] In other words, feelings do not constitute our love for God; they are the result of obeying God. It is our will—or the center of action, which the Bible calls “the heart” (not to be confused with our emotions)—that is central to God. God wants to move us to action and that is why the heart matters to God.
      So feelings come and go. But when Lewis looked at the central form of Gift-love or charity, he described this as “an affair of the will.”[5] God “will give us feelings of love as He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right.”[6] In this regard, Lewis followed his great mentor, George MacDonald. When I did research Wheaton College’s Wade Collection, where Lewis’s own books are kept and are wonderfully available to researchers, I poured over Lewis’s own copy of George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons, I noted the places that Lewis underlined or set particular quotes in a type of index he created at the back of the book. In his sermon, “Suffered Unto Death,” MacDonald comments “A man does not live by his feelings any more than by bread, but by the Truth, that is, the Word, the Will, the uttered Being of God.”[7] Similarly, Lewis, built his near disdain for feelings on the conviction of God’s constancy. However we may feel, God’s love for us is certainly not subject to the vicissitudes of feelings: “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”[8] Lewis was marked by the insights of his mentor, including this in his anthology of MacDonald as well.[9]
      Faith—as the rest of Christian behavior—is about the will, guided by reason. When Lewis addresses faith in Mere Christianity, he notes that faith and reason may be overcome by emotion and imagination, just as when the anesthesiologist puts a mask on our face, a “childish panic” may begin even if reason tells me that I have nothing to fear and that anesthetics are useful. [10] And so, to be healed, we must submit to another. Incidentally, by noting Lewis’s comments on faith, I realize that I have slipped into categories that span “crises specific to Christians” and “crises for all human beings.” So, I admit again, these categories aren’t closed. The crisis of feeling is something we can’t escape. Yet what astounds me about Lewis is that he can write on Christian belief in a way that employs common human wisdom.
      Similarly with love: In his section on Christian marriage, he warns his listeners (and later his readers) that we cannot stay with the thrill of “being in love” with anything. Indeed, “People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on ‘being in love’ for ever.”[11] As a result, they will change spouses when they no longer feel love, thinking they have made a mistake. But thrills come and go: “The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly.” And this is true throughout life, but we must remember it when we seek to love someone.
What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening. 
How I wish our attention-deficit culture would head this insight. Here we meet that fundamental conviction that there is a progression: first thrill, then loss of thrill to be accompanied by hard work, then something really good, true happiness. I would also note—along the lines of experiences that all human beings share—Lewis uses flying and gardening, not playing the church organ and studying the Bible—to exemplify his point. I’m fairly certain he didn’t even have to make this decision. Life naturally was all under God’s watchful eye and grace. This is “one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies.” Let go of the thrill,
Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time…. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.[12]
This second paragraph perhaps evokes his minster-grandfather’s voice. Lewis takes it home—he makes a conclusion for the practical difference this insight makes to his readers’ (or even here, his congregation’s) lives. Most pertinent here: Lewis warns us that feelings come and go, but “the quieter interest and happiness that follow” come later. And we ought not to miss them… despite, I’m afraid, how many do today, if they live by the tyranny of feelings.

The Law of Undulation
One reason we cannot live by feelings is that they constantly change. “Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go.”[13] That is the nature of human life. Lewis believed that we live between various vicissitudes, which he dubbed “The Law of Undulation.” This I take to be one of Lewis’s signature insights. He put this into The Screwtape Letters, where the senior devil, Screwtape, is counseling his junior apprentice against making too much of dry periods in human beings for the purpose of temptation. Humans are half spirit and half animal, thus “amphibians.”
As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for as to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.[14]
In this approach, Lewis is reminding us not to take our emotions—and more generally, our vicissitudes, our “undulations”—too seriously. In the low emotional times, Christians may be tempted to over-rate our low points as signs of spiritual weakness. But he believed that even anxieties are not sins. “They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ.”[15] This is so because afflictions—or low points on the turbulent, “undulations” of life—are simply the nature of being human, not particular to Christian believers.
      The reality of our undulations means that, at other times, we simply need to take our afflictions less seriously. Listen to Lewis in what he wrote on 16 December 1947 to his good friend Owen Barfield, “Things have never been worse at The Kilns” and then offers this postscript: “Of course the real trouble is within. All things would be bearable if I were delivered from this internal storm (buffera infernal) of self-pity, rage, envy, terror, horror, and general bilge!”[16] Notice how this whole quote only makes sense with the light touch of “general bilge.” He doesn’t take all the other emotions—even grave ones like “rage” and “horror” too seriously. They are boundaried by “bilge,” just scummy water at the bottom of a ship. Sometimes our nasty moods constitute nothing more significant. As Screwtape also counseled about over-using a particular temptation (which is naturally good advice whether we recognize the spiritual nature of these experiences or whether they are simply annoying): “But don’t try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humor and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.”[17] In fact, this is sound wisdom whether we admit there is a “Screwtape” behind all these undulations, or whether it’s simply the quality of life as we experience it.
      The opposite side of ledger holds up for Lewis as well: We should not overrate the good times. He has a superb phrase he picked up from the seventeenth century scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal on the Error of Stoicism: “thinking we can do always what we do sometimes.”[18] In other words, when we feel strong and robust, it is enticing (at least it is for me) to think this is normal. Furthermore, we might be tempted to applaud our moments of energy and contentedness as if they were somehow signs of our spiritual state. But that conclusion is equally foolish. Once again, taking in common human experience and thrills as just that—and not some reward for “walking victoriously with the Lord”—would silence some fairly silly statements I’ve heard… whether from others, or myself.

To “look at” or “along”
But there is at least more reason—and one central to Lewis’s own discoveries that led to happiness—we can’t even truly grasp our own feelings. In the end, we need not take our feelings overly seriously because they undulate, but also because we don’t even know what our feelings truly are. Human introspection is, at some level, worthless. We are terrible at understanding ourselves.
      In his little essay from 1945, “Meditations in the Toolshed,”[19] Lewis offered that we look along our feelings, or we cannot look at them. In this profound, subtle, and compact piece, Lewis reflects on seeing a beam of light through a crack in the toolshed. He found he could look at the beam and the dust particles floating in it, or along it to the outside, to the trees and the sun, million miles away. Both were useful, but he could not do both at the same time. “Looking at” and “looking along” follows Samuel Alexander’s distinction between contemplation and enjoyment, which he celebrates as a distinctive new insight in Surprised by Joy. To “enjoy” is simply to experience without further reflection. To “contemplate” is to reflect on our experience. The problem is that, once we contemplate in this sense, we have destroyed the experience of simply enjoying. “It seemed to me self-evident that one essential property of love, hate, fear, hope, or desire was attention to their object…. The enjoyment and the contemplation of our inner activities are incompatible.”[20] Lewis’s point is that neither is better than the other—although his contemporaries in the academic world privileged contemplation—but that we cannot do both simultaneously. As it relates to feeling, Lewis concluded that we cannot introspect and expect to grasp what we “truly are.” Once we look inside, we lose the feelings we want to find.
      Why do I bring that up here? Because Lewis firmly believed that we cannot trust our own feelings—as soon as we introspect, we change the feelings we are looking for. Furthermore, trying to endlessly discover the status of our feelings is a fool’s errand; we only discover contentment when we look outside ourselves and obey what God wants. When we engage our will, we can do the will of God.

I close this chapter with a prediction: I think many readers would find this an odd-ball. I honestly doubt many would consider these insights on the crisis of feelings as a signature achievement for Lewis. I even suspect that some might have considered this chapter an oddball. But I take them to be incredibly important for us, who live in a world over-run by the decision-making of feelings.
      I mentioned these insights to an older friend and more recent reader of Lewis. He was despondent in light of diminishing capacities. But he also found moments of elation. He wanted to know how this fit with his faith. I described how Lewis brought wisdom to these changes, these “undulations.” I thought also of this short vignette from The Chronicles of Narnia, in which Lewis’s brilliant mind weaves psychological depth with poignant clarity. In the installment, The Silver Chair, one of his favorite characters, Jill, has just experienced tragedy. She’s burdened by despair and starts to cry. She remains paralyzed. The narrator then offers this insight, “Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later and then you still have to decide what to do.”[21] Only when Jill figures out what to do can the story proceed. I’ve found that helpful advice when I’m tempted by self-pity. I’ve found Lewis a valuable mentor when I’m faced with the crisis of everyday feelings

[1] Letter to Mary Van Deusen, 7 December 1950.
[2] Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
[3] Screwtape Letters (SL), 67.
[4] Letter to Edith Gates, May 23, 1944.
[5] Mere Christianity (MC), 117.
[6] MC, 117-18.
[7] MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1893), 141-2.
[8] MC, 118.
[9] George MacDonald: An Anthology, Edited with a preface by C. S. Lewis (Simon & Schuster, 1947), 13.
[10] MC, 122.
[11] MC, 100.
[12] MC, 100-1.
[13] MC, 99.
[14] SL, letter 8.
[15] Letters to Malcolm, 41.
[16] December 1947 letter.
[17] SL, 69-70.
[18] Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (New York: Harcourt, 1964), 11.
[19] “Meditation in the Toolshed,” God in the Dock, 212-15.
[20] Surprised by Joy, 218.
[21] The Silver Chair, 15.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Final Thoughts on Writing about St. Clive

[This is the final paragraphs from the current draft of my book tentatively titled, C. S. Lewis in Crisis.] 

As I’ve written this book, I’ve found myself poring over others’ words about Lewis, several of his biographies, and especially every work of Lewis that I could get my hands on (including some unpublished pieces at the Wheaton's Wade Collection and the Bodleian in Oxford). All the time I’ve pondered the depth of this man and particularly the reason his words still resonate to the crises of millions and have not stopped speaking fresh insights to me. Lewis remains for me a constant source of interest and even mystery. I found that I want to truly grasp, to definitively summarize, what he expressed. I want to know more where I continue to be stunned by his insights, and where I disagree. 

      There are three reasons for this: First of all, Lewis was the voice that woke me up to the possibility of God, of that Something More beyond this world. The amazing thing is that there are other voices that have led me to Christian faith, but it is Lewis’s that keeps leading me back, “deeper and further in.” So I suppose that, in some way, I’m repaying a debt I feel I owe to him. Secondly, I sense that I become a better person when I read Lewis, this beer-drinking, pipe-smoking, highly imperfect human being. This is part of the moral formation that’s characteristic of Lewis’s writings. And yet in his words, there’s something numinous, a voice that calls me deeper. And still does. Maybe it’s what he read in MacDonald, when he tasted something “holy” in his words.
      Finally, it strikes me that Lewis is the great translator of Christian faith. And that inspires me. The earliest Christian writers—following Jesus himself—took great pains to be comprehensible, using street language and story. In their determination to speak clearly, they never left the scandalous demands of Jesus’ message. Too many theologians speak in impenetrable language, hardly caring whether any public can understand them. Lewis changed that by stepping aside from the precise, though often distancing language of the academic. Instead he spoke in plain English. Lewis’ legacy is that he believed the strange hardness of Gospel remains its greatest strength and he dared to use language as clear as crystal and his creative imagination. Both still make good sense. That is why he still speaks to millions, and even just a few years ago, Time could still name him today’s “hottest theologian.”
            Even as I type these lines, artists are preparing the memorial on the 50th anniversary of his death in the famed Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey, an honor he will share with the likes of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, T. S. Eliot, John Milton, William Wordsworth, among many others. I realize that many millions of others have found inspiration in his voice, and as I’ve written, resolution to their crises. For that reason, it is natural that Lewis has become a Christian cult figure. This represents another sort of “immortality.” And yet, as I read the man himself, I think he would found deplorable the development of “St. Clive” (which, as I mentioned, I jokingly call him) or the Writer of the Fifth Gospel (another quip by some admiring, though not idolizing, friends). Yes, he has been an important voice for me, and I suppose I’m writing this book trying to figure out St. Clive once and for all. I have never enjoyed writing a book so much. Now I'm a little sad that I have arrived at the end. To be honest, I don’t feel that I’ve totally grasped him, and yet I also sense that he’s entirely worth the continual effort. His good friend, J.R. R. Tolkien once commented about Lewis, “You’ll never get to the bottom of him.” Maybe the best method is to simply accept that advice and enjoy the journey

Thursday, August 22, 2013

An Evaluation of C. S. Lewis's Argument from Desire

If I find within 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's Argument from Desire as it appears in Mere Christianity)
How well does this argument work? I offer myself as Exhibit A for engaging with this crisis of meaninglessness. As I searched for meaning in the first year of college, I knew at some level that there had to be more. There had to be something beyond this material world. And in Lewis I met a fellow discoverer. This brings me to something his friend and colleague at Oxford, the philosopher Austin Farrer wrote about Lewis: “We think we are listening to an argument, in fact we are presented with a vision; and it is the vision that carries conviction.”[1] This kind of argument works for many because of Lewis’s formidable imagination. For that reason, it is a literary more than philosophical argument. It draws, as it were, more from Lewis’s degree in Lit, than his studies in Great and Mods. Here, although Lewis employs his profound analytical skills, it draws most on his creativity. 
      It is important here to recall his sermon, "The Weight of Glory" in that University chapel on that hot July day in 1945:

In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each of you—the secret that hurts to much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence….[2]

      This is not a deductive argument that begins with general premises and makes specific conclusions: “All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal.” Lewis would have learned that in the first weeks of his degree in Greats. So, if we are expecting a logical, deductive argument we will be disappointed. Sadly, I have often heard Lewis presented as one more logical (at least, in this deductive sense, “logical”) apologist. It is simply not his approach.
      Instead of the deduction employed in his argument against naturalism (the previous chapter), his other apologetic arguments are better seen as a supposition (or alternatively, argument to the best explanation.)
      A supposition, first of all, is not allegory. When Lewis described what he was doing with Narnia, he steadfastly denied that these stories were allegories, where each particular character or other element in the story bears an exact one-to-one correspondence with a concept. Here I’m thinking of Lewis’s own The Pilgrim’s Regress, but even more of John Bunyan’s landmark The Pilgrim’s Progress, where the Pilgrim, Christian, meets the Slough of Despair, which is not surprisingly has a one-to-one correspondence with facing despair in the Christian life. Or Lewis points to the giant who represents despair:

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair represents Despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality however he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, “What might Christ become like if there were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours. So in “Perelandra.” This works out a supposition.[3]

Lewis is drawing then a supposition, not an allegory or deductively logical argument. Indeed, as the citation above suggests, it is based on imagination. If it is an apologetic argument, it is an imaginative one. And that makes it more powerful because it “baptizes” our imagination, just as George MacDonald’s Phantastes baptized Lewis’s imagination in February 1916.
      The form of this suppositional argument from desire proceeds as follows: Suppose God created this world, we can imagine that God would leave a desire for more than this world offers. We experience a longing for more than this world offers. It is reasonable to see this as pointer to God.
      For readers of John Calvin (as I am), this sounds a great deal like his “sense of divinity” (or sensus divinitatis in Latin, which I’m drawn to). It is akin to Augustine’s “restless” that I quoted at the beginning of the chapter. In Calvin’s vastly influential 1559 Institutes of the Christian Religion, he wrote, 
There is within the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity.[4] 
Certainly this awareness of divinity is vague and can be open to manipulation—it can lead to a narcissistic devotion to the “God within” or the Nazi conviction that God is working through the German culture and Volk, but this sensus divinitatis also provides an important function in opening us up to God. It plays a similar role as Lewis continues to build his four-part apologetic.
      Surprisingly enough—because Lewis had deep concerns about science and its misuse, as I developed in the previous chapter—contemporary cognitive sciences offer stunning, support for Lewis’s Sehnsucht or Joy. For example, neuroscientist Justin Barrett, through his work in developing a Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR), uses the findings of the cognitive sciences to argue that evolution has developed human beings so that we implicitly see purposes in events, or are predisposed toward teleology. “Evidence exists that people are prone to see the world as purposeful and intentionally ordered,”[5] which naturally leads to belief in a Creator. For example, preschoolers “are inclined to see the world as purposefully designed and tend to see an intelligent, intentional agent behind this natural design.”[6]
      Barrett notes that the similarities with John Calvin’s sensus divinitatis He pointed to a sense of the Numinous, powerful and brooding. “Where can I go from Your presence? Where can I flee from Your spirit?” cries the psalmist in Psalm 139. It is the feeling of being out in a forest at night, knowing that no one is there, but feeling something. Often this experience can frighten us. And yet it also provides a witness to the natural knowledge of God.
      To take a more prosaic view, consider the massively popular song the playbook of American movies, Somewhere Over the Rainbow: this is where our “dreams that you you dare to dream really do come true.”[7] And additional examples for this are legion. What is powerful about this apologetic is that it doesn’t take Scripture to evoke those thoughts. They lie close.
      Atheists use this tendency to impugn belief in God. In other words, suppose there is no God, and evolution has created our brains so that we cannot help but believe. Therefore no God exists. God is simply in our minds. Instead I, joining Lewis, argue that, if we suppose there is a God, the findings of cognitive neuroscience help us see that this sense of divinity is a witness to God as our Creator. We are created with openness to belief. And Joy is its signpost.

[1] Light on C. S. Lewis, ed. Jocelyn Gibb, 37.
[2] “Weight of Glory,” 200.
[3] 29 December 1958 letter to Mrs. Hook, Letters III: 1004.
[4] Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.3.1.
[5] Justin Barrett, Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology: From Human Minds to Divine Minds, Templeton Science and Religion Series (West Conshohocken: Templeton, 2011).59.
[6] Barrett, Cognitive Science, 71, and Born Believers: The Science of Children's Religious Belief (Free Press, 2012). This feature of early childhood has been termed “promiscuous teleology” by the psychologist Deborah Kelemen (in Barrett, Cognitive Science, 70).
[7] Harold Arlen with lyrics by E. Y. Harburg, Somewhere Over the Rainbow.