- Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.
- But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.
- Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.
- This something is what people call "God" and "life with God forever."
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these 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. (Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, "Hope")
There are a few important caveats that must be made to this:
- The desire should be understood in the broadest of terms. That is, a man might desire sex with a woman who doesn't exist, or you might have a dream about eating a non-existent food: but women, sex, and food are all real, and these imaginary deviations relate to an existent core. Applying this to God, we have desires which are satisfied in God, but that certainly doesn't mean that whatever we imagine (or desire) God to be, He is.
- The fact that some individuals aren't aware of the desire doesn't serve as a negation. After all, there are plenty of people who consider themselves asexual. Any number of causes might explain this lack of desire - a lack of self-awareness, psychological causes (be it trauma, suppression, or fear of the desire itself). But the fact that I'm not hungry right now doesn't disprove the existence of food.
Going back to the substance of this morning's post, let's plug in Lewis' argument from desire, and see how it fares. We know two things:
- There is a unique neurological reaction to religion which doesn't relate to the other known neurological reactions. (This is Newsweek's argument that God is "all in your mind," because we're pre-programmed for religion).
- People in affluent societies tend to be less religious. (This is Newsweek's argument that God is, in fact, not all in your mind, and that we're not pre-programmed from religion; instead, religion is but a delusion clung to by the ignorant and sufferring).
- There is a unique neurological reaction because God is a unique desire not satisfied through the satiation of other desires (sex, money, fame, food, drink, comfort). Thus, through prayer and meditation, we can observe people getting this unique spiritual hunger fed.
- People who perpetually indulge in sex, money, fame, food, drink, comfort, often misidentify the spiritual hunger as a carnal hunger. We see this in other contexts, like when a person sometimes thinks he's hungry when he's sleepy. We often mask a hunger through the satiation of other desires - it's the reason that people rebounding from a rough breakup often turn to drugs, drink and meaningless sex, or throw themselves into another relationship. In indulging generally, they mask the specific hunger they're trying to ignore.