Tuesday, October 24, 2017

C.S. Lewis' Argument for God's Existence

Fr. John J. Pasquini
        C.S. Lewis’ argument from desire is found succinctly in Mere Christianity: “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exist.  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 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, San Francisco:  Harper Collins, 2015), Book 3, Chapter 10). 
The more formal explanation of Lewis’ argument goes as follows: 1) Every innate desire in us corresponds to a real thing that can satisfy that desire. 2) There exists in us one innate desire which nothing on earth can satisfy. 3) There must, therefore, exist something which is beyond this earth that can satisfy this desire.  4) This something is what we call God.
When discussing desires, Lewis makes a distinction between innate desires and externally conditioned desires.  Innate desires come from our nature; they are inborn and universal—that is, they are common to all healthy people.  Externally conditioned desires are acquired through the external influences of the culture we live in.  Unlike innate desires, which are found in all healthy people, externally conditioned desires vary from person to person.
Externally conditioned desires do not necessarily correspond to things that exist. I desire that the United States be protected by the superheroes Batman and Superman.    Batman and Superman do not exist.  Innate desires, however, always corresponds to things that exists.  As the philosopher Peter Kreeft has explained, echoing the consensus of philosophers, when it comes to innate desires “no one has ever found one case of an innate desire for a nonexistent object.” (Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions, Downers Grove, IVP Academic, 1994, 49f). I desire food, food exists.  I desire drink, drink exists.  I desire knowledge, knowledge exists.   Our innate desires correspond to real things. 
Human experience teaches us that there exists in us an innate desire which nothing on earth can satisfy. Within every person there is the question: “Is this all there is?”  Or in the words of the atheist emperor Severus, “I have had everything, and everything is nothing.”  There is an emptiness that seeks to be filled, and nothing in this world can fill or satisfy it.  Since every innate desire has a corresponding reality, according to the consensus of philosophers, there must be something beyond this world that fulfills this innate desire that nothing in this world can satisfy.  The desire for God fulfills that innate desire that nothing in this world can satisfy. As the great Augustine explained, echoing Psalm 62 and the hearts of all those who have sought and have found, “Only in God is my soul at rest.”  
One may argue that evolution has inbred this innate desire into human beings, and that this innate desire for God’s existence happens to be the only inbred, innate desire that does not correspond to a reality or real thing.  Is this possible, maybe; but this would make the innate desire for God the only innate desire in the world that has no corresponding reality! Thus for C.S. Lewis the likelihood of God’s existence based on innate desires favors the existence of God.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Prayer as a Gift to Marriage

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” (CCC 2559).  Prayer is founded upon humility and a contrite heart (Ps. 130:1; cf. Lk. 18:9-14).  One must recognize that one needs help in the endeavor of prayer (Rm. 8:26) and one must recognize that whether we realize it or not, prayer is an encounter between God’s longing for us and our longing for him (cf. Jn. 4:10). Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love for God, who is love itself (cf. Jn. 7:37-39; 19:28; Isa. 12:3; 51:1; Zech. 12:10; 13:1).
       Prayer is a gift to marriage.  In fact, couples who do not pray together often drift apart, for prayer is the expression of the heart’s deepest needs and desires (the heart being the very core of a person’s being).  There is no better way to know one’s spouse than by listening to his or her prayers.  Praying as a couple increases one’s knowledge of one’s spouse and enhances the bonding between spouses.
       Prayer requires and fosters humility, which is an elaborate word for self-knowledge—the knowledge of knowing oneself the way one truly is.  Unless you know yourself and your spouse knows himself or herself a marriage is likely to become stale and unable to mature. 
       Prayer requires a contrite heart, the knowledge that one is on a journey.  Marriage is a journey, with its ups and downs, with its need to forgive and to seek forgiveness.  Marriage requires a contrite heart.
       Prayer is an encounter with the source of love, love itself.  Marriage is a mirror of this encounter and this love—being loved and loving.  Can one truly and authentically love if one is detached from the source of love?
       In prayer we ask for gifts from God.  We ask for good things from God.  What greater request is there than to ask for a happy and blessed marriage.  Prayer as a couple places a deep emphasis on the life and love necessary for a successful and fruitful marriage. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Prayer of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Dear Lord, the Great Healer,
I kneel before you, since every perfect gift must come from you.  
I pray, give skill to my hands,
clear vision to my mind,
kindness and meekness of heart.
Give me singleness of purpose,
strength to lift up a part of the
burden of my suffering fellowmen,
and a realization of the privilege
that is mine.  
Take from my heart all guile and worldliness, that with the
simple faith of a child, I may rely on you.