Category Archives: Apologetic of Desire

Art, the Imagination and A Sense of Longing

Of the many things we could say about art, one of the primary things we could say is that art creates longing. Beauty evokes desire. Beauty is not just skin deep; it’s soul deep. Archeologists have not yet discovered any stage of human existence without art. There are very few societies that do not attempt to decorate or capture in art, song, word, or ritual.

C. S. Lewis talked about his imagination being baptized after reading a work of George MacDonald fiction. What he meant was that it enlarged his sense of what is possible; it re-enchanted the ordinary world; it stirred a sense of longing within him.

When C. S. Lewis was just a little kid, his brother brought the lid of a biscuit tin into the nursery. He had covered it with moss and garnished it with twigs and flowers so as to make it a garden or a toy forest. Lewis says, “As long as I live my imagination of Paradise will retain something of my brother’s toy garden.” Lewis said that his brother’s work of art taught him “longing” – this dim sense of something just beyond our reach.

After Lewis turned from atheism, he looked back and realized that these experiences occurred periodically. God was whispering to him through his imagination, but he never listened. What he later realized was that he had been longing for a Person more than a place (Nicholi, Question of God, 27). All honest atheists will admit this vague sense of longing, a dim echo that seems to fade upon just catching it.

Art, literature, and music wake us up to beauty and a Beautiful One. “The book 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… They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited (Lewis).”

Art gives us fresh cravings and we begin to ache for something or a Someone. If you want to know what we long for, what we value, what we fear, the longings we possess, look at our stories, our poems, our songs, our paintings. We long for home and simple things, and we long for the Grand Artist, the source of all beauty.

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The Existence of God (without Using a Bible)

If you were to ask me to argue for the existence of God without using a Bible, I would argue along these lines (see my other blog posts for an elaboration of these arguments).

I would argue from a position of conscience, this internal sense of right and wrong that we have written into us; this natural law of the heart that guides us in our moral decisions. And if there are moral laws there is a Moral Lawgiver.

I would argue from a position of design in nature. All that we see and experience in nature has structure built into it. It’s not a random cosmic carwreck that we see; it’s design and if there is design, there is an Intelligent Designer.

I would argue from a position of special revelation or Jesus Christ. Extra-biblical sources verify that Jesus existed during the time period and in the place that he supposedly existed found in the Bible. Furthermore, if he was the Son of God, then there is a First Cause – God the Father.

Finally, I would argue along the lines of the apologetic of human desire. Humans desire truth, beauty, honor, justice, courage, love, heroism. These longings go beyond just our senses. We can’t smell truth or touch love, yet we reach for them. We desire to be free, to discover our self-worth, to correct our immoral behavior, to piece the hurts of life into some larger picture of meaning (Mark Cosgrove). All of these desires are seen clearly in our mass production down through the ages of literature, art, music, worship, and movies, each of them featuring the innermost longings and deepest needs of human beings.

We reach out to worship something, even atheists do. How do you explain this longing for things beyond the natural, empirical realm, and our interest in blogging about them? Just like the presence of appetite presupposes the existence of food, the presence of worship and human longing presupposes that something or Someone exists who can satisfy these longings. And if there are these human desires, then we can conclude that there is a place or experience where they can be ultimately fulfilled – Heaven and a New Earth.

God exists and we don’t even need a Bible to know that this is true. But what the Bible does do for us is that it tells us His Name with specificity and invites us to know Him.

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