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The Altercation from Admiration looks at congenital desires and sees the adumbration of God. We feel hunger, so accordingly there charge be food. We appetite and accordingly there’s water; we ache for accompaniment and accordingly there are companions; we ache for god . . . and accordingly there is a god.

C. S. Lewis said,

Creatures are not built-in with desires unless achievement for those desires exists. . . . If I ascertain aural myself a admiration which no acquaintance in this apple can satisfy, the best apparent account is that I was fabricated for addition world.

Lewis was popularizing a abstraction that theologians accept bidding for centuries. John Calvin referred to the sensus divinitatis—a sense, not of the ambiance like afterimage or smell, but of God. Blaise Pascal proposed a “God-shaped exhaustion in the affection of every man.”

This atoning is accessible to accept and has an automatic appeal, but it fails beneath afterpiece inspection.

1. Why do we abhorrence death? If our inclinations are a reliable autogenetic arrow to the supernatural, afresh why the abhorrence of death? If we aimlessly apperceive that there is a god and an abiding abode for our body to alive afterwards activity on earth, bodies should alter from added animals in accepting an ambiguity about afterlife or alike a anxious for it. We don’t.

2. The dabble problem. Lewis absurd that ache believability to the actuality of food, but it’s the added way around. Consider Douglas Adams’ puddle, which marveled at how well-crafted its aperture was: “Fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In actuality it fits me awfully well; charge accept been fabricated to accept me in it!”

Lewis’s absurdity is the aforementioned as the puddle’s backwards thinking. We don’t apprehension ache and afresh achieve that aliment charge exist; rather, creatures charge aliment to survive, and change selects those that accept a ache to auspiciously get it.

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3. Admiration for God isn’t an congenital desire. If the desires for food, water, sex and added basics are never fulfilled, the beastly chase dies out. The “hunger” for the abnormal has annihilation to do with survival. Lewis doesn’t appearance that this actual altered admiration for God logically fits in with the axiological desires all-important for life.

4. This is aloof a deist argument. If you acquisition this altercation compelling, this should point you to deism. Like abounding added arguments, this one alone claims that there is some bearding alarm maker abaft the universe. There is annihilation actuality to altercate for the Christian god over any added god or abnormal pantheon. (More here.)

If you altercate that this god admiration absolutely does point you to the Christian god, you charge explain the countless means God acceptance plays out in practice. And why would the Christian god accord you a ambiguous faculty of some array of angelic clockmaker instead of pointing our admiration accurately to him? What we see instead is that the specifics of god acceptance are aloof a bounded custom. (More actuality and here.)

5. Consider what abroad comes forth with the argument. C. S. Lewis said, “It would be actual odd if the abnormality alleged ‘falling in love’ occurred in a sexless world.”

And would it additionally be odd if the abnormality “belief in magic” occurred in a magic-less world? It’s not odd at all, because that’s the apple we’re active in. Acceptance in abracadabra is still boundless and was alike added so a few centuries ago. We in the West shouldn’t be too complacent that we’ve abundantly angry our backs on magic, because our cerebration is still afflicted by superstitions and evidence-less behavior in things like coincidences, fate, and homeopathy.

6. The Ontological Altercation again? You can brainstorm absolute justice, apple peace, or a admiring god, but that doesn’t accomplish them reality. As with the Ontological Argument, cerebration of it doesn’t accomplish it so.

7. What is “innate”? Proponents of this altercation account axiological congenital concrete needs and drives like food, drink, sex, safety, and sleep. They may additionally bandy in higher-level desires for beauty, justice, knowledge, friendship, love, and companionship.

The agnostic can antiphon with demands for Aladdin’s lamp, Shangri-La, or superpowers. Because they’d be abundant to have, does that beggarly that they exist? To abstain this, the apologist may analyze amid congenital desires (the aboriginal sort—things that absolutely exist) and apish desires (the second).

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Let’s assignment with that distinction. In several ways, God admiration does not arise to be innate.

7a. The class of congenital desires is those things for which there is a bright ambition of the desire. No one doubts that aliment and alcohol exist, but there’s affluence of agnosticism about superpowers. (Guess which bin God admiration fits into.)

7b. Anybody charge amuse the needs of ache and thirst. Not anybody finds achievement for a God desire, and not anybody alike has such a desire. The apologist may acknowledge that that ability additionally administer to the higher-level desires such as adorableness and justice, but this alone makes the congenital class assume added arbitrary.

7c. Addition way of seeing the innate/contrived acumen is that the congenital desires (for food, sex, and companionship, for example) are those we allotment with added amusing animals. Since no beastly desires God, why alarm that admiration innate?

8. Don’t let your desires run abroad with you. We charge be agnostic of creamy arguments guided by desires.

Even C. S. Lewis himself argues adjoin dupe too abundant in admiration and Joy because the sane, rational being charge be actual apprehensive of area moods and affections ability lead: “Unless you advise your moods area they get off, you can never be either a complete Christian or alike a complete atheist, but aloof a animal ambivalent to and fro, with its behavior absolutely abased on the acclimate and the accompaniment of its digestion.” The C. S. Lewis of this access would assert that we attention our close states, including desires and Joy, with suspicion if not abatement them entirely. (Source: About.com)

Searching for the best circuit on this argument

If the account of congenital desires were 10,000 long, the apologists’ altercation would accept some weight. They’d say, “Every distinct account on this astronomic account is a admiration for which we apperceive that a agnate ambition exists! The alone catechism larboard is our admiring for god. How acceptable is it that this one affair is a counterexample?”

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But alike with the bookish desires (justice, love, etc.), the account of congenital desires is maybe a dozen items long. At its foundation, this is a anemic argument. And accustomed the problems accent above, the altercation no best has credibility.

God acceptance is a poor fit as an congenital belief, but here’s a bigger comparison. Ambitious cerebration in adoration is like ambitious cerebration in the bloom and adorableness aisle, or in diets, or in end-of-life care. What’s the accident of a little money back you could attending better, be thinner, or alive longer? Achievement springs eternal, in adoration as in added banal areas. It’d be abundant to attending adolescent or added fit, and it’d be abundant to accept an absolute Friend attractive out for me. That doesn’t accomplish it true.

As with claims for cosmetics and cure-alls, we charge be skeptical.

In the branch we accomplish cosmetics; in the angishore we advertise hope.— Charles Revson (founder of Revlon)

.

This is an amend of a column that originally appeared 11/19/14.)

Image via Dawn, CC license

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