(Thinking about) believing

March 31, 2007 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

lewis.gifIn Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis at one juncture makes the (relatively minor) point that you cannot contemplate your inner activities and enjoy them–meaning actually do them–both at the same time. Once you start thinking about your mental processes, you’ve automatically stopped the mental process itself.

The example Lewis gives (and he’s actually drawing from someone else’s work here) is about hoping: It is impossible to hope and think about hoping at the same time—for, as he says, “in hope we look to hope’s object and we interrupt this by (so to speak) turning round to look at the hope itself.”

Lewis doesn’t actually go in this direction, but it occurred to me that the same thing applies to faith and belief. I’m thinking that it might be impossible to believe and think about believing simultaneously. In this case, if one thinks about believing for long enough, one can presumably think oneself right out of belief. Actually, I suspect this is exactly what happens to many people who lose their faith.

Given that I am prone to rationalism (which means I spend a lot of time thinking about faith), perhaps I ought to take this observation to heart?


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profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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