Quotes by C. S. Lewis
"I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is of no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through the dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. Most of us have got over the pre-war wishful thinking about international politics. It is time we did the same about religion."
"You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
"That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, 'No future bliss can make up for it,' not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say, 'Let me but have this and I'll take the consequences': little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin.'
"An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man's mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut."
"You cannot go on 'seeing through' things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that a window should be transparent, because the street or the garden beyond is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to 'see through' first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To 'see through' all things is the same as not to see."
"Every teacher knows that people are constantly protesting that the 'can't see' some self-evident inference, but the supposed inability is usually a refusal to see, resulting either from some passion which wants not to see the truth in question or else from sloth which does not want to think at all."
"Believers in progress rightly note that in the world of machines the new model supersedes the old; from this they falsely infer a similar kind of supercession in such things as virtue and wisdom."
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
"If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know."
"I therefore begin by ruling out the Pacifist position which probably no one present holds, but which conceivably might be held - that of the man who claims to know on the grounds of immediate intuition that all killing of human beings is in all circumstances an absolute evil."
"Indeed it is doubtful whether the whole conception of "what would have happened" - that is, of unrealized possibilities - is more than an imaginative technique for giving a vivid rhetorical account of what did happen."
"On the test of fact, then, I find the Pacifist position weak. It seems to me that history is full of useful wars as well as of useless wars. It all that can be brought against the frequent appearance of utility is mere speculation about what would have happened, I am not converted."
"The doctrine that war is always a greater evil seems to imply a materialist ethic, a belief that death and pain are the greatest evils. But I do not think they are."
"To be a Pacifist, I must part company with Homer and Virgil, with Plato and Aristotle, with Zarathustra and the Bhagavad-Gita, with Cicero and Montaigne, with Iceland and with Egypt. From this point of view, I am almost tempted to reply to the Pacifist as Johnson replied to Goldsmith, 'Nay Sir, if you will not take the universal opinion of mankind, I have no more to say.'"
"There have been too many historical Jesuses - a liberal Jesus, a pneumatic Jesus, a Barthian Jesus, a Marxist Jesus. They are the cheap crop of each publisher's list, like the new Napoleons and new Queen Victorias. It is not to such phantoms that I look for my faith and my salvation."
"I believe in Christianity as I believe the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
"The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not dies for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners."
"If you have not chosen the kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead. Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whiskey or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well surely no difference that matters. We shall have missed the end for which we were formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies."