On Beauty, The Senses, and Science

On Saturday, I organized some stacks of papers started before I got my PhD. The deadline has passed for blaming it on the busyness of school (I graduated in 2013!). In the stack I found some quotes I had saved that are worth sharing. . . .

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the hope of “Heaven” ridiculous by saying they do not want “to spend eternity playing harps.” All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible. People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, he meant that we were to lay eggs.

C. S. Lewis in Transposition and Other Addresses:

How far the life of the risen [human] will be sensory, we do not now. But I surmise that it will differ from the sensory life we know here . . . as a flower differs from the bulb or a cathedral from an architect’s drawing.

We do not want merely to see beauty. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become a part of it. If we take the imagery of Scripture seriously . . . we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun. We cannot mingle [now] with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so.

C. S. Lewis in God in the Dock:

The angels…have no senses; their experience is purely intellectual and spiritual. That is why we know something about God which they don’t. There are particular aspects of His love and joy which can be communicated to a created being only by sensuous experience. Something of God which the Seraphim can never quite understand flows into us from the blue of the sky, the taste of honey, the delicious embrace of water whether cold or hot, and even from sleep itself.

David Sayre in Something There Is:

Many who have devoted their lives to science testify to their sense of awe at the great beauty that lies at the heart of nature. . . . The experiences of order, of symmetry, of finding deep and hidden relationships, of consistent metaphors and analogies—all are deeply scientific, as well as beautiful.

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