Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Argument from Sehnsucht (Longing)

Here is another interesting argument for life after death from Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli's Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics:

Major premise: Every natural, innate desire in us-as distinct from artificial and conditioned desires-corresponds to a real object which can satisfy that desire. If there is hunger, there is food; if thirst, drink; if eros, sex; if curiosity, knowledge; if loneliness, society.  It would be surpassing strange if we found creatures falling in love in a sexless world.

Minor premise: There exists in us one desire that nothing in this life can satisfy, a mysterious longing (Sehnsucht) that differs from all others in that its object is undefinable and unattainable in this life.

Although we do not clearly understand exactly what it is that we want, we all do in fact by our nature want paradise, heaven, eternity, the divine life.  Augustine said, 'Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee'-even if we don't know who or what 'Thee' is.  Something deep in our souls is not satisfied with this whole world of time and mortality.

Conclusion: Therefore this 'more'-eternal life-exists.  Complaint about anything shows that there must be an alternative, something more and better.  We do not complain about being, or about 2 + 2 making 4.  But we complain about pain and ignorance and poverty.  We also complain about time; there is never enough of it-even now, and certainly when we are dying.  We want more than time; we want eternity.  Therefore there must be eternity.  We complain about this world.  It is never good enough.  Therefore there must be another world that is good enough.  We may not attain it, just as we may die of starvation.  But the innate hunger for it proves that it exists, just as the innate hunger for food proves that food exists.1

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Pocket Handbook of Apologetics, p. 93-94. 

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