In this piece, C.S. Lewis uses the analogy of a beam of light in an otherwise dark toolshed to explain two different ways of viewing objects, concepts, and events in life. He says that one way of seeing something is to look at the “beam of light.” This is the more scientific, objective way of looking at something. According to Lewis, it is seeing the beam of light from the outside, seeing its shape, angle, and brightness. He also uses the example of love. When we look at love from a physiological point of view, we see it as a combination of hormones, neurons firing, and other biological events. He also points out that we can view things by looking along the “beam of light.” This is a more experiential way of viewing and defining things. It is standing in the beam of light and seeing the tree growing outside the toolshed. Or it is experiencing the feeling of love for another person or the physical sensation of pain.
Lewis argues that we often place far too much emphasis on viewing the world by looking at it. We are too concerned with the scientific explanation for things and we too readily define things based completely on an on-looking perspective. He says that we do not place enough value on the definition of things derived from an experiential perspective. He points out that both views are equally valid and necessary in understanding what something is.
I agree with Lewis. As a biology major, I am often very focused on the scientific explanation for things and I am very used to the mentality to discredit the experiential aspect of different concepts and events. While there is a definite need for looking at things, it is just as important to look along things. I especially appreciated what was said in class about the fact that neither of these views can give us a complete view or understanding of anything. Even using these two views in combination, we can still not see the sun as the ultimate source of the beam of light. We can, however, deduce that something preexists which causes this beam of light to exist. Likewise, in life, while we cannot see God directly, we can see His creation and works which allow us to conclude that He is the source of these things.