FACT CHECK: Did CS Lewis Give This Advice On Starting Over?

David Sivak | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook claims that Christian apologist C.S. Lewis once said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Lewis wrote this expression, which may only date back to the 1980s.

Fact Check:

In 1982, author James Sherman published a book on how to overcome rejection. “All of us have been rejected more than once. We’ve been turned down for jobs, had applications refused, and lost out in romance,” he wrote.

Sherman advised readers not to fixate on the past, making this observation: “You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending.”

The excerpt, found by the website Quote Investigator, tracks closely with the quote shared on Facebook. It also happens to be the first known instance of the saying.

Though the Facebook post attributes the quote to Lewis, who died in 1963, there is no record of him saying it.

“I’m fairly sure that that was not written by Lewis, as it doesn’t quite sound like him, nor have I ever encountered it,” Steve Elmore, vice president of events and communications for the C.S. Lewis Foundation, told The Daily Caller in an email.

The statement appears nowhere in Lewis’ writings, and the attribution has been previously debunked by William O’Flaherty, author of “The Misquotable C.S. Lewis.”

The quote reminded Elmore of a section in the book “Mere Christianity” in which Lewis talks about progress: “If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

David Sivak

Fact Check Editor
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