Time: How Pink Floyd Pointed me Towards God

by Greg West

Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon is arguably one of the greatest rock albums of all-time, and also happens to be one of my personal favorites. Seemingly written from an atheistic worldview, the album raises many worldview questions, but sadly offers few answers, if any. Probably my favorite track on the album is the song simply titled, Time. I must have heard the song scores of times before one day I heard it for what seemed like the first time, and I began to pay special attention to the lyrics which reached out to me in a way that haunted me for a long while after:

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught
Or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over
Thought I’d something more to say…

I’ve often wondered if the writer(s) of the songs on Dark Side had ever read the Bible, because from start to finish, the lyrics echo the book of Ecclesiastes. The song, Time, in particular, reminds me of this passage found in Ecclesiastes 1:2-5, which reads:

“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?

Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

Both the song lyrics and the passage from Ecclesiastes, talk about the meaning of life (or lack thereof). While the writer of Ecclesiastes explicitly mentions and acknowledges God and his existence, the lyrics of Time seem to presume that God not exists (I use the word, ‘seem’, because I’m not pretending I know the songwriters’ original intention). The biggest difference in what the song lyrics and the Bible passage say to me, is that Pink Floyd is saying that, there is no God, therefore life is meaningless, while the writer of Ecclesiastes is saying that a life lived without God is meaningless.

Regardless of the original intention of the writers of Time, the result of really listening to the lyrics was that it caused me to think about the meaning of life…and I started thinking about it a lot more than I did previously. At the time I was a rather apathetic agnostic who didn’t bother with thinking much about worldview questions such as whether or not life has meaning, but as I began to really hear what the lyrics of the song were saying, it haunted me. That in itself was enough to make me wonder why it even should.

While it’s been quite a few years ago and I can’t recount an exact chronological timeline of my line of reasoning, here are some of the questions that the lyrics of the song provoked:

  • Was there meaning to life or not?
  • If life had meaning, the why did it have meaning?
  • If life had meaning, then what is that meaning?
  • If life is merely the product of strictly material causes, then wouldn’t any meaning we placed on life be merely subjective if not an outright illusion?
  • And again, If life were merely the product of strictly material causes, why should one even be pondering, or be able to ponder whether or not life had meaning?
  • Life seemed to me to have meaning and purpose, but if it did, what is that purpose, and wouldn’t that meaning have to have a supernatural rather than a purely natural origin?

I wish I could say that I made up my mind then and there to set out on a quest to discover the answers to my questions, but I didn’t.  Even so,  I was at a place where I was open to considering whether or not answers to these questions could be found. Whenever I would hear a song, read a story, watch a movie, or even see a news report that raised or dealt with worldview matters, I would think about these things even more, and this eventually led me to considering that if there was a God, could truth about God be known? And those questions eventually led me to begin to consider the truth claims of Christianity.

No, I don’t credit Pink Floyd for helping me “find” God, but I sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit used Pink Floyd, and many other things to draw me towards God.

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.—CS Lewis (Mere Christianity)