C.S. Lewis on Darwinian Myths

The acorn comes from a full-grown oak. The first crude engine, the Rocket, comes, not from a still cruder engine, but from something much more perfect than itself and much more complex, the mind of a man, and a man of genius.

The first prehistoric drawings come, not from earlier scratchings, but from the hand and brain of human beings whose hand and brain cannot be shown to have been in any way inferior to our own; and indeed it is obvious that the man who first conceived the idea of making a picture must have been a greater genius than any of the artists who have succeeded him. The embryo with which the life of each one of us began did not originate from something even more embryonic; it originated from two fully-developed human beings, our parents.

Descent, downward movement, is the key word. The march of all things is from higher to lower. The rude and imperfect thing always springs from something perfect and developed.’

… All adults were once babies, true: but then all babies were begotten and born by adults. Corn does come from seed: but then seed comes from corn… All civilizations grow from small beginnings; but when you look into it you always find that those small beginnings themselves have been ‘dropped’ (as an oak drops an acorn) by some other and mature civilization. The weapons and even the cookery of old Germanic barbarism are, so to speak, driftwood from the wrecked ship of Roman civilization. The starting point of Greek culture is the remains of older Minoan cultures, supplemented by oddments from civilized Egypt and Phoenicia.

[ A lecturer on evolution] at least had a theory about the absolute beginning … But hadn’t the Lecturer done a little slurring too? He had not given us a hint that his theory of the ultimate origins involved us in believing that Nature’s habits have, since those days, altered completely. Her present habits show us an endless cycle—the bird coming from the egg and the egg from the bird. But he asked us to believe that the whole thing started with an egg which had been preceded by no bird. Perhaps it did. But the whole prima facie plausibility of his view—the ease with which the audience accepted it as something natural and obvious—depended on his slurring over the immense difference between this and the processes we actually observe.

He put it over by drawing our attention to the fact that eggs develop into birds and making us forget that birds lay eggs; indeed, we have been trained to do this all our lives: trained to look at the universe with one eye shut.

‘Developmentalism’ is made to look plausible by a kind of trick. For the first time in my life I began to look at the question with both eyes open. In the world I know, the perfect produces the imperfect, which again becomes perfect—egg leads to bird and bird to egg—in endless succession. If there ever was a life which sprang of its own accord out of a purely inorganic universe, or a civilization which raised itself by its own shoulder-straps out of pure savagery, then this event was totally unlike the beginnings of every subsequent life and every subsequent civilization. The thing may have happened; but all its plausibility is gone.

On any view, the first beginning must have been outside the ordinary processes of nature. An egg which came from no bird is no more ‘natural’ than a bird which had existed from all eternity. And since the egg-bird-egg sequence leads us to no plausible beginning, is it not reasonable to look for the real origin somewhere outside sequence altogether? You have to go outside the sequence of engines, into the world of men, to find the real originator of the Rocket. Is it not equally reasonable to look outside Nature for the real Originator of the natural order?”

— from the essay Two Lectures in God in the Doc, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 1st Edition (January 1, 1970)


Joseph Pearce: Beyond Modernity: Literary Reactions From Dickens, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and More

“The hideous legacy of modernity can be seen in the ghastliness of the guillotine, the gulag and the gas chamber”:


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