Revisiting C.S. Lewis on the Dangers of Scientism

C.S. Lewis on materialistic thoughts; Consequences for Our Thought-Processes and Philosophies of Truth

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e. of materialism and astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milkjug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.’

C.S. Lewis (1898–1963), The Business of Heaven, Fount Paperbacks, U.K., p. 97, 1984.

C.S. Lewis was a prophetic critic of the growing power of scientism in modern society, the misguided effort to apply science to areas outside its proper bounds. In this wide-ranging book of essays, contemporary writers probe Lewis’s warnings about the dehumanizing impact of scientism on ethics, politics, faith, reason, and science itself. Issues explored include Lewis’s views on bioethics, eugenics, evolution, intelligent design, and what he called “scientocracy.”

Contributors include Michael Aeschliman, author of C.S. Lewis and the Restitution of Man; Victor Reppert, author of C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea; Jay Richards, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Indivisible; and C. John Collins, author of Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? Praise for The Magician’s Twin: “This outstanding book will be of interest not just to C.S. Lewis readers but to anyone following the latest controversies surrounding intelligent design, reason and the mysterious history of human life.” —Tom Bethell, Senior Editor, The American Spectator.

Lewis, Chesterton and Orwell

Himself a wounded veteran of World War I, Lewis delivered in 1943, in the middle of a second, even vaster and more destructive world war, a series of invited university lectures in the north of England that were published by Oxford University Press later that year as The Abolition of Man, a dystopian title with an innocuous-sounding, specialist subtitle, Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools.

High claims continue to be made for this short, dense, lucid expository essay; the outstanding Oxford literary scholar A. D. Nuttall (1937-2007), author of one of the finest books of the last fifty years on Shakespeare, wrote of it:

“The argument as it unfolds is dazzling. It is in a way odd that a work which so thoroughly routs whole volumes of Nietzsche and Sartre is not more widely admired, especially as the style in which it is presented is brilliantly lucid.” Technocracy News

That Hideous Strength

“Written during the dark hours immediately before and during World War II, C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy, of which That Hideous Strength is the third and final volume, stands alongside such works as Albert Camus’s The Plague and George Orwell‘s 1984 as a timely parable that has become timeless, beloved by succeeding generations as much for the sheer wonder of its storytelling as for the significance of its moral concerns.

Lewis wrote. “You will understand that my (atheism) was inevitably based on what I believed to be the findings of the sciences; and those findings, not being a scientist, I had to take on trust—in fact, on authority.”

Man is not merely an Evolution but a Revolution“— G. K. Chesterton

To be God. 1931.

Materialism. If man is presently and constantly “evolving,” then it follows that his thinking  and especially his philosophical views cannot be trustworthy; his thoughts would be inherently unstable, merely emerging fragments in process or mutation on route to nowhere.

The Chesterton Book That Helped Convert Lewis From Atheism

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