Wednesday, 27 February 2008

C. S. Lewis on evolution, again

One commenter on my previous post pointed me to this page with some great extended quotes:

I've found a few quotes over the last few days showing that Lewis was well acquainted with the view that sees "Science" as a replacement for any and every idea that sees a non-material aspect to reality. Whilst atheists such as Oxford's Richard Dawkins present their views as the latest findings of neutral science, reading writers like Lewis shows firstly that these views have been rehashed for decades (actually centuries and even millennia in a number of aspects, but that's for another time) - the "new atheists" aren't very new.  Secondly, it will show you that many of the refutations of these views have been made for a long time too - which makes Dawkins and co's lack of engagement with the responses culpable. As I tour the web I find that many of the "new atheist" crowd seem scarcely even aware of such arguments. Time to start questioning just how "critical" and "rational" your leaders' thinking is, folks!

Here's Lewis setting out in his own words the fact that Christianity can give a coherent explanation of reality, itself and its opponents, whereas the so-called "scientific" outlook cannot even explain itself. Lewis wrote before the discovery of DNA, and so couldn't ask the question "how can we rely on our minds, if they are just the result of random genetic copying mistakes?", but he didn't need to to make his point:

I was taught at school, when I had done a sum, to "prove my answer." The proof or verification of my Christian answer to the cosmic sum is this. When I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonising it with some particular truths which are embedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole. Granted that Reason is prior to matter and that the light of that primal Reason illuminates finite minds, I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in. If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. And this is to me the final test. This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams: I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner: I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience. The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world: the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific point of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else. -- The Oxford Socratic Club, 1944. pp. 154-165

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