C. S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis on Evolution

Overview by Lewis Loflin

The first time I ever heard of C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) was when I watched the movie Chronicles of Narnia, which I greatly enjoyed. Then I read some of the violent attacks on the movie from the atheist' left that it was religious propaganda. I never saw it as religious until they came along, so I took a closer look at the matter.

Yes the figure of Aslan is Christ-like, but many other elements clearly are not. (The story of Jesus resembled many other stories.) The Film Atheist called the movie "creepy" and "this is the most dangerous kind of propaganda, creating black-clad Christian Templar-Ninjas, who sneak out at night to destroy unbelievers in the name of Aslan, as there is but one Aslan, and Lewis is his prophet..." The reality of good/evil presented in the movie would be strongly rejected by secular/atheist fundamentalists.

I should be clear there's often more to atheism than not just believing in any deity. It's often a rejection of all Western culture and traditions. There is also a specific political and social agenda. Atheism is merely a mechanism to achieve other ends, just like with the Christians fundamentalists.

Because Lewis is attacked by both sides on the Religious Right and Atheist Left means he is doing something correctly. And as organized groups such as the Humanist Society has their dogmatic and intolerant manifestoes which in their own terms will "humanize" society by state coercion. Also see A new Communism, Humanist Manifestos

C.S. Lewis presents a big problem to both the atheist' and Bible fundamentalist' extremes. He was once an atheist and hated Christianity, but his conversion produced one of the most popular theologians of the 20th Century according to some and his influence is alive and well in 2009. His rejection of atheism aside, he is no Bible thumping fundamentalist. Lewis was a professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. He had no formal theological training.

In C.S. Lewis and evolution ( Peter Barnes writes, "Theologically, Lewis described himself as an Anglican...He is often regarded as suspect in his views, especially regarding the doctrines of revelation and the atonement. Certainly, Lewis retained some liberal elements in his thinking..." In other words, by thinking for himself, he was a heretic. He was converted to Christianity by J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame.

Among the problems for people like Barnes is Lewis believed other faiths were "open" to Christ' salvation and parts of the Bible (such as Noah's Flood, Jonah, etc.) were "fabulous" versus "reliable" elements. Barnes wrote of this kind of thinking, "rightly needs to be criticized by evangelical believers."

Creation Ministries International (CMI) whom Barnes writes for advocates a literal Six-Day Creationism or what is deceptively called "Creation Science." Invented after his death in 1963, Lewis would have soundly rejected their claims. Lewis while a Christian, was also a theistic evolutionist or Old Earth Creationist. For Barnes and Creation Ministries, Lewis' appeal to the public can bring people to God, but undermines their dogmatic views and efforts to dictate belief as they see it. In many cases he contradicts them.

But if CMI fears C.S. Lewis, the problem is far worse for dogmatic Humanists and atheists of the political Left. To promote atheism, they misuse the general ignorance of science "hand-in-hand" with the CMI fundamentalists to force the public to choose between their extremes. Any belief in science means acceptance of Humanism/atheism, any belief in God means Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

Atheists treat science in a dogmatic, pseudo-religious manner. Scientists have become a type of clergy, infallible and righteous as any preacher. No they are human beings just like the rest of us. They have emotions, they have political agendas, and they want to keep their jobs and the research funds flowing. And they are religious.

The National Academy of Sciences publication Science and Creationism (1999) stated that "Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious..." In fact many atheist' and agnostic' types are religious, but substitute secular pseudo-religions such as socialism and environmentalism with the same fervor Pat Robertson displays on his 700 Club TV show.

Both are dishonest. C.S. Lewis resisted for decades renouncing evolution and science, yet was a fervent believer in God. Lewis was not a trained scientist and never claimed to be. But the popularity of C.S. Lewis leaves the road open to reconcile science and God with the public at large. He expresses the views I've held all my life before I ever heard of C.S. Lewis or Pat Robertson. I've always believed in science, evolution, and God. I rejected the literal Genesis of the Protestants I grew up around, and reject their version of Christianity based on the Bible itself not supporting their claims. It simply doesn't.

But the evidence for Naturalistic (atheistic) evolution is equally countered by the facts. They kept changing the "theory" every few years. None of the claims have been reproduced in a laboratory, and the process clearly appears guided. And yes I have had college level physics, chemistry, and biology and I'm a big believer in science.

Understanding that science is clearly about materialistic processes in nature only, theology has no place in science. Science is about debate and questioning the evidence, yet anyone that questions politically charged (and well funded) issues such as environmentalism or evolution, are treated as heretics.

Science simply can't deal with questions such as "why." The operation and physics of a semiconductor diode has nothing to do with questions of faith, love, or hate. When scientists bring religion and politics into the science lab they undermine science in general. When a fundamentalist attempts to discredit science to support their declared dogma, they often discredit the whole faith and all believers in general. To quote Father Alexander (Eastern Orthodox),

Views and opinions of radical creationists can not be accepted because they use scientific data in an arbitrary and non-objective way, by which they produce fair objections from those who are professionally involved in science. There is a real danger here that a biologist, having read some arrogant creationist book, will apply the word "rubbish" to Christianity in general.

Religious fundamentalists create more atheists than evolution does. Also see How Alarmists undermine Science and Theology

In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis speculated on the origins of human beings:

"For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumb could be applied to each of the fingers, and jaws and teeth and throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all the material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated.

The creature may have existed for ages in this state before it became man: it may even have been clever enough to make things which a modern archaeologist would accept as proof of its humanity. But it was only an animal because all physical and psychical processes were directed to purely material and natural ends.

Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say 'I' and 'me,' which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty, and goodness, and which was so far above time that it could perceive time flowing past.

This new consciousness ruled and illuminated the whole organism, flooding every part of it with light, and was not, like ours, limited to a selection of the movements going on in one part of the organism, namely the brain. Man was then all consciousness."

This original "Paradisal man" is not detectable by the natural fossil record, because "judged by his artefacts, or perhaps even by his language, this blessed creature was, no doubt, a savage." This original specific nature was lost when man fell though some act of pride. "Thus human spirit from being the master of human nature became a mere lodger in its own house, or even a prisoner, rational consciousness, became what it now is--a fitful spot-light resting on a small part of the cerebral motions."

To quote Larry Arnhart,

In his book The Language of God, Francis Collins--the head of the Human Genome Project--indicates that reading C. S. Lewis was a crucial point in his journey from atheism to Christianity. He decided that science and Christian faith were compatible. In the section of his book explaining why he accepts theistic evolution, he quotes the same passage I just quoted from Lewis about divinely guided evolution. Collins defends theistic evolution--or "BioLogos" as he calls it--as superior to the alternatives--atheism, creationism, and intelligent design.


Religious views

Collins has described his parents as "only nominally Christian" and by graduate school he considered himself an atheist. However, dealing with dying patients led him to question his religious views, and he investigated various faiths. He became an evangelical Christian after observing the faith of his critically ill patients and reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

In his 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Collins considers scientific discoveries an "opportunity to worship." In his book Collins examines and subsequently rejects creationism and Intelligent Design. His own belief system is Theistic Evolution which he prefers to term BioLogos.

In an interview with National Geographic published in February 2007, interviewer John Horgan, an agnostic journalist, criticized Collins' description of agnosticism as "a cop-out". In response, Collins clarified his position on agnosticism so as not to include "earnest agnostics who have considered the evidence and still don't find an answer. I was reacting to the agnosticism I see in the scientific community, which has not been arrived at by a careful examination of the evidence. I went through a phase when I was a casual agnostic, and I am perhaps too quick to assume that others have no more depth than I did."

During a debate with Richard Dawkins, Collins stated that God is the object of the unanswered questions about the universe that science does not ask, and that God himself does not need an explanation since he is beyond the universe. Dawkins called this "the mother and father of all cop-outs" and "an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain", to which Collins responded "I do object to the assumption that anything that might be outside of nature is ruled out of the conversation. That's an impoverished view of the kinds of questions we humans can ask, such as "Why am I here?", "What happens after we die?"

In reviewing The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine by Alister McGrath, Collins says "Addressing the conclusions of The God Delusion point by point with the devastating insight of a molecular biologist turned theologian, Alister McGrath dismantles the argument that science should lead to atheism, and demonstrates instead that Dawkins has abandoned his much-cherished rationality to embrace an embittered manifesto of dogmatic atheist fundamentalism."

Dr. Collins remains firm in his rejection of Intelligent Design, and for this reason was not asked to participate in the 2008 documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which tries, among other things, to draw a direct link between evolution and atheism. Walt Ruloff, a producer for the film, claimed that Dr. Collins was "toeing the party line" by rejecting Intelligent Design, which Collins called "just ludicrous."


The following are based on a classical deist viewpoint - we are here to learn not just mindless attacks.