Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Creation (part 2) - Science & Nature

Today I want to focus on the aspects of SCIENCE AND NATURE as it deals with Creation: 

The theory of evolution was largely in the public’s eye at the time of C.S. Lewis’s writings.  If it is necessary to give a title, he could be described as a “theistic evolutionist,” which “left open the possibility for Lewis of accepting certain aspects of evolution into his theology.”[1]  Yet, rather than focus on these hot-button issues, Lewis chose to focus his studies and stories on more important religious questions in order to probe the reader to thought.  

Whether the biological theory of evolution is right or wrong was irrelevant to Lewis.  If it were found to be wrong or right, either way, it would have had no effect on Lewis’s Christianity.[2]  

Proving evolution correct or incorrect was not his goal, which is a strong testament to the character of Lewis.  Often people become so invested in a particular topic that they are unable to release the hold until a strong argument has been made.  Lewis took a different approach understanding “the Genesis account to be inspired”[3] and more in the form of a folk tale than historical fact.  He had no problem “accepting the idea that humanity is in the process of evolution, though he would prefer to say that humanity is in the process of being created.”[4]  This statement implies that Lewis assumed there was a Creator who is continually involved in the process of humanity.
Lewis was also accepting of the fact that it is possible, “and in no conflict with the Bible, that God raised one of the primates eventually to become human.”  While this may shock many of his followers, his argument was reached through Genesis 2:7 which states: “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (NIV).  It is clear that man is made from something else.  

Lewis took this notion a step further, however, and explained that the reason it did not shake his faith was because man is “called to be or raised to be something more than an animal.”[5]  This exemplifies that Lewis had no difficulties with the biology of evolution.  He merely understood that there was a reason for such evolution and that men were not meant to be part of the animal kingdom.  He believed the theological implications far outweighed the scientific suggestions in regards to evolution. 

Though there are a number of stances that can be indicated through his writings, C.S. Lewis never expressed a definite stance one way or the other.  He had “no quarrel with true science,” just a “number of reservations.”[6]  He believed it was quite possible for evolution to occur and could even back it up scripturally, but never allowed the science to overtake his belief system.  He believed “we must be cautious of building our case for Creation on any current scientific theory, for those theories change as quickly as the shifting sands.”[7]  Even though we rely on scientists to give us the correct information, much of that can be tainted.  It is the intentions behind such information that should be investigated. 

We see this enacted through Lewis’s portrayal of magicians (like Uncle Andrew) as scientists who always focus on their own outcome, and the Creator (like Aslan) who always keeps his subjects in mind when creating.  Lewis understood that “everything God has made has some likeness to Himself”[8] and therefore should not be exploited.  All beings are subject to Him and to one another and anything in contradiction to that is in conflict with the Creator.

The contradiction of Nature is unveiled through the depiction of Science, which is often linked with Reason.  In Narnia, he depicts those who attempt to manipulate nature as evil.  Jadis and Uncle Andrew, for example, are so consumed with power that they have no regard for the creation they are trying to control.  But it is important to question, “In what sense is Man the possessor of increasing power over Nature?[9]  Might there be a limit to this power?  After all, Lewis wrote in Abolition of Man how “the stars lost their divinity as astronomy developed” and when an object is treated as “an artificial abstraction…something of its reality has been lost.”[10]  

This attempt at control over nature is an ultimate loss of the essence of nature.  Uncle Andrew could not even see the significance of talking animals because he did not appreciate the oddities that come along with nature.  He wanted to control everything according to his own knowledge.  Lewis stated that “Reason can invade Nature to take prisoners”[11] which is displayed in the creation of the villains’ pursuit in the stories of Narnia.

[1] Will Vaus, Mere Theology: a Guide to the Thought of C.s. Lewis (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2004), 62.
[2] Ibid, 69.
[3] Ibid, 62.
[4] Ibid, 68-9.
[5] Ibid, 66.
[6] Ibid, 67.
[7] Ibid, 67.
[8] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1st Touchstone Ed ed. (New York, NY: Touchstone Books, 1996), 139.
[9] C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man: or Reflections On Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools, 1st Touchstone Ed. (New York: Touchstone Books, 1996), 66.
[10] Ibid, 79.
[11] C. S. Lewis, Miracles: a Preliminary Study, 1st Touchstone Ed ed. (New York, New York: Touchstone Books, 1996), 37.

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