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The Magician's Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society Paperback – Sep 30 2012
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About the Author
John G. West is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. He is co-editor of the award-winning C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia and author of The Politics of Revelation and Reason and Darwin Day in America. He has been interviewed by Time, Newsweek, USA Today, and The New York Times. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Claremont Graduate University and formerly was the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
These essays help us understand both Lewis' thinking and the dangers inherent in a morally unleashed technology.
Dr. West, co-editor of the C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia and author of The Politics of Revelation and Reason and other books, has edited a valuable set of perspectives on Lewis and scientism--the easy if totalist creed so deeply ingrained in the Western mind since Darwin that--to paraphrase a famous Italian totalitarian--all is within science and nothing is outside it.
West illuminates Lewis's perception that a kind of hubris had developed in the early 20th century, especially after Darwin's evolutionary theory had successfully spawned the substitute creation story that nature arose from lifeless matter, evolving by its own laws of selection and chance over measureless eons from an initial unicellular bacterium all the way to the teeming brain of man. In the powerful, later discredited, eugenics movement of his time and in popular books like those of H.G. Wells, Lewis found that a sort of "serious magical endeavor" had emerged as a twin of serious science. He saw in such science, "the magician's twin", in which science had become a religion to itself, credulously accepting of every kind of materialist explanation, no matter how lacking in factual support, and ominously susceptible to the siren song of power--the power to control, even redefine, man for his own good. Worshipful "Darwin Days," the notorious Piltdown Man fossil forgery and, more currently, British biologist/crusader for atheism Richard Dawkins's push to punish parents who raise their children in religious belief--are examples of what Lewis was talking about.
The amazing range of Lewis's expository and fiction writings is well brought out by contributors' essays examining the deep-seated challenge and influence of a deified science claiming ownership of all fields of knowledge and ways of knowing in which moral reasoning, human dignity, and religious faith were reduced to materialistic or naturalistic explanation.
Darwin is also in the dock in this volume's exegesis of Lewis's many skeptical and disavowing judgments on the subject of evolution, soon to fall under the powerful challenge of the DNA revolution and subsequent rise of intelligent design as a molecular-biology based refutation of the plausibility of the natural selection-random mutation nexus. Lewis, for example, noted the utterly self-defeating logic of a multitude of accidental variations occurring simultaneously or in miraculous order to produce evolutionary change. By the end of his life, he had come to view evolution as "the central and radical lie in the whole web of [materialist] falsehood that now governs our lives."
West and his co-essayists--professors in law, history, theology, communication and education--clarify the science-scientism distinction, pointing to the science-engendering supposition of Christian philosophy that the world was rational and could be comprehended by the inquiring human mind, and that science was but a subset of reason, as it is indeed a subset of history too. M.D. Aeschliman, a professor of education at Boston University, lays bare in this volume the intellectual origins of what he calls the truly "satanic" developments of our dehumanized epoch, all of which, he notes, emanated out from the very center of our civilization--France, Germany, Italy, England. The morally eroded world that Lewis saw so deeply into--the world that Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud made--is our own monstrous, faithless creation. Scientistic ideas--science without conscience--had lethal consequences in Auschwitz, the Gulag Archipelago, and Pol Pot's Paris-imbibed Communism. The insights of this book will be rewarding to both new and old students of this prescient truth seer and teller who stood athwart the secularizing materialist and relativist tide of the riven and violent 20th century.