One of the important and counterintuitive insights that C.S. Lewis offered was his observation that far from encouraging skepticism, the mention of "science" can call forth a perilous gullibility, not least from educated, intelligent people who should know better. Healthy skepticism is a cornerstone of the scientific process. Knowledge is advanced and new discoveries are made by challenging scientific results and testing alternative hypotheses. Lewis recognized, though, that science can also promote an uncritical acceptance of views that are said to be backed by science or wrapped in science-y language. In Lewis's time, most scientists supported eugenics, or the belief that the gene pool of humans should be improved, and they argued that their views were supported by science. These views led to policies such as forced sterilization of those deemed to be of less worth, such as criminals and the handicapped. These policies were not only popular in authoritarian regimes like Nazi Germany, but in democracies such as the United States and England. Anyone who opposed what the vast majority of scientists were saying must be "anti-science," it was argued. So what has changed since then? Are we supposed to believe that just a century ago, elite opinion in science and in the culture at large was so terribly fallible and vulnerable to being misled by prejudice -- yet today, it cannot err?
As shown in our recent documentary C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism, C.S. Lewis compared science to magic in three ways: (1) Science as Religion, (2) Science as Credulity, and (3) Science as Power. In the film, Discovery Institute's Dr. John West explains that for many people, science (or better, scientism) serves as a quasi-religion. It gives their lives meaning. Evolution in particular provides an overarching, cosmic vision that many find satisfying: a view of something larger than their experience: the birth and ultimate fate of the universe, with mankind struggling against natural odds in its rise to dominance. To further illustrate, here are a few recent cases from science news of evolutionary thinking serving in the role of religious faith.
More than a half century ago, famed writer C.S. Lewis warned about how science (a good thing) could be twisted in order to attack religion, undermine ethics, and limit human freedom. Lewis wrote: “I dread government in the name of science. That is how tyrannies come in.”
This is the second video in the series, […]
More than a half century ago, famed writer C.S. Lewis warned about how science (a good thing) could be twisted in order to attack religion, undermine ethics, and limit human freedom. In this documentary “The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism,” leading scholars explore Lewis’s prophetic warnings about the abuse of […]