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Was C. S. Lewis right about “scientism”? Or was he missing something critical?

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Scientism is the belief that science can answer all questions, thus replacing philosophy and deciding moral values. It starts with the presupposition that our thoughts are simply the evolved secretions of our brain, with no actual meaning or significance. Here’s a reasonable summary of Lewis’s insight into the philosophical problem scientism creates:

Lewis knew that science was one of the great products of the human mind, but he insisted that it was a subset of reason and not simply equivalent to it. Scientific reason, if accurate, was valid, but it as not the only valid kind of reasoning: Noncontradiction, validity, truth, value, meaning, purpose, and obligation were necessary presuppositions of the scientific method but not themselves scientific phenomena, Lewis thought that in Alfred North Whitehead’s words, scientists who were “animated by the purpose of proving thst they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.” … He believed in E. A. Burtt’s old adage that “The only way to avoid metaphysics is th say nothing,” because in some important sense language and thought themselves are non-natural, supernatural, transcendent, and metaphysical. “In orther to think,” he wrote in 1942, “we must claim for our reasoning a validity which is not credible if our ow thought is merely a function of our brain, and our brains a by-product of irrational physical processes.” – M. D. Aeschliman, “C. S. Lewis on Mere Science,” The Magician’s Twin, pp. 48–49.

Well put, to be sure. But Lewis is thinking like a philosopher. So, surely, is Aeschliman. The follower of scientism, the naturalist, does not think that way. Indeed, many such persons—Stephen Hawking, for example—have allowed us to know how much they despise traditional philosophy in general.

Their approach is so simple that it is often misunderstood, as it was by Lewis. Scientism (whose creation story is Darwinism) functions as a Last Truth. Of course it destroys all other truths, but it is the only truth you will ever need anyway.

It’s meaningless to talk about whether the evidence supports it or not. Such evidence is an illusion that dissenters concoct in order to evade the Last Truth. Suppression of dissenters, about which much has been written and filmed, is fully justified in supporters’ view.

Their dissent impedes progress toward the millennium in which scientism will rule a population purged of such illusions as the belief that they are something more than evolved animals or that there are any values “out there.”

So, when dealing with scientism and Darwinism, it is useless to argue that the supporters’ own points of view must then necessarily be illusions too. They know that. Pressed, they will admit it.

But if all goes as they wish, their illusions will have the force of law and yours won’t. Yours may get classified vaguely as “hate crime” and persecuted. That is an unavoidable implication of their beliefs and assumptions. It becomes more obvious all the time, along with the growth of lobbies and interest groups aimed at concealing the fact, especially among evangelical Christians, who are currently a battleground.

See also: Science demonstrates atheism but …

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4 Replies to “Was C. S. Lewis right about “scientism”? Or was he missing something critical?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Evaluation of Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer, Part 2 – July 25, 2013 by Melissa Cain Travis
    http://sciencereasonfaith.com/.....er-part-2/

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Scientism – Ian Hutchinson, professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, shares his perspective at The Veritas Forum at Wesleyan University – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_yvKb98r8c

  3. 3
    bevets says:

    Every science claims to be a series of inferences from observed facts. It is only by such inferences that you can reach your nebulae and protoplasm and dinosaurs and sub-men and cave-men at all. Unless you start by believing that reality in the remotest space and the remotest time rigidly obeys the laws of logic, you can have no ground for believing in any astronomy, any biology, any palaeontology, any archaeology. To reach the positions held by the real scientists — which are then taken over by the Myth — you must, in fact, treat reason as an absolute. But at the same time the Myth asks me to believe that reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of a mindless process at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. The content of the Myth thus knocks from under me the only ground on which I could possibly believe the Myth to be true. If my own mind is a product of the irrational — if what seem my clearest reasonings are only the way in which a creature conditioned as I am is bound to feel — how shall I trust my mind when it tells me about Evolution? They say in effect: ‘I will prove that what you call a proof is only the result of mental habits which result from heredity which results from bio-chemistry which results from physics.’ But this is the same as saying: ‘I will prove that proofs are irrational’: more succinctly, ‘I will prove that there are no proofs’: The fact that some people of scientific education cannot by any effort be taught to see the difficulty, confirms one’s suspicion that we here touch a radical disease in their whole style of thought. But the man who does see it, is compelled to reject as mythical the cosmology in which most of us were brought up. ~ Christian Reflections (1967) p.89

  4. 4

    Denyse,
    What you are talking about is “Post-Modernism”, which was anticipated by Nietzsche. I don’t know whether Lewis saw the Modernist century descending into PoMo, though he certainly saw the dangers of Modernism. My wife read Lewis’ “That Hideous Strength” and shivered at the real-life parallels to the academy that had rejected me and my course on “religion and science”. She shivered because their rejection did not come from rational grounds but from irrational, much as Lewis’ fictional institute was run by demons. So perhaps Lewis did foresee the evolution of Scientism. He certainly could foresee my career path some 60 years beforehand.

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