A new biopic, The Most Reluctant Convert, is coming out November 3 on the great 20th-century Christian apologist C.S. Lewis (1898–1963) and John West offers a look at Lewis’s doubts about Darwinism. Lewis is often portayed as “accepting evolution.” But in these matters, read the fine print:
Lewis did affirm that “with Darwinianism as a theorem in Biology I do not think a Christian need have any quarrel.” But for Lewis “Darwinianism as a theorem in Biology” was a pretty modest affair. Contradicting leading evolutionists, Lewis thought the “purely biological theorem… makes no cosmic statements, no metaphysical statements, no eschatological statements.”
Nor can Darwinism as a scientific theory explain many of the most important aspects of biology itself: “It does not in itself explain the origin of organic life, nor of the variations, nor does it discuss the origin and validity of reason.”
So what can the Darwinian mechanism explain according to Lewis?
“Granted that we now have minds we can trust, granted that organic life came to exist, it tries to explain, say, how a species that once had wings came to lose them. It explains this by the negative effect of environment operating on small variations.” In other words, according to Lewis, Darwin’s theory explains how a species can change over time by losing functional features it already has.
Suffice to say, this is not the key thing the modern biological theory of evolution purports to explain.
Noticeably absent from Lewis’s description is any confidence that Darwin’s unguided mechanism can account for the formation of fundamentally new forms and features in biology. Natural selection can knock out a wing, but can it build a wing in the first place? Lewis didn’t seem to think so.
A further indication of just how skeptical Lewis was about the creative power of natural selection appears in a talk he delivered to the Oxford University Socratic Society in 1944. There Lewis stated that “the Bergsonian critique of orthodox Darwinism is not easy to answer.” Lewis was referring to Henri Bergson (1859-1941), a French natural philosopher and Nobel laureate who offered a decidedly non-Darwinian account of evolution in his book L’Evolution Creatice (Creative Evolution).John G. West, “Why C. S. Lewis Doubted the Creative Power of Natural Selection” at Evolution News and Science Today (October 25, 2021)
It goes on and gets better. Any sort of evolution Lewis believed in would be banned in U.S. schools. Not mindless or materialist enough.