It’s extremely painful working my way through C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: I still can get through 20 pages at most before I have to stop in disgust. Fortunately, I have only about 100 pages to go, and the pages are small. My revulsion may be due to having been crammed to the maw with theology when I wrote my last book.
Up to now in Mere Christianity, Lewis has said nothing about evolution, though the video below says there’s a small bit later on. Still, I wondered what a man as smart as Lewis would make of the theory of evolution, and the video below, “suggested” by YouTube, answers the question. Sadly, his views on evolution are even worse than his views on Christianity. Though Lewis died in 1963, when we already had tons of evidence for evolution, Lewis was a doubter, apparently holding the following views:
- He had no objection in principle to common ancestry, but was skeptical about it—exactly the view that Michael Behe holds.
- He was especially skeptical about human evolution, not seeing how natural selection could create the reasoning human mind.
- He saw materialistic natural selection, the “unguided version,” as incapable of creating novelty; it could “knock out existing functions” but not create new ones. This of course is a stock argument of creationists.
- Insofar as natural selection were creative, God would have to be guiding it. Thus, the form of “natural” selection accepted by Lewis was really “unnatural” because it was guided by God. In other words, Lewis was in part, a theistic evolutionist, and in part a creationist.
- In his book Miracles, Lewis claimed that human reason could not have been produced by materialistic natural selection, for if selection is a “blind” process, how can we regard reason as giving us the ability to uncover the truth? This is very similar to the arguments of Sophisticated Theologians™ like Alvin Plantinga, and is a specious argument. I explained why in Faith Versus Fact.
- Lewis also claimed that if humans evolved in a Darwinian way, we would have no reason to prefer morality over immorality, as there would be “no such thing as right or wrong.” Real atheists would have to admit that, he said.
- As Lewis got older (and as the study of evolution advanced), he became even less accepting of evolution, proclaiming that the dogmatism of evolutionary biologists convinced him that evolution was the “central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives.” It’s almost as if he thought evolution was a tool of Satan (in whom Lewis believed).
- Finally, Lewis was an anti-accommodationist, critical of those who tried to reconcile evolution with theism. That’s the only thing he got right!
At the end of the video, the narrator praises Lewis for his expansive view of science, saying that science should not rule some questions as off-limits, as evolution supposedly does. The narrator says that evolutionists adhere dogmatically to the idea that most of our DNA is useless junk, and thus can’t accept that most of it is function, as God would of course have intended. Sadly, the narrator is wrong. It’s unfortunate for him and for god that most of our DNA does appear to be junk, and this video was made before a reanalysis of the ENCODE data showed that.
The narrator also disses vestigial organs, saying that we’ve discovered functions for some of them and hence they can’t be used to support evolution. But as I’ve said repeatedly, vestigial organs can still have some function while also serving as evidence for common ancestry (the flippers of penguins are one example). And there are simply some organs that are almost beyond having a conceivable function, such as the muscles that enable some humans to wiggle their ears (remnants of muscles used adaptively by our ancestors), as well as “dead genes” that have been rendered totally nonfunctional by mutations. What would Lewis say about the human genes for egg-yolk proteins that are broken–and produce no product at all yet are very similar in sequence to functional yolk-protein genes in reptiles and birds?
Have a listen below. I wonder if we can really call Lewis a “smart man” given not only his dim view of evolution but his deeply flawed theology.