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C. S. Lewis on Creation and Evolution: The Acworth Letters, 1944-1960
The American Scientific Affiliation Science in Christian Perspective - PSCF 48 (March 1996): 28-33. ^ | March 1996 | Gary B. Ferngren and Ronald L. Numbers

Posted on 06/28/2006 8:06:10 AM PDT by Matchett-PI

C. S. Lewis on Creation and Evolution: The Acworth Letters, 1944-1960
Gary B. Ferngren Department of History Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 97331
Ronald L. Numbers Department of the History of Medicine University of Wisconsin 1300 University Avenue Madison, WI 53706-1532

From: PSCF 48 (March 1996): 28-33.

In his voluminous publications, C.S. Lewis infrequently addressed the subject of creation and evolution, and on such occasions he usually endorsed some version of theistic evolution. In a series of previously unpublished letters to his friend Captain Bernard Acworth, written between 1944 and 1960, Lewis explained at some length his views on the question of origins.These letters reveal that during the last years of his life Lewis grew increasingly uncomfortable with the claims being made for organic evolution. Here we present for the first time in their entirety the passages of Lewis's letters to Acworth that deal with creation and evolution; we also describe the historical context in which they were written.1 Unfortunately, Acworth's letters to Lewis seem not to have survived; at least they are not among the Lewis papers in the Marion E. Wade Collection at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Exactly when Bernard Acworth (1885-1963) and C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) first met­or began corresponding­is unknown. It is clear, however, from the earliest of Lewis's ten surviving letters to Acworth that this was not the first contact between the two men. Lewis closed with a cordial invitation "to spend a night with me next term," and Acworth's son, Richard, recalls that his father sometimes stayed overnight with Lewis and his brother when visiting Oxford.

In the mid-1940s Lewis, a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, was already a famous medievalist, novelist, and Christian apologist. Acworth, too, was well known, especially in military and political circles. The son and grandson of Anglican clergymen, he had trained at the Royal Naval College before embarking on an illustrious career as a submariner, winning the D.S.O. during World War I and later becoming a pioneer advocate of sonar. Following his retirement from the Royal Navy about 1930, he became a freelance journalist, serving as naval correspondent for such newspapers as The (London) Morning Post and The Yorkshire Post. A staunch opponent of socialism, air power, and imported oil, he twice stood unsuccessfully for Parliament, in 1931 and again in 1942. His outspoken opposition to the policies of Winston Churchill during World War II and his calls for peace with Japan prompted the prime minister to urge electors to vote against Acworth and moved the London Daily Mirror to demand his arrest. The resulting notoriety severely damaged Acworth's reputation in the publishing world and led to what he called a "literary boycott" of his work. About the same time he became increasingly interested in evangelical Christianity and for a brief period toyed with the idea of becoming a lay reader in the Church of England.2

In 1929 Acworth published the first of over a dozen books, entitled This Bondage, an eccentric critique of evolution, relativity theory, and air power provoked in part by the military's growing infatuation with airplanes. Convinced that biologists derived one of their most conclusive proofs for the truth of organic evolution from the "mysterious and wonderful" migratory habits of birds, he sought to demonstrate that "the scientific treatment of birds in flight"­especially their alleged insensitivity to the wind­argued against the theory of evolution.3 Although largely ignored by the scientific community, the book attracted the attention of Douglas Dewar (1875-1957), barrister and amateur ornithologist, who himself was beginning to doubt the validity of organic evolution. Dewar invited Acworth to lecture at the Victoria Institute, a religiously conservative organization that had long served as a haven for the dwindling remnant of British creationists. There Acworth met other like-minded men, including the distinguished electrical engineer Sir Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945), then president of the institute. 4

In the mid-1930s Acworth, Dewar, and Fleming launched the Evolution Protest Movement, dedicated to opposing the teaching of organic evolution as a scientific fact. By this time Acworth had become convinced that evolution was not only false but responsible for "the present bankruptcy of civilisation." In a book entitled This Progress: The Tragedy of Evolution (1934), he denounced evolution as a child of Satan. "The goal of evolution," he declared, "through psycho-analysis, is moral degradation; through organised mass birth-control, and sterilisation, extinction; and through its social creed of communism, revolution." He concluded with a call to overthrow evolution so that he could see "England prosperous, England merry and England free."5

Acworth's conviction of the incompatibility of evolution and Christianity no doubt prompted him to press Lewis for his views­and to attempt to recruit his pen and prestige in the protest against evolution. Lewis's replies show that although he at first rebuffed Acworth's overtures to endorse creationism, he was by 1951 inclined to agree with Acworth in regarding evolution "as the central and radical lie" governing modern civilization. However, he still remained unwilling to lend his name publicly to the antievolution crusade. The following excerpts from Lewis's surviving letters to Acworth (which include everything in the correspondence relating to science and religion) chronicle Lewis's views.

September 23, 1944: "Do I agree that the theory of evolution, its truth or falsehood, is of fundamental importance to the Xtian faith?" This question can have several senses, in some of which the answer yes wd. most seriously misrepresent my position. I believe that Man has fallen from the state of innocence in which he was created: I therefore disbelieve in any theory wh. contradicts this. It is not yet obvious to me that all theories of evolution do contradict it. When they do not, it is not my business to pronounce on their truth or falsehood. My "message" on any biological theorem wh. does not contradict (or wh. I, with my imperfect process of reasoning, do not perceive to contradict) the Creed, is not "equivocal" but non-existent: just as my message about the curvature of space is not equivocal but non-existent. Just as my belief in my own immortal & rational soul does not oblige or qualify me to hold a particular theory of the pre-natal history of my embryo, so my belief that Men in general have immortal & rational souls does not oblige or qualify me to hold a theory of their pre-human organic history­if they have one.

December 9, 1944: Thanks for your interesting letter of the 8th:­I can't have made my position clear. I am not either attacking or defending Evolution. I believe that Christianity can still be believed, even if Evolution is true. This is where you and I differ. Thinking as I do, I can't help regarding your advice (that I henceforth include arguments against Evolution in all my Christian apologetics) as a temptation to fight the battle on what is really a false issue: and also on terrain very unsuitable for the only weapon I have. Atheism is as old as Epicurus, and very few polytheists regard their gods as creative.

There is no evidence that Lewis ever read the Genesis account of creation literally.

June 14, 1950: Thanks very much for the booklet. I don't see how at my age, I can start making myself a good enough Biologist to reply to the Darwinians.

September 13, 1951: I have read nearly the whole of Evolution [probably Acworth's unpublished "The Lie of Evolution"] and am glad you sent it. I must confess it has shaken me: not in my belief in evolution, which was of the vaguest and most intermittent kind, but in my belief that the question was wholly unimportant. I wish I were younger. What inclines me now to think that you may be right in regarding it as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders. The section on Anthropology was especially good. ... The point that the whole economy of nature demands simultaneity of at least a v. great many species is a v. sticky one. Thanks: and blessings.

October 4, 1951: No, I'm afraid. I shd. lose much and you wd. gain almost nothing by my writing you a preface. No one who is in doubt about your views of Darwin wd. be impressed by testimony from me, who am known to be no scientist. Many who have been or are being moved towards Christianity by my books wd. be deterred by finding that I was connected with anti-Darwinism. I hope (but who knows himself!) that I wd. not allow myself to be influenced by this consideration if it were only my personal concerns as an author that were endangered. But the cause I stand for wd. be endangered too. When a man has become a popular Apologist he must watch his step. Everyone is on the look out for things that might discredit him. Sorry.

December 16, 1953: Many thanks for your cheering card...I can't help sharing a sort of glee with you about the explosion of poor old Piltdown [the fossil remains of an alleged human ancestor exposed as a hoax earlier in the year]: but I hope no one on the other side will rush in and try to exploit it. We might lay ourselves open to v. easy replies: (1) That the scientists have not yet been convicted of so many frauds as the Christians­forged decretals, faked miracles, and all! (2) That they themselves have discovered their own frauds & published them. But of course one inevitably feels what fun it wd. be if this were only the beginning of a landslide. I've never read [Charles] Lyell: should I?

September 18, 1959: I am most interested to hear of your young biologist [unidentified]; and his experience impresses me again with the suspicious disingenuousness of orthodox biologists.

March 5, 1960: Did you know that your theory of a catastrophic shift in the angle between our axis and the ecliptic [which Acworth invoked to account for the Noachian deluge and the sudden change of climate that froze the Siberian mammouths] is closely paralleled in [John] Milton's P[aradise] Lost Bk. X­or possibly IX. This in his view is one of the ways in which the change of conditions after the Fall cd. have been produced. Have you read this book by the Jesuit [Pierre Teilhard] de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man) wh. is being praised to the skies? This is evolution run mad. He saves "continuity" by saying that before there was life there was in matter what he calls "pre-life." Can you see any possible use in such language? Before you switched on the light in the cellar there was (if you like to call it so) "pre-light;" but the English for that is "darkness." Then he goes on to the future and seems to me to be repeating [Henri] Bergson (without the eloquence) and [George Bernard] Shaw (without the wit). It ends up of course in something uncomfortably like Pantheism: his own Jesuits were quite right in forbidding him to publish any more books on the subject. This prohibition probably explains the succès fou he is having among our scientists­on the same principle whereby [Boris] Pasternak's (really, v. second rate) novel owes its [illegible] fame to the condemnation of the Russian government.

These letters to Acworth shed welcome light on Lewis's personal views regarding evolution. They complement the evidence from his published works and reveal to some extent the development of those views.

There is no evidence that Lewis ever read the Genesis account of creation literally. Repeatedly and publicly he described it as a folk tale or myth. In The Problem of Pain, published in 1940, four years before his first surviving letter to Acworth, Lewis constructed his own "myth" of human origins, which he described as "an account of what may have been the historical fact." Professing no objection to the notion that "man is physically descended from animals," he suggested that over time God "perfected the animal form" that was to become the first man by endowing it with human consciousness. The resulting "Paradisal man" engaged in full and unbroken communion with God while remaining, by our standards, a savage. Although he was as yet untainted by sin, his technology remained primitive. In joining an evolutionary picture of human biological development to the biblical account of the Fall, Lewis wished to demonstrate that the two views are not (as they seem to be) mutually exclusive. For him, technological backwardness implied nothing about intelligence or virtue, both of which might have been highly developed in prehistoric humans. When early man fell into sin (under circumstances Lewis does not describe), his spirit began to lose the control it had previously held over his body:

The total organism which had been taken up into his spiritual life was allowed to fall back into the merely natural condition from which, at his making, it had been raised­just as, far earlier in the story of creation, God had raised vegetable life to become the vehicle of animality, and chemical process to be the vehicle of vegetation, and physical process to be the vehicle of chemical.6

Lewis's acceptance of divinely guided human evolution prompted him to modify not only the Genesis account of creation but also the traditional Christian understanding of the Fall.

Lewis's acceptance of divinely guided human evolution prompted him to modify not only the Genesis account of creation but also the traditional Christian understanding of the Fall. The existence of pain in the animal kingdom especially troubled Lewis, who devoted an entire chapter to the subject in The Problem of Pain. Theologians, he noted, had previously attributed the origin of animal suffering to the Fall of man. But the scientific evidence that carnivorousness was "older than humanity" had led Lewis to conclude that evil had manifested itself long before Adam in the law of tooth and claw. To account for this fact, he postulated a hypothetical pre-Adamic fall, in which Satan corrupted the world and caused animals to live by preying on one another.7

Lewis may have accepted a theistic version of organic evolution, but he resisted attempts to draw broad philosophical implications from scientific theories. This reticence is suggested most notably in his posthumously published essay on evolutionism, "The Funeral of a Great Myth," probably written in the 1940s. In this piece he distinguished between "the doctrine of Evolution as held by practising biologists," which he deemed to be "a genuine scientific hypothesis," and the speculative versions of evolution that preceded Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. Scientific evolution, he argued, is a purely biological theorem. It takes over organic life on this planet as a going concern and tries to explain certain changes within that field. It makes no cosmic statements, no metaphysical statements, no eschatological statements.

By contrast, popular evolutionism often claimed to account for the origin and development of both the universe and terrestrial life from an initial state of chaos to a future of almost infinite possibilities. According to the popularizers, Reason has "evolved" out of instinct, virtue out of complexes, poetry out of erotic howls and grunts, civilization out of savagery, the organic out of inorganic, the solar system out of some sidereal soup or traffic block. And conversely, reason, virtue, art and civilization as we now know them are only the crude or embryonic beginnings of far better things­perhaps Deity itself­in the remote future.

Lewis especially objected to the idea that human reason and an ordered universe could have arisen from the inorganic and irrational.8

The above statements on evolution, which date from the 1940s, suggest that Lewis accepted evolution while rejecting evolutionism. None of his published writings show a basic antipathy to science, although Lewis came to believe that all scientific theories are tentative and as dependent on changing presuppositions and climates of opinion as on new empirical data. Writing in the late 1940s, Chad Walsh, an acquaintance of Lewis's, described him as not anti-scientific in a Fundamentalist sense. He is not troubled by the "conflict between science and religion" for the reason that his theology does not conflict with anything that science has so far discovered or is ever likely to discover. One cannot imagine him voting to prohibit the teaching of evolution in the schools of Britain.9

Lewis's early letters to Acworth, which deny that biological evolution is incompatible with Christianity, lend compelling support to this irenic portrait of the Christian apologist.

The later Acworth letters, however, indicate that during the 1950s Lewis became increasingly critical of evolutionism and what he called "the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders."

The later Acworth letters, however, indicate that during the 1950s Lewis became increasingly critical of evolutionism and what he called "the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders." He had much earlier come to feel that evolution was often held for dogmatic rather than for scientific reasons. Thus in "The Funeral of a Great Myth" he quoted D.M.S. Watson's assertion that evolution "is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or... can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible."10 Lewis's later writings reveal his belief that evolutionism had become a theological creed, a view that found humorous expression in his poem "Evolutionary Hymn," which concludes with the following verse:

On then! Value means survival-

Value. If our progeny

Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,

That will prove its deity

(Far from pleasant, by our present

Standards, though it well may be).11

Evolution was a creed so pervasive and so deeply held that even to appear to question it was to invite attack. For example, in a vitriolic article the Marxist geneticist J.B.S. Haldane accused Lewis of getting his science wrong and of traducing scientists in his works of science fiction.12 It is probably because evolution formed the basis of theories of philosophical naturalism like Haldane's, which had become the dominant secular world view, that Lewis agreed with Acworth in regarding it "as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives."

To what extent Lewis came in his later years to reject his earlier belief in theistic evolution is more difficult to ascertain. His Oxford colleague Dame Helen Gardner recalled a conversation with Lewis over dinner in which she suggested that Adam was probably a "Neanderthal ape-like figure," to which Lewis coolly replied, "I see we have a Darwinian in our midst."13 Nothing in his published writings suggests, however, that he gave up his long-held view that biological evolution was compatible with Christianity. Nevertheless, Lewis seems to have been favorably impressed upon reading Acworth's unpublished attack on evolution. "I must confess," he wrote on September 13, 1951, "it has shaken me." Lewis's later correspondence with Acworth suggests that he had begun a gradual shift away from his earlier unquestioning acceptance of evolution, but had stopped short of adopting Acworth's antievolutionist stance.

A few years ago a prominent young-earth creationist lamented Lewis's attempt in the 1940s to reconcile evolution and Scripture. "I like to think," wrote David C.C. Watson, "that, had he lived another 20 years,... Lewis would have acknowledged his... error."14 It is doubtful that Lewis would have felt comfortable espousing the views of present-day creationists. He always carefully indicated that he opposed evolutionism as a philosophy, not evolution as a biological theory. At the same time his correspondence with Bernard Acworth suggests that he had come in his later years to entertain more doubts about the claims made for organic evolution than his published works indicate.

©1996

Notes:

1The original letters remain in the private possession of Captain Acworth's son, the Rev. Dr. Richard Acworth, who has graciously permitted us to quote from them and to deposit photocopies in the Marion E. Wade Collection at Wheaton College. Ronald L. Numbers has quoted a few sentences from these letters in The Creationists (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), p. 153. C.S. Lewis's Letters to Captain Bernard Acworth copyright ©1992, 1996 C.S. Lewis (Pte) Limited, reproduced by permission of Curtis Brown, London.

2This biographical sketch is based on A. G. T[ilney], "Origin of Evolution Protest Movement," Evolution Protest Movement Pamphlet No. 82 (1963); Ronald L. Numbers's interview with Richard Acworth, October 2, 1984; "Capt. Bernard Acworth," Who Was Who, 1961-1970 (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1972), pp. 4-5; and "Arrest This Man," (London) Daily Mirror, February 14, 1942.

3Bernard Acworth, This Bondage: A Study of the "Migration" of Birds, Insects and Aircraft, with Some Reflections on "Evolution" and Relativity (London: John Murray, 1929), pp. 1, 4.

4On Dewar, see Numbers, The Creationists, pp. 145-47.

5T[ilney], "Origin of Evolution Protest Movement"; Bernard Acworth, This Progress: The Tragedy of Evolution (London: Rich & Cowan, 1934), pp. 115, 333-34. E.P.M. publications date the founding of the society in 1932, but no extant evidence documents any activities before 1935.

6C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1940), pp. 70-71. On Genesis 1 as myth, see ibid., p. 59; on Genesis 1 as folk tale, see C.S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1947), p. 42.

7Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 121. For criticism of Lewis's theory of a pre-Adamic Fall, see Austin Farrer, "The Christian Apologist," in Light on C.S. Lewis, ed. Jocelyn Gibb (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1965), pp. 41-42; and C.E.M. Joad, "The Pains of Animals: A Problem in Theology," The Month 189 (1950): 95-104. Joad's essay, together with a reply by Lewis, is reprinted in C.S. Lewis, Undeceptions: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1971), pp. 128-37. In his reply to Joad (ibid., p. 135), Lewis elaborates briefly on Satan's influence on the animal kingdom.

8C.S. Lewis, "The Funeral of a Great Myth," in Christian Reflections, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967), pp. 82-93.

9Chad Walsh, C.S. Lewis: Apostle to the Skeptics (New York: Macmillan, 1949), p. 129. For Lewis's views on scientific models, see C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), pp. 221-22.

10Lewis, "The Funeral of a Great Myth," p. 85.

11The Cambridge Review 79 (November 30, 1957): 227; reprinted in C.S. Lewis, Poems, ed. Walter Hooper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1964), pp. 55-56.

12"Auld Hornie, F.R.S.," Modern Quarterly, n.s., 1 (Autumn, 1946): 32-40. Lewis composed a rejoinder, "A Reply to Professor Haldane," which he never completed. It appeared posthumously in C.S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, ed. Walter Hooper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1966), pp. 74-85.

13A.N. Wilson, C.S. Lewis: A Biography (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1990), pp. 209-10.

14David C.C. Watson, "C. S. Lewis and Evolution," Biblical Creation 7 (Spring, 1985): 9-10.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: creationism; crevo; crevolist; cslewis; evolution
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What were Galileo's scientific and biblical conflicts with the Church?

"..In many ways, the historic controversy of creation vs. evolution has been similar to Galileo's conflict, only with a reversal of roles..."

Quote: "Conflicts between Science and the Bible arise from either a lack of scientific knowledge or a defective understanding of the Bible." ~ Moses Maimonides

1 posted on 06/28/2006 8:06:13 AM PDT by Matchett-PI
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To: Matchett-PI
Great quote by Maimondes.

On these particular threads it is interesting those ostensibly pro-science (eg the religious evolutionite cult) have both lack of science and Biblical knowledge yet are arrogant and hubristic in their ignorance.

2 posted on 06/28/2006 8:26:38 AM PDT by tallhappy (Juntos Podemos!)
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To: Matchett-PI
What inclines me now to think that you may be right in regarding it as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders.

Bears repeating.
3 posted on 06/28/2006 8:31:11 AM PDT by JamesP81
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To: Matchett-PI

bump


4 posted on 06/28/2006 8:32:24 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Matchett-PI

Lewis was an evolutionist. Lewis was also a human creature, and fallible.


5 posted on 06/28/2006 8:32:51 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( is there a posting etiquette for text color and animation? real question.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

crevolist ping (about narnia's writer).


6 posted on 06/28/2006 8:33:50 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( is there a posting etiquette for text color and animation? real question.)
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To: silverleaf

CS Lewis ping


7 posted on 06/28/2006 8:43:34 AM PDT by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: Matchett-PI
Lewis closed with a cordial invitation "to spend a night with me next term," ...

Oh, oh. I think we know where this will go ...

;)

8 posted on 06/28/2006 8:45:02 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Without a monkey, "You are nothing, absolutely zero. Absolutely nothing.")
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To: Matchett-PI

I don't think it really matters who, or how learned one is, when discussing matters which are unknown, and probably will be forever.


9 posted on 06/28/2006 8:48:15 AM PDT by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to.....otherwise, things would be different.)
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To: Matchett-PI

Sounds to me like Lewis focused on what he knew the most about and politely evaded the man's attempts to draw him into an argument he wasn't trained for -- in the sort of display of good sense we've come to expect from Lewis.


10 posted on 06/28/2006 9:10:07 AM PDT by Taliesan
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To: Matchett-PI

CS Lewis bookmark


11 posted on 06/28/2006 9:11:06 AM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet)
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To: Matchett-PI
Were is the 'Perception of reality' or the 'Conception of existence'
12 posted on 06/28/2006 9:39:28 AM PDT by Brit1 ( Not by Strength by Guile.)
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To: JamesP81
What inclines me now to think that you may be right in regarding it as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders.

Bears repeating.

ditto.

13 posted on 06/28/2006 9:56:31 AM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan ("Fake but Accurate": NY Times)
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To: Matchett-PI
Quote: "Conflicts between Science and the Bible arise from either a lack of scientific knowledge or a defective understanding of the Bible." ~ Moses Maimonides

Good quote! :)

14 posted on 06/28/2006 10:15:27 AM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.)
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To: tallhappy; Alamo-Girl

Re: "The" theory of evolution:

"...What is the significance of such a theory? To address this question is to enter the field of epistemology.

A theory is a metascientific elaboration distinct from the results of observation, but consistent with them. By means of it a series of independent data and facts can be related and interpreted in a unified explanation. A theory's validity depends on whether or not it can be verified; it is constantly tested against the facts; wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its limitations and unsuitability. It must then be rethought.

Furthermore, while the formulation of a theory like that of evolution complies with the need for consistency with the observed data, it borrows certain notions from natural philosophy.

And, to tell the truth, rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution.

On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the other, with the various philosophies on which it is based. Hence the existence of materialist, reductionist, and spiritualist interpretations. What is to be decided here is the true role of philosophy and, beyond it, of theology.

Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person. ..."

Excerpted from:

Theories of Evolution http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9703/articles/johnpaul.html

John Paul II

Copyright (c) 1997 First Things 71 (March 1997): 28-29.
Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996


15 posted on 06/28/2006 10:26:48 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: JamesP81

That is something that many have accurately pointed out.


16 posted on 06/28/2006 10:28:36 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: thackney

backatcha! :)


17 posted on 06/28/2006 10:29:18 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Taliesan; JamesP81

"Sounds to me like Lewis focused on what he knew the most about and politely evaded the man's attempts to draw him into an argument he wasn't trained for -- in the sort of display of good sense we've come to expect from Lewis." ~ Taliesan

J.P. Holding also displays that sort of good sense, but makes the same point that Lewis made about the most rabid defenders of Evolution:


Choking on Pretzel Logic
http://www.tektonics.org/af/evologic.html

Why I Don't Buy (or Sell) the Evolution Story
James Patrick Holding

Editing Note: I have to say that since I first wrote this article, I'd say that I have even greater inclinations against evolution because of the number of proponents I have met who uncritically spout such nonsense as, "Jesus evolved from Mithra." But keep this one online as a secondary reason.


18 posted on 06/28/2006 10:36:32 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: OneWingedShark

Yep! bttt


19 posted on 06/28/2006 10:37:44 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Matchett-PI

for later reading


20 posted on 06/28/2006 10:39:49 AM PDT by 70times7 (An open mind is a cesspool of thought)
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To: tallhappy
On these particular threads it is interesting those ostensibly pro-science (eg the religious evolutionite cult) have both lack of science and Biblical knowledge yet are arrogant and hubristic in their ignorance.

Gratuitous assertions, gratuitously denied.

21 posted on 06/28/2006 10:39:59 AM PDT by Stultis (I don't worry about the war turning into "Vietnam" in Iraq; I worry about it doing so in Congress.)
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To: Matchett-PI

Thanks for the excellent post.


22 posted on 06/28/2006 10:42:39 AM PDT by colorado tanker
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To: Matchett-PI

Sadly, Lewis died the same day as JFK and his death was overshadowed by Kennedy's assasination. Lewis's book, "A Grief Observed" helped me think through the events leading up to my father's death.


23 posted on 06/28/2006 10:44:53 AM PDT by irish guard
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To: colorado tanker

You're welcome.


24 posted on 06/28/2006 10:50:10 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: irish guard

C.S. Lewis was one of a kind. A giant in the world of Christian thought. bttt


25 posted on 06/28/2006 10:51:54 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: stuartcr

You may find these comments food for thought:

Kurt Wise: "Given what we currently think we understand about the world, the majority of the scientific evidence favors an old earth and universe, not a young one. I would therefore say that anyone who claims that the earth is young for scientific evidence alone is scientifically ignorant. "


Towers Online - The News Service of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary http://www.towersonline.net/story.php?grp=news&id=344
April 13, 2006 By Jeff Robinson

Excerpts:

"Trustees at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on April 11 unanimously approved the creation of two new theological study centers­the Center for Theology and the Arts, and the Center for Theology and Law, during the board's annual spring meeting.

Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said the new study centers aim at equipping pastors and church leaders to think biblically about pivotal issues which dominate contemporary culture.

"One of the ways we want to lead Southern Baptists is through helping evangelicals and Southern Baptists in particular to engage some of the most critical issues of our day," Mohler said.-

"This is not a time for Christians to be out-thought by the world, but in general that is what happens. We find the church behind the times in thinking about some of the most crucial issues of our day."

Mohler also announced the appointment of two new faculty members to lead the centers. [snip] ...

...Mohler also named Kurt Wise as the new director for Southern's Center for Theology and Science, and professor of theology and science. Wise currently serves on the faculty of Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., where he is also director of the Center for Origins Research.

Wise earned both a doctor of philosophy and master of arts in paleontology from Harvard University. He and his wife Marie have two daughters.

Wise replaces William Dembski, who is leaving Southern Seminary to join the faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary so he can be closer to his family.

"With the addition of Kurt Wise, we are recognizing that creation is a ground zero theological crisis point right now in American culture and even in our churches," Moore said. [snip] ..

*

A couple of interesting items on the web regarding Kurt Wise:

[1] 7/3/2003 http://www.christianforums.com/t43741&page=12 "Ok, I just got a email from Dr. Wise. This is what he said:

"I am a young-age creationist because the Bible indicates the universe is young. Given what we currently think we understand about the world, the majority of the scientific evidence favors an old earth and universe, not a young one. I would therefore say that anyone who claims that the earth is young for scientific evidence alone is scientifically ignorant. Thus I would suggest that the challenge you are trying to meet is unmeetable." ~ Kurt Wise

[2] December 19th 2004 http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=44017 Theologyweb.com

Post # 7:

"...there is new breed of YEC out there, of which Kurt Wise is an example, who recognize that there are scientific problems with their Weltanschauung. I knew Kurt was exceptional, but there are more of his stripe. Affectionately, I'd like to refer to them as neo-YECs, as opposed to the Wieland-Ham-Morris-Safarti-Jorge YECs for which I would propose the oxymoronic moniker paleo-YECs."


26 posted on 06/28/2006 10:53:55 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Matchett-PI

Amen to that. You probably didn't bother to look, but he is one of the few mentioned in my FR profile.


27 posted on 06/28/2006 11:05:57 AM PDT by irish guard
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

"Lewis was an evolutionist..." ~ Jedi Master Pikachu

There are various theories of evolution. C.S. Lewis would have pretty much agreed with Pope John Paul's opinion on the subject. bttt

See #15 for details:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1657102/posts?page=15#15


28 posted on 06/28/2006 11:12:32 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Matchett-PI
I attended my one and only National Creationism Convention at William Jennings Bryan College. I forget the year. Wanna say around '89. I could look it up. Anyway, Kurt Wise was the principle host.

I was in a group of about half a dozen skeptics, including Paluxy "Man-Track" critics Ronnie Hastings and Glen Kuban, science writer Bob Schadewald, biologist Karl Fezer (a founding member of the National Center for Science Education) and a creationism critic from Kentucky name Frank Lovell.

It was pretty interesting. I'd just been to an AAAS convention that same year. There the presentations were all 90 minutes: 45 minutes for the presentation of the paper and 45 minutes for questions. It was my first science convention also and I was impressed with how aggressive and searching the Q&A was. Often impatience in the audience would lead to the Q&A period breaking out even before the first 45 minutes was over.

By contrast at the Creationism convention, I don't recall EXACTLY, but it was something like 45 minutes for the presentation and only 15 minutes for Q&A. Might have even been more like 45 and 10 with time for a break between sessions.

Even more striking was the difference in the tone and substance of the questioning. Sometimes a couple of us skeptics would speak up, but if we didn't there weren't ANY challenging questions, UNLESS Wise was in the audience and decided to ask some. He was the ONLY creationist that I ever heard to ask really challenging questions. ALL other questions were softballs. Sometimes there would be no questions at all.

Even when Wise, a creationist and the host of the whole convention, was asking tough questions (and us heathens were keeping our collective mouths shut) you could still feel, and even see in movement and expressions, a palpable discomfort in the audience. There was an OBVIOUS feeling that asking challenging questions was inappropriate, or at least embarassing and uncomfortable, even if they came from another creationist. (Maybe especially if they did. We skeptics were treated pretty well and maybe even indulged to some extent.)

There was also very obvious discomfort when Glen Kuban very aggressively questioned Don Patton (an associate of Carl Baugh) on Paluxy Mantracks. This was even though many creationists in the audience were dubious about both the mantrack claims in general, and Baugh and Patton in particular. It didn't matter. They still didn't seem to like the searching criticism taking place out loud and in the open. Again, the fact that Kuban was himself an evangelical Christian just might have made things worse rather than better.

Granted that this was a fairly small convention, and may have had a higher than usual ratio of lay creationists to "professional" creation scientists, but I still found this very striking contrast in the attitude toward criticism most illuminating.

29 posted on 06/28/2006 11:31:37 AM PDT by Stultis (I don't worry about the war turning into "Vietnam" in Iraq; I worry about it doing so in Congress.)
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To: Matchett-PI
Kurt Wise, btw, also took the unprecedented step of asking the creationism critics in attendance to stay over for a long private meeting with himself and a few other creationist leaders after the convention was over. I didn't attend, but heard that Wise seemed sincerely interested in hearing "our" criticisms of the antievolution movement and its tactics.
30 posted on 06/28/2006 11:37:06 AM PDT by Stultis (I don't worry about the war turning into "Vietnam" in Iraq; I worry about it doing so in Congress.)
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To: Stultis

Re: #26 http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1657102/posts?page=26#26

By appointing Kurt Wise, Moehler seems to be telegraphing something pretty important about "the direction" things may go. At least to my mind, he does.

The churches that give their congregations the impression that they must embrace YEC or they will be rejecting the Scriptures, are boxing themselves into a corner just like the RCC did. It resisted the science of Copernicus and Galileo in favor of the science of Aristotle because his agreed with what they thought the Scriptures taught.


31 posted on 06/28/2006 11:51:14 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Matchett-PI

To me, this subject is like religions, in that it's all just a matter of what one believes.


32 posted on 06/28/2006 11:56:41 AM PDT by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to.....otherwise, things would be different.)
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To: Matchett-PI

The Genesis Flood wasn't even published until 1960. That book marked the beginning of the modern creationist movement. The fact that he may have accepted a lot of evolutionary ideas doesn't surprise me. After all he was an atheist for most of his life.


33 posted on 06/28/2006 12:02:19 PM PDT by far sider
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To: metmom

ping


34 posted on 06/28/2006 12:04:34 PM PDT by apackof2 (That Girl is a Cowboy)
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To: Stultis

You may find this interesting. Especially see the letter that I copied and pasted below the "snip".

Astrophysicist writes Dr.James Kennedy. http://csharp.com/kennedy.html
April 16, 2005

Dear Dr. Kennedy,

In general I applaud your ministry by standing up for Christian values in a post-modern society which is progressively becoming more degenerate. The obvious evils I can immediately think of are abortion, homosexuality and pornography, amongst many others. You project a most laudable image of authority in your various programs, such as “Truths that Transform”.

Like you I am a Christian, and like you I have various academic qualifications, though not as many nor as impressive as yours. Your qualifications appear to be mostly in the arts and divinity, whereas mine are in the sciences. I do not know what your Ph.D. is in, but presumably it is in divinity or a related subject. Mine is in astrophysics.

As a professional scientist, I feel that I am qualified to speak with some authority in the branch of astrophysics and related subjects I work in, and less authority on other fields of science. Not being a scholar in ancient Hebrew, Greek, biblical hermeneutics, or ancient Middle Eastern studies, I am not qualified to speak on these at all except at an amateur level, and although I have my own interpretations of the Scriptures, that may agree or disagree with other individuals, I cannot speak with any authority, and depend on and respect those who are qualified and have taken the trouble to undertake the necessary studies. Of course this does not mean that even when talking on a subject I am familiar with I am infallible, and like anyone I make mistakes.

Having said all that, it rather puzzles me how you can speak with any authority on science, such as, astronomy and geology, unless you have studied these subjects. I note that this is an unfortunate characteristic of several church leaders who think that because they are an authority on the Bible and are devout Christians, they are automatically an authority on some branch of science without studying it. I am referring to your two broadcasts in the “Truths that Transform” archives on your http://www.coralridge.org/BroadcastArchives.asp website for May 24 and 25, 2004, where you talk about the young earth. I can tell from a number of major errors in your broadcasts that you have moved far outside your area of knowledge in your apologetics.

[snip] click above link to continue.

Here is the response to his letter from an employee:

XXXX, An Employee

During office hours I believe that the earth is 6004 year old, on nights and weekend (including all Christian holidays) the earth is 4.5 billions years old, give or take 10,000 years.

NB. Please note that my views here are my private views, and have nothing to do with Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc. XXXX Operation is a part of CRM's XXXX. In addition to our mission statement, we are a ministry within a democracy and not necessarily here to practice it, unfortunately free speech is a questionable one.


35 posted on 06/28/2006 12:04:34 PM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Matchett-PI

I wish a big dollop of such good sense could be slathered on a bunch of creationist freepers, who want to argue in fields where they are not trained.

In principle there is nothing wrong with that...scientists are wrong to say you can't criticize them unless you are a scientist. This is nothing more than the argument from authority they claim to abhor.

There is also nothing wrong with laypeople criticising the logic of evolutionists' reasoning. Logic is logic. There is no special science logic. Scientists who sniff at lawyers (Coulter, Johnson) for criticising their logic should, rather, defend their logic. (But the problem is that -- like Coulter -- these critics will often shift from a logical argument in paragraph to a scientific argument in the next, and can't apparently tell the difference.)

But scientists are of course right to insist that if you are going to enter the arena of scientific argument, you must demonstrate the level of knowledge a professional has a right to expect from a SERIOUS amateur. Most people who are trained in a subject don't resent at all an amateur questioning them and even offering a contribution to the field, but an ignorant and arrogant amateur is just intolerable.

I am a Christian who believes the Bible is literally true, and I am not trained in the sciences. But I find the creationist side of the argument, as it is represented here on FR, so embarassing I usually don't even go into those threads.

I'd urge Lewis' attitude on many here.


36 posted on 06/28/2006 12:14:37 PM PDT by Taliesan
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To: Matchett-PI
LOL!

Bob Schadewald, now deceased, used to attend and writeup all the Creationism Conventions for the (proevolution) NCSE newsletter. I recall (paraphrased, not verbatim) his description of Kennedy, seated in the audience prior to giving a convention's keynote address, nose elevated, "as though at the whiff of an offending evolutionist." Schadewald wrote that he was among those rare human beings "able to strut while sitting down".
37 posted on 06/28/2006 12:38:54 PM PDT by Stultis (I don't worry about the war turning into "Vietnam" in Iraq; I worry about it doing so in Congress.)
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To: Taliesan
"I'd urge Lewis' attitude on many here."

I agree.

Along those lines, you may want to take a look at two links I have in post #1 when you get time.

38 posted on 06/28/2006 12:45:59 PM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Stultis

Love it! LOL


39 posted on 06/28/2006 12:49:38 PM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: narby; Varda; betty boop; Alamo-Girl; PatrickHenry; marron; D-fendr; Junior; Aquinasfan; ...

Faith and science ping.


40 posted on 06/28/2006 1:10:41 PM PDT by curiosity
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To: curiosity; Alamo-Girl; hosepipe; marron; xzins; TXnMA
In ["The Funeral of a Great Myth," Lewis] distinguished between "the doctrine of Evolution as held by practising biologists," which he deemed to be "a genuine scientific hypothesis," and the speculative versions of evolution that preceded [and it seems followed, with neo-Darwinism] Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. Scientific evolution, he argued, is a purely biological theorem. It takes over organic life on this planet as a going concern and tries to explain certain changes within that field. It makes no cosmic statements, no metaphysical statements, no eschatological statements. [my bolds]

Note that by saying evolution theory takes over a "going concern," Lewis acknowledges it is not an origin of life hypothesis. As he notes, evolution theory has nothing to do with metaphysics or theology -- and yet seemingly it has become a "religion" to many of its devotees. Go figure!

Lewis' take on evolution theory seems pretty sound and even-handed to me. Thanks for the ping to this, curiosity.

41 posted on 06/28/2006 2:04:31 PM PDT by betty boop (The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. -J.B.S. Haldane)
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To: Matchett-PI
Evolution was a creed so pervasive and so deeply held that even to appear to question it was to invite attack. For example, in a vitriolic article the Marxist geneticist J.B.S. Haldane accused Lewis of getting his science wrong and of traducing scientists in his works of science fiction.12 It is probably because evolution formed the basis of theories of philosophical naturalism like Haldane's, which had become the dominant secular world view, that Lewis agreed with Acworth in regarding it "as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives."

Exactly.

Ann Coulter made the same general observation and was excoriated by the FReeper Darwinist priesthood.

42 posted on 06/28/2006 3:47:17 PM PDT by JCEccles
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To: betty boop; Alamo-Girl
[ Note that by saying evolution theory takes over a "going concern," Lewis acknowledges it is not an origin of life hypothesis. As he notes, evolution theory has nothing to do with metaphysics or theology -- and yet seemingly it has become a "religion" to many of its devotees. Go figure! ]

So true.. but a "mindset" needs a base.. call it religion.. Some do call it that, others balk at the term religion... I see people as needing a base for their mindset.. But then there are others that do not need logical progression to their mindset, call them liberals.. Evos do need logical progression.. and can easily morph evolution into a religious form.. not all but some of them..

People are so damned complicated... could be why God created humans to evolve to drive the "devil" NUTZ.. d;-)

43 posted on 06/28/2006 4:10:34 PM PDT by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole..)
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To: Taliesan
Most people who are trained in a subject don't resent at all an amateur questioning them and even offering a contribution to the field, but an ignorant and arrogant amateur is just intolerable.

Sometimes that's the case, (probably more) often not.

C.S. Lewis's own life certainly provides good evidence for this-- one need only look at the vast gulf between the attention his work on, for example, the history of science ("The Discarded Image") and Milton ("Preface to Paradise Lost") deserves in academia and the attention it gets.

44 posted on 06/28/2006 4:14:45 PM PDT by mjolnir ("All great change in America begins at the dinner table.")
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To: JCEccles
This is nother observation she made which was the same as Lewis'- just using different words:

"I believe that Christianity can still be believed, even if Evolution is true." ~ C. S. Lewis

"No science is ever frightening to Christians. Religious people don't need the science to come out any particular way on IQ or AIDS or sex differences any more than they need the science to come out any particular way on evolution...If evolution is true, then God created evolution."

~ Ann Coulter -- P.277 Godless

45 posted on 06/28/2006 4:24:25 PM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: irish guard

I like the selections on your profile page.


46 posted on 06/28/2006 4:32:18 PM PDT by Matchett-PI ( "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid." -- Dwight Eisenhower)
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To: Matchett-PI

We were all created. Many devolve.


47 posted on 06/28/2006 6:47:16 PM PDT by PGalt
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To: Matchett-PI
"If evolution is true, then God created evolution."

If she really believes that, why did she spend so much time attacking evolution with old, discredited and dishonest arguments?

48 posted on 06/28/2006 7:49:04 PM PDT by curiosity
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To: Matchett-PI

Thanks for the excerpt and the ping!


49 posted on 06/28/2006 9:25:39 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: curiosity

Thanks for the ping!


50 posted on 06/28/2006 9:28:01 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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