Philosophy, Science, Religion

 

Although technically not a scholar in any of these 3 areas, people want to know how he puts things together, so here’s

 

C. S. Lewis on Science…

 

–from his Mere Christianity (Macmillan, 1952…originally 1943).  If you think we’ve been a little rough or uneven in our posts, let the master storyteller do a bit of explaining.  But for that you must open the DOOR.

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Lewis was an Oxford-trained literary scholar, novelist, atheist-turned-Christian who taught at Oxford and Cambridge. He was not an academic scholar in philosophy, science, or religion. (We can relate to that.) But he could cleverly put together ideas from many experts and, without embarrassment, appeal to common sense.

After being wounded in WW I, during World War II Lewis gave a lecture on BBC called “Right and Wrong: the Meaning of the Universe,” which became the first of a series on Christian faith that lasted nearly 3 years. These well-received weekly talks in war-torn England brought Lewis recognition and fame, even from critics. Lewis’s talks on the radio during the war became the core of his apologetic, Mere Christianity (a book we highly recommend for several reasons–and hence, we add it to our Sources archive).

Though untrained theologically, and though he died in “obscurity” on Nov. 22, 1963 (the same day President Kennedy was assassinated), many consider C. S. Lewis the most significant apologist for Christianity in the 20th century.

In the rest of this post we will quote from Chapter One with little comment. But while we quote directly, we will break the text into shorter paragraphs and add, as usual, a few “stylistic road signs” (colors, boldface, etc.) with unspoken claim of bringing some clarity to the sea of words.

 

[Here begins a direct quote from Lewis in Chapter 1]

 

Science works by experiments.

It watches how things behave. Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, “I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2:20 AM on January 15th and saw the so-and-so.” or, “I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such temperature and it did so-and-so.” Do not think I’m saying anything against science: I am only saying what its job is. And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science–and a very useful and necessary job it is too.

But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things he observes–something of a very different kind–this is not a scientific question. If there is “Something Behind,” then either it will have to remain together unknown to men or make itself known in some different way.

The statement that there is any such thing and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science textbooks who go in for them.

After all, it is really a matter of common sense.

Supposing science ever became complete that it knew every single thing in the universe. Is it not plain that the questions, “Why is there a universe?” “Why does it go on as it does?” “Has it any meaning?” would remain just as they were?

[End of Quote]

Lewis, of course, then looks elsewhere to address these questions. And when we think back to our last post, only human consciousness or a mind, as we’ve described it, could even pose them.