Did Aslan evolve?
Not according to a new book about Narnia-creator C.S. Lewis’ philosophy of science. Editor John G. West pulled together a fascinating collection of essays in The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society.
The Discovery Institute’s West hopes to claim Lewis’ legacy for the intelligent design movement; the essays argue that Lewis was profoundly skeptical of what Lewis called “error scientism.”
As evolution skeptic Tom Bethell notes in a review for American Spectator, some evolutionists have claimed Lewis as an ally. But the authors in The Magician’s Twin paint a very different portrait. Among Lewis’ intellectual protests against evolutionary thinking, Bethell argues, was a deeply held concern with Darwin’s naive progressivism. A nineteenth-century optimism about humanity’s natural tendency to improve, Lewis believed, had been thoroughly discredited by both Christianity’s vision of original sin and the twentieth century’s horrors.
Intelligent design advocate Michael Flannery agrees that this collection of essays captures Lewis’ deep anxiety about the cosmological claims of naive evolutionism. In a long review for Evolution News and Views, Flannery extols the essays for recognizing Lewis’ appreciation for medieval thought, Lewis’ denunciation of the plausibility of natural selection as an evolutionary mechanism, and Lewis’ worry about the anti-human and anti-Christian implications of evolutionary thinking.
C.S. Lewis remains one of the most popular Christian authors for Christian and non-Christian audiences alike. His Screwtape Letters , not to mention his wildly popular Narnia books, keep Lewis a household name in all kinds of households. Claiming Lewis’ legacy for the intelligent design movement would be a major coup for West and his co-authors.
For those of us trying to understand cultural conflicts over education, these essays offer key insight into the intellectual depth and range of the intelligent design movement. Especially for those evolutionists who dismiss intelligent design as simply “Ken Ham warmed over,” this collection of essays will illuminate the very different tone, style, and intellectual ethos of the movement.