Science & Faith
11/8/12 at 08:59 PM 0 Comments

Theistic Evolution Can be Logically Incoherent: C.S. Lewis Used Satire to Critique Such Nonsense

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Some leading theistic evolutionists today advocate viewpoints about God and nature that are logically incoherent. C.S Lewis identified and critiqued similar logical difficulties in some versions of theistic evolution popular in his time. I will use two of my PowerPoints slides about the book The Magician's Twin to explain the difficulties with certain forms of thesitic evolution. We begin with biologist Ken Miller's recent book Finding Darwin's God. Then we will compare this to Henri Bergson's version of theistic evolution, which Lewis identified as nonsense.

 Do you see the dilemma outlined in the PowerPoint above? Ken Miller claims to believe in an unguided material process from which humans emerge with amazingly purposeful minds and moral sensibilities. Henri Bergson (1859–1941), an influential French philosopher, attempted a similar logic-defying feat. He proposed that an unintelligent "life force" somehow "strives" toward making the changes in the natural world that would lead eventually to the origin of purposeful human minds. How can we respond reasonably to such proposals? C.S. Lewis offered help here.

Lewis pointed out that unintelligent entities and processes (such as Bergson's “life force”) cannot “strive” toward goals. Nature without intelligent guidance does not move toward certain ends for reasonable purposes. Only minds can manage that. In Perelandra, the second book in his celebrated space trilogy, Lewis lampooned the foolishness of theistic evolutionary views like Bergson's with delightful satire. Lewis crafted a mad scientist character, Dr. Weston, who extolled the wonders of the “unconsciously purposive dynamism” of nature. Weston sounds like a modern pagan nature worshiper in a white labcoat. He claims that his emergent evolutionary viewpoint is the proper "religious view of life," and even identifies it with "the Holy Spirit." Unimpressed by Ransom's mumbo-jumbo, Dr. Ransom (the hero of Lewis's story) replies: "I don't know much about what people call the religious view of life." Rather, "I'm a Christian. And what we mean by the Holy Ghost is not a blind, inarticulate purposiveness.”

John West, the author of the essay in The Magician's Twin that traces Lewis's critique of theistic evolution (see especially pages 133-135), provides the footnotes for those curious about what Lewis really thought about this sort of theistic evolution. Such a view of God and nature “has all the logical coherence a square circle,” West concludes (in agreement with Lewis). This applies both to the conflicted views of Henri Bergson (then) and Ken Miller (now). There were and are more advocates of such incoherent theistic evolutionary viewpoints then and now. John West provides enough examples to bring closure to this issue.

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