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C.S. Lewis, a "Fiery Prophet," Not a "Friendly Uncle"

As we approach the 49th anniversary of C.S. Lewis's death (November 22, 1963, the same day that President Kennedy was assassinated), there's an eloquent review up at Thinking Christian of John West's The Magician's Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society (Discovery Institute Press).

The reviewer commends a remark of James A. Herrick in Chapter Ten who reminds us that while we tend to "read Lewis as a friendly uncle," in fact "we need to encounter him as a fiery prophet."

Lewis, like G.K. Chesterton before him, saw clearly where scientism could take society. It's a dark vision, one which he presents most thoroughly in the lecture collection The Abolition of Man, and in the third book of his science fiction trilogy, That Hideous Strength. These two books tell a common story, one in essay form, the other in imaginative fiction.

There is strength in science. Like any other great strength, if left unguarded it tends to invade property beyond its borders. It is the peculiar error of scientism to suggest that science is its own watchdog. But Dobermans don't bark at themselves, and science won't bark at science. If the only principle ruling science is science, then science will expand and annex whatever it sees: including ethics.

That's not to say that scientists won't ever restrain science, for men and women can and often do allow themselves to be ruled by legitimate ethical principles. What Lewis saw so clearly was what can happen when we suppose there is something in science itself, rather than in the way (Tao, he called it) of ethics, that we should let run the show. There is a reason he named his novel That Hideous Strength.

That's well said. The review concludes:
This volume does him justice. If you love C.S. Lewis as I do, you'll know that's high praise indeed. I recommend the book highly.