C. S. Lewis on the Final Frontier: Science and the by Sanford Schwartz

By Sanford Schwartz

C.S. Lewis's celebrated house Trilogy - Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous energy - was once accomplished over sixty years in the past and has remained in print ever due to the fact. during this groundbreaking examine, Sanford Schwartz deals a brand new interpreting that demanding situations the traditional view of those novels as portraying a simple fight among a pre-modern cosmology and the trendy clinical paradigm that supplanted it.Schwartz situates Lewis's paintings within the context of recent highbrow, cultural, and political historical past. He exhibits that Lewis doesn't easily brush off the fashionable "evolutionary model," yet discriminates conscientiously between other forms of evolutionary theory-"mechanistic" in Out of the Silent Planet, "vitalist" in Perelandra, and "spiritual" in That Hideous Strength-and their specific perspectives of human nature, society, and spiritual trust. Schwartz additionally indicates that during every one e-book the clash among Christian and "developmental" viewpoints is way extra complicated than is mostly assumed. based on the Augustinian realizing that "bad issues are good stuff perverted," Lewis constructs each one of his 3 "beatific" communities-the "unfallen" worlds on Mars and Venus and the terrestrial remnant at St. Anne's-not because the sheer antithesis yet quite because the transfiguration or "raising up" of the actual evolutionary doctrine that's precise within the novel. during this recognize, Lewis is extra deeply engaged with the most currents of contemporary notion than his personal self-styled photo as an highbrow "dinosaur" may perhaps lead us to think. he's additionally way more ready to discover the probabilities for reshaping the evolutionary version in a way that's at the same time appropriate with conventional Christian doctrine and dedicated to addressing the unique matters of contemporary existence.C.S. Lewis at the ultimate Frontier highlights the long-lasting relevance of Lewis's fiction to modern matters on a large choice of matters, together with the moral difficulties surrounding bio-technology and the conflict among non secular and naturalistic worldviews within the twenty-first century. faraway from delivering a black and white distinction among an old school Christian humanism and a newfangled heresy, the gap Trilogy can be obvious as a contemporary non secular apologist's looking out attempt to complement the previous via serious engagement with the latter.

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Devine regards young Harry as little more than a “savage” and bribes him with alcohol to keep him pacified. Weston shares the view that Harry is more like a “preparation” than a “human,” but he takes the crucial step beyond the evoluOut of the Silent Planet 29 tionary anthropology of the imperial era into the insidious ideologies of the twentieth century: “ ‘The boy was ideal. . Incapable of serving humanity and only too likely to propagate idiocy. He was the sort of boy who in a civilized community would be automatically handed over to a state laboratory for experimental purposes’ ” (OSP 21).

In this way Lewis prepares us for Ransom’s experience with the sorns, which lays to rest any lingering doubts about the equality of the three Martian species and establishes a new perspective on the sorrows of our own species. The import of this new perspective becomes apparent during Ransom’s conversations with his reflective Martian hosts. The latter are particularly intrigued by the fact that the earth has only a single rational species, a condition that “must have far-reaching effects in the narrowing of sympathies and even of thought” (102).

More concretely, the openly imperial ambitions of Devine and Weston, compounded by their failure to acknowledge the rationality of the Malacandrans, recalls the long and violent history of Western imperialism and the presumption of rational superiority that has colored Western relations to other peoples of the earth. Finally, as a result of the fact that two of the alien rational species resemble nonhuman animals on our own planet, the novel at yet another level raises issues concerning our problematic relations to the beasts: the persistent confusion and moral quandaries over animal sentience, cognition, and consciousness; the (mis)use of the traditional distinction between rational and nonrational beings to rationalize our indifference and cruelty to other species; and, in light of our presumptive status as the one rational species on the planet, the tendency to forget that we ourselves are embodied creatures inescapably bound to the animal kingdom.

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