Would C.S. Lewis hang out on Peaceful Science?

I get a daily email with short passage from C.S. Lewis’ writing. Today, from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II, there was a letter he wrote about prayer and evolution in 1949. The interesting part was this section:

There is no relation of any importance between the Fall and Evolution. The doctrine of Evolution is that organisms have changed, sometimes for what we call (biologically) the better . . . quite often for what we call (biologically) the worse. . . The doctrine of the Fall is that at one particular point one species, Man, tumbled down a moral cliff. There is neither opposition nor support between the two doctrines. . . Evolution is not only not a doctrine of moral improvements, but of biological changes, some improvements, some deteriorations.

So, to the biologists I ask, is this a decent layman’s description of evolution? It seems pretty good to me.

My second, broader, question is, does this seem like it would be quite compatible with Peaceful Science’s “science is theologically neutral” bent?

@gbrooks9, he doesn’t talk about God-guided Evolution here but do you think how he describes evolution and the Fall would fall within the scope of Peaceful Science?


Is Theology Poetry? makes sense of the @jordan. CS Lewis makes a distinction between evolutionary science (with which he has no problem) and the grand narrative of evolution (with which he does object). In this letter, is he talking about the science or the narrative?

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Thank you for the interesting question. I think I can happily say that the paragraph is sufficiently devoid of drama that it is certainly compatible with PeacefulScience work.

One could say it is a good introduction to the context of PS.org work.

Generally, it is much easier for

PeacefulScientists [Trade Marked by J.Swamidass, 2019]

to comfortably discuss the term “Original Sin”… it is a little more awkward to use the phrase “The Fall”.

The reason for this is the nebulous, almost incoherent, set of ideas surrounding Adam and Eve’s exit from Paradise. The principle culprit?: “there was no death”. This is a virtual magical incantation.

How do I know?

Because if there was no tendency to death by things created during in the “Six Days”, there would not have been any need for the Tree of Life! God created Adam and Eve already with the propensity for death. And God provided a workaround.

So The Fall was not a change in nature of the “cosmos” (aka, the Earth, or The Everything)… it was merely a change in the work-around! Humans and anything else that was intended to eat of the tree or to eat of the fruit that dropped from the tree (or to eat of its bark, leaves or roots)… would have continued to be immortal.

That’s why God had to put the angel with a flaming sword at its entrance.

When a PeacefulScience paragraph on Evolution includes/explicates the non-connection between Evolution and The Fall, it would be a pretty good paragraph!

WOW! That was awesome!

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Many people see the fall as having far more wide ranging effects.

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Yes… but the effect that would appear to be the most logical one (death!)… is easily seen as illogically derived from the texts of Genesis.

@jordan, this is the immediately preceding passage that explains some more from Lewis:

I was taught at school, when I had done a sum, to “prove my answer.” The proof or verification of my Christian answer to the cosmic sum is this. when I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonising it with some particular truths which are imbedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole. granted that reason is prior to matter and that the light of the primal reason illuminates finite minds, I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in. If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochem- istry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees.

His problem is with the mythical cosmology derived from evolution, not evolutionary science. I think he would be an enthusiastic supporter of GAE as a reclamation of biblical mythos he thought had to be jetsoned because of science. I think he would see it as an affirmation evolutionary science, but an challenge to it’s mythology, and a reclamation of a the traditional narrative.

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I was thinking more along the lines of the sort of thinking that decides that the second law of thermodynamics was not in operation prior to the fall. That would be a fundamental sort of change that extends far beyond humanity and morality. Not everyone will accept C.S. Lewis’s doctrine of the fall.

That’s all I am saying.


Well, if we can’t even establish that there was No Death before the Fall (and we cannot)… I don’t see how you can argue that there was no 2nd Law of Thermodynamics before the Fall.

Where is that in Genesis? Do YOU, @mung, believe that?

Can we even establish that there was really no Rainbows before the imaginary global flood?

If Adam and Eve were incapable of death before The Fall, there would be no need for the Tree of Life.

Biochemists would have a serious problem with the 2nd law of thermodynamics not operating. If the 2nd law isn’t in operation then metabolism would shut down and cells would stop operating. You wouldn’t even be able to warm yourself by a fire without the 2nd law since heat wouldn’t dissipate. I am pretty confident that if C.S. Lewis did hold these views he would jettison them once he understood the problems. He seemed like a pretty smart guy.

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