The Funeral of a Great Myth

The Book  that contains this essayThis podcast is a review of one of the wisest essays that C S Lewis wrote, The Funeral of a Great Myth.  He looks at the “Grand Myth” of evolution, that is, evolution not as a theory of biological change but as an over-arching explanation of how the universe works.  Lewis does not have any quarrel with the idea of biological evolution, as far as I can tell, but he strongly disagrees with extending that as a principle behind everything.  In this Great Myth mode, evolution is extended to explain how everything in the universe came about, and how there always must be endless progress “onwards and upwards”.  Lewis discusses how this idea developed and became entrenched in the imagination prior to the publication of The Origin of Species by Darwin.  He then discusses the fatal flaws of this Great Myth and why it is still lingering on.

On Obstinacy In Belief – Faith and Evidence

This podcast covers one of my favorite essays by Lewis, titled “On Obstinacy In Belief“.  It’s original title was “Faith and Evidence” and actually I like that better, but we’ll use the published title in podcast.  It has been included in several collections of essays by Lewis and is well worth your time to read.  It covers differences between faith, belief and knowledge and it was written to answer the question why Christians hold on to their beliefs in the face of strong contrary evidence.

The essay was originally delivered to the Oxford Socratic Club in 1953 under the title Faith and Evidence and then was republished in 1955 under the current title.  Since the “target audience” was a group of Oxford professors and students, Jack included several allusions and quotations in languages other than English (such as French, Italian, and Latin).  Fortunately we do not have to know these languages to get the main points of this essay.  In addition, a gentleman in the Netherlands has compiled a helpful explanation of these allusions and you can obtain that via the link below.

http://www.lewisiana.nl/essayquotes/index.htm

 

The show notes for this podcast are found here.

 

 

Professor Weston’s Ideas Live On

You may remember the ideals espoused by Professor Weston in “Out of the Silent Planet, especially the one that for humanity to survive as a species we must find and colonize new planets.  You may have thought that this was a bit of a stretch for Lewis to have a scientist believe in that view , and that no real scientists hold that philosophy now.  In that case you’ ll be interested the short article below.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/04/27/3490608.htm

And I quote from the article……

Finding planets outside our solar system that can sustain life should be made a top priority, say Australian astronomers.

Understanding habitability and using that knowledge to locate the nearest habitable planet may be crucial for our survival as a species, writes Dr Charley Lineweaver and PhD student Aditya Chopra of the Australian National University in the Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

I wonder if these good folk have read Out of the Silent Planet, and what they would say in response to Jack’s description of their philosophy.

 

 

Perelandra

This podcast covers Perelandra, the second book in the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis.  Many reviewers consider this the best of the three books, and some say that it is one of the top three books written by Lewis.

It continues the story that began in Out of the Silent Planet.  The protagonist is the same, Elwin Ransom, a professor of philology, and one of the same villains (Weston, the physicist) reappears.  However, the story takes place on Venus (called Perelandra in this novel) not Mars.  In this story as told by Lewis Perelandra is a paradise, an unfallen world that knows no evil.  Essentially the story is a re-telling of what happened in the first chapters of Genesis in the Garden of Eden.  Lewis begins by describing the paradise that exists and then tells how evil tries to corrupt this new world.  The story is a fascinating study of how free will and temptation work.

Let’s sketch the plot.  Ransom is brought to Perelandra by a mighty spirit, and arch-angel, that he met on Mars but is not told what he is expected to do there.  Ransom soon meets the Eve of that world, who is named Tinidril and is also called The Green Lady.  She walks completely with God and has free will, although she does not know it.  She begins to learn from Ransom, but shortly after they meet Weston arrives on the scene.  He begins to tempt her to prove that she has free will by disobeying God.  Ransom realizes what is going on and tries to counter Weston’s arguments.  Ultimately he realizes that he must prevent the temptations from continuing by physically attacking Weston so that Tinidril has some time and space to reflect and respond to the choice being offered her.  He does so, and kills Weston after a long hand-to-hand battle.  During the battle Tinidril decides to continue her walk with God, and Perelandra is saved from evil.  Tinidril meets the Adam of that world and together they assume their reign over the planet.  Ransom is then brought back to earth by the same arch-angel who carried him to Perelandra.

The book is worth reading to gain a new appreciation of what Heaven might be like, what humanity lost in the Fall in the Garden of Eden, and how a being with free will (like us) can be tempted to evil.

Out of the Silent Planet

This podcast is the first is a set of three that will cover the Space Trilogy written by C. S. Lewis, and it covers the book “Out of the Silent Planet”.  This trilogy is from the science fiction genre, a genre that Jack read and enjoyed all of his life.  (He even wrote several science fiction short stories as well as this set of three novels).   The three books are, in order, “Out of the Silent Planet“, “Perelandra“, and “That Hideous Strength“.  They are unified by their view of the universe, their presentation of good and evil, and the main characters.  The first two take place on Mars and Venus while the third takes place on earth.  Many consider “Perelandra” the best of Jack’s fiction, surpassing any of the Chronicles of Narnia.  I myself prefer “That Hideous Strength“, but they are all worth reading.

The plot is of Out of the Silent Planet is fairly complex.  It tells how two evil men kidnap a third man and travel to Mars to hand the third man over as a victim to one of the three races there, the Sorns.  The hero, named Ransom, escapes from them on Mars and encounters one of the other races, the Hrossa.  He is a specialist in language development and finds that the Hrossa are friendly and can speak.  He accompanies the strange creature to its village, where he stays for several months and learns their language and culture.  Ransom finds that all the 3 races on Mars are ruled by a spiritual being called the Oyarsa, and Ransom is summoned to meet this ruler, who can be thought of as an archangel.  He delays responding, and as a result, Hyoi, the Hross who found him, is shot and killed by Weston.  Ransom then goes to the Oyarsa and they have a long discussion about Mars and Earth.  The Oyarsa has the Hrossa capture the two villains and bring them to him so that he can speak with them also.  He finds that they are completely evil and compels them to take their ship and return to Earth, never to come back to Mars.  Ransom reluctantly goes with them.  When the spaceship lands,  the villains and Ransom abandon it, for it disintegrates as Oyarsa has promised.

Lewis seems to want to make three points in his story.  First, that the universe is not empty but full of life, light and spiritual beings.  Second, that three utterly different races can live together in harmony.  Finally, Lewis uses this story to repudiate the idea that humanity has the right to travel to other planets and colonize them, displacing the planet’s inhabitants if they are at a lower stage of cultural development.

 

 

 

Miracles:A Preliminary Study

Miracles by C S LewisThis podcast covers one of C S Lewis’ most import books, “Miracles“. Today many people who have been brought up in our rational culture have trouble believing in anything miraculous, for the claims that Christ walked on water or was born of a virgin or raised the dead seem to go against everything that science teaches us.  If you are one of these people, then you may find Jack’s book quite helpful.

His book is sub-titled “A Preliminary Study” and is intended to help the reader objectively evaluate whether or not miracles, especially those recorded in the Bible, did or did not occur.  It covers some of the same issues and makes some of the same arguments as found in “Mere Christianity” but this book is a more academic and philosophical work both in tone and approach.

Lewis points out that we must settle some basic philosophical questions about miracles in general before we review the evidence for any particular miracle.  If we don’t we will always conclude that the miracle did not happen, for that will be our belief going into the review.

Therefore, most of the book answers the three most common objections to miracles.

  1. They are impossible
  2. They are improbable
  3. They are improper for a divine Being

Having addressed these questions in detail, Lewis then looks at some of the miracles recorded in the New Testament as to what we can learn from them about our world and about God’s nature.

This podcast is intended as an introduction to the book, not as a thorough study and  I hope it leads you to read “Miracles” for yourself.  This book has been an important element in my faith journey and perhaps it will also assist you.