John G. West is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute. He is co-editor of the award-winning C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia and author of The Politics of Revelation and Reason and Darwin Day in America. He has been interviewed by Time, Newsweek, USA Today, and The New York Times. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Claremont Graduate University and formerly was the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University.
A native of the great Pacific Northwest, I'm currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, which is perhaps best known for its work supporting the theory of intelligent design as an alternative to neo-Darwinism, although it has programs in many other areas as well. My special interests include the impact of modern science on politics and social policy, the role of faith in public life, and the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. My current research examines how neo-Darwinism and scientific materialism shaped American public policy and culture from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. For 12 years I was a political science professor at Seattle Pacific University, where I also chaired the Department of Political Science and Geography for several years. I earned my Ph.D in Government from Claremont Graduate University and my B.A. in Communications (Editorial Journalism) from the University of Washington. I've authored or edited several books, and contributed essays to a number of others. Over the past few years I've had the opportunity to interact with the national newsmedia on the evolution issue quite a lot, and you can often find my observations on the quality of media coverage on the 'Evolution News and Views' blog, www.evolutionnews.org.
I'm a bit of a contrarian by nature, and I also like siding with the powerless and the underdog. When the establishment insists 'Go this way,' I am likely to ask 'Why?' When I get pushed, I tend to push back. That's one reason I was attracted to the nascent intelligent design movement in the mid 1990s. I was intrigued by the fact that a growing number of recent PhDs in the sciences were questioning neo-Darwinism based on science, not faith, and were facing harsh recriminations as a result. I thought then--and still believe now--that people should have the freedom to raise uncomfortable questions and champion unpopular truths.
My heroes from the past are people like Jeremiah Evarts, who stood up for the rights of the Cherokee in nineteenth century America (I tell his story in chapter 4 of my book The Politics of Revelation and Reason); Frederick Douglass and Harriett Beecher Stowe, who helped persuade Americans about the injustice of slavery; and C.S. Lewis, who was one of the few equal-opportunity critics of both communism and fascism in the early 1930s (my thoughts about Lewis can be found in The C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia, which I co-edited). One of my favorite quotes on the importance of speaking out comes from Martin Luther King, Jr.: 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.'
Although I'm generally 'conserative,' I'm a strong believer in civil liberties, and I'm skeptical of some of the tactics adopted in the name of fighting crime and terrorism. I am also an enthusiastic believer in religious liberty and free speech. I think the best way for people to spread their ideas is through unhampered discussion, not government coercion.
The Magician's Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, adds to the literature on the still very popular Oxford professor, bestselling British writer C. S. Lewis. This excellent work documents by quoting extensively from his own works that Lewis was a perceptive critic of the problem of scientism. It demolishes the common claim, such as that by Michael Peterson in his article "C. S. Lewis on Evolution and Intelligent Design" published in a recent Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith journal, that Lewis would have opposed Intelligent Design. The editor of The Magician's Twin also examined Lewis' personal library, which contained around 40 books on science, many that dealt with evolution. We can glean lewis' thoughts about evolution from these books because he made insightful annotations in some of his books. The Magician's Twin concluded that, even before he became a Christian, Lewis had a healthy skepticism of the claims of science, and especially Darwinism. The 345 page The Magician's Twin volume makes a convincing case that Lewis was clearly supportive of Intelligent Design, and increasingly so as he grew older. Furthermore, Lewis effectively rebutted several key objections raised against the modern theory of Intelligent Design. The book will appeal not only to Lewis fans, but both supporters and distracters of Intelligent Design claims.
C.S. Lewis wrote a lot about how our culture is influenced by science. Beginning with exposing myths about rational thinking during the 'Dark Ages'. Lewis goes on to detail his rising concern over the influence of naturalistic, humanist philosophy prompted by scientists with implications for religious thinking. Thanks to J. West's thorough research amongst the many Lewis manuscripts, we have at hand a greater, more truthful understanding of Lewis' mind regarding evolution in particular and scientism in general. It's all up to date! Fascinating read!
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C.S. Lewis is astoundingly popular among evangelical readers and even has a cottage industry of academics who trace his life and thought in almost every conceivable way. Until now, however, Lewis' treatment of science and scientism - and specifically his views on evolution - has remained largely unanalyzed. In large part because of this neglect a few of his better known passages concerning science and evolution have lead many to assume that Lewis was friendly to some form of what we would call Darwinian change over time. The Magician's Twin begs to differ, and it does so with well argued and thoroughly documented chapters.
A collection of several essays from many different authors crossing several fields of interest, it lays out a convincing case that Lewis cannot be tied too closely to Darwinism and that he had significant misgivings about the philosophy and application of scientism. So it behooves the reader to be sensitive to several distinctions made abundantly clear by Lewis and in the book - `evolution' and `evoltionism', `science' and `scientism', just to name two of the more prominent distinctions made by the authors and editor.
A careful reading will help the reader debunk a multitude of historical myths and pop-philosophical hand-waving gestures. Were the Middle Ages really dominated by an anti-science church? Did humanity really awaken to scientific truths only after the Enlightenment? Will science serve the advancement of the human species well? Can we disconnect technology from ethical and religions reflection and walk away unscathed? The answers Lewis provided and argued for will surprise most people.
Deciphering the writings of a dead man is difficult at best, especially when that man was prolific throughout a lifetime. C. S. Lewis was a prolific writer. Nevertheless, he was a thinker, which means that he became very consistent and logical over his years. The Magician's Twin shows his love for science and his understanding that science would have a power over man that, unleashed, could devour man and make him less than man.
These essays help us understand both Lewis' thinking and the dangers inherent in a morally unleashed technology.
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There is much rewarding in this well assembled collection to draw attention to Lewis, the great and prescient critic of culture and Oxbridge scholar whose deeply inquiring expository books, his novel trilogy and beloved, ever popular Narnia tales place him in the first rank of Christian apologists in an age of smug, unself-questioning scientism and relativism.
Dr. West, co-editor of the C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia and author of The Politics of Revelation and Reason and other books, has edited a valuable set of perspectives on Lewis and scientism--the easy if totalist creed so deeply ingrained in the Western mind since Darwin that--to paraphrase a famous Italian totalitarian--all is within science and nothing is outside it.
West illuminates Lewis's perception that a kind of hubris had developed in the early 20th century, especially after Darwin's evolutionary theory had successfully spawned the substitute creation story that nature arose from lifeless matter, evolving by its own laws of selection and chance over measureless eons from an initial unicellular bacterium all the way to the teeming brain of man. In the powerful, later discredited, eugenics movement of his time and in popular books like those of H.G. Wells, Lewis found that a sort of "serious magical endeavor" had emerged as a twin of serious science. He saw in such science, "the magician's twin", in which science had become a religion to itself, credulously accepting of every kind of materialist explanation, no matter how lacking in factual support, and ominously susceptible to the siren song of power--the power to control, even redefine, man for his own good.Read more ›