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Top Customer Reviews
Lewis accurately predicts the parallel development of two trends: (1) the loss of any objective transcendent moral standards; and (2) the ability of a scientific or political elite, through social conditioning and/or genetic manipulation, to affect the thinking of successive generations of the rest of us - the great unwashed. The ascendancy, during the last decade, of moral relativism and the political correctness movement demonstrate how far down these parallel tracks we have come (i.e., Rorty: truth is what gets us what we want; truth is what my peers will let be get by with saying; Christians are "the natural constituency of Hitler").
While he's at it, Lewis refutes the postmodern, and generally unexamined, truism that the historic moral principles of Western Civilization are fundamentally different from other cultures' norms, and thus are arbitrary and nonbinding. In a lengthy appendix, Lewis shows that the great moral principles are timeless and have been generally accepted by all civilized societies, at all times (until ours).
So where will it end? In an ironic conclusion, Lewis predicts that what will be hailed an man's ultimate victory over Nature (such as human cloning?) will actually be Nature's ultimate victory over man. This will occur when we can fully control the kind of people the next generation will be (i.e., how they think), but in the absence of moral standards, this choice will be made arbitrarily; that is, according to purely Natural impulses - thus we have the Abolition of Man as man and the ascendancy of man as animal.
I must take issue with the reviewer who referred to the book as a "disguised apologetic" for Christianity. While Lewis openly acknowledges his Christian beliefs, he takes great pains to establish that the existence of objective moral standards is transcultural; that it is "trans-" any specific religious or ethical system other than relativism. Those who insist otherwise are simply out of touch; controlled by their own hermeneutic of suspicion, they see closet Christians lurking behind any and all moral absolutes.
A final point - I must also disagree with the reviewer who referred to the book too difficult for the average reader. I'm an accountant, I have no training in philosophy, and I'm definitely not a candidate for MENSA membership - but I had no trouble "getting it." Light reading it's not, but, hey, it's short, the type is large, the book is cheap, and it's written in Lewis' inimitable conversational style. Don't be intimidated, the stakes are too high!
The reviewer in Campsville (rousaswgnr) apparently thinks that any appeal to right and wrong that doesn't simply quote Bible verses is anti-Christian. Obviously, he would be completely incapable of trying to convince nonChristians that there are universal moral laws that are contravened at our peril -- the very thing Lewis was trying to do. At one point this seeming "fundamentalist" wrote that only scripture teaches right and wrong and things about God. That statement is ironically contrary to scripture itself which says "the heavens declare the glory of God" and that God has revealled His ways and parts of His nature in nature itself and in human consciences (Romans 1). The reviewer rousaswgnr contradicts scripture while trying to defend it. That's a pity. For if he really understood scripture or C. S. Lewis he would know that Lewis is saying what scripture says: God has universal moral laws that He has written into nature that all people can see and that have been generally recognized by major civilizations throughout the ages. Lewis also says it with breath-taking beauty.
The leftist from Vancouver, WA is even more vacuous than the fundamentalist. (That's typical.) Like the typical leftist, he imagines that he's brilliant while proving that he doesn't have a clue. He thinks he's clever by quoting Lau Tzu on the meaning of "Tao." But if he'd bothered to have really read Lewis or found out the meaning of the Chinese word "Tao", he would know that Lewis was not referring to Taoism but to the much more pervasive use of the idea of "Tao" in Chinese culture: that offered by Confucianism. The humanist from Vancouver, WA condemns Lewis for not getting it because he assumes that anyone who disagrees with his leftist ideology is empty-headed. His mindless repitition of Marxist ideology -- that moral systems are the mere fronts for political powers -- shows he's the one who hasn't understood Lewis. The Vancouver, WA leftist's statement that Lewis is merely defending "western" morals is absurd to the point of questioning whether he actually read the book -- or whether he's capable of really reading anything that isn't pre-committed to his Marxist politics. Indeed, the Vancouver leftist demonstrates that he's one of those men without chests about whom Lewis is writing while the fundamentalist from Campsville shows why modern conservative Christianity -- so frigthened of innovative communication -- has been so impotent, even though it holds the solution to the cultural problem Lewis diagnoses if only it could get over its reactionary anti-intellectualism and rigidity of mind that the reviewer exemplifies.
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