Science and Religion in the Writings of CS Lewis

Image from http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com

Last week at the Faraday Institute we hosted Michael Ward, chaplain of St Peter’s College Oxford, and expert on the writings of CS Lewis. In his seminar Ward spoke about Lewis’s treatment of science and religion. CS Lewis was in favour of science, but attacked scientism. You can see this in his portrayal of Uncle Andrew or Eustace Scrubb in the Narnia books, or Professor Weston in That Hideous Strength. Anything that strips humans of their values and respect for each other is to be strongly resisted.

Lewis’s model for the relationship between science and religion was very straightforward. Religion is the worldview that affects all of life, and science is a just one of the areas that is affected (rather like a small circle within a larger one in a Venn diagram). To speak of the relationship between science and religion as if they were separate departments of knowledge was, for Lewis, to fail to recognise what religion is.

Another false dichotomy is the idea that science is the domain of reason and other areas of human endeavour are the domain of imagination. In ‘Bluspels and Flalansferes: A Semantic Nightmare’ Lewis described different uses of metaphors, and the way in which their use can deteriorate over time. In the last paragraph of the essay he makes an important point. While ‘reason is the natural organ of truth’, ‘imagination is the organ of meaning’. Before something can be true or false it must mean something. Imagination and metaphor help bring meaning and reason judges between them. It follows from this that science is necessarily imaginative, coming up with new ideas and testing them through reason.

Finally, there is the question of language. In ‘The Language of Religion’ Lewis puts language into three categories: ordinary, scientific and poetic. To describe religious experiences or concepts we normally use language that is either ordinary or poetic, in the same way that one would convey sensations such as cold or hot: ‘it feels like your ears are falling off’ or ‘Ah, bitter chill it was! The owl, for all his feathers was a-cold’. Scientific language conveys meaning very precisely, but covers a very narrow range of experience. This very tightly defined language is more easily ‘cashed’ (i.e. the meaning is not easily misunderstood by the educated reader), but then again it is easier to cash a cheque for £1 than £1,000…

2 thoughts on “Science and Religion in the Writings of CS Lewis

  1. A good article, however my laboratory’s goal is to merge science with religion. This may well be done by the scientific discovery of “Rhythm Based Communication” (first detected in “The Great Whales”). Here is one of our “Sunday Essays,” and additional ones, or answer to questions, can certainly be forwarded.

    Foundations of Ceta-Research (revised)

    1) There are three different temporal forms: 1), “conventional time, t” of one’s past and future, 2), “conventional NOW time, t” of one’s present, and 3), “Rhythm Based Time, T, or RBT” (as defined below).

    2) These three encompass two different forms of communication: A), “Signal Based, in time t,” and B), “Rhythm Based, in Time, T, or RBT.”

    3) The latter would seem to involve lower stresses and thus more altruism (that is, Charles Darwin may have been only “partially correct”).

    4) “Rhythm Based Time, T, or RBT” is: “A Perception of Lateness Relative to an Agreed, Biophysical, Cyclic Concept of ‘Rhythmic Synchronization’ Between Minds, or Between a Mind and a Clock.”

    5) “Rhythm Based Communication, RBC,” encoded in “Time, T, or RBT,” has no specific mass and no specific energy. It is understood only via a “Rhythmic Synchronization” of a “Rhythm Based Time, T, or an “RBT.”

    6) “RBC” is a potential “foundation” of one’s emotions.

    7) Temporal forms: 2) OR 3) [either: 2), “conventional NOW time, t,” OR, 3), “Rhythm Based Time, T, or RBT”], are defined by: “A Mental Reading (directly or indirectly) OF A Clock.”

    8) Temporal forms: 2) OR 3) [either: 2), “conventional NOW time, t,” OR, 3), “Rhythm Based Time, T, or RBT”], differ markedly from space, for if they enter a mind, for example, in a positive direction, then, space is analyzed by the same mind in the opposing, negative direction. Thus the semantics of “spacetime,” for the above temporal forms 2) and 3), could better be described by “space-time.”

    9) There are up to only three “Orthogonal Spacial Dimensions, OSDs,” and, the above temporal forms are best described as “Variables.”

    10) There exist two different types off information: A), “Signal Based Information, SBI, in t,” found largely in the classical sciences, and B), “Rhythm Based Information, RBI, in T, or RBT” seemingly found largely in spirituality.

    11) The “Kingdom of Heaven,” part of which may exist within Earth’s living organisms, consists, to a large extent, of “Rhythm Based Information, RBI,” necessarily using “Rhythm Based Time, T, or RBT.”

    12) “Our Dignfied Deity of Majestic Mind,” consists of “Rhythm Based Information” AND “Signal Based Information.” Whereas, Earth’s Homo sapiens seem principally to use “Signal Based Information.”

    Peter B., “TIME” = (“t or T”) Speciality, A Novel Reality

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  2. from Peter Beamish

    SCIENCE MERGING WITH RELIGION
    A “priority subject” of “Ceta-Research Inc.,” during this 21st century

    Relating to some modifications of the writings of CS Lewis, as presented (in quotation marks) by Michael Ward, chaplain of St. Peter’s College, Oxford:

    Signal Based Communication, SBC, which includes the known sciences, can be influenced by Rhythm Based Communication, RBC, including religion, the latter being a “worldview that affects all of life.”

    The true dichotomy is: a) Conventional time t of SBC, versus b) Rhythm Based Time, T of RBC. This can be expressed as: a) Space divided by speed, versus, b) A mental perception of lateness relative to an agreed, biophysical, cyclic concept of Rhythmic Synchronization between minds, or between a mind and a clock.

    Both forms of communication can be “the domain of reason,” which must be differentiated from “the domain of imagination.” “Reason is the natural organ of truth, imagination is the organ of meaning.” “Before something can be true or false it must mean something.” “Science is necessarily imaginative, coming up with new ideas and testing them through reason.”

    RBC appears to be composed of Rhythm Based Information, RBI which is a suggested major content of Our Dignified Deity of Majestic Mind, as well as a proposed foundation of Our Kingdom of Heaven On Earth. Such RBI has no mass and no energy. It is information encoded in the Time T of RBC, and thus it cannot be photographed, or acoustically recorded, that is, it cannot be directly analyzed by one’s senses. Part of “This Kingdom Of Heaven On Earth” (as RBI), lies within you (Luke 17, 21 and 1 Corinthians 6, 19) and, such a concept, we suggest, may include other, living organisms.

    Peter B., “RBC” Speciality, A Seeming Novel Biophysical Reality

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