C. S. Lewis on Evolution: It’s Sort of a British Thing

Yesterday’s post by David Williams takes a look at C. S. Lewis and what he had to say about evolution. Those familiar with Lewis’s writings will already be on board, though David points out a some things I think many will be interested in.

David’s post illustrates something I have come across on my own in interactions with Evangelicals over evolution: The Brits may talk funny and wrap their fried fish in newspaper, but they tend to be more chill when it comes to the Bible. I’ve had more than one British Evangelical plead with me not to align them with the American Evangelical obsession to distance the Bible from science or higher critical biblical scholarship. They have a point.

I was able to understand this American character trait a bit better after reading a 2009 essay by noted historian Mark Noll–a very readable and succinct essay, which I recommend with typical American overstatement and shocking display of enthusiasm. Briefly stated, Noll asks the question why American Evangelicals are so screwed up about the Bible–of course he puts it in very nice scholarly language. Noll has no fewer than 15 reasons that help define the uniquely American experience, ranging from medieval philosophy to moral upheaval in the 1960s.

Anyway, David’s essay offers a great sketch of what C. S. Lewis thought about evolution, and although some of Lewis’s views might raise other sorts of questions in the evolution/Christianity dialogue, American Evangelicals are on much safer ground–theologically, scientifically, and biblically–by paying close attention to what he says.

It’s refreshing to hear what educated, faithful, thinkers like Lewis say when they are focused on understanding the Bible in our world rather than protecting it from our world.

  • alan White

    Hey Enns Just ease down on those comments about the British you dithering old heretic!!! or are you still sore about the war :-)

    • peteenns

      I know, Alan. I need to be more culturally sensitive. Perhaps I should have limited my comments to how we bailed you out in the war, the big one, WW2. :-)

  • Charles

    I recently watched a video series in which two guys squared-off on what C.S. Lewis believed about evolution on Biolas yt channel.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlistlist=PL2FE7D3DD008F48EE&feature=plcp

    By the end of it I couldn’t remember why I cared what Lewis believed about evolution, but there was at least one embarrassing “gotcha” moment that made it worth watching.

  • James

    I think we need, on both sides of the ocean, someone to write a good, up-to-date Theology of Evolution. This would involve relating the main tenants of evolution (still evolving) not only to theism but to the biblical narratives–in a sound theological manner. John Haught (God after Darwin, etc.) makes some strides in that direction though his approach may be suspect to some.

    • peteenns

      Excellent point, James.

  • Patrick

    In a limited sense, John Walton’s book is a start. If he’s accurate on the interpretation of Gen 1&2, the very act of creation we’re reading is lending itself to evolution and allows for not only that, but, a universe that pre existed this specific narrative which means the bible has nothing to say about YEC.

  • Simeon Beresford

    sadly we no longer wrap our fish and chips in newspaper.


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