Quote to Ponder: C.S. Lewis on Creation of Humanity and Fall

The following is a quote from CS Lewis about the creation of humanity. Most will be surprised by how he views the beginning of Genesis (most likely as Hebrew poetry rather than an exact detailed explanation). How does this raise questions about the current science wars for you?

For long centuries, God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. he gave it hands whose thumb could be applied to each of the fingers, and jaws and teeth and throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all of the material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated. The creature may have existed in this state for ages before it became man: it may even have been clever enough to make things which a modern archaeologist would accept as proof of its humanity. But it was only an animal because all its physical and psychical processes were directed to purely material and natural ends. Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say “I” and “me,” which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty and goodness, and which was so far above time that it could perceive time flowing past…. We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state. But sooner or later they fell. Someone or something whispered that they could become as gods…. They wanted some corner in this universe of which they could say to God, “This is our business, not yours.” But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives. We have no idea in what particular act, or series of acts, the self-contradictory, impossible wish found expression. For all I can see, it might have concerned the literal eating of a fruit, the the question is of no consequence. (C.S. Lewis, Problem of Pain, 68-71)

Can the Bible and some form of creational evolution exist together?

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  • Forrest

    Interesting reading to say the least. I think Mr. Lewis might be stretching how he is interpreting ancient Hebrew poetry. I am not sure how I feel about God needing “ages” to perfect what is now man in His image.

  • elbogz

    I use to think you could live happily in both worlds. I grew up in a Methodist church not far from the University Geology museum. Even back in the 70’s the museum had pretty complete evolutionary fossils for like the horse and walked you from Precambrian to present day. You walked around the museum, and even without a guide you saw the most ancient fossils, evolve into dinosaurs and then to mammals. It didn’t really go into the evolution of man, but even as a child you understood the world was old and it evolved.The pastor of my church taught from the spirit that the bible tells you how to go to heaven, and not how the heavens go. I studied science and believed in God and the two were very compatible. I lived a sheltered life, as I had not ever heard of a “young earth” creationist, or never got involved in the debates regarding the church and evolution. I have to say, up to about 10 years ago, I never knew such a conflict existed.Somewhere about age 40 I left the Methodist church and got involved in a non-denominational church. It seemed like a wonderful places and there were actually people younger than 70 years old! (A major problem with the Methodist church nowadays)One day a traveling preacher came along and told the story about how he believed the earth was about 6000 years old. He talked about how mathematically it was impossible for anything to ever have evolved by evolution. He talked about how they were sure that Noah’s flood occurred around 2670 BC and that all the geology you see is a result of Noah’s flood. I was stunned. I sat in church and thought, how dare you come here and teach that. I emailed on of the pastors of the church and in polite church terms asked…”WTF?” He replied that he pretty much believed that to be true also. That man walked with dinosaurs and taught the children in the church school the same thing. He told me, about this really great website, that explained it all. He sent me to Answers in Genesis. I started to read it and shook my head in disbelief.About that time I noticed Christian radio began talking about it too. They even devoted an hour each lunch time to the Creation something or other society. They were preaching the same dribble. They were very proud of their recent scientific discovery that two of all the animals on earth could actually fit in Noah’s ark. I talked to my wife about it and she agreed with the pastor! We talked about it for a while, but it became that “thing” we don’t talk about.I went to a co-worker of mine that I spent a lot of long coffee breaks ‘talking Jesus’. Wouldn’t you just know it, he believed the earth was young too! One day he hit’s me with the question,“If the story of the 7 day Creation and Adam and Eve aren’t factual truths, then what’s the rest of the bible about? Did Jesus die on the Cross to correct the sins of a fable?” If the first book of the bible isn’t true, word for word, then how can you believe anything the bible says?I had always kept the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Noah in the fable category. I wasn’t too concerned about it. It was the story of God, and that’s what really mattered. But now, I had to really think about it. My coworker, made a very powerful point.I guess about the same time the Dover Trial was just kicking off in Pennsylvania. I had started following it, and ready just about every single transcript, along with about 100 blogs that were going on and on and on about the evolution/creation debate.Meanwhile Christian radio was pouring it on. Preacher after preacher was saying “You can’t believe in evolution and be a Christian. You can’t believe in science and be a Christian. Good Christian believe the young earth creationist dribble.It seemed day after day that the Christians were the ones that were lying and the scientists were the ones telling the truth.Have you ever had a thread, sticking out of a piece of cloth, and you begin to tug at it, and pull some more and then a little more until you notice, that the piece of cloth had become completely unraveled? Or maybe it’s more like the game Jenga. You pull blocks out of the stack of blocks until all the sudden the tower becomes so weak it collapses.That was me. That was my faith. Collapsed on the coffee table. Pieces scattered everywhere. A once beautiful piece of cloth unraveled. Just pieces of thread thrown on the floor.Once you say, well, the story of Adam and Eve could have been a fable. Man could have evolved but the story of Adam and Eve still tells us something. Noah’s flood, well, that’s probably a fable, but, you know it tells us something. The Exodus from Egypt, well, that’s probably a fable, but, it tells us something. The linage of King David, well, that’s probably not true but, it tells us something. Where do you stop? Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, but the fable tells us something? I don’t think you can go there.When you say you can believe in evolution and believe in God, you have to ask, how far back? Back to a puddle of goo hit by lightning, that created the first organic molecules? Back to the big bang where ‘In the beginning there was hydrogen, and the hydrogen formed stars and the stars created by nuclear fusion, all the elements of the universe? Do we teach evolution in Church? Do we show videos like Carl Sagan’s evolution video EvolutionI don’t think so. Tell me this. Would you show that video to your Sunday school class? I hope you would. I hope all the churches would. But beware, a lot of angry Christians will be coming after you with pitchforks.

  • Dan Morehead


  • Mike

    I am trying to understand the context in which God Created the earth along with evolution. I have a hard time believing God is not solely responsible for the creation of the world. To me that leaves the rest of the Bible in question.

  • Kurt Willems

    Elbogz;What is interesting is that your journey from evolution is the exact opposite of my journey towards it. I was raised that 7 day creation has to be the only way that the bible can be truth… I now disagree.It seems pretty clear that Adam and Eve, Flood story, Tower of Babel, etc… are pre history, meaning that we cant place them into historical record outside of taking the count of years as they are presented in these chapters. Only when we hit the story of Abraham do we begin the bible’s historical account and even then, the bible is more concerned with covenants than dates and science facts.therefore, my understanding of scripture leads me to see the first 11 chapters of Genesis as epic. They illustrate monotheistic Hebrew truth, but are mostly poetic in nature (especially the first three chapters). Poetry should not be dissected the same way that other genres of literature are. Many biblical scholars agree with this including many respected evangelicals and the Catholic Church.Do i believe that God created? Yes! But as you said, the bible tells about how to go to heaven (and a bit more!!!) but not about how the heavens go. Reading the bible in a “plain sense” as young earth creationism depends is using an interpretive model that the early church itself doesn’t seem to have embraced. Genre and context from the perspective of the writers must be primary in the study of theology!As far as evolution goes… i am not too concerned about it. I am more interested in leaving the option open becasue of theological reasons. I think one of the greatest tragedies is when we teach students for 18 years that their faith rest on literal readings of Genesis, and they walk away from Jesus because they are persuaded that validity exists in Science. Why set up a ‘false polarity?’Mike,I understand your questions and respect your thought in a deep way. I have wrestled with them myself. I would say that even if evolution is the mode through which God made the heavens and the earth, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t “soley responsible.” In fact, it seems that he has been intimately at work in his creation from day one up till now! God creates and continues to create and will one day recreate all things in the world to perfection!!! (see revelation 21-22; Romans 8)