Progressing Toward What? C.S. Lewis & “The Abolition of Man”

Aug 9, 2018 by

Seventy-five years after the publication of C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man, it is safe to say that the scientists and technologists and state makers and educational institutions and corporations have continued on the deadly path of making man not in the image of God, as manifested in nature, but in the image of some men, as manipulated by nature…

What do the progressives really hope to achieve? And, to what end, if there really is an end? And, by what standard? And, how would we measure the results?

As mentioned in my previous essays here at The Imaginative Conservative regarding the seventy-fifth anniversary of the masterpiece, The Abolition of Man, its author C.S. Lewis feared that “progress” was really a kind, propagandistic term meaning—intentionally or unwittingly—power. It is, as Lewis correctly notes, the “magician’s bargain.” With the sale of our soul, we get some power. When the progressives (materialists all) spoke and wrote of “nature,” they did not mean purpose or end, and they did not mean essence. Instead, they meant the actual physical world, manipulated through science, numbers, and calculations. Sadly, they see persons not as persons, but as people, mere material to be manipulated, just as nature is manipulated. Let’s be honest, Lewis suggests: “What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be as power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.” One must recognize that for any one generation to shape itself or delimit itself—whether through birth control, sterilization, intellectual and emotional propaganda, genetic manipulation, or eugenics—it is acting the tyrant over all future generations. In their hubris, those manipulating argue that they are manipulating for the sake of the greater good, but they are really manipulating because they have convinced themselves as to exactly how man should look. That is, they ignore that man has been made by the creator as Imago Dei, a particular expression of a universal principle and truth. Instead, they believe that through their own understanding they know what a man should be and how he should act and what he should desire or not. “Each new power won by man is a power over man as well,” Lewis writes.

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