Monday, April 25, 2011

Would C.S. Lewis have supported ID?

HT: Victor Reppert

Michael Peterson argues that C.S. Lewis would not have supported ID. I think Peterson is mistaken.

First, I think he's mistaken in categorizing Lewis as accepting the classical philosophical arguments for God: cosmological and teleological. I know of no instance where Lewis argued for God's existence using either of those arguments, nor of any instance where he commended either or those arguments.

Second, I would have to look to find the passage, but somewhere Lewis wrote, "Whatever my objections to the theory of evolution, they are not theological in nature," or words to that effect. In other words, though he has no theological beef with evolution, he is willing to countenance empirical evidence against it, should it arise.

Third, we know that Lewis's general view of using science to support theological positions is a very tentative one. For example, he cites the evidence of quantum physics as evidence of a "subnature," and argues that if there is a subnature or backdoor, then there may also be a supernature or frontdoor. But then he writes, "but it is the glory of science to progress," and moves on to other arguments for the supernatural. In another location he does the same sort of thing with the new evidence that the universe had a beginning.

So Lewis is willing to use scientific evidence to bolster his arguments, but only in a very tentative way. He relies on more philosophical arguments for his main case.

So with that in mind, how would Lewis deal with ID arguments? Assuming that he thought they had any merit, he would say something like, "There seem to be some indications that science may have it wrong regarding the origin and evolution of life. It will be interesting to see how the debate continues to develop. But since I had a philosophical training, not a scientific one, I gladly leave that debate to others more qualified than myself, and turn to other arguments."

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