C.S. Lewis and the Death of Humanity, or Heeding C.S. Lewis's Warnings against Dehumanizing Idealogies - page 2

 


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From the Fall 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

C.S. Lewis and the Death of Humanity, or
Heeding C.S. Lewis's Warnings against
Dehumanizing Idealogies

by Richard Weikart, Ph. D.
Professor of History at California State University, Stanislaus, and
Senior Fellow for the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute

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  If everyone’s behavior is determined, ultimately no one can choose to control others. We are all controlled. The claims by the intelligentsia that they have superior knowledge or wisdom to manipulate the rest of humanity are then vacuous, because the intelligentsia’s statements are as much the product of random, material processes as the ideas and behavior of the masses. Their beliefs or plans have no special claim to be true or good or beautiful, since none of these categories exists. So why do they get so worked up when proclaiming the superiority of their policies and aspirations? Why do they become indignant at those who—through no fault of their own (since “fault” is nonexistent, according to their worldview)—continue to embrace values they oppose? Perhaps they would respond—if they want to be consistent with their own deterministic philosophy—that they cannot help themselves. But I propose that at some level they view their beliefs as being superior to others’. Perhaps their indignation also indicates that they do think that others have some choice about their beliefs and values.
  The result of this impoverished view of humanity—that people are nothing more than clumps of chemicals thrown together by chance—is illustrated in Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength. In this dystopia, scientists establish a National Institute of Coordinated Experiments (NICE), an agency that experiments on humans, to manage and transform the society. These scientists see themselves as the new controllers of humanity, and they use every technique in their arsenal to manipulate their fellow humans—including torture and other not-so-NICE methods. They recruit the protagonist of the novel, Mark Studdock, to their program by telling him that since controlling humanity is inevitable, he might as well join them as a controller, rather than hesitating and becoming one of the controlled.

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