C.S. Lewis and the Death of Humanity, or
Heeding C.S. Lewis's Warnings against
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
In the view of the scientists at NICE, only physical reality matters, so “friendship is a chemical phenomenon; so is hatred.”5 Humans, being a conglomeration of chemicals subject to natural laws, have no special purpose or value. The NICE program involves extermination of those considered riffraff and human experimentation to move the species to a higher evolutionary stage. Nothing about humanity is sacred. As a sociologist, Studdock accepts most of these ideas at first—until he finds that he and other scientists at NICE are themselves the targets of manipulation and control. He rebels against the attempts to treat him as just another reagent in the elaborate experiment to reengineer society.
Lewis’s warnings against the “abolition of man” were certainly astute in the mid-twentieth century. Because so few people have heeded these warnings, they have not lost any of their poignancy. Indeed, the problems he exposed are more pronounced today than in his time; we need vigorous and compelling warnings to bring people to their senses.
Starting from a secular perspective, where human life is reduced to material processes, many intellectuals deny that human life has any intrinsic value or purpose or meaning. Many bioethicists are devaluing human life by arguing that some humans are “persons,” while others are not. These “nonpersons” generally include the unborn and those with cognitive disabilities. Some secular bioethicists, such as Peter Singer at Princeton, consign even newborn infants to the category of “nonpersons,” while others advocate “after-birth abortions.”
Because of these dehumanizing cultural tendencies, we need to embrace and even celebrate the value and significance of all humans, especially the weak and vulnerable, such as people with disabilities. Whatever their characteristics, all humans are made in the image of God and deserve our love. They are not merely some cosmic accident that emerged from random, impersonal processes. They are not merely a hunk of matter for us to manipulate or dominate.
This means we should once again take to heart Lewis’s admonitions to resist the rising tide of dehumanizing philosophies. With love and humility, but also with courage and boldness, we need to proclaim to our “culture of death” the sage words in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
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