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EPISODE 18: After Humanity, A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man

C. S. Lewis’s book The Abolition of Man may be one of his most important books. Unfortunately, it’s also one of his most difficult books. We all need some help getting the full force of the important argument in it. Michael Ward has written a very helpful guide and shows how Lewis’s insights were prophetic when he wrote them in 1943 and may be even more important in our current day and age.

Show Notes:

After Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man

by Michael Ward


Welcome to Questions That Matter, a podcast of the C.S. Lewis Institute. I'm your host, Randy Newman, and today my conversation partner is Michael Ward. Michael, welcome to Questions That Matter.

Thank you, Randy. Good to be with you.

What Is Black Friars Hall?

I should tell our listeners. Michael is a senior research fellow at Black friars Hall at the University of Oxford and also a professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University. He’s the author of the award-winning book Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis, and he's the author of a brand new book, After Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. That's going to be the topic of our conversation. But, Michael, tell us just a little bit, because I think our listeners might wonder, what is Black friars Hall? What is that about?

Yes. Black friars is one of the constituent colleges at the University of Oxford. Well, to give it it’s strict terminology, it’s one of the constituent halls. There are halls and colleges that makeup the University of Oxford, about 40 of them in total. I think most Americans won't be familiar with the collegiate constitution of a university, but that's how Oxford and Cambridge are formed. And so each college has its own fellows and does its own admissions and formally grants degrees. And the university is a sort of nebulous, epiphenomenal, ectoplasmic manifestation which arises from the colleges, but whether it really exists is a matter of great debate.

Well, I don't know whether that helped our listeners be more impressed or less impressed. But we Americans, we're just always impressed with things related to Oxford and Cambridge. So I won't ask any more questions. I will tell our listeners Michael has lectured for us about Planet Narnia and other things about Lewis's life when we've done our Belfast Oxford study tours, and it has really been a great contribution for us. So, Lord willing, we're going to be able to start those tours again. We sure hope so. We had to curtail them with COVID, but it would be great to have you again on some of those trips and lecturing for us.

But let's dive into this book that you've just come out with about Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. The Abolition of Man, I think... Many people say this: It's one of Lewis's most important books and yet it may be one of his most difficult. It is a difficult book to read. And for those who haven't read it, can you give us kind of an intro to it or maybe an overview of what it's about?

Yes. It is a difficult book by Lewis's standards because he's usually so extremely accessible and lucid. And he's not impenetrable here. It's still, by the standards of professional Philosophical discourse, it's very amenable to an easy read. But still, that being said, it’s relatively hard going.

It’s about the subject of objective value, and it originated as a series of lectures that Lewis gave during the Second World War at the University of Durham, not at Oxford, as it happens. It’s partly a defense of objective value, but it's also a forecast. It's a prophecy, really, about what might happen, what very probably will happen if a subjectivist approach to ethics is adopted. It will lead, Lewis says, to a kind of... well, give the title of the book.

It will lead to the abolition of our humanity. It will be an erasure of our true identity as moral creatures, because he has this picture of man in three sections: head, belly, and chest. The head rules the belly through the chest, he says. From the head upwards, we're spiritual, we’re rational, we're like the angels, or just possibly like the demons. From the belly downwards, we’re like the animals. But in the chest, we have this liaison officer between the rational side of us and the appetitive or sensual side of us. And it's this chest, this middle region, which constitutes our humanity. And if we don't accept the objectivity of value, if we try to imagine that we can create our own moral values, then we will have effectively collapsed the head and the belly into one. They'll no longer be this liaison officer between the two, and we’ll either, as a result, descend into animality, or we’ll evaporate up into pure spirituality, which is not necessarily a good thing, because we are meant to be rational animals. We're not meant to be like the angels. And if we try to be like the angels, we'll very probably end up like the devils.

So that, in a crude summary, is what The Abolition of Man is about. But it's a lot more sophisticated than that, of course, and if our listeners haven't ever read it, a good way to get into it actually, is not through just plunging straight in, but I would recommend instead that listeners read the first four chapters of Mere Christianity. That's a kind of popularized, much more accessible version of the same set of arguments. Or his essay, “The Poison of Subjectivism,” or another essay he wrote on ethics. All of these are tackling the same sorts of issues, but from slightly different angles, with a slightly more accessible register.

Oh, that's really very helpful. I was going to ask you about how do you recommend people get into it. That's right, Mere Christianity were a series of radio broadcasts for a very popular audience, certainly not an academic audience, but these lectures, these three lectures that make up The Abolition of Man, those are academic lectures in an academic setting.

There’s three lectures. The first one is called “Men without Chests,” and the second one is called “The Way,” and then the third one is “The Abolition of Man.” And you say in your guide, “If chapter one was ‘The Checkup’ and chapter two ‘The Diagnosis, ‘Chapter three is ‘The Prognosis,’ and it does not make for comfortable reading.” Sorry, I don't know why I'm laughing. It’s really true. I've often thought, as I've read it or reread it, I thought, “Oh, how I wish he was wrong.” But he's so very right and current, becoming more and more relevant in our time than maybe even when he delivered these addresses. I don't know. I mean, he was so prophetic and looking ahead. Can you say a Little bit more about his phrase “men without chests?” What's involved there? You’ve already touched on it a little bit, but I wonder if you can say some more.

Yes. Well, the importance of this chest, this philosophical component of our nature which connects our rational side with our sensual, passionate side, this chest is the place where we stabilize our sentiments. A lot of what Lewis is attacking really arises from a suspicion about sentiments and emotion, that emotions are bad, feelings are incapable of being in any sense true. We must rely exclusively upon a very kind of cerebral and body less sort of logic. But that’s a dehumanizing attitude to strike. We shouldn't be afraid of emotions. We should only be afraid of unreasonable or irrational emotions. But emotions are not outside the bounds of rationality. They just need to be, as it were... well, stabilized. That's the word Lewis uses. And they're stabilized by the practice of the virtues, by the generation of a stable moral character.

So the chest is the place of just and civilized sentiments, so that we can integrate our rational side and our feeling side. Because Lewis, in his early years, had felt himself very sort of polarized. He talked about the two hemispheres of his mind being in the sharpest contrast to each other, that on the one side, he faced a world of facts without one trace of value, but on the other side, he faced a world of feelings without one trace of truth or falsehood. And this polarization or opposition between the world of fact and the world of value is what he's trying to overcome by talking about this central organ, if you like, which is the chest, which liaises between the factual head and the feeling belly.

And he didn't just believe that. He really lived that out, and his writings engage both the head and the heart. That's how I think of the head and the imagination. We talk about discipleship of the heart and mind. He didn't just resist, but he fought back against this idea that we're going to put these in two separate categories and they're not connected.

Do you want to deliver my favorite line of the book? Or would you allow... his statement about men without chests. I think it's just one of the most profound in the whole entire book. But I was thinking, “Well, I really want to read that.” But then I thought, “Well, that's not fair to Michael because it's such a good line,” but do you know what I'm talking about? And would you like to deliver it?

Is that the line about the geldings?


Okay. Yeah. This is the very end of the first chapter of The Abolition of Man. And I'm just turning to it in my copy of the book.

He starts, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity...”

Yes, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings, “be fruitful!’”

I just think that's just one of the most... Once you see it, once you read it, and once you get it, then you see it so many places, and it becomes increasingly disturbing. For years, was involved with faculty ministry on university campuses, and a building theme over the years was professors growing in horror and dismay that students lied and stole information and quoted without giving attribution and plagiarizing and not showing up to class. And yet, at the same time, the universities were also teaching the students that there’s no such thing as right and wrong. There’s no such thing as truth. Everyone makes up their own morals. And yet people were horrified that, when they made up their own morals, their morals said, “I don't have to come to class. I don't have to do assignments.

“I remember one student who was involved in our work, was told by... professor gave this long lecture about, “Words have no meaning in and of themselves. Words only mean the meaning we attribute to them.” And the student raised her hand and said, “Does that apply to the words in the syllabus as well? And does that apply to the assignments that are due? Or can I attribute the meaning of nothing is due and I don’t have to come to class?” But so, again, Lewis says we remove the organ and demand the function. That's men without chests. And what he's saying is it's the whole education system that has created this monster.

Yes, absolutely. And he gives very amusing but terrible fictional expression to that idea in one of the Narnia Chronicles, The Silver Chair, which starts out at a very modern coeducational school, which has imbibed very thoroughly this subjectivist approach to ethics. I’ll just read you a couple of sentences because it speaks exactly to what you just described. “This school was coeducational, a school for both boys and girls, what used to be called a mixed school. Some said it was not nearly so mixed as the minds of the people who ran it. These people had the idea that boys and girls should be allowed to do what they liked. And unfortunately, what ten or fifteen of the biggest boys and girls liked best was bullying the others.

“So, yes, of course. As soon as you say it's a free for all, morally speaking, what do you get? You get the law of the jungle, and right is replaced by might. And this is precisely what Lewis is arguing in the third chapter of The Abolition of Man. And really throughout the whole book. He quotes the old Roman satirist Juvenal, who says, “This I will, so I command. Let my will take the place of reason.” He quotes the Latin, and I explain it in English in my guide, as I do all sorts of Greek and French phrases as well.

Willpower replaces practical moral reason if value is not objective. If everything is subjective, then we still have passions and desires, and we still want to be thought to be right and wrong. But we’ll now have no rational basis for arguing to a position of right and wrong. So all we can do is assert our views and shout down those who disagree with us. The idea that we could ever have any sort of rational discourse about moral value leading to genuine free persuasion to take on a new position, that just goes out the window.

If you've ever talked to financial planners, they tell you how important it is to diversify your portfolio, to have investments in stocks and bonds and different kinds of stocks, growth and value stocks, and different kinds of bonds, short term, medium, long term bonds. And a friend of mine who does a great deal of consulting for people about finances talks about people also need to have a diverse portfolio of their giving, a giving portfolio, where they give some of the money that God has provided for them to their church, but then also to ministries outside their church, and then, within that, a variety of different ministries. So some ministries are very much evangelizing parts of the world where people have never heard the gospel. Some are ministries of mercy, providing food and shelter and clothing for people who need them, and a whole wide range of different kinds of ministries. And I found that to be fascinating. And I think it's worth looking at our budget and see the side that talks about giving and diversify within that.

And probably the quadrant or the segment in the chart that needs particular attention are the ones that don't seem the most crucial or pressing in the short run, but in the long run, they're incredibly important, like ministries of discipleship, like what we do at the C.S. Lewis Institute. So we hope you'll prayerfully consider becoming a supporter or increasing your financial support of our ministry. Please visit our website,, and click the button that says Donate. We'd love it if you could be a partner with us.

And Lewis saw this and wrote this in the 1940s. Was it during World War II that he wrote this?

Yes. He delivered these lectures in February 1943. So, yeah, right, slap bang in the middle of the Second World War.

And you say in your book, though, that World War I may have played more of a part in Lewis’s formulating these ideas. Can you say more about that?

Yes. Well, of course, by the time the Second World War came about, Lewis was pretty much in his middle age, and he had formulated most of his basic ideas about right and wrong some decades earlier. And so I point out that it's often said that, if you want to understand a figure from the past, a good question to ask is, “What was going on in the world when he was 20?”And when C.S. Lewis was 20, the First World War was just coming to an end. Indeed, the armistice was signed in the very month that Lewis turned 20, in November 1918, and nearly three quarters of a million British servicemen had been killed in the First World War. Lewis himself had been very nearly one of them. He was blown up by a shell that annihilated the man next to him and very nearly killed him. He had a sort of almost out of body experience and thought that he was dead. One of his close friends was killed, Paddy Moore, and because of Paddy Moore's death, the whole course of Lewis’s life was changed. Lewis had promised Moore that if the worst should happen, that he, Lewis, would look after Paddy's mother and sister. And so after Paddy was killed, Lewis kept his promise and went on to live with these two women, Jane the mother and Maureen the sister, for the next several decades. So I mention this because in The Abolition of Man, he argues that the crucial test of the objectivity Of value is death for a good cause. And that's where he quotes the Roman poet Horace, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” “It's sweet and seemly to die for one's country.” And this is the crucial test of the objectivity of value, because for as long as doing the right thing sits well with us, for as long as it's convenient and easy, it's hard to tell whether it's truly objective or not. It might be just advantageous to us. It might just be in accord with our private preferences and whims. But as soon as we have to do something which we don’t actually want to do, like fight for our country and possibly suffer and die for our country, well, then we begin to realize that actually we are according to an objective reality outside ourselves, which is more than just an internal projection onto external reality.

So when Lewis talks about death for a good cause being the crucial test of the objectivity value, he's not just theorizing, he's drawing upon some crucial early experiences as a Youngman that he had himself as a young officer in the British Army, and which he saw taken to the absolute nth degree in the case of his friend Paddy.

So one of the nice things, one of the things I'm proudest about in this new guide that I’ve produced is found a photograph. It's the only photograph of Lewis in uniform when he was a young cadet in the British Army. And although this photograph has been published before once or twice, nobody has ever identified in the photograph Paddy Moore, who's standing a few figures along from C.S. Lewis. I point out Paddy Moore, and it’s rather moving to see this photograph of the two men, and one will be dead within the year, and the other's life will be completely changed as a result of that death.

Right, right.

So behind all this philosophizing, there's a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. There's an existential component to Lewis's argument in The Abolition of Man, which is one of the reasons I think that it has such moral authority. And it strikes us as being truly important, because it was truly important to C.S. Lewis.

New Discoveries

Well, you do include a whole bunch of photographs, and that just adds a great deal of depth, I think. You read parts about what people said and then here's a photo of the person. I got the idea that, in the process of writing or doing the research for this book, you came across some things that were like new discoveries, just like you just said. Now, a rare photograph of Lewis in uniform. The first time we see a photo of Paddy Moore. Were there other things that kind of came along that were surprises to you?

Yes. A number of things, including, most pleasingly, Lewis's original blurb for The Abolition of Man, which had never been published before and which nobody seemed to know about. It’s located in the archives of the University of Durham, where Lewis gave the original lectures. And it would appear that even the great and late, alas, Walter Hooper, who died in December, God rest him, and who has done so much to promote the study of C.S. Lewis over the last 50odd years, even Walter Hooper, I think, had never actually gone to the University of Durham and looked at the archives there. So that's entirely new, and I was able to get permission from the C.S. Lewis estate to publish this little paragraph in Lewis’s own handwriting and include that in the photo gallery, along with the original poster that Durham University put out to advertise Lewis’s talks and any number of other interesting things. For my own money, the best thing about the book is the pictures. I'm rather like Alice in Wonderland. What is the use of a book without pictures?

Now, I had decided not to make a statement like that, because that would be like insulting on my part as an interviewer, say, “Ooh, look! There's pictures.” But let the listeners note, it was the author, the man in Oxford, who said, “Ooh, I like the pictures. “Speaking of pictures, by the way, when I was in Oxford, I went into—what's the bookstore there? Blackwell’s?

Yeah, Blackwell’s.

Blackwell’s Bookstore. And I don't know why I gravitate towards C.S. Lewis sections in bookstores because I already have so many books. I can't imagine I'm going to see, “Ooh! I hadn't seen this one.” But I gravitate anyway, and I saw a copy of The Abolition of Man, and it had a cover on that I had never seen before. And maybe in the UK they published them with different covers or whatever, but this picture, a photograph on the cover of the book—I don't know if you've seen this, of The Abolition of Man. It's a photograph of a dog wearing a hat and scarf. And it was just so shocking to see it. I thought, “What a crazy picture.” I mean, it's a very, very fancy hat and a very, very nice quality scarf around this dog, who's just staring at you in the picture. And I thought, “Oh, that's brilliant. That's just brilliant.” Because Lewis’s point is, if we keep going down this subjective route, we will abolish humanity. And the title of your book is After Humanity. And what we're doing is we're equating ourselves with dogs. And in our day, people do dress up their dogs with fancy clothes and treat their dogs with greater dignity than they give to their fellow human beings. So it was funny, it was arresting, and then like a bitter pill of, “Oh, I wish they wouldn't have done that,” again coming back to, “Oh, I wish Lewis was wrong.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I agree. I do know that cover. It's one of my favorite cover designs for The Abolition of Man, because, as you say, at first glance, it's almost funny. It's the sort of thing children might do to dress up a pet. But when you understand it in the context of Lewis’s argument, it's very, very far from funny. It's tragic. And as you say, yes, it's to suggest that, if we erase the objectivity of value, we're no better than dogs. But of course, the other side of the picture is that, if we erase the objectivity of value, we're trying to make ourselves gods. Dogs and gods, they're sort of mirror images of each other. And we are not called to be gods, we are called to be human beings.

Now, of course, as we grow up in Christ, we become partakers of the divine nature, yes, in Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity that we might share in His divinity. But that's a very different way of being divinized than this self-assertive and ultimately blasphemous approach, which is akin to the men of Babel, the Tower of Babel story from the Book of Genesis, that we will build a tower to the heavens and make a name for ourselves, and by going up so high, we will effectively make ourselves divine by sheer willpower. That, Of course, is relevant to Lewis's argument, because the story of the Tower of Babel, which Lewis is referencing in the fictional counterpart to The Abolition of Man, That Hideous Strength, the third book in his Ransom trilogy. That hideous strength that phrase “that hideous strength” is actually a quotation from a poem about the Tower of Babel.

Oh, okay.

It’s a 16th century poem about the men of Babel who are trying to make a name for themselves, and this is precisely what happens. But, to go back to the cover design, it's easier to depict men becoming dogs than men becoming gods. As regards the cover design ofAfter Humanity, you'll see that it's got a picture of a man standing in front of a waterfall.

OH, yes, yes.

And I was very pleased with the publishers, Word on Fire Academic, with the picture they came up there because, on the one hand, it suggests the sublime waterfall, the glorious cataract that Lewis opens his argument with. Is it truly sublime or is it only merely pretty? Can we say that waterfalls have any kind of objective value? So on the one hand, it references that side of Lewis's discussion, but on the other, there's just the faint sense that this waterfall, if the man isn't careful, will sweep him away. Apre le deluge. There will be no man left. And Word on Fire Academic were able to persuade Harper Collins, the publisher’s of the Abolition of Man, to release a new edition of The Abolition of Man with a matching photograph, a detail of that waterfall picture. So if our listeners go to the Word on Fire website and try to order the book, they'll get a free copy of The Abolition of Man with this matching cover. I'm very pleased with how the design has come together.

Oh, great! Yes, yes. I was impressed with that as well. So that's really great. And those things are not insignificant, the cover design and the artwork. Well, I should have started with this question: So what was it that prompted you to write this guide? I mean, it’s really great, because it has so much background information of what was going on at the time of the writing and in Lewis's life and his interaction. But then you just walkthrough the book with commentary line by line, explaining things that people might not know because of gap in time or just understanding background that Lewis was assuming. So it really is a guide. You have it open, and you have the text of Lewis's book, and you have one finger here and one finger here, and, “Oh, oh, that's what he meant. “And so it’s annotated really well, but something tells me that you wanted to work on this project more than just, “Oh, I like this book, and I want people to like it, too.

“Yes. What prompted me to begin working on it initially was an invitation from someone to write a forward to an edition of The Abolition of Man. And as I began that forward, it grew and it grew and it grew until I thought, “Golly, I'm basically writing an entire guide and commentary,” and by a rather convoluted process, it ended up with this publisher, Word on Fire Academic, and in a way, I think it's quite a good project for me to have done, because I’m not a philosopher. I've never studied philosophy. I don't teach philosophy. I studied English and theology for my two degrees. So, therefore, it's not easy for me, The Abolition of Man. And I have found in my own teaching experience that my students, too, even if they’re reasonably philosophically literate, they still find The Abolition of Man quite hard. So I’ve found, in my own experience and in the experience of my students, that The Abolition of Man resists access in a certain way. It's a brilliant, profound work once you can get into it, but it’s not easy. And I think the best teaching is done from those who have had to struggle with the issue themselves. And I am just one such person.

And I've found that The Abolition of Man, and indeed That Hideous Strength, are incredibly nourishing and helpful works. And so I want to assist my readers in getting to the same sort of appreciation of them as I have managed to get to.

Oh, that's really helpful, and I hope our listeners catch that. So that you're writing this book, not from a posture of, “Come on, you guys! You should be able to read this. I mean, I read it. I understood it. Here, why can't you read it?” It doesn't come across the way at all, but sometimes I think that's kind of... I don't know. When someone recommends a difficult book, very often I think people just assume, “Oh, they must find that easy. And I don't think I'll ever be able to read the book.” But you just identified yourself as a fellow struggler. Are you reminded? I love Lewis’s introduction to Reflections on the Psalms. And in that introduction, he says, “I'm not a Hebrew scholar. I’m a fellow student, and perhaps that's how I can help more. The fellow student can help more because he knows less.” I love that.

Yes, yes. He goes on and says, “I write for the unlearned about things in which I am myself unlearned.” And yes, that describes my situation vis-à-vis The Abolition of Man very nicely.

Oh, good.

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Well, two more things here before we close: He has this whole big section about the Tao. Readers, I think, for the first time, will see it and want to pronounce it the Tao, but it’s pronounced Dao. And I think some Christians may get alarmed by that. It sounds like, “Oh, is he sneaking in Eastern religion in here?” And what he's saying is... I think he’s saying that this Tao is a statement of truths that all people should acknowledge, but can you help us a little bit more about that whole thing about the Tao, so people don't get to that page in the book and say, “Oh, no! I didn't know Lewis was a heretic!” So help us there, please.

Yes, I will. And the Tao is a term from Confucian philosophy, and by it, Lewis is referring to this great fund or reservoir of moral law, which he regards as objective and universal. It's a kind of moral ecology that we all exist within. We didn't create it. We didn't invent it. We've Discovered it, and we can't get out of it. And he uses this Chinese term for a couple of reasons: One is to remind his readers that he's not just making an apologetic for Christianity. What he’s doing in The Abolition of Man is advancing a philosophical case. He's not making a theological argument. He's not getting as far as a belief in God, let alone a belief in Jesus Christ. All he is trying to do is establish this philosophical groundwork for a definition of what it means to be a moral human being. And so, by going all the way to the east, to Chinese philosophy, he sort of underscores that point. He's not arguing for a Western view of reality, let alone a Christian view of reality, though, of course, it's compatible with the Christian view of reality. He's arguing purely from philosophy.

There are other reasons, too, why he uses the Tao. One of them has to do with the fact that—and this I go into in the guide—that his implicit target behind a lot of what he says is a man called I.A. Richards, Ivor Richards. And Richards had had a great interest in China and all things Chinese, and so I think Lewis's choice to use the word Tao is a sort of implicit dig at Richards. Richards is mentioned in the course of The Abolition of Man, but not much is explained about him. And this is one of the things that I learnt most about in the course of researching this book, the importance of Richards to Lewis’s thought in this connection. Lewis is taking potshots at Richards all over the place, not just in The Abolition of Man, but in a lot of his other writings, too. So I have a picture of I.A. Richards.

And also I quote a very amusing episode when they met in Oxford. Richards was hosted by Lewis. It must have been after some debate, I suppose. I'm not quite clear what the actual occasion was, but Richards was staying at Magdalen College, and Lewis had forgotten to find him a room. But he discovered that one of his colleagues at Magdalen was away for the night. So he said, “Oh, Richards, you can stay in Collingwood's room,” and said, “Oh, but there’s nothing for you to read. Wait there. I’ll come straight back with something for you to read. “And then Lewis pops back from his own room with a copy of Richard's own book, The Principles of Literary Criticism. “Here's something that should put you to sleep,” Lewis says. But Richards couldn't get to sleep because the margins of the copy of his own book were full of Lewis’s own biting disagreements.

Yes, I saw that in the section with the pictures. Sometimes Lewis could be quite pointed. Well, I want to finish with the title of the book. Why did you land on After Humanity?

Three reasons: One is, as we've already suggested, that the eradication of a belief in the objectivity of value destroys our humanity. And Lewis himself uses the term post humanity in the course of his argument, so it's a gesture towards that.

The second reason is that I'm nodding to a great work of philosophy called After Virtue by Alistair McIntyre, which, if you like, is the same set of arguments as Lewis's, just done at greater length and in more depth. And indeed, I have a photograph of Alistair McIntyre in the photo gallery, and I quote from After Virtue a few times where it seems to be relevant to Lewis’s case.

And the third thing I'm trying to do, because the word after has two meanings. It can mean post, it can mean subsequent to. But you can also talk about going after humanity, seeking after, searching after the true humanity. And so, right at the end, I point out how Lewis’s appendix to the book finishes with a quotation from John’s gospel. Jesus’s words, “Unless a grain of wheat die, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. If you lose your life, you will find it.” That's the very final quotation in The Abolition of Man, in the appendix.

And that's an implicit acknowledgment on Lewis's part that his argument is really Christian, even though it's made from purely philosophical premises. His Christianity peeps through at that point, as it were, and it's a nod to the reader. Let the reader understand, really. If you’re looking for the place where the chest, this moral chest, has reached its most perfect development, you need to look at Jesus. It is to Jesus that we should look if we are seeking after humanity.

That’s great! That’s great! And I think that that may be the best place for us to bring our conversation to a close, although hopefully not an end. I look forward to talking about this some more, maybe when we're there in Oxford some time. I know you said you’d like to come visit our headquarters. I like that idea. But I like the idea of us coming over to Oxford. That's more exciting, I think, for me, on my side. But yes, this book and your guide to help us really understand all of it can prepare us, not just for making critical arguments against the way things are going, but also to make a very positive statement about how wonderful it is to be a human being, what dignity there is in being a person created in the image of God. And we're not on the same level with dogs, no matter how well we dress them up. And there's something really beautiful about having both head and heart, head and chest. And so it can point people to a much, much better alternative.

And I think those are going to be great opportunities for us in our time, because I think people are going to see where these despairing things go, and yet they're going to say, “But why is there something inside crying out for more or better or fuller?” So may it be that your book would equip Christians, not just to understand Lewis better, but to understand our world better, our time better, and to have an evangelistic passion the way Lewis did. And may it be that God would use us in that way. Do you have any final comments that you'd like to say before we close?

Only to underline and second and emphasize the very great value of what you've just said, that, yes, the whole point of this book is not to fixate upon the text of The Abolition of Man, nor to fixate upon C. S. Lewis, but to get clear in our minds the importance of the objectivity of value as an anthropological truth, as a way of enabling rational moral discourse, so that we and our fellow human beings, be they Christians or not, can have some sort of baseline on which to thrash out our differences through a peaceful encounter. Not through violent assertion of our will over someone else's will, because, although, as I pointed out, Lewis is not basing his argument in The Abolition of Man on Christian terminology, it's entirely compatible with the Christian understanding of the conscience and of the image of God in Man that we do know right and wrong. This is part of how we're hardwired as human beings. And indeed, you don't have to be a Christian to have a conscience.

As St. Paul says in the letter to the Romans, even the Gentiles without the law are a law unto themselves, as their conscience now convicts them and now acquits them. So there are people of goodwill, non-Christians of good will, that we hopefully can interact with more intelligently and more fully once we've got some of these ideas securely in place.

Great. Well, Michael Ward, you have served us well in this podcast and in writing this book and in all your writing. So we're very, very grateful. To our listeners, I want to close and say we hope that this podcast and all of our resources at the C.S. Lewis Institute will help you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and to proclaim Him as the way, the truth, and the life.

Thanks for listening to Questions That Matter. You can find out more about the topics that we address in the show notes, and if you have questions or feedback on this episode or any episode really, you can reach me at[email protected]. I know that's a ridiculous email address, but I'll say it again: [email protected].If you enjoyed this or you're benefiting from listening to these, please subscribe to the podcast, share the information with your friends, let people know through your social network that this is a podcast worth listening to. Thanks.

Brought to you by the C.S. Lewis Institute and the Questions That Matter Podcast with Randy Newman.

COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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