I mistakenly thought I’d already read everything by C.S. Lewis, so I was both surprised and delighted when Samuel came home for Thanksgiving break with a book by Lewis that I’d never even heard of before. Luckily, it is very short (a series of three college lectures) and I was able to finish reading it before the break ended.
The first chapter is somewhat snarky and rambling, but The Abolition of Man soon settles down to a fascinating analysis of the relationship between science and Tao, the innate, traditional values that give human existence its meaning and humanness. The shortness of the book meant that it was less in-depth (though also, more difficult) than I would have wished. In fact, the very conciseness of some of the points makes it easy to miss their importance and paradigm-changing nature. For example:
“…But you cannot go on ‘explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to ‘see through’ first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see (81).”
Finding out that a couple fellow altos in choir are atheists made me want to rerereread Lewis’ compelling description of his philosophical journey from childhood, through atheism to Christianity. So much of what he says resonates with me and I always find it incredibly encouraging that such an intellectually uncompromising, well-read person would eventually find all signs pointing to God. I don’t love the book just because it supports my own religious convictions, though; I admire Lewis’ frank, disarming writing style and analytical approach to life.