C.S. Lewis and Materialism
by John West
Nearly half-a-century later, Lewis’s question still resonates. Modern society continues to operate largely on the materialistic premises of such thinkers as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. Yet few today feel at home in the materialist universe where God does not exist, where ideas do not matter, and where every human behavior is reduced to non-rational causes.
C. S. Lewis spent much of his life debunking the sterility of materialist thinking; and his insights are as relevant now as when they were first offered, because our culture remains dominated by four of materialism’s most deadly legacies.
Rejection of Reason and Truth
Materialism’s first deadly legacy is the rejection of reason and objective truth. Nineteenth-century materialists depicted our thoughts as the irrational products of environment or heredity or brain chemistry. As a consequence, the intellectual classes became convinced that only the reality was material, and thus the only true explanations were reductive. If you wanted to explain a flower, you described its cell structure, not its beauty. If you wanted to explain human beings, you looked not to their greatest achievements, but to the raw materials that made them up. This sort of reductionism permeates contemporary society, from politics and the social sciences to literature and the performing arts…
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