C.S. Lewis’ Critique of “Scientism”

C.S. Lewis held to many of the scientific conclusions of his day. Nonetheless, he was often critical of what others have sometimes called “scientism”—a worldview that treats science as a stand-alone teller of truth without a deeper epistemological basis and thus room for a metaphysics; a form of science that makes absolutist exclusive claims that lead it to assume more jurisdiction than its methodological parameters actually allow.

See the following quote from his lecture, “Is Theology Poetry?” or as we might rephrase it, Is Christianity nothing more than aesthetically pleasing mythology?


“The picture so often painted of Christians huddling together on an ever narrower strip of beach while the incoming tide of ‘Science’ mounts higher and higher corresponds to nothing in my own experience. That grand myth … is not for me a hostile novelty breaking in on my traditional beliefs. On the contrary, that cosmology is what I started from. Deepening distrust and final abandonment of it long preceded my conversion to Christianity. Long before I believed Theology to be true I had already decided that the popular scientific picture at any rate was false. One absolutely central inconsistency ruins it….

The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears. Unless we can be sure that reality in the remotest nebula or the remotest part obeys the thought laws of the human scientist here and now in his laboratory — in other words, unless Reason is an absolute — all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming.

Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based. The difficulty is to me a fatal one; and the fact that when you put it to many scientists, far from having an answer, they seem not even to understand what the difficulty is, assures me that I have not found a mare’s nest but detected a radical disease in their whole mode of thought from the very beginning. The man who has once understood the situation is compelled henceforth to regard the scientific cosmology as being, in principle, a myth; though no doubt a great many true particulars have been worked into it.

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How Can I Love Church Members with Different Politics? (Book Recommendation)

Although we believe the same things concerning our faith, Christians nonetheless often differ in their politics. How can this be? And when it does happen, how can we love those with whom we disagree? These are the exact questions Andy Naselli and Jonathan Leeman seek to answer in this short, practical book.

Purchase How Can I Love Church Members with Different Politics?

Listen to a free audio version of the book.

Access “Politics, Conscience, and the Church.”

See my podcast interview with Jonathan Leeman.

See the full list of Kirk’s recommended books.

Christ’s Lordship Over Our Relationships (Colossians 3:18-4:1)

Christ’s Lordship Over Our Relationships (Colossians 3:18-4:1)
CrossWay Community Church
September 25th, 2022

Podcast link.

See all other content in this series.


Edit: In the sermon, I mention that the word “Lord” (κύριος, otherwise translated “master”) is used eight times in 3:18-4:1, seven of which refer to Christ. That is not correct. I realized afterward that I miscounted. “Lord” is actually mentioned nine times, seven of which indeed refer to Christ (and one additional time if one includes the reference in 3:17).

Living as Christ’s New Community (Colossians 3:5-17)

Living as Christ’s New Community (Colossians 3:5-17)
CrossWay Community Church
September 18th, 2022

Podcast link.

See all other content in this series.

You should “church shop,” so says Screwtape

“My Dear Wormwood,

You mentioned casually in your last letter that the patient has continued to attend one church, and one only, since he was converted, and that he is not wholly pleased with it. May I ask what you are about? Why have I no report on the causes of his fidelity to the parish church? Do you realize that unless it is due to indifference it is a very bad thing? Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.

The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organization should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy [God] desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction.

In the second place, the search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil. What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise—does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in non-commenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going on. (You see how grovelling, how unspiritual, how irredeemably vulgar He is!) This attitude, especially during sermons, creates the condition (most hostile to our whole policy) in which platitudes can become really audible to a human soul. There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper. So pray bestir yourself and send this fool the round of the neighboring churches as soon as possible. Your record up to date has not given us much satisfaction.

Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape”

—C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters