A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 9.02.2005

    Star Wars and Perelandra

    Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength comprise a science fiction space trilogy written by C.S. Lewis. (New York, Scribner, copyright 1944, renewed 1972.)

    I read them years ago but now am reading them again. George Lucas used his Star Wars trilogy to convey most definitely a non-Christian worldview. Lewis uses the same genre, ahead of Lucas, to convey a Christian one. (And he does a masterful job, if you are willing to dig for it.)

    I have placed Lewis and Lucas next to each other for a purpose, assuming the reader is familiar with the phenomenon that is Star Wars. Notice the copyrights on Lewis’s space stories: 1944 and 1972.

    My last post was about Larry King and Intelligent Design. One of the persons interviewed was Deepak Chopra. I do not know anything about Chopra except from what he said in the interview. Although he may claim some distinctions from Lucas’s philosophy, Lucas and Chopra appear to be philosophical kin.

    When I read again the following excerpt, I could not help but think of Lucas, Chopra, --and how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Below is an excerpt from Perelandra [abridged for the purposes of blogging]. You do not need to know the story to appreciate the piece. Keep in mind that Ransom is the protagonist and Weston the antagonist. These two had a previous adventure in the world of Malacandra (in Out of the Silent Planet ). They are now entering into a battle for the pure world of Perelandra. Study their initial conversation on this strange planet. The battle that is just beginning.

    Weston speaks
    “The rigours of our return journey from Malacandra led to a serious breakdown in my health--”

    “Mine too,” said Ransom.

    Weston looked somewhat taken aback at the interruption and went on. “During my convalescence I had that leisure for reflection which I had denied myself for many years. In particular I reflected on the objections you had felt to that liquidation of the non-human inhabitants of Malacandra which was, of course, the necessary preliminary to its occupation by our own species. The traditional and, if I may say so, the humanitarian form in which you advanced these objections had till then concealed from me their true strength. That strength I now began to perceive. I began to see that my own exclusive devotion to human utility was really based on an unconscious dualism.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I mean that all my life I had been making a wholly unscientific dichotomy or antithesis between Man and Nature--had conceived myself fighting for Man against his non-human environment. During my illness, I plunged into Biology, and particularly into what may be called biological philosophy. Hitherto, as a physicist, I had been content to regard Life as a subject outside my scope. The conflicting views of those who drew a sharp line between the organic and the inorganic and those who held that what we call Life was inherent in matter from the very beginning had not interested me. Now it did. I saw almost at once that I could admit no break, no discontinuity, in the unfolding of the cosmic process. I became a convinced believer in emergent evolution. All in one. The stuff of mind, the unconsciously purposive dynamism, is present from the very beginning.”

    Here he paused. Ransom had heard this sort of thing pretty often before and wondered when his companion was coming to the point. When Weston resumed it was with an even deeper solemnity of tone.

    “The majestic spectacle of this blind, inarticulate purposiveness thrusting its way upward and ever upward in an endless unity of differentiated achievements towards an ever-increasing complexity of organisation, towards spontaneity and spirituality, swept away all my old conception of a duty to Man as such. Man in himself is nothing. The forward movement of Life--the growing spirituality--is everything. I say to you quite freely, Ransom, that I should have been wrong in liquidating the Malacandrians. It was a mere prejudice that made me prefer our own race to theirs. To spread spirituality, not to spread the human race, is henceforth my mission. This sets the coping-stone on my career. I worked first for myself; then for science; then for humanity; but now at the last for Spirit itself--I might say, borrowing language which will be more familiar to you, the Holy Spirit.”

    “Now what exactly do you mean by that?” asked Ransom.

    “I mean,” said Weston, “that nothing now divides you and me except a few outworn theological technicalities with which organised religion has unhappily allowed itself to be incrusted. But I have penetrated the crust. The Meaning beneath it is as true and living as ever. If you will excuse me for putting it that way, the essential truth of the religious view of life finds a remarkable witness in the fact that it enabled you, on Malacandra, to grasp, in your own mythical and imaginative fashion, a truth which was hidden from me.”

    “I don’t know much about what people call the religious view of life,” said Ransom, wrinkling his brow. “You see, I’m a Christian. And what we mean by the Holy Ghost is not a blind, inarticulate purposiveness...”

    “My dear Ransom,” said Weston, “I understand you perfectly. I have no doubt that my phraseology will seem strange to you, and perhaps even shocking....Call it it a Force. A great, inscrutable Force, pouring up into us from the dark bases of being....”

    “Look here, “ said Ransom, “one wants to be careful about this sort of thing. There are spirits and spirits you know.”
    “Eh?” said Weston. “What are you talking about?”

    “I mean a thing might be a spirit and not good for you.”

    “But I thought you agreed that Spirit was the good--then end of the whole process? I thought you religious people were all out for spirituality? What is the point of asceticism--fasts and celibacy and all that? Didn’t we agree that God is a spirit? Don’t you worship Him because He is pure spirit?”

    “Good heavens, no!” We worship Him because He is wise and good. There’s nothing specially fine about simply being a spirit. The Devil is a spirit.”

    “Now your mentioning the Devil is very interesting,” said Weston.... “It is a most interesting thing in popular religion, this tendency... to breed pairs of opposites: heaven and hell, God and Devil..... The doublets are really portraits of Spirit, of cosmic energy--self-portraits, indeed, for it is the Life-Force itself which has deposited them in our brains.”

    “What on earth do you mean?” said Ransom. As he spoke he rose to his feet and began pacing to and fro. A quite appalling weariness and malaise had descended upon him.

    “Your Devil and your God,” said Weston, “are both pictures of the same Force...”

    There was another long pause.

    “Look here,” said Ransom, “it’s easy to misunderstand one another on a point like this. What you are saying sounds to me like the most horrible mistake a man could fall into.”

    And the battle is engaged.

    Do you see what I see?


    At 9:43 PM, Blogger Steve Weaver said...

    Very Good! Thanks for posting that conversation.

    At 3:00 PM, Blogger John Rush said...

    You're welcome.


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