CS Lewis’ critique of scientism runs throughout his work. Miracles and many other essays include critiques of naturalism, which certainly is one key dimension of scientism’s role in undermining ideological and thinking paradigms outside of materialist science.
To me, one of his most direct critiques of scientism comes in his discourse on Religious Language:
“To be incommunicable by Scientific language is, so far as I can judge, the normal state of experience….The very essence of our life as conscious beings, all day and every day, consists of something which cannot be communicated except by hints, similes, metaphors, and the use of those emotions…which are pointers to it.”
—-CS Lewis, On Religious Language
What Lewis is saying is that to deny areas of inquiry outside of science is ultimately to deny the ability to talk about ourselves and our inner lives and in one sense to deny the very existence of the self (identity, personality, subjectivity, etc..).
Moreover, it seems to point out that we use a fundamentally different language to talk about our inner lives and issues concerning trust, love, and relationship. This language is one of “hints, similes, metaphors, and the use of those emotions…which are pointers to it.”
If you are interested in this area of inquiry, CS Lewis’ Abolition of Man is pretty good as well as The Restitution of Man which is about CS Lewis’ position on scientism. Magicians Twin is quite a good book, which unpacks the issue of scientism. CS Lewis versus the New Atheists is also decent, particularly the critique of naturalism (so thematically similar). CS Lewis’ narrative sci-fi novel That Hideous Strength is also supposed to be about scientism. Mary Midgley although she doesn’t mention CS Lewis as I recall has a number of books about scientism and related issues.
Here is an interview with a Lewis follower who explains the issue of scientism:
MercatorNet: You and your fellow authors are strong critics of scientism. Does that mean that you are anti-science and anti-progress?
West: I actually regard myself as pro-science. Scientism is the abuse of science by claiming that science is the only way we can know the truth about anything. By extension, it’s also the claim that scientists should have the right to rule over society by virtue of their superior technical expertise. Just like being a critic of theocracy doesn’t make one anti-religious, being a critic of scientism doesn’t make one anti-science. If anything, it’s those who are trying to challenge scientism who are the defenders of science, because they are trying to rescue science from being applied outside its proper boundaries.
As we examine this issue its critical to attempt to make a clear delineation between science and scientism. And ideally that we only focus on the ways in which scientism attempts to function as an all inclusive worldview or suppresses other forms of knowledge and understanding by claiming to be on the top of the academic heap (similar to Hume’s Fork).
I’ve included this critique of scientism bibliography which has links to a number of online resources which philosophically question this destructive worldview.
What does Biblical Counseling Mean? How should we define Biblical counseling?
Here are five definitions of Biblical counseling:
Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), Executive Director Tim Lane: “Biblical counseling involves walking patiently with someone, while wisely connecting them to Christ through the grace-centered message of the Bible. This one-on-one ministry is done in the community of the church where both the normal and complex problems of daily life can be addressed.”
Briarwood Counseling Ministries of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Pastor Howard Eyrich: “Biblical counseling is about loving people by taking the time to understand them, interpreting their life situations through the grid of Scripture, confronting them with God’s framework, and challenging them to engage in the put off, mind renewal, and put on dynamic of Ephesians 4:22-24.”
Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries, Pastor Rob Green: “Biblical Counseling is the process where the Bible, God’s Word, is related individually to a person or persons who are struggling under the weight of personal sin and/or the difficulties with suffering, so that he or she might genuinely change in the inner person to be pleasing to God.”
Counseling Solutions Group, President Rick Thomas: “Compassionately and competently bringing relational care to others through the means of God’s Word and the local church.”
Harvest Bible Chapel Soul Care Ministry, Pastor Garrett Higbee: “Speaking the truth of God’s Word in the light of His grace to transform lives in the compassionate Spirit of God, through the intentional community of God.”
You can read all 15 definitions here: 15 Definitions of Biblical Counseling
Science is limited, it didn’t give us ethics or values:
“The humanistic moral values of secularism are not the deliverances of scientific reasoning, but have come down to us from older times . . . they have a theological history. And modern people hold them by faith alone.” (43).
“Jesus himself is the main argument for why we should believe Christianity.” (228)
“Jesus is one of the very few persons in history who founded a great world religion or who, like Plato or Aristotle, has set the course of human thought and life for centuries. Jesus is in that tiny, select group. On the other hand, there have been a number of persons over the years who have implicitly or explicitly claimed to be divine beings from other worlds. Many of them were demagogues; many more were leaders of small, self-contained sects of true believers. What is unique about Jesus is that he is the only member of the first set of persons who is also a member of the second.” (237)
“In the whole history of the world, there is only one person who not only claimed to be God himself but also got enormous numbers of people to believe it. Only Jesus combines claims of divinity with the most beautiful life of humanity.” (237)
“As long as you do not begin with an imposed philosophical bias against the possibility of miracles, the Resurrection has as much attestation as any other ancient historical event.” (242)
Here is the fuller list of Tim Keller quotes that I borrowed these from.
By the way, I’m about 2/3rds of the way through this book and its quite good. Its a highly developed philosophical and theological work.
“Its view of humanity runs counter to the data of human experience. All civilization throughout history have recognized that humans are moral agents capable of making responsible choices. There is no society without some moral code. The testimony of universal human experience is that humans are not merely little robots.”
Nancy Murphy, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, p. 142
“The testimony of all known cultures through all of recorded history is the that humans do exercise moral freedom and responsibility. From time to time, quirky individuals have raised objections, but civilizations as a whole cannot survive without the conviction that people can be held responsible for their actions.”
“Humans are so constituted that they cannot function without it. It is one of those stubborn facts that must be accounted for by any worldview.”
Nancy Murphy, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, p. 146-147
“We should be brokenhearted over the dehumanizing reductionism that dishonor and destroy our fellow human beings. We should weep for people whose dark worldview deny that their life choices have meaning or moral significance. We should be moved by sorrow for people whose education has taught them that their loves, dreams, and highest ideals are ultimately nothing but electrical impulses jumping across the synapses of their brain.”
Nancy Murphy, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, p. 175
Are the New Testament Gospel accounts reliable and trustworthy?
“The majority of recent specialized studies,” writes Evangelical biblical scholar Craig L. Blomberg in Making Sense of the New Testament, “has recognized that the closest parallels are found among the comparatively trustworthy histories and biographies of writers like the Jewish historian Josephus, and the Greek historians Herodotus and Thucydides” (28). In his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Catholic theologian and biblical scholar Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis writes:
“We must conclude, then, that the genre of the Gospel is not that of pure “history”; but neither is it that of myth, fairy tale, or legend. In fact, euangelion constitutes a genre all its own, a surprising novelty in the literature of the ancient world. Matthew does not seek to be “objective” in a scientific or legal sense. He is writing as one whose life has been drastically changed by the encounter with Jesus of Nazareth. Hence, he is proposing to his listeners an objective reality of history, but offered as kerygma, that is, as a proclamation that bears personal witness to the radical difference that reality has already made in his life.” (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Vol. II: Meditations on the Gospel According to St. Matthew, 44)
Many early Christian authors, such as Justin Martyr, referred to the Gospels as memoirs of the apostles. Blomberg has used the descriptive “theological biographies,” which captures well the supernatural and human elements found within them.
Alex Rosenberg points out that atheism (and scientism, not science) results in nihilism beyond just relativism.
He advocates nice nihilism, but that doesn’t make sense in terms of his own nihilism.
He only does so by going in absurd and self-defeating routes, like denying the self.
This all points to the notion that atheism as worldview is ultimately self-defeating.