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C. S. Lewis Denounced Transhumanism in 1945 - THE SCIENTISTS TAKE OVER!

Posted: Sat, February 09, 2013 | By: Special Guest



By Daniel Taylor

Dreams of the far future destiny of man were dragging up from its shallow and unquiet grave the old dream of man as god…” – C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, 1945

The fact that a technocratic system of government is being constructed is becoming clearer by the day. We see daily open proclamations for the earth to be geo-engineered, humanity to be medicated through the water supply, and the very genetic code of the planet re-written. 

No more gods, no more faith, no more timid holding back. Let us blast out of our old forms, our ignorance, our weakness, and our mortality. The future belongs to posthumanity.” – Max More, On Becoming Posthuman, 1994

As Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his 1970 book Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, “The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values.”

This essay was first published in OldThinkerNews, HERE  

George Orwell, C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and H. G. Wells were all contemporaries. Each of them, through their various literary works, contributed to the debate – or lack thereof – on this rising power structure. In their lifetimes, the project for the technetronic era was set into motion.

C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis’ 1945 book That Hideous Strength ties in ideas that he put forth in another of his works titled The Abolition of Man. Hideous Strength is a work of fiction set amidst a supernatural battle between good and evil. However, as you will see, George Orwell himself saw “nothing outrageously improbable” in the mundane plot of an elite group of technocrats to seize control of life itself. Lewis’ work is a classic example of art imitating life.

Lewis’s thought as expressed in The Abolition of Man, as well as That Hideous Strength was clearly influenced by the rise of the so called “Science of Man” that took place during his lifetime. The same can be said for the other previously mentioned authors. This great work to discover the inner workings of man in order to better control him was initiated by the immense wealth of the Rockefeller empire in the early 20th Century

That Hideous Strength revolves around the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (NICE) and the organization’s plot to seize control of all life.

Lewis writes, “What should they [the elite] regard as too obscene, since they held that all morality was a mere subjective byproduct of the physical and economic situations of men?… From the point of view which is accepted in hell, the whole history of our earth had led up to this moment.”

What exactly is this profound moment Lewis refers to? In short it is a time when mankind transcends biology. It is a revolution against the natural order. Interestingly, Lewis was one of the earliest writers to denounce transhumanist philosophy. He wrote in Hideous Strength (1945), that the elite of society will merge with technology and eliminate the masses which they call “dead-weight.”

“A few centuries ago, a large agricultural population was essential; and war destroyed types which were then useful. But every advance in industry and agriculture reduces the number of work-people required. A large, unintelligent population is now a dead-weight. The importance of scientific war is that scientists have to be reserved. It was not the great technocrats of Koeingsberg or Moscow who supplied the causalities in the siege of Stalingrad. The effect of modern war is to eliminate retrogressive types, while sparing the technocracy and increasing its hold upon public affairs. In the new age, what has hitherto been merely the intellectual nucleus of the race is to become, by gradual stages, the race itself. You are to conceive the species as an animal which has discovered how to simplify nutrition and locomotion to such a point that the old complex organs and the large body which contained them are no longer necessary. The masses are therefore to disappear. The body is to become all head. The human race is to become all technology.” p. 156-7

These ideas are ever more prescient today. Bill Joy, the cofounder of Sun Microsystems, published an article in 2000 titled “Why the future doesn’t need us.” A recent conference in Russia hosted the herald of the transhumanist era Ray Kurzweil. The Global Future 2045 Congress spoke of “The critical moment… when machines take on an artificial intelligence that matches or exceeds the brainpower of humans. No one in the academic community doubts that this will happen – the question is not if, but when.” Eventually, scientists “…will focus on improving humans…”

The Global Future conference also discussed the rise of “new barbarians” that are “easily deceived.” “Their video-game mentality means they could easily start to wreak havoc…” As Svetlana Smetanina reported from the conference, “If the proportion of people like this comes to encompass 50 percent of the Earth’s population, then a new “middle ages” are almost guaranteed.”  Are these individuals the “dead-weight” to be rid of?

George Orwell, famous for his stunningly accurate portrayal of a future police state in 1984, commented on Lewis’ book Hideous Strength. His commentary was published in the Manchester Evening News in 1945 with the headline “THE SCIENTISTS TAKE OVER.” Orwell wrote,

“All superfluous life is to be wiped out, all natural forces tamed, the common people are to be used as slaves and vivisection subjects by the ruling caste of scientists, who even see their way to conferring immortal life upon themselves. Man, in short, is to storm the heavens and overthrow the gods, or even to become a god himself.

There is nothing outrageously improbable in such a conspiracy. Indeed, at a moment when a single atomic bomb – of a type already pronounced “obsolete” – has just blown probably three hundred thousand people to fragments, it sounds all too topical. Plenty of people in our age do entertain the monstrous dreams of power that Mr. Lewis attributes to his characters, and we are within sight of the time when such dreams will be realisable.”

This essay was first published in OldThinkerNews, HERE  



Comments:

I think it’s natural that Lewis would object to the sort of “science of man” that drove fascist and communist leaders to re-engineer society with no concern for individual human lives.

Similarly, the “science” of a generation before had suggested that certain races were inherently more fit to lead than others. In the face of these sorts of “sciences”, humanists stand for human dignity and individual worth, and I think that is what Lewis was doing.

But Lewis also consistently stood for a sort of transhumanism which held that all should rise together, that the power and dignity of the individual was unlimited. Though he describes it in religious language, he definitely believed that this is something which we work for, over years or millennia, through our choices, our actions, our efforts.

“He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less.”

By Micah Redding on Feb 09, 2013 at 8:20am

Micah,

I think the quote you provided (taken from Lewis’ book Mere Christianity) is meant to be read in a fuller context. He uses the common idea of evolution to express the idea of God leading his followers to perfection. The “next step” as he calls it, has already happened with the arrival of Jesus Christ. With him came new life, and all who come to know him share in this new life. When we do this, our mind is to become his mind, and our will freely conforms to his.

By Daniel on Feb 09, 2013 at 3:52pm

Always a grain of truth in what a CS Lewis writes. Even Ted Kaczynski had a valid message. The dehumanisation of tech cheapens what it means to be a person—yet we don’t have to please everyone. Marx wrote that capitalism destroyed profound religious happiness—and it did. Modernity has ruined the beauty of the old life of 12-16 hour workdays in hideous factories and on plantations picking cotton for Master; the times before anesthetics when the honesty of excruciating pain would put the fear of God into a fellow.

But you can’t have Everything.

By Alan Brooks on Feb 11, 2013 at 9:15pm

...mentioned Marx because though his political theories weren’t realistic, he was a great philosopher (or great sociologist). He knew that our religious past was glorious, profound, poignant—but ultimately futile. Try living on love and you wind up as a Jain with your stomach growling ever louder until you bloat.
I know many homeless who are spiritual until it’s nightfall and below zero outside. Then spirituality becomes less appealing to them.

By Alan Brooks on Feb 13, 2013 at 5:25pm


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