Notes on “The Abolition of Man”

Chapter One:

Men Without Chests

Bruce Jenner says of his condition, “I just couldn’t continue living a lie.” What he means is that he perceives his physical, birth gender to be a lie. That perception implies that the truth lies in his feelings about his sexuality, rather than the physical reality of it. This kind of depraved thinking is exactly the concern that C.S. Lewis expressed so eloquently in his book entitled, “The Abolition of Man.”

What Mr. Lewis refers to as The Green Book is a representation of the flawed thinking being taught in our educational systems. Mr. Lewis uses the illustration of an high school grammar book to point out how easily the system can be used by those who have an agenda beyond simple education to manipulate the cultural thinking of future generations.

C.S. Lewis wrote “The Abolition of Man” as a warning to society about a coming depravity instituted by an insidious plot to negate the power of descriptive words by relegating their meaning to subjective feelings, rather than their true, objective definition. He identifies the evil plot in a simple line of text in which the authors suggest to the student, using the story of “Coleridge at the waterfall,” that the words, “sublime” and “pretty,” have no objective value, but are instead, only subjective expressions of the men’s feelings. Mr. Lewis describes the flaw thus, “The schoolboy, [or girl] who reads this passage in The Green Book will believe two propositions: firstly, that all sentences containing a predicate of value are statements about the emotional state of the speaker, and, secondly, that all such statements are unimportant.” Unimportant because their value is only relative, that there is nothing absolute in their expression.

He goes on to warn that what the schoolboy, or girl, has learned from the example presented in the book, is insidious and subconscious in nature, that it will grow subconsciously to effect the child’s thinking in ways that extend beyond grammar, to philosophy and that, if enough children fall victim to this kind of thinking, it could completely alter cultural norms.

Mr. Lewis had to extrapolate the possible effect into an imagined future which he expressed in his novel, “That Hideous Strength.” From the future, which he could only imagine, we can now see the very real outcome, as if it were a prophecy. As I speak from the year 2017, the destruction is near complete. Bruce Jenner and millions like him in a forceful, activist community known as LGBTQ, are the proof of Mr. Lewis’ greatest fears. Thus, when the power of words to discriminate value is negated by philosophy, the result can be devastating. Words are important tools that require our care and respect, though I recognize that every generation distorts their meaning as a way of confounding the generation before them.

For the Authors of The Green Book, men he refers to as Gaius and Titius, Mr. Lewis had some rather unkind words. “Let us suppose for a moment that the harder virtues could really be theoretically justified with no appeal to objective value. It still remains true that no justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions, the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards with a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that “a gentleman does not cheat,” than an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among [cheaters].”

He goes on to say, “The operation of The Green Book and its kind are to produce what may be called, Men without Chests, (that is men without moral compass, or conviction). It is an outrage that they, (Gaius and Titius), should be commonly spoken of as Intellectuals. This gives them to say that he who attacks them attacks intelligence. It is not so.” “…It is not excess of thought, but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so.”

In the news, almost daily, the hypocrisy of one protest or another demanding truth and morality from our government and its functionaries, those who rule over us rather than for us, demanding that our systems of education, our social structures, even our speech conform to the fluid standard of their feelings. Lewis said of it, “And all the time – such is the tragic comedy of our situation – we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more drive, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or creativity. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate [then] bid the geldings, be fruitful.”

Chapter Two:

The Way

In this chapter, Mr. Lewis focuses his attention on the source of moral thinking in a universal sense. He points out that in every civilization, in every age, there is a standard of social behavior that promotes social order. He calls the source, the Tao. It is that unseen force of infinite wisdom that leads to moral and ethical codes of behavior common to all mankind and central to the survival of any successful civilization. The Chinese refer to it as the Chi, in the Hindu belief, Prana, in other religious systems, Mana, Orenda, Vayu, and so on. In Christianity we know this mysterious force of creation as the Logos, or, the Word. All of these names, however refer to a force of knowledge that is common to the spiritual sensitivity of every civilization, and from it they draw similar conclusions.

When men, however, ignore these conclusions, relegating truth and objective value to a subjective standard of relative feelings, they step onto a slippery slope that can only lead to a muddy fall. Lewis put it this way, “The practical result of education in the spirit of The Green Book must be the destruction of the society which accepts it.”

That’s a very powerful condemnation of our system of education and, in my mind, well deserved. I point out to you that today, the curse of The Green Book extends all the way from Kindergarten through College. The Green Book philosophy suggests that our social standards, our standards of behavior and morality, can be found in our instincts rather than the Tao. With regard to “instinct” being a motivation to act in support of posterity, Lewis says, “What is absurd is to claim that your care for posterity finds its justification in instinct and then flout at every turn the only instinct on which it could be supposed to rest, tearing a child almost from the breast to …kindergarten in the interest of progress and the coming race.”

In other words, the only system of values that can be expected from a value system based on instinct is one of self-preservation, survival of the fittest and a “kill, or be killed” philosophy of life. Those are the values of instinct, a system that is willing to sacrifice its own children to an indoctrination that insures the same empty values, that the same fate will be passed on to the next generation, and the next, making them slaves to progress alone, with no regard for morality, or humanity.

In a footnote of this chapter, Lewis wrote,  “If Good= “whatever Nature happens to be doing,” (as Dr. C.H. Waddington suggests), then surely we should notice what Nature is doing as a whole; and Nature, as a whole, I understand, is working steadily and irreversibly toward the extinction of all life, in every part of the universe, so that Dr. Waddington’s ethics, stripped of their unaccountable bias towards such a parochial affair as tellurian biology, would leave murder and suicide our only duties” to one another. In fact, Dr. Waddington’s legacy includes promoting the genetic engineering that produced “Dolly.”

If Truth is relative and there are no absolutes, as generations of our children have been taught, then every axiom of social ethic and morality becomes superstition. Lewis put it this way, “What purport to be new systems, or ( as they call them today) “ideologies,” all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone, such validity as they [may] possess. If my duty to my parents is a superstition, then so is my duty to posterity. If justice is a superstition, then so is my duty to my country or my race. If the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a real value, then so is conjugal fidelity. The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed, they would find that they had destroyed themselves. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary color, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.”

Chapter Three:

The Abolition of Man

Looking to the future, one can feel a sense of hopelessness, unless we remember, daily, that in Christ Jesus, there is no such thing. For, no matter what men do or accomplish in this world, on this planet, or another, these three remain, “Faith, Hope, and Love.”

In this third and final chapter Lewis writes about “Man’s Conquest of Nature” through science and technology. He posits the question, “…is man the possessor of increasing power over nature?”  Then he looks at three specific examples of man’s technical progress, travel, communications, and medicine. For travel he chooses the airplane, for communication, the wireless, (radio), and for medicine he chooses contraceptives. He points out, “Any or all of the three things… can be withheld from some men by other men – by those who sell, or those who allow the sale, or those who own the sources of production, or those who make the goods. What we call Man’s power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may or may not allow other men to profit by.”

Today, scientists all over the world cause us to worry, as they do, about our utter extermination by some natural and unavoidable event of Nature. They scan the skies for the terminal asteroid that the Bible calls “Wormwood.” They lay the ground with instruments to measure the movement of the earth, concerned about earthquake and the possibility of a super volcanic eruption such as Yellowstone. They plan interplanetary travel and colonization for fear that the earth will not long be capable of sustaining its human population. They know, as I do, that a simple shift the earth’s magnetosphere could doom the planet to destruction, just as it did Mars, their unfortunate choice for colonization. Biologically, science worries about pathogens and the possibility of pandemic that could wipe out the entire human population if not thwarted by scientific advance. The fact is that Man’s Conquest of Nature is a complete myth, an errant religion we shall call Scientism. The fact is that “Nature,” at any given moment, could completely annihilate the entire planet in any number of ways. Science must worry about such things because they have no Creator God to sustain them in His mercy. They must rely on human endeavor, on science, on Progress, but Progress, like any other human endeavor, comes at a cost. “For every action there is an equal and, opposite reaction.”

I love the song, “One Thing Leads to Another,” by The Fixx, because it so well expresses the reality of human life. For every advance, for every security, every convenience, every comfort, there is a price to be paid, another scar on our planet, a certain loss of individual freedom, the enslavement of the body, mind, and soul. C.S. Lewis put it this way: “Man’s Conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man’s side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well. Each advance leaves him weaker as well as stronger. In every victory, besides being the general who triumphs, he is also the prisoner who follows along behind the triumphal car.”

The truth is that Man’s Conquest of Nature is really man’s sinful need to be his own god and that sinful need is the result of Satan’s express desire to rule in God’s place, he who declared “I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” “…I will be like the Most High,” has condemned the sons of Adam to follow along with him and, unless we choose, individually, to do otherwise, we are cursed to progress alone, without God’s mercy, into an uncertain future. A planet spinning out of control in a universe who’s Nature is to bring all life to extinction. Man’s new religion is Science and the priests and acolytes of that temple of Satan are sorely determined to dominate the earth with their godless ways and doctrines. You and I are compelled in every way and in everything to serve somebody, to serve one or the other. To serve God, or to serve the evils of This World.

In conclusion, just seventy three years since C.S. Lewis penned this warning to mankind, the intent of The Green Book has been more than successfully fulfilled. The destruction that it promised, that Lewis warned us about, can be seen everywhere around us, in every corner of the globe. Soon, the Puppet Master will make himself known and man’s fate upon the earth, his doom will be sealed. But I implore you, “Now is the time of God’s favor, today is the day of salvation.” So, “Choose this day whom you will serve …as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


About B. James Wilson

B. James Wilson is an author, artist, teacher, and student of the Bible. He lives with his wife and family on Florida’s East Coast, where he serves in ministry and writes a variety of history and Bible-based fiction.
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