Who is in control?

Clotho, the youngest of the Three Fates in ancient Greek mythology, was responsible for spinning the thread of human life which included deciding when and who was born and when and who would die, thus controlling people’s lives.

The Fates

The Fates

After a brief sojourn we return this week to our discussion of what C. S. Lewis was attempting to elucidate in The Abolition of Man where we hear him expand on what he believed to be the inevitable outcome of man’s resolute pursuit of the conquest of nature. Lewis understood where man’s desire for mastery over nature would ultimately lead: the control of the many by the few.

Albert Einstein said as much when he wrote:

Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized…I am quite aware that it is necessary for the success of any complex undertaking that one man should do the thinking and directing and in general bear the responsibility. But the led must not be compelled; they must be able to choose their leader. An autocratic system of coercion, in my opinion soon degenerates. For force always attract men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule that tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels.”[1]

Lewis went even further, writing:

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…

I am not yet considering whether the total result of such ambivalent victories is a good thing or a bad. I am only making clear what Man’s conquest of Nature really means and especially that final stage in the conquest, which, perhaps, is not far off. The final stage is come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to man. The battle will then be won. We shall have ‘taken the thread of life out of the hands of Clotho’ and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be. The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it?

For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please…

We reduce things to mere Nature in order that we may ‘conquer’ them. We are always conquering Nature, because ‘Nature’ is the name for what we have, to some extent, conquered. The price of conquest is to treat a thing as mere Nature. Every conquest over Nature increases her domain. The stars do not become Nature till we can weigh and measure them; the soul does not become Nature till we can psychoanalyze her.

Lewis completes his objection through forceful argument which we will cover next week (unless of course before then you find yourself reading The Abolition of Man.)

 


[1]     Michael Green, Quantum Physics and Ultimate Reality: Mystical Writings of Great Physicists, Random Press, October 18, 2015, (Also under the title: The Road to Ultimate Reality.)

About the Author

Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator.

Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin.

He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is “Colloqui: A journal for restless minds”, a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

He is the author of two books: “The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence” which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and “Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories” which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love.

He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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