In much of his writing, C.S. Lewis explored the cultural consequences of scientific knowledge. In particular, as a scholar of the sixteenth century, he was acutely aware of the influence of the Copernican Revolution. Copernicus upended the notion that Earth was the center of the universe by showing that Earth and the other planets revolved around the Sun. Lewis felt the significance was not simply that new knowledge had been born, but that the new mechanical view of the Universe was supplanting the traditional spiritual view.
Lewis scholar Michael Ward explains, “Since the Copernican revolution, the heavenly bodies had been steadily evacuated of spiritual significance until they were regarded as no more than large aggregations of rock or gas.” Lewis, Ward argues, preferred the more imaginative, medieval view of the heavens, not because he believed astrology was literally true, but “because the pre-Copernican model of the cosmos viewed the planets as more than merely material it was a model worth keeping in mind. It was, in this sense, a more Christian model than the Newtonian or Einsteinian versions which have succeeded it.”
Lewis brought these ideas powerfully to life in his fiction. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace declares, “In our world a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.” The fallen star Ramandu replies, “Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of” (emphasis added).
Just like the heavens, some believe that living beings—especially humans—have become de-spiritualized in the wake of modern biological science. Because we now understand the inner workings of our bodies, and the progressive development of their structure, they seem to have less spiritual significance. But we are more than the molecules that make up our bodies! We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
If we as Christians are to continue worshiping God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, we must fight to retain the spiritual value of our bodies, even as we continue to understand them better through scientific discovery. What does that mean to be made in God’s image? Does it have anything to do with our bodily composition? Does it have anything to do with the physical process by which God made us?
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.