“The Christian Cosmology of C.S. Lewis”

“The old cosmos might not be a very useful map for space travelers, but it does alright as a map for worshippers.”

by Stratford Caldecot here.

Lewis’ connection of a model of the cosmos and worship comes from the model’s storied tiers. The model was not “geocentric” as if the earth was the center it was “geo-humilis”–that is the earth is the lowest.

The context of the quote.

“In the Epilogue to The Discarded Image, Lewis tells us what he thinks of the medieval model. He says it “delights me as I believe it delighted our ancestors”. Of course, he admits “it is not true”, but nor–he goes on to say–is any model “true”. The medieval model has the advantage that it is better suited to our imagination and our unaided perception of the world. I would add, as I think Lewis hints, that the medieval model is better able to capture for us the real meaning and significance of things. The modern “universe” is devoid of significance, and so we have to give a meaning to our own lives, by willpower if necessary. The old cosmos might not be a very useful map for space travelers, but it does alright as a map for worshippers. And there is a further point that Lewis makes. The old model was based on a notion of hierarchy. The new one is based on a notion of evolution. But it was not the case that evolution was simply discovered–by Darwin, for example. Rather it was an idea whose time had come, and it had been hypothesized as the basis for the new model for some time before Darwin found some evidence for it. Nature tends to produce the evidence we are looking for. (As he says on page 221, “Nature has all sorts of phenomena in stock and can suit many different tastes.”) The model we have adopted is not likely to be final, and every model to some extent “reflects the psychology of an age almost as much as it reflects the state of that age’s knowledge” (p. 222).”

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