Monday, February 27, 2012


Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Evolution Spoof
C.S. Lewis wasn't beyond parody and satire when the mood took him, and as a brilliant and highly educated language and history professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, his work was usually pretty powerful. At some point he decided to poke some fun at the attitude some have toward science and in particular evolutionary theory with a poem.

This poem is based on the Anglican hymn Lead Us, Heavenly Father, Lead Us. It kind of reminds me of the Monty Pyton song All Things Dull and Ugly, but in the opposite direction; a sort of gentle poke at the sillier parts of someone's arguments or ideology.

Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future's endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
while there's always jam-tomorrow,
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we're going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it's god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
Glossed great Nature's simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
'Goodness = what comes next.'
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

On then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it may well be).

Its odd to me how very seriously and angrily people will respond to any question about this particular scientific method of interpretation. This poem probably enrages some people, although if you poked fun at - say - the Bernoulli Principle or the Pythagorean Theorem they'd just shrug and maybe laugh along with it. So much invested in something so meaningless to their lives.

1 comment:

Eric said...

I don't get why people on either side of the debate get so worked up on this issue.

I believe some sort evolution based process is responsible for the incredible variety of lifeforms you see all over the world (although I'm doubtful modern science has a very clear picture of how it works). If God made a planet where environmental, chemical, and climate variables were going to be constantly shifting, sometimes to extreme degrees, then some sort of evolutionary process makes sense if He wants life to sustain itself on that planet.

But if I'm wrong... so what?