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Miracles by C. S. Lewis

Miracles (original 1947; edition 2001)

by C. S. Lewis

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3,364161,616 (3.94)27
Authors:C. S. Lewis
Info:HarperOne (2001), Paperback, 304 pages
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Miracles by C. S. Lewis (1947)


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Hardest of the CS Lewis books I've read! But if you can fight through it, there's some great stuff about the relationship between body and spirit. ( )
  ylferif | Aug 1, 2014 |
The first four or five chapters of C. S. Lewis' Miracles are an excellent analysis and discussion of the differences between Naturalism and Super-naturalism, from which he begins to tackle the question whether miracles have historically occurred. Lewis does this admirably and he presents an interesting and cogent argument not only for the historical occurrence of miracles but the Super-natural Deity behind them. For the Christian reader, this book is an excellent resource for tackling discussions on Naturalism, and for investigating and supporting the argument for historically-occurring miracles. Lewis starts by addressing the Incarnation and thence to all the other miracles Jesus performed. Even if one is not a Christian, this book is worth reading for the first five chapters alone, but the intrepid reader should progress further to analyse their own beliefs about miracles and investigate them without the pre-existing Naturalist bias present in all of us. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
This book presents a philosophical case for the rationality of a belief in miracles, and a support for a Christian world view. I've previously been impressed with C S Lewis's works due to his sound use of logic, however there are oversights in reasoning here that significantly weaken the persuasiveness of some of his arguments. This is not to say that the final conclusions are no longer supported, but that a better case could have been made. Either way, a reader who has understood the case presented in this book, what is wrong with it, and how it could be amended, will not be convinced that miracles do or have occurred, or that they are probable, only that a belief in their possibility is rationally defensible within a coherent worldview. In this way, Lewis achieves at least in part what he set out to do.

In the opening chapters, Lewis describes the difference between Naturalist and Supernaturalist world views, defining the former as a belief that the material world is all that there is, and that everything could in theory be understood from a knowledge of material causes and the observable laws of Nature. Presented as an alternative is what he defines as the Supernaturalist word view, that something exists apart from the material, and that this is useful to explain certain things such as the origin of the universe, and the existence of reason and rationality. Specifically, Lewis presents an argument in favour of the Supernatural world view based on his claim that rationality and human reason could not result from causal material laws alone and that instead they must be given to us from God. This is the biggest error in the book, and several further arguments are based on this conclusion. While part of this reasoning is correct (that material causes alone could not lead to the formation of rationality), his definition of Naturalism is too narrow, as he overlooks the existence of necessary mathematical truths that would be present in any given universe (Naturalist or Supernaturalist), and which are clearly not part of the material universe per se but would always accompany it; that these necessary truths are eternal and uncaused, and that their effects on any logical material universe is inevitable (minds would only evolve in a universe which was logical, where the laws were broadly consistent, as there would be no advantage to having a mind in a situation where nothing was predictable).
There are then two broad ways in which these necessary mathematical and logical truths could have been dealt with: either within a Naturalist world view (expanded beyond Lewis's definition), or within a Supernaturalist world view (for example as their incorporation into God as what the Neoplatonists called the Logos, or what modern Christians might translate as being the co-eternal Word of God). Either of these could be logically consistent, but neither are considered by Lewis. Instead, he takes the ability of humans to think rationally as being a support solely for the Supernaturalist world view. If we leave the argument at this point we are agnostic, being unable to decide in favour of the Naturalist or Supernaturalist world view. The bulk of the remaining ammo left to Lewis then for his apologetics is the origin of the universe (Creation), and the scriptures themselves.
The case he then makes using these and other arguments is somewhat better. While he might not convert a staunch Naturalist, it will at least expose several presuppositions that are held without evidence and lead to further questions. The possibility of miracles is reconciled with a universe that acts according to scientific laws, and several other barriers to an acceptance of their possibility are removed. For all its flaws, what is left of this book is a considered and coercive argument for having an open mind on the matter of miracles, but not a definitive answer one way or the other. Much of the logic deployed throughout this book is fine, and used to good effect, and overall this provides a good philosophical introduction to the topic of Miracles for the inquisitive. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Apr 17, 2014 |
  saintmarysaccden | Mar 12, 2013 |
How I’ve missed C. S. Lewis! I picked this book up to read for a book club, and settled into it like conversing with an old friend.

The topic is miracles. Do they exist or not? Do they contradict with Nature or not? This is not a nuts and bolts proof book; it is a call to see miracles in a different light. There is, for instance, nothing miraculous about turning water into wine … nature itself can do this. God has created a vegetable organism that can turn water, soil and sunlight into a juice which will, under proper conditions, become wine. Wine is merely water modified. Should it surprise you that one day, God short circuited the process, using earthenware jars instead of vegetable fibers to hold the water?

As in this example, Lewis’s arguments sometimes amount only to warm fuzzies. Pantheism, he explains, is nothing special, for people are merely predisposed to believe this way … pantheism has hung around like an unwanted parasite from the beginning. In contrast, a the story of a dying and rising God is surely true because nature itself teaches this concept, as any farmer knows. Now, beneath the surface, these two arguments are similar, but Lewis manages to draw the desired results from each with a bit of conversation made elegant in one circumstance and ugly in another.

Lewis errs also in his science, imagining that “every event in Nature must be connected with previous events in the Cause and Effect relation.” We know better today (Lewis was writing in 1947), and thus the foundation crumbles for many of his arguments against Naturalism. (Lewis attempts to argue that there must be a God who is not a part of Nature, and reasons that this God must surely be our creator.)

But it’s the way Lewis writes that so grabs the imagination! I absolutely love reading his books. There is a spellbinding discussion of Morality and Human Reason herein (their divinity earns their capitalization). Yet I cannot honestly award the book five stars, because Lewis never accomplishes what he sets out to do. Lewis’s God is elegant and beautiful, but no less unlikely for Lewis’s efforts, and must remain a matter of faith. Yet for those who already believe in this particular God, this book cannot fail to lift their spirits.

Very much recommended. ( )
1 vote DubiousDisciple | Dec 3, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060653019, Paperback)

An impeccable inquiry into the proposition that supernatural events can happen in this world. C. S. Lewis uses his remarkable logic to build a solid argument for the existence of divine intervention.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:57 -0400)

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Cites varied cases which substantiate belief in the supernatural acts recorded in the Bible.

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