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C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion (Revised and Updated) Paperback – July 17, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Beversluis (Carmel, CA), is emeritus professor of philosophy at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, where he taught for over thirty years. He is the author of Cross-examining Socrates (2000) and a number of articles in various philosophical journals.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 363 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Rev Upd edition (November 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591025311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591025313
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,022,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jo-Be-Se on June 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
I write only to counter the statement that Beversluis attacks strawmen. Having gotten half-way through the book I have found no such thing as of yet.

To get bias out of the way, yes I am an atheist. I have, however, read most of Lewis' original apologetic works (Mere Christianity, etc.). Beversluis quotes extensively from Lewis' own works, and takes great pains to try and keep Lewis' quotes in context. If anything Beversluis is so cautious in setting up Lewis' arguments correctly that he makes the reading tedious at times.

I will not say that this critique is a devastating refutation of Lewis' primary arguments (that's your decision to make). I will say that Beversluis is careful, and honest in setting up Lewis' arguments and he takes pains to explain why the arguments don't hold up to careful scrutiny. Whether you believe or don't believe this book is a worthwhile read after you have taken a look at Lewis' apologetic works.

(UPDATE)
Having finished the book I would also like to respond to another counter-argument brought up. The idea that Lewis' popular works were somehow "dumbed down" for the common person, and that Lewis' more sophisticated arguments are found in his letters/essays has been batted around. This may, or may not, be true. Regardless, Beversluis cites a number of Lewis' essays throughout the book. I would have to say that I have yet to see a fair criticism of this book on amazon.

Like it or not Beversluis is meticulous in setting up Lewis' arguments. Beversluis then gives reasons that he believes destroys the rationality behind those arguments. If you're looking for a counter-point to Lewis' apologetics this is the best single volume on the market. Well worth your while.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Guilty Jones on April 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
I found it interesting, given the recent success of the Chronicles of Narnia film, that the last review of Mr. Beversluis' book was more than 5 years ago. I would have guessed that the film sparked a new curiosity about the substance behind the story. Alas, I suppose most people who enjoyed the film did so because they are content with the validity of their Christian faith. However, those who want to dig deeper (as Lewis did) will find that Mr. Beversluis' book is quite thought provoking, and on many points, quite devastating.

Walter Hooper, Lewis's "official" biographer, once tried to claim that Lewis' book "A Grief Observed" was not meant to be taken as a true account of Lewis' own life, but merely a piece of fiction used to make some theological points. On this he has been overruled by the evidence. And since much of Mr. Beversluis' book centers around Lewis' crisis in "A Grief Observed," one needs to understand that book and its ultimate compromise, which Mr. Beversluis sees as critical to understanding what amounts to a flaw in Lewis' attempt to rationally defend Christianity.

As Lewis stated himself--and as Mr. Beversluis reminds us in his book--one should follow the evidence and, if it is found wanting, one should not accept the claims of Christianity as true. The great thing about this book is that you can examine the arguments advanced by Mr. Beversluis, compare them to the writings of C.S. Lewis--many of which are quoted in the book--and decide for yourself. If, that is, you have an open mind.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By John W. Loftus VINE VOICE on January 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
C.S. Lewis has had an enormous impact on the evangelical mind. His books still top the charts in bookstores. But what about the substance of his arguments? Philosopher Dr. John Beversluis wrote the first full-length critical study of C. S. Lewis's apologetic writings, published by William B. Eerdmans, titled "C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion" (1985). For twenty-two years it was the only full-length critical study of C.S. Lewis's writings.

Beversluis was a former Christian who studied at Calvin College under Harry Jellema who inspired Christian thinkers like Alvin Plantinga (who was already in graduate school), and Nicholas Wolterstoff (who was a senior when he entered). Later he was a student at Indiana University with my former professor James D. Strauss. He became a professor at Butler University.

In this first book, Beversluis took as his point of departure Lewis's challenge where he said: "I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it" ("Mere Christianity" p. 123). Beversluis thoroughly examined that hypothesis and found the evidence Lewis presents should not lead people to accept Christianity.

According to Beversluis, his first book "elicited a mixed response-indeed, a response of extremes. Some thought I had largely succeeded. I was complimented for writing a `landmark' book that `takes up Lewis's challenge to present the evidence for Christianity and ... operates with full rigor'" (p. 9-10). But the critics were "ferocious." He said, "I had expected criticism. What I had not expected was the kind of criticism...I was christened the "bad boy" of Lewis studies and labeled the "consummate Lewis basher" (p. 10).
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Ian E. Smith on January 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Philosophers and theologians have largely tended to ignore the Christian apologetics of C.S. Lewis perhaps because Lewis was neither a philosopher nor a theologian or perhaps due to a reluctance amongst such professionals to engage popular culture and to write for a general audience. But if nothing else the vast influence of Lewis' apologetic work demands a response from a professional philosopher with the ability to be rigorous in his argument while still being accessible to a general audience. John Beversluis admirably accepts this challenge and meets Lewis on his own terms: an insistence to follow where the evidence leads. It should be good news to both Lewis' fans and critics that Beversluis' C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion is back in print and furthermore has been revised and updated to address critics of the first edition.

Beversluis thoroughly examines Lewis's three principal arguments for believing in the God of Christianity: the Argument from Desire, the Moral Argument, and the Argument from Reason and ultimately finds them all lacking. Beversluis slows down the fast pace that Lewis often sets in his writing and by doing so is able to point out the gaps in argument and the reoccurring fallacies that Lewis's very engaging writing style often conceals.

Lewis is found routinely attacking straw men: characterizing the position he is arguing against in its weakest possible form and then refuting it in very short order. Lewis rarely responds to the views of specific thinkers who hold the position he is arguing against and seemingly overlooks or is unaware of criticisms of his own position which one could legitimately expect him to address.
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