Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason Paperback – October 19, 2003
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
An alternative title for this book might be Gunfight at the I'm-OK Corral, a Shoot-out: Darwin and the Materialists versus C. S. Lewis and the Theists. And for philosopher Reppert, it might be a toss-up over whether Darwin or Lewis had the more dangerous idea. Although Lewis hasn't been much respected as a professional philosopher, Reppert defends so calling him by noting that many of the greatest moral teachers, including Christ and Socrates, wouldn't of late have been considered professional philosophers, either. Reppert discusses Darwin, with his notion about how the natural world is the source and be-all of the universe, but he gives the decision to Lewis and his argument that the naturalist-materialist point of view of Darwin and others negates itself: "If we explain reason naturalistically, we shall end up explaining it away." Reppert stops short of defending the claim that arguments from reason close the case against naturalism, but he does make a well-grounded apology on behalf of Lewis' dangerous idea. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Reppert provides his readers a fresh, clear, and able exposition and defense of what he calls C. S. Lewis's dangerous idea: that a purely naturalistic account of the world cannot explain the reality of human rationality. A fine work. Well-written, the book glows with Reppert's engaging style and ability as an incisive thinker. This book represents a real advance in apologetics generally and Lewis scholarship specifically, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in either. (R. Keith Loftin, Christian Scholar's Review, Winter 2009)
. . .a fine work. Well-written, the book flows with engaging style. . .a real advance in apologetics generally and Lewis scholarship specifically. (R. Keith Loftin in Christian Scholar's Review, volume 37)
"Victor Reppert's book is a delight on two counts. First, it is a sophisticated and well-informed discussion of C. S. Lewis and his apologetic arguments, demolishing some well-known myths and demonstrating that Lewis had important and serious things to say as a philosopher. Second, and perhaps even more important, Reppert honors Lewis by developing and defending one of Lewis's central arguments against naturalism in a way that is both rigorous and readable, paying attention both to the objections raised against Lewis by Elisabeth Anscombe and to contemporary philosophical debates. This makes the book an important and original contribution to Christian apologetics in its own right." (C. Stephen Evans, University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University)
"According to the standard account, chapter three of C. S. Lewis's Miracles, his argument against naturalism, is a philosophical embarrassment, a beguiling house of cards that collapses at the merest breath of rigorous critique. Victor Reppert, in C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea, certainly proves the standard account wrong. But he does more than that: he deepens and extends Lewis's argument against naturalism and makes an intellectually exciting and persuasive case of his own. Reppert's book is philosophical revisionism at its finest." (Peter J. Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, authors of Handbook of Christian Apologetics)
"One mark of a great apologist is that the apologist's central arguments are reappropriated and refined profitably by later thinkers. One mark of an outstanding Christian philosopher is the ability to do such work in a manner that meets the contemporary demands of philosophical argument. Victor Reppert has accomplished this in this clear, cogent and pertinent defense of the argument from reason. Consider it one more nail in the coffin of naturalism." (Douglas Groothuis, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary, and author of Truth Decay (IVP))
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Naturalism is about *explanations*. It says that everything we experience within the physical universe, including our ability to reason, must have a physical explanation. Physicalism is an ontological claim, that there is nothing besides the physical, including our reason, in the universe. Materialism, on the other hand, says that everything in the universe must take origin from the physical universe, but allows that what might spring forth from the physical might not be logically reducible to the physical. The physical might, somehow, induce something non-physical.
Reppert carefully shows that the argument from reason is an argument against naturalism (and so physicalism) but it does not preclude materialism. He crafts the argument from different angles and shows that reason would not be possible if naturalistic explanations were true. Reppert does sympathize with Lewis' belief that this points, or is evidence of, God's existence. He points out that while the presence of rationality is not inconsistent with materialism, it is more difficult to explain its reliability without reference to a presumed reliable source. That, in turn, points to a Christian-style God. Other alternatives are possible but always leave metaphysical issues dangling. But all of this is secondary to Reppert's primary aim, to illustrate the power of the argument from reason as a refutation of naturalism.
Not very long, concise, well written. If you come away with nothing else, you will at least understand what the argument from reason is all about.
Reppert also also invokes C.S. Lewis, to balance the philosophical firepower but also to suggest that the so-called “argument from reason” is dangerous to anti-theism (or “materialism,” or “naturalism”) in the same way. Reppert is suggesting that the very process of deliberating on the truth of naturalism and super-naturalism undermines the materialist position. Reppert draws out C.S. Lewis’s take on the subject from his (Lewis’s) book Miracles, in particular its revised form following Lewis’s famous debate on the subject with Elizabeth Anscombe.
Let’s start with this. It is often argued that the very fact of order in the universe implies the existence of an order-Giver. All of science presupposes the existence of this order. In fact, science would be impossible without it. Science assumes that there are constant and measurable forces acting upon physical things in predictable ways. The undeniable order of the universe has huge implications for the question whether or not God is. As C.S. Lewis wrote:
"Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator."
It has often been argued that Christianity provided the intellectual foundation for all of science, including its breakout in the early Enlightenment with Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and so on. Christianity provided this foundation because Christians envisioned a God of order, who created material reality in a state of order.
If there is no God, however, then all of reality consists of matter in motion. A person who believes there is no God is a materialist; a naturalist; an anti-theist or atheist; one who rejects metaphysics. This is the dominant view of reality in our culture, and the point of view people necessarily adopt when they shrug the shoulders and ask “who knows” when considering the proposition that God is.
If all of reality is natural reality, how does that vision of reality explain the obvious order of the universe? The short answer, for theists, is that it doesn’t. Materialism depends on the existence of that order, but cannot explain it.
Now with that background, we can go a step forward with these ideas, and consider the “argument from reason,” as it is stated in its usual philosophical formulation, or, as Reppert (and I) prefer, “the argument from rational inference.”
The basic idea is this. We develop our ideas about the truth of materialism, or theism, or anything else, for that matter, by making logical inferences. One observation leads us to another logically. We say it’s “logical” because we say one inference causes the next. That causation is at the heart of the order of the universe. Our reasons for our beliefs – and our reasons for everything – are based on a sometimes complex series of inferences, from observations to ideas to ideas. That progression is not random.
The argument from rational inferences serves not just to support theism but to negate materialism. Materialism is self-defeating because it requires refutation of the very argument it attempts to advance.
It goes like this. First, a belief is not rationally inferred if it can be fully explained by non-rational causes. A non-rational cause includes any cause that is not the product of thought. So B can follow A naturally and in accordance with the natural order of the universe, but not be “rational” because it is not the product of rational thought.
If materialism is true, then all beliefs can be fully explained by nonrational causes. It rests on the determinist principle that one’s thoughts are the products of a seemingly infinite (but actually finite) number of movements of matter according to natural forces, from the largest galaxy to the smallest nearly imperceptible spark in the brain. One’s thought at any moment is the result of physical causes and effects, only.
If materialism is true, then no belief is arrived at from causes other than physical ones. They are determined mechanistically; not rationally inferred. A person’s beliefs are not formed by a series of rational inferences, but instead by the particular combination of material particles in motion to the moment the belief is formed. That person’s belief is formed purely by mechanistic processes, not by rational inferences.
On one level this just sounds like a reiteration of the notion that the appearance of logic and order within natural reality implies an ordering Entity. But it also applies to our individual consciousness. The existence of rational inferences experienced subjectively would appear to be among the most basic of our beliefs about reality. To deny them runs counter to our very sense of subjective directedness – the “aboutness” of our consciousness, its intentionality. How can we exist as meat machines and organic calculators, when we have this deep intuition that inside our minds we make rational inferences from observation to idea, or idea to idea? We employ rational inferences even to discern the truth or falsity of the proposition that rational inferences explain reality.
The materialist explanation of reality rejects that proposition, and therefore must itself be rejected. The proposition (that people explain reality through a series of rational inferences) is supported not only by subjective conscious experience, but by the logical connections extant in the physical world around us. Those logical connections are the same kind of logical connections we make internally; rationally. The conclusion is that there is a rational, thought-connection between events in the physical world. We live inside the mind of God.
“Fideism” is the idea that our belief is based on faith alone; that science, philosophy, and rational thought in general are irrelevant to faith. People rightly scoff at the fideist’s justification for belief. Faith should be based on natural revelation, including but not limited to supernatural revelation. These are matters which present to our reason.
And yet, the usual method of persuasion to materialism is that we’re to accept on faith that materialism explains or will explain everything, and so if there’s anything not yet explained materialistically, we’re to nonetheless remain faithful to materialism. This is “promissory materialism;” a priori commitment to the anti-metaphysical proposition. This might be called scientific fideism. It must be rejected for the same reason as Christian fideism.
So what’s so dangerous about the argument from rational inferences? It jeopardizes the coherence of the naturalist worldview. Whether you’re a committed materialist, or just a materialist by default, the very reasoning by which we arrive at truth calls that naturalistic or materialistic worldview into question. According to C.S. Lewis and Reppert:
"If we explain reason naturalistically we shall end up explaining it away, that is, explaining it in such a way that it cannot serve as a foundation for the natural sciences that are themselves the foundation for naturalism."
In my opinion, the one underlying strand of the AfR which has "bite" is the argument from intentionality. The book's primary focus on reason and rational inference doesn't add much in my view. Investigations in cognitive science and neuroscience on humans and animals seem to be slowly but steadily gaining traction on the problem of how reasoning and language can be built up from more primitive intentional interaction with the environment. What is not well explained is how conscious intentionality gets bootstrapped from components which themselves lack it.
Most recent customer reviews
After reading this book I'm convinced that this is a solid argument in...Read more