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Miracles Paperback – April 21, 2015
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"I read Lewis for comfort and pleasure many years ago, and a glance into the books revives my old admiration."-- John Updike"If I were ever to stray into the Christian camp, it would be because of Lewis's arguments as expressed in books like "Miracles."-- Kenneth Tynan
From the Back Cover
Do miracles really happen? Can we know if the supernatural world exists? "The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares the way for this, or results from this." In Miracles, C. S. Lewis takes this key idea and shows that a Christian must not only accept but rejoice in miracles as a testimony of the unique personal involvement of God in creation. Using his characteristic warmth, lucidity, and wit, Lewis challenges the rationalists and cynics who are mired in their lack of imagination and provides a poetic and joyous affirmation that miracles really do occur in everyday lives.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are a number of strengths to this book which continue to make the book solidly relevant better than forty years after the revised edition came out. Lewis cuts to the heart of the matter very quickly in asserting that rejection of miracles apriori is a common attitude that at its core, is anti-intellectual. Attempts to base rejection of miracles on probabilities, as Hume tried to do, are philosophically untenable and require a betrayal of basic realities that are universally accepted.
Lewis then systematically dismantles the worldview that tends to most cradle apriori miracle rejection, naturalism. He compellingly shows that naturalism is a worldview that cannot stand up to philosophical scrutiny. Key to Lewis's presentation is his argument that naturalism can be demonstrated to be false in its complete rejection of supernaturalism merely by the reality of reason. Logic and reason of the mind, by themselves, are supernatural acts that cannot be explained or accounted for in nature, as naturalism demands. Supernaturalism, according to Lewis is not only possible, but pervasive since the act of logical thinking itself is supernatural in origin.
Lewis then eloquently argues that the relationship between nature and the supernatural are not hostile, but complementary. In Lewis's view, nature is quite pliable to accommodate and assimilate supernatural acts in ways that do not bring the kind of chaos and randomness that many naturalists believe to be reprehensible relative to the 'invasion' of nature by alleged supernatural acts. Lewis persuasively demonstrates that this concern is bogus.
Once the reality, possibility, and plausibility of miracles has been established philosophically, Lewis moves to classifying the Biblical miracles as either old creation or new creation miracles. Here, readers might be a bit disappointed by the presentation. Those looking for an evidential defense of miracles in general or any specific miracle in particular will not find it here. This is a philosophical presentation that is chiefly concerned with whether miracles are possible and/or probable. It is not an evidential defense of the possibility of any specific miracle. Lewis's central point is that human beings are disinclined towards believing in the inherent possibility of miracles for reasons that are not intellectually honest and calls for a fresh reappraisal of the possibility of miracles with a fresh attitude of open mindedness and a sincere commitment to soberly seek the truth absent bias. On this point, he does very well.
I noted that I thought the book deserved 4.5 stars rather than a full blown 5 stars. There are two main reasons why this is. First, his discussion of the Incarnation, while fascinating, was mostly off topic. The focus of Lewis's discussion was not on the miraculous nature of the Incarnation, but on its meaning to the believer and its relationship to nature. The discussion is good, but in a book on miracles, I found it to be misplaced. Second, and perhaps more crucial, is that Lewis succumbs to the very ad hoc skepticism that he argues so passionately against. Without elaboration, Lewis introduces the idea of 'Hebrew mythology' as being behind at least some of the miracles described in the Old Testament (Jonah and the whale being one). Why Lewis believes that some Biblical miracles are genuine while others are mythological is something he doesn't discuss. But the reader gets the sense that by taking this position, Lewis is caving in to the very kind of apriori rejection he repeatedly and rightly condemns throughout the book. Lewis's central argument is therefore undermined by his own unwarranted and unexplained backtracking from his own position.
But because this slip of reason is confined to only one or two paragraphs of the book, it is a weakness that while noteworthy and unfortunate, is not fatal to his argument. One who remains skeptical about the viability of miracles should consider that Lewis revised this book back in 1960 (in response to the arguments of Anscombe) and to date, there has been no compelling rebuttal to its tenets. Attempts to erect a solid rebuttal have been presented and then systematically refuted as erroneous and mostly illogical. As a result, this book has stood the test of time and remains a compelling argument that should provide great comfort and assurance to those who believe the Biblical miracles on faith, but wonder whether this belief can also be grounded in reason and philosophical argument. It can, and we should expect nothing less from the Creator who not only created nature and supernaturally intervenes in nature, but who also created perfect logic and reason.
belief in a living Christianity. As a Christian at a
secular university Miracles has proven time and again to be a
source of comfort and assurance that to be a Christian is
not to be lacking in intellect, unreasonable, or close
minded. Rather, it is the man (or woman) who is willing
to open themselves up to God who is truly to be praised for
being intelligent, reasonable, and open-minded because they
are responding to God's call to come and reason with Him --
instead of alone. Lewis was just such a man. For this,
and for the many wonderful books he has written, he has my
admiration and gratitude.