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C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion (Revised and Updated) Paperback – July 17, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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).Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent critique of Lewis's rhetorical flourishes posing as serious philosophy. Beversluis treats Lewis respectfully yet reveals how Lewis lacks the competence to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by art
If only I had read this in my teens, when the simply minded, self contradictory "rationalization" of C.S. Lewis guided me all too strongly. Read morePublished 18 months ago by JCP
CS Lewis has been lauded as the premier Christian apologist of the 20th century by priests, bishops and many Christian apologists even today. Read morePublished on March 15, 2014 by Winston D. Jen
This is a book that elicits extreme reactions--for the wrong reasons. Fans of Lewis often reject it as a complete hatchet job, while atheists tend to see it as a devastating... Read morePublished on November 29, 2013 by Greg Bassham
A great book for those who have had a hard time with CS Lewis' works. I found this book's critiques helped to explain CS Lewis' ideas in a way that I could understand like never... Read morePublished on January 22, 2013 by C. D. Soder
C.S. Lewis is often regarded as one of the best Christian apologists. He is certainly one of the most widely read Christian writers. Read morePublished on February 4, 2012 by Ashtar Command
Eerdmans has obviously hit the skids in its publishing projects. What are they going to publish next? The memoirs of Mr. Nobody? Read morePublished on December 23, 2010 by GangstaLawya
Ultimately, Beversluis's book founders. He fundamentally misconstrues Lewis on the most important of issues, namely, whether Christianity is subject to rational proof. Read morePublished on September 27, 2009 by M. Twain
Dr. Beversluis has presented an excellent, intelligent critique of Lewis' sometimes contradictory exposition of why one should be a christian. Read morePublished on December 11, 2008 by Karl A. Ross