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Home arrow Books arrow Miracles -- C. S. Lewis

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Miracles -- C. S. Lewis Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 18 July 2006
Miracles is C. S. Lewis' classic book in defense of miracles. If a skeptic reads this book in order to see how well the author can wriggle around semantics and play with historical fuzziness he will be disappointed. And, if he thinks that Lewis will stop with simply stating his case that miracles can happen, he will be shocked to find that Lewis puts together an argument that supports the fact that miracles must happen. Lewis' explanations are not for the light reader though. He relies heavily on sophisticated philosophical thought and assumes readers are very familiar with authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Hume, Hobbes, and so on. If the reader can keep up with the heady reasoning (I'm not at all sure that I did) then this book is full of rich and detailed discussions concerning much more than just simple stage magician type tricks that some like to call miracles.
Lewis' arguement follows very carefully. He starts out by defining what is meant by Natural and Supernatural. This, he states, is the starting point since a Miracle is defined as the Supernatural interferring with the Natural. Right off you see that there are difficulties involved with trying to define Natural and Supernatural since the Naturalist (one who believes that all is Nature) simply takes anything labeled "supernatural" and calls it a part of Nature. Lewis tries to deal with this by looking at the source of things -- or rather, the initial cause for things.
Diving into this investigation of how things get their initial motion takes Lewis into the realm of thought and mental exertion. He asks how thoughts and ideas are started. If it is, as the Naturalist would have us believe, nothing more than a series of chemical reactions and impulses then where do we get meaning from it? In fact, asking the question, then, would be nothing more than a different series of chemical reactions and impulses. What gives them import? Whatever mental process that gives meaning to asking the question would itself be nothing more than a chemical reaction. This chain of causality has no beginning. At some point there has to be an initial spark that had meaning. This is the basis for Lewis' argument that not only can the Supernatural exist, it must exist.
Having established the existance of the Supernatural (based on his definition of that) Lewis continues with the argument to explain that miracles most certainly can happen and do happen. The remainder of the book looks at different philosophical systems that try to explain the effects that Lewis calls miracles. It also classifies miracles in terms of Old Creation and New Creation. I considered myself fortunate to understand what little I did of the beginning chapters. By the middle of the book my brain was saturated. I will have to re-read this book to try and gain more out of it.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 November 2006 )

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