on December 13, 2003
Miracles, while not a perfect book, is certainly an excellent one, in which C.S. Lewis is at his philosophical best. It's not an easy read, by any means, but grinding through it is worth the effort. Recently, another review (by Widger) has widely misconstrued Lewis' argument in the first few chapters, so I would like to use this space, to help "hinder the hindrances" to a very good book.
Widger makes three inadequate criticisms against Lewis' argument. The second and third basically amount to the same critique, so I'll group them together.
1.)Widger says, "First, although he is right that a logical ground for a belief is not the same kind of cause as 'non-rational causation' and although he is also right that a belief being physically caused would not mean that it was proved, it does not follow that having a physical cause would ipso facto prove falsehood."
2.)Widger claims Lewis is arguing to the supernatural through ignorance, and then elucidates some problems with arguing from ignorance.
1.) Lewis never says that having a physical cause proves falsehood ipso facto. He makes this clear by talking about human thought as the border of two frontiers. He says it can be physically accounted for in the brain, but that the brain itself can never give a fully adequate account of reasoning. Just because the water in a fishbowl always moves when the fish moves, doesn't mean the fish is the water. Or that all the movements of the water can be fully explained by the water itself.
2.) Lewis is not arguing from ignorance; he's arguing from reason. He's saying you could never give a complete account of reason through irrational causation. Saying you could would be like saying you could have a round triangle. Now a person can always say, "Well, since you haven't seen every shape in the world, you can't really say there is no such a thing as a round triangle," but it's only another testament to reason that we can declare that statement to be foolishness (And if a person can't see that, it's no use arguing with them). Lewis' whole point is that the very thing we mean by reason, cannot arise from what we mean by irrationality. Saying he is only arguing from ignorance is merely ignoring his argument. If you want to see this argument developed further, read the book, not a review of it. It's quite a fascinating bit of thinking.
on February 19, 2003
According to C. S. Lewis, this book is intended as a preliminary to historical inquiry. It does not, therefore, examine the historical evidence for Christian miracles, but is intended to put readers in a position to do so. Lewis states: "It is no use going to the texts until we have some idea about the possibility or probability of the miraculous. Those who assume that miracles cannot happen are merely wasting their time by looking into the texts: we know in advance what results they will find for they have begun by begging the question." In his appeal to the "common reader" and not specifically to theologians, Lewis defines a miracle broadly as "an interference with Nature by supernatural power." This distinction between the natural and supernatural is presupposed and posited up front because Naturalists, according to Lewis, believe that nothing exists except Nature (Nature is considered "the whole show," the "Total System," etc.) which, if true, rules out the possibility of the supernatural. Nature is considered by Lewis, and Supernaturalists in general, as a partial system within reality, not Reality itself. It is a created thing (abstractly speaking), not the self-existent Creator. Lewis argues by analogy and uses human reason and morality as examples of the supernatural that are distinct from Nature. In fact, Lewis argues that humans, as compositions of the natural and supernatural, intervene in Nature by supernatural acts (which he considers self-determined acts not caused by another in some inevitable causal chain). But he admits (see Chapter 6) that such acts are not what many equate with "miracles" since they are both familiar and regular (not to mention humanly caused). Therefore, he ends Chapter 6 by saying in effect that the rest of the book will concern itself with miracles as special divine interventions. For Lewis, the cardinal difficulty with Naturalism is the existence of human reason and its thoughts which can be either true or false, unlike events in general which are not "about" anything and therefore cannot be true or false. According to Lewis, the Naturalist believes that reason, sentience, and life itself are late comers in an historical, evolutionary process that was not DESIGNED to produce a mental behavior that can find truth (including moral truth). Therefore, Naturalism doesn't adequately explain the existence of reason (and morality). For theism, on the other hand, reason (divine reason) is before Nature and our own concept of Nature depends on reason. Later, in Chapter 13, Lewis argues that theism ratifies faith in the scientific principle of uniformity [which is used by some, like David Hume, to argue against miracles], but disallows making uniformity absolute. But if Naturalism is true, then we have no reason to trust our conviction that Nature is uniform in any sense (general or absolute). In Chapters 14 - 16, Lewis tries to present the central miracles of the Christian Faith in such a way as to exhibit their "fitness" into Nature w/o setting forth any abstract conditions which "fitness" must satisfy because "our sense of fitness is too delicate and elusive". By "fitness" Lewis means their historical probability [i.e., compatibility w/ Nature] which he distinguishes from the "antecedent probability of chances" [i.e., mathematical probability]. In Chapters 7 & 8, Lewis responds to objections that Nature doesn't allow miracles. In Chapter 8 he points out that the laws of Nature don't cause anything because "every law, in the last resort, says 'If you have A, then you will get B.' But first catch your A: the laws won't do it for you." This allows for "supernatural" causation, human or divine. In Chapter 10, Lewis addresses language as it relates to thought and points out that clear thinking is distinct from imagination in general and metaphor in particular which are used both in scripture and common discourse when discussing metaphysical things (like God and his activity). Chapter 11 addresses pantheism [a special type of idealistic naturalism distinct from the atheistic materialism which is Lewis's main focus] and points out some of its problems. Here Lewis states that God is concrete and individual; he is a particular Thing, not an abstract "universal being" [distinct from omnipresence] which would rule out the possibility of creation because "a generality can make nothing".
Although Lewis discusses some relevant issues regarding miracles in general (and New Testament ones in particular) and their compatibility with Nature, he does strangely relegate at least some Old Testament miracles to the realm of myth which is partly due to his unique view that in Christ myth became history. For a critical analysis of Lewis' view, see Norman Geisler's chapter on Lewis titled "Christian Humanism" in his book "Is Man the Measure?" For a more recent systematic analysis of miracles that relies heavily on Lewis, see Geisler's "Miracles and the Modern Mind" (OP) and "In Defense of Miracles," edited by Geivett and Habermas. Also, see Collins's "The God of Miracles" which notably points out that some Christians have negatively reviewed Lewis's book because they think Lewis was operating with a defective understanding of "nature" and divine action [note: pantheists and panentheists would also affirm this]. Collins addresses these other positions within Christianity which differ from the "supernaturalism" of Lewis, Geisler and Collins himself. Also, Lewis doesn't address whether miracles are applicable today and, if so, to what extent. Other books such as "Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?," edited by Wayne Grudem address this issue.
on February 16, 2003
In this work, the master of Christian apology tackles a difficult subject: miracles. The question is easy enough--do miracles really occur?--but the answer is far more complex and difficult. True to his style, Lewis picks apart the question and analyzes it with the scrutinizing eye of a skeptic who has seen the light and wants to help others see it too.
The scope, of course, goes far beyond miracles. In analyzing the probability of such events, Lewis examines Pantheism vs. Christianity, and the idea of a Nature that is completely independent of any outside interference (even God's). His argument that the laws and 'nature' of Nature are not violated by miracles is convincing, as is his argument that miracles are, in fact, necessary. For Lewis, a miracle wrought by the Creator of mankind is really nothing extraordinary. Some miracles, such as the water being turned into wine, simply skip a step or two. Instead of water nourishing a vine that eventually produces grapes for wine, Christ merely eliminates the intermediary steps. Other miracles, such as Christ's Resurrection, are simply a glance at what's to come, when everyone will be resurrected.
Whether or not you agree with Lewis, his argument is worth considering. Like most of his work, this book is written for believer and skeptic alike, and provides a stimulating analysis of the probability of miracles occurring. This one belongs on the shelf of any Christian thinker, and will prove a stimulating read for students of philosophy as well.
on January 17, 2003
In this book, C.S. Lewis looks at the essence of what miracles are and how they relate to Christianity. He begins with a few chapters trying to prove that miracles have occurred and are occurring. In these chapters and at other points in the book, he examines what miracles are to us psychologically and why individuals have a hard time believing in them. Lewis talks intelligently about a subject that many would consider only a matter of faith and not reason. While I am not wholeheartedly ready to jump in the boat on every single one of his ideas, I found his thinking to be enlightened and very interesting. One of Lewis's main points is the difference between the belief that the universe is the whole of existence with nothing possible outside of it and the belief that God is the surveyor of all there is with our universe being only one of other realms. He makes this and his other points clearly and intelligently. Reading through this book is invaluable in deepening one's faith and understanding of Christianity.
on January 13, 2003
I recently read this for the first time in years. It's funny how easy it is to forget so much about a book read once. I was pleasantly surprised and refreshed at the bracing logic and intellectual honesty to be found in these pages. Reading C.S. Lewis is always such a clarifying experience, and _Miracles_ is as prime an example of this as any.
The title may be a bit misleading to the first-time reader, so be warned: Lewis is here primarily concerned with analyzing the shortcomings of philosophical naturalism rather than discussing the historicity of certain miracles. He acknowledges that he has a background in philosophical but not historical methods, so the thrust of this book is in laying a framework for epistemology, and exposing fallacies in common objections to the supernatural.
Good timing for me to want to write a review of _Miracles_, so I can have the opportunity to respond to the previous review, by Jonathan Widger, as well. The "three serious problems" Mr. Widger raises are a series of compounded misunderstandings/misrepresentations of the arguments propounded in _Miracles_. Mr. Widger astutely points out that "non-rational causation", that to be caused is not to be proved, does not necessarily make caused beliefs false. This is true, and is worth pointing out. While reading Lewis's explanation of this main argument of his, there was a nagging sense in the back of my mind that there was something missing from it, and I think Mr. Widger has hit upon it. But while it does not follow, ipso facto, that a caused belief is false, to say that we arrive at reasoned, universal truths by way of a determinist chain of causes and effects is so far afield from the way anyone believes in or practices epistemology and logic, that it does not bear up under any amount of scrutiny. Presumably, Lewis considers this too obvious to point out explicitly. As he illustrates, the whole way in which we argue demonstrates how epistemology works: one of the commonest methods of debunking an opponent's views is to say "you say that simply *because* you are (an academic, a liberal, etc.)." The only workable treatment of the very foundations of reason and thought are that they are "super-natural," although Lewis admits that this is a very different use of the word from what we are used to. "Self-caused" might be clearer, although that term doesn't hit on the point as directly, which is that will and rationality cannot be reduced to a mere dependent chain of events.
This brings us to Jonathan Widger's third point (I'll get to number two), which is that ultimately Lewis's premise rests on an "argumentum ad ignorantum." A more thorough misapprehension of Lewis' point could scarcely be conceived. It is not because we do not know *how* the mind works that we must invoke a supernatural explanation, but the mere fact that (as Lewis takes pains to explain) the process of reasoning, in order to be as meaningful and valid as we make it out to be, must be placed *outside* the cause-and-effect chain of natural events, means that its basis must be "super-natural" (self-caused). I would guess that eventually a reductionistic quantum-mechanical description (it will probably be called an "explanation") of the workings of the brain during the process of thought will be formulated, but this will not change the fact that "natural", causative explanations of rationality will be as self-defeating as they ever were, if not more so. Lewis' main argument, as always, remains intact.
Widger's second objection is perhaps the most confused and incoherent of all. Wholly dependent on the whole "argumentum ad ignorantum" idea, the converse of this second objection seems to be that naturalism can somehow offer a better justification for distinguishing between true and false beliefs than even Widger's badly misunderstood version of Lewis' argument can. Once again, it is not that we don't *understand* mental processes enough to offer a natural explanation, the point is that a "natural" explanation, by definition, would be out of court with all human experience, and would leave us with no workable system in which rationality itself could be trusted. Not only would it not make any conceivable difference what we believed, but any conviction that we *chose* so would have to be utterly illusory. Incredibly, Widger compounds his misunderstanding even further by treating a "supernatural cause" as though it is just another natural cause, so that "our supernatural cause is either unreliable or even malicious" if someone's thought process is irrational! However, it is clear from the definition of independent will that one may choose irrationally, and from human frailty that we may be in error unwittingly. Supernatural entities may be corrupted just as natural ones; indeed, any corruption in the dependent natural world implies some corruption in the supernatural realm. This is the rational basis for a belief in the existence of actual evil, which naturalism once again gives us no grounds for.
on December 3, 2002
The late professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge University, C. S. Lewis wrote his Christian apologetics in a popular style. In his book on miracles, he states that "logical thinking--Reason--had to be the pivot of the argument." Indeed, in chapter three, "The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism," he depends so completely on the contention that human reason can only be explained by invoking the supernatural that he bets the farm upon it. I will also briefly repond to Micah Newman's review in which he attempts to rebut my observations of difficulties in Lewis's argument.
What Lewis points out is that a belief caused by a "logical consequent from a ground" is an entirely different cause than the "non-rational causation" to which Naturalism is supposedly limited for giving explanations of events in the world and in people's heads. Moreover, he explains that a physical cause is not a valid ground for an inference. For example, we do not consider as valid the conclusion that unicorns are real if the evidence for them is the experience of someone whose brain is chemically dosposed to having hallucinations of unicorns. As Lewis succinctly puts it, "To be caused is not to be proved." Therefore, according to Lewis, the difficulty of explaining rational thought from "non-rational causation" justifies us in concluding that its cause is actually supernatural, thus opening the door to the miraculous. However, his argument suffers from at least three serious problems.
First, although he is right that a logical ground for a belief is not the same kind of cause as "non-rational causation" and although he is also right that a belief being physically caused would not mean that it was proved, it does not follow that having a physical cause would ipso facto prove falsehood.
Secondly, the same argument for the supernatural cause of rational thought may be applied with equal utility to irrational thought. For in both cases, we are equally ignorant of how to give a full account, in terms of "non-rational causation," of the natural brain functions involved. Shall we conclude that our cognitive errors are also caused by the supernatural? If so, then our supernatural source is either unreliable or even malicious--necessary conclusions that will obviously be unwanted by proponents of miracles.
Thirdly, Lewis appeals to our partial ignorance of the mystery of human consciousness and rational thought, and he uses this ignorance to support supernaturalism and the miraculous. Micah Newman contends in his review that I have misunderstood and misrepresented Lewis's argument here. However, for Lewis's case for miracles to not be an appeal to ignorance, there must be examples of faculties of the mind that are not brain-dependent. Neither reason nor moral judgement nor any other function of the mind can be shown not be brain-dependent. As is obvious from books like that of neurologist Richard M. Restak's "The Modular Brain," change the brain and you change the person--even "spiritually."
Moreover, appeals to ignorance cannot prove the existence of the supernatural. For example, it would obviously be erroneous to conclude that the acceleration of a car by merely pressing a small peddle was miraculous just because we were too ignorant of electrical and mechanical functions to explain it from natural causation. By the same token, without knowing everything about the natural functions of the human brain in the process of creating rational thought, we have no rational validity in jumping to a supernatural explanation.
What his book proves, therefore, is not that we now have rational grounds for belief in miracles. What it proves is that miracles have always been believed not on rational grounds but by the faith that "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). For although his argument fails to prove supernaturalism, belief in it nevertheless continues.
on November 19, 2002
When evaluating MaPS, it is most important to keep in mind that Lewis was designing a connected argument, not a salad-bar argument. Each chapter builds upon positions taken in previous chapters, even the ones in which he works to clear up some potential misunderstandings. It is a mistake to treat the book as a set of disconnected positions, as I have often seen critics do (pro and con).
So, for example, one prominent oppositional criticism I have seen, treats the chapters on morality and on probability (5 and 13) as being separate attacks by Lewis on philosophical naturalism. But they weren't designed by Lewis to be anything of the sort, and so (naturally |g|) they fail to withstand such misdirected criticism. By the time Lewis has finished chapter 3, he is no longer attempting to argue against naturalism (or atheism, to be more specific--see below), and so does not bother to continue any rigorous argument against it elsewhere.
He makes this especially clear in chp 5: the goal of the chapter is to infer a further characteristic of God (although admittedly he incautiously names the chapter "A Further Difficulty of Naturalism"); the naturalistic position he presents is one he admits can be logically self-consistent (even if no naturalist ever follows it consistently); and he ends the chapter by saying that his discussion of morality offers no weight as to the question of whether miracles ever occur. In short, this is not a separate theistic Argument from Morality.
Again, with the 13th chapter, the goal is _not_ to argue a weakness of naturalistic philosophy (nor to broadbase refute Hume, btw); but to consider the principles of probability estimation with an eye to discerning what _kind_ of probability estimate, based on what grounds, would be best for judging claims of the miraculous. Both chapters are attempting something very much more subtle and restricted than Lewis' key argument from chapter 3; and Lewis is doing this, because they are pieces of one developing position.
Lewis ought to have distinguished more carefully between naturalism / supernaturalism and atheism / theism. The distinctions, to his credit, _are_ there in the book; but they require some careful criticism to discern: and critics of MaPS (pro and con) aren't often very careful. |g| Be that as it may, chapter 3 is actually directed toward the refutation of atheism (the Final Fact of reality is non-sentient) rather than, strictly speaking, naturalism (there is one and only one 'level' to reality.) Most atheists happen to also be philosophical naturalists, and at the time(s) of Lewis' writing most were in the habit of calling themselves Naturalists; so he politely accepted the use of the title. With the multi-form division of atheistic theories since then, this leaves a door open to spurious oppositional criticisms of various sorts. ('Lewis is only arguing against "naturalism", not this or that other type of atheism'; 'Lewis is misrepresenting "naturalism" as being too broad for what it actually proposes', etc.)
Also, Lewis gets slightly ahead of himself near the end of chapter 3, when speaking about God in relation to human reason. He has already finished his line of argumentation, and has not yet argued that humans are not themselves the source of their own rationality (that's what he does in some future chapters); and this, combined with a clumsy unannounced shift back to the more qualified position of chapter 3, has provided ammunition for some terribly uncritical 'criticism' against him.
On the other hand, Lewis has treated the questions of 'hard' and 'soft' determinism (not called such in his book, though) with more deftness than critics have tended to allow. Much weight is often laid, for instance, by critics (pro and con) on his use of Haldane's refutation of hard determinism--without noticing that Lewis, in the very next sentence and paragraph, explicitly disavows any gain he might have made by using the reference! In fact, the bulk of chapter 3 is devoted to an analysis of the knottier problems surrounding 'indeterminate' types of 'naturalism'.
Often a critic (pro or con), to save time (or wordcount |g|), will skip straight from Lewis' (own disavowed!) use of Haldane, to the two examples of rebuttal which he anticipates near the end of the chapter. This is a critical mistake, although it isn't as much of one as I used to think. The final gist of Lewis' chapter 3 argument, is that it is equally nonsensical to justify the existence or the non-existence of human justification capability--to prove that proofs do exist, or to prove that proofs don't have to exist--and that atheism ultimately entails one of these two options. Lewis reaches this position through a careful (and difficult-to-follow) analysis of the relationship of cause/effect and ground/consequent categories in relation to human thought. This is not something a critic can afford to ignore, in order to see _why_ Lewis anticipates the two lines of rebuttal attempt. But the anticipated rebuttals do admirably summarize the principles of his argument, I think. At least, I have been amused by the fact that, to date, every oppositional attempt I have seen to refute MaPS chp 3, ends up applying either to one or the other of his anticipated rebuttals! (Without the opponent realizing that he is stepping right into the trap Lewis has set!)
There are some shortcomings to the book: his argument against pantheism could stand to be much clearer (it's there, but diffused throughout several chapters--his main chapter vs. pantheism is really targeted against a variant popular in his youth); and he is a little sneaky about the actual topic of his book (an apology for Christianity).
But overall, he presents the most comprehensive 20th century argument I have found for the metaphysical doctrines of Christianity. He isn't as technically rigorous as other authors have been; but MaPS easily serves as a springboard of principles upon which to base more complex arguments--once the reader has understood what Lewis is doing, and why.
on November 17, 2002
This book by CS Lewis was probably his most philosophical work. As such, it is not a light read at all and would probably prove difficult for beginners who have not been exposed to heavily philosophical material. But for those who want a highly intellectual philosophical discussion of the possibility of miracles, this book is certainly worthy of one's attention.
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.
on May 11, 2002
Miracles is one of Lewis' longer apologetic works, and I think, perhaps the most complicated. This is not because Lewis has lost the wonderful, taut, reasoned writing that people have grown to expect of him, but rather because people's views on miracles can be terribly hard to unknot. This, I think, is also the most purely philosophical work he wrote, though that should not scare anyone away, as he lays out everything in a very clear, readable way.
Lewis starts with a bang, in that he shows that miracles and the uniformity of natural laws are in fact bound together. He turns the materialists' (or Naturalists', as he calls them) own guns on them by showing that Reason cannot be accounted for in science--I should also point out that these objections have also been raised by professional philosophers in epistemology and ethics, but Lewis is the only person to raise them for a wider audience. I wish I had read this book earlier, when I was first encountering David Hume, as C.S. Lewis in this part of the book exposes the philosophical sleight-of-hand Hume used to "disprove" miracles.
With this, C.S. Lewis then addresses religions which state that God does not work miracles because He does not see fit to interfere with creation and a variety of other bad metaphors and misconceptions that have cropped up. I continue to wonder at Lewis' clarity, and his understanding of the modern mind which allows him to diagnose its fallacies so well.
Academics and many other modern citizens do not question the possibility of miracles, or at any rate adhere to some faulty reason for denying their existence. I hope this book can help shake that up and get people talking about this issue with greater clarity.
on December 10, 2001
The acclaimed logic of C.S. Lewis displayed in _Miracles: A Preliminary Study_ reveals much more than the author's genius. Intended to examine the great crux of Christianity, miracles, Lewis also contributes a relevant and thorough view of God and nature.
Lewis first proposes two basic attitudes towards the natural world: (1) Naturalism - a worldview that suggests a closed natural system. "Any reality beyond what can be perceived by the five senses lacks plausability" (Duriez, 2000). (2) Supernaturalism - a worldview that views the universe as a dependent creation of God. "Time, space, and geometry are all God's creation, and these only exist now because he chose to make them out of nothing" (Duriez, 2000).
Ultimately, Lewis concludes, "if naturalism is true, miracles are impossible. If supernaturalism is true, miracles are possible and, indeed, to be expected" (Duriez, 2000).
Much of Lewis' background in his study of miracles originated in the attention he gave to _Theism and Humanism_, the Gifford Lectures for 1914.
Readers should understand that Lewis wrote _Miracles_ as a preliminary examination based on his own incomplete research and thoughts on God and nature. Therefore, the book should never be criticized for its loose ends. It stands as one of the most thoughtful and thorough treatises of the concept.