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Miracles: A Preliminary Study (C.S. Lewis Classics)

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Can God Intervene in Our Lives? C.S. Lewis trains his impeccable logic on the question of miracles, setting up a philosophical framework for the proposition that supernatural events can happen in this world. Focusing his inquiry on the feasibility of miracles in general, rather than on anecdotal evidence for specific miracles, Lewis builds a solid and compelling argument f Can God Intervene in Our Lives? C.S. Lewis trains his impeccable logic on the question of miracles, setting up a philosophical framework for the proposition that supernatural events can happen in this world. Focusing his inquiry on the feasibility of miracles in general, rather than on anecdotal evidence for specific miracles, Lewis builds a solid and compelling argument for the acceptance of divine intervention.


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Can God Intervene in Our Lives? C.S. Lewis trains his impeccable logic on the question of miracles, setting up a philosophical framework for the proposition that supernatural events can happen in this world. Focusing his inquiry on the feasibility of miracles in general, rather than on anecdotal evidence for specific miracles, Lewis builds a solid and compelling argument f Can God Intervene in Our Lives? C.S. Lewis trains his impeccable logic on the question of miracles, setting up a philosophical framework for the proposition that supernatural events can happen in this world. Focusing his inquiry on the feasibility of miracles in general, rather than on anecdotal evidence for specific miracles, Lewis builds a solid and compelling argument for the acceptance of divine intervention.

30 review for Miracles: A Preliminary Study (C.S. Lewis Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Most people here on Goodreads will have had the experience of meeting an intelligent, witty, well-informed person who holds views that you absolutely do not agree with, but who defends them with imagination and force. This can often lead to extraordinarily enjoyable discussions, even if, at the end, your beliefs (at least, the ones you are aware of) have not been changed at all. Well, reading Miracles was rather like that for me, which is why I'm prepared to give it three stars. Lewis presents a Most people here on Goodreads will have had the experience of meeting an intelligent, witty, well-informed person who holds views that you absolutely do not agree with, but who defends them with imagination and force. This can often lead to extraordinarily enjoyable discussions, even if, at the end, your beliefs (at least, the ones you are aware of) have not been changed at all. Well, reading Miracles was rather like that for me, which is why I'm prepared to give it three stars. Lewis presents a defence of miracles which is imaginative and passionate; I think it's completely wrong, but I enjoyed watching him argue the case and mentally arguing back at each step. I'm just sorry we couldn't meet in person. The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    My inveterate hatred of magazines began during my sophomore year of college. I was at a friend's apartment, waiting for him to get out of the shower, when I noticed a TIME magazine on his coffee table. It had a big picture of Jesus on it, with the headline "What Do We Really Know About Jesus?" At the time I was an atheist or, more accurately, an agnostic. But I'd spent quite a bit of time in class that year reading and discussing significant portions of the Old and New Testaments, as well as tran My inveterate hatred of magazines began during my sophomore year of college. I was at a friend's apartment, waiting for him to get out of the shower, when I noticed a TIME magazine on his coffee table. It had a big picture of Jesus on it, with the headline "What Do We Really Know About Jesus?" At the time I was an atheist or, more accurately, an agnostic. But I'd spent quite a bit of time in class that year reading and discussing significant portions of the Old and New Testaments, as well as translating parts of "Matthew" from the Greek. I was interested to see what the world of thoughtful people in the modern world did really know about Jesus. I opened the magazine to the appropriate page. Among a distracting array of pie graphs and extraneous graphics, I was able to locate some actual text. It began by stating that the writers had gathered together a group of the best minds, experts in their fields, to consider what, in fact, we really know about Jesus, the historical figure. The very first thing we can really say, according to this council of learned individuals, is that we must dismiss the miracles recounted in the Bible. I stopped and read this again. I almost couldn't believe it. In the Bible, Jesus mainly does two things: he talks, and he performs miracles. The fact that he is doing extraordinary things in between the things he says seems, to me anyway, to be a necessary part of the story: it gives his words authority. The miracles are proof that he knows something about the world that we don't know. Maybe the whole thing is made up, words and miracles both. This was vaguely my position at the time. Considered in this way, as literature, you can say lots of interesting things about the characters and events created by the author, just as you can say lots of interesting things about the characters and events in Don Quixote. When considering any literature, however, it is nonsense to discount the action all together and simply consider the dialogue. You wouldn't read Moby Dick and skip all the descriptions of what happened and just read the dialogue. Furthermore, when considering literature, the actual "historical" events on which the piece is based mean next to nothing. Moby Dick might have been based on a "historical" whaling ship, or a real captain, but who cares? If we consider the New Testament not as literature, but as a historical document, does it make any kind of sense to dismiss the miracles? Did Jesus, for example, walk around saying things, but not performing miracles? And then, later, somebody just wrote the miracles in? This is possible, but if it is, the person or people who recorded the events of the New Testament are completely unreliable. If they added in whatever events they wanted, why should we assume they kept strictly to the words Jesus said? If, therefore, Jesus walked around saying things but not performing miracles, we can have no idea what he said. The words must be taken to be as made up as the miracles are, which brings us back to considering it as literature. But on what basis are the miracles dismissed? Really? People said that they saw them. People were convinced by them, some of them convinced enough to die. Those two statements are historical fact. Those two statements are, in fact, something that we "really" know. It's true, certainly, that anyone may find the statements of these people unconvincing. They are unconvincing because they do not fit into the framework of the world that we have in our minds. Like it or not, we are all dogmatists. There are too many crazy claims in the world for any of us not to be. If, for example, I told you that my neighbor drives a red Volvo, you would probably believe me. The fact that somebody drives a red Volvo fits into the world as you understand it. If I told you (as someone once tried to tell me) that you could get rich teaching financial planning, because all you would have to do would be to get 20 other people to teach financial planning, and they would get 20 other people, and so on, you would (hopefully) not believe me. Even if I offered you "proof," by taking you to a seminar where the first guy who started all this was standing up in front of everyone talking about how rich he was, you still (hopefully) would not believe me. My point with these two examples is that in the first case no proof was offered except my statement, and it was believable. In the second place some actual proof was offered, and it is still unbelievable. Believability depends, not so much on the proof offered, but almost entirely on how you view the world. Now I'm getting to the heart of what really infuriated me about this article. The only reason to listen to experts is because we expect them to know something that we don't know ourselves. They have spent time studying facts, and in return for this we give them authority. We take what they say as truth without looking for the proof ourselves. Insidiously, these experts did exactly the opposite of what they were supposed to do. They took my own dogma, the dogma of our age, that "miracles can't happen," they swallowed it whole and without question, and then they vomited it back up to me, the reader, as some kind of established fact, as something that we really "know." They used their authority to divorce me from the truth and responsibility of the fact that I was following a dogma. The only thing they were experts in was what historical records show. Besides in the matter of historical records, the opinions of these people had no more value than my own. Historical records show, as I said before, that people said they saw these things and that people believed in them. No historical records show that these things were made up. What kind of people, then, would say "As historians, the first thing to start with is the dismissing of all the miracles"? The truthful thing to say would be: "Speaking strictly historically, there is as much proof as we could reasonably expect for the events related in the New Testament, and nothing to disprove them. This does not, of course, constitute positive proof such extraordinary events really happened." Still, I find it interesting to think about what constitutes "proof" of something. In the mathematical world, which is not "real," proof is a real thing. It's the ironclad, indisputable application of certain narrowly defined rules to certain narrowly defined objects. I wonder, however, whether the word "proof" has any meaning in the real world. Can anything in the real world be proven in the ironclad sense in which it can in mathematics? Whatever your answer to this may be, what then does that answer mean about how to proceed with people making outrageous claims, such as those made by people claiming they've seen miracles, or UFOs, or ghosts? This is a review of the book "Miracles," and you are probably wondering where the review is. In fact, you have just read it. Everything I have discussed here is discussed in the book, in much greater detail and (obviously) with much more wisdom. The book is a logical argument concerning the question: Is the New Testament true? It starts without asking you to believe anything and makes a series of logical steps which lead, eventually, to a belief in Christianity. Well, actually, at one point the steps become illogical because, as argued in the book, there are some questions that logic can't answer. Before anybody gets too upset, by "questions that logic can't answer" I don't mean anything especially deep, I mean questions about experience. I have a blue flower growing in my backyard. Is that statement true or false? Logic simply cannot tell you. You have to come to my backyard and see. Or, you have to make a probable judgment based on what you know about me, and about blue flowers. That's what I mean. Anyway, the book winds up at an acceptance of Christianity, and uses some of its space in the analyzing of some of the miracles attributed to Jesus. Some of Mr. Lewis's descriptions and interpretations of these miracles are heartbreakingly beautiful, and I wish everybody could read them. One passage I remember is the description of a man diving into the mud, like a pearl-diver, and disappearing beneath the surface, swimming down down down, into the very heart of what can only be called the bottom of the earth, and then gently, slowly, lifting with his whole body, reascending with the whole weight of everything upon his back. Every time I read and reread this passage it brought tears to my eyes. A much sillier and less well-written description of this same kind of action, by the way, can be found in that cheesy country song from the 1960's: "Big John." But the recurrence of similar themes found in the popular arts and religion, both before and after the New Testament, is discussed in the book as well. This most certainly winds up at the Christian perspective, and so in that way it is a Christian book. On the other hand, when I hear Christians speak generally they seem to take as accepted many things which many of their listeners don't seem to take as accepted. For instance, at a funeral the other day the preacher kept repeating that we can all take comfort in knowing that the deceased was with Jesus. I would have been willing to bet that at least half the people in the room did not, in fact, believe that the deceased was "with Jesus," and so the preacher's words were empty. More than that, they seemed to be filled with silly promises that fell on deaf ears. Now, my point about this is that, in my experience, most Christians talk as if they are preaching to the choir, when in fact they are not. This is one of the annoying things about many Christians that I've met. Maybe they can't help it, or never think of it, but in any case that is not at all what goes on in Mr. Lewis's book. It is respectful of the idea of doubt, and even of non-belief: it just asks the reader to follow through with the logical consequences of whatever his position is. I would be interested to know, in light of this, where in the book an atheist or an agnostic or a Jew or Buddhist or Muslim would begin to disagree with Mr. Lewis. I have my suspicions. Probably most people would find the part about our innate belief in rationality itself to be a little dubious. This part of the argument reminded me of nothing so much as Descartes' famous statement: "I think, therefore I am." Even before I'd read this book, I'd spent a long time thinking about that statement and what it actually means. It's really complex and very deep, and Descartes, in the "Meditations," really doesn't do it enough justice. I think he talks about it for 2 pages or something. Anyway, Mr. Lewis's argument about rationality seems to be exactly the same kind of philosophical statement. In both cases, if you just read it and continue on, you're not understanding what you've read. Maybe nobody can really understand it, but the idea behind it seems to have a true bearing on the world around us, and how we should react to it and interpret it. Flipping through a collection of Peter Singer essays at a friend's house, I came across a place where he mentioned this argument and referred to it as "intellectual judo." Needless to say, it appeared to me to be Mr. Singer who was engaging in "intellectual judo," with the added negativity of sneering dismissively while he did it. But I will admit that neither author devotes the space to this question that it really deserves. Maybe nobody could. Anyway, I think all of us are lost in this world and, for me anyway, this beautiful and interesting book gave me some alternate interpretations of things that made a structured kind of sense. I'm certain that not everyone will be convinced by this book, but I think anyone who reads it honestly can't help but gain more respect for the Christian viewpoint than it sometimes seems to deserve based on the behavior of some of its adamant adherents.

  3. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    I must admit that I think I did not fully understand what this book was trying to tell me. However, I am happy to say that I gave this book a chance: I read each word slowly and carefully even if I had more engaging fiction books in my currently-reading folder. You see, I earlier read and liked his two later works, A Grief Observed (1961) and Mere Christianity (1957) before reading this earlier book that was first published in 1947. So, I invited some members of our book club to read this with m I must admit that I think I did not fully understand what this book was trying to tell me. However, I am happy to say that I gave this book a chance: I read each word slowly and carefully even if I had more engaging fiction books in my currently-reading folder. You see, I earlier read and liked his two later works, A Grief Observed (1961) and Mere Christianity (1957) before reading this earlier book that was first published in 1947. So, I invited some members of our book club to read this with me. They agreed and our discussions are in this thread. Notice that we were all having a problem reading the book so either we Filipinos are not matched to Professor Lewis's intellectual level or we just did not have the academic training to understand all his philosophical arguments. If I may compare, "Grief" and "Christianity" are easier to understand because they delve more into feelings and emotions rather than philosophy and reasons. If the two books appeal to the reader's heart, "Miracles" appeals to one's brain particularly the first two-thirds of the book. In these parts, he talks about Naturalism and Supernaturalism. The first one means that nothing exists apart from Nature but the later one means that there are other forces outside nature. Then he associates Miracle by saying that there are two ideas where miracles are said to happen: either by deviating from the natural flow of events (naturalism) or by other forces that affect Nature. Ask me why are these important to Miracle and I will answer you that I do not know. Then he moves to differentiate Pantheism and Theism. Pantheism is the view that the Universe (Nature) or God (divinity) are identical. A pantheist does not believe in personal God. Theism, on the other hand, believes in the existence of One God as it is a doctrine concerning the nature of monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe. Being an Christian apologist (a person who makes a defense in speech or writing of a belief, idea, etc), naturally, Lewis says that miracles cannot co-exist with Pantheism although untrained minds would easily fall prey that Universe (Nature) and God are one. Ask me why this is important to Miracle and I will answer you that I do not know. Then in the last third of the book, Lewis talks about Old and New Creations. I think he coined these terms that mean those miracles that happened in the Old Testament (Old Creations) and New Testaments (New Creations). Being true to his credential as a Christian apologist, he of course defends that all miracles mentioned in the Bible are indeed miracles. He suggest for non-believers to read the actual passages in the Bible (starting with those in the New Testament) before reading the works of the scholars that deal with those miracles. Ask me why this is important to understand Miracle and I will answer you that I do not know. What I know really is what I believed since many years ago: believing in Miracles is through the heart. You don't need proofs to believe. That's why even if I appreciate the intellectual arguments presented convincingly by the beloved Oxford professor in this book, for me, there is nothing new. Miracles happen. They are God's works and they are His signs for us that He hasn't forgotten us. He wants us to feel His Divine Presence. We don't need to be convinced that miracles happen. Just look at the sun still shining every morning is enough proof for all of us. The global warming is totally another story though and that is NOT a miracle.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kurt

    This is a clear 5-star book. I was flat-out stunned by how wrong my prior expectations were for this book. I imagined this to be a less formal discussion on what miracles meant to Christians and maybe why God uses them, etc. This is a philosophy book. It is the most intellectually challenging CS Lewis book I've read and it is totally worth it. This book uses logic and clear language to present a case for Divinity in general and the existence of the Supernatural. It then describes how miracles are This is a clear 5-star book. I was flat-out stunned by how wrong my prior expectations were for this book. I imagined this to be a less formal discussion on what miracles meant to Christians and maybe why God uses them, etc. This is a philosophy book. It is the most intellectually challenging CS Lewis book I've read and it is totally worth it. This book uses logic and clear language to present a case for Divinity in general and the existence of the Supernatural. It then describes how miracles are central to the Christian life, anchoring the core of Christianity on the Resurrection. This book addresses arguments I heretofore believed were very modern, proving that there truly isn't much new under the sun. He digs deep to address exactly what Naturalism is, and why it is so pervasive in our culture, and how reason must be engaged by our minds in a conscious way to overcome it. If you have ever felt like you needed to have a more lucid, intellectual grasp of the philosophy involved in discussing the existence of God, this is the perfect book for you.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    I am trying to read through Lewis's Canon which is extremely fluid in places, not quite as canonized as Shakespeare. This book is pure Lewis. He takes a subject and logically works his way through it. We do not always understand what he is saying but he says it so well we do not care. I always feel sad while reading Lewis that he is dead and not sitting across from me at the Bird and the Baby.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Petruzzi

    Miracles is dense; more so than any Lewis book we’ve read this term. The entire book is a somewhat stealth exercise in Lewis’ presuppositional apologetic. By that I mean not that Lewis argues with the non-Christian from some imaginary set of shared presuppositions, but that he deftly dismantles the non-Christian’s presuppositions, leaving him standing there, naked, ashamed, and in desperate need of the Gospel. And he does it all before the non-Christian knows what’s happened. It’s kind of like on Miracles is dense; more so than any Lewis book we’ve read this term. The entire book is a somewhat stealth exercise in Lewis’ presuppositional apologetic. By that I mean not that Lewis argues with the non-Christian from some imaginary set of shared presuppositions, but that he deftly dismantles the non-Christian’s presuppositions, leaving him standing there, naked, ashamed, and in desperate need of the Gospel. And he does it all before the non-Christian knows what’s happened. It’s kind of like one giant narratio, in that way. In each chapter, Lewis, with unimpeachable logic, writes in such a way as to get non-Christians to nod emphatically along with him until, all of a sudden, they are blindsided with a consequent truth. A truth that they’d really rather not accept. You’ll find no straw-manning here. Lewis is a defector from the non-Christian camp and knows all their movements. All you will find are clearly presented truths that, I’m sure, have left many readers confronted, bewildered, with the inescapable glory of God’s greatest miracle: the incarnation. Here’s hoping many a soul found it convincing enough to do something about it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    "Miracle" has become a dirty word in modern society. People generally view miracles as being, by their very definition, things that cannot possibly occur; therefore, anyone who argues for their existence is demonstrably an idiot. In this book, though, Lewis argues that miracles are only impossible so long as people consider Nature to encompass the entirety of all existence. He then capably demonstrates that Nature actually doesn't, thereby opening up an extensive range of fascinating possibility "Miracle" has become a dirty word in modern society. People generally view miracles as being, by their very definition, things that cannot possibly occur; therefore, anyone who argues for their existence is demonstrably an idiot. In this book, though, Lewis argues that miracles are only impossible so long as people consider Nature to encompass the entirety of all existence. He then capably demonstrates that Nature actually doesn't, thereby opening up an extensive range of fascinating possibility. Lewis argues that miracles likely operate on a different set of natural laws than what we are able to experience with our five senses. He also shows that not all miracles are equally absurd: some--such as the ones performed in the New Testament--fit snuggly inside a greater narrative and provide a basis for certain historical events that otherwise might remain inexplicable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Excellent. Went through it again in March of 2016. Richer each time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barnabas Piper

    Lewis is so brilliant.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna Maria

    I must say that I have been trying to read this book for a long time but somehow I kept on strolling through the chapters with slight interest. Eventually one day I took this book with me while I had a visit and started reading with more interest and I finally understood that it was worth the read. I was reading where he describes the incarnation of Christ and the book had all my attention. The content is very interesting and I highly recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Hawkins

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. I admit I was skeptical of the book at first, simply because I am not that interested in the philosophical debate on whether miracles happen or not, and because Lewis can be unpractically heady sometimes. But the book was much more than this. The best way I know how to describe the book is to say that it is very similar to the apologetic works of Francis Schaeffer—yet more philosophical and I would say less clear than Schaeffer. His insights, critiques, and reasonings a I thoroughly enjoyed this. I admit I was skeptical of the book at first, simply because I am not that interested in the philosophical debate on whether miracles happen or not, and because Lewis can be unpractically heady sometimes. But the book was much more than this. The best way I know how to describe the book is to say that it is very similar to the apologetic works of Francis Schaeffer—yet more philosophical and I would say less clear than Schaeffer. His insights, critiques, and reasonings about presuppositions, naturalism, Nature, pantheism, the human spirit/rationality, and more all make it sound like you’re reading a Francis Schaeffer book (although, since Lewis wrote this first, I now realize how much Schaeffer might have relied upon Lewis). But I love Francis Schaeffer’s apologetic books. I think he’s spot on. And so, I loved this book. It wasn’t easy, but I ate it up. So what is the book about? Well honestly, not mainly miracles. Sure, his thesis is that miracles happen—especially the large ones in Christianity (Incarnation, Resurrection particularly). But in order to prove this, he spends the vast majority of his time not on miracles themselves, but instead on Nature (I capitalize only because Lewis did), Naturalism, Pantheism, Man, and God. The proof of miracles only comes when one logically and truly thinks about these things. It is more of a corollary than the center. Time does not permit me to detail so many of the arguments made. But if I had to (insufficiently) summarize his main arguments, it would be as follows: — He begins by addressing presuppositions. He really wants people to not just deny miracles because of a blind Naturalistic presupposition, or other presuppositions. (If you’ve read Schaeffer, do you see how this is Schaeffer-like?) From this, he shows that there cannot only be Nature. This means Naturalism, which is just another form of Pantheism, or Everythingism, cannot be true. He proves this by mainly talking about us as humans, Reason, and Morality. He has a brilliant—and I mean brilliant—extended argument about how Morality proves this on pages 55-60. And he argues similarly from human Reason, showing that it is either from Another, or it cannot be trusted since it is just randomly risen from the Everything. From here, he argues that since Reasoning and Morality have clearly been invasions into Nature (meaning, they come from outside, from Another), then can there be other things from this Other that come in, namely, miracles? Then he spends a chapter answering some weak and non-credible arguments people give in response to all this. This is excellent. Then he takes more time to talk about who God is and must be. From here, his biggest argument for why miracles must be is not that they are unnatural, but rather that they are part of the totality that God created. In this way, yes, they are super-natural (above Nature, from God), but they are not like random outbursts of God in the world. Rather, their existence was always intentional; and is just as natural therefore as Nature itself. He says it this way, miracles “have occurred because they are the very thing this universal story is about. They are not exceptions (however rarely they occur) not irrelevancies. They are precisely those chapters in this great story on which the plot turns. Death and Resurrection are what they story is about” (157). Or to say it simpler, it isn’t helpful to think nature is what truly is, and miracles are random disjunctive outbursts of God. Rather, God—who is the ‘God of Nature,’ as Lewis points out over and over—always intended on these miracles, and the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ always were central in this God-created-nature. Then Lewis has a long chapter on the Incarnation, which was probably my least favorite chapter in the book. Still some insights, but long and a tad confusing. But he finally ends by addressing Jesus’ miracles. This was brilliant. First, he says that “in all [Christ’s] miracles alike the incarnate God does suddenly and locally something that God has done or will do in general. Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed, across the whole canvas of Nature. They focus at a particular point either God’s actual, or His future, operations on the universe” (219). This is exactly what Jesus’ miracles were. But he explains Jesus’ miracles even further, separating them into two categories: miracles of the Old Creation in one chapter, and miracles of the New Creation in another. The Old Creation miracles focus on “what the God of Nature has already done on a larger scale” (229), meaning, in this Nature/Creation. For example, when Jesus stops the storm, God already is stopping/creating storms everyday. Or when Jesus is born of a virgin: God already is the one who gives conception everyday, albeit he usually (except in this one instance) uses male sperm. Or, God is always the one in control of the process of turning grapes/water into wine; Jesus just does it suddenly. Or, God is always the one who heals anything that gets broken or fixed. Yes, we use medicine and our bodies do it, but God is the one doing it really. So when Jesus heals, he is doing something God does everyday, just, as Lewis said, “suddenly and locally.” (Brilliant stuff, isn’t it?). But the miracles of the New Creation show us something of the New Creation, or New Nature for the world, that is coming. This is true of when Jesus, and then even Peter, walks on water. This is not done now in this Nature. But this New Creation is esspecially obvious in the Resurrection and Ascension. Lewis spends a while on these, and he does so by focusing on the resurrected body of Christ mainly. He shows that Jesus’ body almost defies what we can imagine. Why? Because it isn’t of this Nature. Isn’t a merely physical body. But it also isn’t a ghost or anything just ‘spiritual’, meaning, non-material. It is Supernatural or another Nature. It gives us a foretaste of what will be in the New Creation, or again, the New Nature. Then in the Epilogue, he once again goes back to presuppositions. He begs that if you want to look further into the miracles of Christ, read the New Testament. He warns that if you go to modern scholars, they might mean well, but they often are so influenced by their Naturalistic presuppositions that they don’t see clearly. Then finally in the Epilogue he talks about being careful to not just drift back into “your habitual outlook” (270). And I loved this ending, because he’s right. He argues that the arguments for God, non-Naturalism, and therefore miracles is so strong, and that you probably are agreeing with him because of it, but once you put the book down, realize the room your in, go back to the ‘real world’, you’ll be tempted to simply go back to what is your habitual outlook on life—which, because of the air we breathe in our culture we live in right now, is Naturalism. So he says to watch out. Then in the first appendix, he helpfully shows what we mean by the word ‘spirit’ (he comes up with four definitions, all of which are used and are different) and how the Regenerate ‘spirt’ is of a totally different thing altogether—it is part of this New Creation, and it changes everything about someone, not just their soul, spirit, or psychology, but all of them. — So would I recommend the book? It matters. If you love Schaeffer, apologetics, thinking about who God is, who we are, why we are the way we are, and what is to come, then absolutely, It is brilliant. Confusing at times, yes, but brilliant. But if you’re looking for something devotional, or something to simply prove the possibility of miracles, then stay away. You won’t find that here. But you will find something great, substantial, and thought-changing. I am so so glad I read it, and I’ll definitely read it again, Lord willing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carol Bakker

    I slogged through the first ten chapters, plodding onward because it was C.S. Lewis. Then the door cracked open in chapter 11 and by chapter 14 I was illuminated and enthralled. It seemed that his audience for the earlier section was readers without faith. But once he started describing The Grand Miracle (the incarnation of Christ) and several other classes of miracles, my attention was fixed. I have added a new Goodreads bookshelf: Terminal DX. There are several titles that I would like to read I slogged through the first ten chapters, plodding onward because it was C.S. Lewis. Then the door cracked open in chapter 11 and by chapter 14 I was illuminated and enthralled. It seemed that his audience for the earlier section was readers without faith. But once he started describing The Grand Miracle (the incarnation of Christ) and several other classes of miracles, my attention was fixed. I have added a new Goodreads bookshelf: Terminal DX. There are several titles that I would like to read if (when?) I were given a terminal diagnosis. ("Always be prepared.") This book is included. The last Narnia book is another. I think chapter 14 may become an annual Advent reading with my husband. I'm blushing to write this, but Curt and I have always privately protested the verses about no marriage and no sex in heaven. When a taste of heaven is given in our bedroom, it's hard to imagine no conjugal beds in heaven. If you've wondered about this, go to page 260 for the most brilliant explanation I've read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sharla

    Dense, complex and worth the read. I have been trying to finish this book for a long time. Finally I brought it with me on a train and read it to the end. The arguments and flow of logic are good but you really have to concentrate as you read to follow Lewis's thought process at points. I am curious what individuals who aren't Christian would think of this book. Anybody want to tell me?

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Anthony

    Defeatism strikes again! Another one given up on. Life's too short.... 2* based on what I managed to read. I don't think this has aged well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Okay this is another book I remember DISTINCTLY finishing, cause I was flush with victory. Don't remember anything about it, but I remember finishing this.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bailey Marissa

    This book is Lewis walking through each argument against miracles and explaining why miracles are possible despire said arguments. Again, I do necessarily agree with everything but that's ok. This is still a good book, even though it is very hard to get through. Recommended 14+

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I hate to say that this was not my favorite C.S. Lewis book so far. Without a class discussion, I’m not sure I could have waded through half of the arguments Lewis brings up. It was intended for those who are skeptical of miracles, and that subject was definitely one that I have wondered about. I am a Latter-day Saint, and I believe in miracles. But I have always been under the impression that God would use natural laws to govern those miracles, and they are miraculous because we do not understa I hate to say that this was not my favorite C.S. Lewis book so far. Without a class discussion, I’m not sure I could have waded through half of the arguments Lewis brings up. It was intended for those who are skeptical of miracles, and that subject was definitely one that I have wondered about. I am a Latter-day Saint, and I believe in miracles. But I have always been under the impression that God would use natural laws to govern those miracles, and they are miraculous because we do not understand them. In that sense, I never thought that God could break laws that he was bound to (but then again, he is God), but that leads me to one of Lewis’ main points: He begins with the argument against the naturalist. He believes that in order to really be Christian we have to be supernaturalists, believing that there is more to nature, or our current reality—that there is a God in charge of it all. Lewis argues that miracles do not discredit the law of nature because nature still works after the miracle occurs. We assume laws are all known, but there could be something higher that interferes. Just because there is interference though does not mean that the laws are not true. It just adds data, as Lewis said. The Virgin Mary was a good example he gives. The miracle was Mary getting pregnant, but after that nature took over. Her body acted just how it would have otherwise, and she gave birth in the way of nature. God and nature work together. Along with that point, Lewis makes another stab at those who believe that modern day thinkers are somehow smarter than people from “the olden days.” Miracles are just as believable today as they were a thousand years ago, the difference is most people simply disregard them. Joseph might not have had a professorship at Oxford, but he knew that in order to have a kid you had to have intercourse beforehand. The miracle was no more believable then than it is today, so what is different? Now there are certainly some differences of opinion between LDS doctrine and Lewis, but I thought his general argument for why miracles are more than magical, absurdities was beneficial. He argues that miracles are not just fathomable, but they are essential. I love how he can logically argue for the supernatural. It is not a supplement to faith, but it does make a nice companion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emma Brown

    In this book, Lewis presents a curious blend of simplicity and deeply intellectual thought that requires one's whole attention to fully comprehend his meaning. I preferred taking a long time to sift through the material instead of rushing through, due to the heady concepts portrayed. Oftentimes, I forgot that he was specifically addressing the plausibility of miracles, so I cannot say for certain how well he defends their possibility in this book; I was more caught up in the gems of insight that In this book, Lewis presents a curious blend of simplicity and deeply intellectual thought that requires one's whole attention to fully comprehend his meaning. I preferred taking a long time to sift through the material instead of rushing through, due to the heady concepts portrayed. Oftentimes, I forgot that he was specifically addressing the plausibility of miracles, so I cannot say for certain how well he defends their possibility in this book; I was more caught up in the gems of insight that littered the pages. As always, his arguments and points are thought-provoking and even useful, but I know many people would find this book of his particularly hard to follow. Still, I would suggest it to anyone, even if they are entirely convinced of miracles. The content is interesting and supplies copious amounts of contemplation that can be used to clarify or unify one's understanding by addressing key elements of Christian faith in the light of the miraculous and of Nature. My favourite moment might have been ending the chapter before the epilogue, because his conclusion left me with a surge of hope and wonder. I would explain, but the nuances and ideas he uses are so bound up in the rest of his commentary that you really must read for yourself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    Already one of my favorites of C.S Lewis' books. The arguments for the existence of the supernatural (and hence, God) are much more thoroughly expounded in this volume than in the classic "Mere Christianity." As with his other books that I've read, there is much in this one that is simply beyond me. I try to follow the reasoning and get lost somewhere along the way. Or sometimes I just have no idea what he's talking about. But in the parts I can understand and grasp, I discover many priceless tr Already one of my favorites of C.S Lewis' books. The arguments for the existence of the supernatural (and hence, God) are much more thoroughly expounded in this volume than in the classic "Mere Christianity." As with his other books that I've read, there is much in this one that is simply beyond me. I try to follow the reasoning and get lost somewhere along the way. Or sometimes I just have no idea what he's talking about. But in the parts I can understand and grasp, I discover many priceless treasures. This book is not about proving or disproving any specific miracle. Rather it is concerned with determining whether miracles are possible, or not. And to qualify as a "miracle," C.S. Lewis has a very high standard. Everyday answers to prayer and other occurrences of what many of us might call "miracles" are not under discussion. Towards the end he does discuss the topic of answers to prayer, and his explanation makes a lot of sense, even if it's a bit complicated. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to explore the topic of the supernatural in general or miracles specifically.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I am not even going to try to sound like this book made complete sense to me. I felt like I needed a PhD in philosophy and religious studies to wade through all of the arguments and off-chutes of arguments that C.S. Lewis makes in the case of miracles. However, in my slow and read out loud methods of trying to understand his arguments and presentations, I made my own mental diagrams and connect-the-dots to help me understand his philosophical deductions regarding the necessity of belief in mirac I am not even going to try to sound like this book made complete sense to me. I felt like I needed a PhD in philosophy and religious studies to wade through all of the arguments and off-chutes of arguments that C.S. Lewis makes in the case of miracles. However, in my slow and read out loud methods of trying to understand his arguments and presentations, I made my own mental diagrams and connect-the-dots to help me understand his philosophical deductions regarding the necessity of belief in miracles. I came away impressed with his ability to get from point A to point Z in proving one main point, and then his ability to make sense of other religious beliefs along the way. It was good to look at religious beliefs from a philosophical perspective, though I must say that while philosophical perspectives can enrich my faith, my belief in such religious things begins with faith first, and in my view, ends with faith as well.

  21. 5 out of 5

    DD

    This was a very difficult read for me but I'm glad that I was able to read it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kendall Davis

    I quite enjoyed this. I was surprised at how much he addressed broader issues about how our reason can work at all, defining natural vs. supernatural, understanding the human mind, etc. But I think a lot of this was necessary for his argument. The final third of the book is definitely the best part. Some of the abstract philosophical discussion at the beginning is quite difficult to get through. All in all, a good critique of naturalism and naturalist assumptions.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Peter Rapp

    The subtitle of this book, "How God Intervenes in Human Affairs" is a more precise description of what this book is actually about. Lewis does a wonderful job sorting out the interface between "Nature" and "Supernature", and I found myself continually surprised, refreshed and excited by his framing of the various issues. He is scientifically very sensitive as well. Great book, a must read for believing scientists.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    Superb. Lewis is able somehow to give me story grip with even his non-fiction works. This is a really helpful work both in the areas of philosophy and piety. The end of the book had me in laughter just by the sheer joy of it all.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    This book is about far more than miracles. It deals with all the Big Questions: does God exist? what is Nature? who are we? and a hundred other smaller but equally important subjects. Savor these pages. And return often.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Goff

    Reading Lewis is like watching a chess player.

  27. 4 out of 5

    MC

    One of the most mocked aspects of the Christian faith is the existence of miracles. In fact, the very heart of the Christian faith is based on a miracle. How can one believe in Christianity unless one believes in miracles, or at least is willing to allow for their existence? The simple answer, according to C. S. Lewis, is that they can't. In his book, Miracles, Lewis defended the logic of believing in such supernatural events. In a fashion that those who have read his other Apologetics works wil One of the most mocked aspects of the Christian faith is the existence of miracles. In fact, the very heart of the Christian faith is based on a miracle. How can one believe in Christianity unless one believes in miracles, or at least is willing to allow for their existence? The simple answer, according to C. S. Lewis, is that they can't. In his book, Miracles, Lewis defended the logic of believing in such supernatural events. In a fashion that those who have read his other Apologetics works will recognize, Lewis uses a type of “stepping-stone” or building argument. He starts with the notion of defining the difference between the belief in the “supernatural” and the merely “natural”, and then goes on to systematically define what counts for supernatural, and, of the concepts under the umbrella of that term, what would count as a miracle. What makes this book effective is that Lewis actually shows a sense of history and skepticism. What I mean by this is that he points out the historical “lineage” of both the beliefs of Christianity in terms of the miraculous, and of the general anti-Christian naturalist philosophy. Granted, it is a very quick sketch, but that is what makes it so useful. It is quite brief, yet has the pertinent information. On the issue of skepticism, Lewis argues that most of the extra-Biblical accounts of “miracles” are probably not actually miracles, though they certainly could be. At the end of the book, Lewis makes a distinction between a “miracle” and something that would be said to be predestined, or a work of “Providence”. He points out that such acts of Providence are not miracles, but this doesn't mean that they are any less of an example of God's supernatural power. The idea that, from the beginning of Creation, God designed that some “saving grace” should appear at such and such a time, is truly as awe-inspiring as any miraculous account. In a section of the book near the end, Lewis differentiates between the miracles of the “old Creation” (upon which we currently live), and those of the “New Creation” which we have had a foretaste of with Christ's resurrection and life before the Ascension, and which we can look forward to in the New Heaven/New Earth. Lewis admits that most of what he says on the subject of possible New Creation miracles is sheer conjecture, but it is one we ought to cling to and discuss for the sake of our Christian walk and growth. Randy Alcorn's premise in his very important book, Heaven, (which has changed my life and perspective, and I encourage all to read) was not the first modern call to return to the hope and study of Heaven. C. S. Lewis preceded him by nearly sixty years. This account and defense of miracles is one that I would Highly Recommend to others.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    The book includes the topic of miracles, but it's more of an argument from reason. The early edition of Miracles was criticized by Elizabeth Anscombe, a philosopher who debated Lewis in the only public debate that Lewis ever lost. A revised edition of this book, according to this article (cf. here), addresses Anscombe's concern, but essentially uses it to reinforce Lewis's original opinion. Chapter 3 was the revised chapter. See Jacobs's The Narnian for a challenge to the common way of talking ab The book includes the topic of miracles, but it's more of an argument from reason. The early edition of Miracles was criticized by Elizabeth Anscombe, a philosopher who debated Lewis in the only public debate that Lewis ever lost. A revised edition of this book, according to this article (cf. here), addresses Anscombe's concern, but essentially uses it to reinforce Lewis's original opinion. Chapter 3 was the revised chapter. See Jacobs's The Narnian for a challenge to the common way of talking about Lewis vs. Anscombe (that Lewis was humiliated and retreated to writing children's literature). Hooper may have overplayed Lewis's reaction to Anscombe, according to Anscombe herself (Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind: The Collected Philosophical Papers of G.E.M. Anscombe, vol. 2, 1981, p. x.). Related sources that work out and confirm Lewis's basic idea include Reppert's C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: In Defense of the Argument from Reason (Reppert also deals with the Anscombe myth), Plantinga's Knowledge and Christian Belief (a popular-level exposition of his work—Stokes reviews it here; see Plantinga's EAAN here, which mentions both Lewis and Reppert), and Stokes's A Shot of Faith. Here's Doug Wilson on different kinds of miracles. Here (around the 47 minute mark) Wilson says that Lewis here argues as a presuppositionalist. Joe Minich has a series of introductory videos on this book, the first of which is here.

  29. 4 out of 5

    MM

    I loved the first few chapters of this book. His whole philosophy on logic's place in naturalism was pretty darn brilliant. In fact, if he had just left it at the first four or so chapters, it would've been great. It wasn't until he got into Christian miracles that I started getting bored. The problem is that he starting waxing lyrical. It became less about the truth and more about what sounded beautiful. Personally, I don't enjoy the concept of a suffering God, but it clearly mesmerised him. His I loved the first few chapters of this book. His whole philosophy on logic's place in naturalism was pretty darn brilliant. In fact, if he had just left it at the first four or so chapters, it would've been great. It wasn't until he got into Christian miracles that I started getting bored. The problem is that he starting waxing lyrical. It became less about the truth and more about what sounded beautiful. Personally, I don't enjoy the concept of a suffering God, but it clearly mesmerised him. His long-winded descriptions of nature and its evilness and what-not seemed to avoid the question altogether. Instead of answering anything, he would say something like, "But look! This exists in such-and-such place too, naturally, so we can only expect God to do the same!" without realising that God made the rules. His explanation of the Incarnation was just bad. I had no idea what he was talking about. It sounded like intellectual bogwash, to be honest. Doesn't God have certain attributes? How can He change who He is? Etc. The last chapter in particular just made me want to bang my head in. It's when he talks about the Miracle of the New Creation. Joy to the world, Jesus is recreating nature in some sort of snazzy new spaceworld! He ascended, forging the path for us sinners to enter eternal delight! Hurrah! It sounded to me like he was appealing to emotion (not consciously) rather than reason. And whatever he was saying about Jesus' new body made absolutely no sense to me. I guess it's a big deal to Christians though. So an interesting read, and he raised some good points, but I still don't think Christianity's main miracle (the death and resurrection of Christ) is any more rational or possible. I guess that's why it's called a giant mystery.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    4.5, rounded up because it is Lewis Brilliant. Beyond me. Some of his arguments felt over my head, yet it didn't take long for me to pick up his train of thought. Perhaps the greatest part of Lewis's genius is his ability to make the complex understandable. Miracles looks broadly at worldviews and is as much an argument for Christianity as for the existence of miracles. In fact, that is probably inescapable, as so much of Christianity depends on the miraculous. A very profound book that is fun b 4.5, rounded up because it is Lewis Brilliant. Beyond me. Some of his arguments felt over my head, yet it didn't take long for me to pick up his train of thought. Perhaps the greatest part of Lewis's genius is his ability to make the complex understandable. Miracles looks broadly at worldviews and is as much an argument for Christianity as for the existence of miracles. In fact, that is probably inescapable, as so much of Christianity depends on the miraculous. A very profound book that is fun but not easy to read. Lewis presents several complex arguments and they often take focus to completely grasp. I think it is worth it in the end. This book naturally follows Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man, but would probably be hard to tackle as an introduction to Lewis. I understood a lot of his arguments because I first grasped where they came from in his other books, including The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which was fascinating. I like that Lewis constantly references other books to read to get a broader understanding of the subject. Definitely worth the time and focus! Side note, I love that Lewis calls Chapter 9, "A Chapter Not Strictly Necessary." That cracks me up.

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