Book Review: “Miracles”

My wife and I recently finished reading “Miracles” – one of the many classics from C.S. Lewis.

The book begins by poking some holes in naturalism. By comparing the assumptions of naturalists with those of supernaturalists, Lewis effectively undermines the modern belief that naturalism is somehow more “rational”.

CS Lewis

For the remainder of the book, Lewis methodically builds a case for the miraculous. One of his central arguments is the idea that miracles, while apparently violating the laws of “nature” (defined as the observed universe) actually fit within a broader definition of “nature” (defined as the entirety of God’s creation, both observed and unobserved). In the last few chapters, it is further explained how Christianity – via “The Grand Miracle” – radically differentiates itself from other religions.

I highly recommend this book not only to Christians seeking to defend their belief in miracles, but also to anyone who is simply curious to learn why some of us continue to hold these beliefs in this modern, scientific, “post-miraculous” age.

I’ve collected below a few of my favorite passages:

“When a thing professes from the very outset to be a unique invasion of Nature by something from outside, increasing knowledge of Nature can never make it either more or less credible than it was at the beginning. In this sense it is mere confusion of thought to suppose that advancing science has made it harder for us to accept miracles. We always knew they were contrary to the natural course of events; we know still that if there is something beyond Nature, they are possible.” 

“It is a profound mistake to imagine that Christianity ever intended to dissipate the bewilderment and even the terror, the sense of our own nothingness, which come upon us when we think about the nature of things. It comes to intensify them. Without such sensations there is no religion. Many a man, brought up in the glib profession of some shallow form of Christianity, who comes through reading Astronomy to realise for the first time how majestically indifferent most reality is to man, and who perhaps abandons his religion on that account, may at that moment be having his first genuinely religious experience.”

“If Naturalism is true we have no reason to trust our conviction that Nature is uniform. It can be trusted only if quite a different Metaphysic is true. If the deepest thing in reality, the Fact which is the source of all other facthood, is a thing in some degree like ourselves – if it is a Rational Spirit and we derive our rational spirituality from it – then indeed our conviction can be trusted. Our repugnance to disorder is derived from Nature’s Creator and ours. The disorderly world which we cannot endure to believe in is the disorderly world He would not have endured to create.”

‎”In the Christian story God descends to reascend…He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.”

“I do not think that it is the duty of a Christian apologist (as many sceptics suppose) to disprove all stories of the miraculous which fall outside the Christian records, nor of a Christian man to disbelieve them. I am in no way committed to the assertion that God has never worked miracles through and for Pagans or never permitted created supernatural beings to do so…But I claim that the Christian miracles have a much greater intrinsic probability in virtue of their organic connection with one another and with the whole structure of the religion they exhibit.”

“Who will trust me with a spiritual body if I cannot control even an earthly body? These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world-shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else – since He has retained His own charger – should we accompany Him?”

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: “Miracles”

    • Miracles is still the hardest reading (at least for me) of any Lewis book or essay I’ve read, but it’s worth it; I think of his argument about materialism and our power to reason, in chapters 2-3, as the best (only?) argument that makes materialist atheism logically untenable. “You don’t have to go home (or to Christianity), but you can’t stay here.”

  1. Oddly enough, this was the first book I read by Lewis. Your review was spot on and it makes me want to read it again (it’s been a few years at least). Thanks for taking the time to share your favorite passages as well; an excellent touch.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: “Orthodoxy” | Well Spent Journey

  3. Pingback: C.S. Lewis on the Efficacy of Prayer | Well Spent Journey

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