Book Review – Miracles

Miracles – by C.S. Lewis


In this book, C.S. Lewis lays out the claim that Biblical (or even non-Biblical) accounts of miracles should not  be ruled out a priori as impossible.  He begins with this basic issue – the philosophical assumption – often masked as scientific – that everything we know is a closed system dependent totally and exclusively on causal relationships.  That there is, by definition, nothing outside this system, and therefore nothing and no one to interfere with the purely cause and effect progression of events within the system.  The universe – and in multi-verse theories or multiple dimensions the sum total of all universes/dimensions – exists in essentially a snow globe, where outside interference or activity is impossible.

Lewis seeks to undermine this by arguing that human consciousness, the ability to contemplate the system, is just such an example of something outside the system, as it could never develop purely from the causal relationships of a closed system.  This opening section is perhaps the most difficult part of the book but also the most important, as everything after hinges on the reader either agreeing, being convinced, or suspending disbelief of this premise in order to contemplate those that follow.

Lewis’ further explorations of miracles is also interesting, though perhaps not as detailed as many would like.  He is dealing with the concept of miracles, less so with specific miracles.  He offers some helpful reflections on how Biblical miracles differ markedly from miraculous events in other systems of mythology, retaining an essential synchronicity or flow with the created order.

This is a helpful book for those who struggle with the idea of miracles.  I imagine that, although Lewis is a Christian and this is his focus, the book would be handy for anyone of any belief persuasion trying to make sense of why or how anyone would believe in something that is, by definition, so rare and difficult to corroborate.  I doubt this book would convince a hard agnostic or atheist to reconsider, but for those less pre-disposed in their convictions it could be very helpful, and should be very helpful to Christians who might feel a bit embarrassed about the supernatural elements of Christianity and the Bible.  Definitely worth a read!

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