Book review: Miracles

by C. S. Lewis

★★★★

How I’ve missed C. S. Lewis! I picked this book up to read for a book club, and settled into it like conversing with an old friend.

The topic is miracles. Do they exist or not? Do they contradict Nature or not? This is not a nuts and bolts proof book; it is a call to see miracles in a different light. There is, for instance, nothing miraculous about turning water into wine … nature itself can do this. God has created a vegetable organism that can turn water, soil and sunlight into a juice which will, under proper conditions, become wine. Wine is merely water modified. Should it surprise you that one day, God short circuited the process, using earthenware jars instead of vegetable fibers to hold the water?

As in this example, Lewis’s arguments sometimes amount only to warm fuzzies. Pantheism, he explains, is nothing special, for people are merely predisposed to believe this way … pantheism has hung around like an unwanted parasite from the beginning. In contrast, the story of a dying and rising God is surely true because nature itself teaches this concept, as any farmer knows. Now, beneath the surface, these two arguments are similar, but Lewis manages to draw the desired results from each with a bit of conversation made elegant in one circumstance and ugly in another.

Lewis errs also in his science, imagining that “every event in Nature must be connected with previous events in the Cause and Effect relation.” We know better today (Lewis was writing in 1947), and thus the foundation crumbles for many of his arguments against Naturalism. (Lewis attempts to argue that there must be a God who is not a part of Nature, and reasons that this God must surely be our creator.)

But it’s the way Lewis writes that so grabs the imagination! I absolutely love reading his books. There is a spellbinding discussion of Morality and Human Reason herein (their divinity earns their capitalization). Yet I cannot honestly award the book five stars, because Lewis never accomplishes what he sets out to do. Lewis’s God is elegant and beautiful, but no less unlikely for Lewis’s efforts, and must remain a matter of faith. Yet for those who already believe in this particular God, this book cannot fail to lift their spirits.

Very much recommended.

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