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Philosophy of CS Lewis: Miracles

Thoughts and argumentation, as opposed to the literary qualities. of canon of CS Lewis.


Intellectual Context - The move into the modern, post-enlightenment world has meant that educated people are suspicious of miracles. Belief in miracles smacks of an earlier, unsophisticated era. Given the dominance of science and our ability to exert some level of control (and understanding) over the natural world, some hold that a belief in miracles is something that we should move past. Perhaps the most important individual in this regard is David Hume (1711-1776) who wrote a famous essay (“On Miracles”, which is part of his book An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding) in which he argued that the evidence against a miracle happening is always greater than the evidence for it. Thus, while refraining from saying that a miracle is impossible, Hume effectively rules them out.

It is also part of the agenda of liberal theology to deny miracles, since the miraculous indicates a supernatural or providential role in the world. The liberal agenda is to understand the Bible as a human book and reconcile it more and more with the scientific, technological age in which we live.

A philosophical problem with miracles has to do with an objection raised by Darwinists that recourse to miracles is simply “god of the gaps” thinking. Richard Dawkins (in The God Delusion) explains it this way, “Creationists eagerly seek a gap in present-day knowledge or understanding. If an apparent gap is found, it is assumed that God, by default, must fill it... What worries scientists [about this mentality] is ... it is an essential part of the scientific enterprise to admit ignorance, even to exalt in ignorance as a challenge to future conquests.” (page 125) The upshot is that if we rush to conclude that God must have performed some miracle, since no other explanation presents itself, we are depriving science of the opportunity to discover new knowledge. And, then, if science does discover an answer, theists look silly for having held that a miracle was the only possible answer.

        This book is an attempt at a rather tightly-argued philosophical defense of the possibility of miracles. A helpful exercise is to consider the main point(s) of each chapter and how together they build the entire argument. Are there any weak points or things that are overlooked?

Concepts and Critique

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