Miracles (book)
Miracles is a book written by C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

, originally published in 1947 and revised in 1960. Lewis argues that before one can learn from the study of history whether or not any miracles have ever occurred, one must first settle the philosophical question of whether it is logically possible that miracles can occur in principle before moving on to the historical question of whether any have ever, in fact, happened. He accuses modern historians and scientific thinkers, particularly secular Bible scholars, of begging the question
Begging the question
Begging the question is a type of logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proven is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise....

 against miracles, insisting that modern disbelief in miracles is a cultural bias thrust upon the historical record and is not derivable from it.

In a chapter on "The Naturalist and the Supernaturalist" Lewis gives technical definitions to the two terms. Naturalists, under his definition, believe that the Universe is a vast process in which all events which ever happen find their causes
Four causes
Four Causes refers to a principle in Aristotelian science that is used to understand change. Aristotle described four different types of causes, or ways in which an object could be explained: "we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause", He argued...

 solely in the events that happened before them within the system. Supernaturalists believe that interruptions or interferences can take place in this system of our Universe from some other system outside it. A supernatural event would be one that is not traceable, even in principle, solely to materially determined causes within our Universe. Libertarian free will, if it exists, would have to be supernatural under this view.

In a chapter on "Natural Laws", Lewis addresses the issue of whether miracles are incompatible with natural law or science. He argues that rather than being mutually exclusive, miracles are definite interventions that go beyond natural laws. Miracles are consistent with nature, but beyond natural law.

Lewis makes a case for the reality of miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s by presenting the position that something more than nature, a supernatural world, may exist, including a benevolent creator likely to intervene in reality after creation.

All of the major miracles of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 are addressed, with the incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 playing the central role. Also included are two appendices which deal with matters of free will and the value of prayer. Notably, while Lewis defends various other Biblical miracles as literal possibilities, he does not defend a strict Creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

 based on a literal interpretation of the Genesis account.

Argument from Reason

Philosophers and scientists including Victor Reppert
Victor Reppert
Dr. Victor Reppert is an American philosopher best known for his development of the Argument from Reason. He is the author of C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea and numerous academic papers in journals such as Christian Scholars' Review, International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, Philo and...

, William Hasker
William Hasker
R. William Hasker is an American Christian philosopher and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of philosophy at Huntington University. For many years he was editor of the prestigious journal Faith and Philosophy. He has published many journal articles and books dealing with issues such as the...

, and Alvin Plantinga
Alvin Plantinga
Alvin Carl Plantinga is an American analytic philosopher and the emeritus John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is known for his work in philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics, and Christian apologetics...

 have expanded on the "Argument from Reason" and credit Lewis with first bringing the argument to light in Miracles.

The argument holds that if, as thoroughgoing naturalism entails, all of our thoughts are the effect of a physical cause, then there is no reason for assuming that they are also the consequent of a reasonable ground. Knowledge, however, is apprehended by reasoning from ground to consequent. Therefore, if naturalism were true, there would be no way of knowing it, or anything else not the direct result of a physical cause.

Lewis asserts that by this logic, the statement "I have reason to believe naturalism is valid" is self-referentially incoherent in the same manner as the sentence "One of the words of this sentence does not have the meaning that it appears to have", or the statement "I never tell the truth". In each case, to assume the veracity of the conclusion would eliminate the possibility of valid grounds from which to reach it. To summarize the argument in the book, Lewis quotes J. B. S. Haldane
J. B. S. Haldane
John Burdon Sanderson Haldane FRS , known as Jack , was a British-born geneticist and evolutionary biologist. A staunch Marxist, he was critical of Britain's role in the Suez Crisis, and chose to leave Oxford and moved to India and became an Indian citizen...

 who appeals to a similar line of reasoning. Haldane states "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true ... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."


The original version of Miracles contained a different version of chapter 3 entitled "The Self-Contradiction of the Naturalist." In it, Lewis made the same argument but referred to atomic motions in the brain as "irrational." In a Socratic Club
Socratic Club
The Oxford Socratic Club was formed in December 1941, at Oxford University, by Stella Aldwinckle of the Oxford Pastorate and a group of undergraduate students, in order to provide "an open forum for the discussion of the intellectual difficulties connected with religion and with Christianity in...

 debate, G.E.M. Anscombe criticized this, prompting Lewis to revise the chapter. The revised chapter presents a more detailed elucidation of the argument and distinguishes between "non-rational" and "irrational" processes. G.E.M. Anscombe commented on the process after Lewis's death that the rewrite showed "honesty and seriousness" on the part of Lewis.


  • John Beversluis C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. erdmans, 1985. ISBN 0-8028-0046-7
  • C.S. Lewis Miracles. London & Glasgow: Collins/Fontana, 1947. Revised 1960. (Current edition: Fount, 2002. ISBN 0006280943)
  • Victor Reppert C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8308-2732-3
  • G.K. Chesterton Orthodoxy. New York, New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 2007; originally published in 1908.
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