What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience.C.S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study, Page 11.
In Miracles C.S. Lewis wants to convince his readers that miracles, especially the grand miracle of the Incarnation where God became Man in Jesus, are possible and fitting. He does this by challenging views of nature, both theistic and atheistic, that reject the supernatural as a source for miracles.
Naturalism claims that supernatural reality does not exist implying that there could be no miracles. Lewis takes from Naturalism that nature is orderly, impersonal cause and effect processes. He then shows that our reasoning ability would not be the result of such processes. Whenever we reason we thereby demonstrate reality that Naturalism cannot explain without something else outside it.
Hence, given Naturalism’s presuppositions about nature, nature cannot be the whole show. Alvin Plantinga carried this idea further in his Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.
Combine Naturalism with some field of consciousness (to avoid the supernatural) and one gets Pantheism, an ancient but ever-popular form of spirituality. Lewis writes (pages 99-100), “The popular ‘religion’ excludes miracles because it excludes the ‘living God’ of Christianity and believes instead in a kind of God who obviously would not do miracles, or indeed anything else.”
Although that characterization of Pantheism makes sense, it seems limited. These nature religions also have an ominous underbelly of demonic activity that Ephesians 6 warns us about. Miracles are wonders to our eyes. God is not the only source of them.
Furthermore, I see Platonism as a rationalization of these popular religions that Lewis objects to. However, and this is where my problems start, Lewis views Christianity as having “incorporated both” Platonism and Judaism (page 101). After reading his appendix on special providences I lost the ‘living God’ in all that philosophy.
There is much in Miracles of value especially when Lewis uses the presuppositions of Naturalism to argue for the supernatural, however, I suspect that Lewis accepted without adequate questioning many of the presuppositions of Naturalism such as impersonal natural laws and my own worldview inclines me to trust the Jewish scriptures over Plato.
Next Sunday I will look at miracles as presented by Greg Bahnsen.
The audio below is a reading of a shorter essay by Lewis on the topic of miracles.