by C. S. Lewis

Paperback, 2015



Call number



HarperOne (2015), Edition: Revised ed., 294 pages


"The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares the way for this, or results from this." This is the key statement of Miracles, in which C. S. Lewis shows that a Christian must not only accept but rejoice in miracles as a testimony of the unique personal involvement of God in his creation. Using his characteristic lucidity and wit to develop his argument, Lewis challenges the rationalists, agnostics, and deists on their own grounds and provides a poetic and joyous affirmation that miracles really do occur in our everyday lives.

User reviews

LibraryThing member DubiousDisciple
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 with Nature or not? This is not a nuts and bolts proof book; it is a call to see miracles in a
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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, a 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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LibraryThing member wirkman
This is the book that changed my life. Until this, I'd taken to Christian doctrine and apologetics eagerly, weathering the difficulties with the usual shrug of the pious. But then, Lewis here poses a philosophical problem, that of determinism, and asserted that naturalistic science was
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philosophically committed to this. I thought: nonsense. Poppycock. In fact, I thought it a dishonest argument. I became ashamed of my hero. And the more I thought about the explanatory power of naturalistic humanism versus theism, the more impressed with the former I became.

This book, which helped so many people become Christians, is the main work that set me in the other direction.
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LibraryThing member AndrewBlackman
C.S. Lewis sets out to prove by logical argument that miracles are possible. The clear-headed writing style helps to draw you in, he anticipates a lot of the criticisms people will have, and I just like the attempt to argue from a position of rigorous logic something which mostly just comes down to
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“you believe it or you don’t”.

The trouble is that, in the end, it comes down to that anyway. The calm logic proceeds slowly from step to step, and I am with him all the way, until he makes a big leap, which is that scientific theories of evolution cannot explain the development of human rational thought. Because the process of reasoning is so completely different from anything we can find in the animal world, he argues, it cannot come from that world. Therefore it must come from outside, i.e. from God. On this point his whole argument rests - because each human brain is an intrusion of the supernatural into the world of Nature, so other intrusions are plausible too. He sees miracles in this way - not as breaking the rules of nature, but as sporadic intrusions by God, after which the rules of nature continue to work with the new situation.

In the framework he has constructed, most of his arguments are logical. But his framework is based on a logical leap I don’t think is justified. It’s very hard to understand a lot of evolutionary theory intuitively. I can’t imagine basic organisms evolving into giraffes, or a fish coming out of the water, developing the ability to breathe and becoming an amphibian. But I can accept that over countless millions of years, countless tiny, incremental changes could add up to huge, incomprehensible changes. The development of reason doesn’t seem to me so different from anything else that we have to give it a supernatural cause.

Another problem with the book is that all of the miracles are Christian. This is Lewis’s belief system, so it’s understandable that he would be interested in proving the viability of the virgin birth more than anything else. But he is completely dismissive of other religions, without making any attempt to explain why. If Christian miracles are possible, then are Hindu or animist ones possible. Presumably not, because Christians say there can only be one God.

But the reason for believing the Christian miracles specifically comes down to an absurd criterion called “our innate sense of the fitness of things.” The last few chapters are devoted to trying to prove that the Christian miracles meet this bizarrely vague standard of “fitness.” Lewis does not seem to consider that his own assumptions of how the universe should be are unlikely to be the same as someone else’s. People like him, the “we” of his definition, white male Oxford dons, might agree with his “innate sense of the fitness of things”, although many, clearly, would not. As for people all over the world of different origins, different religions, different social status, etc etc, surely they would have their own sense of what is “fit”? And, perhaps, they would have their own ways of describing the supernatural, and different religions would form, each as valid in its generalities and false in its details as Christianity.

I am willing to believe that miracles could happen, but not because of this book. C.S. Lewis raises some interesting ideas, but after all the long philosophical arguments it comes down once again to a question of belief.
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LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
This is not the best of Lewis's works. At first it makes sense, but dont trot these arguments out in your philosophy class.

Essentially Lewis makes a place for God's work in the universe, but miracles are merely Gods' interaction with reality.
LibraryThing member afderrick
The book was alright but I doubt I will read it again. C.S. Lewis goes through and starts at the beginning arguing that miracles do exist. He starts out with the idea that there is nature and then a supernature or something that exists outside of nature itself. Then he explains how the supernature
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(God) can affect nature without knocking nature off balance but that all of the miracles of God occur in perfect harmony with how God has created nature to behave. Mr. Lewis ends the book with explaining the different miracles that occured in the Bible and how they fit into the grand scheme of miracles. It was a difficult book to read and I found myself unable to sit more than about an hour at a time and read it without taking some time as a break or to let my brain digest everything I had read
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LibraryThing member john257hopper
I have given up on this one about two thirds of the way through. Lewis is a very powerful thinker and his ratiocination is generally very good, but I could not click with much of this. As in Mere Christianity, he is at his best and most persuasive on the origins of human morality. However, I was
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less convinced about his arguments on naturalism and about how the power to reason must necessarily originate from beyond nature, and by his reasoning on probability. In the end belief in miracles comes down just to that - belief or otherwise, and I remain agnostic on this point.
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LibraryThing member deusvitae
A fantastic and excellent apology for belief in supernaturalism and, more specifically, the divinity and acts of the God of Israel.

Lewis confronts a skeptical and naturalistic world with excellent arguments demonstrating how there is more to the universe than what is perceptible on the natural
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plane, defining miracles and how miracles truly work, demolishing Hume's argument from probability, and providing robust defenses for the Incarnation, Resurrection, and Jesus' miracle-working powers.

A most excellent book to encourage the believer and challenge the skeptic.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This is challenging reading, primarily because Mr. Lewis takes such a philosophical look at the problem of miracles. Too often, arguments about the tenants of Christianity seem to be nothing more than name calling - but this book makes a reasoned case for the possibility that miracles are not only
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possible, but make a lot of sense. There are some truly exalting ideas of the state of man and God in this book, which is always fun to come across.
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LibraryThing member bonbooko
I haven't finished it yet...or ever...but it is rich and crafted. Creatively intelligent.
LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
This book presents a philosophical case for the rationality of a belief in miracles, and a support for a Christian world view. I've previously been impressed with C S Lewis's works due to his sound use of logic, however there are oversights in reasoning here that significantly weaken the
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persuasiveness of some of his arguments. This is not to say that the final conclusions are no longer supported, but that a better case could have been made. Either way, a reader who has understood the case presented in this book, what is wrong with it, and how it could be amended, will not be convinced that miracles do or have occurred, or that they are probable, only that a belief in their possibility is rationally defensible within a coherent worldview. In this way, Lewis achieves at least in part what he set out to do.

In the opening chapters, Lewis describes the difference between Naturalist and Supernaturalist world views, defining the former as a belief that the material world is all that there is, and that everything could in theory be understood from a knowledge of material causes and the observable laws of Nature. Presented as an alternative is what he defines as the Supernaturalist word view, that something exists apart from the material, and that this is useful to explain certain things such as the origin of the universe, and the existence of reason and rationality. Specifically, Lewis presents an argument in favour of the Supernatural world view based on his claim that rationality and human reason could not result from causal material laws alone and that instead they must be given to us from God. This is the biggest error in the book, and several further arguments are based on this conclusion. While part of this reasoning is correct (that material causes alone could not lead to the formation of rationality), his definition of Naturalism is too narrow, as he overlooks the existence of necessary mathematical truths that would be present in any given universe (Naturalist or Supernaturalist), and which are clearly not part of the material universe per se but would always accompany it; that these necessary truths are eternal and uncaused, and that their effects on any logical material universe is inevitable (minds would only evolve in a universe which was logical, where the laws were broadly consistent, as there would be no advantage to having a mind in a situation where nothing was predictable).
There are then two broad ways in which these necessary mathematical and logical truths could have been dealt with: either within a Naturalist world view (expanded beyond Lewis's definition), or within a Supernaturalist world view (for example as their incorporation into God as what the Neoplatonists called the Logos, or what modern Christians might translate as being the co-eternal Word of God). Either of these could be logically consistent, but neither are considered by Lewis. Instead, he takes the ability of humans to think rationally as being a support solely for the Supernaturalist world view. If we leave the argument at this point we are agnostic, being unable to decide in favour of the Naturalist or Supernaturalist world view. The bulk of the remaining ammo left to Lewis then for his apologetics is the origin of the universe (Creation), and the scriptures themselves.
The case he then makes using these and other arguments is somewhat better. While he might not convert a staunch Naturalist, it will at least expose several presuppositions that are held without evidence and lead to further questions. The possibility of miracles is reconciled with a universe that acts according to scientific laws, and several other barriers to an acceptance of their possibility are removed. For all its flaws, what is left of this book is a considered and coercive argument for having an open mind on the matter of miracles, but not a definitive answer one way or the other. Much of the logic deployed throughout this book is fine, and used to good effect, and overall this provides a good philosophical introduction to the topic of Miracles for the inquisitive.
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LibraryThing member wktarin
Very in-depth and intriguing thoughts.
LibraryThing member xuebi
The first four or five chapters of C. S. Lewis' Miracles are an excellent analysis and discussion of the differences between Naturalism and Super-naturalism, from which he begins to tackle the question whether miracles have historically occurred. Lewis does this admirably and he presents an
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interesting and cogent argument not only for the historical occurrence of miracles but the Super-natural Deity behind them. For the Christian reader, this book is an excellent resource for tackling discussions on Naturalism, and for investigating and supporting the argument for historically-occurring miracles. Lewis starts by addressing the Incarnation and thence to all the other miracles Jesus performed. Even if one is not a Christian, this book is worth reading for the first five chapters alone, but the intrepid reader should progress further to analyse their own beliefs about miracles and investigate them without the pre-existing Naturalist bias present in all of us.
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LibraryThing member ylferif
Hardest of the CS Lewis books I've read! But if you can fight through it, there's some great stuff about the relationship between body and spirit.
LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
This is a fairly heavy book, although quite comprehensible if taken reasonably slowly. Although the topic is miracles, Lewis's first few chapters present his clear and logical arguments for the existence of the supernatural, and - eventually - for God as creator. He explains that, without this
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philosophical background and an openness to something outside the natural world of our senses, then any discussion of miracles is pointless.

I can see why he began that way, although it's doubtful whether an atheist or committed materialist would bother with a book on this topic; moreover, I could see a few holes in his arguments even from a Christian perspective, so while I agree with his conclusions I suspect that many wouldn't. Still, it made interesting reading.

The latter part of the book discusses various kinds of miracles - the huge miracle of the Incarnation, those he calls 'miracles of the old nature' and those of the 'new nature'. It's been at least twelve years since I last read this, but I did remember something that made quite a big impact on me last time: the idea that in the 'old nature' miracles, God works by speeding up a process that would happen naturally over time (water into wine, for instance, bypassing the growth and harvesting and fermenting of the grapes).

This time, the thought that will remain with me is the idea that miracles, once impinged upon the natural world, continue to obey its laws. They have no 'past' - by definition, they happen outside of normal events - but are then absorbed, so to speak. Miraculous wine can still lead to hangovers.

I read a few pages every day for about three weeks, and mostly enjoyed it. The style feels dated, unsurprisingly, although it's clear and extremely well-written. But I found my mind wandered far too easily if I attempted more than about half a chapter at a time.

Lewis fans will almost certainly have this on their shelves; for those who haven't read any of his theological works, this isn't one of the best introductions, in my view. I think Mere Christianity', or even 'Surprised by Joy' would be more accessible.

Still, it's well worth reading for anyone interested in the topic.
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LibraryThing member leandrod
Apologetics at its best. Not so academic as to be opaque to all but the trained philosopher, not so popular as to be diluted and ineffective. A pointed critique of naturalism.
LibraryThing member justagirlwithabook
This book is part of my C.S. Lewis collection. I went through a huge phase where I was just obsessed with anything and everything by him. While I don't agree with all of his theology, I do love his writing style and the things he has to say about faith. He was a good one.
LibraryThing member AlexTheHunn
Lewis attempts to reconcile miracles with science. Whether or not he succeeded remains up to the reader. He does however present his arguments in a scientific way rather than relying on arguments strictly based on faith. In other words he argues from beyond Christianity and its beliefs. Well worth
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the time to read.
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LibraryThing member JBarringer
A very unconvincing bit of theosophy, definitely not Lewis's best work.



Original language


Original publication date

1960 [revised]

Physical description

8 inches


0060653019 / 9780060653019
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