By Phillip Owen
In Miracles, C.S. Lewis takes an objective look at how miracles can be understood by both Christians and non-Christians alike. He opens the book with a philosophical question of whether it is logically possible for miracles to occur at all, and then takes a look at moments in Christian historiography to determine if the miracles mentioned in the Bible, for example, could occur today with our advances in scientific methods. He calls into question (and even argues against) modern historians’ and even some biblical scholars’ disbelief in miracles as a cultural bias that does not take into account the existence of a larger reality than the one perceived by our senses. He states that our rational minds have taken control over the perception that all we sense is all there is.
This brings us to the central theme of the book, and is highlighted in the chapter titled “The Naturalist and the Supernaturalist”. He defines these two terms as 1) The Naturalist: one who believes that the Universe is a series of events that are caused solely by the events that preceded them–that is, what we have seen and experienced is all there is. There is also 2) The Supernaturalist: one who believes that the Natural world is contained inside the Supernatural world, and that there exist front doorways and back doorways into the Supernatural through the Natural world. (When I read this, I immediately thought of the Wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia—a portal to the Supernatural, and began to really get excited about this book).
In his exploration into the cornerstone miracles of Christianity (virgin birth, the resurrection, raising people from the dead, etc.), Lewis goes on to make very strong arguments for why we all should question our senses and our sense of the natural world around us, to understand that there is more out there than we realize, that being skeptical of the Natural world is actually a more realistic viewpoint as a human being, and that through prayer we unlock the doorways into a Supernatural communion with God. Miracles occur and we participate in them through our prayers. He also helps us realize that because there is a larger world order that goes beyond space and time, that we are loved by a God that surrounds us, we are of Him, and He is in us through Jesus Christ, the true miracle.
I found this read to be very exciting and life affirming, despite its intellectual nature and cerebral approach. Lewis is one of the greatest writers on Christianity, and I can see why in this book, because he can make a very strong intellectual argument for the existence of something that goes way beyond our intellect. But instead of discounting the mind, he uses the mind to establish a groundwork for a belief system that we as Christians find so fundamental to our existence, like clean air and pure water. In order to see the miracles around you, you have to believe in the supernatural world. In order to understand the miracles from history, you have to question the lens through which we are seeing the natural world today, something very hard to do with our social conditioning. And so, believing truly is seeing.