C. S. Lewis

Macmillan, 1968 printing of the 1947 book

1. The Scope of this Book

p7-9 Talks about the philosophical questions that must be answered before we examine the evidence for miracles. Is it an illusion?

p7 "If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say."

2. The Naturalist and the Supernaturalist

p11 "The Natural is what springs up, or comes forth, or arrives, or goes on "of its own accord" the unintended, the unsolicited

p14 "The Supernaturalist believes that one Thing exists on its own and has produced the framework of space and time and the procession of systematically connected events which fill them. "

3. The Self-Contradiction of the Naturalist

p17 "if any one thing exists which is of such a kind that we see in advance the impossibility of giving it "that kind" of explanation, then Naturalism would be in ruins."

p20-21 Argument for validity of the rational process, but naturalism views the mind as just a result of the Total System.

p22 The Haldane quote. "It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere byproduct of matter. For 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. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms." from "When I am Dead" in Possible Worlds (1927)

p23 "The validity of thought is central: all other things have to be fitted round it as best they can."

4. Nature and Supernature

p25 distinction between reason and nature. "Nature is quite powerless to produce Rational thought."

p28 "Reason on its own", Naturalist "whole show"
Supernaturalist God existed from eternity
Human mind - nature from supernature.

p29 "human thought is not God, but God-kindled. "We are interested in Man only because his rationality is the little telltale rift in Nature which shows that there is something beyond or behind her."

p33 p2 Reflection on Genesis 1

5. A Further Difficulty in Naturalism

p34 "the claim of reasoning to be valid is the only one which the Naturalist cannot deny without (philosophically speaking) cutting his own throat."

p35 Moral judgments raise the same sort of difficulty for Naturalism

6. Answers to Misgivings

p40 "The rational and moral element in each human mind is a point of force from the supernatural working its way into nature ...

p42 Supernatural is all around us (like the window through which we look at the garden - we may not be conscious of it)

p44 reason as supernatural .. presence of human rationality a "miracle" - but he will go on to focus on other miracles.

p45 discusses the nature of miracle

7. A Chapter of Red Herrings

p48 Discussion of Virgin Birth

p50 Universe too large for special care to be given us. The "size" red herring.

p53 God "came down" to this tiny planet .. from the "too big" red herring.

p54-55 Continues size discussion

8. Miracles and the Laws of Nature

p56 "whether Nature can be known to be of such a kind that supernatural interferences with her are impossible."

p60 p2 Good statements about laws of nature. Similar to statements by Lennox - perhaps he got them here. About laws of Nature. "We are in the habit of talking as if they caused events to happen; but they have never caused any event at all." "they analyse the motion after something else ... Lennox goes on to discuss "agency" in this context.

p60 Best page so far for me. Lennox does very similar things.

p61 p1 Neat collection of circumstances where nature takes in new events but continues to perform. Eloquent paragraph.

p61 p2 in forward direction interlocked with nature, "not in that way interlocked backward"

p62-63 Poetic discussion of fitting miracles into the whole

9. A Chapter Not Strictly Necessary

He wanted nature to exist "on her own" and so resisted supernaturalism.

p66 But in this writing about miracles, the idea of Nature become more reduced
Everything different if Nature is a "creature"

p66 p1 "For she is not the Absolute: she is one of the creatures, with her good points and bad points and her own unmistakeable flavor running through them all."

p66 p2 soliloquey about God's freedom in creation

p67 p3 "Only Supernaturalists really see Nature"

p67 p3 "To treat her as God, or as everything is to lose the whole pith and pleasure of her" "offer her neither worship nor contempt."

10. "Horrid Red Things"

The title is based on the story of a little girl who had been wisely instructed to avoid some pills that were poisonous. The little girl's picture of these poison pills was that they were full of little "horrid red things"! C.S. Lewis' point was that even though the little girl's picture of the danger was inaccurate in detail, it served her well to help her understand and respect the very real danger of the pills. C.S. Lewis uses that to discuss the fact that we may not fully understand the miracles, but we can get the real point that they convey.

p69 "Christianity, for in it miracles, or at least some miracles are more closely bound up with the fabric of the whole belief than any other."

p72-74 defends the use of metaphor

p74 p2 3 guidelines for metaphor use

p74-82 Discusses images used in the Bible

11. Christianity and "Religion"

decrying "modern religion", discusses pantheism

p84-85 a panorama of pantheism

p86-87 still arguing against pantheism

p87 Touches on the Trinity, uses flatland in the discussion.

p90 Absolute Being, I AM discussion

p91 God always existed

p92-93 Discussion of the nature of God

p94-96 personal encounter with the living God

12. The Propriety of Miracles

p98 "If the ultimate Fact is not an abstraction but the living God, opaque by the very fulness of His blinding actuality, then He might do things."

p98 Rationales against miracles

p98-99 Examples of the masters breaking the rules to produce their most extraordinary masterpieces.

p98-101 Excellent section

p101 cites Dorothy Sayers' book "The Mind of the Maker"

13. On Probability

p103 p3 to top of 104 excellent paragraph

p104 p4 Discussion of Hume "Essay on Miracles" and his view of probability.

p106-107 More on Hume

p107 Cites Arthur Eddington: "In science we sometimes have convictions which we cherish but cannot justify; we are influenced by some innate sense of the fitness of things."

p108 faith in uniformity

p109 cites Whitehead

p110 continues discussion of "fitness" he introduced with Eddington.

14. The Grand Miracle

p112 Fitness and credibility of all the miracles depend on their relation to the Grand Miracle of incarnation

p113 Reflection on the difficulty historically of giving any explanation that is not harder than the Christian Explanation.

p113-114 More along the "fitness" idea - the incarnation "fits"

p114 One example: we may have difficulty looking directly at the Sun, but by it we see everything else.

p114 supernatural in every person

p114-115 Reflection on what it is to be human. These pages are quite profound.

p115 Beautiful comparison with seed and flower.

p117 Death and rebirth theme

p118-120 In Christ's story, no trace of the nature religions like the corn (wheat?) religions.

p120 Chosen people discussion

p121-124 More reflection on man, composite nature, descent and re-ascencion, selectiveness, vicariousness. Need to reread.

p126 Discusses free will

p127 Fall, role of the Fall, redeemed humanity more glorious than an unfallen race. Incarnation occasioned only by the Fall? For glorification if no Fall?

15. Miracles of the Old Creation

p137 Invaded by the God of Nature

p139 Classes of miracles

p141 Miracles of fertility - water into wine, feeding of 5000, refusal of stone-to-bread, virgin birth

p141-144 Discussion of the Virgin Birth

p144 Healing - argues against just "diseases aped by hysteria", discussion of healing

p146 Miracle of destruction - withering of fig tree

p147 Walking on water, Peter walking on water a pace or two called a "snowdrop miracle". After the white flowers of spring we loved in Wales.

p147 Miracles of reversal

16. Miracles of the New Creation

p148 "In the earliest days of Chritianity an "apostle" was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eye-witness of the Resurrection." Peter preached the resurrection in the first Christian sermon. "As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection." "The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in Acts."

p148-149 Eloquent description of this early Resurrection sharing. Current emphasis is on the first five minutes after the Resurrection, but the disciples were talking about weeks, and appearance to five hundred, most of whom were alive when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians.

p150 Discussion of the "first fruits" idea, that Christ had "forced open a door that had been locked since the death of the first man."

p150-154 Interesting discussion of the difference between the Resurrection story of the New Testament and the general idea of immortality of the soul.

p156 Discussion of the raising of Lazarus. Not a resurrection like Jesus, because he is restored to former state, but then he emphasizes that Nature doesn't do this. Interesting that he again cites Eddington "Shuffling is the thing Nature never undoes." Really a reference to the idea of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

p156-163 more discussion of the new nature. I didn't follow it well and need to reread it more slowly.

p164-169 More discussion of Heaven and reflections on it. I didn't follow it well.

17. Epilogue

p171 Has a lot of warnings against Modernism, Naturalism, Monism, Pantheism which he lumps into "Everythingism". "Thus the Everythingist, if he starts from God, becomes a Pantheist; there must be nothing that is not God. If he starts from Nature he becomes a Naturalist; there must be nothing that is not Nature."

p172 p2 Excellent reflection on our difficulties - we are stirred by miracles, but then come back to the material world and doubt.

p174 "God does not shake miracles into Nature at random as if from a pepper caster. They come on great occasions; they are found at the great ganglions of history - not of political or social history, but of that spiritual history which cannot be fully known by men."

Windows of Creation
Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
Reading Reference
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