Jacob Nie

Notes on Miracles



Link to my notes: PDF - 103.9 kB

I did my best to summarize the book as comprehensively as possible. In the process, I also noted some quotes that stuck out to me. Please note that none of the views are mine, though I do find many to be resounding. I also really encourage only using these notes as a reference after you've read the book. It won't make very much sense reading off my notes!

What is the book? Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Miracles is a book written by C. S. Lewis, 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. He accuses modern historians and scientific thinkers, particularly secular biblical scholars, of begging the question against miracles, insisting that modern disbelief in miracles is a cultural bias thrust upon the historical record and is not derivable from it.


That's the main idea of the book. In the process, Lewis actually puts forth his most airtight and logical argument for theism, now known as his argument from reason. However, the book explores (in an occasionally random fashion) many other tangentially related topics! I have listed them below.
Some of the questions this book provides answers to:
  1. Can miracles occur? (First half of the book)
  2. What is Naturalism and what are its faults? (Ch. 2, 3)
  3. Why does Reason seem to imply Supernaturalism? (Ch. 3, 4)
  4. What is Dualism, why is it more reasonable than Naturalism, and why does it still falter? (Ch. 4)
  5. What is morality's place in the relationship between Nature and Supernature? (Ch. 5)
  6. If God exists, why would an argument for his existence be so convoluted? Why is it not more obvious? (Ch. 6)
  7. People only thought those were miracles because they didn't know what we know now. (Ch. 7)
  8. Now we know miracles don't occur because we understand our insignificance in the universe. (Ch. 7)
  9. What are we to make of the fact that this view where God interferes with the world is so much less aesthetic? (Ch. 9)
  10. Why should we believe these tales when they are accompanied with such ridiculous imagery? That there is a palace in the sky? Our scientific advances have all but disproven these notions. (Ch. 10)
  11. What's the purpose of using incorrect imagery (i.e. God is an old man with a beard who lives in the sky) to represent these ideas if they're just plain wrong? Should we instead use more "accurate" terms to describe such ideas? (Ch. 10, 11)
  12. What if there was just a spiritual life-force that pervades all of us? (Ch. 11)
  13. Surely God wouldn't perform miracles, even if he could. That just means he messed up. (Ch. 12)
  14. If there are miracles, surely we shouldn't believe all claims of miracles. Which miracles really happened? (Ch. 13)
  15. Why should only some people be "chosen"? (Ch. 14)
  16. How has it come to be that things are so bad? (Ch. 14)
  17. What are we to think of evil supernatural beings? (Ch. 14)
  18. Why is sin permitted? (ch. 14)
  19. Would aliens need a messiah of their own? (Ch. 14)
  20. Would the Incarnation have occurred if there was never sin? (Ch. 14)
  21. What does the process of death show about humanity? (Ch. 14)
  22. What are we to think of the fantastical miracles of the Old Testament? (Ch. 14)
  23. If the New Testament were to be partially fabricated, which part would be true? (Ch. 15)
  24. What might the "New Creation" look like? (Ch. 16)
  25. What should the proper relationship between body and spirit look like? Hedonism or ascetism? Or neither? (Ch. 16)
.. and much more.