C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 13

Miracles (Part 1)

This is ultimately a book about a clash of worldviews. A worldview offers an explanation of the important features/phenomena of life and the world. In the West, the atheist worldview is often expressed in naturalism. Lewis argues for theism based on what is true internally of us, rather than argument from design. Discussion is not whether a particular miracle has occurred, but in principle, is it a possibility.

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 13
Watching Now
Miracles (Part 1)

I. BioLogos Conference

II. Introduction

A. Worldview

1. Naturalism vs. Supernaturalism

2. Theism vs. atheism

III. Argument for Theism

A. Neither experience nor history can prove whether a miracle has occurred

B. Hume’s definition of a miracle as a violation of the laws of nature

C. Lewis says that this is an ontological matter not an epistemological matter

D. Types of laws

  • The purpose of the class is to directly engage Lewis’s philosophy and theology. He brings a Christian worldview to engage intellectual movements of his day. The trinity created us to bring us into the fellowship that has been going on with God forever. 

  • The mind is the organ of reason, imagination is the organ of understanding. To understand what real truth is, the imagination needs to be a part of that. We are created in the image of God and are immortal beings. Ordinary people are extraordinary. The Christian life is most deeply about being transformed resulting in participation in the divine life. It's more than just having one’s legal status changed. There should be transformation in the culture as well as personal. God is in the process of redeeming a wounded universe, including the whole of knowledge and truth in all subjects. 

  • There is a sacred quality to ordinary activities as well as symbolic religious rituals. Whatever is true in any field of study is God’s truth. The world is essentially good, but it’s been damaged. God has taken a great risk in allowing people free choice for good or evil. Evil has become present in many forms in the world and it is anti-creational and anti-human. We are not broken, but we are bent. God’s nature is relational because of the nature of the Trinity, so it makes sense that he would make a universe that is relational. We dwell in God and he dwells in us. As disciples of Christ we all share the single vocation of loving God and others.

  • Lewis wants to parlay theological doctrines into dynamic insights and track out their implications for intellectual engagement. He does is with a background of philosophical skill and theological understanding of historic orthodoxy. Instead of arguing about preferences, we need to focus on articulating the doctrines that are universal. Lewis’s ideas are expressed so they can be understood by people not formally trained in philosophy or theology but they have merit in the marketplace of ideas. 

  • The probability of morality as we know it in the human community, given that theism is true, is more probable than morality given any other worldview. Morality at the human (finite) level is anchored in morality at the infinite level. Morality has its most natural fitting worldview home in theism. In using the analogy of light shining through boards in a tool shed, Lewis says, “I believe in Christianity, not because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” 

  • In Hinduism, Brahman, the hidden inner essence of everything, is beyond human categories of good and evil. Brahman is the only reality. Everything we see is an illusion. The fundamental human problem is ignorance, not sin. Dualism is the idea that there is good and evil at war in the universe. Explaining morality in a dualistic framework is difficult. Dualism assumes good and evil are equal, so you would need a third element to adjudicate which one to choose, and that would be a higher standard. Otherwise you wouldn’t know which one to choose. Naturalism/materialism says there is no ultimate moral nature to the universe. 

  • Lewis begins by discussing our common moral experience as a triggering point to reason toward theism. Then he reasons for a deity that’s interested in morality that’s also a supreme power. With naturalism, we come from a source that is non-rational, non-moral and non-personal, so it’s difficult to understand how you get beings that are rational, moral and personal.

  • Theism is intellectually at least on par, if not superior to, other conceptions of reality like dualism, pantheism and naturalism. If there is a God that theism describes, only one deity of the living theistic religions said that this God invaded our existence. The question is that in comparison to other alternatives, what is emerging as a reasonable explanation of the reality we face?

  • Our rationality being reliable assumes that we can produce a large preponderance of true beliefs over false ones by using rational faculties like memory, abstract reasoning, perception and the testimony of others. The role of philosophy is to analyze and explain the common sense beliefs of the human race about morality and the external world. 

  • The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. Lewis thinks that we now do not have broad social consensus of Christian truth. He challenges individuals to have a more positive affirming attitude toward intellect and academics. In his view, Christians are ambivalent about the value of the life of the mind and using the gift of our intellect to serve him.

  • Premise one: every natural desire corresponds to one real object. Premise two: There exists in us a desire that nothing in the temporal world can satisfy. Conclusion is that there must be more than time, earth and creatures that can satisfy this desire.

  • The Supreme Being, behind the universe as we know it, is a personal being, eternal and the model for how we are to understand our personhood. We can’t understand our own personhood fully, the way it’s supposed to operate, unless we understand what God is, as a personal being. We are not projecting our understanding on God but learning about ourselves by finding out about God. 

  • This is ultimately a book about a clash of worldviews. A worldview offers an explanation of the important features/phenomena of life and the world. In the West, the atheist worldview is often expressed in naturalism. Lewis argues for theism based on what is true internally of us, rather than argument from design. Discussion is not whether a particular miracle has occurred, but in principle, is it a possibility.

  • There is a supernatural power or being that is ontologically distinct from nature (transcendent). It is self-existent. Every world view must propose what is fundamentally real. For the naturalist, it is the physical world. For the theist, it’s a transcendent deity. Everything that is not God is dependent/contingent on God for its being. The theist says that the deity can bring about events that would not have happened by the regular operation of nature. 

  • What’s important to Lewis is freedom of rational thinking, free from physical causes. Naturalism undercuts the power of reason because everything is determined by physical causes. If evolutionary naturalism is true, then the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable for truth is low.

  • If you believe in naturalism as a worldview, miracles are impossible. Since a naturalist worldview says everything is determined and thought is only adaptive, the ability to have free rational thought to logically evaluate naturalism undercuts the naturalist position.

  • Rational thought and moral consciousness are points of entry of the supernatural into the realm of the natural. It involves both. It’s not a dichotomy. Naturalists believe that the nature of human persons is limited to material processes. Substance dualists believe that mind and brain are two separate substances that are mixed for now, but at death one will cease to exist and the other will continue to exist. Emergentist sees the animal form taken to another degree of complexity by the natural realm getting increasingly complex and dualist in function as opposed to substance.

  • Scientific law is economical summary of what experience always reports: regular cause and effect. Laws are regularity based on coincidences. Causality is the basis of law. Hume says that laws are regularities based on coincidences. Hume says that you can only know regularity because that’s all the human mind is capable of. Peterson’s view is that a miracle is not changing a law of nature, it’s changing with the “ceteris paribus” clause – preventing all things from being equal and changing the nature of the item. 

  • There is nothing about nature that makes miracles impossible. The naturalist can’t see nature accurately as a creature, not just an independent fact but it can’t stand or explain itself. The cosmological principle is that only concrete beings, not general things, have causal power. Causal laws don’t make things happen, only the beings acting within the laws.

  • If God is in fact a living determinate being, and is outside the natural system, he might insert events into the natural system. The laws that we observe in the natural system may be a subset of higher laws that govern the universe. What criteria do you use to determine if a miracle has taken place? Evidence plus intrinsic probability. Whether or not an event is a miracle is also part of the discussion of the problem of evil. Why would God intervene in some circumstances but not others? 

  • In philosophy, it’s referred to as the problem of evil. Given a certain understanding of God and a certain understanding of evil, there is a tension explaining why evil exists in the world.

  • If God chooses to create a nature, this signifies a physical system which indicates a relatively independent nature independent from himself, it would make a lot of sense to say he is frequently intervening.  The same laws that make nature a stable environment in which rational soulish life can emerge, are also the same laws that make us vulnerable. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. He might whisper to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain. Question about whether God initiates the pain or he set up a system which results in pain because of the way it’s structured.

  • Lewis describes the story of the Fall as a narrative that has symbolic elements that convey significant truth. The truth in the first couple chapters of Genesis is that we were created by God, sovereign and loving creator, and that our only fulfillment as humans is to center our lives on God. Our proper role as a creature is to rely on God, so when we ignore that and rely on ourselves, our relationship with God is broken. 

  • God is his creation set forth the problem of expressing his goodness through the total drama of a world containing free agents in spite of, and even by means of, their rebellion against him. The risk is for the possibility of relationship. 

  • Aristotle would say that as a rational, moral being you build your character based on the hierarchy of good traits.  From a Christian perspective, our natural destiny should be on the same trajectory as our eternal destiny. The spiritual and theological virtues are faith, hope and love.

  • As long as God chooses a stable physical order, that physical order will run by its own laws. Any system with  have the possibility of pain. Created nature with natural laws provide a framework/structure in which souls can meet. Some pain is produced by the natural system without regard to the desires of the beings. That humans can inflict pain on other humans is a reflection of the permission by God that he permits this. The wide range of freedom makes it possible for great good or terrible evil. 

  • Lewis thinks that God needs to pierce the shield of our ego and we are embodied creatures so pain is what does it by getting our attention by highlighting how frail and in need we are. 

  • For Lewis, heaven is the unending joyous life of God, the life of the Trinity. The only way I can be fulfilled is to find its proper purpose and relation with God. Heaven is the restoration of created personhood, what it was always meant to be. When we are on the trajectory, we begin experiencing it now. Hell is the lack of fulfillment for which we were made. 

  • Discussion of the movie Shadowlands. Discussion of the nature of relationships. Pain and happiness are not necessarily mutually exclusive.                                        

  • Lewis expresses anger toward God as part of his process of grief. Orthodox Christianity denies materialism which believes that your physical body is all you are, but it doesn’t require body-soul dualism where the soul is the real person that inhabits a shell. Whatever damage death completes in the reign of sin in this world will be undone and swallowed up by the resurrection. The restoration of human personhood will come after death. 

  • Heaven and hell are dichotomous. Whether life is heaven or hell depends on your future trajectory. God is true reality, fixed and can’t be altered. In GD, true reality is God. The descriptions are not meant to be literal. Heaven is the Trinitarian life of God. It’s not a place, it’s a state of being in proper relation to the love and joy of the Trinitarian relations. Lewis describes it as a great dance. 

  • Final comments about themes in The Great Divorce.

C. S. Lewis is an extremely good theologian who does his work for the thoughtful lay person.  But his writings reflect his erudite understanding of the great classics of literature, historical theology, philosophy, and other disciplines.  Lewis says in Mere Christianity that theology is like a map.  We may get where we’re going without it, but it is much easier to use the map.  The map of Christian theology is drawn over the early centuries of the church as the believing community interprets the Bible and its experience of God.  

Of course, the ultimate goal of theology, according to Lewis, is practical:  to draw us into the life of God, or St. Gregory of Nazianzus ((329-374 AD), called it, “the Great Dance.”  I know no theme deeper or more pervasive in Lewis than our need to get the steps right, to join the dance once again.  

In “Meditations in a Tool Shed,” Lewis says that there is a distinction between looking at a beam of light and looking along the beam of light.  He is speaking of looking at reason or using reason—a passage that forms part of his great case that presence of rationality argues for the truth of theism.  We will be doing a lot of looking in this course, largely, “looking at” Lewis himself.  But let us also try to “look along” the same line of sight as Lewis, to see things—God, humanity, spiritual life, and a host of other things—as Lewis saw them.  This means attempting to step inside Lewis’s worldview and learning to interpret fundamental realities the way he did and to deploy his distinctive strategies for engaging other worldviews.  In effect, we will learn to think Christianly by learning to think along Christianly with Lewis.

In 2020, Dr. Peterson published the book, C. S. Lewis and the Christian WorldviewIt is essentially his course lectures in written book form--covering Lewis on all key worldview issues--reality, knowledge, creation, trinity, christology, as well as issues of evil, religious pluralism, and the impact of science on faith. You will also see it listed in the Recommended Reading section. 

Dr. Michael Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Miracles (Part 1)
Lesson Transcript


Well, we've been apart for two weeks, and I was in New York at a bio logos conference last week. So we're just kind of picking up where we left off. We left off with Finishing Christianity by Louis. Today we'll Transition to Miracles by Louis. And I think you'll you'll sense that we bump it up a level of sophistication and a level of difficulty. Miracles is arguably his most difficult book, depending on how much you want to engage it philosophically. But I think we'll kind of step it up a little bit. Not too much, but just a little bit. I thought before I would begin the talk on Louis, I might mention a little bit about the conference I was at. And while all goes, as I think a lot of you might know, was founded by Francis Collins, I think shortly after he finished being the director of the Human Genome Project. And then he sort of was a public intellectual for a while as a medical professional research medical professional. And the Obama administration appointed him head of the NIH in oh nine, I believe I think it was July one of oh nine. He took that position. He still remains in that position. So he divested himself of bio logos. And I think it's gone through at least a couple of presidencies. And the new president is Deborah Harshman, who's at Calvin. The former president was a friend of mine, an acquaintance of mine, Darrell Faulk, who was actually Wesleyan in his own point of view. But so bio logos has moved to Grand Rapids. And and yet when they want to have a conference and invite some really key people around this country, they want to do it in New York City.


And probably a lot more people would say, Oh, yeah, I think I can have the additional benefits of New York City versus the additional benefits of going to Grand Rapids. Not the Grand Rapids is not a nice city. So at any rate, we were on we were right off of Fifth Avenue between Fifth Avenue and and Broadway, actually one of the cross streets. And that's the 45th, I guess 45th Street or 44th is 44th is where the Harvard Club is. So that's where we had the meetings. We all had to agree that we would not reveal the identity of anybody there. You know, and and I know some of the reasons why. And the initial announcement said 100 people invitation only, 100 people, theologians, Bible scholars, seminary presidents, noted scientists, news media and the like is quite a quite an assortment. But we're not allowed to reveal anybody else's identity. I'm revealing to you I was there, just in case you are. Where was he last week? You said, But here it's all. I'll try not to do that. But it was really an interesting mix of, I mean, noted scientists and some of the people in the news media, some of whom you recognize on Fox News, some of whom you would recognize their columns in various newspapers. I think this might be the first time they invited reporters. Might be, but the reporters all had some degree of interest in Christian faith. But the conference then was meant to create an open space, a safe space where they could explore the relation of their faith with modern science. And the word evolution came up a lot, if you know what I mean, because that's usually the thing that scares people if they think it's threatening to faith.


But a lot of scientists expressed that they were very much helped by being there because, you know, scientist has prenatal training and often lacks interdisciplinarity or inter integrative concepts to deal with theological concepts or basically humanistic questions like the meaning of life or the nature of morality or the existence of God. And so this was good, I think for the scientists. It was clearly good for the people who were news reporting as well. And some of the scientists when they spoke said the reason we can't be one of the reasons we can't be identified is because of the competition for grant funding. And these were noted people who had whole research teams and the research teams livelihood depends on their credibility. They said if we're known to be here and we submit a major grant in our name is Googled because that's what you do when you are considering grants, you're looking for qualifications, disqualifications. This would not be a positive to be in dialog with matters of faith and theology. That's really interesting. But I mean, they were very careful to say everything they said was off the record and so on. But it was an interesting it was interesting time. And one reason I wanted to mention a little bit of. Because I'm involved in the whole national discussion. I'm thinking of the last day, the last presentation. Was from a forthcoming book by Phil Yancey, and it's called Vanishing Grace. I don't think it's really officially been published. I ordered on Amazon yesterday or Monday, and but let's just say it was read from. And there's Let me back up. Does the name Christopher Hitchens ring a bell? You know, his demise. He died of esophageal cancer. His name is associated with the new Atheists.


Now, bio logos is in dialog largely in my view, is kind of largely in dialog with the Christian community to try to assist in clarifying what science is, what evolutionary science is, all this kind of thing. And then also clarifying what's essential and what's really not essential in theological and religious commitments. Because if you think a lot of things are essential in your religious commitments, including that the Bible does a whole lot of science, it's really hard to engage real science. Am I coming through? Okay. And so at any rate, biologics doesn't do a lot of conversation with those outside the Christian community. I don't think it's there in its own evolution. Yeah, but it was brought up out of Phil James's book. And how did we get an advance copy? Anyway, the presenter, whose name you can only infer would be was saying this about Christopher Hitchens when it was known that he had esophageal cancer and he's, you know, so publicly identified with the new atheists. It's like I'm saying biologics doesn't dialog a lot outside the Christian community that I can tell, but you can't help in the national conversation but know who Christopher Hitchens is and he's not a scientist. I think he was a journalist. I don't know a lot about his credentials, but he did make claims for science, which is not uncommon and pretty negative toward religion. And that's an understatement. Pretty, pretty virulent, really, against religion. But one became known. He received mail in the mail. Some of the lines from the mail he received were quoted in Fillion's, his book. The title of the book is Vanishing Grace. Probably know where I'm headed. Good that you got cancer of the throat. It was your mouth that offended God anyway.


And this is what you deserve. And when you die, I hope you burn in hell. And things like really cheery things like that. So they quoted several things from letters that he had received. And then he also received another contact from Francis Collins, head of the NIH. Now, Collins became a Christian. I may have the sequence a little bit wrong, but after the mapping of the genome, he wrote the language of God. In the first ten or 15 pages are devoted. Why are you say this in Louis, the first ten or 15 pages, at least ten pages in the language of God, are devoted to C.S. Lewis and mere Christianity. And how that framed for Collins, how he could see the compatibility with real science, including this amazing advance in science, the mapping of the human genome on the one hand, and see the Christian faith can not only engage that, but probably makes better sense of that than any any nonreligious worldview like naturalism and atheism. So he gets a contact Hitchens does from this person, Francis Collins, who says this, Dear Christopher, I'm head of the NIH, which puts me in a position to know all sorts of different alternative cures and treatments. And if you would, let me come to you, we can discuss some of those things about possible treatments. I think Christopher Hitchens was probably pretty far gone. I don't know. He went ahead and I think took some kinds of I don't know if it was because Collins recommended, but I think he was on radiation or and or chemo because I saw him with a lot of hair loss in one interview. And he's looked very pitiful, you know, So I don't know anything else about that contact, but it seemed a lot different in spirit than some of the other letters that were quoted.


And this is right out of Vance's forthcoming book yet to be published, Vanishing Grace. I just think that's really and Lewis was involved for a lot of reasons, but because Collins quotes Lewis and what is it you're peddling? You're not peddling anything but the most essential Christian message and not your own sectarian sort of partizan feelings toward those are self-identified atheists. I mean, I spent a lot of my time with self-identified atheists and really sensitive to how they're treated, how that's kind of like a hot button for the religious reaction. And it really I think it ought not to be. That's different from saying different groups that are agenda ized and working toward certain kinds of social change. Should that be resisted? Probably in many cases, yes. But the people who are made in the image of God. One of them is named Christopher Hitchens. You know, deserves a certain kind of of approach. And anyway, I thought it was really interesting. That was the last presentation that they made on Thursday, I guess, of last week, just before they dismissed. And really interesting, really interesting that that that was set. Well, let's pray and we'll get into Louis. Father, thank you for your presence among us. We pray that you would continue to give a strength and a sense of purpose as we go through a rigorous semester and face all of our other associated tasks. Help everything we do, everything we say in this time together, help equip us to serve you better and love you more in Christ name, Amen. Okay, I forgot to ask in the preliminaries whether everybody took the exam and we're okay because I was probably out of town. That's a good time to give an exam. I'm saying the online exam and just leave town.


Come to think of it, that may be my typical mode of operation going forward. But we're all good. Okay. Everything's good. Okay. In terms of the book before us, that's not going to work. It doesn't have a point. The book Miracles. Kind of have to clarify what this topic signifies. And I know that my my addition here doesn't do this, but some past editions, I've probably owned three or four different past editions, some past editions. I remember this probably 20, 25 years ago, the edition. I had had a subtitle or a byline that says miracles, and then it said how God works actively in the world today or something like that. Now that's just marketing, you know, and was not faithful really to the really fairly fairly philosophical treatment that Louis was giving. This is ultimately a book about a clash of worldviews, so deeply philosophical book. So for Lewis's purposes, and I think this is a fairly traditional way of looking at worldviews in general, something we mentioned even in discussing their Christianity, because we sort of sketched some very basic worldviews like cosmic dualism and so on. A worldview addresses and explains offer offers some kind of a coherent explanation of the important phenomena, the important features of life and the world. And that's what a worldview does. It's largely a conceptual framework. It doesn't explain things in great detail, but, you know, gives you the basic reality out of which things are made. Or maybe there's multiple realities. If you're cosmic dualist, you've got a couple couple realities going on anyway. Usually tells you something about the origin of everything, the meaning and destiny of everything. The fundamental foundation of morality, the nature of being human. I mean, you know, the world worldview is going to address these kinds of things.


So Louis is really setting this up. It may not seem obvious early on, but he's setting this up as a clash between two worldviews. Can you tell me what those worldviews are? Yeah. His own language. His own language. Naturalism. And supernatural ism. Oops. Natural. Rural ism. And there's other labels we could we could use. But that's. That's where we're headed now to figure out where's he going to start? Where's he going to? Where's he going to kind of find his avenue of entry into this clash as he sees it. I should mention that Lewis has said a couple different places, that he prefers arguments in terms of the whole project of Christian apologetics. He prefers apologetic arguments that are, quote from the inside. What he means is dealing with our humanity somehow because because what we know directly, immediately is our own humanity. He prefers arguments like that, and as opposed to arguments, there are plenty of them from the outside. It's not that he rejects all of them. You know, I mean, the cosmological argument, he's got a few passages where you can see he's favorable toward the cosmological argument that there must be a necessary being. That probably better be God who's a necessary being He. Every turn rejects a design argument. All these are arguments from outside. I know of no exceptions where Lewis is friendly even. He's almost hostile to design arguments. He's thinking of design arguments a certain way. The way they existed in the 18th and 19th century. From Paley on. And of course, Darwin had to destroy that the Paley type design argument. But there just means that version of design argument doesn't work. And we need to look for a deeper teleological argument that's much more profound.


But that's a different discussion. I do think I see in Lewis, although there's clear rejection on every hand, every time it comes up of a design argument, I do see a deeper teleological understanding in Lewis, which means there's still intelligent guidance of this world and it's going somewhere. It has a purpose, you know, things that would be teleological in character. But the idea there's an inference from organized complexity to design. Lewis rejects. And as Darwin had to, um. Okay. So anyway, what we have here is kind of like what we had in terms of Lewis's preference in Christianity. We saw he preferred things like the moral argument because we're we're actually from the inside. We know the moral law from the inside. It's pressing down upon us, which is part of our immediate awareness. Or later in Christianity, we also saw another argument from the inside, which is often labeled the argument from desire. Right. The idea we have this longing for something that the finite world cannot fulfill. And so there's another argument from the inside, so to speak. So you might suspect that we'll get we'll get something similar in terms of Lewis building an argument here for supernatural ism or as really I'm I just don't use the word super naturalism very much and we'll probably tend to use theism. And there are many forms of super naturalism, but it's classical theism that I'm largely interested in is denial, of course, is atheism, and the denial of something really isn't an explanation of much of anything. It's just a denial. So atheism finds one natural home, not its only home, because classical Buddhism would be, of course, a form of atheism, but it didn't teach. There was any divine, any super nature atheist and finds its more natural home in the larger worldview context of philosophical naturalism because naturalism is going to entail atheism.


So naturalism does offer explanations of human nature, foundations of morality, meaning of life. This one worldview does so the worldview, the worldview clash here between naturalism and in Lewis's words, super naturalism is a clash of sort of total understandings, total explanations. And while theism has some degree of explanatory power, supreme mind intelligence likely to make a an intelligent creation. So, you know, we pull out a number of sort of explanatory themes out of just basic theism. But it's hard to explain much going around just denying theism. So that's why we may think we're in discussions with atheists, but they're going to have to have some if there's something more to say that, no, that's not true. You know, and generally they're the natural home in the West, in the modern West, the natural home for atheists, and has been philosophical naturalism. And that is the opponent that Lewis is taking in the book. And he's really arguing theism. He uses the word supernatural. And I think just a contrast with with naturalism of something above something distinct from nature. But everything he does is pretty much classically theist. As the book gets going later on. He brings in distinctively Christian information, which becomes really interesting. Okay, so it's going to be another one of those arguments for theism from the inside, an argument for God from the inside using some fact about us. Early on and in several places subsequently. In the book, Lewis talks about how neither experience nor history can prove whether a miracle occurred. That's a really interesting claim. Pile up, your records, pile up all the quote unquote evidence. It can never do it. That's a really interesting claim. So in a way, he's saying, how are we going to approach this? It cannot be, so to speak, empirically.


It has to be sort of a matter of in principle. In other words, he's not going to discuss early on for quite a bit of the book. He's not going to discuss whether any claim to miracle is actual. Whether it's true, but rather is it in principle? A possibility. Because supposing you're a naturalist, you're going to believe in principle that there are no miracles. You don't have to. If you're a naturalist, it's just it's just a sort of an irritating exercise to go through evidence, counter evidence and have a book, because you already know in advance, by virtue of accepting naturalism, by virtue set of naturalism, you know, as a matter of principle, that miracles are not possible. So Louis wants to address that. The idea that worldviews tell you a lot about the way the world works. So we're mentioning earlier, including how to think about the question of miracles. You you have an advanced set on that kind of discussion. And no amount of information or information, you say, well, that's a fraud or that was somebody being deceived or this or that, you know, So in a way, the information does matter. I think there's in many ways it's true. You've got to go to the worldview level and get some things settled, or you can never consent to any claim to an individual miracle if things haven't been settled for you. But the claims aren't going to overturn a worldview logically might in somebody's psychology, you know, who's not very strong mentally. The idea that you encounter a miracle may, Oh, I can't be an atheist any longer because of that. That's very rare. You know, once you really lock in to understanding what philosophical naturalism says. Okay, so you're with me so far that I'm just trying to build a framework of discussion, put the pieces parts out there where we'll deal with them.


Basically and this is a kind of a. Unhappiness I have with Lewis here is he accepts the human challenge. He accepts the definitions of David HUME and accepts the challenge of David HUME. And many times the way of wisdom is to show there's something wrong inherently with the challenge. But he doesn't. So here's what here's what HUME does is HUME defines miracle. Classical definition a violation of the laws of nature? Well, when you do that, you're setting up a tech totally textbook case for the discussion of miracles. Most basic texts in philosophy, religion and so on will have a similar starting point. Accepting him as the as the challenge. So Hume's Hume's challenge is something a lot of people don't realize, and Lewis doesn't even engage it this way either. It's an epistemological, logical challenge. So. Some personal, logical challenge. Meaning, when could we ever be rationally justified? It's about what makes us rationally justified in a belief. Why belief that a miracle occurred? The Hume's answer is nothing. There's nothing we can ever make rationally justified. Why is that? Because nature is run by laws. Regular repetitive laws informs the context of our common life. Everything the science tells us is about how this law or that law operates on one level of reality or another. And so our experience. This is our experience is of regularity. Our experiences of unbroken regularity. And so how great is that experience for living human beings? It's enormous. I almost never experienced anything for it. I've never experienced it except. Except regularity. Which is enforced by the laws of nature. If this happens, then, then this happens. Right. So in terms of what's more probable to believe, it's always more probable to believe that regularity continues than that there was an irregularity.


Right. I mean, that's the that's the epistemological challenge of him. So a person can say, well, I've got ten more instances. I've got 100 more instances of alleged miracles. It doesn't matter because nothing could overwhelm the probability of regularity which we experience every second of the day. All of our lives and humanity. The world around has compiled the experience of regularity. And so when you're thinking of a teeter totter or something, and what would tip the teeter totter? Regularity over irregularity of nature is always going to be weightier. So you're really talking about probabilities, percentages, and you're always rationally warranted in believing the more probable and you're not rationally warranted in believing the less probable. It's always more probable. Then, in terms of what's rational to believe, it's always more probable that regularity occurred. That's the human challenge. So that and then because of that, with if you face the challenge that way, see that for what it is, then you know that no amount of piling up, more testimony, more alleged instances can it can ever tip the scales anyway, because it'll always be relatively insignificant compared to the weight of human experiences as humans. Okay. So, Lois, he said, I'm not going to go there. I'm not going to face it that way. I'm going to I'm going to go to the whole idea of naturalism and the idea that in principle, this is not an epistemological matter. This is an ideological matter. But in the nature of reality, in the ontology of things, there's nothing but law. There is no such thing as miracle. If a miracle is a violation of law of nature and Lewis goes ahead and adds by a supernatural force, I think he uses the word force. Something like that.


I don't remember that kind of thing being in HUME so explicitly, but that's okay. You lose this idea. If there's nothing beyond nature, nothing can interfere with nature and cosmic regularity. Right? Okay. So Lewis then is going after the on logical question in the nature of reality itself. Can there or can there not be such a thing as miracle defined as we did over there? And he says the real problem is with the worldview of naturalism that has an ontology that excludes in principle. Excludes miracle. Okay? Now, you really can't go very much farther. We're still I'm still just laying puzzle pieces on the board. And you can't go much farther with this discussion of miracle without going a little further in understanding of what we mean by law here. Let's have a little bit more work on that. Oh, where would I go? I'll go here. Types of laws really need to distinguish logical law. Moral law. Natural law. Now, of course, we often call the moral law. The natural law, but it can't be confused with something else we call natural. So maybe we should call that physical law or scientific groups. Law. But these are three distinct categories that are called laws. A logical law for our purposes is based in the nature of rationality. It has to do with what we can think consistently is the law of thought. You can build a whole science of logic on it. It's not a human. I'll just go ahead and say it. It's not a human creation. Textbooks. Teaching logic would be humans, human creations. But it's not as though it could be different. So a logical law is not just about how we can think. It's also about what can be kind of indirectly.


Because if you can't think coherently, a contradiction like John is both married and not married at the same time. It's not possible because you can be married or not be. But at the same time, so or I could say this playing figure in geometry is both a square and not a square. It's a square in a circle. Well, no, it can't be. So the law of non contradiction. It's sort of the foundation stone of logic and all the logical laws are kind of built on that. For our purposes, I think it's a good way to say it. So when I say John is both married and not married at the same time, and then I say, well, that can't be that can't be true. One reply would be, Well, if you change your laws of logic, you know, if you just thought differently about what was logical, maybe you could get by with saying some something like that because logic is just a human creation and that really brings you sort of to the interface between logic and ontology, because logic indirectly is about what can be and things, the description of which form of contradiction. Cannot be. They can't exist so. Well, God could. No. They just can't be. God couldn't make John to be a married man. Not married at the same time either, where he couldn't make himself to exist and not exist at the same time either. Or to be a trinity. And not to be a trinity in the same sense at the same time either. So interestingly, logic is rooted very deeply in the structure of reality. And our rational natures pick this up and reflect it, but they don't create it. And later on, Louis will bring up logical law, won't get into it right now, but in the self-contradiction stuff later in the book and some other things later in the book, Logical Law will become more prominent.


But we have to know what kind of law we're talking about in this context. And it really is not logical law. Logical laws will always be present if we're going to reason correctly, but we're not talking about logical law here. Moral law would be. Self-evident statements about the nature of the good and the right and. It's just self-evident that murder is wrong. You can't prove it. You can't. You can't prove that murder is wrong. You can say, Well, it hurts. Okay, well, why is that wrong? It's just a self-evident truth to our moral nature. There's not something more fundamental than moral law. That is the proof. Or the support of moral law. Once you realize a self-evident truth, just as there self-evident truth and logic, a self-evident truth in in in immoral life, just recognize a ha that is inherently true and there's nothing deeper or more fundamental upon which I can base it. It's really interesting. So I'm giving you a realist reading of moral law. Not everyone believes it, but Lewis does. And so if you read like, well, the beginning of Christianity or if you read the abolition of man, which we're not going to read in abolition, Lewis makes this point very clearly. He's he's an Aristotelian in that book. He is a a moral realist. But the moral law can't be reduced to something non moral to base it upon that it itself is fundamental. And so I recommend abolition. It's a fantastic book. And then he does the appendix at the end of our Bill of Abolition to go through all the world's religions and great moral traditions and show the similarities that all human beings everywhere in their reflective documents and teachings for their society, their culture or their religious tradition reflect amazing similarities on fidelity in marriage, the value of human life and prohibitions against murder, value of truth telling, prohibitions against lying and fraud, breaking contracts.


Really a great appendix. So differences then, are among humanity. Past and present are much more in detail and in expression. Then in principle. On morale and you'd expect that of creatures made the image of God and morality being fundamental and universal. So what we're really talking about in this discussion is physical law or scientific law. So laws of nature, natural law is the third category. That's what factors in to the human definition is the definition of laws of nature. Once you get that on the table, then you say, Well, a miracle then is a violation, an interruption of that kind of thing. The regular operation of natural objects, physical objects. And that's that's what a miracle is. So you really learn more about what a miracle is by having this prior concept of natural law. Questions. Comments. How are we doing for time? We're coming up on a break here. Well, very briefly, then, we've got we've kind of got the conflict set up and he's got to kind of defined the total conceptual package of naturalism and then the package that he sees as super naturalism. And for naturalism to make the point to clinch the point that naturalism. Philosophically and in principle excludes miracles. He gives a kind of a sketch of the naturalist worldview, for example. Nature, physical nature is the totality of all that exists. This implies that there's nothing outside or beyond nature, i.e. no super nature. This nature is self existent or there's nothing else that it depends on. Physical nature is is ultimate. Physical nature is a great interlocking system, a whole interlocking system operating by natural laws. You might say it's the it's the woven fabric of cause and effect. And that's that's a total locked system.


Now, I didn't put it here in these words, in the notes, but when you say it's a locked system, we've come to say this. Come to use the term calls of closure. The naturals believes in the clock calls or closure of the world. Right. Because if it's the totality, the cosmos, let's say, is the totality of everything that exists. It's physical. It's operating by cause and effect in sort of an interlocking way, then there's nothing that can break into and stop a normal cause from creating this normal effect. So the causal closure of the world closed to anything intervening from from outside. So I mean, in one sense, I mean, there's this theoretical possibility that there could be a God or something, but it can intervene. But, you know, most most naturalists are not going to even entertain that possibility. Nature is locked and causally closed. So this is the background of how Lewis is using the term nature, naturalism and so on. That system and all those different parts are operating of its own accord is going to generate certain outcomes and just keep. And so goes the ongoing history of the world. But the operation of natural laws is going to generate certain outcomes. Not open to any interference from outside the system. Now, with that put on the table, Lewis wants to go to work and show why that is not acceptable. But I think we need a break before we go on. Okay.