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C. S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview$
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Michael L. Peterson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190201111

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190201111.001.0001

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Mind, Miracle, and Nature

Mind, Miracle, and Nature

(p.47) 4 Mind, Miracle, and Nature
C. S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview

Michael L. Peterson

Oxford University Press

Lewis as a theist (and Christian theist) was the sworn opponent of philosophical naturalism and materialism as worldviews. In his book Miracles, Lewis launches a philosophical attack on naturalism in a special way: he attacks its assumption that physical or material nature is all there is and runs by unbroken laws. He uses the technical Humean definition that a “miracle” would then be a “violation of the laws of nature” and goes on to show that rational thought (which must be free to decide on truth and not determined by physical processes to believe what it believes) is technically a miracle. Probably Lewis’s most important contribution to the field of philosophy is what we call his “argument from reason,” which maintains that naturalism cannot explain the logical reasoning process and that the very existence of this process strongly points to theism. We discuss the Lewis-Anscombe debate over the relation of naturalism and human reason, which spurred Lewis to revise his earlier argument. Prior to this debate, Lewis charged naturalists with committing a self-contradiction by claiming to hold his or her position by reasoning because naturalism implies that all events (including thoughts) are determined by law rather than freedom to discern logic. The Anscombe encounter led Lewis to say instead that there is a “cardinal difficulty,” which the naturalist cannot overcome.

Keywords:   mind/reason, logic, supreme reason, Grand Miracle, naturalism, natural law, violation of naturalism, determinism, theism, Anscombe

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