by John Hawkins | December 7, 2009 3:52 am
“Miracles” is a meticulously reasoned, shorter than average book of theology by the great C.S. Lewis. Although the book doesn’t really lend itself to clever quips, it has more than a few profound quotes in it that deserve to get out to a wider audience. Enjoy!
Those who wish to succeed must ask the right preliminary questions. — Aristotle
Bacon warned us long ago that ‘the human understanding is of its own nature prone to suppose the existence of more order and regularity in the world than it finds. And though there be many things which are singular and unmatched, yet it devises for them parallels and conjugates and relatives which do not exist.’
If we are to continue to make moral judgments (and whatever we say we shall in fact continue) then we must believe that the conscience of man is not a product of Nature. It can be valid only if it is an offshoot of some absolute moral wisdom, a moral wisdom which exists absolutely ‘on its own’ and is not a product of non-moral, non-rational Nature.
The supernatural is not remote and abstruse: it is a matter of daily and hourly experience, as intimate as breathing. Denial of it depends on a certain absent-mindedness. But this absent-mindedness is in no way surprising. You do not need — indeed you do not wish — to be always thinking about windows when you are looking at gardens or always thinking about eyes when you are reading.
The grounds for belief and disbelief are the same today as they were two thousand — or ten thousand — years ago. If St. Joseph had lacked faith to trust God or humility to perceive the holiness of his spouse, he could have disbelieved the miraculous origin of her Son as easily as any modern man; and any modern man who believes in God can accept the miracle as easily as St. Joseph did.
Men of sensibility look up on the night sky with awe: brutal and stupid men do not.
If events ever come from beyond Nature altogether, she will be no more incommoded by them. Be sure she will rush to the point where she is invaded, as the defensive forces rush to a cut in our finger, and there hasten to accommodate the newcomer. The moment it enters her realm it obeys all her laws. Miraculous wine will intoxicate, miraculous conception will lead to pregnancy, inspired books will sufer all the ordinary processes of textual corruption, miraculous bread will be digested. The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern.
The historical difficulty of giving for the life, sayings and influence of Jesus any explanation that is not harder than the Christian explanation that is not harder than the Christian explantation is very great. The discrepancy between the depth and sanity and (let me add) shrewdness of His moral teaching and the rampant megalomania which must lie behind His theological teaching unless He is indeed God, has never been satisfactorily got over.
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