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C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion (Revised and Updated) [Paperback]

By John Beversluis,, David Booth (Contributor), Larry Swartz (Contributor), Lada J. Kratky (Translator), Ernie Chan (Illustrator) & Joel W. Grube
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Item Specifications...

Pages   363
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 17, 2007
Publisher   Prometheus Books
ISBN  1591025311  
EAN  9781591025313  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
C S Lewis was one of the most influential Christian apologists of the 20th century. An Oxford don and former atheist who converted to Christianity in 1931, he gained a wide following during the 1940s as the author of a number of popular apologetic books such as "Mere Christianity", "Miracles", and "The Problem of Pain" in which he argued for the truth of Christianity. Today his reputation is greater than ever - partly because of his books and partly because of the movie "Shadowlands", starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. In advocating Christianity, Lewis did not appeal to blind faith, but to reason. Convinced that Christianity is rationally defensible, he boldly declared: 'I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it'. But do Lewis' arguments survive critical scrutiny?In this revised and expanded edition of his book originally published in 1985, philosopher John Beversluis takes Lewis at his word, sympathetically examines his 'case for Christianity', and concludes that it fails. Beversluis examines Lewis' argument from desire - the 'inconsolable longing' that he interpreted as a pointer to a higher reality; his moral argument for the existence of a Power behind the moral law; his contention that reason cannot be adequately explained in naturalistic terms; and, his solution to the Problem of Evil, which many philosophers regard as the decisive objection to belief in Christianity. In addition, Beversluis considers issues in the philosophy of religion that developed late in Lewis' life - such as Antony Flew's criticisms of Christian theology. He concludes with a discussion of Lewis' crisis of faith after the death of his wife and answers the question: Did C. S. Lewis lose his faith?Finally, in this second edition, Beversluis replies to critics of the first edition. As the only critical study of C. S. Lewis' apologetic writings, this readable and intellectually stimulating book should be on the bookshelves of anyone interested in the philosophy of religion.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Beveslulis- rationalist extraordinaire!  Nov 17, 2008
Beversluils in this book demolishes Lewis's shallow arguments. He shows that Lewis misinterprets us naturalists. He shows that Lewis has no inkling about wide reflexive subjectivism : I find the paradox that subjectivism underpins objective morality in my thread here @covenant morality for humanity in religious discussions. He shows that the argument from reason is unreasonable. He show that Lewis's trilemma about Yeshua is a fallacy. Lewis has relevance only to reveal that Christianity has no relevance.
I hope that he will further comment on these matters in more books!
Careful, fair, thorough, and finally devastating  Oct 17, 2008
Beversluis considers Lewis's arguments in detail and with philosophical charity, and he points out their unmistakable flaws.
No straw-man found...yet.  Jun 29, 2008
I write only to counter the statement that Beversluis attacks strawmen. Having gotten half-way through the book I have found no such thing as of yet.

To get bias out of the way, yes I am an atheist. I have, however, read most of Lewis' original apologetic works (Mere Christianity, etc.). Beversluis quotes extensively from Lewis' own works, and takes great pains to try and keep Lewis' quotes in context. If anything Beversluis is so cautious in setting up Lewis' arguments correctly that he makes the reading tedious at times.

I will not say that this critique is a devastating refutation of Lewis' primary arguments (that's your decision to make). I will say that Beversluis is careful, and honest in setting up Lewis' arguments and he takes pains to explain why the arguments don't hold up to careful scrutiny. Whether you believe or don't believe this book is a worthwhile read after you have taken a look at Lewis' apologetic works.

Having finished the book I would also like to respond to another counter-argument brought up. The idea that Lewis' popular works were somehow "dumbed down" for the common person, and that Lewis' more sophisticated arguments are found in his letters/essays has been batted around. This may, or may not, be true. Regardless, Beversluis cites a number of Lewis' essays throughout the book. I would have to say that I have yet to see a fair criticism of this book on this site.

Like it or not Beversluis is meticulous in setting up Lewis' arguments. Beversluis then gives reasons that he believes destroys the rationality behind those arguments. If you're looking for a counter-point to Lewis' apologetics this is the best single volume on the market. Well worth your while.
The arguments of C.S. Lewis demolished  Jun 2, 2008
Whether you are a Christian fundamentalist, an atheist or somewhere in-between you might be surprised at the notion that the existence of God and the truth of Christian theology could be arrived at through rational reasoning and logical argument rather than through, say, faith or revelation. But amazingly enough C.S. Lewis was such a skilled and clever wordsmith that he was able to convince many people that he had done exactly that. Starting with 10 minute British radio addresses during World War II and then in numerous books C.S. Lewis presented arguments that convinced my hearers and readers that rationality and logical reasoning lead inexorably to the existence of God and (even more amazingly) to the truth of Christian theology (rather than Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or other religious truths.)
In his book "C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion" John Beversluis convincingly and thoroughly demolishes Lewis' arguments. Beneath Lewis' rhetorical flourishes were very weak arguments that completely collapse upon critical examination. Christians may continue to believe in Christian truths and God but they can no longer claim the support of logic, reason, evidence and rationality. They must now admit that they choose to believe on the basis of faith, in spite of the evidence, rational thought and argument rather than because of them.
Why did this book need to be written?   May 22, 2008
This book leaves one with the impression of having watched Shaq knock out an elderly fan at Staples Center with three quick punches. And being proud about it.

1) Lewis was a POPULAR apologist. His works were not meant to be tight philosophical arguments. They were meant to make sense of Christianity, at a simple level, for the average Briton during-and-after WWII.

2) Lewis wrote in the 1940s. Even had he been writing as a professional philosopher, his works could probably be torn apart by modern atheistic philosophers . . . and corrected by modern theistic philosophers. Never forget that requirements for philosophical rigor change over time.

3) Criticizing Lewis on the basis of "rhetoric" sounds more like a complaint against his excellent writing skills. It's like a health-nut complaining to a pastry chef that his product is too sugar-coated. Lewis was not aiming for tight logical arguments. Like Chesterton, his works are written at a "common sense" level. This is why "Mere Christianity" is a continual bestseller . . . it makes SENSE at a basic level.

4) Not a single reader of Lewis would expect his arguments to hold up to close scrutiny. I certainly didn't. The gist of Beversluis' arguments, I came up with myself while reading. They're good arguments . . . but they don't conclude the debate. And while they seem more "logical" than Lewis's arguments, they certainly don't make as much "sense."

5) I have to wonder why a professional philosopher would feel it necessary to pick on Lewis (who never earned higher than our equivalent of a BA, and who never intended his work to be held to philosophical standards). It's like tearing apart "A Brief History of Time" because it oversimplifies things, and doesn't lay out the math like it's laid out in a theoretical physics journal. I can only wonder about issues of jealousy and bitterness on the part of the author.

In short: unless you're into bullies beating up 98-lb weaklings, I'd stay clear of this book. Lewis's arguments have already been sharpened and refined by modern Christian philosophers. Even Darwin could be critiqued like this.


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