Some of my friends who are atheists contend that if the spiritual exists
and can influence the material world, then we ought to be able to detect
the occurrence of this influence. To me this seems to make an implicit
assumption that there are no limits to our powers of perception and
Some of my friends who are creationists look at gaps in our understanding
of nature and claim that nature alone would cease to function if something
(or Someone) was not counteracting the effects of the gaps. This seems to
me to implicitly assume that we can identify gaps that human knowledge will
never be able to fill. History has shown this position to be dangerous.
Both views assume humans have abilities they can't be shown to have. So
what's the solution? IMO it's to recognize that God is Spirit (John 4:24)
and that our ability to recognize the spiritual is extremely limited.
However, God knows this and reveals Himself to us, and His self-revelation
through the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures is the only means we have of
knowing Him. Attempts to prove his existence through gaps in nature, or
his nonexistence by filling gaps miss the point that God is fundamentally
separate from nature, so we only know of Him what He chooses to make
There IS a test for the presence of a spiritual influence:
"If any man's will is to do His [God's] will, he shall know whether
the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority."
The point here is that God's spirit does have a powerful influence,
but this influence is not directly physical, such as spirits as
portrayed in movies, by new age charlatans, by illusionists, or
by natural scientists who, like the scribes of old, are looking for
some kind of a 'sign'.
There is one reliable kind of 'Spirit detector'. It is the human
spirit, or heart, or will. Jesus claims that if our hearts, or our
wills, are aligned with God's will, then we will know it. We will
achieve verification of Jesus' claim of authority directly.
Too bad if this doesn't fit our modern expectations of verification
in the philosophy of science. Too bad for philosophy, that is.
Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, Signatures Directorate, NSWC
9500 MacArthur Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817-5700
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