Re: Miracles?

Bill Payne (
Thu, 19 Mar 1998 00:02:47 -0600

Hi Keith,

Wed, 18 Mar 1998 21:57:04 -0600, Keith B Miller wrote:
> Dowsing has been debunked. It has no success in predicting the location of
> water under controlled scientific conditions (I have read articles on the
> testing of dowsing - but would have considerable difficulty finding the
> references now).

You completely missed the point. I agree that dowsing has no scientific
accuracy in predicting the location of ground water. The point I was
making is that an unseen "force" moves the rods (or branches)
independent of any action on the part of the dowser.

> There are several easy explanations. I have done it with
> willow branches - the torque really does become irresistable in your hands.
> But the nature of the tension in the stick is such that the slightest and
> briefest uncounscious relaxation of the hands will begin the twisting
> movement. Once begun it is irresistable.

I agree that, given your limited experience, your explanation is
logical. However, when dowsing with brass "L-rods", there is no tension
in the rods as might possibly be set up in willow branches placed under
stress by your hands. In my own personal experience, I was holding the
rods tightly enough to keep them from swinging off to one side or the
other. I was startled when I actually felt the rods turning in my hands
and pulling against the skin of my hands as I attempted to resist the
turning of the rods. If the movement had been the result of some type
of weak magnetic force, similar to that by which birds navigate, then
the same force should have still been at work when I retraced my steps
over the same area where the rods had turned. As I said before, after I
silently prayed "God if this isn't from You then take it away", the rods
never moved again that day and have not moved any day since. I now
harangue drillers and others who I see using rods to locate underground
lines, telling them the reason the rods swing and why they won't work in
my hands. When they say "Sure they will, here try it", I pray and walk
wherever they tell me, and the rods remain straight ahead.

Dowsing works with pendulums (although I've never seen that method),
some tree branches, and rods of certain types of metal (I've seen rods
of both brass and copper used). Dowsing is dismissed by skeptics as the
result of tension in tree branches, and magnetic lines of force or
involuntary movements in metal rods. IMHO, the common effects are the
result of a common cause: demonic activity.

> More significant, and to the point, is that I fail to see what relevance
> this has to the issue of God's action in nature. Many thing happen that
> are presently without scientific explanation. This is a poor basis for a
> theology of miracles. If a miracle is something that I do not understand,
> then does its eventual explanation then make it no longer a miracle?

IMO, miracles may at times be explained by natural cause and effect -
the point of the miracle would have been the timing, usually in
fulfillment of a specific prophecy. An example might be the fire from
heaven in response to Elijah's challenge to the prophets of Baal (I
Kings 18:16-38). Other miracles such as the resurrection of Lazarus and
Jesus, or the turning of the water into wine, or the feeding of the five
thousand by Jesus, or the Damascus road experience of Paul, or the
baptism of the Spirit in Acts 2 - all of these and many other miracles
are the direct result of the supernatural intervention of God,
interrupting the "natural" sequence of cause and effect. Those who take
an "actualistic" view of the universe limit their options and, IMHO,
limit the power of God as revealed in the Scripture.

As Will Provine pointed out, these miracles are not available for
scientific scrunity. The only repeatable supernatural force I am aware
of is dowsing. I hate to suggest this, but what really needs to be done
is to run some experiments that would demonstrate whether it's you or me
that is right. If I am right, then there are supernatural forces which
can intervene and alter the natural cause and effect course of events.
If demonic forces have this power, then surely God does also. Perhaps
God is allowing demons to display this power as a means of demonstrating
the existence of the supernatural. I raised this issue in hopes that
Will would be confronted with the power of the demonic world, recoil,
and respond to the invitation God extends to all of us to acknowledge
His sovereignty in our hearts, as I once did.

As an agnostic, I had become convinced that Jesus was in the same
category as Santa Claus and Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. While
reading "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell, I came
across the statement of Julian the Apostate, a Jewish historian living
about 300 AD: (this is a rough quote, I don't have the book handy)
"This Jesus, who has been celebrated now for about 300 years, never did
anything noteworthy unless one considers it a very great accomplishment
to heal a few lame and blind people and exorcise a few demoniacs in the
villages of Bethsaida and Bethany." This statement was written by
Julian in an attempt to discredit Christianity. It struck me as
incongruous that Julian the Apostate accepted as fact what I had
rejected as fairy tales. He was certainly closer in time to Jesus than
I was, and presumably would have had a better independent assessment of
the man than I could ever get. At that moment I leaned back, looked at
the ceiling and thought, "OK, God and Jesus, if you guys are really
there and if you want my life, you can have it; it's certainly no good
to me the way it is." That's all there was to it; no bells, no bright
lights, no angels singing. I just went back to reading my book. A
couple of weeks later I realized that, in my mind, the weight of
evidence had shifted from "no God" to "there really is a God."

I didn't take a blind leap into the darkness, but I did tell God that I
would be completely His if only He would show me that He is. He did,
and I am. Since my conversion, I have had at least one empirical
confirmation that has sealed my faith forever. But that confirmation
was valid for me only, and came perhaps a month or two after my "step of

Will has said if he could see "X" miracle, then he would believe. I am
reminded of two instances in Scripture where Jesus was asked for
evidence that He was really God: once by Herod, who also hoped to see a
miracle (Luke 23:8), and once by Thomas, who did see a miracle (John
20:24-31). Whether Will is asking in the spirit of Herod or Thomas, I
don't know. But I do know that time will tell. I ask the believers on
this list to pray hard for Will and also Eugenie Scott, who said during
the PBS debate that she is not a believer. I love them both.

God bless,