methodological naturalism

Berger, Dan (
Fri, 27 Mar 1998 12:01:15 -0500

William Provine asked, jokingly, for a sign ("If God parted Lake ... so I could
cross without getting my feet wet, I'd become a Christian.")

I submit that Prof. Provine has it wrong. Signs (usually) don't come to those
who "put God to the test." To put it quite bluntly, if I don't think you
really want to meet me halfway (or even a quarter of the way), why should I put
myself out to convince you I'm worth knowing? Or to tie into Phillip Johnson's
view, why should God constantly provide unmistakably crude and rude hints to
convince us he exists? If you're a Calvinist (or its equivalent, a
metaphysical determinist), you know quite well people are destined to believe
or not, no matter what God does or doesn't do; if you believe in free will,
such "hey, look, stupid, here I am!" stuff would have a strong tendency to
interfere with human responsibility and freedom. Not to mention being

On the other hand, the common experience of Christians (this one included) is
that signs, big or little, tend to come when we least expect them, *once we
have committed our trust to God.* William Pollard put it very well (see if you don't commit to the
community, you can't expect to know what the community knows. Just as in a
human relationship, some trust must precede intimacy.

This ties into Keith Miller's point about theology: if a "plausible" (whatever
that means, and it means different things to different people at different
times) natural explanation for any particular event proves God had no hand in
it, we might as well fold up this discussion and go home, because *some* sort
of natural explanation will always be forthcoming. For that matter, *some*
sort of non-Christian explanation is likely to occur even if one discards the
natural ones... I have heard of a Jewish theologian who is convinced that God
raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead; but he in no way believes that Jesus is
the Christ.

Daniel J. Berger | PH: (419) 358-3379
Associate Professor of Chemistry | FAX:(419) 358-3323
Bluffton College |
Bluffton OH 45817-1196 |