RE: Cana and apparent age

Bill Hamilton (
Fri, 01 May 1998 09:29:43 -0400

Chuck Vandergraaf wrote in response to my post

>I fully agree with you that, regardless of exactly what the wine in Cana
>was, it was a miracle. It should be seen as a manifestation by Jesus that
>He was no ordinary person.

In my most recent post I neglected to mention my belief that it was a
miracle. Whatever the content of the jars could legitimately be called --
wine or grape juice or wine-in-the-making -- a miracle had taken place.
Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water and when it was tasted
it was wine. Thanks, Chuck.

It's probably also worthwhile to note that, even though Jesus initially
seemed reluctant to do anything about the exhausted wine supply, the
miracle fits with the other miracles that are described in the New
Testament: they demonstrated that He had authority over creation and
therefore was Who He claimed to be.
>However, I do see a "difference between the "wine" - created in the absence
>of process and time - and the appearance of an aged universe." As I've
>mentioned before, a competent organic chemist may be able to analyze a
>genuine, aged, wine using a suite of techniques best known by their acronyms
>(HPLC, FTIR, GC-MS etc.) and then, from organic chemicals, synthesize a
>"wine." That "wine" would therefore not have an age as such. In fact, some
>years ago there was a scandal involving either France or Italy, where they
>made a synthetic Chianti, I believe and foisted if off on an unsuspecting

My recollection was that it was Chianti, and it was in Italy.

How do we know that Jesus did not know how to make "instant"
>wine? Most certainly, he could have made "instant wine" as easily as
>"instant grape juice" or "instant apple juice."
[other good points snipped]

>The age of the universe is something quite different. We can, using various
>techniques, determine how long ago a geological event occurred. We may not
>all agree on the applicability of an individual technique, on the results
>that are obtained, or on the interpretation of the results, but there is a
>temporal component to the geological column that is absent from a wine
>(unless, perhaps, we know the kinetics of the formation of some of the
>organic compounds in the wine and even then, since the rates of reaction are
>temperature dependent, we can only make a rough - albeit reasonable -
Agreed. While I tend to think of the creation of the universe and its
sustenance as miraculous[1], I don't see that a particular timeline
establishes God's authority while another fails. (See the paragraph above
about the purpose of miracles) Furthermore, we would be hampered in
carrying out one of God's first intructions to men (Gen 1:28) if the
physical evidence we obtain by observing nature around us is deceptive.
Such a world also makes Job 12:7-9 problematic.
[1] Not in the sense that God breaks the laws He has made to govern nature
-- I mostly agree with Howard Van Till's RFE view -- but in the sense that
had God not chosen to create, nothing would exist, and if He did not
continue to bless His creation, it would not survive. I subscribe to the
RFE view not because it's a way of putting God in the background (neither
does Howard, but I believe some people interpret his views that way) but
because it says that God is a designer who stresses elegance, beauty,
functionality and completeness in what He designs. David noticed that as
well (e.g. Psalms 8 and 19). As an engineer who sometimes gets to design
things, that fills me with awe.
Bill Hamilton, Staff Research Engineer
Chassis and Vehicle Systems, GM R&D Center
Warren, MI / (home)