how many miracles? WAS: resurrection AND faith crisis

From: Ted Davis (
Date: Sun Feb 17 2002 - 21:04:35 EST

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    Glenn fears the "one miracle" people--whose who see the resurrection as the
    only "true" miracle in the Bible--and George denies being one. This past
    fall a good friend in the ASA (not a participant on the listserve, as far as
    I know) called Polkinghorne a "one miracle" person, but I immediately called
    attention to the strong things he says about creation, implying his belief
    in creatio ex nihilo, and then my friend said, well, OK, two miracles, but
    added his own view that the creation miracle isn't necessarily taught in
    scripture (I think he meant that creatio ex nihilo is an inference, not a
    direct teaching), so we're back to one *biblical* miracle.

    Well, I don't know about Polkinghorne, he might well believe in lots of
    other miracles, and George can speak for himself. As for me, I believe in
    *many* "true" miracles in the Bible, and also many since the biblical
    period. I don't buy the old Protestant stuff about miracles ceasing with
    the apostolic age, indeed I believe a woman in my church was miraculously
    healed of pancreatic cancer six or seven years ago (you don't live that
    long, esp without any medical treatment, if you really have that).

    But I *do* start with the resurrection as a "real, historical, physical"
    event, ie, I think the women went to the right tomb, found it really empty,
    and Thomas (somewhat later) touched the hands and side of a man who had been
    crucified. Obviously this is in the realm of faith, and "violates" all
    sorts of physical "laws," but nevertheless I believe the story and think
    that a real event of this type--or sequence of events, if you will--is in
    fact the best explanation of the profound fear and bewilderment of the
    disciplines being turned into the church, and of the profound struggle of NT
    writers to speak of the man Jesus as God, which for Jews is way over the
    idolatry line. They simply had to, they had no other choice, given what
    they had heard and seen.

    I also believe in creatio ex nihilo, not only from faith but also strongly
    from science. I think that the many worlds hypothesis is, for nontheists,
    the functional equivalent of the "god of the gaps" for theists: they've got
    no other explanation for fine tuning, so they invoke the atheists's
    god--infinity--to account for it. And when you do that, just as invoking
    God, all bets are off.

    So being a "two miracle man" (at least as I construct my thought) leaves me
    open--very open--to being a more than two miracle man, as indeed I am. But
    all this is a long way from looking for miracles under every rock. I hardly
    need add that.

    Ted Davis

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