RE: God and nature; miracles

From: bivalve (bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com)
Date: Thu May 15 2003 - 17:38:03 EDT

  • Next message: Howard J. Van Till: "Re: God and nature; miracles"

    Incidentally, Joshua's day ties into the student blooper theme through the claim that the greatest miracle of the Bible was when Joshua told his son to stand still and he did.

    >And herein is the logical gap, the gulf, the enormous chasm that is an obstacle in the way of so many. Why can we JUDGE certain 'miracles' to be small enough and physicsally (pertaining to physics - if there is a real word, please tell me) unchallenging enough to accept while rejecting others?<

    If God is omnipotent, then the size of the miracle does not matter. However, the pattern observed both in the Biblical accounts and in everyday life is for a very low level of miracles. The use of miracles is limited (against the demands of skeptics and Satan's temptations), and even when they are used, they seem confined to the specific need. The water was turned to wine, but it did not serve itself; Moses was told in advance that the sea would part but a wind did the parting; Jesus knew that Peter would catch the right fish, but the fish found the coin and picked it up; etc. Thus, in suggesting possible mechanisms for a miracle, it makes sense to favor ideas that are less spectacular and more practical (unlike Naaman's preference); however, in interpreting whether an apparent record of a miracle is figurative or historical narrative, the "magnitude" of the miracle is irrelevant.

    >If we reject the flood, how do we accept the wine? If we accept the wine and the resurrection and reject the sun failing to move, do we accept the healing of the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus? What law, rule or basis of judgement is there that says 'cut this out' but 'leave this in'?<

    A global flood ought to leave extensive geological traces, which we do not see, and raises numerous questions about housing two of every species that cannot tolerate extended immersion in salt water, gathering and redistributing organisms, etc. These difficulties make a regional flood model more appealing. Likewise, stopping the Earth's spin and addressing all the associated problems seems superfluous when the goal is simply providing suitable light or shade for a battle. Such a global action might also be expected to leave some traces, which we do not see. Thus, a different mechanism might be more plausible. On the other hand, there is no evidence apart form the text about the mechanism or other details of the other miracles that you mention (and for the vast majority of other examples). Thus, physical evidence or lack thereof does not really tell us anything about those miracles.

    This parallels the issue of archaeological support for the Bible. There is no evidence whatsoever of the cultures and animals claimed to have been in preColumbian America in the Book of Mormon. In contrast, the biblical account is in keeping with archaeological evidence about the cultures, biogeography, etc. of the ancient Near East. The fact that we do not have direct extrabiblical evidence of Abraham's existence is hardly surprising, as tracing a single household (albeit a wealthy and substantial one) thousands of years ago is not very likely. Again, the difference is between something that we ought to see evidenced, but do not, versus something that has little or no chance of leaving a physical trace.

    Questioning whether a particular interpretation of a passage is correct does not necessarily entail rejecting the passage. There are at least three questions involved here, which require separation. Could God do this? Did God do this? How did God do this?

        Dr. David Campbell
        Old Seashells
        University of Alabama
        Biodiversity & Systematics
        Dept. Biological Sciences
        Box 870345
        Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
        bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com

    That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at Droitgate Spa

                     



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