Re: Creationists Running for School Board (miracles)

From: Ted Davis (
Date: Wed Sep 24 2003 - 12:38:59 EDT

  • Next message: Dick Fischer: "Bible Miracles vs. ID"

    Again, Keith, we agree about a lot of this. I point out below, where there
    might perhaps be more conversation.


    >>> Keith Miller <> 09/24/03 02:16PM >>>
    > Let me take another direction to get to the same issue (I think).
    > Keith, that you and I were with the women who went to annoint Jesus'
    > that Sunday morning. Or, that we were with the men in the "upper room"
    > Jesus appeared and showed himself to Thomas. To the best of my
    > Keith, you believe as I do, that these stories are substantively
    > women went to the right place and Jesus was gone, the men did come to
    > senses and recognized Jesus actually standing in their midst.
    > If we'd been there and experienced these things with them, would we with
    > our present understanding of "science" conclude that we had seen a
    > ted

    There are a bunch of definitional issues here. Firstly, based on my
    of scripture, I would define "miracle" as a sign intended by God to reveal
    his character or communicate his will. A "miracle" in this sense does not
    need to break the continuity of cause-and-effect processes. There are
    accounts in scripture that are of this nature. The calming of the sea by
    Jesus is one example that comes to mind. There is no reason to require
    any break in natural causality be invoked.

    Ted: Agreed. Etymologically, "miracle" comes from the Latin verb "mirari,"
    to wonder. Lots of Biblical "miracles" may not require discontinuity of
    cause-and-effect. I think the resurrection did, and I doubt that our
    "science" will at any point be able to "explain" it, one can only affirm or
    deny the wonder.

    Secondly, science is a continuing process of discovery and theory
    construction and reevaluation. Despite some claims to the contrary, I do
    not believe we are anywhere close to a comprehensive understanding of the
    nature of the universe and it processes and properties. If we define
    "miracle" as that which we cannot explain using "natural" processes then
    centuries (or one decades) "miracle" is another's explained natural

    Ted: Agreed.

    However, as I use the term a "miracle" will remain a miracle even if it is
    given a completely thorough cause-and-effect explanation. In fact, this
    one of the issues that lies at the root of my rejection of the theological
    foundation for ID. It tends to cede over to the naturalists all events
    well-understood natural explanations. This point has already been made
    by Howard.

    Ted: Agreed. I like the way Harry Diemer treated this whole subject many
    years ago, in "Nature & Miracle" (1977 in translation, written decades
    before). I think the ID folks would do very well to read Diemer.

    Now back to your specific question. Jesus' resurrection and appearance to
    the disciples was a miracle and always will be a miracle. However, its
    importance as a miracle has little or nothing to do with whether or not we
    have a cause-and-effect explanation for it. Will a plausible explanation
    exist for it in 100 years, in 200 years? I have no idea -- and I don't
    think it matters at all.

    Ted: Here we disagree, at least somewhat. If the event was what N.T.
    Wright says it was, taking the sense of the original authors in their time
    and place--that is, if it was an actual "resurrection," a genuine embodiment
    in this world of a transformed body and not simply the brief appearance of a
    "divinity" now dwelling shadily in never-never land--then I see no way we
    will ever understand this with our science. It doesn't take "science" to
    know that this is not possible. We believe it, or we don't.

    A last point -- "science" as science can never conclude a "miracle" (in
    sense of a divine intervention) occurred, it can only plead ignorance.

    Ted: One the one hand, I agree with this implicit definition of "science,"
    I do think that "science" ought to plead ignorance when "science" can't
    explain an event. The problem is, of course, that so many modern scientists
    believe that the utter inability to explain a purported event MUST mean that
    the event did not happen. Blame for this state of affairs lies mainly with
    David Hume and his Enlightenment cronies, not so much with scientists
    themselves. As Hume said, he would not believe reports of a resurrection
    even if all of Paris should claim to have seen it. This is not open-minded
    inquiry, and frankly some responses to ID do seem to be in this category.

    Consider as an example the fuller context for the passage that Steve
    Petermann quoted earlier today. Here it is:

    Franklin M. Harold , *The Way of the Cell* (Oxford 2001), p. 205:

    "We should reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of
    design for the dialogue of chance and necessity [here Harold cites Behe's
    *Darwin's Black Box* and Coyne's 1996 review of it in *Nature*] ; but we
    must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of
    evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful

    Hmm... as a matter of principle? this does seem a priori, Keith. Does it
    not seem so also to you? Isn't truth the issue, not conformity to some
    specific way of knowing?


    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Wed Sep 24 2003 - 12:39:53 EDT