RE: Coercion

From: Gough, Joshua <>
Date: Tue Apr 20 2004 - 13:04:58 EDT

It seems as if both Christians and non-Christians then operate in their
daily lives implicitly assuming naturalism, that the universe will
operate in a certain fashion and that miraculous coercions will not take
place from moment to moment. Perhaps it is God or demons that manipulate
nature, but thinking that a demon causes Anthrax or Ebola does nothing
to help prevent its spread.

The problem for me that comes with trying to believe in the miraculous
as described in the Bible in events like the long burning oil,
water-walking, many saints coming back to life, transfer of demons from
one physical conduit to several others is that we do not see these
things today, but have plenty of alternative theories to explain many
phenomena that once were thought to be extraordinary or the action of
supernatural forces. Could not "supernature" just be part of nature as
yet undiscovered?

Even if I assumed supernature, I must recognize that this supernature
operates via the natural, otherwise it would not be detectable at all.
Even if Jesus really did multiply food or walk across water, he had to
do so within the confines of naturalism in order to manifest his powers
in the physical world. If Jesus was accompanied by many holy people
rising from their tombs and walking around Jerusalem, then those holy
people had to rise from the dead and obtain physicality within this
world, otherwise they would not have been seen by many people. I cannot
accept the rationalization that such an account is "symbolic" since
there is no secular attestation to it while at the same time believing
that the resurrection of one man is literal and physical.

With regard to some of the other responses to me, they are all something
that somebody else saw or heard. In my opinion, they offer as much
evidence of the supernatural as would a holy Muslim Imam sensing the
evil presence of a Christian infidel in his midst.

If demons and Satan are real beings, they have yet to show themselves in
our modern day and age that leaves no doubt. I know some will say
something like, "God does not allow it" or that "The greatest thing
Satan can do is to get people to think he doesn't exist", but which
Satan? Is it the Satan of the Bible or the Satan of the Quran, who
refused to serve Adam?

Both Christians and Muslims believe they have The Truth. Both of them
have an inner feeling about the truth of their belief.
Part of the problem with this whole discussion is that it really has
little to do with science. That's why Christians and non-Christians
(or divide the human race any other way you might) can do science
together as long as they accept certain assumptions about the nature
of the world. Why those assumptions are true are metaphysical and
theological questions and have little impact on the actual practice
of science. I don't believe that we can scientifically ascertain how
God ordinarily interacts with the physical world.

Received on Tue Apr 20 13:05:18 2004

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