Re: agreeing about a mere creation?

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Fri Aug 05 2005 - 15:12:50 EDT

>>> "George Murphy" <> 8/5/2005 9:38:04 AM >>>wrote:

In science-theology discussions we need to be careful in the ways we use
term "miracle." The root meaning of the English word is something that's
wonderful &/or extraordinary - L. /mirabilis/. In that sense a baby saved

in the midst of a tsunami, or for that matter the defensive play that Derek

Jeter pulled off in the playoffs against Oakland a couple of years ago, was

a "miracle." (I don't mean to compare the 2 in importance - & also note
that I'm a confirmed NY Yankees hater.)

Ted entirely agrees. Newton, among others, used the word "miracle" in this
etymologically correct sense. There is in fact a Newton manuscript (I think
at Lehigh University here in PA) in which he says *exactly* what George
says. Thus, when people talk about Newton's belief in miracles, they should
understand him to mean what George says above. His understanding of the
"miraculous" was not limited to God acting outside the ordinary course of
nature--although and of course it included some instances of God acting
outside the ordinary course of nature.

Indeed, IMO as an historian of this type of thing (ie, conceptions of God
and nature), the main problems with deism and panetheism (incl. most types
of panentheism and process theism that I have seen) can be illustrated by
what I just wrote. Deism denies that the ordinary course of nature is
miraculous (ie, God's miraculous sustaining of the creation is denied)
whereas pantheism denies that God can act outside of the ordinary course of
nature, so that no "miracles" in the vulgar sense of that word are even
possible, let alone thnkable. To put this another way: a properly biblical
theology, IMO, is done on a plateau (as it were) resting on divine immanence
and divine transcendence together. Deists fall off the plateau on one side,
by failing to articulate a doctrine of immanence; and panthests/process fall
off on the other side, by failing to articulate an *adequate* doctrine of
transcendence (they will sometimes say that God transcends us, or that God
is a transcendent reality, but they will almost never say that God
transcends nature in the sense of being its actual author).

Received on Fri Aug 5 15:15:07 2005

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