Re: [asa] Random and design

From: Merv <>
Date: Wed Dec 06 2006 - 22:33:10 EST

As the means of directing history along a path of Divine will, the
undetectable miracles could certainly be commonplace as you state below,
but as signs to us of God's presence, their purpose would be defeated by
undetectability. But I don't doubt that miracles exist in both categories.

Food for thought: Christians in Nepal have grown in number to half a
million since the first convert there in 1950. Leaders there estimate
that about 80% of this half million resulted from physical healings.
(From Philip Yancey's recent book "Prayer")


Don Winterstein wrote:
> Among the several limitations of science is its inability to monitor
> more than a negligible fraction of what goes on in the world. If we
> define /miracle/ to be an act of God that violates natural law, it is
> not inconsistent with science to believe there may be miracles going
> on all the time. That is, the number of possibilities for
> miracles exceeds Avogadro's number by a large factor, and the number
> of measurements that scientists can do is negligible in comparison.
> This means the chance any scientist would happen to measure one of
> these hypothetical miracles is close to zero. If he did happen to
> measure one, and it gave him a wild result, the usual practice would
> be to throw it out as unexplained bad data.
> Science relies on averages, and a miracle almost by definition would
> lie outside the expected range and hence give unusable data. What we
> can say is that the world is consistent enough to allow science to be
> useful; in other words, the averages practically speaking can be
> counted on to work all the time. Nevertheless, to conclude as
> scientists commonly do that all parts of the world must always behave
> in accord with their averages is unwarranted.
> The point is that miracles could be far more common than scientists
> think. In random conversations I've found many people who sincerely
> believe either they themselves or close acquaintances have witnessed
> miracles. (And none were in the category of the Virgin on a piece of
> toast.) If I can extrapolate these conversations to the rest of the
> world, a large fraction of people must believe they've witnessed
> miracles. Are they all wrong? Probably most are, because miracles
> make life exciting and meaningful, so people are motivated to
> experience them even if they aren't real. But some of the miracles
> may have been real. In most cases science can't say they weren't.
> (Of course, if you carefully investigate, as RCs do at Lourdes, for
> example, you may be able to say they weren't.)
> Don
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Merv <>
> *To:* Don Winterstein <> ;
> <>
> *Sent:* Monday, December 04, 2006 6:00 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Random and design
> This exchange has provoked me to wonder how much of our proposed
> categorizations of various phenomena (i.e. natural and/or divine) is
> reducible to mere word play. For example, we define scientific
> law as
> that which has been observed to be true universally as far as we
> can see
> and over time as far back as we ever started measuring it. So it
> is by
> definition that no regular or repeatable "violations" to such a
> law have
> ever been observed. If they had, we would no longer call it a
> law. If
> the divine interventions were physically detectable on a regular
> basis,
> then they would simply be incorporated as a new set of observations
> fitting within some new law to be explicated.
> Regarding a common perception that miracles don't happen like they
> used
> to in Bible times: There must be a name for the faulty
> perception of
> "crowding" as the observer's distance away increases. Just as a
> cluster of telephone poles could look closely packed if you were a
> mile
> away from them and yet appear quite far apart if you were standing
> among
> them, we may be fostering a distorted view of "Biblical times" by
> thinking of them as action packed with miracles. The narratives
> will,
> for understandable reasons, dwell on those special times (like
> history
> books tend to jump from war to war). And yet more careful readings
> reveal quite the "dry spells" that people endured -- enough that
> various
> Psalms reveal the same kinds of stubborn doubts about God's
> presence (or
> seeming lack of) that is supposedly the skeptical domain of recent
> centuries. For all we know, a book compiled about our present
> centuries might convey to a (several millenniums future if anybody is
> still around) readership a that our present period is full of
> extravagant divine activity. -- most of which may be invisible to us
> right now because of its localized sense, that will only be
> recognized
> as significant by future eyes who see wider contexts than we now
> can.
> Likewise, "details" which seem significant to us right now may
> fade into
> unseeable insignificance to these possible future readers. In
> fact,
> we may appear to them to have been on the tails of New Testament
> & Old
> Testament activity, practically merging with them from their
> temporally
> distant perspective. Of course, if you were lucky enough to be
> alive
> to walk with Jesus, or cross the Red sea with Moses, then you get may
> get an eyeful. But those are tiny spots on the time line. And
> even
> their lives were lived over many years instead of over many chapters
> that can be read in a few days.
> Things (including our "empty spaces") loom large to us when we're
> living
> in the middle of them. I guess that pretty well summarizes my
> ramble
> above.
> --merv

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Received on Wed Dec 6 22:31:30 2006

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