RE: [asa] Random and design

From: Don Perrett <>
Date: Sat Dec 09 2006 - 08:10:30 EST

Don W wrote:

Some of the "wonders" recorded in the Bible clearly violate what scientists
call natural law. Such wonders simply can't happen naturally according to
our current understanding of nature.


Don P writes:

Did anyone read Karl's quote of Augustine?

Augustine considered miracles not to be "contrary to nature" but rather
"contrary to our knowledge of nature".


To Don W:

Isn't that the same as what you wrote in the above statement?



Don P







----- Original Message -----




Sent: Thursday, December 07, 2006 2:06 PM

Subject: Re: [asa] Random and design


 And just why would we want to define miracle as an act that violates
natural law? Scripture itself never uses the term. It uses "signs"
[semeia], "wonders" [terata], "mighty works" [dunameis], and "works" [erga].
For most of the history of the church, "miracles" were not considered
violations. Augustine considered miracles not to be "contrary to nature"
but rather "contrary to our knowledge of nature". And:


"Isn't the daily course of nature itself a miracle, something to be wondered
at? Everything is full of marvels and miracles, but they are so common that
we regard them as cheap and of no account."


(Perhaps we could paraphrase by saying the ID shouldn't look for
fingerprints --it's ALL fingerprints?!)


Historian Peter Harrison points out that it was only at the Reformation and
beyond, especially with the "voluntarists" that miracles were given an
independent status as evidence -- and thereby opened the door to Hume's
critique. [See his "Miracles, early modern science, and rational religion"
in Church History, 2006, v. 75, p. 493-510].




Karl V. Evans



-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wed, 6 Dec 2006 4:37 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Random and design

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


(Of course, if you carefully investigate, as RCs do at Lourdes, for example,
you may be able to say they weren't.)





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Received on Sat Dec 9 08:10:54 2006

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