Re: [asa] RE: Demythologizing miracles

From: Merv <>
Date: Thu Mar 22 2007 - 21:59:57 EDT

I've been thinking over this too, and I don't think we are really that
different from ancient peoples (at least not as much as some apparently
wish to believe). We have this "far-sidish" image of cave men in all
their silly scenarios or Monty Python's crowds credulously chasing
around after any prophet type person. But I think these are reflective
of our own modern wishful thinking that our intelligence ought to (in
our own estimate) compare favorably with that of the ancients. Those
in Bible times recognized the constancy of natural laws well enough for
the prophets to find it useful as an analogy for God's faithfulness.
(When the sun stops rising ... then you will know that I have broken my
covenant with Israel.) Miracles are by definition rare and special
events -- even in the estimate of the observing writers. Otherwise they
would be useless as signs.

I think our tendency to seek rational explanation is potentially founded
on more than a mere (potential) deficiency of faith. Most "miracles"
that might seriously or facetiously lay claim to the term today are
performances whether for entertainment purposes or otherwise. So we are
rightfully incredulous of such things. If we accepted them all then we
cheapen the real event whenever it might actually occur. In the same
way tabloids and entertainment have cheapened the concept of aliens
landing from space to the point where nobody accepts such a thing as
respectable news. Any real events that might actually happen are
buried beneath a mountain of similar falsehood. But if it is that we
are just rejecting miracles out of hand because we disbelieve them, then
that would be a faith problem for a Christian.


Jon Tandy wrote:
> On the other hand, I also recognize that Glenn, and I, and many of us
> with a modern scientific mindset are looking for many things to be
> explained on the basis of emprical evidence which were once believed
> by faith. Why is it that we find it incredible that God could do
> something if we can't find empirical evidence for it? Why do we find
> such satisfaction at finding there is a "logical" explanation that,
> for instance, Napolean actually cross the Red Sea on dry land at a
> certain point, which could turn out to be a "rational" explanation
> for Moses' crossing? Why do we find it necessary to "demythologize"
> the burning bush as a fire plant of the Sinai Peninsula?
> We can take this further, and note that some theologians demythologize
> Jesus' miracle of the loaves and fishes. They suggest that maybe it
> wasn't a /ex nihilo/ creation of new loaves and fishes -- maybe people
> had really brought their lunches with them, but were unwilling to
> share, and through the influence of Jesus' love and compassion on the
> multitude or shame that the young boy was willing to give freely,
> people secretly pulled their lunches out and filled the baskets as
> they were passed around, so the increase that was left was more than
> the boy provided at first. While this is perhaps a possibility, why
> do some even consider it seriously as opposed to the clear statement
> in the Gospels that Jesus simply multiplied the loaves and fishes?
> I believe even YECists are willing to demythologize miracles to an
> extent, as long as it's not perceived that God is excluded by such a
> natural explanation. Without spending time finding lots of examples,
> I'm sure I've read some of the above and others like them (fire plant
> = evidence of burning bush, etc.) from conservative,
> global-flood-believing Christian literature.
> Why does it have to always be a rational explanation, fully explained
> by scientific evidence, rather than simply admitting a miracle? I
> suggest that we post-Enlightenment readers are predisposed to thinking
> that everything must be fully explained by rationalist description.
> This ultrarationalist view is perhaps as much a deficient cultural
> perception as ancient cultures' supernaturalist belief that everything
> happened at the whim of the gods. Many of you have made the point
> that the truth doesn't have to be either/or, but both. But why do we
> still lean so strongly in the rationalist direction, going so far as
> saying that miracles are probably "rare" (I've read that in some TE
> literature recently)?
> Here I am questioning my own bias, while at the same time recognizing
> that there is nothing inherently wrong with rational explanations that
> also recognize God's providence and timing, etc. So what if the Red
> Sea sometimes pulls back at certain times, under certain conditions at
> a given point, allowing an army to walk across -- why did it happen at
> just that moment when Moses needed it? It was still a miracle of
> timing even if it was a scientifically explanable occurrence. Even if
> DNA can now be seen to have the potential to create innovative new
> forms, how really did natural processes end up creating sentient,
> rational beings who could ponder their own origins and destiny? It
> had to be a grand miracle, even if it were accomplished through
> scientifically observable events.
> Jon Tandy

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Received on Thu Mar 22 20:54:26 2007

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