Re: [asa] RE: Demythologizing miracles (was: Does ASA believe in Adam and Eve?)

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Mar 26 2007 - 12:34:39 EDT

On this topic, it is necessary to untangle two questions:

What can God do?

In this particular instance, how did He do it?

Christianity depends on the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead,
contrary to the ordinary laws of nature. Similarly, such
intervention-style miracles are cited as evidence of the existence and
authority of God, in contrast to assorted alternatives (pagan gods,
syncretistic versions of God, etc.). Assuming that there must be an
explanation for everything that accords with natural laws is an
unbiblical a priori assumption.

On the other hand, the use of such miracles is strictly limited. Two
of the temptations after Jesus' baptism were to unauthorized use of
miracles. In general there seems to be a pattern of minimizing their
use. The Bible stands out in contrast to apocryphal literature, pagan
myths, tales of the saints, Harry Potter, etc. in the rather
restrained role for exceptions to natural law. When they do occur,
they seem to achieve the bare minimum-water is turned to wine, but
still must be served, etc. in the ordinary way, and the guests only
notice unusual quality; thousands are served from a few flat loaves
and fish (illustrating that the disciples' own resources were
pitaful), but the leftovers had to be carefully saved; the axe head
floats, but has to be repaired in the ordinary manner; wind parts the
sea but the timing is exceptionally precise and Moses is informed in
advance; etc.

In light of this there is room for speculation about the possibility
of natural means used in the course of various miracles, though we
rarely have enough detail to do more than speculate.

Similar considerations apply to other supernatural phenomena. E.g.,
the descriptions, such as they are, of demon possession often resemble
currently recognized mental disorders. However, this does not mean
that the biblical authors were merely mistaking mental disease for
demon possession. It's also possible that demon possession either can
have symptoms similar to those of mental illness, or that mental
illnesses are potential side effects of demon possession, or that some
things currently categorized as mere mental illness have negative
spiritual components, too.

As God is equally sovereign over and involved in events whether they
happen according to natural laws or not, positing either use or
non-use of natural laws in a particular situation can be equally
compatible with giving glory to God in one's approach to it.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Mon Mar 26 12:34:59 2007

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