Do Miracles Impede Good Science?
by Clint Field
“A God that intervenes in His creation is an untrustworthy Creator because it would interfere with scientific experiments and seriously erode any confidence we may have in our conclusions.” This is essentially the challenge from a friend of mine. I addressed the possibility of miracles in Part 1 and Part 2. In Part 3 I will be dealing with a more theological issue – Can we trust a Creator that intervenes in human history?
Behind this charge is an assumption that we dealt with in Part 1. The assumption is that intervention involves “breaking the laws of nature.” We noted that this all depends on whether our universe is closed or open (Part 2). If we can assume that serious doubt has been cast on a closed universe and therefore miracles violating the laws of nature, we still have an interesting challenge to address here.
- The God of the Bible intervenes to influence the outcome of world history.
- This intervention interrupts (at the very least) predictable patterns of nature in mysterious ways.
- Therefore, supernatural intervention inhibits scientific progress and our ability to trust the Creator.
The first premise is just a reflection of what the Bible tells us about God. God created the universe out of nothing and occasionally steps in (miracles) to accomplish his goals. Obvious examples would include the parting of the Red Sea, the bread from heaven, the destruction of Jericho, and a multitude of miracles performed by Jesus. Clearly, God interacts with his creation at various times and for various reasons. No argument here on that first premise.
The second premise is a bit trickier. God’s interaction (the term I prefer instead of “intervention” which sounds pejorative) does interrupt or alter what humans normally encounter in the world. People don’t typically observe a sea parting for them to walk through. We don’t see dead people rising from the dead every day or 5,000 people being fed from a few loaves of bread and fish.
But isn’t that point of a miracle in the first place?
Miracles, by their very nature, are meant to draw attention to God. Miracles are a visible sign of God communicating through the natural realm in supernatural ways. Our attention is stirred most when we see something unexpected. I can drive my route to work with my eyes closed. Some days it even feels like I did because I have no memory of anything I saw on the way. It all blurs together because the scenery never changes. Sometimes I even think I missed a turn because I was thinking of something else! Humans get bored with predictable patterns and a miracle is just the remedy to reignite your attention and engage your mind…
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