Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 28, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Miracles are always a fascinating topic. The Bible is full of them. Naturalism denies them. Scientists constantly search for a way to explain them. They are a reality but difficult to explain. Christians often say, “God did it,” but skeptics return with, “You can’t invoke God. That’s just an escape.” So, what is the deal with miracles? Today, I am going to explore what miracles are and use this post to launch a series on what types of miracles the Bible contains and how God has mastery over His creation.

What are miracles? One of the simplest definitions is: “An event that cannot be explain by normal means otherwise.” Others describe them in other ways. A popular one in Christian circles is “a violation of the natural order God created.” The first one is decent, however, it has a logical hole. The miracle is accredited only as a place-holder until a better explanation is found. Skeptics frequently accuse Christians of stopping searching for the truth because “God can do anything” and to them that shuts down the discussion. So while it’s an okay definition, it’s not great. The second one is another problem, because this insinuates that God could break the rules and order He established. A major argument used by Old Earth Creationists to support “billions of years” for creation is that God does not violate his laws, therefore since science tells us the earth is really old, the straightforward account of Scripture cannot be true. It must be non-historical.

To follow that, other old earth creationists like Frank Tipler in his book The Physics of Christianity suggest that because God cannot violate nature, when He does a miracle, He must utilize physics (it’s really the highly controversial multi-verse theory that itself really makes no sense in physics, let alone logic) to do it. It’s a terrible book in my opinion, trying to make God submit to His creation, and while trying to argue otherwise, it makes God a rather pantheistic deity than the One True God.

I have been chewing on a different description of miracles and for the most part so far, as I’ve analyzed the miracles of the Bible, this description still seems to hold. I currently describe miracles as God intervening through the creation. He does not violate nature, but He steps in and takes action, which has effects in the natural. God is a spiritual entity which is on a different dimension of reality than the physical universe we study. He can come into our universe, interact with it, and change a situation without actually breaking the natural laws He established.

An example of this is Elisha causing the axe head to float in 2 Kings 6. Naturally, iron doesn’t float. Elisha didn’t do anything fancy to the water to change water density to cause it to float. How I describe what happened was God reached down, picked up the axe head and cause it to “float” on the water by holding it up from underneath. It’s still a miracle. When God parted the waters of the Red Sea, He directed winds to hold the water back. It never would have happened naturally, but He (or His angels) held the waters from crashing back down like an invisible dam.

I am not completely sold on this description yet, as I am still chewing on it, but it seems to more accurately describe how God interacts with creation than the others. To use an analogy, the scientific process in physics requires that we define the system we are analyzing in order to account for everything in action. Once we define our system, if we do not consider any outside factors, then things like energy and momentum are conserved. This is a “closed system.” It means we don’t look at outside factors (though there is the aspect of work being added to or taking out of a system, but that’s too much physics to explain here). Naturalism puts the laws of nature as a closed system. Yet when God, who is an outside source, interferes, the system then becomes an open system. So, the laws are not violated, but rather influenced by an outside force.

To illustrate, a skateboard on a hill is going to roll down the hill. There are three objects in this system: the skateboard, the hill, and the earth. The earth pulls the skateboard down the hill because of gravity. The hill resists that pull with friction, yet because gravity is stronger than the friction, the skateboard rolls. But what if a person were to pick up that skateboard and walk it up the hill? Based on this system, this could be classified as a miracle, because the person is outside the system. Of course, this person is a natural being, however, if one did not know about the person, they would consider the skateboard going up the hill as a miracle, because nothing rolls uphill by themselves. This is not a perfect analogy, but I hope it gets the point across.

The skeptics will object to the “invoking of God” in such cases. There are legitimate cases where invoking God was not justifiable and what was called miraculous or supernatural was not. One of the best cases showcasing how this works was in Frank Peretti’s teen book Hangman’s Curse. (Warning: spoiler alert. Skip the rest of this paragraph if you wish to avoid them.) In this book, a high school is under a ‘curse’ as normally perfectly healthy students suddenly get deadly ill. With each case, the ghost of “Abel Fry” is cited. Twin teen agents Elijah and Elisha and their parents are sent to investigate. For much of the book, it looks like the source of the problems is spiritual, but as the kids investigate, they soon discover the curse is actually the results of an engineered spider bite. Peretti is known for writing supernatural thrillers so this twist was a nice surprise for me. The point here is that not all that is claimed to be miraculous is indeed miraculous.

There are other cases of popular TV preachers who perform “miracles” on a regular basis. I’d be skeptical of that, because the so-called miracles really are not miracles. Those who get “healed” have to be pre-screened, and none of them really have any major problems. The “miracle” is mostly out of emotional hype and the excessive “slaying in the Spirit” is simply to the point of ridiculousness. That’s not how the Holy Spirit moves. Those aren’t miracles.

False miracles are certainly out there, but don’t let them cause you to toss out the baby with the bath water. There are real and legitimate miracles still taking place today. I personally believe that no one “performs” them in the same way that the prophets or apostles did in Biblical times. But God does answer prayers and does miracles today. The accounts from the Bible were not myths and legends the authors put together. They were historical records given by eye-witnesses of the events. And those events were not only things of the past either; they still happen today. I have too many stories to share here, but as I go through this series, I will share some of them. In this series, I will address how God has mastery over time, distance, weather, quantity, physical health, spiritual forces, life and death, animals, plants, celestial objects, and I may come up with some more between now and when I finish as well. It’s going to be a fun series, so please join me for the ride.

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