Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Miracles Demystified

In my article titled “Was Jesus' Death A Human Sacrifice?”, I demonstrated that God holds himself to his own laws of legal precedent. Another principle is that God does not even break his own “natural” laws to accomplish miracles. He merely has a more thorough and complete knowledge of how those laws work. One scientist helped an audience to understand that what we have come to accept as “normal” conditions can change. To illustrate this, he first showed a non-conductive metal. He demonstrated that when it is super-cooled, it becomes a conductive metal. Then he spoke of helium. In a liquid state, helium can be held in an open vial. However, when super-cooled, it defies gravity, creeps up the sides of the vial, and completely empties itself out of the vial. He then asked, “Did I break any natural laws in performing these demonstrations?” The audience wasn’t sure what to say. He then said, “No, I broke no natural laws at all. I merely introduced another variable into the setup that changed the way the substances reacted." He then concluded, “Just because we don’t understand how miracles work is no reason to assume they are not scientific or that they break the natural laws.”

Before mankind understood the science behind flight, the general population and even scientists believed it was mere fanciful ideas better suited for science fiction. In their minds, it was inconceivable that something man-made (other than maybe a kite) could actually stay aloft under its own power (See 3rd item). The science of flight did not break any natural laws, people just didn’t, at that time, understand what those laws of science were. Similarly, just because we, even nearly 2,000 years after Jesus, don’t understand how Jesus accomplished miracles doesn’t mean there was not a science behind them.

Pay close attention to the definition of the word miracle: “Actions or phenomena that surpass all powers known to humans and are attributed to a supernatural agency.” (Source) The etymology (origin) of the word miracle comes from the Latin "miraculum," meaning "object of wonder" (as in astonishment or a puzzling event). In other words, if we don’t know how something works, we call it a miracle. If we do know how it works, we call it science. But do we understand the sciences completely? Consider this quote: "Science cannot say that all properties of matter and all forms of energy are now known. . . . [For a miracle] one thing that needs to be added is a source of energy unknown to us in our biological and physiological sciences. In our Scriptures this source of energy is identified as the power of God.” (Source)

So when scriptures use a phrase like “God’s power” or “the power of God,” this is not magic or some hocus pocus being spoken of in these instances. As the quote mentioned, this is, at present, an unknown energy, not one we yet understand such as electricity or radiation. Whatever this energy is (or, possibly, energies are), it demonstrates itself as an intelligently applied, controlled, and metered energy to accomplish a specific purpose. Just because we have yet to discover these forms of energy does not mean they do not exist. Because we don’t yet understand them, does not mean there is not a science behind them. 

As an example, turning magnets to face each other’s opposite polarities, will attract each to the other, “sticking” them together. However, have each magnet's’ north-to-north or south-to-south polarities face each other and they will repel each other. Characteristics of magnets have been known for centuries. But even today, any child or someone less educated would think it was magical. It is “an unknown” to them so they don’t see science, they see magic. Take note though, it is not that science is lacking, it is that the audience’s knowledge-base is lacking. If we were to show our smartphones to someone from a century ago, they would conclude it was some sort of black magic. There is no visible, connected power source, there are no communication wires (such as in the telegraph or telephone). Yet again, it is only magic because they have no knowledge, experience, or point-of-reference. In both of these cases (magnets and mobile phones), the ignorant may claim, as did Hume, that it breaks the natural laws when in fact it does not. (Hume defines a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature.”) However, magnets and smartphones broke absolutely no natural laws. Men just needed to understand what laws were in play.

What about the description of miracles in the Bible? We would expect that the commoner living 2,000 years ago would naturally relate what they saw. No one would have expected them to break into scientific dissertations. They simply related what they experienced and saw. Even in one particular case of a young man whose eyesight was restored, he could not explain what happened to him. All he knew is that he was blind and after the cure, he could see. So even in first-hand experience, the commoners had no idea what happened, they only knew the results. In reality, the same goes with most of us today. Although we accept flight as commonplace today, how many of us can really explain how this is accomplished? How many of us could actually build a human-carrying airplane? We see it, we relate it to others, but we really can't explain it. If challenged, most likely the greater number of us would say, "I don't know how it works, I just know that it does work." How is that any different from the related and recorded accounts of "miracles" in the Bible?

In everything that Jesus did, he ascribed his abilities to his heavenly Father. So it was the “power of God” that accomplished these miracles. The phrases “power of God” and “God’s power” as they occur in the Bible are not limited to meaning only miracles. In truth, the phrase has been used in numerous ways. Here are just a few:

Manipulating man and circumstance: Ps.60:12; 66:3
God’s interest to intervene in behalf of his loyal ones: 2Th.1:11; 2 Tim.1:8; 1 Pet.1:5;
Ruling “power”: Mark 9:1; Rev.12:10
Strength or ability. Ps. 18:29
More than words, it is action: 1 Cor.4:20
Miraculous works: Luke 9:43; Rom.15:19
Miscellaneous: Rom.1:4, 16; 1 Cor.1:18

There has been plenty of wrong ideas written about miracles. Mr. Hume’s comment is probably the worst of it because it is so completely wrong AND because the idea that miracles break laws has affected many people’s view towards God and miracles. (Not mentioned in this article is that Hume’s conclusion that 'since miracles cannot be real, neither is God real.' This is such incredibly poor logic. it is amazing that he gained such popularity.) For those choosing to believe in the Bible, you have nothing to be ashamed of. It is founded on solid ground.

Prior article along the same vein: Miracles Getting Easier to Believe

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