Miracles Summary – Chapters 12 & 13
Two schools of thought… Some people think that God is either too majestic to mess with Nature, or he is too competent a Creator to have made something that he needs to constantly adjust and tweak. When students are taught grammar or poetry, the teacher begins usually by teaching them rules applied to the practice of grammar and poetry. Accomplished and successful (masters) writers and poets, however, frequently break these general rules in favor of their own personal higher and creative rules that the students and even the teachers do not know. Point- We can only know if miracles are beneath God if we know that they are not those higher personal and Creative touches of God. In reality, I guess we are simply not competent enough to judge these things – I wish I were. Often times we observe patterns in Nature (seasons and weather) and usually think that these patterns are the unalterable rules that God must always follow. There is no reason for us to think that Nature is the sort of thing where miracles are out of place.
Miracles are possible. I repeat – miracles are possible. However, whether or not they have actually occurred is a separate question. How can we determine the probability of the hopeful and energetic claim of a miracle? Some historians will simply accept a naturalistic explanation (no matter how improbable) before a supernatural one (even if it seems more probable). But we have no way of knowing if natural events are always more probable than supernatural ones. We can’t look at antecedent (subsequent/future) probability, but only historical probability. David Hume (Scottish philosopher) famously argued that we have uniform (consistent, steady, unchanging) experience against miracles—but he rejected reports of miracles on the basis of their never having occurred. He argued in a circle. If miracles occur then Nature is not uniform, and if Nature is uniform then miracles never occur—Hume’s argument isn’t actually based on anything: his conclusion and his premise are the same. Can you see it?
How can we know if Nature really is uniform – consistently steady and unchanging? We can never know this by examining experience. Our experience only tells us the way things have been, but this has no logical connection with the way things have to be in the future. Furthermore, even if Nature is uniform, our descriptions are always of its internal uniformity—nothing may prevent someone on the outside of Nature from interfering inside of its frame. A naturalistic metaphysic (speculative theory) provides no grounds for trusting our deep intuition (sense of faith and belief) that Nature is uniform. If supernaturalism is true, however, and Nature has been created by a Rational Spirit (God) who has made us (in His image) as rational spirits, then we have grounds for trusting our intuition about the uniformity of Nature. We find it impossible to think about a disordered, chaotic world because a Rational Spirit couldn’t bear one either. Historically, science grew out of this supernatural metaphysic , and it needs it. To reject supernaturalism is to reject science and probability. To have uniformity requires that you be open to the possibility of the miraculous. So then, our criteria for evaluating miracles will be our intuitive sense of fitness (some accounts simply seem more realistic than others). Some miracles will fit and connect with our experience and knowledge.