TE and Miracles

Yeah… these are things which people like me who started with evolution and the scientific worldview built into their understanding of Christianity from the beginning. Though some of it is not so much a contradiction to the traditional understanding but seeing how it doesn’t have to change them all that much. I’d like to pull these seven challenges into a list and comment on them – which combined two of them giving only 6 challenges, both chance and natural selection being the evolutionary alternative to divine design.

  1. literal treatment of creation narrative.
  2. understanding of why living organisms are as they are.
  3. understanding of the difference between man and animals.
  4. understanding of death and natural suffering.
  5. understanding of the origin of evil.
  6. understanding of the origin of morality and religion.

When you start with a scientific worldview as part of how you understand what you read in a text like the Bible…

  1. You don’t even imagine taking the creation narrative literally and perhaps you don’t even look so closely at the details of the chapter one narrative.
  2. Not being a matter of divine design helps a great deal with the problem of evil and suffering.
  3. Knowing life isn’t something simply added to non-living material, you look for a different meaning of the divine breath such as inspiration which speaks more to this difference between man and animals than how God actually created human beings.
  4. Knowing physical death and natural suffering couldn’t be a result of the fall, you look for other meanings of what the Bible describes as the result of sin and the separation of man from God.
  5. This is a more tricky issue, for most people see evil as a problem peculiar to people. So even I didn’t see this as something which had any part of the natural world until much later. But it only requires less of an absolute distinction, the fall having more to do with God’s hope for what we could become in a relationship with Him rather than an invention of the very idea of evil itself.
  6. Starting with a scientific worldview you are more likely to connect morality to reasons why some things are good or evil rather than seeing them purely as a product of divine command. In that case you have less resistance to the idea of morality evolving in animals than you would otherwise.
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I’m not understanding the difference between your version of God intervening (miracles) and Dale’s version of providence. How is God able to intervene and not at the same time “not intervene” which is also a choice? It seems as though you believe the same thing and state it differently, unless I’m misunderstanding you. (Which is entirely possible.)

@Dale

We certainly have much in common. We are both theists so we believe God created for a relationship with us and thus is involved in the events of the universe and particularly in our lives. And we both don’t think this requires God to break the laws of nature, there being plenty room for God’s involvement within the operation of those laws.

The difference between us is that I am an open theist and don’t believe the future exists to be completely known by anyone except as a superposition of possibilities. Dale employs the term “omnitemporal” to say that God is at all times of our existence simultaneously which implies a block universe with a fixed future. So while I like his use of the phrase “providential timing,” Dale sees that as more of a total control of events, while I see this as being possible within the aspects of our existence which are predictable because we are largely dominated by habits including the self-destructive ones of sin which damage our free will. I don’t believe consciousness is even possible in a block universe because there is no essential difference from a book or movie whose characters are obviously not real conscious beings – and this is certainly not due to just the lack of such details as 3 dimensionality.

For me it is because the laws of nature are not a causally closed system – i.e. in quantum physics there are no hidden variables within the scientific worldview. But this allows for causality from outside the scientific worldview. It is not a huge window for interaction between the spiritual and the physical – not enough for a nonphysical mind to operate bodies like puppets. But it is enough for a omnipotent omniscient God to be able to interact with the world in great many ways that will look miraculous to believers even if not so much to non-believers. If God limits His interactions in this way, it goes a long way to explain why God does not interact with the world in more extensive and obvious ways.

I could give a great deal more reasons why I don’t like Dale’s version of things but that will just restart our long arguments once again.

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I see. Thanks very much for your explanation. I appreciate it and now can see the differences. I think that sometimes we “believe” things and don’t really fully understand the implications of such. To that end, these conversations are good to shape how we define what we believe, or at least to sort out which way we are leaning… If we truly can, and it has not been pre-ordained. Just kidding. :slight_smile: Sometimes, as well, I think that the complexities are beyond full comprehension, and, at this point in my life, I’m okay with that too.

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I would suggest the God who has revealed himself in the Bible is clearly one who intervenes in this world, even if we only see that intervention occasionally. I wonder though if we tend to make a big distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘spiritual’ when at least from God’s pov it is simply all reality. It is just as human beings we usually only recognise a certain aspect of that whole reality.

But I do think that God in Jesus did ‘intervene’. For example, when he healed an individual, I think it’s safe to assume that the ‘natural’ course of events would be that either that disease got worse over time, or essentially stayed the same. But Jesus ‘intervened’ in that natural course of events, and not only stopped that deterioration but probably reversed it, thus resulting in healing from that disease. ‘How’ that was done I do not know but my ignorance of the means does not imply it did not happen.

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Actually, it doesn’t, properly construed. It implies an instantaneous dynamic, dynamic being the operative word. Not one of all the individuals involved in both Maggie’s and Rich Stearns’ accounts had their free will suspended at any time (note the word time), nor any in all of the myriad of necessary precursor events.

And no, we are not going to get our finite heads around the wonderful and terrible mystery. At least neither of us believes in absolute time or space.

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To be honest it’s so laughable that the term Christian now means I can believe whatever I want. You got EC ,you got Old Earth young earth,people who don’t believe in the physical ressurection,people who don’t believe in the trinity. Blah blah. You name it.

All of them call themselves Christian.

So interpret it however you wish. In the end if we are gonna get judged I don’t believe we are gonna be in that degree as such miracles

Yes, the idea that the shift from geocentrism to heliocentrism was a blow to human exceptionalism is a later myth. However, human exceptionalism does seem plausible as part of the resistance to evolution.

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Many of the debates relating to God’s action in nature, miracles, etc. are actually variants on the free will-predestination category of questions. Although it’s popular to claim that evolution supports a particular position on free will versus predestination (either the one one wants to advocate or the one one wants to reject), the reality is that evolution and all other aspects of the world around us can be interpreted from many points on the Arminian-Calvinistic spectrum.

If God directly determines everything that happens today, then He can do so for evolution in the past. If someone is predestined to favor free-will arguments and claim that God lets some things happen on their own, then they would think that applies to the history of life as well.

Precisely defining miracle is important - do we apply the term solely to something that does not follow known natural laws, or more broadly for something that seems exceptional? The biblical picture is that God is sovereign over what happens “naturally” and over what happens “miraculously”. Science is merely a description of one possible mode of God’s acting (whether that action were to be more in a deterministic or free-will manner).

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There seem to be 3 popular approaches to solving this conflict:

  1. The actual science will support creationism.
  2. Christians should not use the scientific method.
  3. Our understanding of theology is wrong.

Option 1 seems to be a fool’s errand. Option 2 is what makes me ask the question of why evolution is being singled out. The person who claims that Christians shouldn’t use the scientific method are still using the scientific method for many, many things. In a broader view, we have people who are concerned that if they accept a natural process like evolution then they must reject all supernatural processes, and yet they already accept many, many natural processes. Those are the types of inconsistencies that pique my interest.

It’s interesting that scientists get excited when they discover that what was previously thought to be true has been shown to be false. As an example, a physicists would be ecstatic to discover evidence that something in the standard model is false. People seem to have the opposite reaction in the realm of theology.

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I have, a long time ago. I think testimonies such as his are not as rare as the Western church thinks. Many other cultures are much more open to the idea of miracles and signs and have many more stories of miraculous interventions. I’m sure some of them are misunderstandings or fabrications, but I don’t think you can dismiss them all as the rest of the Christian world being delusional and/or gullible and the West being the only clear-sighted rational Christians in the world. That’s a bit arrogant.

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Hasn’t stopped John MacArthur yet… :joy:

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Always enjoy reading your thoughtful posts around the forum.

Yep. You are right. When it feels like matters regarding one’s god or God, one’s soul and one’s eternal destiny may all be undermined or even decimated by a particular scientific finding, then strange things happen. The certainty one once relied on is no longer so certain, so people sometimes make it up to protect what is most valuable.
It helps to understand that the stakes are/seem really high.
I think the strategy of denying what is provable is dangerous in many ways. We see evidence of it. But matters of the soul are not so straight-forward as the scientific method.

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Thanks. I guess if you haven’t experienced a miracle it must seem unbelievable. There are miracles in plain sight. I picked up a book in Colorado about snowflakes. The two women authors were PhD’s, if I recall correctly and they were writing that the idea that no two snowflakes are alike is mathematically defensible. I can’t recall the scientific formula they used. If you look at one snowflake and see the artistry in it and that there are trillions upon trillions of these.

I use to teach catechism (Sunday school) and would ask a student to hold a gallon of water with his arm out as long as he could. He would last around a minute. I then asked how they would transport millions of gallons of water from Chicago to New York and they picture the many freight cars carrying the water across the country. I then had them look out the window at the beautiful clouds and told them, “that’s the way God does it”.

Another miracle in plain sight. God has a funny sense of humor.

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Well, he is more than a bit arrogant.

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Interesting article:

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That is true. Overturn a scientific theory and you will get a Nobel prize.

Aha! He hedged it. ; - )…

He says that may not be the case on the molecular level, but to the novice’s eye, they look the same.

(Though it may be a statistical question on a molecular scale – but not at all am I saying that there cannot be.)

If we go down to the position of every single atom then there are no macroscopic objects that are the same. Snowflakes would be the rule, not the exception.

Adam, You will get a boatload of answers to your complex " faith issues." When you put the word “theistic” into your evolutionary views, I may be able to help you.
First, creation is by the “theistic” Creator biblically at His Word. See John 1: 1-3. Scientifically I think ex nihilo creation (from nothing physical) is from the mind of God by His will and for His purposes. That explains the source of the Initial Singularity (see Wikipedia or Britannica.)
Second, the Planck epoch (Big Bang) expanded the electromagnetic field from the initial singularity. The electromagnetic field is where Standard Model Elementary Particles are produced for material things by (disturbances) in interacting energy fields. Quantum Field Theory is Einstein’s relativity in action, as was carefully validated by a long list of Nobel laureates.
Third, I think the “let there be” commands of Genesis amount to the “disturbances” created by God’s Words as instructions to the magnetic field to produce His initial creations. With that, I think He placed the evolutionary processes in nature to develop and maintain the creation seasonally and over the eons. It works well except when we irresponsibly mess it up, which requires Him to tweak it from time to time.
Finally, concerning the miraculous events in the Bible, the One with the authority and power to speak the events of creation can instruct miraculous events to occur. The events can be credible at face value if the cause can control the effects. With God, all things are possible.

Someone said, “God acts anonymously with us so we can be autonomous before Him.” I think that means He keeps a low profile while He waits for us to respond to the ways He makes himself known to us without his incredible presence intimidating us. He wants us to see his love and his personal sacrifice of John 3:16-18. The miracles are simply glimpses of who He is and serve to prompt us toward his relational desires for us. The Holy Spirit will give you confidence in these things as you study His Word, and you can validate many of the mysterious things by doing your homework. Just take care to be sure that you find Godly resources. Blessings!

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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