Theistic Evolution and Miracles


(Albert Leo) #21

I understood that God (supposedly) killed the firstborn of the Egyptian livestock also. Were they ‘Satan’s offspring’ also? Do you have any reference supporting the raping of Egyptian temple virgins by temple priests? Enlighten me.
Al Leo


(Mitchell W McKain) #22

And I am a strong opponent of cessationism. This is precisely the sort of excuse which renders the Bible an utterly irrelevant fairy tale with nothing whatsoever to do with real life. This goes in the same category of irrational theologies with the idea that the fall of man changed the laws of nature. This is non-falsifiability taken to the extreme, where the disconnect from reality is so complete that there really is no point in believing in any of it. You might as well take any fantasy story and insist that these are accounts of real events and explain any inconsistencies with such a “cessation” or alteration of natural law.


(Wookin Panub) #23

I am confused. “Cessationism” is the theological argument that “miracle gifts” of tongues and healing have ceased. Is that what you are talking about?


(Mitchell W McKain) #24

Well, I was including in the meaning of that term all the miracles that you believe to have ceased with the apostles – the whole idea that you can divide up history and make one set of rules for one period of history and another set of rules for a different period of history. And no this does not include changes which are explained and according to the same laws of nature.


(Wookin Panub) #25

There are plenty of cessationists who still believe that God does miracles, which is one of the reasons why I am not dogmatic on the issue. I do not see anything in scripture where others have raised the dead etc…?


(Mitchell W McKain) #26

Dead by what definition? When is there a story of being raised from the dead in the Bible where they had a certified doctor of modern medicine issuing a death certificate? There is a good reason why such things are required you know. Without that, then would we really have considered those people dead today? According to their definition of dead, we have been seeing many many people “raised from the dead” by the use of CPR since 1957, and older versions of this method going back to the 18th century. And notice that you don’t read any stories of people in a coma in the Bible. Does that mean there were no comas back then or that such people were just thought to be dead?


#27

Welcome, Steve! Looking forward to your contributions.

I’m newly come to EC/TE recently myself but personally don’t see an issue with any of the NT biblical miracles. Like others, I have more trouble with what pass for modern claims of the miraculous outside the everyday handiwork of God in creation, and I say that as a former charismatic. I don’t subscribe to cessationism but see the NT miracles as uniquely necessary to establish the authority of Christ and the apostles. I’d say it’s not normative today.

Where I struggle is with some of the ones in the OT such as Joshua stopping the sun. I have no problem believing God can create a living embryo in a virgin womb, but stopping the rotation or revolution of the earth would cause a cascade of calamities such that many other miracles would be necessary to make it work. And all just so Israel could win a battle? Seems like overkill on the supernatural if you ask me. Again, God is sovereign and I won’t say it definitively didn’t happen but more likely.our interpretation of it needs to adjust.

I wish you well!


(Christy Hemphill) #28

I’m cutting and pasting from an older thread, because I actually did some homework on this one once. I think it’s a good example of how we have to interpret what the Bible says in its context, and then it’s not this choice between believing the impossible and not believing the Bible.


#29

Interesting! Thanks, Christy. Hadn’t heard that before. I’ve actually wondered about the possibility of the moon seen in the sky but had no connection to any backstory to make it significant. This helps.


(Albert Leo) #30

Welcome, Steve. You could spend hours perusing this Forum and find dozens of different views on this topic. As a rather skeptical scientist, I tend to believe that many miracles described in the O.T. may be events that defy the odds but still are in accord with the ‘natural laws’ God established in the beginning. (For Christians, the one exception must be Jesus’ resurrection,) Since “the Age of Enlightenment” and the demand for “scientific proof”, few such “law-defying” events pass these critical requirements, and thus many (most??) Christians believe that the “Age of Miracles” passed along with the passing of Jesus’ Apostles. But heartfelt belief still depends a great deal on one’s personal lifetime experiences. In my case, these led me to believe that God can subtly guide us through some highly unlikely events that are not of the earth-shaking variety described in both the O.T. & N.T. Twice during Word War II I survived events that (I was told) defied medical science, and once since then I participated in an (almost impossible) event, witnessed by three other scientists, that had a life-changing, positive effect on one of them. I have recounted them on this Forum.

The Miracle of the Panel Truck
On Friday afternoon, after a weeklong Gordon Conference (topic: QSAR,_
our specialty) at a New Hampshire school, the attendees board buses for the
two hour trip back to Logan airport in Boston. While standing in line
waiting to board, I visited with my colleague, Prof. Eric Lien. As the people
in front of us boarded, that bus was declared full, and so we were first in line
for the next one. This was fortunate, because we picked the right front seat
in the bus that gave us a clear view of the road ahead as well as out the
window to our side. Across the aisle sat Prof. Hugo Kubinyi and Prof. Jo
Seydel, two of our close friends and colleagues who also had that good view.
After discussing events of the conference for the first half of the trip, Eric
turned to me and said: “I noticed that in your free time you were reading the
book ‘God and the New Physics’ (by Paul Davies). Tell me, Al, do you
consider yourself a religious person?”
I was taken off guard by this question but replied: “I get a great deal of
satisfaction from my Catholic Faith, and I do attend Mass every week—if that makes me a religious person, then I guess I am.
Eric continued: “That’s what I guessed, and that’s why I thought you might
help me with a problem I am facing at home.”
Even before I knew the nature of it, I felt uneasy about my ability to
contribute anything of value. I had met his lovely wife, Linda, and I hoped
that there was not some rift between them.
Eric quickly pressed on: “Let me give you some background that has led up
to my problem. I was born in Taiwan and lived there until I graduated from
high school. My parents were religious in the sense that they followed the
wisdom of Confucius and Lao Tse and honored their ancestors with a small
shrine in their home. When some Christian missionaries founded a school in
our town and I expressed a curiosity about their teachings, they let me
attend. Very quickly the missionaries made it clear that ‘Unless you profess
Christ as your savior, you will be damned to Hell.’ This completely turned
me off of Christianity.”
He then continued: “Eventually I emigrated to the U. S., enrolled at U.S.C.
and continued on to get my Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. In the meantime I
met Linda, and we were married. She was raised as a Christian, and at that
time I had no qualms about her desire to raise in the Christian Faith any
children we planned on having. But now our children are old enough to go
to church with her, and they are asking ‘Why doesn’t Daddy come with
us?’”
“I told Linda that that was not part of the bargain. It would be dishonest for
me to attend religious services I definitely do not believe in. The children
would soon sense that I was being a hypocrite, and I did not want that. This
disagreement has become quite a serious concern in our otherwise serene
and happy family life.”
He finished his story with the question: “What do you think I should do,
Al?”
By this time our bus had reached the outskirts of Boston and was in some
heavy traffic approaching a bridge. All the while Eric was telling me his
‘life story’, I could tell that our colleagues, Hugo and Jo, were paying rapt
attention—now probably wondering how I was going to ‘get off the hook’
that Eric put me on. At this moment, just before traffic came to a complete
halt, a white panel truck pulled in front of our bus and stopped, in full view
through our large windshield.
The only inscription on this white truck were the words in large blue script:
Don’t Worry
Be Happy
God loves you
The four of us looked at the inscription for ten seconds or so, and then I
found my voice: “That is about as good advice as I or anyone else could
give you, Eric.”
Hugo slapped his knee, burst out laughing and said: “Al, how in Hell did
you manage that?”
Still somewhat dazed, I replied: “I don’t know
And I still don’t. Over a period of 80 years I have observed a lot of traffic,
but only that once did I see a panel truck with that as its only message. And
it had to appear in that exact second to effectively ‘get me off the hook’.
What odds must be overcome for a ‘happening’ to be considered a
‘miracle’? Can a scientist bear witness to a true miracle?
So what was the result of this miracle? I don’t know how much an effect it
had on two of the witnesses, Jo and Hugo. They probably remain ‘friendly
agnostics’. But not Eric. Not long ago I asked him if he remembered the
‘incident’. He replied: “Not only did I remember it, I used it in my talk at
my retirement dinner to remind people that, when all else fails, one can turn
to God for help.” I don’t know if Eric became a baptized Christian, but I
firmly believe he has become the ‘religious person’ that he surmised I was at
the Gordon Conference, and that he feels no hypocrisy or schizophrenia in
being a scientist in his ‘weekday’ job.
And how did it affect my life? I had already survived two ‘close calls’ as an
infantryman in World War II that the army medics thought impossible. So I
felt comfortable with the belief that prayer (Mom’s, Grandma’s, and other
relatives’) is sometimes answered. But I hadn’t prayed for guidance to
properly answer Eric’s important question—yet that guidance was given in a
way that can only be described as miraculous. Is it possible that our Creator
(or his angels) are right beside us at all times? My ‘persona’ as a skeptical
scientist finds that hard to believe, but sometimes God gives you no choice.
Al Leo

Steve, it is almost impossible to convey to another person the strong inner feeling that personal experience can impart to one’s life . I just hope that I have made a convincing case for looking for ways that God can subtly intervene, almost miraculously in our personal lives to ‘nudge’ us in the direction He would prefer us to take, and to do so without in any way restricting the Freedom of Choice that He bestowed on us to lift us above the animals who share our world.
Good luck and blessings in your future searching for Truth.
Al Leo


(James McKay) #31

Why do you think that “anyone today who claims to do miracles will have to be placed in the New Testament” Wookin? I don’t see how that follows. After all, John’s Gospel ends by saying this:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

If Jesus did miracles that ended up not being recorded in the New Testament, why should we expect modern-day miracles to have to be recorded in the New Testament as well?

Basically, dispensationalism.

Isn’t there a fairly strong link between dispensationalism and young-earth creationism? After all, Tim LaHaye of Left Behind fame (the idea of a pre-Tribulation Rapture is dispensationalist through and through) played a major role in setting up the Institute for Creation Research in the seventies.

There was a while when I thought that YEC was partly motivated – in the early days at least – by attempts to calculate the date of the Rapture. Creation in 4004 BC (per Ussher) with Jesus’ birth in about 4 BC would mean six thousand years (six “days” if you want to read 2 Peter 3:8 that way) taking you up to the Rapture then the Great Tribulation, then the Millennium as a “day of rest” which would have given us the Rapture in 1989 and the Second Coming in 1996. Needless to say, the fact that it is now 2019 falsifies that hypothesis.


(Mitchell W McKain) #32

No… not really.

It would certainly not be my claim that nothing changes. Quite the contrary I often point out that the Bible needs to be understood as a 4-dimensional text about an evolving relationship according to man’s evolving understanding of things.

I just think a theology which has the whole universe changing in order to cover up discrepancies is one which is seriously disconnected with reality. I don’t think it is reasonable to believe the whole universe revolves around us, and I don’t think God is has to keep fixing his creation because He didn’t get it right the first time. The only thing that needs fixing is the part which we are responsible for in our own thinking and behavior.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #33

Or DOES it? Maybe the three or so souls that made it were so few and from regions so remote that there was no journalistic notice! Narrow is the way to life you know …

Sorry - I really shouldn’t do that. Somebody’s reading who’s going to take me seriously.

[I think we need a new series of books to give answer to the “Left Behind” series … I already have a title for it: “The Right Behind” series.]


(Phil) #34

That is funny! While I do not consider myself progressive, Fred Clark’s Slacktovist blog is thought provoking and he has poked fun at the Left behind series through the years.


(Randy) #35

I think Mark Noll, in “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” does link the two (dispensationalism and YEC), though I see what Mr McKain is saying too.


#36

Someone beat you to it, unfortunately:

But I’m sure the literary canon could only benefit from more satire on this subject. :smiley:


(Phil) #37

How funny! In reading the reviewer’s comments on the link, I feel like I no longer need to buy the book, so it is all good.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #38

ahhh man!!! I hadn’t even known of that. Honest! I’ll only plead that maybe I was thinking somebody else’s great thoughts after them, and that no doubt they took it farther than I could have.


(Wookin Panub) #39

Because anyone who claims to do miracles will have to be an agent of God, and would have new revelation from God.

why should we expect modern-day miracles to have to be recorded in the New Testament as well?

I never said that.


(James McKay) #40

Not necessarily. Working miracles is not the same thing as having new revelation.

You said “anyone today who claims to do miracles will have to be placed in the New Testament.” Are you claiming that that is different from “we should expect modern-day miracles to have to be recorded in the New Testament as well”? If so, what exactly is the difference?