I will try and answer your initial post.
—“The authors say that discussion of miracles usually take place in the context of distinguishing between natural and supernatural events, but that there is no real distinction in ANE thought between natural and supernatural.”
What is primarily meant by this is expressed this way in the chapter,
- God is involved in everything. (p. 36)
- There’s no biblical warrant for restricting God’s activity in nature to some kind of violation or suspension of creation’s functional integrity. (p. 37)
- The doctrine of creation implies that the Trinity is as intimately involved in the gravity keeping you glued to Earth’s surface as in resurrecting Lazarus from the dead.
- The doctrine of creation, with its emphasis on the variety of forms of divine mediated action, helps us see that the properties and processes God gave to creation are not violated when God acts, whether acting normally (functional integrity) or in special ways (signs and wonders). (p. 38)
Okay so here is the main point I believe they are trying to make. Some people conceptualize reality as having a part where God is not involved (the natural) and a part where God is involved (the supernatural). The authors deny this conceptualization. Their claim is that God is involved with all aspects of reality not just part of it. This is main point of saying there is not distinction between “natural” and “supernatural”, God is involved with all of reality not just parts of it.
To get more detailed there is not a lot to go on. The authors use words like “mediated” (p.37) which seems to imply maybe “direct” as the other way. The authors infer at least two ways God interacts with the world “normal” and “special”.
So the resurrection in their view would be a special/direct act of God and the normal orbiting of the sun by the earth is a normal/mediated act of God. The important point they want to make is that God is involved with both.
Summary: The main point the authors make is that God is involved in all aspects of reality not just part. How we might specifically conceptualize this is a little hazy in the chapter and not tackled in depth.
—“The authors talk about God’s “patience” in using evolution to create. It made me start wondering about whether or not this is really an accurate attribute for God…I mean, the Bible refers to God’s “long-suffering” towards us, but don’t the terms “patience” and “long-suffering” involve some kind of experience of time which God wouldn’t experience??”
The standard way of dealing with this has been called antrhopomorphism. We are attributing human qualities to God in order to help us get some understanding of God, but the term does not apply to God in the same way it applies to humans.
“So it really isn’t an appropriate term, then? It is simply something that comforts us and helps explain to our little minds some of the “hows” of God’s love?”
Depends on what you mean by “appropriate”. The same type of thing is done with poetry or metaphor when applied to humans. We say things like “She has a big heart” we don’t literally mean she has an enlarged heart medical condition. Its not just about comfort either, though it could be comforting. Something metaphors and anthropomorphisms do is they can make us reflect on something more deeply than if we merely used some drab prose.
— “The authors say that a creation made out of nothing is particularly vulnerable, that it is contingent and finite so that it cannot sustain itself in being. This may be a stupid question, but IS creation contingent and finite? I mean is there any way that this has been shown?”
I think this is primarily a theological statement (that they believe comes from the biblical authors). As far as from a scientific perspective I’m not sure we know the exact nature of creation.
I don’t necessarily agree with the authors in every detail but I think they are basically right about God being involved with every aspect of reality and that anthropomorphisms are a standard way of talking about God. I don’t know if they are correct in thinking the biblical authors believed that the creation is “particularly vulnerable”. I do think the biblical authors believed God was in control of every aspect of creation and is subject to Him.