David, I think you are not understanding my questions. And it is very possible that I didn’t explain my questions in enough detail or even worded them poorly. So I’ll try giving it another shot.
I’m not doubting that God could and did act in very special ways to carry out his divine will in those amazing circumstances in the scriptures which we commonly call “miracles”. What I’m saying is that I have no way to know if God’s works in those instances did not involve natural processes which may be completely unknown to us.
Perhaps an example will help. After his resurrection, Jesus entered a room where the disciples were praying, even though the door(s) were closed. How did Jesus do that? Yes, we commonly say “It can’t be explained. It was a miracle. The Biblical text simply says that he was suddenly among them.” Yet some theologians have pointed to physics which only began to be understood in the last century. I remember textbooks which explained examples like a car parked in a locked garage but the next morning it is parked outside. The probability of this as a “natural” occurrence is some unfathomably small ratio which physicists calculate based on the number of atoms in the car and in the garage wall. I freely admit that I don’t understand all of the physics—yet, I am told that physicists claim that this can be a natural occurrence and not necessarily a supernatural one. So some Bible commentators have actually referred to this when wondering if God, as the One who understands all physics, utilized that “natural process” to accomplish what to us seems like an obviously supernatural feat.
I’ve heard other Christian physicists talk about the possibility that a ten-dimensional universe under a superstring theory might be the basis for some of Jesus’ miracles. Textbooks commonly use one of Einstein’s famous “mind experiments” to explain why a being who lives in the two-dimensional world of the flatlanders would witness what seem like the “supernatural” acts of a being who lives in the three-dimensional world which includes his “Flatlandia.” The being in the three-dimension world decides to poke a pencil into the two-dimension world—but all Mr. Flatlander sees is the sudden and mysterious appearance of a graphite point which grows larger to become a 1/4" wooden disk with a 3mm graphite disk in the middle of it. As the pencil is moved about at various angles to the Flatlandia plane, the circular disk suddenly becomes oval-shaped. How is that possible under Flatlandia physics? Then, just as suddenly, the disk/oval disappears from Flatlandia—because the being in the three-dimensional world withdrew the pencil so that it no longer intersects the Flatlandia plane. Mr. Flatlander has witnessed a miracle and assumes that the wooden-graphite disk has ceased to exist—but the three-dimensional world’s being is still holding that pencil! It hasn’t disappeared at all. Mr. Flatlandia tells his friends about the miraculous event he witnessed, yet nothing he observed is contrary to the physics of the three-dimensional world.
So what if a ten-dimensional view of the universe is a valid model and we limited humans are simply restricted to three-dimensions plus the time dimension? What if what the Bible calls demons are entities which can experience those ten-dimensions and therefore can at times intersect and interact with our three-dimensional plus time matter-energy “world” in ways similar to the being who pokes a pencil into Flatlandia? Would that be a natural or supernatural event?
What if “natural” in these contexts simply means the three-dimensions plus time world we know while the “complete” universe God created in Genesis 1:1 also includes dimensions which we can’t observe but within which angels were created to inhabit? Is it possible that the amazing miracles recorded in the scriptures have “natural explanations” under processes describable in a much larger and grander physics which is presently unknown to us? (What if what some call “the spirit world” of angels and demons is another part of the natural world which escapes our routine notice because it usually operates in other natural dimensions of the created universe?)
Indeed, it is possible that some of the great conundrums of subatomic particle physics—which so often seem counter-intuitive to our daily experience of Newtonian physics—only begin to make sense as we begin to grasp a more complete science of physics which includes those other dimensions?
I had a friend who was completing his Ph.D. in physics back in the 1980’s and his dissertation involved string theory. I remember asking him why he thought the theory had strong explanatory powers. His immediate answer was “Even though we haven’t experimentally verified all aspects of it, it does such a beautiful job of making the math work. And in physics, mathematics has so often predicted exactly what we observe in nature just a few years later. I have a lot of trust in mathematics accurately describing and predicting what happens in the universe God created.”
I didn’t post about string theory in order to say it is the best model or even to imply that I understand much of the physics or mathematics of it. I simply use it as an example of how some theologians and philosophers have pointed out the ambiguities and potential fallacies of natural versus supernatural distinctions.
Thus you asked about Jesus walking on water. Is there a natural explanation for that miracle involving physics which God understands but I don’t? Recall my example of using superconducting electromagnets to levitate a metal object, whether that be a high-speed train in Japan or Elishah’s axe head. I’m simply saying that I don’t know of a way that I can distinguish natural events from supernatural events _other than as relative terms based upon the limitations of human observers at the time.
I hope that the above does a better job of clarifying what I’m asking and proposing. Thomas Edison used to be called “The Wizard of Menlo Park”. Yet, he never did anything “supernatural” as a fictional sorcerer in a famous Disney cartoon might do. Nevertheless, even today there are remote aboriginal peoples in some parts of the world who would consider much of what Thomas Edison accomplished to be “supernatural” and therefore genuine, supernatural sorcery. Is it possible that we are similarly limited in our human predicament and we simply cannot distinguish the supernatural from that which is physics arising from Genesis 1:1 which is far “grander” than what our minds comprehend?
I don’t know. And I don’t think anybody knows. But I’d love to read what others think about this.