Monday, August 30, 2021

Anonymous Asks (160)

“Has science disproved the miracles of the Bible?”

A question like this one reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of both science and miracles.

Here are a couple of modern definitions of science. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language calls it “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena”. The Collaborative International Dictionary of English calls it “Accumulated and established knowledge, which has been systematized and formulated with reference to the discovery of general truths or the operation of general laws”.

So then, science deals in generalities and natural phenomena. It attempts to explain the way the world normally works, all else being equal.

Miracles vs. Science

A miracle, on the other hand, is the opposite of a generality or a natural phenomenon. It is decidedly exceptional and unnatural. Merriam-Webster calls it “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs”. The Cambridge Dictionary says a miracle “does not follow the usual laws of nature”. (A biblical definition of miracles and explanation of their purpose may be found here.)

Given that miracles are by very definition outside the domain of science, the scientific method can neither prove nor disprove them. It cannot address them at all. True miracles are interventions into the natural order, not manifestations of it. That is why in the Bible people react to miracles with shock, awe and bewilderment; they recognize that they are in the presence of supernatural power. They are observing something that absolutely should not be happening in the normal course of events, but is.

Believing and Disbelieving

Believing in miracles follows logically from belief in God. Any being sufficiently powerful to establish and maintain the natural order which science so carefully catalogs and describes is also sufficiently powerful to upend the natural order whenever he pleases.

So then, generally speaking, people who believe in God believe in miracles as well, and people who do not believe in God reject miracles as impossible and untrue. Both positions are logically consistent (though not equally in harmony with reality), and neither position is more scientific than the other. Both are arrived at either by faith or by a process so similar to faith as to be indistinguishable from it.

However, people who say they believe in God but cannot bring themselves to believe in the miracles of scripture are just inconsistent. They are refusing to accept a perfectly logical corollary to the existence of God.

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