January 26, 2010

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Science, Miracles, and God It is largely assumed that miracles are inherently unscientific. But let's examine the premise for this belief. Science, it is said, shows us a predictable universe, one that follows uniform laws and rhythms. Miracles, by definition, are an aberration of those laws, a suspending of the norms of nature, and therefore are improbable if not impossible. The secular philosopher David Hume wrote in his Essay on Miracles that there are two questions to be answered: "Do miracles occur?" and "Is Nature absolutely uniform?" Because he answers yes to the latter question, he answers no to the first one. But, as C. S. Lewis points out, Hume has engaged in philosophical sleight of hand for the two questions are the same one. By asking is miracles occur you are simply asking in another way if nature is always absolutely uniform. So, the real question we have to wrestle with is the one of nature's uniformity. How do we know that the universe follows a uniform pattern of behavior? Our first response tends to be: by experience or by observation. But the truth is all we can say by experience and observation is that during the period of time that we have observed nature, we have observed her to behave is such and such a way. Even the longest periods of observation-- decades for many things, centuries for a few things-- is a relatively short period of time in light of the relative age of the universe. For scientists who believe in an earth that existed millions of years before mankind, even the short history of humanity (6000 years at our best guess?) is not enough to to answer the question of nature's uniformity by experience alone. In fact, when we try to say that we believe in Nature's uniformity because of...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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