Thursday, September 27, 2012

Search for the Supernatural

One of the arguments against the supernatural is that over time, science has shown that more and more things in the world admit to a naturalistic explanation. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that all events will eventually admit to naturalistic explanation, and the supernatural is irrelevant. The challenge is then given to produce something in nature that requires a supernatural explanation. This is based on a complete misunderstanding of the issue. There may be some belief somewhere that holds that all events have a supernatural explanation. This is not Christianity. The Christian idea of a miracle presupposes a fixed natural order to which the miracle is an exception. It is this natural order that makes the miracle significant. If virgins normally had children, if people normally walked on water, if people normally rose from the dead, these events would lose all meaning. If there were not a fixed order of nature, if every event had a supernatural explanation, you would not be able to recognize a miracle. Therefore, that most events have a natural explanation and we can understand that explanation is presupposed by Christianity. Now we do believe that God created and maintains the natural laws and can intervene if He chooses. But that does not mean intellectually discernible physical laws do not exist. There is a claim that people in ancient times believed in miracles because they were ignorant of the natural laws. Now people did not know all the details we know today, but they knew enough to know dead men did not come back to life. If they had not, they would not have called it a miracle.

Now I do believe there are things in the natural world that resist naturalistic explanation. Where did everything come from? How could everything have come out of nothing by a coin toss, with no time and no space and no coins? And how could this have been a result of physical laws when there was nothing existing for the physical laws to be about? Also, how could something as complex as life have come into existence by chance, since we are only now beginning to understand its simplest forms? The single cell is by itself a complex factory whose parts and functions far exceed anything human ingenuity has yet built. And while I question evolutionary theory, the basic functions of the cell would have to be in place for evolution by genetic mutation to work. There is also the problem of how human thought could have any meaning if it were purely the result of a naturalistic process. If all my thinking is determined by physical processes, it is difficult to see how it can have any relation to truth or how I can know anything. But the bottom line is that if all the natural world apart from miracles could be explained naturalistically, this would not prove there was not a God who created the natural order and could intervene if He chose to. The conclusion does not follow.  

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