Tom Gilson

Miracles Are …

“The miracles of Jesus were the ordinary works of his Father, wrought small and swift that we might take them in.”

— George MacDonald

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5 thoughts on “Miracles Are …

  1. C. S. Lewis says something similar in his book Miracles, especially in the chapter on ‘Miracles of the Old Creation’.

    He concludes that these miracles (turning water into wine, a few loaves of bread into many loaves, a couple of fish into many fish, for example) reflect what God does through secondary causes all the time, yet up close and personal, in an instant, to show us that we are in the presence of the real King.

  2. Hi Victoria:

    A friendly note of caution, if you don’t mind, in the way you’re employing the term “through secondary causes.”

    Miracles “literally wonderful things) are direct interventions by God into the natural extra-mental world of existents (real contingent beings) that can be (although not necessarily) manifested through contingent secondary causes because such existents would not nor could they otherwise act per their natures: water does not and cannot turn into wine by itself and only through itself. Water can, per its nature (immanent capacities or powers for certain types of change) freeze or boil through external natural causes or as artifacts of the actions of rational agents.

    I say “can be” above because miracles are not “violations” (per Spinoza and Hume and today’s atheist pinheads) of nature but are above (e.g., raising of Lazarus), beside (multiplication of loaves), or contrary to (sun standing still) nature, and in that sense they are better categorized as “extraordinary.” The point of miracles, of course, is to attest to (witness to) the Revelation of God’s will.

    I bring this up not only for the immediate point of the post–and I hold MacDonald to have made a beautiful point in this regard, but (as I am wont to do!) criticize yet another erroneous aspect of Intelligent Design. By the way, let’s stop the nonsense of ID only suggesting the existence of a super-intelligent and powerful “designer,” shall we, because we all know they’re referring to God.

    At the end of the day, Intelligent Design is an exercise in studying miracles through natural scientific means. As such, it attempts to “domesticate” God down to the level of efficient causes in the real world because its proponents want to “detect” or “infer” His existence directly through natural scientific means… as the ugly step-sister of the even uglier step-son of atheists trying to disprove God through the natural sciences. Intelligent Design wants to “infer” His direct actions upon material entities by understanding Him as acting directly in biological organisms… which is another manifestation of the error of occassionalism.

    Humnan reason alone can lead to the knowledge of the “existence” of the Creator (although, of course, one can know this through the gracious gift of faith), but the pat is in and through philosophy–not in the natural sciences or engineering or phenomenology or hyper-specialized technique de jour.

  3. I can see your comment, Holo, in the recent comments list, but it’s not updating here 🙂

  4. Ah, better, posting a new comment did it.

    Thanks for adding in the rigorous clarification – your input is always appreciated.

    As you may recall, in Lewis’ book, he says something to the effect that there is a ‘natural process’ whereby a grapevine takes water + nutrients + sunlight to make a juice which then can be fermented by the action of yeast to become wine (with a little help from Ernest and Julio Gallo 🙂 ). When Jesus shows up and does it directly by His command, in an instant, we know that the One whom men ignorantly worshipped as Bacchus is here, that we are in the presence of the Power behind Nature.

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