When you were a kid – assuming my audience doesn’t consist of only four year olds – didja ever play with that guy who always wanted to change the rules? Whatever the game or event you were involved in, he would suddenly declare an alteration in order to turn the tide in his favour.
Well, it seems to me that many people invoke the miraculous in a similar manner. Be it a matter of history, science or prophecy, the Miracle Brand poly-fil is whipped out at a moments notice to patch all the unsightly holes caused by fear, superstition or being beyond your ken.
I remember a specific example I read in a book about Noah. The author related an account of Noah’s voyage that was scientifically credible, but then, when the probing turned to how the animals were fed, he said that he believed that God put them all into a state of hibernation. This was probably due to the difficulty he saw in having the ark carry an astronomical amount of alfalfa.
My question is, why not have God make the inside of the ark larger than the outside? What we find is, though having acquiesced to an omnipotent being, suddenly it becomes important that his work adhere to a kind of plausibility factor.
Off the top of my head, I don’t know how Noah’s challenges were met, and this post isn’t about trying. Rather, this is about the oil and water of miracle and scientific method.
Scientific method is empirical – there is a traceable step-by-step progression. A miracle severs this progression. The point I am making here is that:
A miracle within any event causes the whole event to become miraculous.
The power of scientific method is valid only up to or beyond this miracle.
Any scientific proof of an event that contains a miracle is deceptive. This is the problem with scientific creationism. When science comes to a trouble spot in the road of proof, you know that:
- The data is wrong, or
- The hypothesis is wrong, or
- A system we thought we understood has been misunderstood.
When creation science reaches a similar spot, it has the option of paving the road with a miracle. The problem is that there is no way of determining whether the choice of including the miracle was correct, because any subsequent pothole that is the result of a washout caused by the first miracle can be covered with yet another miracle. Scientific inquiry becomes a game of monopoly with a miracle as the get out of jail free card.
It is thought that the conditions of the big bang were a place where the laws of physics break down. Scientific method can therefore take you to origin but not through origin. Despite vocal opposition to the big bang, creation science fills itself with big bangs – places where the laws of physics break down.
I’m not an empiricist, and have no problem with a miraculous view of beginnings. But that view must be honest to its premise, and scientific method sets the bar fairly high.
Bonus question: Did the word of God create the physical laws of the universe? If your answer is no, then where did they originate? If your answer is yes, then how do you square your answer with the traditional view of a miracle as that which breaks the physical laws around us, which would mean that God breaks his word?