problem of miracles
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
I am tempted to speak of cooperation instead of causality. Here’s my reasoning. What the standard explanations of miracles do is assign a cause to them, God, in particular. The problem with this thesis is that causality is fine as long as it is done within the range of human experience. But as soon as the cause for miracles extends to the time prior to human experience, there is a problem. First, the Bible doesn’t record any miracles prior to the emergence of man. Second, before the emergence of man, no miracle is necessary. The emergence of man is a result of natural causes within the universe God made.
The emergence of humans is the moment when miracles become necessary. Why? Because miracles are a product of the cooperation between people and God. At least for the recorded history of people, including the Bible and its analogues in other cultures, miracles have been recorded. But they are illustrative of a process, not a determinate intrusion. The process includes people, especially people who ask for divine assistance, or respond to God’s voice.
Does God cause miracles? I’m not sure causality is a term which can be used to express this. I have said that the presence of God becomes known to intelligences. And that intelligences are the natural byproduct of a universe such as ours which computes complexity resulting in multilayered reality including planets, life, and intelligence.
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i have some questions i don’t have an answer for
Thursday, February 21st, 2008
Seriously, the political banter today does not seem to be going anywhere. On a web page before primary elections, I remember answering a few questions that were supposed to lead me to the candidate I should favor since most of my beliefs would fall into their domain. I thought it was a pretty smart device. All but one thing. Even though I may vote for a person, that gives me no assurance that their public belief set is the same as their private or political operating method. All the candidates have been shined up like pretty little buttons on the straight jacket of the natural limitations for government. I do take it that Ron Paul is closer in his behavior to his speech than many of the others. I have no way to judge the others.
I mean, did anyone in 1979 think George W. Bush was going to try to lead us into another un-winnable war like Vietnam, or propose that we also attack Iran? I call on God to wake us up. I believe George is a Christian person. I believe he prays and seeks counsel of wiser men than himself, but in all my imaginings, I can’t conceive that George’s Christianity would have led him to pick this fight with Iraq. As a Christian, I would have thought that George would at least have tipped his hat to just war theory which would never have permitted this battle.
On what grounds did we have reason to start this war? Well the one touted in public was the threat of WMDs, specifically nuclear, (or should I say nuculer for George’s sake, so he would understand me.) OK, that’s fair. Nukes have changed the global balance of power and the threat level of any attacking force, especially some force that thinks I’m wrong just because I don’t believe the way they do. So that was the only reason? No, horrors, they wanted to build bases on Iraqi soil to pressure the obeisance of surrounding nations, a “peacekeeping mission.”
I do respect ex-president Clinton for getting out of Somalia when it was clear that no mission could succeed without wholesale slaughter of innocent people in a nation that could not make its mind up how to govern itself.
Are these people who support the Federal Government at every move even thinking of the consequences of our policies on other nations? How many people have to die for us to be happy that we have fulfilled our manifest destiny?
Now, to the questions I don’t have answers for (aside from the aforementioned.)
What does it mean to be a right wing or a left wing person?
What does it mean to be a liberal or a conservative?
What does it mean to support our government?
Why do we need to support our government (especially if what they are doing appears to us to be wrong)?
Why should we be offered our hat if we believe resisting the government is the correct behavior?
I have a suspicion that many of these government supporters in these times of unrest, if they found themselves on the other side of the debate, would be furious and cry foul. I also think that the kind of unreflective adoption of a Christian ideology found in these people would have approved of the government when Christianity and the government did not speak against slavery. The status quo as long as it doesn’t touch these people personally, is God’s will. As soon as it touches them, they would be completely perplexed, or as Os Guinness said in The Dust of Death mystified.
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work of the holy spirit
Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
Amos Yong challenged me to draw a plausible connection between my view of the universe, that it was created with the power not only to organize itself but also to generate life and intelligence. My suggestion is that God made the entire universe in his image and that intelligence, whether it be my cat’s or mine has immediate access to God through that intelligence which is made in the image of God. Bluntly, the communication is only possible because we have the same type of radios. Unselfconscious beings like my cat, nonetheless do communicate with God through the Holy Spirit, but it is primal, unreflective, mirroring my animal’s capacities.
The Holy Spirit when communicating to me however, is the reflective, substantive, communicating God. But how would I characterize this communication in biblical terms? Well, there seems to me to be a couple routes to take, a couple topics to discuss. First of all, I take it that any method God used to speak to people in the text of scripture is available to today’s person. Nothing is by logic or law forbidden. Whatever was permitted in communication is still permitted today. So if God does want to use a messenger of some sort, nature, the spirit of God, or whatever, I ask why not? Second, I take it that of all the methods used, the most effective and salient archetype is Jesus Christ himself. So that in most circumstances, the speech I hear will reflect what Christ said and did while he sojourned with us. In the paraclete sayings of John 14:15,26, 15:26, and 16:7-15 we learn that the work of the spirit will be like that of Christ. Logically, if the spirit is God, there will be nothing the holy spirit says or does that was not first said or done, at least in type by Jesus. His mission is the same.
My thesis, that the voice and the extraordinary acts of God in the world including miracles correspond to intelligence, means that we are capable of hearing God by the very fact of the emergence of our intelligence in the world. I don’t think, however, that miracles are a breach of natural law, instead they transcend natural law. What we call natural law is, however, only a rough estimate of a mathematical description of of the constitution of the universe. And we are closer but still a long way off from understanding the way the universe works.
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