Miracles in a Natural World

The natural world view says that there is a natural explanation for everything that happens, including what the faith world view would attribute to the supernatural.  They also say that there is a degree of faith in both views; i.e., that whether or not one believes in the supernatural, it is by faith (unseen belief).  Also, if the supernatural were obvious (seen), all would believe.  So, they approach the subject of the supernatural by asking, how can we figure it out; i.e., that this is indeed a struggle for most people.  With the natural world view, there seems to be a train of thought to indicate that a thing can be declared true, if, and only if, it is what most people believe.  i.e., If you can persuade me, then it is true.  This seems very arrogant.

On the contrary, the answer, to me, is that one cannot believe without the nudging of the Holy Spirit.  A thing can be true whether or not I understand it, or believe it.

So, a debate on this subject often seems to lead to a discussion of miracles.  Do miracles happen?  Miracles can only happen by way of the supernatural.  I agree, since this seems to be a reasonable definition of miracles; i.e., that they constitute what is not the natural order of things; rather, they are supernatural.  Again, the natural world view says that all phenomena have a natural explanation, and supernatural forces do not exist.  An advocate of this position says that, since he operates on principles of induction (and supposedly nobody else does), he needs to see a thing before he will believe it.  We need to be able to show that a thing actually happened, and then we will be able to explain it in natural terms.  We need to demonstrate at thing, or reproduce it, before it can be believed.  Otherwise, we will consider it to just be a made-up myth.  Of course, with this view, the Bible holds no authority.

So, the skeptic asks, how do miracles occur.  If we believe in miracles, aren’t we curious about how they occur?  Why doesn’t it make just as much sense to say that we simply cannot explain them, rather than to attribute them to external, supernatural forces?  When it comes to miracles, we often tend to think of healings, or turning water into wine.  However, I like to think of a lesser known miracle, that I believe to be a better example.  In 2 Kings 6:5-7, a man was cutting down a tree, and the iron axhead he was using came loose from the ax handle, and fell into the Jordan River.  He was distressed because the ax was borrowed.  Then the prophet Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the river where the axhead had fallen, and the iron ahead iron floated to the top of the water.  This is a perfect example of a miracle because it so obviously defied the natural order of the earth that we live in.  The heavy iron axhead defied the natural gravitational forces that would normally have held it at the bottom of the river.

Incidentally, Buddhism, being a non-theistic religion, also refuses to adhere to belief in miracles.

Christianity has been called the true myth.  Only in Christianity has God been seen in history, with the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Even skeptics have to respect the historical (both biblical and extra-biblical) and archeological records of Jesus in human history.  The eyewitness accounts of His earthly ministry, and His death, burial, and resurrection have been passed down through all the generations since that time, both orally, and with documentation in written form, by both believers and non-believers.  Furthermore, believers and unbelievers agree, that anyone claiming to be the Son of God is either a lunatic or he is telling the truth, and there is general agreement that Jesus was, at the least, a very wise man, and not a lunatic.

Chuck Colson writes of the tremendous impact of these eyewitness accounts, through an analogy of his own situation in recent history.  Colson was one of the conspirators in Nixon’s Watergate cover-up.  He said that any time a group of men conspire to cover up a story, there’s always at least one man in the group that concedes and admits the truth, especially when pressured by the authorities, such as for a plea bargain.  His analogy is that if the twelve disciples had just concocted the story about Jesus’s life, death, burial, and resurrection, at least one of the twelve would have eventually conceded with the truth, especially since almost all of them were martyred because of their spreading of the gospel.  Instead, they all simply and bravely faced their martyrdom.

Now, consider the atheist who doesn’t believe in God, or the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus because he hasn’t seen Him with his own eyes.  He refuses to believe in miracles as well, saying that he first has to see one, and then he would believe.  He denies all of the evidences of the biblical, other historical documents, science, and archeological.  Yet this same person is willing to believe a hypothesis that Homo erectus roamed the earth between the years of 2 billion BC and 1.6 billion BC, even though these dates are continually changed by various scientific minds by a billion years or so.  This same person is also willing to believe in scientific methods such as carbon dating.  Why doesn’t he reject this in the same way he rejects miracles and the risen savior, since he has seen no direct evidence with his own eyes? Why doesn’t he say that he will only believe that a particular rock is 100,000 years old if we carbon date it now, then wait 100,000 years, and future generations carbon date it again, and compare the results?  Why is he so sure that the carbon dating concept of a half-life has remained constant throughout history, even through earth-changing events such as a world-wide flood?  Why does he demand scientific laboratory proof in one case, but he is willing to forego it another?  Where is the consistency that he claims science has over faith?

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The Biblical World View vs. Science

The natural (or scientific, or atheist) world view argues that we must base our views upon intellect, rationale, and reason, and that the spiritual world is based upon emotion.  Reason is seen as strong, and emotion as weak.  Freud said that no religion can withstand reason.

I would argue that the biblical world view is indeed based upon intellect, rationale, and reason as well.  To the believer, it is intellect, thinking, and education that persuades one to believe.  His world view is, in fact, the result of many hours of studying the bible, non-biblical documents, history, and archeology, both by the individual, and by those that have gone before us, plowing the furrow so that each generation advances the spiritual world view with even more intellect and reason than the last.  This world view combines this intellectual study with the reason we exercise in our personal and scientific observation of the natural world around us.

Although the atheist is, of course, entitled to disagree with our view, it does seem odd that he would attack it on the basis of a lack of reason or intellect.  Atheists have not cornered the market on reason, and locked others out from it.  Certainly we could not attack his view based on a lack of reason, even though it seems unreasonable when compared to our findings.  If the spiritual world view were indeed without reason or intellect, no representative of it would even be able to intelligently debate the thinking atheist.

It is our intellect that has enabled us to build and defend the spiritual world view by reading, studying, and understanding the things of God as well as the things of science.  It is our reason that relates our physical experience in nature to our intellectual and spiritual understanding, and reinforces the sense that it all makes together.  It is our rationale that confirms that the spiritual truths taught by the bible are indeed true for ourselves, when studied from an objective, honest, and unbiased perspective.

As for emotions, neither do I believe that the spiritual man has a lock on viewing the world from an emotional perspective.  Does the atheist have no emotions?  Weren’t Freud and Sagan each passionate about his own view of the world?  Certainly even when defending his views, more than one atheist has been seen in an emotional state.  How could anyone create and defend any world view without intellect, reason, and emotions?  Regardless of which characteristics we consider to be strong or weak, we are all guilty of (or blessed with) all of them to various degrees.

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How a Great Preacher Got Started

On January 6, 1850, a snowstorm almost crippled the city of Colchester, England, and a teenage boy was unable to get to the church he usually attended. So he made his way to the nearby Primitive Methodist Chapel, where an ill-prepared layman was substituting for an absent preacher. His text was Isaiah 45:22 – “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” For many months this young teenager had been miserable and under deep conviction, but though he had been reared in church (both his father and grandfather were preachers), he did not have the assurance of his own salvation.

The unprepared substitute minister did not have much to say, so he kept repeating the text. “A man need not go to college to learn to look,” he shouted. “Anyone can look – a child can look.” About that time, he saw the visitor sitting to one side, and he pointed at him and said, “Young man, you look very miserable. Young man, look to Jesus Christ!”

The young man did look by faith, and that was how the great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon was converted.

You think you are not qualified to share the gospel with another. You think you do not have all the answers to the questions that may be asked of you as you share the gospel. Do you think you are less prepared than that layman was when he preached the message when Spurgeon was saved? We should understand that it is the power of God that will save another; you are only a mouthpiece, and perhaps a poor one at that. Let God do through you what He did through that layman on that snowy Sunday more than 150 years ago!

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Are Policemen Better than the Rest of Us?

After the murder of five policemen in Dallas, one commentator said in his editorial, “Police officers are not like you and I.  They’re better.”  He was trying to be supportive and clever, but he was actually just fanning the flame of controversy between the policemen and Black Lives Matter.  This commentator was an old white man.  He was really fanning the flame of racism too, probably just like he did 50 years ago during the Watts riots in LA–over the same issue of cops vs. blacks.

Like it or not, what he was saying was that the policemen are right and the Black Lives Matter activists are wrong.  Whenever a cop shoots a black man, the shooting is always justified because the cops are better than that black man.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand that we have bad cops too.  Some are arrogant; some are corrupt; and, some are racists.  Some think only about living off the taxpayer’s dime all of their lives–while they’re working, and continuing into an early retirement, still at the expense of the taxpayers.  They’re not better just because they’re in uniform.

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Should We Legislate Morality?

Our government already does legislate morality in many ways.  In fact, many laws are based upon upholding moral laws.  Our laws regarding murder, theft, stealing, killing, defrauding, and misrepresenting all reflect the moral values of The Ten Commandments.  We attempt to legislate morality in ways that are generally advantageous to our freedom, safety, and well-being.  However, problems arise in the interpretation of these laws.  Furthermore, our laws also guarantee both the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.  So, we are left with even more open interpretation on how all of these issues mesh together.  Some people (voicing their freedom of speech) believe that freedom of religion means that religion shouldn’t be allowed to influence government policy while others believe that it means that the state will not dictate a religion (such as a state church).  I believe that our founding fathers instituted the best possible form of government (democracy), although it is still an imperfect human government.

Although the Bible clearly condemns adultery and homosexuality as sin, we have no laws against these things.  This is because of the fine line between morality and freedom.  For one person, a particular law may be upholding his morality, but to another person it infringes upon his personal choices.  This is further complicated since one person’s moral values and definition of liberty is often not the same as the next person’s.  Personally, I have no doubt that homosexuality is a sin.  However, I’m not sure that we should have a law that bans homosexuality, because this could be an infringement on one’s personal liberty.  Similarly, I believe that Christianity is the only true faith, but we shouldn’t make other faiths illegal.  This not only violates the First Amendment, but I would certainly never want the government to make Christianity illegal.

On the other hand, I also have no doubt that abortion is a sin, and it violates the commandment against murder.  In my view, if we have a law against murder (which we do), then that law already applies to abortion as well.

We need to preserve law and order while simultaneously preserving our personal liberty.  It seems that I’m drawing the line where one person’s actions infringe directly upon another person’s liberty.  An act of murder (abortion or otherwise), theft, etc. by one person harms another person, so we need laws for these things.  However, if two gay people want to live together, and even get “married,” then maybe we don’t need a law against this, as long as their situation doesn’t directly hurt anyone else.

So, I believe that we can legislate some, but not all, morality.  Personally, I tend to lean toward the Libertarian view, that government’s role is to ensure liberty, but that the Church should guide us on moral choices.  In general, I think that we have too many laws already.  For example, if it’s not a crime to drink alcohol, and prohibition didn’t seem to work anyway, then I’m not sure that we need a law against using marijuana.  Maybe it would be better to legalize it, regulate it like we do alcohol, and collect taxes on it in the same way as well.

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Individual Effort

One of my favorite publications is Grace In Focus, but I have a problem with an article by Ken Yates in the July & August 2016 edition.  The article is called “Edifying Examples,” and it uses the story of the rebuilding of the wall by the Jews in Nehemiah 3 as an example of edification in the church today.  In the article, Yates says that we can sometimes learn from an Old Testament passage when the passage is explained or interpreted in the New Testament.  Although he admits that no New Testament passage attempts such an explanation on Nehemiah 3, he seems to jump to his own conclusions, as is easy to do when we want to make a particular point.

Yates says, “The work of God is not something we do as individuals, but as part of a group.  For believers today that is the church.”  This is a false and dangerous statement.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he is not talking about salvation, as I feel certain that he understands that faith in Christ is an individual decision (John 3:16).  However, just as each person decides for himself about believing in Christ, likewise each person will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ as an individual–not as part of a group (2 Corinthians 5:10).  It is granted that sometimes we work as a member of a team, but our efforts will still be judged on an individual and personal basis, according to what each person has done.

Although his intentions were good, Yates should not have tried to teach the edification of the church based upon Nehemiah 3.  Whether teamwork is glorified in the spiritual world or the secular world, the work accomplished by the team is still made up of the efforts of individuals.

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Why Do We (Claim to) Care About Children?

The significance of news reports seems amplified whenever children are involved.  When a man returns home from the war in Afghanistan or Iraq, his reunion with his wife is great, but his reunion with his children somehow seems even more special.  Often times, these father / child reunions are even surprises for the children–so special that they’re filmed and shown on the national news.

Likewise, when tragedy occurs, it seems even more tragic when the victims are children.  In the recent terrorist attack in Nice, France, news reports said that the attack killed 85 people and “ten of the dead were children.”  Why does it seem worse when children are killed?  Maybe because they’re particularly innocent and / or defenseless.  Also, when such tragedies occur, why do we tend to think that the younger the child, the worse the tragedy?  Perhaps because a younger child’s life is cut short by a greater number of years than an older one.

How ironic it is that, in the United States, we kill one million of our own children through abortion each year?  If we were to hear that some third world nation was doing this, we would consider it to be barbaric–similar to the ancient Babylonian cults when mothers cast their babies into the fires of their idol gods.

These children are completely innocent and defenseless.  Furthermore, they’re as young as they can be; i.e., we’re taking their every breath.  How can we claim to care about children?  Why do we say that we do?

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Shame at Christ’s Coming?

Grace in Focus is a great publication, but I have an issue with an article in the March & April 2016 edition.  In it, Bob Wilkin published an article called “Shame at Christ’s Coming,” based upon 1 John 2:28:  “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”  Wilkin concludes from this verse that:  “There will be some sadness at the Bema for any believers we poured our lives into who failed to persevere.”  He goes on to say that our rewards at the Bema “will definitely be related to how well our disciples do,” and, “Fullness of rewards depends in part on what others have done with what we invested in them.”  He says that we need to “think of it like investing” where a broker loses your money.

However, the Christian life is not some enterprise like Amway or a pyramid scheme.  Each believer is his own priest (1 Peter 2:5, 9), and he is responsible for the stewardship of his personal spiritual gifts.  Neither is God’s work some sort of volleyball game where each member of the team gets the same trophy.  Individual effort is what matters, even when we sometimes work as a member of a team, and we will be judged as individuals–not as a group.   We will be rewarded fairly, and God will work out the complex equations of what rewards we deserve.

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A Million Missing People

Nearly 4 million children are born in the U. S. each year.  That’s great.  The problem is that 5 million are conceived.  We kill 1 million through abortion while they’re still in the womb.  How can we live with ourselves, knowing that we’re inflicting genocide upon our own unborn–killing 20% of them just according to our liking?  If 20% of our unborn children were killed by terrorists each year, we wouldn’t stand for it.

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Hillary: That Darn Constitution

The Constitution seems to be an inconvenient truth for Hillary.  On censoring the Internet (fighting ISIS on the Internet), Hillary says that we need help from Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter:  “We have to deny them online space.  And this is complicated.  You’re going to hear all of the usual complaints.  You know:  freedom of speech, etc.”  The First Amendment is clearly an annoying obstacle for Hillary.

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