Archive for the ‘Seven Days of Creation’ Category

Tuesday Theology Musings: 0.1A – Can miracles exist?

July 5, 2011

Last week, we discussed how classical skepticism and the Bible interact in their perception of reality. Today, we will explore the implications of Pyrrho‘s eighth mode: constancy and rarity.

The ninth depends upon the frequency, or rarity, or strangeness of the thing under consideration. For instance, earthquakes excite no wonder among those nations with whom they are of frequent occurrence; nor does the sun, because he is seen every day. (from The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius, trans. C.D. Yonge, 1853, Book IX – The Life of Pyrrho, Chapter IX)

Many modern skeptics believe that miracles, like to the kind recorded in Scripture, are impossible because they violate the natural order, as “codified” in repeatable scientific empiricalism. Iwould like to venture a rebuttal on three propositions, inspired by Pyrrho:

1) The rare is not the impossible

Modern particle physics is presently searching for the Higgs boson, also known colloquially as the “God particle”.

However, as of today, it has not been discovered/detected. To quote a particle physics blog:

“The Tevatron by the end of 2011 will have acquired 10-12 inverse femtobarns of luminosity…. To unravel this, here is a handful of back-of-a-madgraph estimates of how many interesting events can the colliders get by the end of 2011.

Higgs Boson (120 GeV Higgs produced in gluon fusion) events:
Tevatron: 10 000
LHC: 11 000

Both experiments will have a similar sensitivity to the Higgs. Although 10k looks like whole lotta events, Higgs signatures are notoriously difficult to search. For example, one promising discovery channel at the LHC is when the Higgs decays into two photons, which happens roughly twice per thousand events for a 120 GeV Higgs. For this and other reasons, neither Tevatron nor the LHC has good prospects of discovering the Higgs, unless in lucky circumstances (e.g. production cross section larger than in the standard model, or Higgs mass sitting close to the sweet spot of 160 GeV).” (Resonaances, accessed 7/5/2011)

To be at least intellectually consistent, if rare events in science can be expected, then so to rare events beyond the comfort threshold of the scientist.

2) The common is not the non-miraculous

As stated in Pyrrho’s own words, ” the sun [does not excite wonder] because he is seen every day.” This is better explained by those more versed in the subject, so I will point you to two takes:

…to which I again appeal for equal treatment under my first proposition!

3) The “laws” of science are never set

The scientist is alwasy questioning and exploring. In science, there are relatively few laws: explanations of the mechanism of a process so rigorously upheld by empirical data (evidential test) and so entrenched in other corollary aspects of scientific understanding (logical-conceptual test) as to conceive of their not being true/real is tantamount to undercutting the whole existence of life/the universe as we know it. However, most scientific understanding is only about a hundred years old (at least, in its present formulation)…why should we not expect the rules of scientific thought to change again?

In conclusion, miracles cannot be discounted or disregarded simply because they do not fit our modern sentiments on the subject.

The first day…

September 10, 2007

Have you ever wondered why Genesis starts the way it does? I mean, why take seven days? Why even delineate out an order of creation? It’s not needed…at least now that the canon is complete:

 John 1:1-3 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

Colossians 1:16 – “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

So why the Creation account? To proclaim the glory of God’s Plan, of course! That God is not a God of disorder (1 Corinthians 14:33), but has a purpose for every historical event and planned them before time, should take us continually into a state of praise…we should thank God for His control over all things! We need not despair or resign ourselves to fate…we have a God, a Father, who has His Hands on the wheel while driving the car of reality!

Some thoughts:

(v.1) “In the beginning God…” The Bible never stops to “prove” the existence of God…it assumes the overwhelming evidence in nature (Romans 1:20) to be sufficient to demonstrate that point!

(v.2) “The earth was formless and void…” I am consciously going to avoid trying to overthink this phrase. Instead, I’ll emphasize the chaos that exists without God’s direction. This same wordplay is used in Jeremiah 4:23, when the prophet is speaking in lament concerning the sheer destruction that results from God’s wrath. Jeremiah sees Judah being swept so clean that is appears to him that the clock has returned to the beginning of time! Again God’s providential Plan is a welcome sight in the face of sheer, unfathomable directionlessness. With apologies to Sartre, this is the existential crisis: 1) without God, there really is no meaning or purpose, only eupathetic emptiness and 2) that “essence precedes existence”, that who/what we are foreshadows that we are.

“…and darkness was over the surface of the deep…” Again I hesitate to overthink this, but the parallelism that John uses in the first chapters of his gospel, particularly the images of light and darkness, are astounding: Light came to darkness and changed the darkness! Again, Order arrives on the scene and straightens out the jumble, brings peace to the state (of reality or Man) that wordlessly calls out for redemption.

“…and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Immanuel – God is near: He always has been and always will be. The sea is always an image of chaos in Scripture (thus its absence in the New Creation – Revelation 21:1) Even in the midst of His antithesis, God is present and protective (“moving” can also be translated “hovering” and is used elsewhere as part of a maternal image – Deuteronomy 32:11; Isaiah 31:5)

(v.3, 4) “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good…” Again we see the dichotomy of light and darkness. Again, in John 3:19-21, the Light is good and Darkness both reviles and rejects it.

“…and God separated the light from the darkness.” We cannot emphasize the incompatibility of the two natures. Each cannot abide the other (this is a theme throughout the Gospels) and God’s nature as Source and Light is, in my opinion, the reason why our sin must necessarily separate us from Him: were we to exist in that state one moment in His presence, His Glory would consume us like Fire (Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 11:1, 16:35)!

(v.5) “God called the light day, and the darkness He called night And there was evening and there was morning, one day. ” The last sentence might better (as to our understanding) be translated “And there was sunset and there was dawn, one 24-hour day” – sorry day-agers! The argument (given by some) that without a sun and moon, there can be no measurement of hours, is somewhat amusing: Day is the time of light, Night the time of darkness. These having been created, we now have (in addition to God’s own testimony to its veracity) the evidence for its duration.

Please return next week for the Second Day…and may God bless and enlighten your understanding, along with mine…