Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mysterious Ways

Do miracles happen?

The presuppositions of your worldview determine the answer you give to that question. A naturalist rules them out a priori (prior to consideration) because the materialistic world he or she demands will not allow for any kind of non-material cause for anything.

The theist believes that even though miracles are, by definition, rare -- that fact does not preclude their possibility. We should examine the evidence and decide if there is a natural explanation for the event in question. We should not presume that anything we observe is a miracle just because it seems unlikely to have occurred otherwise. But on the other hand, the theist is open to such possibility.

Because the naturalist does not accept the existence of the supernatural, it follows that supernatural intervention in the physical world is not possible. The theist disagrees. But supernatural intervention should not always be defined as miraculous. On the theistic view, God acts in the world through his sovereign control of all that happens. In cases where direct intervention is not necessary, the theist can also see that "God's hand" was involved in human events. As someone put it, "a miracle is only a coincidence when God chooses to remain anonymous."

With that in mind, check out this story about postal worker Lisa Harrell of Albany, New York. While delivering the mail yesterday she saw a 1 year-old baby in an open second floor window of a family home. As she neared the house, the baby crawled out the window and fell into Lisa Harrell's arms. A few seconds earlier or later and Harrell would not have been there. Interestingly, Harrell was on a completely different route than she normally would be.

A miracle? Maybe not. I would certainly not be compelled to label this event as being miraculous.

A coincidence? Sure.

But was God's sovereign will at work? You decide. Only a presuppositional bias would prohibit that possibility. God's anonymity notwithstanding, I believe I know who was responsible for this "coincidence."

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