Posts Tagged ‘supernatural’

Interview with Eric Metaxas

November 5, 2014

My interview with Eric Metaxas is now online. He’s talking about his new book Miracles. He has an interesting take… for one, he doesn’t particularly focus on healings or other material happenings; he’s just as interested in appearances of angels or in voices directing someone out of the Twin Towers on 9/11. He understands miracles as irruptions of the heavenly realm into the earthly; and as such he pays almost no attention to “proof,” like X-rays before and after, and much more to the question of reliable human testimony. He’s basically saying: trustworthy people have experiences that suggest a wider reality than the purely physical. The nature of reality is more than what meets the eye.

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Super-Natural

October 12, 2012

Last week I traveled to Maine to talk to a group of pastors. It’s a group that meets approximately once a month, inviting in a speaker to stimulate dialogue. Usually they have an academic come, so I was a change of pace. I’m not saying they were slumming….

I wanted to talk about world views as they relate to the topic of my last book, Miracles, and my next book, The Search for Adam. I’ve become convinced that we get tangled up in the classic Enlightenment paradigm separating Nature from Super-Nature.

Regarding miracles, both believers and unbelievers look for something unnatural, something that breaks the laws of nature. Skeptics don’t see it and conclude the Super-natural doesn’t exist except in the imagination of naive believers. Believers claim to see impossible things and conclude that they have proof that God is real. Either way, the basic belief is that Super-Natural is in an entirely separate realm from Nature, the only realm in which you can see God at work.

Regarding evolution, it’s much the same. The New Atheists (such as Richard Dawkins) say that nature explains everything, and there’s simply no need to summon up Super-Natural explanations, which are superfluous or dangerously false. Critics of evolution, such as those promoting Intelligent Design, contend the opposite: nature doesn’t even explain itself. There’s no way that nature produces complex organisms without Super-Natural intervention! For either side, the basic belief is that Nature is one thing, Super-Nature another, and they agree that if you can explain everything by purely natural causes, then the Super-Natural is superfluous or nonexistent and we live in a directionless and pointless universe without God.

This division of Nature and Super-Nature is so natural to us that we fall into it without realizing it. But it’s not a biblical view. In the Bible, God is (to use theological words) both immanent and transcendent. We aren’t deists who believe God set the universe in motion and went off to live in his Super-Natural realm; we are theists who insist that God holds everything together–that without him, the world cannot for a moment exist. His presence and power are in everything he has made. He is both in nature and above nature at the same time. Or as I put it in Miracles, everything is natural and supernatural at the same time.

So, it’s an interesting scientific question whether evolution can explain complex life forms, but it says nothing about God’s presence and power. God could create through evolution or he could work through other means. Either way, faith is what enables us to know of his presence and power in creation. (See Hebrews 11:3)

Similarly with miracles: there exist no violations of the laws of nature, because it is God’s creation and whatever he does is, by definition, natural. As Augustine put it: nature is what God does. Do surprising and mysterious things happen? That’s a question of evidence. You can’t come up with a general answer, you have to ask the question one event at a time. God can do anything. Does he? Whether he does or doesn’t do a miracle, he is (we know by faith) present and powerful all the time.

Recognizing God’s immanence is hard work, because it’s so out of step with the presumptions of our time. If we could learn to think biblically about nature and Super-Nature–about the creation and God–we would avoid a lot of fruitless arguments.

A New Age of Miracles

October 2, 2012

I’ve been remiss: for some time my article “A New Age of Miracles” has been in Christianity Today Magazine. It draws on my book Miracles so if you absolutely refuse to buy the book you can read this short piece for free and get something from it. It’s online here.