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Miracles: A Contradiction of Scientific Law?

French Riviera. Photo by David Rives.

For many believers and non-believers, miracles (especially, divine miracles) are understood as being the result of God’s temporary relaxation of natural laws. This perspective is both untrue and detrimental to the defense of our faith for the reason that natural laws are descriptive not prescriptive.

A common objection to the idea of the possibility of miracles is that for miracles to exist science must be subverted. This idea comes from the belief that natural laws tell the universe what to do (i.e. are prescriptive). However, natural laws are only a description what actually happens.

To borrow Dr. John Lennox’s analogy: imagine that before you go to sleep, you place three twenties in a drawer and you are surprized to find nothing there when you wake in the morning. One would not say here that the laws of mathematics have been broken (20×3=0?) but that the laws of Arkansas,or wherever, indeed have (someone stole your money, which is illegal).

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The key to understanding what a law is is to recognize that a law does not cause anything to happen but only describes what happens when it happens. The mathematical law that 20×3-60=0 did not cause the burglar to steal one, two, or even all three twenties. Yet, mathematical laws, expressed by an equation, accurately described what went on. You put in $60, the thief took $60, and 60-60=0. The important part of my logic is that in the case that the burglar chose instead to take only two of the twenties, he would not have to bend a mathematical law.

Mathematical laws more specifically then just describing what happens when it happens, mathematical laws only describe what mathematically happens. By the extension of the analogy, natural laws themselves describe only what naturally happens. Basically, it is whatever the universe does if left to itself.

Hence, a miracles, rather than being a subversion of natural laws, is merely something that is caused by something unnatural (or supernatural) which would not have happened otherwise on its own. The Red Sea never split to uncover dry land as a result of natural laws because according to natural laws the Sea will never split on its own. God (merely) added energy into the system in a very specific way when He split the Red Sea and uncovered dry land. Miracles are “allowable” in the face of natural laws because natural laws only describe what naturally happens, they say nothing of what something supernatural can and cannot do.

Don’t get me wrong, God is powerful enough to do whatever He pleases. If He wants to get something done, by all means He can use nature itself, or suspend natural laws, or add new energy to the system. My point here is just that God doesn’t have to subvert a natural law in order to get something done.

Always and in All Things, Let God be Glorified.

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Written by Dante Duran

I love math, science and Christian Apologetics but even more the Eternal Infallible Word of the Living God. I am working towards my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from John Brown University. In my spare time, I debate evolutionists, Atheistic and Theistic, on Khan Academy by the pseudonym "Calculaeus."

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