Point #5: Miracles

January 22, 2015
This is the fifth in a planned twelve part series debating the Twelve Points of Christian Reform by John Spong. This series began as research for my “in progress” screenplay – The Hero Science Project – about an eighth grade Christian/Catholic student’s experiment in team problem solving goes viral, and ignites the Character Wars, fracturing Christianity. What I appear to be reaching for in writing this series is an understanding of the points of conflict, and the potential for a peaceful resolution. Unfortunately the consequences of the Character Wars are real, and there are many real victims, and to find a peaceful resolution would take a miracle…

Spong – The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.

Monk – Response to Thesis 5: Miracles
C.S. Lewis once stated, “The popular religion‟ excludes miracles because it excludes the living God of Christianity and believes instead in a kind of God who obviously would not do miracles, or indeed anything else.”

Spong’s argument is that miracles are no longer believable in the modern scientific age. However, quoting Lewis again, “A miracle is emphatically not an event without cause or without results. Its cause is the activity of God: its results follow according to Natural law.”

Following in the path of David Hume, modern science states that miracles cannot occur, but this statement cannot stand because as Lewis masterfully pointed out, Hume’s argument against miracles is circular, and it requires a belief in the uniformity of nature that is impossible given the inescapable uniqueness of each individual event in history.

Therefore, Spong cannot evade miracles from a scientific or philosophical viewpoint, so the historical accounts of miracles in the Bible cannot be denied.

Sly – Everything is a Miracle

1. a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.
2. a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.
3. an amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.

There is a point during the “awakening” I describe in High Ground when I decided to strip from myself everything that I could not take credit for. This preceded until there was nothing left, and I found myself standing on top of a Mountain of luck piled improbably high with tears streaming down my face. I was overwhelmed by the miraculous good fortune of my existence, and with total sincerity, surrendered the great selfish purpose of my life, my hunger for true love, and dedicated my life to finding some way to giving it all back. What happened next (dear reader), is a pretty good story.

I am not going to deny the existence of miracles because I believe my existence is a miracle. I would encourage seeking out the miraculous in your every day life. It is by nurturing an awareness of our extraordinary good fortune that we anchor our heart in loving gratitude, and this gives us the moral courage to overcome our fear of death, and to make our lives about giving back, instead of getting more. As I told Pope Francis in – The Peace Story: Ending War and Poverty – “I will not kneel in obedience before some false God crafted from some gilded words out of a selfish hunger for heaven or a selfish fear of burning hell.” That does not mean that I am not overwhelmed by the divine in nature. If you would seek God, seek him in those works that require no byline. Seek him in God’s Garden.

As for turning water into wine, this is not a miracle, this is a magic trick I wish I could pull off. I would say the same for all of the “miracles” in the New Testament, except I don’t believe any of them really happened. I believe they were just part of a “deifying Jesus” project in creative re-writing. Maybe I’m wrong in the essentials, that Jesus was able to bring the wine, that he found a way to feed the multitude. Maybe he was “sort of a wizard” with a deeper penetration into understanding reality (God) than most men, and he could do things most men can’t, but could learn how to.

Therefore, Spong cannot evade miracles from a scientific or philosophical viewpoint, so the historical accounts of miracles in the Bible cannot be denied.

This argument deserves an “F”. You don’t get to claim that science and philosophy can’t disprove the possibility of miracles, therefore THESE miracles MUST HAVE happened.

The problem with believing in “supernatural miracles” is that anything good that happens you don’t understand becomes a miracle. If you believe in Creationism, having found your answer, you stop seeking, and never discover evolution. This is the problem with a belief in the “supernatural” in general. It promotes an intellectual laziness that seizes upon a supernatural explanation that frees you from the frightening discomfort of uncertainty, of not knowing the Truth. Because the explanation is supernatural, there is no point in seeking an answer in the natural world. This laziness makes you weaker and weaker in the face of uncertainty, driving you deeper and deeper into the fantasy of “knowing the truth.” To protect yourself from anything that would drag you back out into uncertainty, you build a shell to protect you from your perceptions, and end up suffocating your mind.

The long-term consequences of suffocating your mind to block out uncomfortable contradictions to your Truth are devastating. Uncertainty is frightening, but if you can dwell there, it makes you stronger, and the loving gratitude in your heart will overpower your selfish fears of death. If you retreat from uncertainty, you become weaker, and are trapped inside the paranoid fears of the selfish heart, and waste your turn chasing empty promises of heaven.

Next up – Point #6: Crucifixion