Wednesday, May 21, 2014

N. T. Wright on miracles

Let’s give up the world miracle because the word miracle comes to us now in our culture from that Epicurean or deist worldview which envisages a God who is outside the process and occasionally reaches in and does something funny and then pushes off again. Now, that is not what the New Testament is talking about. So when people say can we believe in miracles I say no, because the word miracle gives us this sense of a normally absent God sometimes reaching in, that’s not the God of the Bible.

Wright's way of framing the issue is confused:

i) Metaphysically speaking, God is outside the process. God subsists apart from the world. Indeed, on a classical theistic view, God is timeless and spaceless.

ii) God created a system of second causes. Mundane events generally occur according to natural mechanisms. Physical causes producing physical effects. 

Physical processes are unintelligent. They do whatever they were programmed to do. They operate automatically and uniformly, if nature is allowed to take its course.

To a great extent, the natural world is like a machine. Of course, it takes wisdom to design the machine and power to build or maintain the machine. So that doesn't exclude God by any means.

iii) A miracles stands in contrast to this default process. There are basically two kinds of miracles:

a) Miracles which bypass natural processes. The effect is not the result of antecedent conditions. God causes the effect apart from the usual chain of cause and effect.

b) Miracles which utilize natural processes, but are more discriminating than blind natural processes. Where God has prearranged causally independent events to converge on a very specific and highly unlikely outcome. 

1 comment:

  1. Just trying to get at your objection. Is is that it could be misconstrued as suggesting occasionalism?