Thursday, December 08, 2016

Too lucky to be luck

Here's a good definition of coincidence miracle: 

It is important to emphasize that in spite of the widespread belief to the contrary, an event may be the source of marvel and elicit genuine religious response, not only without violating any natural law, but even if all its details may be explained by known laws. As long as an event is genuinely startling and its timing constitutes a mind-boggling coincidence, in that it occurs precisely when there is a distinct call for it to promote some obvious divine objective, then that event amounts to a miracle. The promotion of a divine objective may take many forms: it could be a spectacular act of deliverance of the faithful from the evil forces ranged against them, it might come as a highly unusual meteorological event through which the priests of Baal are discredited, or it might appear as a swift, clear, and loud answer to the prayers of the truly pious. However, whatever form the wondrous event takes, it should have a religious impact on its witnesses. George Schlesinger, “Miracles,” Quinn & Taliaferro (eds.), A Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell, 1999), 398-99.

1 comment:

  1. In Reasonable Faith's Q & A #335 titled "Must We Pray for a Miracle?" William Lane Craig distinguishes between THREE types of providence, 1. ordinary providence, 2. extraordinary providence and 3. special providence. He wrote:

    "What all this implies is that in between events brought about by God’s extraordinary providence (miraculous interventions) and events brought about by His ordinary providence (events which regularly occur as products of purely natural causes) there is a third category, which we may call God’s special providence, namely, events which are the result of purely natural causes but which are unusual in terms of their special timing and context. For example, if just as George Muller is giving thanks for God’s provision of daily bread for his orphanage, knowing all the while they have no food, and at that moment a bakery truck breaks down outside in the street and gives all its provisions to the orphanage, then we may regard this as an answer to prayer, even if there are wholly natural causes of the truck’s breakdown at just that place and time. It’s a special providence of God, prearranged in answer to Muller’s prayer."

    I like Craig's distinctions, though I don't know how common or popular they are among theologians. They may be idiosyncratic with Craig. The one thing I disagree with is that Craig seems to believe that special providence is never miraculous. I think that sometimes they are, depending on their magnitude. For example, the parting of the Red Sea may be due to special providence, but I'd still consider it a miracle (AKA a coincidence miracle).

    As I argued in one of my blogposts, the commonality between ordinary and special providence is that both are purely the result of natural causes [ultimately controlled and sustained by God of course]. While the commonality between extraordinary and special providence is that both have a special intent or purpose, by God, in their occurrence. Finally, ordinary providence is NEVER miraculous, extraordinary providence is ALWAYS miraculous and special providence is SOMETIMES miraculous.