Monday, September 13, 2010

Science and the Miraculous

About a month ago I talked about miracles. I explained that miracles don't have to be big, flashy displays that defy the laws of science. As I explained a miracle is anything that reveals God's character to us.

This is why many bizarre phenomena, such as ball lightning, that defy scientific explanation aren't considered miraculous. They don't reveal anything about God's character.

Of course, there are some miracles that illustrate God's character as well as his power over nature. Things that seem impossible, or at least very improbable. Many people struggle to believe in Christianity because of the accounts miracles in scripture. They aren't sure how to reconcile a belief in supernatural miracles with a scientific worldview.

It is a problem. If we believe that scientific knowledge provides a complete and accurate understanding of the universe, then we have to concede that these kinds of miracles are impossible. Of course, our present scientific understanding is far from complete. More to the point, I don't believe that the scientific method can ever give us a complete understanding of the universe in which we live.

First and foremost, scientists can only study phenomena and events that are repeatable. Repeatable, in this case, meaning that the events can be reproduced in some sort of predictable fashion. If there are any events or phenomena that cannot be reproduced in this fashion, then science is unable to explain them. Supernatural miracles fall into this category, because God causes them when and where he choses. Since we cannot reproduce the event, we are unable to study it scientifically.

Some people might argue that, if supernatural miracles do occur, we should see more evidence of them. Specifically, one might argue that if such miracles were commonplace, then it would be difficult for scientists to produce such elegant theories that explain so much about our universe.

This only shows us that such miracles are rare, and that God prefers to work through natural laws, rather than against them. The only way we can conclude that supernatural miracles never occur is if we assume that the laws of nature are absolutely true at all times. We can accept scientific knowledge without coming to this conclusion.


  1. I follow this blog called "Not Even Wrong", ( and he had a recent article about Steven Hawking's latest book. The article is titled "Hawking Gives Up", and I thought you might find it interesting.

  2. Thanks for the link. It's an interesting article.

    Most of the scientific content was obviously over my head, so I'm not really qualified to comment, but I'm surprised to read that Hawking is promoting a multiverse theory. I'm also suspicious about his claim that the theory can be tested. Even if it makes claims about the expansion of the early universe, is a multiverse hypothesis really the simplest explanation?

    Anyway, thank you for the link. I'll be sure to take a closer look.