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Thursday, April 28, 2022

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Why, for theists, must the laws of nature owe their existence and content to God? Well, God is sovereign over all that is metaphysically contingent, and the laws of nature, while nomically necessary, are metaphysically contingent.

What follows may be easily shot down, but these posts on miracles have occupied my attention for several days and on and off during last night, so I wanted to run this by you.

“Spinoza's argument, expressed in my own way, is something like the following. If we take miracles ontically, as actual interruptions or contraventions of the order of nature, and thus of the will of God, then not only are they impossible, but they can provide no basis for knowledge of God. “

What if we assume that “the order of nature” remains unchanged, intact, and that God acts through powers that are not encompassed by such laws? If this be the case, then no “laws” are interrupted or contravened; they remain fully operational; rather, God deploys other powers, unknown to us, not designed to govern the normal functioning of the universe, to accomplish special ends. They fall outside of and are superior to the space/time continuum of the natural world. For instance, must God’s power to create something from nothing be restricted to the initial act of creation? Perhaps, this power, infinitely greater than the laws of nature, is deployed by God whenever He wills it, along with His normal powers to continually sustain the existence and operation of all things in nature. For instance, He may well utilize the former power in willing individual souls into existence or in sustaining the angelic life that moves within the material world but is not governed by it.

The New Testament miracles are relevant here. In the miracle of the fishes and loaves, the silence of the gospels on the means by which a very small quantity of matter (five loaves and two fishes) was made sufficient to feed five thousand persons may well reflect such supra-natural means (Mt 14:19-21; cf. Mk 6:40-44 and Lk 9:14-17, which have essentially the same wording, and Jn 6:10-14, which diverges only slightly). Here matter is exponentially expanded in a manner that remains mysterious. Must we reject the idea that greater powers are at work that run parallel to laws of nature? Similarly, the gospels say nothing of the act of the Resurrection itself; they only report its aftermath, the appearance of the risen Christ to the women and the disciples (Mt 28: 1-10, Mk 16: 1-20; Lk 24: 1-48; Jn 20:1-21:25). I suppose that one might assume that God contravened the laws of nature in rasing the dead Jesus, but no claim to this effect is made by the gospels; again, what occurred is shrouded in mystery and may well be brought about by other, unknown powers of the divinity that work within the, undisturbed created order when He wills it.

Vito,

I am afrain I don't know what you are asking when you ask:>>What if we assume that “the order of nature” remains unchanged, intact, and that God acts through powers that are not encompassed by such laws?<<

Most likely, Bill, I am just very confused. I was speculating about a way in which God might act miraculously that does not involve the contravention of the laws of nature, However, I am probably so far off the mark that it is best to ignore my comment. I have been delving into the question of miracles for about four decades now, so I felt compelled to respond in some way to your posts, although not very successfully.

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