~~Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens, August 15, 1782
Yes, I know what you are thinking. "It's a miracle Hercules can run all these blogs!" Actually, I am barely running them now. This is just an outlet for my thoughts, and for my continuous desire to experiment with blog templates.
But I couldn't help thinking the other day about what miracles are. Some time ago, there was a discussion on one of my other blogs about the beliefs of theistic rationalists, because the individual who brought that group into discussion believed that most of the Founders could be put into that category (I beg to differ, even though not all of them were Christian). He said that theistic rationalists, unlike deists, accept the possibility of miraculous occurances; rationalists, he said, just don't believe in the miracles that "break the laws of nature." The commentator did explain that he was not a theistic rationalist himself, and so I am not accusing him of this belief. But it ridiculous to believe in miracles that don't "break the laws of nature," for two reasons. First of all, miracles don't "break" the laws of nature (I'll explain why in a moment), and second, miracles are not to be judged by the laws of nature, because the laws of nature make no room for miracles. To say that you accept miracles that are within the confines of the law of nature is equivalent to the statement that one believes in clouds, as long as they do not hold moisture.
Lately I have been reading Dr. Francis Schaeffer's book A Christian Manifesto again. I have read it before, and was very impressed with his style of presentation, his research, and his ability to see the big picture and get his reader (who would be paying attention, of course) to see it, too. Presently, I have been reading the part in his book where he is discussing higher law, and the concept of a government of law (one of my favorite subjects). Of course, Dr. Schaeffer has written all of this from a Christian perspective, and he brings into focus that an absolute submission to just law is the hallmark of the very nature and character of God. God abides by His own law. That is quite an amazing thought when one takes into perspective the fact that men in places of authority do that.
And then I began to apply that same line of thought to the relationship between miracles and the laws of nature. It suddenly dawned on me that the laws of nature are simply the summation of how the mechanism of nature works on its own. The laws of nature do not rule out miracles, and they do not rule out God.
A good analogy that will help my reader understand this line of thinking is an electric toy racetrack. Most of us, I am sure, have seen them or played with them at one point or another. The track is put together piece-by-piece, the cars are put on the track, and the switch is turned on. The cars go around-and-around on the track, and never change their course. In a way, the electric mechanisms that make the machine work, and that make the cars spin around the track are akin to the laws of nature. Their simply state "This is the way that things are when they run their natural course, and when no one steps into the picture to change anything." But let's say that as the cars are circling round the track, that the little boy to whom the set belongs lifts one of the cars of the track, turns it around, and sets it back on the track to continue its course. Such is the case when God steps in to do things that supersede the laws of nature. The electric mechanisms in the track cannot explain how the car began to go backwards; and the fact that those mechanisms provide no explanation for how the car was turned around (just like those mechanisms cannot explain how the track got manufactured and assembled, and how the mechanisms were put together to make the track perform its function) does not mean that the track created itself, or that the fact that the car is now circling the track backwards is imaginary. It is silly to limit oneself to the world of the mechanism, without acknowledging the power of the one who made the mechanism. Evolutionists, agnostics, deists, and yes -- theistic rationalists, are also being silly when they purport the laws of nature as being the only and the final reality.
One other thought:
If miracles really "broke" the laws of nature, then the whole universe would fall apart, according to Newton's Third Law of Motion, "To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." A genuine breaking of the laws of nature would result in a devastating chain reaction that would destroy the entire universe. There is evidence for miracles everywhere we look, and the world hasn't blown up yet.
God has authority over His own creation, and He can supersede it whenever He sees fit. It is against His nature to do it arbitrarily, but He will supersede the laws of nature to interven on the behalf of those whom He has called, and those who love and serve Him.