Sunday, March 27, 2011

Miracles and Nature

This continues the repost of a response to Michael Martin on Jesus' resurrection. It addresses the question whether miracles are rightly defined as a violation of the laws of nature. It goes beyond whether we want to let the anti-religious define religious terms for the conversation, and continues on to whether that is actually a fair-minded characterization of specifically the miracles of Jesus.

Martin begins his detailed discussion on the improbability of miracles with the assertion that a miracle is "traditionally" defined as a violation of a law of nature. This definition is possibly traditional among the anti-religious, but probably not among the religious and, more specifically, it is not exactly a traditional view among Christians. A fair review of the subject of miracles – especially in an article such as Martin's about Jesus’ resurrection – calls for a look at Christian views as well.

The clear majority of the recorded miracles of Jesus are miracles of healing. A miracle of this type is better classified not as a violation of nature but as a restoration of nature. When we consider blindness, deafness, lameness, or being crippled, these are not in fact the normal state of nature but a problem afflicting nature. When Jesus is recorded to have healed and made whole, the result was a return to the normal and healthy state of nature. Christian writers from Athanasius to C.S. Lewis have noted this.

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