Okay, enough of that. Now we move on to afterlife killing. My Christian friend and fellow blogger Chad at Eternal Revolution wrote a post about miracles, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to respond, especially how I just finished reading Zachary Moore's post about Irreducible Complexity.
In his post on miracles, Chad quotes Tim Challies, who proposes that the "laws of nature" should be looked at as regularities rather than laws:
It seems to me that Christians would do better to understand the laws of nature in terms of regularities rather than laws. When we speak of laws, we understand something that is inviolable…
The alternative, I believe, is to understand “the laws of nature” as regularities rather than laws. In this way a miracle is no longer a violation of the laws of nature but an exception or an anomaly. A miracle is merely a break from or exception to divine routine. In this sense God did not violate laws of nature when He used Moses to hold back the waters of the Red Sea. Instead, God governed that part of His Creation just a little bit differently for just a little while.
I would disagree with Tim's definition of "miracle." To me, a miracle is a violation or breaking of a natural law, like a fire burning that doesn’t consume fuel, or a flaming chariot that soars through the sky, violating at least two laws.
But what’s more important here is that Tim and Chad are trying to categorize everything that happens in the universe as part of God's divine plan (of course). What these two Christians don't realize is, that natural laws are recognized by humans through experimentation, falsifiability, quantifiability, and all other kinds of material-based processes of learning about the realm we exist in. We conduct tests to find out about natural phenomena, we derive formulas and mathematical equations, and use these to make predictions.
The problem with miracles is that they are unfalsifiable or unscientific in that they are unexplainable. What I mean is that we can use science and materialism to explain, for example, the quantity of water required to flood the entire world (think Noah's flood) and the law of conservation of matter/energy which states that the water had to come from somewhere (not just ex nihilo). However, the flood of Noah violates the law of conservation of matter/energy. In fact, the global flood of Noah is inexplicable in that the best we can say is "god did it." We cannot say how he did it other than to say "it was a miracle" which is just another way of saying "it is without explanation."
Miracles are a non-answer. Let me demonstrate by asking a series of questions: How does a miracle work? It works by God's doing. How does God do it? Miraculously. Well how does a miracle work? By now we are going in circles.
If I am to claim that fire needs to consume fuel in order to continue burning, then I must be able to back this up with facts. In science, we have specific formulas and explanations of the process of a fire that consumes fuel. We can measure this process and use equations to make predictions about it. We can study the substances and make predictions about burn/consumption rates, which substances are flammable and which aren’t, etc... But with a miracle like a fire that doesn’t consume fuel, or water that comes from nowhere, there are no formulas or processes by which we can falsify, make predictions, or even begin to understand or explain the step by step processes of how these miracles work. Miracles are literally a non-answer.
If someone answers a mystery with another mystery, then he isn't answering anything at all. Nothing about a "miraculous" process can ever be hoped to be understood beyond the acknowledgement that the miracle in question is not understandable. Miracles are a lie in that they claim to explain something with a non-explanation by definition. Miracles are a contradiction. The problem with these Christians is that they don't seem to understand the concepts of what science is, what evidence is, and the importance of being able to explain or account for the claims that one makes, especially claims of miraculous events like those found within Christianity.
Near the end of the post, Chad says:
Am I proving the existence of miracles with these quotes? Of course not. But it should at the very least turn upside down our preconceived concepts of miracles (even those of us who believe in them) and perhaps make them a little more understandable (dare I say “rational”?) to skeptics.
I contend that for a miracle to appear rational to a skeptic is impossible, and here’s why:
For a skeptic to consider a miracle rational, the miracle would have to be scientifically explainable in that the process or act of the miraculous event would have to be traced from the first to last step and the entire claim of miraculousness would have to be falsifiable through some testable means. But if that were to be done, then the miracle would, by definition, no longer be a miracle. It would instead be a natural, material, and explainable event.
Allow me to explain using an analogy. Lets say that a miracle is a magic trick, and God is a magician (think David Blane or Penn & Teller). So a miracle would be like David Blane floating in the air or Penn & Teller making a rabbit pop out of an empty hat. Now these magic tricks are "magic" precisely because they are unexplainable and they seem to violate the laws of nature. But on shows like "Secrets of Magic Revealed" in which a masked magician sells out his industries secrets, we see that the floating in air and rabbit tricks are explainable by invisible wires or platforms, and secret compartments and such. At this point, they cease to be magic tricks! They simply become illusions or demonstrations that deceived the viewer as to what actually happened. They make you think someone is floating in the air, but in reality he is still subject to gravity and there is merely a wire holding him up. Hardly magic anymore. Or the rabbit came out of a secret door under a table or inside the hat. Again, hardly magic anymore. The explanation of the magic trick literally removes the "magic" from it.
These concepts can also be applied to the afterlife, believe it or not. The afterlife is a miracle in itself insofar as it is an untestable, unfalsifiable, and explainable phenomenon. Whether it’s a claim of a miraculous Heaven or a miraculous hurricane, no "miracle" stands on it's own two legs under the scrutiny of a skeptical and scientific inquiry.
Regardless if you call them magic tricks or miracles, these supernatural events are, by definition, completely unsupportable by any skeptical or scientific means. The only way these miracles and magic tricks can be believed in is through faith. And faith is nothing more than belief without logical proof or material evidence. In other words, it is a gullible belief without justification.
Now I cannot help but wonder, is Chad consistent? What I mean is, while he believes in the Biblical flood story, does he also believe that David Blane can levitate? Or does he believe that Penn & Teller can materialize rabbits ex nihilo? Why not? I mean, if miracles are what Chad says they are, then why wouldn't he believe God to be working through Blane, Penn, and Teller to make these abnormalities of the "guidelines" of nature occur? I told him I was making a post about this, so hopefully he can come in here and tell us.