Monday, 3 August 2009

Miracles are natural

Anatole France was a writer who got himself the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921. Walter Lionel George says it is wrong to conclude Anatole France was an atheist as he has said that man is eternal and and he may concede that there might be something "out there" if he could understand it. In short Walter says Anatole is an agnostic. In 1895 Anatole wrote a little essay about miracles that is included The Portable Atheist. At the end of the short essay we have him concluding that:

Either it is not [a miracle], or it is; and if it is, it is part of nature and therefore natural (page 115)

I was also quite skeptical of the skeptic when he said:

If an observer of a genuinely scientific spirit were called upon to verify that a man's leg, after amputation, had suddenly grown again as before, whether in a miraculous pool or anywhere else, he would not cry : "Lo ! a miracle." He would say this: "An observation, so far unique, points us to a presumption that under conditions still undetermined, the tissues of a human leg have the property of reorganizing themselves like a crab's or lobster's claws and a lizard's tall, but much more rapidly." (page 113)

Now Anatole is saying what Augustine (City of God, Book XXI, Chapter 8), Spinoza and C.S. Lewis (Miracles) have said in that they agree that miracles are not in the strictest sense contrary to nature, only what we know about nature. But I think, as a layman, that when something obviously breaks the regularity of nature on something that has been repeatedly done (eg jumping into some water and then getting a new leg) would be considered a miracle because that is not the natural cause of events that should follow.

If you assume the universe is a closed system, you have already ruled out God, so of cause anything that breaks the repeated observable world has to of came from natural means. (Of cause the fact that the universe started and its inability to create itself from nothing would mean something external to nature would of started it, would by definition be a miracle, but I digress).

Anatole's point about us not knowing enough about science squares up with what other theists also say and besides that I don't really know what other point he was trying to make.

You can read his article here (do a search for "MIRACLE") or view each page here.


Post a Comment