Big Small Thoughts

If a miracle can be defined as: "A marvellous event not ascribable to human power or the operation of any natural force and therefore attributed to supernatural, esp. divine, agency; esp. an act (e.g. of healing) demonstrating control over nature and serving as evidence that the agent is either divine or divinely favoured" (OED), then wouldn't [g]od [h]imself be a miracle, as he doesn't exist within the confines of or according to the very laws of nature [h]e created / willed into being?

If not, then wouldn't natural law itself be a miracle if whatever existed prior to it was somehow more genuinely natural, if eternity was real and time illusory? As humans (theologians, philosophers, the good folks over at the Oxford English Dictionary) define the word / concept in such a way, wouldn't a miracle itself in that sense be self-contradictory, oxymoronic?

Given the nature of time, and the fact that if [g]od exists [h]e does so in eternity, far removed from our temporal existence in the universe, how could [h]e cause / effect events from outside time? [G]od is said to possess "the divine gaze," with which [h]e can see all time at once, and so knows when, at what point in time, to act from [h]is eternal vantage point, should [h]e favor one particular sports team over another, or this or that religious group killing this or that religious group in [h]is name.

Then there remains the question, which I'm quite sure I'm not the first to ask: When did [g]od create the universe, if [h]e exists in eternity, and, if that is somehow miraculously calculable, why didn't [h]e create it sooner? If [h]e didn't create it immediately, what took so long?

3 comments:

Charles Lennox said...

there are far greater minds out there that can reply to these thoughts, questions. i certainly am not one of them. doesn't time not act the way we think it does? it isn't lateral, i believe. if God is outside our idea of time, i'm not sure how that would prevent Him from acting, or limit Him in some way. and i'm not sure how it would be beneficial to know why God didn't create the universe sooner. i don't know. i'm not smart enough for such a talk i guess. here's something that came to mind...1 Cor. 13:2

T said...

To start, yes G-d would be miraculous according to the definition given, as he is a supernatural agent. If the first statement then is true, your other questions fall into the category of null and void.

As to whether God can effect the world from outside of time, the problem with asking that question is that you are trying to apply rules to a being who, definitionally, is not bound by any rules whatsoever due to his incomprehensible greatness.

The final point, as to when G-d created the universe, if the point of creation began time itself, also assuming time wasn't effectively linear until that point, G-d theoretically created the universe immediately, even if he existed prior, as time as we understand it does/did not apply to a divine being.

Blech. I hope that was understandable.

Eric Beeny said...

Hi, Charles:

True, since Einstein we don’t see time the same way, as his theories show time has many of the same properties as space, as it can bend or distort under certain conditions. They both act as fabrics, in a sense, which can be folded. Though how we experience time mentally is much different from our physical experience, relatively speaking.

I’m not saying it would be beneficial to know why [g]od didn’t create the universe sooner. I wasn’t thinking in practical terms, just posing the question. Maybe the only benefit is wonder.

You raised an interesting question with 1 Cor. 13:2: Are humans endowed with love and morality by [g]od, or are we biologically disposed to such emotions to foster survival, as we are a social animal and form groups to rely on for safety, identity, etc., and these senses serve to keep us from violating the group as a survival mechanism? Would we be extinct already without our sense of love or morality, if these senses are not [g]od-given?

Hi, T:

Well said. I was mainly pointing out the oxymoronic nature of how humans (including myself) conceptualize then interpret concepts they invent. I’m not sure the questions fall into the category of null and void. I was questioning whether humans (or anything ‘alive’) are not the true supernatural beings, as we were theoretically ‘created’ by a spiritual/divine being, and are therefore, in a sense, unnatural. We actually transcend the nature, i.e. the timeless realm in which [g]od exists.

As to my “trying to apply rules to a being who, definitionally, is not bound by any rules whatsoever due to his incomprehensible greatness,” that’s a good point, though I wonder how we can claim to know [g]od is incomprehensibly great and bound by no laws. That’s just something we think because we can’t think of it any other way, unless we look to Newton and his idea of [g]od as a clockmaker, setting the clock, and then just walking away, though I get the impression that that kind of [g]od could intervene but chooses not to.

It’s easy to say [g]od isn’t bound by natural laws because [h]e designed them, but if [g]od was able to exist here, in what we conceptualize as the natural world, if [g]od could manipulate events in our temporal realm, Jesus maybe wouldn’t’ve been born, if Jesus is, as he claimed, the son of [g]od.

Very good point on whether or not [g]od created the universe immediately. I also wonder about the bible, in which [h]e creates it in six days (of course allowing the benefit of the doubt that the world is apparently only 6,000 years old). Were these days as we know them, and was this the beginning of time? This makes me think it took time to create time. Was time not truely created until Adam and Eve were banished, and death was introduced? Very good point, T...

Thank you both...