Is God Supernatural?

 

Is god supernatural?  The short answer is that he is supposed to be.  Although, Mormon theology teaches that god is bound by natural laws.  This is a blatant contradiction that will be addressed later in Illogical Gods.  The problem is that science has never been able to test or reproduce any claim of anything supernatural, not to mention God.  So, at the outset, I have to assume that anything real exists within the natural world.  I will accept that perhaps we don’t know of certain parts of the natural world and as such they may seem supernatural to us.  But even those parts, if they are detectable, can be studied, tested and observed…eventually.  I applaud any scientist that sets out to study any phenomenon that is currently considered supernatural with sound scientific principles and means.  It stands to reason that if we can detect sub-atomic particles and the chemical content in distant stars, we should be able to detect a ghost, if they exist.


Keep in mind also that illusionists (magicians) have made their living for ages making the supernatural appear to be real.  They do so by orchestrating elaborate illusions, tricks, deceptions, etc to fool our senses.  Miracles must be assumed to be hoaxes (or coincidences) unless proven otherwise.  At the outset of this project, I will state unequivocally that I do not believe in any supernatural phenomenon of any kind.  I do not believe in magic, superstition, ESP, divining rods, elves, fairies, ghosts, angels, vampires, or anything like them.  If events or experiences seem supernatural, then they either are hoaxes, misinterpretations, hallucinations, or unusual expressions of natural laws (that can be sorted out scientifically).  Scooby Doo and the gang understood it.  We should too.  I am open to any credible evidence to the contrary.


With that idea in mind, we have some serious questions to ask about the numerous visitations of Jesus Christ, God the Father, and angels reported by Joseph Smith.  These experiences are addressed in the section of this site called, The First Vision.  We are also forced to question the miracles of Christ noted in the Bible and Book of Mormon.    From an evidentiary point of view, there is no hard evidence for the miracles of Christ.  There are no artifacts, there are only stories told in the Bible.  The validity of the Bible is suspect, to say the least, and is discussed later.  So, unfortunately, miracles as reported in the scriptures cannot be used as proof for the existence of God.  They are hearsay at best and more likely fantastic stories invented by the authors of the Bible to serve their purposes.


What about modern day miracles?  Modern miracles are not of the same variety that we once saw in the Bible.  The term miracle is usually used to describe healings, chance occurrences, and incidents in which people seem to cheat death.   (It is also the American Olympic Hockey team beating the Russians for the Gold in 1980, but I digress.)  In 1748, in one of his key essays, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the Scottish philosopher David Hume gave an account of the philosophy of miracles that impressed and influenced many thinkers. Hume defines a miracle as "a violation of the laws of nature...a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent".


So, if a miracle is a “violation of the laws of nature”, I’m not sure they happen...ever.  I have worked in medicine now for about 20 years.  I have seen people healed.  I have seen people cheat death.  I have heard people say “the doctors were amazed”, or “they couldn’t explain it”.  The fact is, there are many things that doctors can’t explain.  And while we try to get to the bottom of it, I don’t think any doctor suspects devine intervention anytime some good thing happens unexpectedly.  Similarly, I have never heard of evil spirits being blamed for bad outcomes or complications, not recently anyway.  If anyone believed that, we might see the “evil forces” argument more often as a malpractice defense. 


Improbable, uncommon, and unlikely things happen every day.  If a poor man wins the lottery, it is not a miracle, it’s just good luck.  If someone is healed of cancer, it is the same.  If a spinal cord injury does not produce paralysis, the patient is lucky.  There are easily as many unlucky people who die in “freak” accidents every day.  Those incidents are not called “anti-miracles.”  I had one patient that was struck in the face with piece of steel that flew off a broken axe head.  She said to me that she was convinced that it was the hand of God that kept it from hitting her in the eye and blinding her.  To her this was a miracle.  I agreed (not wanting to upset her faith) but thought that if God really wanted to protect her in a miraculous way, he would have kept the chunk from hitting her in the head at all (she needed about 30 not-so-miraculous stitches).


Finally, miracles are never unambiguous.  If someone is healed of a serious illness, or moves their car moments before a tree falls in the same spot, these are considered miracles.  What we don’t see are things that really would be miracles.  For example, we have been promised that with faith we can move mountains.  I have never seen anyone, even a faithful person, move a mountain.  Nor have I seen an amputee’s limb restored.  I have never seen an angel bringing a message from god, or a an airplane that was about to crash be stopped before it hit the ground.  I have never seen starving refugees anywhere in the world saved by Manna from heaven, or civilians spared from a direct bomb hit in wartime.  The list goes on.


Conclusion:  Miracles represent a breakdown in our understanding, not a breakdown in the laws of nature.  I do not see any evidence to support belief in miracles, ancient or modern, but welcome any evidence to the contrary.  For a great discussion of the problem with miracles visit: www.whywontgodhealamputees.com.


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