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 PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:56 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Hey Reep, sorry it's taken so long to reply. Stuff kinda got in the way. Still is, as a matter of fact, but I thought I'd best do it while I have the chance. Hopefully my absence hasn't impacted my understanding of our topic, but I think it may have. If so, I hope you can forgive me.

I'll post my reply within a few days; I just want to run something by a friend first.
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 PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:01 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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No worries, Life.
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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:54 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Okay, here goes.

Reepicheep wrote:

Thankfully, he begins by restating what he said in The Problem of Pain: that not even omnipotence can do what is self-contradictory. If the laws of nature are necessary truths, no miracle can break them, but Lewis suggests, no miracle needs to break them. He then uses this example: Suppose a physicist shoots a billiard ball with a cue during an experiment. The laws of nature state that the ball with move at a specific speed and angle depending on the force of the shot, angle etc. If, once the shot has taken place, I pick up another cue and hit the cue in another direction, the physicist's predictions have not come to pass, but I haven't broken any law of nature. Supernatural power is a "factor" not too dissimilar from me with the second cue.


I'm not entirely understanding this bit. You picking up a cue is not a supernatural power. Unless it's Thor's cue. I'd be interested to know what Lewis lists as a genuine miracle (because he seems to say two different things*), and I'd be willing to bet that they include things which are impossible ... unless you include a supernatural power Wink .

Okay, I'm being cheeky in saying that, but there is a point to it, and I should elaborate a little. You mention the miraculous conception**. The natural act of parthenogenesis does not take place in mammals, but when it does (in others, like reptiles) it always ends up in female offspring. This is quite obvious when you think about it. So, doubly, it's intrinsically impossible. Which means that God is breaking the laws of nature (more on that in a moment) to perform a miracle. This argument simply doesn't hold up, when taken to its logical conclusion and application.

Quote:
Lewis then says that the laws of nature have never caused an event to happen; rather, they state the pattern to which every event must conform. In a miracle


This is true, but it doesn't follow. The laws of nature don't cause things to happen, because they're not an efficient cause - they explain phenomena, and that's it. If - I'm struggling for a word, here - consciousness were to not exist, the laws of nature would not exist. Nature would continue going about its business in the way they would, were the laws to exist, certainly, but those laws do not exist without consciousness thinking them up. This part of the argument is essentially a sleight of hand.

Quote:
God is the cause of a miracle and the results follow according to the natural law (e.g. after miraculous conception follows normal pregnancy). In this way a miracle is interlocked in the forward direction with the rest of Nature, but not in the backwards direction (since it's source came from outside Nature).


But this says nothing about that miracle being sensical or not, possible or not. It just says 'afterwards, things go about in their normal fashion'. It doesn't explain anything about said miracle. Also, personally, I don't like what this implies. It doesn't answer the question, and it's actively, implicitly, trying to draw attention away from the before - the bit that actually needs an answer.

It's like watching a magician perform a magic trick, and then asking 'but how did you do it!' and the magician replying 'My thumb is detached, that's how I did it.'

*From what little I've read of Lewis' theological work, sometimes it seems that Lewis is disavowing the intrinsically impossible miracles (i.e. Noah's Flood, Parting of Red Sea, Miraculous Conception etc.) in favour of the statistically improbable miracles, of which I made the distinction in my earlier post. But at other times, this, also doesn't seem to hold true, because it seems to me that Lewis is saying 'God can do the things in the bible, but not extra-biblical examples'. Which ... doesn't make sense.

You've read more of Lewis' work, is this so?

**Quite pleased that you said miraculous conception, not immaculate conception, so kudos. You'd be surprised how many Christians confuse the conception of Jesus with the immaculate conception of Mary.
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 PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:12 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
Okay, here goes.

Reepicheep wrote:

Thankfully, he begins by restating what he said in The Problem of Pain: that not even omnipotence can do what is self-contradictory. If the laws of nature are necessary truths, no miracle can break them, but Lewis suggests, no miracle needs to break them. He then uses this example: Suppose a physicist shoots a billiard ball with a cue during an experiment. The laws of nature state that the ball with move at a specific speed and angle depending on the force of the shot, angle etc. If, once the shot has taken place, I pick up another cue and hit the cue in another direction, the physicist's predictions have not come to pass, but I haven't broken any law of nature. Supernatural power is a "factor" not too dissimilar from me with the second cue.


I'm not entirely understanding this bit. You picking up a cue is not a supernatural power. Unless it's Thor's cue. I'd be interested to know what Lewis lists as a genuine miracle (because he seems to say two different things*), and I'd be willing to bet that they include things which are impossible ... unless you include a supernatural power Wink .


The cue isn't an example of supernatural power, but it can be used as a metaphor. God picks up "Thor's cue" and pokes into nature, changing what would normally have happened, but not breaking a law of nature.

I think understanding this depends on your definition of Nature. To a naturalist "Nature" simply means "everything", but to a supernaturalist like me "Nature" is what is created, distinct from the uncreated "Supernature". If you then think of a "nature" to include both Nature and Supernature (we can call it NATURE), a miracle happens within NATURE, but from outside Nature. God causes a miracle to happen within nature, but everything is happening within NATURE. I'm hoping this is making sense. Some things make sense in your mind, but is difficult to explain in words. The key is we're dealing with a higher plane of reality causing things to happen in a lower plane of reality.

As far as what Lewis lists as a genuine miracle, any miracle that Jesus was involved in in the New Testament is fair game. He chose not to go into the Old Testament miracles, which may or may not be "mythical".



Life Is The Path wrote:
Reepicheep wrote:
Lewis then says that the laws of nature have never caused an event to happen; rather, they state the pattern to which every event must conform. In a miracle


This is true, but it doesn't follow. The laws of nature don't cause things to happen, because they're not an efficient cause - they explain phenomena, and that's it. If - I'm struggling for a word, here - consciousness were to not exist, the laws of nature would not exist. Nature would continue going about its business in the way they would, were the laws to exist, certainly, but those laws do not exist without consciousness thinking them up. This part of the argument is essentially a sleight of hand.


I'm not sure I'm ready to say that the laws of nature wouldn't exist without consciousness (language does get tricky here, with the difference between consciousness, sentience etc.). Wouldn't the "rules" described in "laws of nature" continue to happen if they weren't conceived of? For example, wouldn't objects still fall towards a planet's core even if there were no people to think up the word "gravity"?

Life Is The Path wrote:
Reepicheep wrote:
God is the cause of a miracle and the results follow according to the natural law (e.g. after miraculous conception follows normal pregnancy). In this way a miracle is interlocked in the forward direction with the rest of Nature, but not in the backwards direction (since it's source came from outside Nature).


But this says nothing about that miracle being sensical or not, possible or not. It just says 'afterwards, things go about in their normal fashion'. It doesn't explain anything about said miracle. Also, personally, I don't like what this implies. It doesn't answer the question, and it's actively, implicitly, trying to draw attention away from the before - the bit that actually needs an answer.


This goes back to what I said earlier about Nature vs. NATURE. From a naturalist's viewpoint a miracle seems like an alien invasion, but not from a supernaturalist's viewpoint.

Life Is The Path wrote:
**Quite pleased that you said miraculous conception, not immaculate conception, so kudos. You'd be surprised how many Christians confuse the conception of Jesus with the immaculate conception of Mary.

It was only very recently that I learned the difference too. Razz

One thing that crossed my mind about the miraculous conception was that it seemed like the definition of nonsense: creating something from nothing... which made me think of creation in general... which made me realize that the term ex nihilo is a misnomer. Creation is not "something from nothing" (which is nonsense), it is something from God. Like Plato's Theory of Forms, everything comes from God and is a shadow or copy of its Creator. Once I realized/remembered that, the miraculous conception didn't seem like nonsense anymore. If God is, almost by definition, the Creator, what's one more creation?
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 PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:11 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Sorry for the double post, but I forgot to address this.

Life Is The Path wrote:
*From what little I've read of Lewis' theological work, sometimes it seems that Lewis is disavowing the intrinsically impossible miracles (i.e. Noah's Flood, Parting of Red Sea, Miraculous Conception etc.) in favour of the statistically improbable miracles, of which I made the distinction in my earlier post. But at other times, this, also doesn't seem to hold true, because it seems to me that Lewis is saying 'God can do the things in the bible, but not extra-biblical examples'. Which ... doesn't make sense.


Far from only accepting "statistically improbable miracles", Lewis didn't consider those events miracles at all (and I would agree with him). If all of Nature is interlocked in a continuous chain of cause and effect since the origin of the universe, then every natural event was ordained at the beginning of time, every event was fated to happen. As far as I can tell this would be the case even if God didn't exist; at any rate, it is what Epicurus and Lucretius believed. Usually when people label a statistically improbable event (e.g. finding food just as you're about to starve) as a "miracle", they don't it in the sense that Lewis or I would mean it (i.e. divine interference with the natural order of events). I would label a statistically improbable event, especially if its an answer to prayer, as "providence"... though in a sense every event is "providence" since every event has been ordained. True miracles would be people being raised from the dead, healing leprosy, multiplying loaves and fish etc. I have never - to my knowledge - directly experienced a miracle, nor do expect to.
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 PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:02 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Reepicheep wrote:


The cue isn't an example of supernatural power, but it can be used as a metaphor. God picks up "Thor's cue" and pokes into nature, changing what would normally have happened, but not breaking a law of nature.

I think understanding this depends on your definition of Nature. To a naturalist "Nature" simply means "everything", but to a supernaturalist like me "Nature" is what is created, distinct from the uncreated "Supernature". If you then think of a "nature" to include both Nature and Supernature (we can call it NATURE), a miracle happens within NATURE, but from outside Nature. God causes a miracle to happen within nature, but everything is happening within NATURE. I'm hoping this is making sense. Some things make sense in your mind, but is difficult to explain in words. The key is we're dealing with a higher plane of reality causing things to happen in a lower plane of reality.


This bit doesn't quite sit with me, and I've been struggling to pinpoint it. I don't think I'm quite there yet, but you've been very patient and it seems wrong to let the silence continue. Nature doesn't so much mean 'everything' (although that statement is, taking literally, technically accurate), to a naturalist, but rather all that there is, and an outright rejection of supernatural things. I mean, I get what you're saying - I was once a supernaturalist, like yourself. So this is familiar territory. It's just ... okay, miracles aren't really nudges that cause things that would have happened naturally. Anything purported to be a miracle, either in the Bible or post biblical is something that happened not according to natural (or physical) law. Water turning into wine would not have happened at all, in nature. Nor would walking on water (for a human, at least. There's several fascinating insects that can walk on water, due to their size and weight displacement, and water repellent coating.) And neither, indeed, Jesus' conception. It can be claimed that there is a higher plane (though I reject this notion), but it does not fit that miracles do not change nature, where the defining characteristic is that it does exactly that, the impossible - i.e. breaking the laws of nature as we understand them.

Quote:
As far as what Lewis lists as a genuine miracle, any miracle that Jesus was involved in in the New Testament is fair game. He chose not to go into the Old Testament miracles, which may or may not be "mythical".


What do you mean by fair game? I can't quite understand if you mean 'they're open to interpretation' or 'yes, I believe these were genuine miracles.' I would have thought the latter, simply because you make the distinction of the OT being questionable - i.e. fair game. For now I'll operate under the assumption that you mean the NT miracles to be true miracles.

(My personal belief is that all miracles from the bible are open to interpretation. In list of likelihood: Completely mythical, no grounding in historicity whatsoever (didn't happen). Euhemeristic, grounding in historicity, but reported incorrectly/distorted and expanded upon into mythical proportions (for example, Jesus curing various ailments. Could have been simple problems, misdiagnosed, and Jesus cured them through basic medicines known at the time). Or historical fact.)

This may be a weird question to ask a Christian, but why are the NT miracles any more valid than the OT? They may or may not be mythical also. Indeed, if you recall, several (entirely natural) events were said to occur, according to the bible, such as the ground shaking, and the sky turning dark for 3 hours across the earth, however contemporary scholars do not list any of these things happening. There may also have been dead people coming back to life (apart from Jesus) but I may be mixing up my books on this. I remember there was an army of undead in the OT. Perhaps that was it? To ignore the historicity of such claims for the moment, why ascribe God to them at all? The first two at least are entirely natural phenomena, and can be explained as normal, natural incidents. Ascribing them to God doesn't really add anything.

As for the last, I think if I saw that, what I think we could agree on as a true, impossible miracle, then I'd willingly believe in a divine being. Although the question would still remain as to whom I must pray, if pray I must.

Quote:
I'm not sure I'm ready to say that the laws of nature wouldn't exist without consciousness (language does get tricky here, with the difference between consciousness, sentience etc.). Wouldn't the "rules" described in "laws of nature" continue to happen if they weren't conceived of? For example, wouldn't objects still fall towards a planet's core even if there were no people to think up the word "gravity"?


Yeah, I'm still not happy with that word. Maybe conscious thought is better. What I mean is - and essentially you're right in saying that the rules would continue to happen if they weren't conceived of, which is what I was trying to say - that those laws of nature don't cause anything. They merely describe. Their only power is explanatory. Maybe some examples would help. Example a) Gravity existed long before Newton discovered it, and made the Law of Gravity.

Example b) Bob kicked a ball. The ball broke Mrs Patterson's window. The cause was bob kicking the ball. The laws of nature (technically the laws physics in this example, but hey ho) describe how this comes to pass, by explaining how force, angle etc. come into play.

You see, laws (and theories) of nature are not truths, but are the paradigms for which we think the universe operates, and we discover these via the scientific method. And if something goes against those paradigms (and to be fair we don't know them all yet), the laws are either altered to reflect this new knowledge, or abandoned. I don't really understand why Lewis brings this up, as this doesn't really alter anything. Without reading it, I have to give the benefit of the doubt here, but the reason of inclusion, thus far, does look dubious.

Quote:
This goes back to what I said earlier about Nature vs. NATURE. From a naturalist's viewpoint a miracle seems like an alien invasion, but not from a supernaturalist's viewpoint.


Which still doesn't really explain anything. In fact it's going further away from an explanation. It just says 'another thing happened'.
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 PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:04 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Reepicheep wrote:
Sorry for the double post, but I forgot to address this.

Life Is The Path wrote:
*From what little I've read of Lewis' theological work, sometimes it seems that Lewis is disavowing the intrinsically impossible miracles (i.e. Noah's Flood, Parting of Red Sea, Miraculous Conception etc.) in favour of the statistically improbable miracles, of which I made the distinction in my earlier post. But at other times, this, also doesn't seem to hold true, because it seems to me that Lewis is saying 'God can do the things in the bible, but not extra-biblical examples'. Which ... doesn't make sense.


Far from only accepting "statistically improbable miracles", Lewis didn't consider those events miracles at all (and I would agree with him). If all of Nature is interlocked in a continuous chain of cause and effect since the origin of the universe, then every natural event was ordained at the beginning of time, every event was fated to happen. As far as I can tell this would be the case even if God didn't exist; at any rate, it is what Epicurus and Lucretius believed. Usually when people label a statistically improbable event (e.g. finding food just as you're about to starve) as a "miracle", they don't it in the sense that Lewis or I would mean it (i.e. divine interference with the natural order of events). I would label a statistically improbable event, especially if its an answer to prayer, as "providence"... though in a sense every event is "providence" since every event has been ordained. True miracles would be people being raised from the dead, healing leprosy, multiplying loaves and fish etc. I have never - to my knowledge - directly experienced a miracle, nor do expect to.


Sorry, I completely forgot to include this. It'll have to wait until later. I think I broke my brain.
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 PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:21 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
It's just ... okay, miracles aren't really nudges that cause things that would have happened naturally. Anything purported to be a miracle, either in the Bible or post biblical is something that happened not according to natural (or physical) law. Water turning into wine would not have happened at all, in nature. Nor would walking on water (for a human, at least
. There's several fascinating insects that can walk on water, due to their size and weight displacement, and water repellent coating.) And neither, indeed, Jesus' conception. It can be claimed that there is a higher plane (though I reject this notion), but it does not fit that miracles do not change nature, where the defining characteristic is that it does exactly that, the impossible - i.e. breaking the laws of nature as we understand them.

Okay. Lewis categorized the miracles of Jesus in two different ways.

Categorization #1: 1) Miracles of the Old Creation (I'll abbreviate as OC) and 2) Miracles of the New Creation (I'll abbreviate as NC). OC miracles are based on things that God does in Nature already, but done suddenly or locally - hence the miracle. NC miracles are based on the future redeemed universe (remembering that "paradise" in orthodox Christianity is us resurrecting physically and living here in a redeemed earth/universe, not our souls ascending to Heaven in a non-bodily existence like in Gnosticism).

Categorization #2: 1) Miracles of Fertility (OC): turning water into wine would fall under this, as would the multiplication of loaves/fishes, and the miraculous conception. Water does turn into wine in Nature via fermentation. Fish and bread of course multiply naturally as well, fish through reproduction and bread i.e. corn (corn falls into the ground and more corn grows up). I had forgotten about this until I re-read this chapter in Miracles, but I thought it was pretty neat: When Jesus is tempted in the desert, Satan tells Him to turn stone into bread and He refuses (could part of the reason be because "the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does"? God never changes (and presumably never will change) stone into bread naturally and so neither will the Son.

2) Miracles of Healing (OC): Healing of leprosy, blindness etc. Healing, of course, happens naturally: our bodies heal themselves. Medicine only helps or starts the natural process... which is why you can't heal a cut on a corpse.

3) Miracle of Destruction (OC): Only one of these. The destruction of the fig tree. Trees, of course, die in nature.

4) Miracles of Dominion over the Inorganic (OC/NC): God has dominion over storms and the stilling of the storm is God incarnate exercising this authority (OC). Walking on water is the weird one. Like you said, this doesn't ever happen in nature. Period. (Not including water striders...) Lewis suggests this is a NC miracle... meaning in the redeemed universe, people will be able to walk on water... I suppose. A skeptic will now point out that this classification is a cop out, because any miracle that doesn't fit into the idea of a logical God that cannot produce nonsense, can conveniently be labeled as NC. Anything could happen and we can say, "well that will happen in the redeemed universe not the current one." I'll admit this is very true, but at the same time, that isn't proof that a redeemed universe wouldn't allow people to walk on water. At any rate, there is only one miracle of this sort as far as I'm aware of. The other NC miracles make more immediate sense.

5) Miracles of Reversal (NC): Bringing back the dead to life. Rewinding the tape. We've talked about resurrection earlier.

6) Miracles of Glorification (NC): The Transfiguration, the Resurrection, and the Ascension.

Life Is The Path wrote:
This may be a weird question to ask a Christian, but why are the NT miracles any more valid than the OT? They may or may not be mythical also.

Well, I'm sure many Christians would disagree with this, but I think the Old Testament has it's share of "mythical" stories. Good examples being the first eleven chapters of Genesis which just scream myth to me and the books of Job or Jonah (the latter of which was most likely written as a satire - and quite a humorous one once you're aware of the fact Razz). In general the Bible seems to get more historical as it goes along. The later books Kings and Chronicles are also pretty historical (and probably as historically accurate as other ancient court records). The New Testament are near contemporary records (many of the Old Testament books were written down generations after the events described) with contemporary events, figures (figures who could confirm or deny the stories told about them) etc. The exception being John, which most scholars don't think of as being that historical since it adds a lot of stories the three synoptic gospels (which were written earlier) didn't include. Tolkien's ideas of Myth and Truth (which heavily influenced Lewis's philosophy and writings) has a lot to do with my thinking in this area.


Life Is The Path wrote:
As for the last, I think if I saw that, what I think we could agree on as a true, impossible miracle, then I'd willingly believe in a divine being.

An impossible miracle? Making 2 + 2 = 5. Wink
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 PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:46 am Reply with quote  
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  Taral-DLOS
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I apologize for not having read all of the above post, but I must intervene with one thing:

Water does not turn into wine naturally via fermentation. Water doesn't become alcohol. Sugar becomes alcohol. And only in the presence of other organisms, it isn't spontaneous. So unless Jesus also put yeast and sugar into the water, it was never going to become wine (and that's the miracle, I suppose).

I'm all about faith, but scientific accuracy when discussing anything is incredibly important to me.

I was listening to an interview with a professor (I think from UC Davis) who was an expert on beer. He did a lecture once in the Bible Belt and someone asked him "If beer is so great, why did the Good Lord Jesus turn water into wine instead of beer?" The professor answered "I guess beer was too complicated for him." He didn't get invited back for another lecture.
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 PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:10 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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^ Well, darn. Wink

I wish Lewis would have spent a little longer on this chapter, because of things like this. It seems like over simplification at times.

That said, this might go back to what I said a few posts earlier about the miraculous conception:

I wrote:
One thing that crossed my mind about the miraculous conception was that it seemed like the definition of nonsense: creating something from nothing... which made me think of creation in general... which made me realize that the term ex nihilo is a misnomer. Creation is not "something from nothing" (which is nonsense), it is something from God. Like Plato's Theory of Forms, everything comes from God and is a shadow or copy of its Creator. Once I realized/remembered that, the miraculous conception didn't seem like nonsense anymore. If God is, almost by definition, the Creator, what's one more creation?


If God is the Creator, why not create yeast and sugar in the jug holding the water? It would seem like a clear cut divine "nudge", because creation is something we know God can do (if we believe in God) and it doesn't break any laws of nature. Turning water into wine actually makes more sense now than it did before.

Taral-DLOS wrote:
I was listening to an interview with a professor (I think from UC Davis) who was an expert on beer. He did a lecture once in the Bible Belt and someone asked him "If beer is so great, why did the Good Lord Jesus turn water into wine instead of beer?" The professor answered "I guess beer was too complicated for him." He didn't get invited back for another lecture.

Ha. Imagine being an expert on beer. Razz
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 PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:25 am Reply with quote  
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  Taral-DLOS
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Reepicheep wrote:
^ Well, darn. Wink

I wish Lewis would have spent a little longer on this chapter, because of things like this. It seems like over simplification at times.

That said, this might go back to what I said a few posts earlier about the miraculous conception:

I wrote:
One thing that crossed my mind about the miraculous conception was that it seemed like the definition of nonsense: creating something from nothing... which made me think of creation in general... which made me realize that the term ex nihilo is a misnomer. Creation is not "something from nothing" (which is nonsense), it is something from God. Like Plato's Theory of Forms, everything comes from God and is a shadow or copy of its Creator. Once I realized/remembered that, the miraculous conception didn't seem like nonsense anymore. If God is, almost by definition, the Creator, what's one more creation?


If God is the Creator, why not create yeast and sugar in the jug holding the water? It would seem like a clear cut divine "nudge", because creation is something we know God can do (if we believe in God) and it doesn't break any laws of nature. Turning water into wine actually makes more sense now than it did before.


Oh, I agree that an omnipotent God could put perform the miracle by putting the yeast and sugar and flavouring into the water and letting it transform naturally (albeit sped up). But that seems to be a bit of a cop-out. It's equally miraculous to spontaneously put all the ingredients of wine in the jug and let it ferment and develop than it is to change the liquid from pure water into a water/ethanol/sugar/flavouring solution akin to wine.

Reepicheep wrote:
Taral-DLOS wrote:
I was listening to an interview with a professor (I think from UC Davis) who was an expert on beer. He did a lecture once in the Bible Belt and someone asked him "If beer is so great, why did the Good Lord Jesus turn water into wine instead of beer?" The professor answered "I guess beer was too complicated for him." He didn't get invited back for another lecture.

Ha. Imagine being an expert on beer. Razz


It was quite an informative interview. There's a lot going on in any kind of fermentation, particularly with something like beer. The complete interview is here: http://www.sciencesortof.com/2010/04/784/
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-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear


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 PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:11 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Taral-DLOS wrote:
Oh, I agree that an omnipotent God could put perform the miracle by putting the yeast and sugar and flavouring into the water and letting it transform naturally (albeit sped up). But that seems to be a bit of a cop-out. It's equally miraculous to spontaneously put all the ingredients of wine in the jug and let it ferment and develop than it is to change the liquid from pure water into a water/ethanol/sugar/flavouring solution akin to wine.

I don't agree that it would be a cop out. You believe in miracles, correct? How would you reconcile water turning into wine?
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 PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:03 pm Reply with quote  
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  Taral-DLOS
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Reepicheep wrote:
Taral-DLOS wrote:
Oh, I agree that an omnipotent God could put perform the miracle by putting the yeast and sugar and flavouring into the water and letting it transform naturally (albeit sped up). But that seems to be a bit of a cop-out. It's equally miraculous to spontaneously put all the ingredients of wine in the jug and let it ferment and develop than it is to change the liquid from pure water into a water/ethanol/sugar/flavouring solution akin to wine.

I don't agree that it would be a cop out. You believe in miracles, correct? How would you reconcile water turning into wine?


Sorry, what I meant to say is that there are two possibilities regarding the miracle of turning water into wine:

1- Supernaturally creating the circumstances in which a container that once contained pure water would turn into wine of its own accord (by supernaturally adding yeast and the necessary chemicals from grapes, including the sugars, and accelerating the yeast's metabolism and somehow cutting it all off from air, and also somehow removing all the waste, etc.)

or

2- Supernaturally adding to the container that once held pure water all the necessary ingredients to make it wine (ethyl alcohol, sugars, whatever's in the grapes, etc.). A type of supernatural Jiffy-wine: Just Add These Chemicals To Water.

Both of these are equally impossible by natural means. As a result, they are both equally miraculous if they just happened spontaneously.

When given the choice between "God turned water into wine" (option 2) vs. "God set up the conditions for water to naturally turn into wine" (option 1), Occam's Razor would suggest that the simplest thing for God or anyone to do is to just change the water into wine directly. This once contained pure H2O. Now it contains a solution of chemicals that is indistinguishable from wine. Setting up the precise conditions for the water to naturally become wine is needlessly complex and still completely supernatural and therefore miraculous.

So I suppose cop-out is a wrong word. I suppose I meant that it's odd to take a clearly miraculous event and bend it so you could say "Oh yea, I suppose that could've happened naturally, given a little push." It demeans the miracle to suggest that it had some origin in nature and all it needed was a little nudge.
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"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear


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 PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:43 am Reply with quote  
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  Alan Skywalker V
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A couple of months ago, I was up to my ears in a rather heated discussion about Christianity with a couple of people on the TF.N Senate and Community boards. One poster gave a link to this website:

http://atheism.about.com/

and said that there were several articles listing the ways the Gospels contradicted themselves in their accounts. He originally linked to an article about Jesus' Resurrection, and I intended to start there, but ended up going back further to one about Jesus' trial. Anyway, I showed pretty clearly in a couple of posts that the Gospel accounts are not contradictory, but complement each other.


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 PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:56 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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@Taral: Sure, that works too. The point is that the added ingredients (whatever those ingredients were and however the wine was technically made) was the divine "nudge" and after the nudge nature worked its course. As in the miraculous conception: after the "nudge" which was the conception itself, normal pregnancy followed.

@Alan: I don't worry about the Gospels contradicting each other (which, yes, they do - as do many other parts of the Bible), because I don't believe in inerrancy, at least not in the strict sense of the word. I do, however, continue to believe that the Bible is "inspired" by God. The main difference being inerrantists seem to think that the Bible is God speaking verbatim and the authors simply wrote what they were told, while I think that the authors wrote using the normal creative process (read the first few verses of Luke), but God was guiding them often or always unbeknownst to them. This is why I don't believe in a literal seven day creation 5,000 years ago etc., but still think of the Bible as God's word.
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