The Science of Miracles: Theological Lessons from Middle-Schoolers
I work at a middle school. It’s not a luxurious job, but sometimes it proves valuable. Recently while teaching a science class about water and the positive and negative charges that these molecules carry, deep spiritual understanding rushed upon me. It was an epiphany. I explained that these charges attract each other much like magnets, linking together to form water as we know it. I could see the widening of their eyes. They were blown away by the science of it all. One student’s arm shot into the air almost immediately.
When called upon, he asked, “What about when magnets have the same charge, don’t they push each-other apart?”
I responded, “Yes. Good observation. But that is not really how water molecules interact. They attract and connect to opposite charges.”
I could see the gears of his mind turning.
He then blurted out, “Aaahhhh. Now I understand. That is how Moses parted the sea! It was like magnets.”
While it’s quite easy to laugh at such an idea and at this kid who suddenly found the parting of the Red Sea as something rational and explainable by science, we tend to do the same thing.
We look for rational, scientific explanations for the inexplicable and nonsensical.
For me, I have had a hard time accepting the miraculous. The miraculous does not fit with the natural order of things. It does not make sense to me how Jesus, with a single word, withered trees, calmed the seas, and raised the dead. I feel, in my soul, like Thomas Jefferson cutting out the inexplicable and the miraculous out of the Bible and creating for myself the “Moral Teachings of Jesus.”
The miraculous can’t exist—not in a real sense. Science can’t allow such things.
The depths of this feeling and mentality in my life was revealed when a friend returned from visiting his Grandfather’s ranch back East. He came with a tale of dramatic ridiculousness.
Years before, his Grandfather’s crops were in danger from a swarm of locusts which were sweeping the land. Like some ancient pestilence, they devoured crops as if a curse from the devil. This upright man, like a prophet of old, walked the boarder of his property with Bible open and hymns sung. They asked for God’s miraculous protection. The locusts devoured everything in the region, but not one entered through his rickety old fence. They reached his property but went no further but simply went around, as if some invisible force would not allow these cursed creatures to cross.
When I heard the whole story, I laughed out aloud and said such a thing was ridiculous and impossible.
I had this reaction because it made no sense to me. How does a book opened and carried about a property line by a bunch of old coots make any difference?
Just like the young student in class, there is something within us that wants the miraculous to make sense, to fit in with the rest of the scientific, rational world.
Both you and I do this.
Why is it that I am not raising the dead, restoring the crippled, and the blind? Christ charged his followers to do these things.
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons.” Matt. 10:8
Why do we not do these things? I don’t because I don’t believe. At least not fully. But in reality, the Holy Spirit that enabled the Apostles to do these things, also dwells within his followers. They have the same power—and the same command to use it.
He can do the nonsensical. He can do the miraculous—that which defies scientific laws. He wants to restore sight to the blind. He wants to heal the sick. He wants to cast out demons and raise the dead.
But He wants us to do it.
Are we willing to trust him more than our minds? To put our faith in Him rather than what seems scientifically possible?
Christ broke the natural laws and so should we.
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