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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  • Kurt

    I absolutely love reading your articles. Praise God for a breath of fresh air like you my firend!

  • Thanks Kurt. I am glade my thoughts can be useful! Middle-Schoolers just can't handel them.

  • I like this article… probably because it involves science, lol. I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to these things too, but not because I don't think they are possible. I have no problem accepting the fact that miracles occurred throughout history and throughout the bible, but I tend to be very skeptical of modern miracles and those who view them as essential to salvation (not you, but others who I have met).

    More than anything, I think that this line of thinking leads down a road of magical thinking. "If we just have enough faith, or pray in the right way, or … etc, then we can perform miracles: heal the sick, raise the dead, drive out demons." I call this "magical" thinking because it becomes a simplified equation: If I do this => then God will do this. In the end though, I think this line of thinking betrays the essence of what a miracle really is, and becomes more about us as individuals than about God.

    It is, and always has been, God alone who performs miracles. There is no special way in which we can pray and convince God that he should perform a miracle. God will provide miracles when He sees fit. Because of this, I don't see the lack of miracles as a lack of faith, just a lack of God's will. I don't think real miracles happen nearly as often as some think they do. I agree with C.S. Lewis on this subject and I think that throughout history, God performed miracles at important times in history in order to impart a message to his followers. I wouldn't at all be surprised if I discovered that no true miracles have occurred in the last couple millennia.

  • Eric, I appreciate your reading and your thoughts as always.

    That being said, I disagree. We are charged to raise the dead and heal the sick. Why don't we do these things? Because we lack the faith. Jesus said this very clearly to his followers. IF you have the faith the size of a mustard seed. And when they were unable to cast out the demons, it was because of their lack of faith.

    I propose that we don't preform miracles because we don't have the proper faith. This is not magical and it is not from me. I need to believe that God can do it. But I will have to disagree with C.S. Lewis on this one. God wants miracles to happen now and always. But our lack of faith cripples us.

  • WE are not charged to raise the dead, the disciples were. I don't think that verse applies to us today. Also, your mustard seed reference is taken out of context. That passage isn't about literally moving mountains.

    I've seen quite a few people try to heal others before, but I've never seen it actually work. Faith plays a role in Jesus' miracles, but faith is never enough to make God heal someone who is dying of cancer or bring someone back to life. Do you really think that faith is so rare that we don't ever see miracles anymore?

  • I guess we will have to agree to disagree. That is the very point of this blog. We are just like the middle-schooler—we look for science when we should just have simple faith.

    And yes, I have seen healings. They happen, and do so all the time. But I would say they happen less often in the West because we are too "rational."

    Just my conviction.

  • Gail

    This is all circular confusion to me! If the problem is we don't have enough faith to do the things Jesus told us we would and should do, then how do we get it? It's like I have the car without the keys. I can't will myself to believe more. God I believe, help me with my unbelief! btw – I love this blog and that picture up above is awesome!

  • Pingback: Twitted by Jonathandkeck()

  • Jonathandkeck

    Awesome Gail! Glad that you love it. The HS gives us more and more belief when we ask Him for it.

  • ChrisGwhizz

    Just want to add a simple thought here that everyone needs to think about carefully.  There is this thought that if it can be proven scientifically then it’s real.  But we need to define scientific or science.  Science: It is mankinds observation.  Think about that.  So that means if I observe something and write it down it becomes fact.  Mankind is fallible which means science is also fallible no matter what.  How many times have science fact become fiction or changed because someone else observed something different.

    Because Miracles cannot be proven scientifically, don’t dismiss them.  There is far more around us that we will never know about.  Don’t ever rely on science to tell you the truth.  Who knows, someone later on might make another observation and say gravity does not exist… And by the way, no one can actually explain gravity, does that make it science or a miracle?

  • Well said Chris. I agree. God weaves all things together—whether they are rational to us or not. 

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