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C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy - Lesson 20

Miracles (Part 8)

If God is in fact a living determinate being, and is outside the natural system, he might insert events into the natural system. The laws that we observe in the natural system may be a subset of higher laws that govern the universe. What criteria do you use to determine if a miracle has taken place? Evidence plus intrinsic probability. Whether or not an event is a miracle is also part of the discussion of the problem of evil. Why would God intervene in some circumstances but not others? 

Michael L. Peterson
C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy
Lesson 20
Watching Now
Miracles (Part 8)

I. The Propriety of Miracles (chapter 12)

A. Distinction between bad miracles and good miracles

B. Importance of identifying the grand narrative

II. Probability

A. Conditional probability

B. The claim is being made in the realm of history, not science

C. Part of the discussion of the problem of evil

D. Providence

III. Last Chapters


Lessons
About
Transcript
  • The purpose of the class is to directly engage Lewis’s philosophy and theology. He brings a Christian worldview to engage intellectual movements of his day. The trinity created us to bring us into the fellowship that has been going on with God forever. 

  • The mind is the organ of reason, imagination is the organ of understanding. To understand what real truth is, the imagination needs to be a part of that. We are created in the image of God and are immortal beings. Ordinary people are extraordinary. The Christian life is most deeply about being transformed resulting in participation in the divine life. It's more than just having one’s legal status changed. There should be transformation in the culture as well as personal. God is in the process of redeeming a wounded universe, including the whole of knowledge and truth in all subjects. 

  • There is a sacred quality to ordinary activities as well as symbolic religious rituals. Whatever is true in any field of study is God’s truth. The world is essentially good, but it’s been damaged. God has taken a great risk in allowing people free choice for good or evil. Evil has become present in many forms in the world and it is anti-creational and anti-human. We are not broken, but we are bent. God’s nature is relational because of the nature of the Trinity, so it makes sense that he would make a universe that is relational. We dwell in God and he dwells in us. As disciples of Christ we all share the single vocation of loving God and others.

  • Lewis wants to parlay theological doctrines into dynamic insights and track out their implications for intellectual engagement. He does is with a background of philosophical skill and theological understanding of historic orthodoxy. Instead of arguing about preferences, we need to focus on articulating the doctrines that are universal. Lewis’s ideas are expressed so they can be understood by people not formally trained in philosophy or theology but they have merit in the marketplace of ideas. 

  • The probability of morality as we know it in the human community, given that theism is true, is more probable than morality given any other worldview. Morality at the human (finite) level is anchored in morality at the infinite level. Morality has its most natural fitting worldview home in theism. In using the analogy of light shining through boards in a tool shed, Lewis says, “I believe in Christianity, not because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” 

  • In Hinduism, Brahman, the hidden inner essence of everything, is beyond human categories of good and evil. Brahman is the only reality. Everything we see is an illusion. The fundamental human problem is ignorance, not sin. Dualism is the idea that there is good and evil at war in the universe. Explaining morality in a dualistic framework is difficult. Dualism assumes good and evil are equal, so you would need a third element to adjudicate which one to choose, and that would be a higher standard. Otherwise you wouldn’t know which one to choose. Naturalism/materialism says there is no ultimate moral nature to the universe. 

  • Lewis begins by discussing our common moral experience as a triggering point to reason toward theism. Then he reasons for a deity that’s interested in morality that’s also a supreme power. With naturalism, we come from a source that is non-rational, non-moral and non-personal, so it’s difficult to understand how you get beings that are rational, moral and personal.

  • Theism is intellectually at least on par, if not superior to, other conceptions of reality like dualism, pantheism and naturalism. If there is a God that theism describes, only one deity of the living theistic religions said that this God invaded our existence. The question is that in comparison to other alternatives, what is emerging as a reasonable explanation of the reality we face?

  • Our rationality being reliable assumes that we can produce a large preponderance of true beliefs over false ones by using rational faculties like memory, abstract reasoning, perception and the testimony of others. The role of philosophy is to analyze and explain the common sense beliefs of the human race about morality and the external world. 

  • The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. Lewis thinks that we now do not have broad social consensus of Christian truth. He challenges individuals to have a more positive affirming attitude toward intellect and academics. In his view, Christians are ambivalent about the value of the life of the mind and using the gift of our intellect to serve him.

  • Premise one: every natural desire corresponds to one real object. Premise two: There exists in us a desire that nothing in the temporal world can satisfy. Conclusion is that there must be more than time, earth and creatures that can satisfy this desire.

  • The Supreme Being, behind the universe as we know it, is a personal being, eternal and the model for how we are to understand our personhood. We can’t understand our own personhood fully, the way it’s supposed to operate, unless we understand what God is, as a personal being. We are not projecting our understanding on God but learning about ourselves by finding out about God. 

  • This is ultimately a book about a clash of worldviews. A worldview offers an explanation of the important features/phenomena of life and the world. In the West, the atheist worldview is often expressed in naturalism. Lewis argues for theism based on what is true internally of us, rather than argument from design. Discussion is not whether a particular miracle has occurred, but in principle, is it a possibility.

  • There is a supernatural power or being that is ontologically distinct from nature (transcendent). It is self-existent. Every world view must propose what is fundamentally real. For the naturalist, it is the physical world. For the theist, it’s a transcendent deity. Everything that is not God is dependent/contingent on God for its being. The theist says that the deity can bring about events that would not have happened by the regular operation of nature. 

  • What’s important to Lewis is freedom of rational thinking, free from physical causes. Naturalism undercuts the power of reason because everything is determined by physical causes. If evolutionary naturalism is true, then the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable for truth is low.

  • If you believe in naturalism as a worldview, miracles are impossible. Since a naturalist worldview says everything is determined and thought is only adaptive, the ability to have free rational thought to logically evaluate naturalism undercuts the naturalist position.

  • Rational thought and moral consciousness are points of entry of the supernatural into the realm of the natural. It involves both. It’s not a dichotomy. Naturalists believe that the nature of human persons is limited to material processes. Substance dualists believe that mind and brain are two separate substances that are mixed for now, but at death one will cease to exist and the other will continue to exist. Emergentist sees the animal form taken to another degree of complexity by the natural realm getting increasingly complex and dualist in function as opposed to substance.

  • Scientific law is economical summary of what experience always reports: regular cause and effect. Laws are regularity based on coincidences. Causality is the basis of law. Hume says that laws are regularities based on coincidences. Hume says that you can only know regularity because that’s all the human mind is capable of. Peterson’s view is that a miracle is not changing a law of nature, it’s changing with the “ceteris paribus” clause – preventing all things from being equal and changing the nature of the item. 

  • There is nothing about nature that makes miracles impossible. The naturalist can’t see nature accurately as a creature, not just an independent fact but it can’t stand or explain itself. The cosmological principle is that only concrete beings, not general things, have causal power. Causal laws don’t make things happen, only the beings acting within the laws.

  • If God is in fact a living determinate being, and is outside the natural system, he might insert events into the natural system. The laws that we observe in the natural system may be a subset of higher laws that govern the universe. What criteria do you use to determine if a miracle has taken place? Evidence plus intrinsic probability. Whether or not an event is a miracle is also part of the discussion of the problem of evil. Why would God intervene in some circumstances but not others? 

  • In philosophy, it’s referred to as the problem of evil. Given a certain understanding of God and a certain understanding of evil, there is a tension explaining why evil exists in the world.

  • If God chooses to create a nature, this signifies a physical system which indicates a relatively independent nature independent from himself, it would make a lot of sense to say he is frequently intervening.  The same laws that make nature a stable environment in which rational soulish life can emerge, are also the same laws that make us vulnerable. Pain is God’s megaphone to arouse a deaf world. He might whisper to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain. Question about whether God initiates the pain or he set up a system which results in pain because of the way it’s structured.

  • Lewis describes the story of the Fall as a narrative that has symbolic elements that convey significant truth. The truth in the first couple chapters of Genesis is that we were created by God, sovereign and loving creator, and that our only fulfillment as humans is to center our lives on God. Our proper role as a creature is to rely on God, so when we ignore that and rely on ourselves, our relationship with God is broken. 

  • God is his creation set forth the problem of expressing his goodness through the total drama of a world containing free agents in spite of, and even by means of, their rebellion against him. The risk is for the possibility of relationship. 

  • Aristotle would say that as a rational, moral being you build your character based on the hierarchy of good traits.  From a Christian perspective, our natural destiny should be on the same trajectory as our eternal destiny. The spiritual and theological virtues are faith, hope and love.

  • As long as God chooses a stable physical order, that physical order will run by its own laws. Any system with  have the possibility of pain. Created nature with natural laws provide a framework/structure in which souls can meet. Some pain is produced by the natural system without regard to the desires of the beings. That humans can inflict pain on other humans is a reflection of the permission by God that he permits this. The wide range of freedom makes it possible for great good or terrible evil. 

  • Lewis thinks that God needs to pierce the shield of our ego and we are embodied creatures so pain is what does it by getting our attention by highlighting how frail and in need we are. 

  • For Lewis, heaven is the unending joyous life of God, the life of the Trinity. The only way I can be fulfilled is to find its proper purpose and relation with God. Heaven is the restoration of created personhood, what it was always meant to be. When we are on the trajectory, we begin experiencing it now. Hell is the lack of fulfillment for which we were made. 

  • Discussion of the movie Shadowlands. Discussion of the nature of relationships. Pain and happiness are not necessarily mutually exclusive.                                        

  • Lewis expresses anger toward God as part of his process of grief. Orthodox Christianity denies materialism which believes that your physical body is all you are, but it doesn’t require body-soul dualism where the soul is the real person that inhabits a shell. Whatever damage death completes in the reign of sin in this world will be undone and swallowed up by the resurrection. The restoration of human personhood will come after death. 

  • Heaven and hell are dichotomous. Whether life is heaven or hell depends on your future trajectory. God is true reality, fixed and can’t be altered. In GD, true reality is God. The descriptions are not meant to be literal. Heaven is the Trinitarian life of God. It’s not a place, it’s a state of being in proper relation to the love and joy of the Trinitarian relations. Lewis describes it as a great dance. 

  • Final comments about themes in The Great Divorce.

C. S. Lewis is an extremely good theologian who does his work for the thoughtful lay person.  But his writings reflect his erudite understanding of the great classics of literature, historical theology, philosophy, and other disciplines.  Lewis says in Mere Christianity that theology is like a map.  We may get where we’re going without it, but it is much easier to use the map.  The map of Christian theology is drawn over the early centuries of the church as the believing community interprets the Bible and its experience of God.  

Of course, the ultimate goal of theology, according to Lewis, is practical:  to draw us into the life of God, or St. Gregory of Nazianzus ((329-374 AD), called it, “the Great Dance.”  I know no theme deeper or more pervasive in Lewis than our need to get the steps right, to join the dance once again.  

In “Meditations in a Tool Shed,” Lewis says that there is a distinction between looking at a beam of light and looking along the beam of light.  He is speaking of looking at reason or using reason—a passage that forms part of his great case that presence of rationality argues for the truth of theism.  We will be doing a lot of looking in this course, largely, “looking at” Lewis himself.  But let us also try to “look along” the same line of sight as Lewis, to see things—God, humanity, spiritual life, and a host of other things—as Lewis saw them.  This means attempting to step inside Lewis’s worldview and learning to interpret fundamental realities the way he did and to deploy his distinctive strategies for engaging other worldviews.  In effect, we will learn to think Christianly by learning to think along Christianly with Lewis.

In 2020, Dr. Peterson published the book, C. S. Lewis and the Christian WorldviewIt is essentially his course lectures in written book form--covering Lewis on all key worldview issues--reality, knowledge, creation, trinity, christology, as well as issues of evil, religious pluralism, and the impact of science on faith. You will also see it listed in the Recommended Reading section. 

Dr. Michael Peterson

C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy

ap530-20

Miracles (Part 8)

Lesson Transcript

 

We're headed actually to Chapter 12. And in Chapter 12, Lewis is bringing up the subject of the propriety of miracles. And I just think this launches us into a very good and very natural discussion on the heels of all of the things we've discussed so far. He kind of sets it up like this. If God is in fact a living determinant being, you know, has purposes and can perform actions and this determinate being is outside the natural system and see inside outside language metaphorical. And we'd have to take a long time to technically discuss what you can mean by transcendence theologically and metaphysically, what could we mean by imminence? Because he's outside the system in one sense, but certainly not outside the system in several other senses. So Lewis's language here is a little imprecise, which is based on granting some human definitions distinctions and granting a kind of a Newtonian machine kind of image of the world and gods outside that he's not. The machine apparently is not in the machine. And this all takes us into much more discussion we have time for. But granting Lewis the way he wants to talk and he in turn has granted him too much and maybe a Newtonian machine image of the world. He's possibly granted too much. But it sets up the book and it sets up the way he's developed the book. But if there's a living determinate being who is, quote unquote, outside the natural system, then he might do something. He might insert events into the natural system, he might work miracles. So that makes miracles possible. What has been his large burden throughout most of the book to react against the charge that miracles are impossible either from the side of nature or from different concepts of God that might He doesn't want to act, or he's not the kind of being who can act, you know, those kinds of things.

 

Or if he does act, that means if he set up the system originally, his action would be arbitrary or it would be he'd be showing favor to this person. Why not? That person actually raises part of the problem of evil is his goodness perfect and an equal imbalance to all, or why arbitrarily do something good? Maybe a miracle to help this similar situation, not do a miracle to help that? Or did he not have omniscience from the beginning to set the system up so he wouldn't need to adjust it? All these things from the God side we see in Lewis talking, not just talking about why some think miracles are not the kind of thing from the side of the divine that would occur. So much of the book also discusses why not from nature? Okay. Um. Lewis tries to remember the title propriety. So we're past the possibility impossibility question. So he basically says he would judge the propriety of miracles having been victorious. He thinks, on showing that they're possible. He would judge the propriety by saying if nature is not the whole system, but nature is actually caught up in a larger reality, the totality of our universe is immense as it is, is caught up in a larger reality than the laws we articulate. To characterize the operations of the universe may be only a subset of a higher, more complete set of laws. Maybe laws serving higher purposes than we can. Insight from purely the study of nature through science and so on. He makes the point that master poets know just when to break routine considerations in writing poetry and when to maybe even use bad grammar because it works to some good effect for the poet. I mean, look at Cummings, his poem of creation.

 

There's not a capital he has never capitalized. And his God uses mud. Anyway, that's. But that's a criticism. I have a view. CUMMINGS He never he doesn't capitalize properly. Okay. So his point then is if we if we're we can learn grammar, like the poet has done his time and learned grammar, but comes to a point in the writing of a poem where he breaks the rules not because he's a novice or he's ignorant, but because he has risen above the rules. He knows when to adjust them to have a higher purpose, serve like a more beautiful poem or some effect that the poem has on the reader. That strict mechanical grammar would not, would not have. Now, Louis makes a distinction in this chapter between kinds of miracles. He talks about bad miracles and good miracles. I actually think there's a very good distinction. Bad miracles, he says, are cheap, superficial. They don't fit the storyline of the larger reality in which our universe is caught up. If we see it as a creature, as opposed to seeing it as the totality. See, I'm saying so. Not that not every claim to miracle is is credible or should get our attention. And I don't I don't have to feel any compulsion to defend every miracle somebody claims to have experienced or witnessed or what. Why would I feel that compulsion? For what reason? His his point is, if it doesn't fit the storyline of the larger reality, there's there's there should be some caution about jumping in with both feet. It would seem to be an impropriety. And remember that the chapter title is the propriety of miracles. And we're not going to get a whole theology of divine action here and miracles. The way we're framing the discussion with human categories is only a subset of different modalities of divine action anyway.

 

Our topic for a whole seminar. But I like this distinction and it speaks to my instincts that some miracles and miracle reports I actually almost resent. Let me get a sense. Are we just two miracle hungry would take anything. Think about it. Think about it. How about the little old lady at our church who says that God helps her find parking spots? And just so good to find parking spots for her. You would have to be a lady. I know plenty of people claim this kind of thing. All right? I just smile. Walk away. Or how about athletes, you know? God help me, you know, beat the other team or whatever. Occasionally in May, Star will say that will the other guy's been beaten and bleeding behind him. Okay. But anyway, love memory. But I just keep God out of it. But bad miracles. Is there such a thing? Or do you take anything you can get? Think about it. The other category. There would be good miracles. Good miracles that are meaningful and coherent because they fit the storyline. But we've got to know the storyline and we got to know the author of the story. To make the to make the judgment. I mean, some people's religion really is focused on trivial stuff. And if they fit this narrative, fit the storyline. There's a sense of propriety. So he says the harder task is really not to defend the possibility of miracles, although he spent how many chapters every which way you can, every angle you can think of. He's come at it to show that miracles are possible. Not impossible. Right. But he says, after all that's said and done, the harder task remains of understanding the grand narrative, the larger narrative, because it's in light of that understanding.

 

We could make a more judicious judgment about miracles. And I just think that's a good distinction. Comments, questions. Okay. Now he's got a chapter on probability and see how far we can go before our time runs out. But the chapter on probability kind of starts out like this, having shown throughout much of the early part of the book that miracles are possible, how probable see possibility and probability two different concepts. So they're not impossible. They could happen. We've established that. How probable is it that God would perform miracles? And again, I think it doesn't follow that every time there's a report, we have to believe it. But he says there needs to be a kind of a criterion for judging the credibility of any given miracle report. See, Hume's point is, it's never probable that any miracle report is is true. The probability is always for regularity, because regularity has the much greater weight of experience reported regularities far outweigh. Remember how we started the course? Lewis is setting up the issue, reported regularities for our way. So every reported irregularity absolutely has the least probability compared to staying with the law unbroken long. So we so we need a criterion. But he says. The initial criterion might be something like this. We should believe a miracle report for which the historical evidence is sufficiently good. Well, then we have to figure out what does it mean for historical evidence to be sufficiently good. We're not at a loss there. We can articulate some responses. But he says whether we judge evidence to be good or not depends on something else. He uses the word intrinsic probability. This is where we're going to get into more than we can do in any great detail. How intrinsically possible I'm sorry, how intrinsically probable is it that he says that a given report is accurate for miracle? I comment here in the notes.

 

I think that's an unfortunate use of the term intrinsic probability and how I mean, just obsessive compulsive. Technical, but intrinsic probability means standing on its own. What's what's the intrinsic probability? Let's say that water turns to wine and it's really not what he means. He means something like. Conditional probability in in modern probability theory and terminology model probability theory would use, because I have no I have no judgment at all unless I use regularity or regularity of nature to say the probability that water would turn to wine is very small. So the idea of intrinsic probability just means considered in isolation. Intrinsic to this event, what is probably what he really gets at as he develops the chapter is what the the person in probability theory would call conditional probability. So here you get you get, let's say, an event that we'll call a miracle small m given a certain hypothesis that's not intrinsic to m. It's it's on a certain time. And we ask the question was the probably probability of M given age. So it's conditional upon age and maybe age is theism or maybe specifically Christian theism or maybe H is naturalism is going to change or maybe it's deism. Whatever of ratios is my judgment, the probability of M is conditional. And that's isn't that what he's really getting at? That if I just knew the narrative, i.e. have a sense of of what his age, if he calls it intrinsic probability, it's just a misuse of language, of intrinsic probability. So the point remains the same. I'm quibbling with how he labels his point based on the way we talk in probability theory for making sense. So the age gives you the clue to the narrative. This could be the naturalist narrative.

 

We know how that would go for a miracle report or a deist, the same as the naturalist. Right. Would be no difference of zero. And so it's going to take certain forms of theism, maybe classically Christian theism, to begin to move probability above zero. But it could it could move above zero, but still be pretty low because, you know, we think of probability. If I could just write it on the board here real quick. No, I don't make any quick movements because the camera has to follow, but from 0 to 1. But it probably still be very small. If we point one, it could be .01. You could have still some small probabilities. Um hmm. He also makes a point because we're gonna have to talk about that narrative that will fill in for the hypothesis that upon which we would judge. We'll talk about that in a little while. And but he also makes the point that is the claim being made about a miracle. Let's say a reported miracle. Alleged miracle is the claim being made. In the realm of science, Really? Or would it be more appropriate to say the claim has made the realm of history? That's really interesting because if you say science gets it all. That's one way of framing the discussion. And I don't think science is irrelevant to certain things. I mean, you know, I had a an acquaintance who got into what I would call miracle popping decades ago and on a jog around, Willmore claimed with several the guys he was jogging with, Hey, I had cancer. But I really prayed and prayed for a long time and now I've been cured. And the natural question is, do you have an official diagnosis of cancer and your official medical clearance now? And his answer to both questions was no.

 

He just knew he had it and I knew his cured. Okay. But I think those are very good questions. Do you have a scan before and after? Okay. Arsenal guards are not intimidated whose intimidate the miracle poppers intimidate, but that can science a part of the discussion. Totally appropriate. And but on the other hand, in biblical revelation, which is very much about how God is interacting with human history. And yes, there are some things that involve physical nature, but physical nature itself is part of the setting of history. And it's really in the realm of history, I would say, more than the realm of science, if we can put it this way, where God interacts in the great narrative with human beings. So science is not irrelevant. I'm good with the miracle Popper being asked for scans, you know. But science is not the dominating framework of the discussion. It might be a deal breaker to knock some miracle claims out. I'm good with that. But when you begin to see that science and regularity of nature and all those issues we've talked about is not the dominating framework, and then we're talking every bit as much, if not more, about history. We're rational agents, both finite and infinite, are acting and interacting. You get a different kind of backdrop to two miracle claims. Does that make any sense? I see that happening. I'm putting it in my own language, kind of, but I see that happening. He, Lewis is awakening us to the arena of history as much as to the context of science. Within me. If I get this right, it's not so much turning water into wine or parting the Red Sea. I go back to the old lady finding a parking spot that somehow fit into the narrative of history.

 

Her finding that spot, then? Yes. So it's not what happens. It's in the context of how. Yes. And the and the great narrative. If we if we just get biblical orthodoxy, Christian orthodoxy, and get the narrative, part of what we're doing is saying any claim to miracle. I want to have a kind of a a context for for assigning it either belief or importance. Should I believe it at all? So am I immediately disbelieve, by the way, in or where do I sign it, assign it importance. And for example, almost everything I see on religious TV, I don't assign great belief or importance. I've blocked those channels because my grandkids can't see them. You know what I'm saying, Bennie? And starts the list and can damage them. They think, Really, God is doing this and that's your. I can't have them seeing that stuff. I'd rather have much more me with me as I have a misimpression of. So. So. That's right. That's right. So is it likely that in the grand scheme of things, I should believe it, that God is helping this to be a little older? You can have young people with foolish minds think that God is really interested in in making sure they have a good parking space close to the mall. They could be going to God, you got. Okay. So you say, how likely is that? You know, And supposing you say it's not likely, which I'm very inclined to say it's not likely, but maybe I don't want to say. Maybe I want to say no or almost every poorly. And there had to be a compelling reason to trust me to the ground. And maybe I can say, oh, yeah, you know, in this, but is because then why is we helping with the Ebola crisis, which seems to be more important than a convenient parking space.

 

So the see is part of the problem of evil. You can it's always the litmus test for goofy religion that makes outlandish claims about God acts when they say, really, you're willing to really push that point. Hard to believe he's acted especially on your behalf on this in this particular situation, but not over here in what you do in a way is you increase the severity of the problem of evil and imply very often a trivial view of God. And a lot of that, I think it goes back to what can narrative are we operating with or are we committed to? And so my wife was recently, for example, at a healing service, and she talked to me about the different situations. I wasn't able I didn't go. And so and the things that can be said as you try to increase intensity, do you hear what I'm saying? When you try to increase intensity to get results and you just begin to escalate and you begin to set people's expectations. Some were elderly and they're going to die and this and that. And you can just every situation so different. But you think I don't believe everybody there who came to the I don't think is likely they'll be healed. Am I being bad? But young and old, all the way in between and in God says, Approach me. Ask people, pray free, of course. And you be very hopeful. But if they are not healed, it's not unpredictable. It's not because you prayer was tainted or you lacked faith or some other formula that you hear on religious TV. Well, I know why they didn't get that, because they they didn't push. But maybe and see correctly, the prayer was supposed to be stated like this in Jesus name or was supposed to be with perfect faith.

 

They'd have it. Or there must be hidden sin. The formula is clear, you know. So we everything we say about God and his interaction with the world, including our own lives and the lives of others, implies something about God. And once we get that, we see. Does it fit the narrative or does it not fit the narrative? And I love to be able to discuss this much more in detail. We might pick it up even next time, even though the exam will be over. But if I am, I ring any bells. I think you all seem pretty realistic to me. I'm not trying like anybody's faith down. But the narrative. What's it all really about? What's the likelihood that everybody who asks for physical healing is going to get it? What's real? Honestly? Really? Yeah. Give yourself one more thing later. Yes. Time to do it. God would not have maybe been really funny, by the way. But no one is like we would compare with Ebola because we have urgency, you know, because this crisis, you know, for the length of time in the middle of. Yeah. I mean. Again. I'm with Louis. Miracles are possible. And we've got a God who's an agent, and he's going to perform miracles. But the miracles are going to have a point. They're going to reflect his nature and his purposes. Anything else is not really on that main narrative track is worthy of some discussion and maybe a little caution sometimes maybe healthy religious caution to protect or a higher concept of God than that he's trivially helping some another. And so if you have a of a God who has no time problem or you talk about the person having a time problem, I don't you know, I don't really care if he hears me.

 

I'm just kind of messing with you. Look, I don't care if they have a time problem when walk in the rain. We've got we've got some real problems in this world, and that's not one of them. So but if it's for some higher purpose, some some redemptive maybe. Okay, That's amazing how Providence worked on it. I'm open to discussion, but I'm not fitting it into the narrative very readily. I'm saying. And so the problem of evil stands there. Why does God seem silent? Why does he seem arbitrary when we claim he's good and perfect and loving and merciful? And and then we've got religious believers making this claim and that claim. And and it's not just for the religious integrity of those who are Christian believers, but also for how we're looking to to the outside world, to nonbelievers. Is this a complicated issue? Miracles are possible. God is as an agent on a mission. He's interacting with the world. I said earlier, but I didn't trace it out very much. And we can't wait because we have time. There are other modalities of divine action besides intervention miracles. And there are some things that maybe God is doing that are not detectable and reportable and and isolate able as as easy, discrete events that are more thematic and God's guidance and patient working. There's a lot of ways talk about divine action without putting into the category of intervention miracle divine activity in the world. But that's a that's a the way here are the way human. The way Lewis frames the book accepts all the human apparatus of violation, miracle regularity, and it kind of unfolds the inductive argument against miracles. It's all human. And so the whole discussion is under that umbrella.

 

We we have a whole seminar with question the umbrella and look at other modes of divine activity. Saint Thomas on primary and secondary causality where you don't have violation language being used. So I know that helped what I said. But, but I, I think this is out of a respect for the great narrative and for not wanting to imply things unwittingly, innocently, maybe with a kind of an innocent exuberance, imply things about God that are out of sync with the narrative is perfectly good, perfectly just. And to to, to to allow an intervention miracle to find a parking space or to walk too many steps to the mall when there's an uncountable list of evils and sufferings in this world that ostensibly go unaddressed by intervention miracles which were God's work to okay, the people are still dying. And this guy, this person just saved a few step, you know, I'm saying. So it's that kind of thing. I'm very I'm and Louis is sensitive to that. And that's why he's talking about the narrative. We've got to have that backdrop. But what? I don't want to get too trivial here. I don't want you to either, Don, because I'm the judge. I'm. I'm the judge of what's. You have to have faith. Mountains will be Will. Yes. Yes. So she had faith that that spot was going to come vacant, whereas the others are praying for whatever. Maybe don't actually believe in miracles going to happen. I believe having a faith in that context was out of sync with the narrative or having faith, honestly, unless there's some redemptive, redemptive, compelling need. Why would you pray for a parking space for your own? Can we tell me that? I think it's not locked in to the narrative.

 

I don't. I'll. I'll walk. I would rather than have the gall. Why am I not praying? I'm a great saint on this. I'm not the standard of excellence, you know. But I'm just saying, why would one have the gall not to prioritize what's significant, to spend time praying on, hoping for and thinking about the nature of gods Interact? Yeah. Are you there? You so much to discuss? I thought. I thought we get to this point. I push some buttons. I thought I would and whatever. We don't finish today. We've got to do the exam, of course, before next time. But if you want to kind of do a little bit more of this, I'm very happy to discuss this kind of thing more because you may think about it over the weekend and so you'd have more to say and come back at me. But I think it's good for you to hear what I'm saying. I'm probably even exaggerating just a little bit, you know, to kind of make sure that I'm felt. How are we doing here? Okay, let me keep moving. Other questions? Comments? Oh, yeah, Yeah. I was just thinking about maybe the misappropriation of language and perhaps something. Or I guess I would say providential because of the miraculous you would providential versus right now there's one I didn't even mention, like the appendix of the book and things like that, where he does make those distinctions. His language is often to say there's a general providence and miracles seem to be asking for Special Providence's. And that's a whole discussion. How to think about General Providence and how to think about special interventions. But I do I do think his point is good. Number one, that whether we know it or not, we're implying things about God and his priorities, his purposes, his nature, when we make claims to miracles and so on.

 

So I would like them to be really significant. I'm no saint and I'm no standard judging anybody else but me. But anything said in the religious community kind of broadly doesn't always have to be right and how to diplomatically work within a, you know, the religious community along those lines and how to make sure it doesn't project things that are really unacceptable and objectionable to those outside. All those things are concerns that I have. And again, I don't think I'm perfect along these lines. Well, this gets us into the last few chapters, which I can only make a few parting comments about. Chapter 14 is on the Grand Miracle, which of course is the incarnation. And he says, you know, he says this in many different places in many different ways. He doesn't believe non-Christian religions are all wrong all through, he says, even even the pagan religions, which tend to be polytheistic, but have the cyclical dying and rising of fertility gods. He calls them corn kings. Our foreshadowing, he says, the longing for this to happen once and for all, that a God to die for our sins and rise and bring eternal life to those for whom he died. So even the corn kings and the cyclical birth death, rebirth, religions may prefigure, may pre-invasion something in Christianity. So that shows this this general longing that people have for God. I mean, all too brief, but that's that's that chapter than the last two chapters 15 and 16. I never get this. You can see other blank in the in the online class. So I never get this far. And I've really been smoking it to get this far, but been moving. So moving fast. There's the miracles of the old creation.

 

Chapter 15. And there's the miracles of the new creation. To put it all to simply wouldn't this be fair for mere types of miracles, miracles of the old creation are reflecting something that God has already done, maybe temporarily changing it, altering it, improving it, healing it. Physical healings, miracles of the new creation are looking forward to the eschatological fulfillment of all things. So the resurrection would not be a miracle of the old creation would be. It'd be a new creation. So those are interesting. But see, they're all sort of miracles that are categorized by knowing the narrative. And I don't see the parking space example as a miracle of either category. Well, anyway, I think we probably reached our limit. You've reached your end of your patience with me and in my unorthodox comments. But our time is up and we will see you next time on the next book, which is pain. Just like Mr. T said, how the match with Rocky was going to go. How do you predict the of pain? So pain next time? I don't.