Miracles Part 1: A Form of Artistic License, Not a 'Plot Rescue Device'

The issue of God intervening by miracles is a big point of contention between Christians and atheists.  Are miracles the bound between the natural and the supernatural? And if so, why even have a 'supernatural'? Is it because God has to 'jump in' occasionally and 'save the day' to prevent things form getting out of hand?  Or maybe (as other atheists might suggest) miracles are simply Christians conveniently attributing to God mysterious phenomena which we can't yet explain?

C.S. Lewis had pondered this question and written an entire book on it called 'Miracles'.  In this book, he argues that what we call miracles (which some would call the 'supernatural') are 'not exceptions nor irrelevancies'.  Instead, miracles are simply God's usual powers used in accordance with the 'rules behind the rules' (C.S. Lewis, Miracles 1947, Chapter 12 'The Propriety of Miracles').  C.S. Lewis likens God's use of miracles to artistic license; an unusual way of doing things 'which the master will use himself both safely and judiciously but which he would think it unwise to teach his pupils' (with the implication that we are those pupils).  According to C.S. Lewis,our understanding of the laws of nature are much like that of 'the beginner, who has just mastered the strict formal rules, is over-punctilious and pedantic about them.'  (C.S. Lewis, Miracles 1947, Chapter 12 'The Propriety of Miracles'). 

C.S. Lewis provides evidence for the notion of miracles as a form of artistic license by observing that the Biblical miracles only nudged nature, not contradicted it.  One of these examples was the implantation of the seed/sperm/embryo that was to be Jesus in Mary's womb, instead of having Jesus pop into existence out of thin air.  Consider further that there are no examples in the Bible of an inanimate object (e.g. a table) being turned into a human being. 

If miracles are indeed evidence of God's artistic license and not exceptions to nature, then
  • there isn't a 'natural' vs 'supernatural' (except insofar as we humans consider the natural to be the 'strict formal rules' which we have learned through science). 
  • God isn't 'jumping in to save the day' but rather using miracles to emphasize that these parts of the story are crucial points in his work.
Are you interested to see what all this means about the big picture? Read Part 2 to find out!

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