Someone in the Shroud Science Group forwarded this to me knowing that I would have fun with it. I normally don’t report on discussions in SSG, respecting the fact that this is a semi-private discussion list. The topic is generic enough and not so shrouded in shroud stuff that I need to worry. Here goes:
For example, we might see an atheist like David Hume arguing:
1) Premise: Miracles, by definition, are a violation of natural law;
2) Premise: Natural laws are unalterably uniform;
3) Conclusion: Therefore, miracles cannot occur.
Here we see that, by unjustifiably defining miracles in premise #1 he cannot help but conclude that miracles cannot occur. This, of course, IS begging the question.
We can say that David Hume was unjustifiably defining miracles and we could be right. But we could be wrong, too. Actually, I tend to agree with Hume on both premises. It’s the unmentioned assumed premise that is the problem.
This is Hawk, a horse my wife and I volunteer to help take care of at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island. Shown this photograph, my wife exclaimed, “What a beautiful horse.”
I said, “What a great photograph.”
What was the subject? Horses or photography?
“David,” (I’m speaking to David Hume across the ages.) “This morning, I awoke to find a great Southern Live Oak (Quercus Virginiana), draped in Spanish Moss, growing on my front lawn where last evening there had been nothing but grass.”
“There must have been a great upheaval of the earth to accommodate the root ball,” said David with a sardonic smile.
“No, the lawn is undisturbed.”
“That Spanish Moss is impossible. It takes months and months to grow. And it doesn’t transplant well from one tree to another.”
“But it’s there. Spanish Moss, tree and beautiful lawn. It is there. It happened.”
“It can’t be, it violates the inviolable, the unalterable. It didn’t happen.”
“I agree,” I said. “It didn’t happen. It happened.”
Is the subject natural laws or is it miracles? The unmentioned assumed premise is that one has something to do with the other. Photographers don’t make great horses great and horses don’t make great photographers great. And miracles and nature don’t play together in the same pasture. (That was a terrible metaphor but you get the idea).
I suggest that miracles have nothing to do with natural laws at all. They are, I imagine (and to imagine is as far as I can philosophize) instantaneous and not disruptive to the environment. So what happened to the dirt where the tree ball is now? In that same instant, it was no more. It is part-and-parcel of the miracle of the tree. So, too, the Spanish Moss.
I imagine the stone before Jesus’ tomb was found in a new place but it got there without being rolled or slid or carried. No motion! No motion! No motion! And Jesus did not walk out of the tomb. The stone was not in a new place — one cannot say moved — so that Jesus might exit but so that his followers might see that he was gone. Jesus the Risen Christ just appeared where he willed when he willed. He did not remove his shroud or pass through it. Nor did the burial cloths pass through him.
Jesus did not travel to meet up on the Road to Emmaus. He was just there. He was just there in the room that had locked doors. He was just there on the Road to Damascus at the proper time and place.
Miracles, as I imagine them, just don’t mess with the environment. They don’t mess with nature. They don’t happen. They happened. They go from before to after, from not having happened to happened, without happening in-between.
And this is why I say that if the image on the Shroud is not fake and not a natural formation (I have not ruled out either as possibilities though I find them unlikely) then I imagine that the image was miraculous but not produced as a consequence of the Resurrection. The Resurrection didn’t happen. It happened. The image on the Shroud didn’t happen. It happened. No, it wasn’t produced by radiation or any kind of energetic anything. Not scientific. Not pseudo-scientific.
Miracles, I don’t believe, can ever be proven by science or denied by science. Or by philosophy. Unless I’m wrong of course. Prove it.
But then again, my wife insists the subject was horses, not photography.