General Question

bodyhead's avatar

Do you believe that God can defy the laws of physics to implement a miracle?

Asked by bodyhead (5462 points ) September 22nd, 2008

If not, what is a miracle?

If so, when was the last time he used divine intervention that worked outside the realm of physics?

just so you understand the first comment, the question use to read: Do you believe that God can deify the laws of physics to implement a miracle?

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58 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

Gods can’t deify anything except themselves.

eambos's avatar

For this to be true, wouldn’t one have to believe in a god?

waterskier2007's avatar

for this to be true wouldn’t one have to spell defy correctly?

VoodooLogic's avatar

aren’t the laws of physics of man?

bodyhead's avatar

@PupnTaco, Thanks for pointing that out.

@Waterskier, way to go with that sarcasm-free constructive criticism. I’m trying to give you a ‘Great Answer’ but the button isn’t working.

@VoodooLogic, You tell me. That’s a good question that’s very similar to the one I’m asking. It could be phrased ‘Does God have to follow the laws of the universe that he apparently implemented?’

Jreemy's avatar

I concur with Eambos. One would have to believe in a “god” of some sort. Plus it seems that miracles are chosen selectively. Sure thousands of people can die from a disease with a low survivability rate, but when the ratio comes to that one surviving person, it is automatically deemed a miracle despite the rest of the disease’s victims being “the will of god.” I put forth this scenario. Recently (a month or so ago) a man’s deadly cancer went into remission. A miracle, right? That evening, his family went to dinner to celebrate. The man became violently ill with food poisoning and died soon after.

So in short, no I don’t think “God” can defy the laws of nature or physics to craft a miracle. To quote Han Solo, “I call it luck.”

Skyrail's avatar

If there was an all powerful god I’m sure that this non-specific deity would be more then within their power to do whatever they want, including defying the laws of physics. That is if the god was all powerful, and because these ‘laws’ have been implemented by man, who’s to say that this god is limited by them? As for the last time divine intervention came into play ‘breaking’ these laws of physics I couldn’t say. Who’s to say there is a reliable source of such information anyway? Surely, whatever one can say can be refuted by someone or another, so searching would be a waste of the time many of us don’t have.

As for taking on board what Jreemy said, if this god was to intervene with absolutely every evil thing that existed on this planet then no longer would evil exist and it would go to the question asked earlier last week about evil and gods (well, to be honest it was aimed at a specific deity was it not?) at what point should a god step in. And at what point should this god step out? It isn’t for us to say. I’m sure if there was a god they would be more then capable of deciding for themselves, it isn’t up to us to decide.

tinyfaery's avatar

If there is a god, and he/she/it is omnipotent, then yes.

bodyhead's avatar

To everyone who is saying that physics are mans law, I would just like to mention that I didn’t float away a long time before I knew what gravity was.

Since supposedly, God created everything, he created the laws of physics too. All we can hope to do as humans is to describe the laws. We cannot create them. We draw conclusions from existing facts. We do not create the facts.

chutterhanban's avatar

there’s no way a rock could’ve produced water, or water could’ve been turned into wine unless there was some physical law-breaking, eh?

assuming one believes in them

Maverick's avatar

A. There is no God.
B. “Miracles” are simply events we simply do not understand enough to explain. That is why they are so rare now. As our scientific understanding if the world grows, less and less can be called a “miracle”

So your question is akin to “Can a being that we created in our minds to help us explain that which we don’t understand, can it create other events we don’t understand without following the laws of physics that we do understand?” Well, sure… Why not? It’s all make believe anyway. If you mean real physical changes in the real world, then of course not.

bodyhead's avatar

@chutterhanban, Even some of my religious friends are wary to say there was ‘actually’ a talking snake that got Eve to eat an apple.

Skyrail's avatar

Gravity =/= a law of physics, it’s one of the four fundamental forces as defined by man.

So if this god was to create these ‘laws’ in the first place then I am sure this god would be able to circumnavigate them in order to complete his will.

bodyhead's avatar

Please cite your source Skyrail.

You sound correct but I can’t be sure. I’m talking about the law of gravity which I learned about in a Physics course. You can see how I would come to the assumption that I did.

Here it’s described as a fundamental force of physics.

Are you talking about the forces of physics that everything else is built on?
* Gravity
* Electromagnetism
* Weak Interaction (or Weak Nuclear Force)
* Strong Interaction (or Strong Nuclear Force)

Anyway, I do get your main point and it’s much appreciated.

Nimis's avatar

Okay, just to play Devi’s Advocate here…

But let’s say there is a God.
Wouldn’t physics merely be man’s attempt to understand
the pattern of God as we experience it in our every day lives?

osullivanbr's avatar

Nimis is right on there I reckon, and a very nice way of putting it too.

As for chutterhanban’s comment on the possibility of some of the stories in the Hebrew Bible regarding water to wine, and water from a stone, I simply take them not as literal stories, but as symbolic stories. Same with the snake in the Garden. I don’t think we can be expected to take them as serious, real stories, communion wine is nowhere near strong enough for that.

Now, to the question, there’s no way you’re going to get a solid “we all agree” answer. If you believe in God, and believe he created the world then yes, of course he could (I feel I need a miracle to cook a decent meal sometimes).

loser's avatar

Not touchin’ this one with a ten foot pole…

osullivanbr's avatar

God could apparently do it without the pole even, so there.

loser's avatar

How clever!

susanc's avatar

if there is a god, she can do whatever she wants if she feels like making the effort..

MissAnthrope's avatar

Nimis said exactly what I was going to comment. Physics, or science in general, is just man’s attempt to define and clarify the world. As much as we know now, there is SO much more that we don’t. I bow down before it and accept that it’s way more immense than I am!

I can’t say for certain if there is or isn’t a God; as a scientist I have my doubts, but my spiritual side holds fast because I’ve had moments when I felt something.

Inexplicable things happen. Supernatural things happen. They could be miracles or they could just be things we don’t have an explanation for yet.

If there is a God, I believe It can command and manipulate energy to do whatever It likes.

JackAdams's avatar

God can do anything at all, except that God cannot create a stone that is too heavy for Him to lift.

fireside's avatar

There wouldn’t be a brand new LHC firing under Europe if we had already defined all of “The Laws of Physics”

Man’s understanding of what is and isn’t possible in the natural world is still limited.

To assume that all of what we don’t know is within a timeless and infinite God’s power to control or break seems like the very definition of hubris.

I’m willing to guess that there is no Deus ex Machina behind miracles, but I think our understanding of Physics needs a lot more years of study.

Judi's avatar

Can an author change the plot?

girlofscience's avatar

No. I don’t believe in miracles.

torisecret's avatar

I believe :)

augustlan's avatar

Interesting side note: Why do some people who have survived a terrible ordeal that has killed others claim it’s a miracle? A) So, God intervened to save you, but not all those other people? B) If God gets the credit for the good stuff in our lives, shouldn’t He also get the blame for the bad (ie: the terrible ordeal itself)?

fireside's avatar

Absolutely. All unfolds as it should.
Thank God equally for your hardships and your joys, they all are meant to bring you to a new level of understanding.

Nimis's avatar

Aug: Well, if you look at His track record…
Remember Job?

shrubbery's avatar

oh dear. you could write many a thesis on the story of Job, Nimis. Anyway, limiting God to that which is logically possible is called Process Theology. And Skyrail’s first post, about God stepping in to remove evil, is based in Swinburne’s theodicy. The world needs to be law-abiding – to form laws of nature God cannot intervene to remove suffering all the time, otherwise we would have no laws and everything would be chaos. Here is the link to the other question Skyrail was talking about, I was going to go into Job there but my answer was already pretty long.

Hobbes's avatar

@Fireside – I’m sure the people whose lives we’re destroying in Iraq right now will be happy to know that their houses being bombed, their loved ones being murdered and their country collapsing is all just God’s plan to bring them to a new level of understanding.

JackAdams's avatar

@Hobbes: There must have been a shitload of “understanding” for the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I betcha…

mzgator's avatar

God can do anything and everything He desires to do when He desires to do it. His awesome power is impossible for us to encompass or understand.

fireside's avatar

@ Hobbes – Sometimes the lessons need to be learned by a larger audience. Individual suffering is transitory. Just depends on your perspective.

Also, many people who undergo hardships and struggles find themselves closer to God.

I’m not saying it is right because our battles for resources and power are a downward spiral that is not going to benefit anyone in the long run.

PupnTaco's avatar

Oh, “defy?” I don’t believe in god, so no. I don’t believe he can either defy or obey the laws of physics.

bodyhead's avatar

@fireside, I hope that the children who are brutally raped and then murder teach good lessons to those around them.

I hope that I don’t have to get beat up and raped to get get closer to God. That isn’t the type of God that I would be interested in worshiping. What lesson am I learning when seemly entire countries in Africa are getting aids and people are staving to death in Ethiopia? Any god that would claim responsibility for these things does not have our best interest at heart.

You make your own way. If he’s responsible for the good things then he’s responsible for the bad. There’s been a humongous amount of pain and suffering in the last 2000 years. It seems to me that any God that uses pain to teach lessons would rule in fire and not in the clouds. If there is a God in heaven and hell, how can you assume you’re worshiping the right deity?

JackAdams's avatar

What he said!

fireside's avatar

I don’t actually see the dichotomy of heaven and hell, just spiritual growth or distance from Faith. People create their own internal hell by focusing on the negative and carrying out selfish acts that infringe upon the rights of others.

Again, individual suffering is transitory and can be an indication of a dysfunction in society.

The only way I can see to heal the ills of the global society is through a unified vision. Divine power is recognized by the vast majority of people in the world.

Suffering isn’t the only path to God, it is just one way that people find Faith.

God’s message from almost every source of prophecy throughout time is that God is within every person and that everyone will reap what they sow so they should treat others as they would be treated.

This is the main reason why anyone even tries to alleviate the suffering in Africa. If nobody cared and if God didn’t exist, then why bother to try and send food/medicine/condoms or adopt babies. Belief in some type of higher power has led many people to do what they can to help others.

I think that there are plenty of people who are trying to help alleviate the suffering in Africa through education, improved infrastructure and building a sense of a larger community in a Continent that is still held back by tribal conflicts and the remnants of Imperialism that subdivided the land.

Maybe God wants us to figure out how to work together to solve our problems in a way that is in line with his teachings. Sort of severing the spiritual umbilical cord, or not not providing a 20-something year old child with money so that they go out and get a job and start taking care of themselves.

bodyhead's avatar

Maybe God wants you to mail me $10. Actually, he just told me he does.

Suffering isn’t the only path to god but he does use it to teach lessons. He doesn’t sound very friendly. When he can’t woo you with kindness he whips up a plague to get you over to his side? I cannot appreciate that methodology.

Suffering is transitory because everything is transitory. Even if the suffering does not end in our lives, it ends with our death.

I always treat others as I would wish to be treated. That’s common sense. I don’t have to believe in God to be a good person. Even if you want to believe that I’m going to hell when I die because I don’t believe, I’ll still pull over and help you if I see you struggling to change a tire. It feels nice to be nice. I don’t need a book full of fairy tales to tell me that. I don’t have to be scared into doing something nice because I fear a vengeful God. If that’s what leads someone to do nice things, they need to do a little work on themselves.

I donate to charity. I help the homeless. I’ll offer a hand if I see someone struggling with something whether I know them or not. God isn’t doing these things. It’s me. I have to take responsibility for my own actions. We all do.

A lot of people use to believe the world was flat. Just because most people believe something doesn’t make it true. Once we decided the world was round, we thought that sun rotated around us. I would laugh in the face of someone that clings to these ‘ancient’ beliefs.

There are plenty of people trying to ease suffering in Africa. I haven’t seen god take a sandwich over there lately. If the only reason that people are sending supplies to Africa is because they think there is a God, then they are messed up. There’s no cosmic scorecard where God tallies up the good things you’ve done. There’s just you and me and we need to help each other. One day you might need help. One day I might need help. Lets keep relations good until then.

fireside's avatar

I agree with you in a lot of ways but I don’t think the majority of humanity is anywhere near ready for:
It feels nice to be nice.

The Cosmic Scorecard is an internal thing that fulfills your spirit. (Read: It feels nice to be nice)

As long as the goal is unity and respect for others, people are on the right track.

But laughing at other people’s beliefs is just an outpouring of ego and hubris that, historically, distorts many good intentions.

Recognition and understanding of others’ beliefs is the first step towards unity.

Also, many of the people helping out in Africa have gone there due to their belief in God. Missionary work arose out of Faith.

bodyhead's avatar

Yea, just for the record I would never laugh in anyone’s face because of their religious beliefs. I worded that a little poorly up there. I would, however, laugh in someones face if they told me the world was flat.

I think that maybe I just have a little more faith in humanity then you. I don’t think that scaring people into acting proper gets the desired result.

Maybe not using any faith on God allows me to give it to my fellow man.

I’m with you on that unity though. I think that’s important.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Also, keep in mind there are other ways to believe in God than in mainstream religions. I feel like mainstream religions often do more harm than good.

Personally, I have a different view of what God might be. I view God as more of an abstract thing, not necessarily male or female, not necessarily good or evil. Sort of like an infinite ball of energy that’s essentially connected to everything on Earth (extending to the entirety of the universe). Actually, I don’t subscribe to the idea of hell or Satan, so I feel like whatever God is, God is everything, including what is dark in the world. There has to be evil and darkness so that we can learn, be appalled, and hopefully make the decision to not do those things to others, ourselves.

I don’t get the impression that God likes micro-managing. People always say, “Well, if there’s a God, why does He allow such-and-such”? I think it’s because we were created (or developed) as we did, with amazing brains. We have to figure these things out for ourselves. If the world is going to hell in a handbasket, ultimately it is OUR faults for making these decisions. God is not going to reach down from the skies and smite people for doing wrong. It’s a huge lesson, on a huge scale.

lapilofu's avatar

It seems extremely probable that the following statement is true: “If God exists, then God can defy the laws of physics.”

For those of you who have not taken a course in mathematical logic, it should be pointed out that any implication is considered true, if it’s hypothesis is false.

That is to say that the statement above is just as true as the statement “If I have three heads, one of them speaks French.”

augustlan's avatar

My husband has an interesting way of talking about/believing in God. He says we are to ants, as God is to us. To an ant, we are gods, but do we spend any time at all thinking about the right or wrong of an ant’s behavior? Or on punishing/rewarding ants? Perhaps, if there is a God, we are nothing but an ant farm. An interesting hobby, something to observe and maybe occassionally shake up, but that’s about it.

JackAdams's avatar

Perhaps Gawd is a non-interfering observer, watching us, in the same way that we might watch the characters on As The World Turns?

augustlan's avatar

@Jack: Exactly.

bodyhead's avatar

We don’t welcome ants into our arms and home when they die. How can we expect a being of God’s magnitude to welcome us into heaven with open arms?

I like where this is going. Inspiring!

fireside's avatar

@bodyhead – Actually, you already admitted the existence of an unknown power that compels you to do good. It feels nice to be nice.

What exactly is it inside of you that feels nice?

Without a spirit or a soul, humans would be like any other animals and would just be out for survival. It’s faith and a sense of wonder that inspires humanity to move forward in our understanding.

Maybe someday the veil will be lifted and all the answers will be known. Maybe we will find the Higgs boson in the LHC and that will lead us to “know the mind of God” as Hawkings has put it.

But even the grand unified theory is still one that talks about an invisible force that links all matter. Fluctuations in that field cause positive and negative vibrations which are picked up by our own energy fields that have grown out of that force.

Death then would be a reuniting of our personal energy to that greater field.

Kind of sounds like other stories I have heard, and it also has no basis in fact other than, what was that word…Faith.

bodyhead's avatar

There is no unknown power that compels me unless you are talking about my subconscious (but I know about that).

It feels good in my body when I see happiness reflected in the eyes of others. I don’t think it’s necessary to believe in a God to enjoy this feeling.

I have no spirit. I have no soul. What I am is defined in my brain. It controls how I act to the outside world. No veil will be lifted for me. When I die, I will rot in a box. I’m ok with that. I actually prefer the though of ceasing to exist to living forever as a spirit. Living forever as anything sounds like hell to me.

I don’t just not believe in God. I am going to be seriously pissed off if he does turn out to exist.

fireside's avatar

Aww…its okay to admit that you need a hug.
Go on.
: )

Nimis's avatar

I think if I created the ants, I might care a bit more.

XrayGirl's avatar

yes, I believe He can. wow, the answers. whoa

janmojzis's avatar

So:
a) yes, He can defy the laws of nature, and He is doing miracles every day (intervents), so we are unable to recoginze miracle from ordinal (physical) thing (in elementary microcosm).

(just for the interest)
b) no, He cannot do His intervention in the physical world. Aside that, we can also imply: He foretold, foreseen and foreknows the whole history of the universe, therefore He managed things (upon creation) to be without further interventions. Therefore I dont have other option as to say, that in the end of human history (The Last Doom’s day) He would not intervent (and will not cast) falling stars, flames and cataclysms. Rather He would let the human beings to destroy each other (the whole world as well). The worst choice…

I choose to believe yes, He can a).

Hobbes's avatar

“Just for the interest”, the word is “intervene”

zeeker's avatar

yes, God does defy human physics as we know them when he so desires. That does not make them false for us, they just don’t have authority over him, because the laws of physics are in fact powers by witch God has established limitations for man. He is “The High and Lofty One” His throne is above all powers and authorities, death also being one of them. God is in the dimension of the spirit realm and not confined to reside in the same dimension as us. He can be anywhere he wants to be at any time ,or everywhere at once. God has no beginning, nor any end, so he also exists outside the dimension of time, time only has authority over mortal beings, in the spirit world time does not exist. the spirit world is actually more real than the world we live in, witch is passing away, the two exist at the same time but only spiritual beings can traverse between the two and only the spirit realm will continue to exist forever. This is not hard to understand for those who know the creator, because his spirit lives in each of them. Will you accept Christ and let his spirit live in you? Or will you continue to deny the truth of Gods word, witch can save you? The finite days we are given on earth is the time God has determined for us to make that decision. After that the judgment. Where will you spend eternity?

tinyfaery's avatar

If all that is true then why is god a he? If he is a he, he is automatically limited because he is not a she.

zeeker's avatar

God created us male and female, not because one is inferior to the other, both male and female were created as completely perfect human beings before they fell into sin in the garden of eden. God gave them different functions and instructions based on each ones physical abilities, both of witch were equally important. However when we are raised from the dead or if we are still alive when Jesus returns we will all be changed and receive our heavenly bodies, which will be like the angels neither male nor female. (see Mark 12:25)

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