Friday, June 11, 2010

Miracles: Then and Now

But there is one thing often said about our ancestors which we must not say. We must not say ‘They believed in miracles because they did not know the Laws of Nature.’ This is nonsense. pregnant When St Joseph discovered that his bride was pregnant, he was ‘minded to put her away’ (Matt 1:19). He knew enough biology for that. Otherwise, of course he would not have regarded pregnancy as a proof of infidelity. When he accepted the Christian explanation, he regarded it as a miracle precisely because he knew enough of the Laws of Nature to know that this was a suspension of them. When the disciples saw Christ walking on the water they were frightened: they would not have been frightened unless they had known the laws of Nature and known that this was an exception (Matt 14:26). If a man had no conception of a regular order in Nature, then of course he could not notice departures from that order: just as a dunce who does not understand the normal metre of a poem is also unconscious of the poet’s variations from it. Nothing is wonderful except the abnormal and nothing is abnormal until we have grasped the norm. Complete ignorance of the laws of Nature would preclude the perception of the miraculous just as rigidly as complete disbelief in the supernatural precludes it, perhaps even more so. For while the materialist would have at least to explain miracles away, the man wholly ignorant of Nature would simply not notice them.

C.S. Lewis, "Miracles," God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 26-27.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry the blog has been done for a while now. I thought I would get a lot of work done on it while recovering from surgery. As it turns out recovering from surgery was a bigger deal than I anticipated.

    Today's posting is a recurring argument made by Lewis. I like his tone when he talks about St Joseph knowing how Mary got pregnant, kinda like "you realize he wasn't an idiot, right?"

    It's funny how we can have such twisted ideas like "back then they didn't know any better."